Sunday, November 25, 2012

The Midnight Palace - Carlos Ruiz Zafon (Niebla #2)

While this is the second in Zafon's juvenile fiction Niebla series, it has absolutely nothing (that I could discern) to do with the first book in the series.  It focuses on twins, separated at birth, and reunited unknowingly on their sixteenth birthday.  Ben grew up in an orphanage and is just about to set out on his own.  Sheere was raised by her grandmother who hid all information about her birth and her past in an effort to protect her.  With the help of Ben's friends, the two set out to learn more about their mysterious past and the deadly figure that has hunted them all their lives.  Once again, I found this book way too scary for a kid -but again, my scare threshhold is low, and maybe kids like these things.  This book is suspenseful and stretches the suspension of disbelief.  The dark figure that pursues the twins is almost too fantastical, but I did enjoy the mystery of it all - a nice quick read that got me through some tedious time in the hospital before the birth of my own twins.

Happier at Home - Gretchen Rubin

Awhile back I read and quite enjoyed Gretchen Rubin's book - The Happiness Project.  So when I saw that her new one employed many of the same happiness concepts - just focused more on the home, I was eager to read it - and actually places an advanced order on amazon - something this proud libary card holder does for only the rarest of books.  What I appreciate about Rubin's quest for happiness, and her eagerness to share her thoughts - is that she never assumes that what would make one person happy would necessarily work for another - and she intends her book to act as inspiration for all of us to create our own happiness agendas, rather than as a guide for what we should do to achieve happiness.  I also like her regular reminders that we cannot make others happy, and we cannot rely on others make us happy - and that these goals cannot guide our actions.  There was actually quite a bit in this book that I thought would affirmatively not work for me - and I was frustrated on her behalf (though she did not seem frustrated at all) at her husband's often reluctance to participate in her happiness suggestions.  Because I am a firm believer in the adage that "happiness is not a destination, but merely a mode of travel," I liked the reminders this book gave me in general to look for ways in my everyday life to create happiness around me.  While I did read the book straight through - like The Happiness Project, I feel like it's one I'd like to leave lying around to peruse now and again for inspiration.