Recently Read #2

books

Recently I’ve been buying a lot of the books that I’d like to read as I usually believe these books are worth keeping for re-reading rounds. About a month ago I ran out of new books to read and couldn’t be bothered to order books and then wait a week for them to arrive, so I took a trip to the local library. I used to go to that library a lot when I was younger so it feels like home to me and it really hasn’t changed much from that time. This was the first time that I checked the adult’s English section (my mother tongue is actually Finnish) which to be honest, could be better but I understand that not everyone likes to read in English here. However I did found a book that hooked me from the beginning and is quite a new release which surprised me.

Elizabeth Kostova: The Shadow Land

To be honest, I first thought that this book would be more like a fantasy book based on the title but it turned out to be a really gripping mystery book instead, and I have nothing to complain about that. The book began quite slowly but it was still fascinating enough to come back to. The plot really develops just before the midpoint and some interesting subplots emerge. This story is located in Bulgaria which I enjoyed as the plot included a lot of history about the country that I had never heard before.

The main character is an American woman called Alexandra who has after some tragic events decided to move to Bulgaria to teach English and explore the country her brother loved. When she arrives she meets a family in front of a hotel who are nice to  her and when they leave, she notices that they have accidentally left her an item that is quite unusual. She then decides to go look for them across Bulgaria with a helpful taxi-driver called Bobby and along the way they discover more about the item that was left to Alexandra and about the horrible history that is connected to the item. After a while they also discover that they are followed and the family and maybe even they themselves are in danger.

I have never yet come across a mystery like this and the story was extremely gripping, especially after the midpoint. There are flashbacks to the history of a certain important character which bring great depth to the story and otherwise really bring out the history of Bulgaria. This book is a great mix of history and fiction with a little bit of a love story somewhere along the way, which definitely is my cup of tea.

Sujata Massey: The Kizuna Coast

To be honest, I mainly chose this book from the library shelf because of the beautiful artwork in the cover. This is another mystery book and I can’t believe I haven’t been introduced to this book series before. I have now discovered that the Rei Shimura mystery books are quite popular and critically acclaimed and I can totally see why. This book is an independent piece from the series but the main character and some other characters form the series remain the same.

I started reading this book yesterday and finished it today. It has over 400 pages so it’s quite a long read but I couldn’t put it down. The style of writing is really well flowing and it was immediately easy to understand the connection between the characters and places. The tension of the mystery ahead can be felt right from the beginning of the story and it builds up nicely through the book to the very last chapters of the piece.

The main character of the piece is Rei Shimura who has decided to settle in Hawaii with her husband after living in Japan for a while, solving mysteries and helping her mentor Mr. Ishida in his antique shop. They have managed to build a peaceful life for themselves until they hear about the earthquakes and tsunami that has occurred in Japan and destroyed most of the coast villages and towns. Rei gets a phone call from Mr. Ishida who has been travelling to an auction in a town that has been severely affected by the natural disaster. Rei hops on the plane to Japan in order to collect her mentor from the village and bring him back safely to Tokio. Along the way they discover that there is something wrong with the disappearance of Mr. Ishida’s assistant Mayumi who has been with him in the same area and who had some valuable pieces of art in her possession.

I loved how the mystery wasn’t clear straight from the beginning but the plot developed gradually and other subplots appeared to support the main storyline. All of the characters were well written and the writer’s knowledge about Japanese culture and the natural disasters were clearly visible which made the story really enjoyable to read and more valid. The story actually seemed to reflect the feelings of those who had been through the tsunami in real life which helped the reader to create a deep connection with the characters. There is also a lot of humour involved which lightens nicely the heavy topic of the book. Now I’m definitely intrigued to check the other pieces of the Rei Shimura series as well.

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