Mystery in the Austrian Empire: Sins of the Father, by Stephen Weeks

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A good mystery book is an absolute enjoyment for a bookworm.

Mystery is one of those genres that, once you’re familiar with, you become a devoted fan. There’s something thrilling about a nail-biting, invigorating mystery story. After all, who doesn’t dream of playing detective, even for once in their lives?

And then there’s historical mysteries.  Being transported to a different era is magical. Playing detective while you’re doing that is all the more thrilling. Today we’re going to talk about one such book, that I really enjoyed.

A countess. A conspiracy. And a lot of questions.

Countess Beatrix von Falklenburg is more than just a woman from a noble family. She has proved her ability in solving mysteries before. Smart and resourceful, she has already been useful in police investigations before. So, it comes as no surprise when she receives an invitation to Vienna, where a very special task awaits, given to her straight from the powerful head of the Habsburg dynasty.

The Royal Family awaits her service.

The Royal family has been hiding a secret for years, one that has been said to have the power of crushing the empire. Parts and pieces have been whispered for years among the nobility, but it has all been hearsay. Until now. The Countess is summoned to the Palace, and she is given the task of finding the truth about one of the saddest events of the Empire’s history : what really happened on the night of the Prince’s death. Was it really a suicide, as stated, or could someone have murdered the Prince and Heir of the Austrian Empire? And if so, who would have been bold enough to attempt a crime of such magnitude?

A strong female character .

Countess Beatrice (or Trixie) is an intelligent, inquisitive, and brave woman. Breaking the norm of her times, when women of her status were not supposed to work or be involved in “peculiar” business, she decides to follow her instincts and grasps every possible chance at investigating and being of service. Strong willed and cunning, Countess Trixie doesn’t hesitate to carry her investigations to the end of the puzzle, even though she’s immersed in dangerous situations. Her character is portrayed incredibly wittily, making the reader very fond of her.

A well researched, intriguing read.

Sins of the Father is a pleasant, easy mystery book. All places and figures involved are historically accurate, and the story is clearly very well researched. Revolving around an actual event, the death of the Heir of the Austrian Empire, it manages to twist the facts just enough so that a good mystery plot is created, while at the same time retaining enough genuine facts so as to make it historically interesting as well.

Should you read it?

Sins of the Father is definitely recommended for the fans of historical mysteries, as well as the general genre.  Easy enough to read in a day or two, it will add to your collection nicely, while certainly keeping you entertained.

Sins of the Father is the second book in the series Countess of Prague Mystery, but it can also stand perfectly well as an individual read.

 

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.