Three Lives of Tomomi Ishikawa
By: Benjamin Constable
Source: Advanced reading copy courtesy of Simon & Schuster Canada
What writer Benjamin Constable needs is a real-life adventure wilder than his rampant imagination. And who better to shake up his comfortable Englishman-in-Paris routine than the enigmatic Tomomi “Butterfly” Ishikawa, who has just sent a cryptic suicide note?She’s planted a slew of clues—in the pages of her journal, on the hard drive of her computer, tucked away in public places, under flowerpots, and behind statues. Heartbroken, confused, and accompanied by an imaginary cat, Ben embarks upon a scavenger hunt leading to charming and unexpected spaces, from the hidden alleys of Paris to the cobblestone streets of New York City.
But Butterfly’s posthumous messages are surprisingly well informed for the words of a dead person, and they’re full of confessions of a past darkened by insanity, betrayal, and murder. The treasures Ben is unearthing are installments of a gruesome memoir. Now he must draw a clear line between the real and surreal if he is to save himself, Butterfly, and what remains of their crazy and amazing friendship.
I received a copy of this novel from Simon & Schuster Canada in exchange for an honest review. It was described as a cross between Haruki Murakami and the movie Amelie, which immediately piqued my interest since a) I enjoyed reading Murakami’s Norwegian Wood (review) and b) Amelie is one of my favourite movies ever. This novel will be available for purchase on June 4.
This book is part of the Books on France Reading Challenge 2013 that I am participating in.
May contain some very minor spoilers ahead!
If on a Winter’s Night a Traveller
By: Italo Calvino
You go into a bookshop and buy If on a Winter’s Night a Traveller by Italo Calvino. You like it. But there is a printer’s error in your copy. You take it back to the shop and get a replacement. But the replacement seems to be a totally different story. You try to track down the original book you were reading but end up with a different narrative again. This remarkable novel leads you through many different books including a detective adventure, a romance,a satire, an erotic story, a diary and a quest. But the hero of them all is you, the reader.
I must’ve had this book since I got back from my exchange two years ago and never gotten around to it. I’ve always felt that I needed to be in a particular mood or it has to be a particular season to read this (see my 10 books to read during the winter list). I’ve read his other notable work, Invisible Cities (review) earlier this year and absolutely loved it so I was definitely looking forward to reading this book.
The Prisoner of Heaven
By: Carlos Ruiz Zafon
Barcelona,1957. It is Christmas, and Daniel Sempere and his wife Bea have much to celebrate. They have a beautiful new baby son named Julian, and their close friend Fermín Romero de Torres is about to be wed. But their joy is eclipsed when a mysterious stranger visits the Sempere bookshop and threatens to divulge a terrible secret that has been buried for two decades in the city’s dark past. His appearance plunges Fermín and Daniel into a dangerous adventure that will take them back to the 1940’s and the dark early days of Franco’s dictatorship. The terrifying events of that time launch them on a journey fraught with jealousy, suspicion, vengeance, and lies, a search for the truth that will put into peril everything they love and ultimately transform their lives.
And here we are, the new book by Carlos Ruiz Zafon. As some of you may know, I had re-read The Angel’s Game (review) and The Shadow of the Wind (review) last week in preparation for reading this book. It’s part of a cycle that Zafon has written concerning the Cemetery of Forgotten Books so I wanted to rehash my memory of all of the characters connected to the cemetery before proceeding with the latest novel. Contains some spoilers ahead!
The Shadow of the Wind
By: Carlos Ruiz Zafon
Barcelona, 1945–Just after the war, a great world city lies in shadow, nursing its wounds, and a boy named Daniel awakes one day to find that he can no longer remember his mother’s face. To console his only child, Daniel’s widowed father, an antiquarian book dealer, initiates him into the secret of the Cemetery of Forgotten Books, a library tended by Barcelona’s guild of rare-book dealers as a repository for books forgotten by the world, waiting for someone who will care about them again. Daniel’s father coaxes him to choose a book from the spiraling labyrinth of shelves, one that, it is said, will have a special meaning for him. And Daniel so loves the book he selects, a novel called The Shadow of the Wind by one Julián Carax, that he sets out to find the rest of Carax’s work. To his shock, he discovers that someone has been systematically destroying every copy of every book this author has written. In fact, he may have the last of Carax’s books in existence. Before Daniel knows it, his seemingly innocent quest has opened a door into one of Barcelona’s darkest secrets, an epic story of murder, magic, madness, and doomed love, and before long he realizes that if he doesn’t find out the truth about Julián Carax, he and those closest to him will suffer horribly.
I mentioned a few weeks ago that this was one of those books that I never got around to writing a review for but I wished I did, if only to keep track of what my initial thoughts of the book were. I decided to re-read it as a refresher before I venture on to reading The Prisoner of Heaven and just like the first time, I could not put this book down =P Contains spoilers ahead!
The Angel’s Game
By: Carlos Ruiz Zafon
In an abandoned mansion at the heart of Barcelona, a young man, David Martín, makes his living by writing sensationalist novels under a pseudonym. The survivor of a troubled childhood, he has taken refuge in the world of books and spends his nights spinning baroque tales about the city’s underworld. But perhaps his dark imaginings are not as strange as they seem, for in a locked room deep within the house lie photographs and letters hinting at the mysterious death of the previous owner.
Like a slow poison, the history of the place seeps into his bones as he struggles with an impossible love. Close to despair, David receives a letter from a reclusive French editor, Andreas Corelli, who makes him the offer of a lifetime. He is to write a book unlike anything that has ever existed-a book with the power to change hearts and minds. In return, he will receive a fortune, and perhaps more. But as David begins the work, he realizes that there is a connection between his haunting book and the shadows that surround his home.
I’ve actually reviewed this novel a few years ago when I first read it (review) but with the release of The Prisoner of Heaven i decided it was time to re-read the book (plus it was an overall excuse to get around to re-reading the books, lol). Contains some spoilers ahead!