My year in books

Text by Nora Vasconcelos

2013 books
If I had to choose a title for my year in books, I would say that it should be 2013: Back to the Classics.

And this is because this year I spend a good deal of time getting amazed (one more time and from an adult perspective), by some of the most well recognized books such as Frankenstein by Mary Shelly; From the Earth to the Moon and Round the Moon, by Jules Verne; Dracula, by Bram Stocker, and of course, my always faithfull companion, the Sherlock Holmes stories, by Conan Doyle.

I also discovered -thanks to my friends-, the magic of old stories such as Superman, particularly the old radio shows from the 40’s and 50’s, which were based on the original comic version of the superheros or on old fiction works from the 30’s.

My love for mystery stories remain fresh thanks to some of the books of the series Murder, She Wrote, by Donald Bain. My favorite one so far is Murder in Minor Key, and I like this one because it’s placed in New Orleans, one of my favorite cities in all the world.

Another suspense book for this year was Inferno, by Dan Brown, and what I liked the most of this story was that it’s placed in Florence, city which I also like a lot.

However, my very favorite mystery/suspense book of this year it the one I’m currently reading that it’s call The burglar in the library, by Lawrence Block. The story happens in an old English style cottage not far from New York city, and then it’s developed by the author in a delightful way, leading the reader from one room to the other in order to solve the mysterious events that are ruining everybody’s weekend.

Not related to this genre, I came back to the Steven Milhausser stories. I started last year with Eisenheim The Illusionist, and I continued this year with the collection of short stories under the title The Barnum Museum. What I love about Milhausser it his attention to the details and the precision of the descriptions of every single part of the rooms where the stories happen, making of the surrounding key elements to the story the same as the characters.

My Christmas book for this year, is one that I’ve just bought. It’s title is The Bridge, by Karen Kingsbury. It’s a sweet love story gone all wrong combined with a stressful situation related to a library that is about to go under. What will it happened? It’s still for me to find out, but by the speed I’m turning the pages, I’m sure I’ll get all the answers before 2014 comes here.

As for Non-fiction books, I’m taking great delight with The Big Bands by George T. Simon, as it tell the story of this music movement that started to be very popular in the States, back then in the 1940’s.

Cooking books, another fiction novels and short stories were also part of my 2013 reading list and for all of them, each one of them, I’m truly thankful.

What will I be reading in 2014? The list it long, the pile is high, and the thrill of going through my new acquisitions is immensely big.

Until then, Happy readings to you all!

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Isaac Asimov: An imaginative mind without limits

Text and Photo by Nora Vasconcelos

Infinite Horizons.
Infinite Horizons.
Last year around this time a unique book came to my hands, The end of Eternity by Isaac Asimov, captured my mind since the very beginning, filling my mind with vivid images about how the Eternity could look like, with all its different eras, and the “headquarters of the “eternals” who took care (and some times determined the faith) of the life of the “non-eternals” as to prevent any major changes at any given era that could affect or impact the prevalence of eternity.

However, this big bosses of the eternity weren’t counting on their plans falling apart for one factor that throughout history has usually caused unexpected turns: love. So, as it happened, one eternal, who was meant to be a key element on the creation and preservation of Eternity, fell in loved. 

It was the internal fight of this eternal who fell in love with a non-eternal that made him break the rules and go against all he had ever believed in. This love and his assumptions that he had been betrayed made him become one of the elements that caused “the end of Eternity”, to leave instead, the beginning of Infinity.

Although I finished this book in a couple of days, it’s impact in my reader’s mind has lasted up to know, admiring the way Asimov mastered the art of writing combining in his book elements of suspense, romance and science fiction.

I’ve also found more and more elements in this novel that seem to have become a reference for sci-fi book writers and screenplay writers focused on time traveling stories.

As for me, one year later, I still feel honored that I had the chance to read such magnificent work. So many thanks Mr. Asimov, wherever you are from here to infinity! 🙂

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Mystery, suspense and romance, the perfect mix

Text and photo by Nora Vasconcelos

One of the things I like to do is to exchange books with my friends. It was so that A Sudden, Feeraful Death came into my hands.

I had never read anything by Anne Perry, but the text in the back cover made me get into the first page of the book right away.

The story happens at the end of the XIX century in London, when a nurse is found death at a hospital. The event takes an investigator to get inside the hospital to try to discover all the facts of such an unexpected event.

While investigating, the main character, William Monk, gets in touch again with an old friend, Hester Latterly, a nurse who worked with Florence Nightingale during the Crimean War.

Together, they learn the ways in which the old hospital operates and how the different personal interests of the doctors, nurses and administrators influence on the everyday life of this place.

But hard work and facts are not the only things that they find, this time together gives Monk and Latterly the chance to ask themselves about their personal relationship, with not always the best answers at hand.

Through all the novel, suspense remains, showing also very detail passages of the Victorian London, so that that in the end, it’s easy for the reader to feel inside the story looking at the events, just lika another bystander observing Monk and Letterly trying to solve the mysteries of the story.

When the end comes, the crime is solved, but the suspense between the two main characters and their relationship is still there, leaving the door open to new possibilities for these two friends.

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