The Angel’s Game

READ THE WORLD – Spain: The Angel’s Game by Carlos Ruiz Zafón

Pulp fiction writer David Martín is holed up in an abandoned mansion in the heart of Barcelona, desperately writing story after story while becoming increasingly frustrate and disillusioned. When he is approached by a mysterious publisher, Andreas Corelli, makes him an enticing offer David leaps at the chance. But as he begins to research and write this novel, and after a visit to the Cemetery of Forgotten Books, David realises there’s a connection between his book and the shadows that surround his dilapidated home, and maybe his publisher might be hiding secrets of his own.

The Angel’s Game is set in the same universe as The Shadow of the Wind, but I don’t think it matters if you haven’t read that book or if you haven’t read it for a while. I read and reviewed The Shadow of the Wind four years ago so naturally I can’t really remember much about the book, but the only connections I noticed was the Cemetery of Forgotten Books and the dilapidated tower home the main character in this novel came to live in. (After writing this review I googled the series and realised that The Angel’s Game is in fact a prequel to The Shadow of the Wind though apparently each book in the series is supposed to be able to stand on its own from the others, so it really doesn’t matter what order you read them in.)

Set in the 1920s and early 1930s, The Angel’s Game really makes use of both the time period and the city its set in to add to the mystery and eeriness of the story. Not being able to get hold of a character, or instances of mistaken identity are rife, and both increase the tension at key moments. The city of Barcelona truly becomes a character in its own right in The Angel’s Game. The narrow alleyways, abandoned houses, tiny shops and the often-bleak weather, makes the city a wonderful setting for a gripping mystery. The descriptions of the city are vivid making the few times characters venture elsewhere, even more stark and different to what we already know.

David is an interesting man. He’s often unlikable as he pushes away those who care about him when he’s obsessed with writing and is unsure how to love or be loved in return. He’s always had affection for the daughter of a friend’s driver, Cristina, but circumstance and society keeps them a part. His reluctant friendship with Isabella, an inspiring writer who is many years younger than him is surprisingly sweet and while their relationship isn’t without its troubles and miscommunications, their honesty with one another is truly needed by both of them.

The mystery of the tower house, its previous owner and what happened to them kicks in about the third of the way through the book. Andreas Corelli seems to be connected to it all though it takes a long time for David to figure things out. David becomes obsessive, both about his writing and the secrets his home holds, looking for reasons behind the deaths and strangeness that appears to be following him. The Angel’s Game is told in the first person from David’s point of view, meaning that as the story progresses and things get weirder, you begin to doubt what you’ve been told so far as David’s grip on reality seems to slip.

I shan’t say I picked up all the threads of the mystery before they were explained to me, nor that I totally understood the ending, but that didn’t make me like this story any less. The Angel’s Game was a very readable book and the whole gothic take on Barcelona fully pulled me into the story. Would it have been nice if the story wasn’t quite so convoluted and weird? Yes, but it’s still a book that I ended up enjoying more than I remembered enjoying its predecessor. 4/5.

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Avengers Readathon 2019 TBR

Even though I’m already in the middle of the OWLs Magical Readathon (you can check up on my progress on Twitter) I happened to spot on Twitter last night another readathon that was very much my brand. The Perks of Being Noura is hosting an Avengers themed readathon from 14 April to 14 May. Needless to say, as soon as I saw the hashtag I knew I had to take part.

For the Avengers Readathon you can choose up to two profiles. There are 18 different SHIELD profiles, each designed after a different Avengers character, and they each have between three and nine assignments/challenges that you fit each book to. There’s more information on the readathon, including a google doc with all the different characters and their prompts, here.

Choosing a character was the hard part for me. Should I choose my favourite character, or should I be more pragmatic about it and choose a character that had fewer prompts, or where there’s a character profile that I could definitely complete? There is the option to skip no more than two of the assignments from a chosen profile, so there is some wiggle room if needed. Also, it’s totally fine to cross over your Avengers Readathon TBR with any other readathon TBRs you might currently be participating in at the same time – so in my case that’d be the OWLs.

After looking through my TBR and all the prompts (I had a colour coded spreadsheet and everything) I figured out the character profile I would focus on and that’s Ant-Man! Ant-Man had three assignments and then you had to pick one assignment from any other character profile.

Ant-Man’s Suit: Book with red on the cover
The Angel’s Game by Carlos Ruiz Zafón
This is a very red cover and it’s one on my OWLs TBR and one I will definitely be reading this month as I need that OWL for my chosen career path.

Ant-thony: A book with 100 pages or less
Trout, Belly Up by Rodrigo Fuentes, translated by Ellen Jones
This is the one book I have that’s under 100 pages! It’s a collection of interconnected short stories that comes in at 97 pages.

Ant-Man & the Wasp: Book with multiple points of view or buddy read a book
Burn for Burn by Jenny Han and Siobhan Vivian
This book is from three characters points of view. It is a contemporary story where three girls plan to get revenge on the boys who have hurt them.

From Loki’s profile – God of Mischief: Retelling
Frankenstein in Baghdad by Ahmed Saadawi, translated by Jonathan Wright
Another one from my OWLs and as this has been at the top of my TBR since the start of this year, including it on this readathon’s TBR as well means I’ll definitely be reading it.

Now if I manage to read all of them (which I should as two of them are for the OWLs readathon anyway), the second character I’ve chosen is Hawkeye aka my ultimate fave. Hawkeye has just three assignments on his profile.

Hawkeye: Heists and Espionage
Hawkeye: Avenging Archer by Jim McCann, David López, Duane Swierczynski, Manuel Garcia and Paco Diaz
This graphic novel is a collection of four different story arc, and they feature super spy Mockingbird so that totally counts for espionage.

Ronin: Debut book
Viper by Bex Hogan
I got this in a subscription box very recently and I’d like to read it sooner rather than later so this works out perfectly.

Master Marksman: Book with an archer protagonist
West Coast Avengers Vol. 1: Best Coast by Kelly Thompson, Stefano Caselli and Tríona Farrell
Another one that’s also on my OWLs TBR and as it features both Clint Barton and Kate Bishop, I’ve got two archer protagonists.

I better get reading! I’ll probably start a Twitter thread to track my progress and like everyone else I’ll be using the #AvengersReadathon19 on Twitter and anywhere else. Are you taking part in the Avengers Readathon? I’m glad I heard about it when I did because it starts today! I’m currently reading a book for my OWLs that’s not mentioned here, but I think my next read will be The Angel’s Game – two birds, one stone and all that!

O.W.L.’s Magical Readathon 2019

The O.W.L.’s Magical Readathon is the invention of Gi at Book Roast on YouTube. It’s a challenge I heard about last year, but I wasn’t aware of it in time to take part – this year I’m more prepared! The challenge is based on the Hogwarts examinations in the Harry Potter series but you neither have had to have read the Harry Potter books or be a Harry Potter fan to take part.

The basic premise is that each Hogwarts subject has its own prompt, you read a book that fits that prompt and then you’ve achieved an O.W.L. in that subject. This readathon lasts the entirety of April so it gives you plenty of time to try and cram in as many O.W.L.’s as possible. For more information on the readathon see Gi’s announcement video. It’s clear she puts in a lot of work into this challenge, she makes study guides and a career guide that has information on lots of magical careers and the subjects you need to study in order to be able to progress in that career.

The career I’ve chosen is Ministry Worker with the idea that I’d specialise to be able to join the Department of International Magical Cooperation after taking my N.E.W.T.’s in August. That means I’ll need O.W.L.’s in Charms, Defence Against the Dark Arts, History of Magic, Potions, Transfiguration and Muggle Studies – meaning my aim is to read six books for this challenge.

I’ve had a look at my bookshelves and theoretically I would be able to get 11 out of 12 O.W.L.’s based on the books on my TBR. Below are the books I plan to read to get my O.W.L.’s for my Ministry Worker job, but also the books for the other O.W.L.’s in case I do better than expected and can fit in a couple more books during the month.

Ancient Runes – Retelling
Frankenstein in Baghdad by Ahmed Saadawi
As the title suggests it’s a Frankenstein retelling. This is a book I’ve been wanting to read for ages so even though it doesn’t fit with my chosen career path, if I finish the O.W.L.’s/books I have to read, this will be my priority.

Arithmancy – Work written by more than one author
Night, Again: Contemporary Fiction from Vietnam edited by Linh Dinh
A collection of short stories from Vietnamese writers.

Astronomy – “Star” in the title
This is the one subject I don’t have a book that would fit so any careers that needed an Astronomy O.W.L. was automatically ignored.

Care of Magical Creatures – Land animal on the cover
Forest of a Thousand Lanterns by Julie C. Dao
Technically I think this could also work for retelling (though you’re not allowed to use the same book for multiple prompts) as it’s inspired by the Evil Queen in Snow White I think? It’s a book I got from a subscription box a while ago and I’m pretty sure it’s the only book I’ve got with an animal on the cover.

Charms – Age-line: read an adult work
Augustown by Kei Miller
I actually tend to read mostly adult books so the way I chose this book was to find one of the shorter adult books I have – at just over 200 pages, Augustown was the winner.

Defence Against the Dark Arts – Reducto: title starts with a “R”
The Red Beach Hut by Lynn Michell
This is the only book I’ve got that has a title that begins with the letter R. I was pleased I found a book as Defence Against the Dark Arts is a subject needed for many career paths.

Divination – Set in the future
Old Man Hawkeye Vol. 1: An Eye for an Eye by Ethan Sacks, Marco Checchetto and Andres Mossa
Comics are totally allowed for this readathon which is great. I recently bought a bunch of Hawkeye-related comics and this one is set in an apocalyptic future where nearly all of the superheroes are dead.

Herbology – Plant on the cover
West Coast Avengers Vol. 1: Best Coast by Kelly Thompson, Stefano Caselli and Tríona Farrell
Another one from my Hawkey-binge-buy as he’s a part of this team. It has some palm trees on the front which totally counts as a plant.

History of Magic – Published at least 10 years ago
Slaughterhouse 5 by Kurt Vonnegut
It’s a classic so it’s definitely over 10 years old. Plus it’s pretty short which is always helpful for a readathon.

Muggle studies – Contemporary
Genuine Fraud by E. Lockhart
I received this in a subscription box a while back and know nothing about it except it’s the shortest contemporary book I have on my TBR. I read We Were Liars years ago and sped through it so hopefully the same thing will happen with this book.

Potions – Next ingredient: sequel
Old Man Hawkeye Vol. 2: The Whole World Blind by Ethan Sacks, Marco Checchetto, Francesco Mobili and Ibraim Roberson
I don’t actually have many sequels (because I’m terrible at reading series) so my recent comic book purchases have definitely come in handy here.

Transfiguration – Sprayed edges or red cover
The Angel’s Game by Carlos Ruiz Zafón
This is the longest book on this TBR but it’s one of the only books I have that has a red cover. There’s rumours that the Tome Topple Readathon will happen in April so as The Angel’s Game is over 500 pages, that’ll hopefully give me an extra push to read it.

So, this is my TBR for the O.W.L.’s Magical Readathon and pretty much my TBR for the whole month of April. Are you taking part in the readathon and if you are which O.W.L.’s are you focusing on? In August there’s the N.E.W.T.’s readathon which you use to build on what you achieve in this readathon, so I hope I manage to read all the books I need to be able to apply for a job at the Ministry of Magic.

My Tome Topple Readathon TBR

This readathon is created and co-hosted by ThoughtsonTomes from November 18th till December 1st and the aim of it is to read those huge intimidating books that are over 500 pages long that have been sitting on your shelves for ages.

There’s a few challenges you can try and complete which are below but really the main thing is to read some long books.

The challenges:
1. Read more than 1 tome
2. Read a graphic novel
3. Read a tome that’s part of a series
4. Buddy read a tome (use goodreads and twitter to find buddies!)
5. Read an adult novel

I took part in the (I believe) first Tome Topple Readathon in June and it gave me the push to finally read American Gods by Neil Gaiman. Since then I haven’t really read any more of my big books so this is another chance to read another of my 500+ page books that have been on my shelves for ages.

I like having some choice when it comes readathon’s so here’s the books I’ll maybe be reading in the latter half of this month. There’s two books that I’d really like to read during Tome Topple and those are A Gathering of Shadows by V.E. Schwab which has 511 pages and is an adult novel that’s also a part of a series and Illuminae by Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff which has 599 pages and would also fit the part of a series challenge. Naturally if I read both of them I’ll have completed the read more than one tome challenge. I didn’t think I had a graphic novel that’s over 500 pages but turns out Runaways: The Complete Collection Volume 3 by Brian K. Vaughan and others has 528 pages (according to Amazon) so that is definitely on my TBR and will help break up all the many pages I hope to read.

tometoppletbr

As I’m prone to changing my mind when it comes to readathons I’ll also have a couple of other tomes on standby in case I can’t get into Illuminae or A Gathering of Shadows for whatever reason. Those books are The Angel’s Game by Carlos Ruiz Zafon which has 531 pages, and fits the adult novel challenge and the tome that’s a part of a series challenge, Assassin’s Creed: Renaissance by Oliver Bowden which has 516 pages, fits the part of a series challenge and I think it’s considered an adult novel, and The Unexpected Everything by Morgan Matson which has 517 pages, it doesn’t fit any challenge but it has been sitting on my shelves for almost six months and seems like a fun, easy read.

I haven’t said anything about buddy reading yet that’s because while I don’t know anyone who is taking part in #TomeTopple and who are reading the books on my TBR, there’s a Goodreads group where you can discuss popular books so I’ll be checking that out over the weekend to see if anyone else is going to be reading some of my tomes.

Theoretically I should be able to complete all the challenges but like with the first Tome Topple Readathon I’ll be happy if I read one big book.

I’ll probably be tweeting about my progress @ElenaM52 and you can find out more about the readathon and all the co-hosts here. Good luck to all those who are taking part!

The Tome Topple Readathon

This readathon is hosted by ThoughtsonTomes from June 5th to June 19th and the aim of it is to read those huge intimidating books that are over 500 pages long that have been sitting on your shelves for ages.

There’s a few challenges you can try and complete which are below but really the main thing is to read some long books.

The challenges:
1. Read more than one tome (500+ pages)
2. Take a graphic novel break (doesn’t need to be over 500 pages!)
3. Read a tome that is part of a series
4. Read over 500 pages in one week
5. Read an adult novel

IMG_5175

I have four 500+ pages long books that I’m considering to read for this readathon. There’s no way I could or will read all four of them but I like to have some options when it comes to readathons. The four books are The Angel’s Game by Carlos Ruiz Zafon which is 531 pages, American Gods by Neil Gaiman which has 635 pages, Last Man Standing by David Baldacci which is 548 pages long and The Bone Clocks by David Mitchell which is a beautiful hardback book and has 595 pages.

Theoretically I’ll be able to complete all the challenges. All four books on my TBR are adult books, If I managed to complete a book a week then I’ll have read over 500 pages each week of the readathon, it turns out that The Angel’s Game is the second book in The Cemetery of Forgotten Books series which I didn’t realise when I picked it up from a charity shop, and I can definitely take a couple of graphic novel breaks as I have a few unread trade paper backs I’d liked to read including, All New Hawkeye, Black Widow Vol. 3, The Punisher Vol. 3 and Bucky Barnes: The Winter Soldier.

I really don’t know how this readathon will go. Hopefully it’ll go well but I am in a bit of a reading slump at the moment so who knows. To be honest, as long as I read one of these books I’ll be very happy.

I’ll probably be tweeting about my progress @ElenaM52 and you can find out more about the readathon and all the co-hosts here. Good luck to all those who are taking part!

TOP TEN TUESDAY: Ten Books I Picked Up On A Whim

Top Ten Tuesday is a feature run by BrokeAndBookish each week – I’m thinking I might not take part every week but just see if a week takes my fancy. This week it’s all about books you picked up on a whim, I’m going to take this as books I bought on a whim – so books that I’d never heard of, hadn’t read reviews for and books that I may have seen in passing on the internet but knew very little about. On to the books!

sudden death coverSudden Death by Alvaro Enrigue
I bought this book in Any Amount of Books, a lovely second-hand book shop off Leicester Square, the last time I was in in London. I had never heard of it before and when I read the blurb I was still none the wiser what it was actually about. It’s something to do with a tennis match and it mentions a lot of different historical figures and time-periods. I have no idea what it’s about or whether I’ll like it but that’s what made me pick it up.

the secret fire coverThe Secret Fire by CJ Daugherty and Carina Rozenfeld
I bought this one during the London Bookswap Crawl and I had never heard of it before. The striking cover was what drew me to it and then it was only a couple of quid so I ended up buying it. I haven’t read it yet but I have a feeling I’m going to get to it sooner rather than later.

 

asking for it louise oneilAsking For It by Louise O’Neill
So I had heard about this book through murmurings on the internet but I hadn’t read any full reviews. Then one day I was browsing Amazon, clicking from book to book and I saw Asking For It again and it wasn’t that expensive so I bought it. My review is here. (more…)