Step into a fantasy world : The Oddling Prince, by Nancy Springer

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What is there not to love about fantasy books?

Fantasy books are the best kind of books. Or so I’d like to believe.  Aside from suspense, action and secrets, there’s always something magical hidden in the pages of a fantasy book. The only problem is that with so many books out there, it is hard to find an original plot  anymore.  Which is why I really enjoyed The Oddling Prince.

An ancient Kingdom. A brave ruler. A strange curse.

In the ancient Kingdom of Calidon, the beloved people’s king is dying.  A mysterious, magical ring is attached to the fierce ruler, making him succumb to an unfamiliar illness, and no one is able to remove it from his finger. On the brave King’s final hours, when all hope seems lost, a strange young man from the Kingdom of Fairies arrives and saves his life.

The King’s son, Prince Aric, feels an uncanny connection to the strange man that has saved his father. Something makes him feel connected to the unknown  visitor, and he will soon discover a painful secret that confirms the connection between the two of them.

As the Kingdom is threatened with war by neighboring countries, and the King seems eerily changed after his recovery, the two young men will have to work united in order to save the country.

 

A heartwarming fairy tale

The Oddling Prince is an interesting read that captures the reader’s imagination. There is a very strong start to the story, immediately catching the  attention. Filled with emotional scenes and heartbreaking parts, which add up to the fairytale effect, the story is unique and captivating.

Like a tale from a Bard

Another very interesting feature of the book is its language. From the first page up to the very last one, the story is written in a formal form of narrative, resembling a tale that a bard would narrate. Its form gives this fairytale the medieval character it holds, and the vast vocabulary the author uses helps towards that direction. Moreover, there is  quite a bit of humor in the dialogue between the two young men, lighting up the mood after emotionally heavy scenes.

The Oddling Prince is a unique, interesting, and very well written story, that will transport you to another place and time effortlessly. This is the kind of book the fantasy genre needs, and it is absolutely recommended for the fans of the genre.

 

Not Working, by Lisa Owens

 

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Claire Flannery doesn’t like where her career is heading.

Somewhere between late 20s and early 30s, she is stuck in an unfulfilling job, working in marketing and doing the same boring things every day, over and over. Not being able to accept this being her future forever, she calls it quits.

And this is where it all becomes comically difficult, tragically funny, and a hilarious read for the rest of us.

Through diary-formatted chapters, we follow along Claire and her hopes of finding something she’s passionate about in life. Luke, her seven-year-long boyfriend is truly supportive.

But how easy is it to sitting at home, trying to figure out what to do next in your life, when your significant other is a successful trainee surgeon who pulls long hours at work, and is absent for long parts of the day? How are you to explain to your grandmother why you left a paying job without a hint of what you want to do next ? Can you stand your parents’ nagging? And what happens when you bump into your ex-coworkers, and they ask you how life’s treating you?

Humor, with the right dose of truth

Not  Working has been written with huge doses of caustic humor, consituting it a hilarious read. However, many people fail to understand that this is far from a superficial story. Lisa Owens succeeds in hitting all the right spots in everything regarding an unhappy person with an unfulfilling job, and the process described is surprisingly accurate.

Claire starts out as an incredibly optimistic person, who hopes to discover her passions quickly. As time goes by, we watch her get lost in menial everyday tasks, get bitter towards other people, get anxious about her future, stay home with her pj’s on for days. She gets less and less cheerful and she’s being told a lot (and in many different ways) that her choice to leave her job was a mistake. And all the while, Claire has yet to find what she is passionate about.

Live in Claire’s head for a little while

What is really precious about this story is that you don’t just follow it as an observer. You are inside Claire’s mind. You think like her, get bitter and angry like her, get desperate or hopeful. You live like her,  and, for a little while, you start to understand her.

Not Working is a mid-life crisis that happens too early in life, but it is absolutely realistic. More and more people realize the unhappiness of working long hours in tasks they are absolutely uninterested in, becoming, eventually, very unhappy.

Whether you read it and yell “that’s me!This is my life right now!” , or just categorize it as utter fiction and totally unrealistic, Not Working will, at least, be a very pleasant read, which will definitely make you laugh.

 

On intelligent dystopias: Terra Nova, by Shane Arbuthnott

 

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Once upon a time, dystopian novels used to be a rare thing. They were usually heavy reads, and often quite depressing. Nowadays, however, things have fortunately progressed. There is a vast selection of books out there for the fans of the genre, and I have recently come across one that is exceptionally well written. Terran Nova is a book I would definitely suggest you read with your children, and here’s why.

Welcome to a different world

In the land of Terra Nova, things aren’t  quite what they seem to be. People have been lied to for a long time. There are spirits roaming the land, and people now believe that these are malevolent beings, existing just to harm humans.

Molly and her family, however, know the truth. They know the spirits are good entities, and they know that Haviland Industries enslave them in order to harness their power. The spirits are suffering, and people turn away from them, scared all the propaganda they have been exposed to. But that is something Molly and her brothers are determined to stop.

A unique, magical story

This is a magical story, unique in its dystopian structure. Terra Nova is a book about discovering what is wrong and doing what you believe is right. Molly is the perfect example of the heroine that fights for what she believes in, even though almost everyone is against her. With a fast paced plot that leaves no time to get bored, and a lot of bumps on Molly’s road, it’s a book that can be read in a day and keep you interested to the last page.

A strong female character

Molly is a strong girl that has gone through a lot in her short life, and still keeps going. Human enough to have doubts at times and even come to the verge of giving up, she is the example of a genuine hero that has flaws as well as strengths. In the end, you do what you believe is right, and fight for that even when you are scared, and that is the most important lesson I have derived from this story.

Not just a YA book

As with all good books, Terra Nova is not just for children and teenagers. It’s a story everyone can benefit from, and it’s a good book to read along with your children. This is the second book on the Molly Stout series, and we certainly hope there will be a third one soon! However, Terra Nova can be a perfectly enjoyable read even as a stand alone book.

Children’s book : A place for Pluto

 

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Pluto used to be a planet

Pluto used to be a planet, one of the “famous nine”. Until one day, humans decided he wasn’t fit to be one. What could poor Pluto do? Feeling alone and different, he started searching for others that might be just like him!

An amusing way to learn new things!

A Place for Pluto is a beautifully illustrated children’s book about Pluto’s ranking change from planet to dwarf planet. Using very sweet, emotional and funny lines, the author manages to give children all the right information, while at the same time keeping the story very interesting.

Finding out where we belong

A Place for Pluto manages to be both informative about astronomy and about fitting in at the same time, which actually makes the book double-worth it! Sometimes we all feel left out, until we find where we belong, and the story of Pluto sends this wonderful message! There is also extra information about Pluto at the end of the story. All in all, a book strongly recommended for children and adults alike!

The Bengal Identity: Mystery with a hint of … meow!

A book where a kitty is one of the main characters? Yes, please!

A mysterious young man steps into Cassie’s Comfy Cats pet grooming facility, asking for shelter for his cat. After having groomed the kitty, Cassie and her assistant discover that Ayesha’s fur has been dyed brown, and she’s far from an ordinary cat.   Ayesha is a Bengal, one of the most expensive cat breeds in the world. And her camouflage can only mean one thing: someone is trying to hide her identity.

Things get (even more) serious

When the strange man that left Ayesha at Comfy Cats turns up murdered, Cassie realizes that she’s been involuntarily involved in a mysterious plot. Why had the Bengal cat been disguised as an ordinary brown kitty? Was that man  Ayesha’s true owner? Whom might that kitty belong to?

As she desperately tries to find the owner of the cat, while trying to keep it away from prying eyes, Cassie will find her employee attacked. Someone will also try to break in her shop. This is where things will get personal, and Cassie will put all her powers in finding the culprit.

Cozy mystery with a hint of feline fur

This is a pleasant, easy-going book. Part of a series of cozy mysteries called Cat Groomer Mysteries, it is probably a must-read for fans of the feline. I found the plot smart and quite funny. There is some background to the characters, although I would personally have enjoyed a bit more to their stories. However, this is a book series, which means we will be expecting more about Cassie and her life soon enough!

The Bengal Identity is, as one would expect, very cute as far as the cat descriptions are concerned, and probably well researched on the topic. All in all, a pleasant story that can be read in a day. If you’re looking for something relaxing that you can read easily, The Bengal Identity is a very good choice.

On why your reading speed doesn’t really matter

 

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Ads about speed reading, ads everywhere….

On the last few weeks I have bumped more than once on advertisements about speed reading. Posted everywhere on social media, I imagine they’re targeted to people who read a lot. So, some of you have also come across such ads.

Promising that “you can, too, read one book every day!” or “how to read all the Great Classics in a month!”, they tend to actually make a lot of people feel bad. Should I be reading like a madman? Should I be reading 300 books a year? Do I need to feel bad that I don’t?

Of course not. And the reasons are very simple.

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Not everyone reads at the same pace.

 

Some people are inherently better than others at reading faster. And, yes, many of them have the ability to retain all that information. Others read at a slower pace, sometimes finding it helpful to revisit some sentences (or even paragraphs. And both reading styles are absolutely fine.

 

Let’s talk about time.

 

Ahhh…time. The thing we always chase, the thing we seldom find. It’s very hard to find adequate time for yourself.  It’s understandable .Whether it’s school, work, family or any of the above combined, there’s not much free time in your life.

But, for the sake of the argument, let’s say you actually find a couple of hours a day in which you can unwind or do personal chores. Even when you find some little precious time for yourself, you have to be relaxed enough to be able to concentrate on your book. You couldn’t possible read War and Peace after 10 hours of work, an hour on commute and three hours of doing chores, could you? ( If you can, I beg you to show me how you do it).  So why on earth would you be so hard on yourself for not reading a book a day?

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Reading is meant to bring joy, not stress.

I sometimes feel that us readers forget the most important thing about books: they are there t make us happy. It can be one book a month, or a book a day. Does it matter?

If reading 300 books a year brings you joy, then that is absolutely great. It’s marvelous. To be honest, I’m both happy and jealous for you. But if something like that sounds even remotely stressful, then relax and remember: reading is supposed to bring you joy. It exists to make your life better, not to make you worry about not reading enough books, or not reading fast enough.

What is important is that you do, indeed, read.

No matter the pace, you’re doing it. You’re making time for your book, and that is enough. You have nothing to prove to others, no challenge to complete, no reason to feel anxious about it. After all, it doesn’t matter how slowly you’re going, as long as you don’t stop, right?

So, enjoy yourself at your own, comfortable pace. Books are and always will be royal friends. They will still be there, waiting for you, until you make time for them!

The 7 1/2 deaths of Evelyn Hardcastle (…and why I’m obsessed with the book)

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1800s. The  Blackheath Manor is filled with guests.

A grand party is being held by Lord Hardcastle and his family. But Evelyn Hardcastle is going to die this evening. And she will keep dying every evening of the same day, until Aiden Bishop manages to solve the mystery of her murder.

But there’s more rules to this sinister game.

Aiden will wake up on the same day over and over, but inside the body of a different person each time. He has eight days. Eight chances to solve this and get away from this hell, or his memories will be reset and the hell will start all over.

An original, captivating mystery

This book will keep you on your toes all the way to the end. Refreshingly original and inventive, the plot is constructed in such an intelligent way, that it resembles an elaborate labyrinth. This is Agatha Christie meeting Groundhog Day, assisted by Arthur Conan Doyle. The plot is an unbelievable puzzle, whose pieces the reader thinks they are putting together, only to find out they were wrong. This happens again and again, keeping the reader constantly surprised, their brain gears twisting through these 400 pages.

The book is filled with interesting characters constructed in unbelievable details. Tailored in a way you can never be sure whether to like or hate a character, you will strive to understand whom to trust, and what role each of them can play in this sinister game.

Mystery at its best

The 7 1/2 deaths of Evelyn Hardcastle is a masterpiece of the mystery genre, one of the best ones I have personally read through my life. Never dull for a second, it kept me entertained to the maxim, and at the same time it felt like it delivered a lot of hard life lessons on my plate.

Strongly recommended for the fans of mysteries, but also for anyone looking to try a book of this genre. This is a book you will get obsessed with , losing sleep over finishing it. And it is definitely worth it!

For the fans of all-about-Dracula : Dracula, Rise of the Beast

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Who doesn’t love a good horror story?

The heart beats faster,  your hands tremble, and every little sound in the house makes you jump. Nevertheless, you still love it. Does this sound familiar? If so, you love a good horror story. Most bookworms do, which is why we feel so happy when we find a good horror book to read. And who is one of the most prominent figures in horror literature?

The man, the myth, the legend : Dracula

Everyone knows the beloved figure. Starting with Stoker’s depiction of the historical figure of Vlad III of Wallachia as a blood-sucking, immortal creature (or does undead sound better?), readers all over the world get fascinated with stories about him. Do I need to say more?

Dracula: Rise of the Beast

This is a collection of horror stories about both Dracula and his historical counterpart, Vlad III of Wallachia.

Five different stories from different authors attempt to get the reader acquainted with both the historical figure and the legend. Using historical facts about Vlad III and lore from Romania and the surrounding countries, the authors  give their own perspective on the man, the myth, the legend.

Whether we follow the story through the eyes of Countess Elizabeth Bathory, a Jewish leader of Budapest or a French servant, there is always suspense in every narrative. The reader follows along different parts of the same figure’s life, all stemming from the authors’ imagination, but all thrilling nonetheless.

An anthology of horror stories you need

The stories are smart, incredibly well researched and carefully constructed, shrouding Dracula in a proper air of mystery, as is well deserved for this legendary figure. Each part of this book is completely different from the next one, which adds more interest to it.  Although the stories come from different authors, the whole anthology seems to bind together remarkably well, retaining the same atmosphere along the whole book.

Recommended for all fans of “everything Dracula”, this is a book you will want to add to your collection. However, it is a good collection of horror stories for everyone else,as well. You don;t need to be fond of vampire stories in order to enjoy this book, and that makes it all the more interesting.

Cosy Mysteries : Cherringham , A dinner to die for

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How do you feel about cozy mysteries?

I find them quite charming.  They’re easy to read, with a compact plot and, if written well, very enjoyable. Which is why I opt to read at least one cozy mystery book per month, usually between books that are considered “heavier reads”. This month’s cozy mystery book was Cherringham: A Dinner to Die for.

Welcome to Cherringham!

The little village of Cherringham lives a quiet life. Everyone in the village knows the Spotted Pig, the beloved restaurant which is a meeting spot for all the locals. However, Cherringham finds itself in quite a stir when a new restaurant opens up. Its chef, Anna, insists someone is tampering with her work, trying to drive her customers away and destroy her reputation. She also seems quite sure that the culprit is the owner of the  Spotted pig. Their hidden mutual past certainly points to that direction.

But are things really that simple?

Jack, a former police officer, and Sarah, a local, have handled mysterious cases before. This time the situation escalates quickly, and they will have to investigate before things get out of hand. Much as everyone likes the owner of the Spotted Pig, can he actually be the person sabotaging a fellow chef? Is this personal? Or can there be another explanation?

A fast paced cozy mystery  book.

A quick and pleasant read, Cherringham is quite entertaining. It is well written and easily read in a day. With interesting characters along the way of the plot, the book lets the reader put the pieces of this well constructed plot puzzle together. All in all a good addition to the cozy mystery variety, it is recommended for the fans of the mystery genre.

Children’s Book : Simon and the big,bad,angry beasts

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We all get angry sometimes.

So do the children (even more so, to be precise). But that doesn’t mean we should let ourselves become unpleasant to others. After all, actions have consequences. Which is why a book about anger is very useful (and, in all honesty, not just for children).

Simon finds himself angry at times.

Whether it’s losing at games or being told no about something he really wants, he can’t keep calm, and he can’t keep his anger under control. One day, when he gets angry, an angry animal appears next to him. He thinks it’s great, and every time he gets angry it becomes worse.

Every time, a bigger, angrier beast appears next to him. What he hasn’t realized, however, is that the beasts scare his friends and family away. Nobody wants to play with “Simon the Terrible” anymore.

Anger & its consequences

This is a wonderful allegory about anger and its consequences. Beautifully illustrated, the book helps children understand that tantrums and outbursts, if not treated with mindfulness, can chase people away. It teaches us that tantrums are not pleasant, neither for others, nor for ourselves.

What is more, along with the story come notes for parents and teachers, as well as exercises, so that the book can be used for discussing the topic with children.