I think I may have been doing the Reading Recommendation posts for nearly a year now, although I have to admit that I have been incredibly slack with them this year. That is because I haven't really had the chance to read much recently - I've been going to lots of exhibitions, have been getting ready for various craft fairs, been making all sorts of things and generally trying to be more active. Anyway, this month I have been a little more prolific in my reading and am doing a second recommendation post this month. Have you read either of these? And what did you think?
The Prince of Mist - Carlos Ruiz Zafon
Wow. I loved this. I've read Shadows of the Wind and really enjoyed that so I opened this thinking there was a good chance of liking it. It is incredibly different though. This is a gripping story that had me reading well into the small hours, unable to put it down. It is written with very childlike language as it is from the perspective of Max, the main protagonist, who is just 13. His family move to a cottage by the sea because of the war and, from the moment that they get there, things are not quite right. The clocks move in a funny way, there is a mystery surrounding the cottage that they have moved to, a recurring symbol is found in various places and then strange events start occurring. It is down to Max and his sister Alicia to find out what is really happening, and whether they can prevent events from taking a horrific turn. The novel rapidly turns from a safe, beautifully written tale into a horror story. The simplicity of the language serves to make it even more scary - it seems to emphasise just how awful the events are and make it even worse. As the reader you find yourself dragged into the story, predicting what may happen next and hoping against hope that it won't. An incredibly powerful story that I would really recommend. Oh and it's fairly short so won't take you forever.
Lily shot her mother when she was four years old in a freak accident. And she's still learning to live with that. In the summer of 1964, Lily suddenly has to reassess her life as she knows it when Rosaleen, the black kitchen help who has been doing the cooking and cleaning since her mother died, is arrested and beaten up. Lily takes action and the two find themselves hiding out at a bee-keeping farm. There Lily begins to start questioning her beliefs and what she has always assumed to be true, and learns a lot about herself in the process. This started quite slowly and it took a while before I got into it properly; I initially thought it was a bit of a 'oh woe is me, I know, I'll get some self-help' type of book, which isn't generally my cup of tea. But actually it wasn't. What it did was give you a warm fuzzy feeling towards the characters, who are all flawed in their own way, and one of the central events had me suddenly really wanting everything to be okay and turn out with a happily ever after ending. It's well-written and the pace does change and get faster as the book progresses. It has happiness, peace, sadness and tragedy - a little bit of everything all put together into a lovely combination which mixes a range of characters with a coming of age story. As I said, it took a while to get into it, but I enjoyed it in the end.