Wednesday, November 2, 2016


Six months after the dramatic conclusion of Moscow Rules, Gabriel has returned to the tan hills of Umbria to resume his honeymoon with his new wife, Chiara, and restore a seventeenth-century altarpiece for the Vatican. But his idyllic world is once again thrown into turmoil with shocking news from London. The defector and former Russian intelligence officer Grigori Bulganov, who saved Gabriel's life in Moscow, has vanished without a trace. British intelligence is sure he was a double agent all along, but Gabriel knows better. He also knows he made a promise. 
It will take Gabriel from a quiet mews in London, to the shores of Lake Como, to the glittering streets of Geneva and Zurich, and, finally, to a heart- stopping climax in the snowbound birch forests of Russia. Faced with the prospect of losing the one thing he holds most dear, Gabriel will be tested in ways he never imagined possible. And his life will never be the same.

 When Clarence comes upon a series of letters from her family’s past, she starts to piece together the story of her father’s travels with his brother, and she becomes curious about her origins. Sifting through the clues and assembling the narrative, Clarence embarks on a journey to the exotic African isle of Fernando Poo, where the 2 brothers, Jacobo and Kilian, landed after fleeing their conventional, safe lives in the Spanish Pyrenees.
  A secret rests at the heart of this tale as it moves back and forth between generations and spaces. For Clarence, in 2003, the life that Jacobo and Kilian created 50 years ago on the island as 2 expatriate cocoa cultivators starts to unfold. The brothers explore a culture that is starkly different from Spain, and in the midst of discovering what it means to grow the perfect cocoa beans, they build a strong friendship—and learn the dangers and delights of forbidden love.

 - > Here's room for two more mini comments. It almost feels like cheating but I've been having quite the reading mojo and I can't be online or blogging as fast as I read.
These two books have in common the fact I've read them in Portuguese.

Palm Trees in the Snow is a romance written by a Spanish author. I purchased this book last year, knowing several people I know have liked it. I wasn't very familiar with the plot and hoped I'd enjoy it. I did, this is a story about two Spanish brothers who travel to Equatorial Guinea during the 50s to work in the cocoa exploration at the island of Bioko. This happened before Guinea's Independence and while the Spanish had control over the government and the story revolves a lot around political and social issues, as well as the romance. 
The book is also divided into two, we have what was happening to the brothers in the past and also a contemporary part where we follow their children. I liked the book, the feelings we are supposed to have while reading, I liked the descriptions about the island, the lives of those people, it shows the research the author did. I think it wasn't as powerful as the author intended and to me that happened because when we finally discover the biggest secret of all it turns out to be something that didn't have to be that way. I wouldn't say it's a plot hole, but it would be easily avoided and that removed some of the strength out of it. 
But still, it was a great read and for such a big book (my edition had around 500 pages) I went through it very quickly.
Grade: 8/10

The Defector is the 9th installment in the Gabriel Allon series. This book was lent to me, as many recent Portuguese books have been.
This is the first book by the author I read so it's no surprise that I wasn't aware it is part of an already long series. Well, I didn't know it but I soon got the idea when countless references about past characters and situations were mentioned or even dealt with here. I can understand new readers shouldn't begin with middle of the series books and several things did make sense but still...
This is basically a spy story mixed with several personal development in the characters and their lives. Sure, I think the author did a great job wih his descriptions and talk of spy stuff, the research seems well done but in all honesty I can't say I was very intrigued. The mystery/problem solving stuff can be great but have no appeal to me because it's all about tactics and things I have no interest in. The emotional aspect is intriguing but not knowing any past things, some things just seem avoidable to me. I see where the readers find their interest but to me, it was just meh. I'm glad I read it and now know how the author's writing is like but I'm not eager to read more or to start the series from the beginning.
Grade: 5/10

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