Mystery in the 1920s : Found Drowned, by BK Duncan

bibliophilefdrowned

London, 1920.

The unrecognizable body of a young boy is found in the river. Accidents happen a lot around this impoverished part of the town, but can it actually have been one? Might it have been a suicide instead? Or might his death have been a result of something much more sinister?

London in the 1920s is a difficult place to live in. Being both a woman and a Coroner’s Officer makes it even more so. May Keaps, however, is not intimidated easily, and she certainly doesn’t give up on the first difficulty.

 

Having been tasked with the difficult job of finding the identity of the drowned child, she finds herself in the middle of dark secrets, politics, and dangerous people. Among those who will reach for her, who can she actually trust? Might there be a wolf in disguise among the people who claim to be helping her?

 

This is a fast paced and certainly well written story. As a reader, I had a hard time finding out the culprit, which speaks in volumes as far as the success of a mystery book is concerned. An elaborate plot leads the reader through ups and downs, and you can expect something new in every turn of the page. Lacking any boring or long drawn intervals, Fund Drowned is the mystery book you want to read when you need a fast, strong plot, and well built characters.  A very sad, but very beautiful story nonetheless.

A strong heroine

May Keaps is a strong, confident heroine who knows what she wants and has a very acute sense of justice. She strives for what is right, longing to protect not only the people she considers her own, but also the weak ones that she meets along the way. An admirable character, she is unique in both her passion and her courage.

She is not, however, the only admirable character. Along the story, you will meet some interestingly unique people. Smart, cunning, dangerous, vulnerable, each of them has a part to play in a plot woven elaborately, and some of them may keep more secrets than you would expect.

Found Drowned is the second book in a mystery series by author B.K. Duncan, with the first one being Foul Trade.

Reading strangely amusing books: Peril in the Old Country, by Sam Hooker

bibliophileperilold

Sometimes you just need to find a book that is very different from your every day reads. I’m not just talking about the theme. It’s more than that. It’s the humor, the descriptions, the ending. You will probably wonder how you can find such a book. Well, luckily I might be able to help you with that. So, here’s what I just finished reading.

Let me introduce you to Sloot Peril

Sloot is an anxious, law abiding citizen of the Old Country, a devoted accountant, and a loyal subordinate to the Domnitor – long may he reign. No way would he ever have anything to do with his country’s greatest enemy, Carpathia, thank you very much. He is as loyal as a loyal citizen can be, Oath declared every day and all.

But everything is about to change

An accounting report, however, is about to change all that. Sloot becomes a dinner guest of Lord Hapsgalt, one of the most powerful, and vastly rich people in the country. And that is where everything goes terribly, terribly wrong. That’s the part when he learns he’s a Carpathian, meets a bunch of very peculiar people, and finds his bravery. It’s also the part where he gets in grave danger. And, let’s not forget, Sloot wants nothing to do with any of these things.

 

Welcome to the Old Country

whose true name is never pronounced, and where goblins are a real threat. This is the land where no one can swear, lines in Public Services are bound to be long – or else one would get the wrong impression- and freedom is not a word the citizens are quite familiar with. Nevertheless, it beats the neighboring country, Carpathia, where citizens are complete savages, beating people up and killing for no reason. Or is all this just tale tell?

 

This is a witty tale,full of creatively constructed countries and peculiar heroes. Much more humane than in mostly other heroic tales, the people you meet in Sloot’s story are genuinely real. They’re not made of steel, and so they can, too, experience fear and agony, and still be heroic in their own way. From a crazy old nanny to the ruler of the great and mighty Carpathia, each one offers an abundance of laughter, witty remarks, and snappy remarks. Twisting and turning, the plot is full of dark humor, but can also leave you shocked at times (let’s not elaborate on that, we want to keep it spoil free).

Why should you add this to your tbr pile?

Sam Hooker’s writing reminded me, in essence, a lot of Lemony Snicket’s Series of Unfortunate Events, mixed with a humorous 007 story plot. The Old Country has something strongly Orwellian about it, giving the story a larger depth, while showing that a humorous mystery tale can also reveal many, many ugly truths about society. That being said, it would be a book to recommend for all of the fiction lovers out there. Pick up the book, follow Peril through his perilous adventures, and get lost in a world of strange habits, strange people, and strange happenings.

Peril in the Old Country comes out on June 5th, 2018. Mark your calendars, book dragons!

 

The fiction book you will love: Grey Lore, by Jean Knight Pace & Jacob Kennedy

bibliophilegr
Grey Lore

“Not all wolves are bad. And not all men are good. And most are unfortunately stuck somewhere in between”.

 

Living in a small town in Indianapolis with her dull, distant aunt was never Ella’s plan. But then again, neither was it to become an orphan after her mother’s accident. Life in Napper is slow, quiet, and definitely uneventful. Until Ella starts hearing voices from creatures that are not supposed to talk. Is she slowly losing her mind? Or are there things out there she never had imagined would be true?

But Ella is not alone

Along with her two new friends, Sam and Sarah, the young girl will find herself in the middle of more action than she had expected in this place. Fate seems to have a lot in place for all of them, and not everyone on their road to discovery is there to help them. A peculiar and unique past unravels for each of them, but their choices are what will ultimately define them!

A story like no other

bibliophilegrPrepare yourself for some of the most intricately woven plot you will ever find in a book. Gorgeous storytelling, detailed narrative, unexpected twists are all woven together in this amazingly strange story. This is more than a book for the fans of fiction. This is a world of lore and tales within a larger one, a modern fairy tale that encases so many others. Grey Lore shows you how fairy tales are made. Sometimes subtly, other times less so, the reader sees how the battle of good and evil and the heroes and the villains of real life are what moves humanity to create its myths and legends.

 

Fast paced and with no lack of plot, the story keeps you hooked from the first page up to the very last. Expertly managing to avoid cliches, it also creates an air of mystery around characters, keeping you guessing  about their pasts,as well as  their intentions. There is a fun game of the reader involved, in which you will desperately try to find the culprits and the villains. It is not as easy as it looks – which makes it even more fun to be involved with. By the time the pieces of the puzzle fit together, the reader has reached the climax of the story.

As a fantasy enthusiast, I was completely engrossed in the story. Having read dozens, if not hundreds, of fantasy books, I have to admit that it is very difficult to bump into a unique structure in a book, and a different plot than what hides in most fantasy books. I can happily declare that Grey Lore was one of those rare occasions where a book absolutely (and happily) surprises you.

There’s a lot more I could say about the book, but I definitely do not want to spoil any of the fun you can have with it. So I will wrap up, saying that I strongly recommend reading this, especially for the fantasy genre enthusiasts.

A January Reading Recap: Irish Folk Tales, Dystopias and Vikings.

 siriusthecat

January. The month of fresh starts.

The time of optimism and setting goals. Sometimes those goals are a little bit unrealistic, but we all deserve to hope, right?

My humble goals for the New Year revolve (unsurprisingly) around books. So I vouched I would read more diversely. Fiction will always be the (bookish) love of my life, but that doesn’t mean I shouldn’t try out other styles.

So here I am. It’s February 2nd , and January’s reads have given me an insight into topics I didn’t expect I would get to study into any degree of details.

bibliophilegr

Vikings and Fairies

The Sea Wolves by Lars Brownworth gave me a glimpse into a people that strove to live in  inhospitable environments, trades, explored and conquered. Irish Fairy and Folk Tales by W.B.Yeats taught me a thing or two about faeries. I learned what a Banshee is (not a pleasant being, but interesting none the less). I also realised that Irish Gaelic is incredibly difficult to pronounce – but what a gorgeous language it is!

A first dive into Dystopias

January was also the month of my initiation in Dystopias. To this day, I have to admit I never got round to reading the Hunger Games. This month, I read Scythe By Neil Shusterman. I will be honest with you. Was it good? Better than what I had expected, and a good introduction to the genre. Still not my cup of tea, though.

bibliophilegr

Getting acquainted with the works of Rupi Kaur

Poetry is a word many people are afraid of, and I used to belong in that category. Reluctantly at first, I started Rupi Kaur’s Milk and Honey, the result being that I also read her The Sun and Her Flowers poetic anthology in the same day. I found her writing beautiful and empowering. There, all fear of Poetry is now gone. That’s a definite win.

Thrillers? Yes, please!

Final Girls by Riley Sager was quite the thriller! With lots of twists and turns, it was one of those books that you read through a single night. Have you ever found yourself muttering “one more chapter”, never actually putting it down? Well, that’s what happened with me and the Final Girls.

Getting better sleep

The Sleep Solution by W.Chris Winter was, bottom line, a self help book about sleeping better. Although I don’t usually encounter problems with my sleep, there were some interesting facts in there. You can learn a lot about the way your brain functions during sleep, what kind of problems can arise, and what you can do to have a better night’s sleep. I’m still not a big fan of self help books, though.

bibliophile.gr
Evil Librarian

Reading outside your comfort zone doesn’t mean you shouldn’t read some of your favorite genres as well. This month I got to read the Evil Librarian (see full review here), a hilarious,smart fiction book. I also read The Ocean at the end of the Lane by Neil Gaiman (which was long overdue).  In between trying new things, always go back to some of your loved ones as well. Reading, after all, shouldn’t be a chore.

In total, I managed to read fourteen books this past month. I don’t expect every month to be as prolific, but that’s not the point. This January, I read some books that I knew I’d probably like, but I also tried new genres. In the best of situations, I discovered new kinds of literature I liked, and learned various things. In the worst of situations, I confirmed my not liking some types of styles and plots, which I also count as a good thing.

So here’s to a different, more diverse bookish year. I hope you have made some bookish resolutions, too. But even if you haven’t, there’s always time. You might discover some interesting things about yourself. And they say there’s no better time than the present, right?

 

 

 

On finding books while travelling: The Great Literary Hunt

bibliophilegr

I’m not particularly set on being normal. In fact, I believe it is just an overestimated adjective. And I know for a fact that a lot of other bookworms (sorry, I meant book dragons!) agree with me.

But why am I telling you this?

You know how some people go travelling and buy little souvenirs? Probably some postcards, fridge magnets, things like that? Some others buy more expensive things, like jewellery, clothing, paintings. Well, I so happen to buy different kinds of souvenirs. I think you have already guessed where I’m going with this. Yes. Books!

The Great Literary Hunt

My friends think I’m weird. (Now that I think about it, I should probably have that printed on a t-shirt). “What kind of person goes on a trip and buys books?”, they ask. The answer, of course, is the Great Book Dragons (yes, you are one too, and you know it!).

I don’t mean  that I just go buy a book that I could have found back home, though. It wouldn’t make a lot of sense, would it? I do buy, however, a book that I might not normally find in a Greek bookstore, one that I’d probably have to order online.

bibliophile.gr
A happy traveler and her newly found treasure

In 2016, on a trip to Stockholm, my husband and I bumped into a secondhand store. I discovered some very cheap books (oooh!shiny!) , five in total. Come on, be honest: you wouldn’t have left them behind! And neither did I.

Other interesting types of books can be found in museum gift shops. Oh, the heaven of a well organised book section in a museum gift shop! I found the best so far in Florence, in Galleria Uffizi. That’s where my copy of The Medici Curse comes from (there’s a full review of that book in the blog).

It’s not always a common book, though. Sometimes you’ll find a rarer gem, and then the real excitement begins!Your heart just started beating a little faster, didn’t it?

Sighisoara, Romania, July 2017

bibliophilegrOur last summer trip was in Transylvania. It had been our third day there, visiting a very beautiful, small town with a medieval center, mostly known as the birthplace of Vlad III ( the inspiration for Stoker’s Dracula). It was noon, and incredibly hot. We decided to get into a small, local cafe and cool ourselves with some ice coffee.

And that’s where I spotted it.

My little gem. My small treasure. Upon a bookshelf, lay a book published in Romanian, German and English: The Treasure Book of Sighisoara.

The treasure Book of Sighisoara

bibliophilegrFunded by the town of Sighisoara, the book is a tribute to the town. It was written by local historians and experts, and shows the history of the town through the ages. From prehistoric settlements to the 21st century, all parts recorded in history are there. It is also articulately and beautifully illustrated. Well written, it is an absolute piece of art. A book that is not easily found online either, let alone in any other country’s bookshop.

bibliophilegr

So, there you have it. Finding new books is always a joy. However, stumbling upon rare gems of the literary world is even better. Experiencing that while travelling is an absolutely astounding experience. Never mind what the “normal” people buy while travelling. Go ahead, buy that book. Let your little bookworm heart leap with joy! And if you’re genuinely fond of the magnets, sure, buy them as well.

The point is that you can discover amazing little treasures while travelling. You do you. And if that means a literary hunt, go ahead and just do it!

P.S. Remember to show us all what you found. The second best thing to finding it yourself, is for other bibliophiles to show you what they have found on their own book hunts!

 

Evil Librarian : (thankfully) not another classic supernatural story

bibliophile.gr
Evil Librarian

A normal town, a normal school, normal lives…right?

Cynthia and her best friend, Annie, are high school students. A normal town, a normal school, normal lives. Until the day there are some very exciting news: there’s a new librarian in school! Cynthia expects to see a bald, middle-aged man with glasses. Except this one is different. The new librarian is young, handsome and incredibly charming. But, soon enough, Cynthia’s friend seems to get more than a little transfixed with him, and she is not the only one. Something strange seems to be happening in the school, and Cynthia is determined to find what evil forces hide behind the charming face of Mr Gabriel.

“You’re not human”, he says.

He begins to laugh. Then he stops laughing and winks at us.

“Strangely, the job description did not specify that as a requirement”.

 

bibliophile.grA hilarious story, Evil Librarian is smart and exciting to read. At last, a fiction book with supernatural creatures that doesn’t take itself way too seriously! There are lots of books out there were the weight of the world weighs upon the hero’s shoulders – and it’s not necessarily bad. But sometimes readers just need something with a lighter tone, and more humor.

Michelle Knudsen manages to find the perfect balance between action, romance and humor. There were a lot of points through the story where I cracked up laughing. Especially when it came to Cynthia’s thoughts.

Finally! A unique, strong heroine

The story is written through the heroine’s perspective in its entirety. We find out a lot about her friendships, ambitions, and – let us not forget- her crush. The highlight of her character, however,  is her cleverness, and her determination to save the people she cares about.  No more naive heroines who blindly do what they’re told. Here’s a smart young woman taking charge!

bibliophile.gr

Should you read this?

I cannot stress enough how much you will enjoy this. All in all, I have to admit that I bought this book half expecting I would either get bored of it or it would be ridiculously straight forward in its plot. I am happy to inform you that I was proven wrong. I found a genuine plot, laughter up until the last pages, and beautifully constructed characters. If supernatural creatures are your thing in literature, don’t miss out on giving this gem a try!

 

 

On books, readers, and finding comfort in dark times

On reading…

You’ve been there before.

There are days when you don’t really want to get out of bed. And sometimes these days come closer together. Maybe you don’t like your job. Maybe you are going through a breakup. Whether that’s a family member, a friend or a lover, it’s possible a loved one is no longer in your life . But it just might be that you are going through a rough phase. It’s alright. We’ve all been there.

When I was around 10, there was a special book I called friend of mine. Whenever I had an unpleasant day at school, or had a fight with a friend, I would curl up in my bed. I’d get A Tree Grows In Brooklyn on my lap and start reading. Boy, did I read that book a lot! There was a time in my life I could recite every line. Somehow, it made me feel better. Somewhere between getting away from the real world and getting lost in another one, I always seemed to start feeling better.

what doyoudowithanidea
“What do you do with an idea?” By Kobi Yamada

“We read to know were not alone.” C.S. Lewis

It’s not always something simple like a sad day. And books are not the ultimate remedy for everything. But starting a new story, or even revisiting an old one, has a magical way of making me feel better. I do, indeed, as C.S.Lewis wisely said, feel less alone. I meet characters that think he same way I do, feel what I feel – or maybe I feel what they feel- and, in the process, I realize that I am not alone in what I go through.

Sometimes you just need a different perspective. Sometimes you need to get away from it all and return with a clear mind and have a fresh start. Other times all you need is to feel that someone else has been there before, and things might just not be as bad as you imagine them to be.

For some people, music does the trick. For some others, books do the job. Whatever the reason, pick up the book. Get lost in another world. Give it a try – the possibilities are endless.

Remember that somewhere out there, there is another reader going through a rough phase. Somewhere out there, a writer has put in paper what you feel, has made a story out of what you happen to be going through. And maybe, just maybe, they have something to say that will help you go through it.

siriusthecat
Reading companions are always a big help. Sirius the cat

If all else fails, connect with the readers

Remember that readers are usually highly empathetic people. When you read, you tend to see other people’s perspectives, which also helps respect different reactions and feelings. If you find the need to connect more, keep in mind that literature is not just about the books .

bibliophilegr
This is the bookstagram post that lead to a wonderful conversation
booksandreaders
On books and readers…

A while back I asked the Bookstagram community about reading. I felt down, and sad, and a bit frozen in place, as if my life was moving no more forward to the point I wanted it too.  So, I reached for fellow readers and asked one simple question: “Why do you read?”. I was surprised to find some incredibly beautiful answers:

“I read because I like reading (it) relaxes me. It takes me to world in certain books. That the stories are interesting because I get a glimpse into another person’s life.” – @bookwormbelle27

“I read because it allows me to live a thousand lives. It allows me to see the world through different perspectives. To travel in time and distance. I read because its part of my life. Can’t imagine my life without books.” – @moodforbooks

“I read because sometimes this world is too much….” – @ a.mind.needs.books

“It is such a stress reliever and re-energizer!” – @notes_of_a_book_dragon

“I read so I can take a break from being me” – @popsicle_doodles917

“…to take a break from reality. […] And sometimes books actually make me appreciate what I have now, and teach me not to take some things for granted”. – @alinasreadingcorner

“I read to escape reality for a while” – @welshbookdragons

And my absolute favorite:

“For me reading had always been a promise. The promise of adventure and love, that even ordinary me could be special in another world or for another someone. It was the promise that even the saddest stories can have a happy ending. Reading was me living a life both better and worse than mine. Nowadays I read to be enchanted, to be in another world, to feel when I don’t wan t to feel my own emotions. To cry for another so I won’t have to cry for me. To be touched or angry or sad.” – @Booksofhopeanddreams

bibliophile

It’s all in the community.

I always say that readers are the introverts you want in your life. They listen, they (at least try to) understand, they empathize. Should you find yourself in a hard time, should you need a person to talk to, find a fellow reader. Talk and be heard. Listen to what they have to say. You might just find what you need in order to get through your hard times.

Footnote: A very big thank you to all the bookworms that took part in sharing their reasons for reading with me. You can find these wonderful people on instagram and follow their bookish stories.

Our Endless Numbered Days: An interview with the author, Claire Fuller

bibliophile.gr
Our Endless Numbered Days

Once upon a time, in a bookshop far far away…

I picked up a book that caught my eye because of its title: “Our Endless Numbered Days”. Now, that is one interesting contrast. Let’s just look at the back and see what it’s about.

Two minutes later, I was heading out of the bookstore, my new book in my arms. Its unique title and beautiful cover had drawn my attention to it, but the story was what really enchanted me.

Peggy is eight years old when her survivalist father packs up and takes her into the woods, away from any form of civilization.

Leaving his wife behind, he announces to his daughter that there has been a major disaster, and the two of them are the only humans that have survived it.

Deep into the wilderness, the eight year old girl will have to learn how to survive.  But the most difficult thing for her will be to learn how to live with the memory of a mother that is no longer there, and considered forever gone. For years, her life will revolve around hunger, hardships and fear. Her endless days will only be numbered by the change of the seasons.

Peggy, however, is a strong girl. She is the princess of her own fairy tale, a hero in her own story. And she proves it when, after all, she finds her way out of this.

But how did she manage to find her way out? What happened to her father? Can her life become normal again after this nightmare? What will she find when she goes home?

bibliophile.gr
Our Endless Numbered Days

This is Our Endless Numbered Days

A fairy tale that is unique, interesting, and often dark. But, as you’ll see Claire Fuller saying later on, all stories need some darkness. After all, what good would it do for everything to be perfect, polished, and completely unrealistic?

Our Endless Numbered Days is Claire Fuller’s debut novel. It has been welcomed wholeheartedly by readers all over the world, and has also won the 2015 Desmond Elliott Prize. I had the honor of asking Claire Fuller some questions about the creative process of this story, as well as her personal thoughts on some of the aspects this book approaches. Here is, firsthand, the creator’s view of Our Endless Numbered Days.

 

Our Endless Numbered Days is your first novel. It has been loved by readers worldwide, and has also won the Desmond Elliott Prize. Did you expect that magnitude of response to your work? How did it make you feel when you found out you had won the Prize?

I didn’t even expect the novel to be published. I was aware as I was writing it, how difficult it is to get an agent and get a book published, so even those things surprised me. I certainly didn’t expect it to win the Desmond Elliott Prize. The announcement was made at a ceremony in London, and I had to go up and make a short speech and accept my cheque and a bottle of champagne. But I was so overwhelmed I left the cheque behind on the podium.

How long had you had the idea for before starting writing the book?

I thought of the starting point of the novel only as I started writing it. It wasn’t something that I considered for any length of time before I sat down at my laptop.

A question most authors find difficult to answer is where their inspiration comes from. If we could alter that a bit, what helps you create your worlds?

I think I can answer where my inspiration comes from in nearly all cases whether that’s my novels or short stories. With Our Endless Numbered Days it was from a news story in 2011, when a teenager appeared in Berlin saying he’d been living in the woods with his father for the previous five years. This story turned out to be a hoax, but that was the spark. With my second novel, Swimming Lessons it was a project me and my (future) husband did, to hide notes in each other’s houses. But while I’m in the middle of a novel, what often helps me to create worlds are pieces of flash fiction that I write. These will often inspire scenes within the narrative.

Our endless numbered days follows the life of Peggy, the heroine, who has clearly been through a very traumatic period in her life. How difficult was it to portray the psyche of such a traumatized person?

She definitely is traumatized but when I was writing her I didn’t think about that. I didn’t give her a label, I suppose. I knew she was going through some difficult things, and I put myself in her position and tried to imagine what she would feel, how she would behave, and what she might do to cope with those particular set of circumstances.

We watch the story unravel between past and present. Is there a part that you, as the author, found more challenging to write about?

The sections that took place in the present time of the book were harder to write for two reasons: firstly, Peggy’s characteristics and the things she had faced in her past clearly needed to have an effect on the kind of person she was in the present sections (whereas the present obviously didn’t have an effect on the past). But even more difficult was the need to be aware of the information that the present sections drip-fed readers about the past. I had to make sure that enough was revealed to keep the intrigue without giving too much away.

Who was the most difficult character to create?

I think this was probably James, Peggy’s father. He’s a complex man and his mind works in ways different to my own (which made writing him interesting), but of course we only see him through Peggy’s eyes when she is a child and a teenager. If the book was published I the majority of my readers to be adults, so I needed to try to make the readers understand his motivations even while Peggy didn’t question them herself.

Peggy’s father is a survivalist. Throughout the story we watch him organizing drills, creating lists, teaching his child about surviving in the wilderness. There was clearly a lot of research put into it. How much of a writer’s time is spent in researching?

I imagine it’s different for each author and every book, but when I started writing Our Endless Numbered Days, I knew very little about the history of the survivalism movement, and almost nothing about how to survive in the wild. I do my research as I go along when I realise there is something I need to know, so it’s impossible to break down the time between writing and research, but I did a lot for Our Endless Numbered Days. From what plants are safe to eat, how to make a fire, to how to skin a rabbit, and how many calories there are in a squirrel; I had to research it all.

There is often a “once upon a time” feeling in the story and many readers have characterized this as a “dark fairy tale”. How do you feel about this?

I’m very happy with that description. Once I’d decided that most of the story would take place in a European forest, it made sense to add to the feeling of menace by using a theme of fairytales. There are five or six traditional fairytales that are obliquely mentioned in the novel, and it’s up to readers to spot them!

We see a lot of effort from the story’s survivors to mend “lost” or “broken”, fragile relationships. How easy do you feel mending relationships such as this story’s is?  Do you believe any human tragedy can be overcome by effort or are there things that cannot be mended?

I’d like to think that any broken relationship can be mended, but I understand that in reality this is more difficult, and depends to a huge extent on an individual’s bias, history, and character. I’m thinking here beyond the relationships in the book, or even family relationships, to broken relationships between countries, ethnic groups, and religions. I always have hope.

We see difficult decisions being made in the book, and “evil” actions. Do you believe in absolute “good” and “evil” characters?

Oh, definitely not. I try to make my characters complete people with good and bad elements, the same as with anyone in real life. I don’t think anyone is absolutely good or absolutely bad, sometimes people make the wrong decision, but there is always room for redemption.

Readers have argued in the past about whether the book has a happy or sad ending. Would you consider it a happy ending?  What constitutes a happy ending in your opinion?

I would say it’s happy or sad, just hopefully real. There is some possibility and hope for Peggy at the end of the book, but she has a lot to overcome to achieve this. For me a completely happy ending, where everything is neatly tied up at the end of the book is simply unrealistic and will mean that I don’t enjoy the book. It also doesn’t leave any room for a life for the characters in readers’ minds beyond the end of the novel, which is something I also strive for.

bibliophilegr
Swimming Lessons, by Claire Fuller
Claire Fuller

Claire Fuller was born in Oxfordshire, England. She is a writer and an artist. Her second novel, Swimming Lessons, was published in 2017. Her third novel, Bitter Orange, is going to be published in 2019. You can follow her work on her page:  https://clairefuller.co.uk/

 

The Heart’s Invisible Furies, by John Boyne

“A line came into my mind, something that Hannah Arendt once said about the poet Auden: that life had manifested the heart’s invisible furies on his face.”

The Heart's Invisible Furies
The Heart’s Invisible Furies

Cyril  Avery is not a real Avery.

This is what he has been told since he can remember.

Born in Ireland from an unmarried mother just as World War II was coming to an end, Cyril is raised by quite an odd pair. His well-off adoptive parents constantly remind him that he is not an actual part of the family. And Cyril  is practically raising himself, having matured well before his time.

In a world constantly different from him, Cyril will find refuge in his one and only friend, Julian Woodbead. He will have to struggle in order to find true friends and true love. Most importantly, he will struggle to find his true nature.

Welcome to Ireland of the 1950s and 1960s,

where life is difficult and people are afraid of accepting anything different from what is considered normal. Through the eyes of Cyril, you will see the times changing, along with the effort people went through in order for that to happen. Don’t be intimidated. This is not one of those books that readers deem “difficult” or “heavy reading”. And this is the beauty of the story of Cyril Avery. John Boyne narrates it in such a captivating way, that the reader goes effortlessly through it, without having to think twice about reading, and certainly without getting bored.

Be prepared for moments that will break your heart.

This is neither a sad or a happy book: it is a realistic one.  Bittersweet and real, it will make you cry. Oftentimes of laughter, other times of sadness, and sometimes even with laughter. But most importantly, it will make you get in someone else’s shoes. It will help you empathize with other perspectives, and it will make you think deeper.

We are almost in the end of 2017, and so many wonderful books are being published every month, each one having its own appeals. However, as a devoted bookworm, if I had to choose the one I enjoyed most this year and that actually moved me to the greatest extent, I would choose The Heart’s Invisible Furies in a heartbeat. A book that will prove very beloved through the next years,  this is definitely worth your time. Happy reading!

Zarox, by Louis Smith

Zarox
Zarox

Parker is a normal boy…

… living a normal life. Every morning he and his brother, Callum, go to school, where they meet their best friends, Riley and Lucy. Everything seems quite ordinary…right?

During what should be an everyday, regular meet, the group of friends will find themselves transported to a whole different realm. Zarox is a world where many different creatures exist. Some of them are friendly, some hostile, all of them magical. The group of four will soon realize they have a very special role in this situation, and so…adventure begins!

Welcome to Zarox: a world of fantasy, magic and courage!

This is a tale of friendship at its very best! A story that teaches everyone that anything is possible with enough collaboration, hope, communication and above all: love.

This is a story told beautifully. Each and every character is built so differently at its core, but at the same time all the heroes are similar in their values. Kindhearted and brave, they certainly teach us that what is most important in difficult times is to stay together.

I am always happy to read books of new authors. But if I am to be completely honest with you, in the back of my mind I always have the fact that debut stories usually have quite a few plot flaws and need a lot of improvement (they usually have quite a few syntax and grammar errors,as well). Having reviewed plenty such books, I tend to believe that’s the general rule.

However, this time I was pleasantly surprised. I was very happy to realize that this story is as well written as any book by experienced, many-times published authors. Zarox is a story with a plot that I admired, and it certainly had me hooked!

A genuine page turner, I strongly recommend it for all fantasy lovers out there!