By far the best book that I read in 2004 was "The Shadow of the Wind" by Carlos Ruiz Zafon. It was brilliant in every way, from the juicy prose that stuffed each page with rich, satisfying paragraphs to the fascinating characters and the plot that zipped along at a proper brisk pace. This book had me from the first mention of the "Cemetery of Forgotten Books" which is a book-lovers wet dream. Stephen King, whom I respect as an author, though I have only read one of his books ("The Shining," which terrified me and made me realize that I should not read horror fiction. I also read "The Reincarnation of Peter Proud" and "The Exorcist" in the same week, and had to have the light on in my room for the next 3 weeks, though I was 17 at the time!) called "Shadow of the Wind" "...one gorgeous read." WAPO called it "Scary, erotic, touching, tragic and thrilling..." and rightfully so! There's a "win a trip to Spain" contest that coincides with the release of the book in paperback, at www.penguin.com, for those interested. I am just in awe of the fact that this book was translated from Spanish, and yet it's still rife with glorious prose, so obviously not much was 'lost in translation' as one would assume might happen. Now, as to my TBR stack, at the moment I am reading "Sylvia's Farm" by Sylvia Jorrin, which has lots of interesting nature descriptions, but is told at a definite remove, or distance from the author, whose feelings and life are not really revealed herein, much to my chagrin. Books in line to be read are: "Snow Flower and the Secret Fan" by Lisa See"March" by Geraldine Brooks, author of the sublime "Year of Wonders," "Little Earthquakes" by Jennifer Weiner, author of "Good In Bed" which I liked, and "In Her Shoes" which I didn't, "My Dream of You" by Nuala O'Faolain"Accidental Happiness" by Jean Reynolds Page, signed and procured after interviewing the author for the Mercer Island Reporter, "Younger By the Day," by Victoria Moran,"The Acorn Principle" by Jim Cathcart"Corrrelli's Mandolin" by De Bernieres and "Speak, Memory" by Vladmir Nabokov. I will receive a copy of Sharon Lee and Steve Millers "Crystal Soldier" this month from Misha Merlin publishing, and I am looking forward to reading it, as Lee and Miller never fail to exult the reader with their marvelous, well-fleshed characters and their exacting, exciting Liaden Universe. Even their chapbooks, which are compliations of short stories, are wonderful. Once you've indulged in the Lee-Miller nexus of prose, you will be hooked, trust me. I will write more about why you should read up on Clan Korval in my next post. Til then, gentle reader, take care.