Monthly Archives: July 2014

Kindle

photo-7So I know I’m about 10 years late on this, but I bought a Kindle!

I’ve had my iPad for a few years now, and for the most part, I like reading on it. However, it’s a bit big, and a bit bright, and I have Amazon Prime so I wanted to access the lending library.

I had some leftover birthday Amazon gift cards plus one from my work’s wellness program, so I ended getting a refurbished (with ads) 4th generation for about $5 cash.

So far, I really like the size, interface and look of it. But I haven’t found any books I need/want on the lending library. Perhaps it’s not really that good. Luckily I still have the library.

Any other good things about owning a Kindle that I should know about?

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Fifty Shades Freed – E. L. James

image(3)Book Description (Amazon): When unworldly student Anastasia Steele first encountered the driven and dazzling young entrepreneur Christian Grey it sparked a sensual affair that changed both of their lives irrevocably. Shocked, intrigued, and, ultimately, repelled by Christian’s singular erotic tastes, Ana demands a deeper commitment. Determined to keep her, Christian agrees.

Now, Ana and Christian have it all—love, passion, intimacy, wealth, and a world of possibilities for their future. But Ana knows that loving her Fifty Shades will not be easy, and that being together will pose challenges that neither of them would anticipate. Ana must somehow learn to share Christian’s opulent lifestyle without sacrificing her own identity. And Christian must overcome his compulsion to control as he wrestles with the demons of a tormented past.

Just when it seems that their strength together will eclipse any obstacle, misfortune, malice, and fate conspire to make Ana’s deepest fears turn to reality.

This book is intended for mature audiences.

My Review (Spoilers!):

Executive Summary: eye roll

This book is more like the end of the 2nd book (which I disliked), and it was a struggle for me to get through it. James begins the book with a flashback scene to Christian being taken by the police officers after his mother died. Not exactly the best way to begin an erotic novel in my mind. And then chapter 1, they’re on their honeymoon. Wait, what? We missed the wedding? Not exactly. The book cuts back and forth between the wedding which has already happened at Christian’s parents’ house and the ongoing honeymoon on his boat off the coast of Monaco. It’s not terribly exciting in any way. Ana is still trying to upset Christian, and he’s still trying to control her. And then they argue. Sounds romantic. Basically the only point of interest is that while they are away on honeymoon,  a fire is set in the server room of Christian’s headquarters.

After a welcome home luncheon at Christian’s family, Christian allows Ana to drive home in the R8. As they are driving, they realize they are being followed. Luckily Ana manages to do some impressive stunt driving to get them into a hiding spot–an empty parking garage where they proceed to have some adrenaline-fueled sex.

During the “debrief” after the incident, they go over some photos from the server-room fire and realize that it was set by Jack Hyde (Ana’s former boss from book 2).

They go check out the design of their new house, and Ana hates their designer Gia because Gia is pretty and spends a lot of time flirting with Christian. (Get over it.) Eventually Ana confronts her about it and explains that Christian is not in charge of the design, so Gia better start respecting her.

And then Ana cuts Christian’s hair. What an asinine thing. She used to cut her stepdad’s hair so it’s OK. Um, your stepdad’s appearance never mattered. He wasn’t the CEO of the universe who was worried about paparazzi and  how he looked on magazine covers.

They get in a lot of petty arguments. Like why she hasn’t changed her name at work (because she didn’t want to and they didn’t talk about it before they got married but he bullies her into it anyway.) Like how she goes out and has drinks with Kate (and security) when Jack Hyde might be out there looking for her. Right.

Turns out that while she was out having drinks with Kate, Jack managed to break into their condo under the guise of a delivery man. It turns out that he had intended to kidnap her as he had a mattress and horse tranquilizers in his van. He also had a lot of information about Christian and his family on the computer that they confiscated from him when they fired him. He was also responsible for the accident involving Charlie Tango in the previous book.  Christian thinks that the connection is Detroit as that is where both he and Jack were both born. (Of course the child of a crack whore is born in Detroit. They could never be born somewhere as nice as Seattle…) Jack had a similar upbringing to Christian. He had drunk parents who both died from it in various ways. He was in and out of foster care, but turned things around and went to Princeton.

And then just like that, Christian decides that they should go to Aspen since Ana won a trip there in that charity auction. When they arrive at the airport, all the friend-relatives are there (Kate, Elliott, Mia, and Ethan). Kate and Elliott are having issues, and Ana sees Elliott with Gia, the designer she told off, out in town but keeps it to herself. Later that night, Elliott proposes to Kate and she says yes. (The whole Gia thing was just coincidence.)

They return to Seattle, and Ana returns to work. For no point in the actual story, Leila and another ex-sub, Suzi show up at Ana’s work to see how she’s doing. And then Christian shows up and fires the security guard, gets mad at everyone involved and generally acts like an ass. But he’s so dreamy and everyone loves him!!!

Then Ray gets in a car accident, and Ana rushes off to Portland. When she arrives, he’s in operation, but he eventually awakes in stable but critical condition. She celebrates her 22nd birthday while Ray is in the hospital. Christian buys her her own Audi R8 and celebrates her with all her friend-relatives (and actual relatives too). Eventually Ray recovers and we finally return to the “main” story.

The detective investigating the Jack Hyde case questions Ana because Jack Hyde said that Ana sexually harassed him.

As they are leaving the hospital, Dr. Greene, the gynecologist sees Ana and wants to know why she has cancelled her last 4 appointments, and just happens to be able to see her that very moment. So Ana takes a pregnancy test and it is POSITIVE. Are. You. Kidding. Me?

She tells Christian and he flips out, understandably, because he’s a control freak, and they’ve been married for 5 minutes. For once, I side with him. But he decides to run out on his pregnant wife and go get wasted with Elena. That I do not side with. What an idiotic moron. Because she’s a mature grown up, Ana sends Christian an email about the text from Elena and then hides in the play room to give the illusion that she’s left. Yes, these people should be having children.

Ana and Christian stay icy for a few days. Ana returns to work, and takes a call from Mia. However, it’s Jack, and he has kidnapped Mia. He wants Christian’s money or he will kill Mia. And Ana is not allowed to tell anyone. Luckily Christian is in Portland. Ana goes home, gets all the money she has, goes to the bank and withdraws all the money she can. Christian calls the bank and believes that Ana is leaving him. She lets him go along with the story to protect Mia. Jack calls her and has a getaway car for her. Elizabeth from her office is driving it. Luckily Ana is remotely clever and borrows a phone from the guy from the bank, which Elizabeth throws away. Her own phone is kept, leading Christian to find them. For once, his controlling behavior is of use.

Elizabeth was blackmailed by Jack (along with the other assistants from the office so they wouldn’t turn on him). Jack was in the same foster home as Christian while the paperwork for Christian’s adoption was going through, and Jack was always jealous that Christian was “chosen” and he wasn’t.

Ana recovers. She and Christian make up and have a couple babies. Happily ever after.

And then at the end of the book, James decides to throw in two extra chapters that were no use–one of Christian’s early days at the Greys and another of Christian’s take on the first meeting with Ana.

Verdict: 2 stars

Sometimes, it’s OK to just write one book. There is no law saying that you have to write 3 books when you have an inkling of a story idea. Married after a few months, still fighting about everything, and a lame sub-plot. Blah. And maybe it’s just me, but if you’re writing books that lots of college age women will be reading, perhaps you should consider that girls should not get married to an insane control freak after knowing them for 3 months and then forget to take their birth control and have children. In this book, it’s happily ever after, but let’s be real. Chances are more likely that you marry that control freak and he abuses you and your child, and you have isolated yourself from all of your friends because you’re never allowed to go out with them, so you have no one to help you when you need to escape. And yes, I realize that this book is erotica. But it wasn’t. Yes they had sex, but I didn’t care. The sex hasn’t been interesting since book one. In the end I’m glad I read these, but I am happy to move onto something better!

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Fifty Shades Darker – E. L. James

image(2)Book Description (Amazon): Daunted by the singular tastes and dark secrets of the beautiful, tormented young entrepreneur Christian Grey, Anastasia Steele has broken off their relationship to start a new career with a Seattle publishing house. But desire for Christian still dominates her every waking thought, and when he proposes a new arrangement, Anastasia cannot resist. They rekindle their searing sensual affair, and Anastasia learns more about the harrowing past of her damaged, driven and demanding Fifty Shades. While Christian wrestles with his inner demons, Anastasia must confront the anger and envy of the women who came before her, and make the most important decision of her life. This book is intended for mature audiences.

My Review (Spoilers!):

Executive Summary: meh

I liked about the first half of this book which felt a lot more like the first book. Then it sort of felt like the author wanted to change directions and make the story more “normal”, and I think that fell a little flat.   Verdict: 2.5 stars I had a lot of hope in the first book that this would be more of a modern story–not the damsel in distress being rescued by her valiant knight. But getting engaged to a man you barely know who has control (and many other) issues when you are barely 22 years old was a poor choice. I realize that it would be hard for the author to keep the magic of the first story going forever, but I don’t think this was the right direction to take. It turned the story into one of bickering and arguing, and no one wants to read a romance novel like that.

So we leave book 1 with Ana having tried out the submissive lifestyle, becoming emotionally overwhelmed and walking out on Christian. Book 2 begins 3 days later.

Ana has begun her job at the publishing house, and something is up with her boss, Jack Hyde. Christian sends her flowers for her first day of work, which she doesn’t throw away. He then sends her an email, asking about Jose’s photography show. She realizes that she hasn’t been getting any calls because she has had them all forwarded to her blackberry, which Christian has. Ana agrees to have Christian pick her up for Jose’s show the next night.

Christian picks her up (they have been separated for 5 days) and begins berating her about when she last ate. He really knows how to make girls swoon. Yet, he tells her that he’s missed her, holds her in his arms, and she realizes that’s where she needs to be. They take the helicopter to Jose’s show in Portland. One of the main features at Jose’s opening is a series of candid photos of Ana. Christian buys them all and is furious at Jose (and Ana) for taking them. Geez, lighten up dude.

After their brief appearance at the show, Ana and Christian go eat and talk. Ana reiterates that she can’t be what he wants. He insists that she is. Taylor picks them up and drives them back to Seattle so that they can have a chance to talk. Because a normal relationship is out of the question, they flesh out a new proposition for their relationship. Not really vanilla, but no serious punishment. Somewhere in between.

They arrive at her house, and he gives her a gift to be opened inside. He also agrees to pick her up from the bar the next night (she’s having after-work drinks with her sketchy boss). Everything is pretty much back to normal. She opens the box inside and finds an iPad filled with music and books.

The following day, she begins email banter with Christian who eventually informs her that her email is monitored. As she is heading out to have that drink with her boss, a girl stops her on the sidewalk. The girl looks strikingly similar to Ana, knows her name, and asks her, “What do you have that I don’t?” before walking away. Uh ok.

Ana smartly keeps her distance from Jack at the happy hour, and when he finally starts talking to her, Christian appears. Jack is obviously annoyed at the interception. On the ride home, Christian grills Ana about Jack, and he tells her that if Jack pulls anything, he’s out…because Christian now owns her company (so he’s Jack’s boss). She’s mad, but not for long. They go back to Ana’s apartment, and make up for lost time.

Christian stays over, and Ana dreams about the strange girl outside her office. She awakes with a start and tells Christian about her.  He realizes that it is one of his ex-subs and makes some phone calls (presumably to his security) about it. He wants to just brush it off, but Ana, understandably, wants to know what’s going on.

Leila, the sub, has some mental issues. When Christian and Ana were in Georgia (book 1), Leila showed up at Christian’s and tried to commit suicide. They got her to the hospital, but she checked herself out. No one had been able to find her since, including her husband who she married after Christian, and ran out on him four months ago.

Christian has had Taylor return Ana’s car (which she relinquished during the breakup) and also informs Ana that he has deposited $24k in her account for the sale of her Beatle. Ana is shocked and somewhat upset. She tells Christian that she needs to get her hair cut for his father’s function that evening, and Christian, like a complete and utter idiot, takes Ana to “Mrs. Robinson’s” salon. Ana is understandably furious, and walks out, and Christian arranges for one of the stylists to come to his house instead because he doesn’t want Ana to be alone with crazy Leila on the loose. Ana learns that Leila has obtained a concealed weapons permit.

They go back to his place. Ana gets her hair cut. They talk about Leila, Mrs. Robinson, the $24k sale of her car. Christian tells her that he earns $100,000 per hour. Assuming he’s using a 40 hour week, that equates to $208 million a year. For a 27 year old. Who never appears to actually do any work. Yep that seems realistic.

Christian has ordered some additional security for the party just in case. While getting ready, they do a little foreplay of sorts mapping out the untouchable parts on Christian with lipstick–showing Ana the boundaries where she can touch…which she proceeds to do. Progress, I suppose. They decide to use the Ben wa balls for the charity function. (I bet sales of those dramatically increased due to this series).

They arrive at the party. It’s a bunch of schmoozing. During the auction for the weekend stay in Christian’s Aspen home, which Ana didn’t know about, she decides to bet her $24,000 that she made from the sale of her car. Christian is annoyed with her, why, I don’t understand. He makes $100k/hour. They then have a “first dance auction”. Ana is worried that Christian is going to be upset (get over it!) but Mia assures her that he will win her. He doesn’t. She asks Christian who it was, but he doesn’t say. Instead he leads her to his childhood bedroom for some naughty time. She sees a picture on his nightstand, but he says it’s no one of consequence.

They return to the party, and she is introduced to her first dance partner, Christian’s therapist, John Flynn. After the dance, Ana heads for the restroom and is stopped by Mrs. Robinson who tells Ana that Christian loves her (Ana) and then she proceeds to threaten Ana that if she ever hurts Christian again, that it is not going to be pleasant. Apparently Christian was completely shattered by their 3 day break up. Sometimes I forget that these people are supposed to be grown ups.

Ana talks to Carrick briefly who reveals that his wife was the doctor who took care of Christian when he was rescued as a young child, and that he didn’t speak for two years. No wonder he’s a mess. They stay for the fireworks and then head home. Sawyer, the security guard, hands Ana a letter from Elena (aka Mrs. Robinson). Awkward. And then when they get back to Christian’s, Christian and Sawyer search the apartment for any sign of Leila, but they don’t find any. Ana goes to bed.

She awakes with a start with the feeling that someone is in the room with her. She goes to find Christian, and he is on the phone with Elena. He’s telling her to leave Ana alone. They go back to the bedroom, and realize the balcony door is open. Ana realizes that there was someone in the room with her when she awoke. Christian decides that they need to go to a hotel somewhere. Taylor escorts them to the garage where she sees her car with the tires slashed and covered in paint. She finds out that Christian buys all his subs the same exact car, so that’s how Leila knew which one was Ana’s.

They check into the hotel under Taylor’s name (very sly) and let off some steam. After breakfast, Dr. Green, the OB/GYN, comes by the hotel to give Ana a birth control shot because her breakup was so traumatic that she forgot to take her pill. She gets a pregnancy test, which startles her. Because you know, no one can get pregnant by having the sex without birth control. Ana tells Christian about it after, and he is upset too.

They take a shower, and Ana slowly cleans off the lipstick lines off Christian from the night before. She wants to know who would traumatize him so much. And then Christian tells Ana that he loves her. (Duh.)  They go buy her a new car–a Saab (snore) and then walk around until going on a trip on Christian’s boat. This whole section is really dull and forgettable.

When they get back and Ana decides to start getting ready for work, Christian flips out. Leila is still out there. She shouldn’t work. He’ll take care of her. Ana at least has the good sense to roll her eyes at him. She gets to work and Jack informs her that he wants her to go to New York with him later that week. Well that is not going to fly with Christian especially after he has just asked Ana to move in with him. Since he owns the company, he orders a moratorium on all spending so that Ana can’t go to the conference. Ana is understandably pissed at Christian (because he doesn’t actually talk to her about things ever like a grown up), but he is validated by Jack creeping on Ana later that night.

Christian picks her up from work, and after some sexy time in a stopped elevator, Mrs. Lincoln shows up to tell Christian that she is being blackmailed by her current sub. Who cares? Why is this whole story line thrown in here?

Ethan, Kate’s roommate arrives, and meets Ana at her office to pick up the apartment keys (since Kate is still on vacation with Elliott). After work, Christian picks up Ana, and they go to pick up Ethan for dinner. When they arrive at the apartment building, Ana gets buzzed in since she gave Ethan her keys. When she gets into the apartment, she realizes that it wasn’t Ethan who buzzed her in, it was Leila. Ana keeps her cool and manages to not get shot all the while Leila is asking “what do you have that I don’t?”. Turns out that the whole dom/sub thing is probably not good for some people. Christian eventually realizes what happens and comes up with Taylor and rescues the two of them. Christian stays with Leila in the apartment while Taylor takes Ana and Ethan back to Christian’s. (Ethan showed up which alerted Christian that he wasn’t actually in the apartment).

Ana and Ethan detour to the bar where they proceed to get drunk. Upon arrival back at Christian’s, Ana is in big trouble for going out drinking. Despite the fact that Christian has spent the last x hours bathing and taking care of an ex-sub. And to make her feel even worse, he counters her anger by becoming submissive. They get into a discussion of all of the main issues–Leila, Ana leaving, how all the subs (and Ana) look like Christian’s mother, Christian’s childhood, and then just like that, Christian asks Ana to marry him. Um you’ve known this guy for like a month. You’re 22 years old. He’s a complete lunatic that you barely know with a ton of baggage. Ana tells him she has to think it over and she wants to discuss with Dr. Flynn.

The following day at work, Jack is in an awful mood. He’s shouting at Ana about every minor issue. It probably doesn’t help that she arrived late, met Ethan, took a phone call from Jose (who is going to deliver the paintings), and took a phone call from Mia (who tells her that Saturday is Christian’s birthday) during work. During her lunch break, she realizes that she has to give Christian unconditional love or he will never be OK. She neglects to actually eat lunch during lunch so later in the afternoon, she goes to the break room. She’s followed by Jack who closes the door (whose break room has a door?) and tells her that it’s a good time to discuss her misdemeanors.

Jack has realized that Christian now effectively owns the company, and he is livid. He thinks Ana was put in as a spy, and of course he won’t tell anyone about Christian’s takeover if she does him some sexual favors. Thankfully for Ray, Ana knows how to defend herself, and leaves wounded Jack in a heap as she leaves the office. Christian is there to pick her up so that they can go to the appointment with Dr. Flynn. He hears the story of Jack, and he orders him fired. Security escorts out Jack while Christian makes a cryptic call to someone about “other stuff” on Jack’s computer. (How they did that all so quickly is quite impressive.)

Well everything exciting in the book is over. Ana and Christian alternate between fighting about Christian’s overbearing stubbornness and jealousy, and then having make up sex to fix it.  Seems like a good relationship…*sarcasm*

Because of Jack leaving, she’s been promoted to editor in chief. That seems reasonable. Obviously it was Christian, but in real life, would a shrewd businessman put an inexperienced person in a position of such power? Not likely.

Ana sets up Ethan and Mia (so now there’s a really weird sibling love triangle going on.) Ana gives Christian his birthday present early but he’s not supposed to open it until the party. They meet with Dr. Flynn, and nothing really exciting comes from it. Then Christian takes Ana out to see a house on the sound that he wants to buy for them. And then at his birthday, when he opens Ana’s gift that says “YES”, everything falls into place. Happily arguing ever after. Kate is the only person who thinks this is insane, but she’s easily bullied by Mr. Christian Grey. Elena hates it too but for a different reason of course, and no one cares what she thinks. Christian’s mom overhears some of Elena’s conversation, realizing what went on between Christian and Elena (took long enough) and kicks her out of the birthday party. At the end of the night, Christian gives Ana a “real” proposal with a ring (giant of course).

The book ends with a man talking about how he’s still on Grey’s trail despite him not dying in the helicopter crash.  And it’s pretty likely that man is Jack. On to the next book.

Verdict: 2.5 stars

I liked the beginning of this book because it felt more like the last book, but it just got more and more daytime soap opera as it went on. Not only do we have drama from 2 old partners, we also have this situation with Ana’s boss. And despite Christian being this savvy businessman, he never seems to actually work, and he puts Ana in position to be editor in chief after working there for maybe 2 weeks. And then the whole marriage thing. Yeah totally you should get married to someone who you constantly argue with and barely know. This book was a train wreck, and the sex scenes weren’t enough to save it.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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The Shadow of the Wind – Carlos Ruiz Zafon

91x1ucWt2XL._SL1500_Book Description (Amazon): Barcelona, 1945: A city slowly heals in the aftermath of the Spanish Civil War, and Daniel, an antiquarian book dealer’s son who mourns the loss of his mother, finds solace in a mysterious book entitled The Shadow of the Wind, by one Julián Carax. But when he sets out to find the author’s other works, he makes a shocking discovery: someone has been systematically destroying every copy of every book Carax has written. In fact, Daniel may have the last of Carax’s books in existence. Soon Daniel’s seemingly innocent quest opens a door into one of Barcelona’s darkest secrets–an epic story of murder, madness, and doomed love.

My Review (Spoilers!): Executive Summary: entrancing

This is one of our book club books, and since we do books by categories, I started the book thinking that it was our “historical fiction” book. But a few pages in, I thought, no that can’t be right. It must be our “literary fiction” book. No, it wasn’t that either. It was our mystery. And that made it make a lot more sense as to why I had no idea what was going on in the book until about 75% through. Now, I’m not saying that as a bad thing. I actually think that the book fits better under a literary fiction as it’s not really a “who done it?” sort of mystery. It’s more just a curious story that drags the reader along for a ride.  It’s a bit of a story within a story and the story is about books. I loved it.

Daniel, who is nearly eleven, and his father (his mother died from cholera shortly after the Spanish civil war) head to a secret place early one morning. They are greeted by an old man, Isaac, upon their arrival.  Upon entry, Daniel is introduced to the Cemetery of Forgotten Books, a labyrinth of a library. Daniel is to pick out one book and adopt it, guaranteeing that its story will always be remembered. After searching for some time, he chooses The Shadow of the Wind by Julian Carax. He read it all in one go and became completely enamored with it.

Daniel’s father owns a bookstore, so he asks his father about additional books by Carax, and surprisingly comes up with nothing. His father is completely unfamiliar with the author. They decide to consult with a colleague of Daniel’s father, Gustavo Barcelo. Barcelo offers to buy it from Daniel, but Daniel will not sell it. Per Barcelo’s suggestion, Daniel goes to Barcelo’s house the next day so the book can be examined and Barcelo can provide Daniel with all the information that he knows about Carax.

The following day, he shows up and is introduced to Barcelo’s niece Clara, who is blind (and with whom Daniel falls completely infatuated with). She once read a book of Carax’s called The Red House when she was younger and went on a similar fact-finding mission as Daniel to find out about Carax. So Barcelo considers her to be the Carax expert. Barcelo also tells Daniel that his copy of The Shadow of the Wind is thought to be the only one in existence. Clara had learned that Carax sold very few copies of his books, but he had had a publisher who had really liked them so he pursued on despite the low sales. Carax had apparently played the piano in a brothel to make up for the poor book sales, and he had supposedly died in a duel. None of these facts were for certain. Daniel proceeds to invite himself over to read The Shadow of the Wind to Clara, who agrees.

He continues to go by to see her regularly (over many years), falling quite in love with her. Everyone tries to talk him out of it, but he can see no reason. Even when at his birthday party, the only person who shows is Barcelo’s maid, Bernarda. Afterwards, he is confronted by a man calling himself Lain Coubert, the character of the devil in The Shadow of the Wind appears and asks Daniel for his copy of the book so that he can burn it. To prevent Clara from being hurt by the man (the book is at her house), Daniel decides to sneak into the Barcelo’s to retrieve the copy. While there, he sees Clara naked with her piano teacher. The teacher kicks Daniel out onto the street (luckily with his book) thus ending the relationship with Clara and beginning a relationship with a homeless man named Fermin Romero de Torres. Daniel then takes his book back to the Cemetery of Forgotten Books to hide it.

While there, he meets Isaac again and asks him for any information that he may have about Carax. Isaac knew Carax’s publisher back in the day. He confirms that Carax indeed played piano in a brothel, and his best-selling book sold 90 copies at most. But even so, the publisher published eight of Carax’s novels between 1928 and 1936. Eventually the publisher became ill, and his son took over. Shortly after that, a Lain Coubert appeared at the publishing house offering to buy all the Carax stock that was left. The son tried to get a better deal on the books, and Coubert refused. The following evening the warehouse burned to the ground. Luckily, the publisher’s secretary had some foresight and took one copy of each to the Cemetery of Forgotten Books. The secretary was Isaac’s daughter, Nuria. Daniel also learns that Carax was Julian’s mother’s last name. His father’s last name was Fortuny, and he owned a hat shop in town. His parents had been separated before he moved to Paris.

Later that year, Daniel’s father’s bookstore needed some additional help, so Daniel recommends his pal Fermin. Fermin had a colorful history during the war and loves to tell the stories, particularly of the ones evading Inspector Fumero. Daniel and his father get Fermin cleaned up and he begins to work at the bookstore.

Eventually Daniel tells Fermin of his long-standing mystery of Julian Carax. Fermin, ever the detective, begins to help Daniel track down additional information. They eventually learn the story of Julian, all the while comparisons are drawn to Daniel’s own life.

Julian was working at the hat shop one day when the rich and powerful Don Ricardo Aldaya comes in to be fitted for hats. Julian charms him by standing up to him, and Aldaya offers Fortuny to pay Julian’s way into the fancy prep school in town where his son Jorge goes. While there, Julian becomes friends with Jorge as well as Fernando Ramos (who is now a priest), Miguel Moliner (his best friend), and a troubled boy named Francisco Romero (who has grown into the Inspector Romero who everyone fears. Investigating these people, Daniel and Fermin learn that Julian fell in love with Jorge’s sister, Penelope. (So did Francisco.) They planned to leave Barcelona  and elope in Paris with the help of Miguel. Unfortunately the night before they are to leave, Julian and Penelope are caught in the throes of passion by Penelope’s mother. Penelope never makes it to Paris.

Julian is not sure what has happened, so he eventually returns to Barcelona to track her down. He finds that after Penelope’s mother caught them, Don Ricardo was told about the incident. He is furious specifically because Julian and Penelope are half-siblings. Penelope is pregnant, and she is locked in her room, dying during childbirth. Julian finds their crypts in the old family home, and he is devastated that he wasted his life writing books, so he adopts the alter ego Lain Coubert and begins to destroy all of his novels so that no one else can be poisoned by them.

Isaac’s daughter, Nuria, met Julian once when she went to Paris for work. They had a sexual relationship, and despite her falling in love with him, it was apparent that he could love no other than his Penelope. Eventually Nuria married Julian’s best friend, Miguel, and the three had an interesting relationship. Miguel sacrificed himself for Julian at the hands of some of Inspector Fumero’s men. (Fumero had been hunting Julian down for years due to the situation with Penelope and because he was crazy). Julian had been burned badly during the warehouse fire, and he was nursed back to health by his father and by Nuria. The person who had died in the supposed duel at the wedding was none other than Jorge Aldaya, who had gotten sucked into Fumero’s scheme.

Eventually Julian met Daniel and his attitude changed. He saw some of himself in Daniel as Daniel had fallen in love with his best friend’s sister, Bea, despite her engagement to someone else. Julian encouraged Daniel to live life in the moment, and the book ends with Daniel and Bea getting married. Their wedding was performed by Father Fernando Ramos, and their son was named Julian.

Verdict: 4 Stars

Like I said, I really enjoyed this book. The writing was good, and the story was so multi-layered and entrancing. It’s not as much of a mystery as just a very intriguing story, and it is well worth the read. It is a long book that I summed up fairly briefly, however, throughout the book, the information comes piece by piece by meeting a variety of characters throughout the way, many of whom end up being a major player in not only Julian’s story but also in Daniel’s.

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