My top 5 Neil Gaiman books

Top 5 Gaiman books

Being a fantasy literature enthusiast, Neil Gaiman is probably my  all- time favorite writer.  It is not just about the plot, I believe. It’s about the way his words instantly create  the grounds for your brain to build a world. And he does it in such a simple and easy way, that the readers find themselves building up a universe in a matter of …well, in a matter of pages.

This is such a difficult thing to do, to try and explain how or why a writer’s works appeal to a reader so  much. Everyone prefers their own style and their own genre, of course. But if you find, like me, that you are drawn to the fantasy section of the library quite often, maybe it’s time to get acquainted to the works of Neil Gaiman.

As a lot of people who are familiar with his works will tell you, five books is just too short of a list! However, I wanted to keep this (relatively) short, so here are the five books I think you should start with:

The Graveyard Book

The Graveyard Book

After the mysterious murder of his parents, a toddler escapes from his house and finds refuge in a graveyard. The ghosts residing there decide to raise him, becoming his new family in the process. As Bod (short for Nobody) Owens grows up, supernatural dangers arise, and he starts discovering more things about his past and his family.

American Gods

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American Gods

Yes, it’s a series. No, it was not originally just a series. This is a book. AN epic, wonderful, amazing, kick-ass book.

After being in prison for 3 years, Shadow is released upon his wife’s tragic death. It is on that day that he meets the mysterious Mr Wednesday. Deciding to become his employee,  Shadow follows him across the US, meeting new, and interesting, if dubious, characters. Who is Mr Wednesday, though? Does he really hold supernatural powers? And what about Shadow? What is his role in this game?

Good Omens

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God Omens

Good Omens was co-written by Gaiman and the late Sir Terry Pratchett. Hilariously peculiar, this is the book to male you laugh your lungs out. If you are one of those people (like me) that read in public transport, prepare to be considered nuts. Seriously.

The Antichrist is born, the end of the world is coming, and basically the world is doomed. However, a bookworm-Angel and a Demon with a highly evolved sense of sarcasm refuse to let that happen. Let’s be honest, nobody wants to go back to their work, no matter if it’s hell’s dungeons or heaven’s bureaucracy. The two buddies forge an allegiance and start looking for the Antichrist child. What happens, though, if baby Antichrist has been…misplaced?

Norse Mythology

Norse Mythology

For the fans of Norse myths and legends, here you go, you’re welcome!

Gaiman has constructed a number of short stories based on the original Nordic myths. From Odin to Loki, from Freya to Thor, all the Norse gods you’ve heard of (and then some) are in here. Trust me, you will have an amazingly enjoyable time watching Gaiman breathe new life into the Norse Gods.

Fortunately, the Milk

Fortunately, the Milk

Yes, that is a title. Of a book. Isn’t it awesome?

You’re never too old for children’s books. And if you have children, all the better reason to read this hilarious story.

A father needs to explain to his children why he was late bringing the milk home. Well, he has quite the excuses for it!Dragons, weird creatures, beautiful tales… So what if you don’t believe his excuses? You have to give him an A+ for the effort, right?

 

 

 

Reading back to back: Dracula vs The Historian

Have you ever felt the need, after finishing a book, to read another one on a similar subject?

It happens to me a lot. It’s also a fun way of discovering more beautiful stories out there.

I’m a huge fan of myths and legends. I first read Stoker’s Dracula when I was ten, and have read it again and again ever since (fifteen times and counting!). I read The Historian a couple of months ago, and I was fascinated by its historical accuracy, the geographical components, the sense of danger it creates to you as you red through. So, here goes, these are two books you should absolutely try reading back to back.

Dracula, by Bram Stoker

Victorian London: Jonathan Harker, a real estate employee, is requested to travel for work to the faraway land of Transylvania. His job is to draw the final contract of land ownership for an old Transylvanian nobleman, Count Dracula. Leaving his fiancee, Mina, behind, Harker will soon realize that everything about the Count reeks of danger. Old legends are true, and the Count is more than meets the eye.

This is the most iconic, let alone famous, work of fiction about Dracula. Stoker reimagined tha historical Voivode of Wallachia in a mysterious, intriguing, and dangerous way. It is not about gruesome details, as you might find in many present fiction books. It’s about the mysterious atmosphere. You don’t need to see the fangs to see the vampire. You feel the terror that the Count imposes, and that is more than enough. What makes this book phenomenal is the way of writing, even more than the story itself. So is it possible to read fiction without having read Dracula?

The Historian, by Elizabeth Kostova

“To you, perceptive reader, I bequeath my History….”

An ancient book like no other lies in a private library. Its pages are all empty but the middle ones. There, in the middle, lies a massive dragon. And the history behind it is almost unbelievable..

The Historian has been searching for an evil source that shouldn’t be alive, a legend that is not supposed to exist. A wild chase begins, from 1930s Istanbul to 1950s Budapest, and from Bulgaria to France. Three generations are on the hunt, each one getting closer to the truth than the one before. Many beng will try to stop them, but many more will offer their help and courage. Are the legends absolutely true? And if so, how can you stop an evil so massive?

Kostova writes about a story long told before, but that doesn’t make the story any less interesting. An absolutely beautiful tale, based on a sometimes eerie atmosphere, it will hold your attention from the first to the last page. Kostova is massively inspired by Dracula, not only regarding the story, but also the way of narrating. She has a very interesting way to emerge you in the plot so mush so, that you end up believing you are the one on the hunt. You are travelling, searching. Budapest is so clear to you, as if you are actually there. And you await the end of the chase, as if this is actually personal to you.

If you’re not sure why you should be reading both…

The similarities in the books is quite intriguing. But at the same time, they are clearly two different stories. And this is what makes them ideal for a back to back reading. If you loved Dracula, the Historian is probably what you should be reading next. Through its details, it becomes truly fascinating, and does not let you down. If you haven’t read Dracula yet…well, here’s a good chance for you. Set both books on your list, and we wish you happy reading!

5 books to read if you love magic

Magic..The thing we love about it the most, is probably its infinite possibilites. No wonder books around magic fascinate us so much. I haven’t put the Harry Potter series in this list. Not beacause they’re not good, of course (Hufflepuff for life, here!), but because we all know them. So here are some relatively less known, but really good books for you if magic is your thing.

Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell, by Susanna Clarke

The year is 1806, and England believes magic has been long dead. Out of the blue, Mr Norrell arrives in London, along with his vast library and extensive knowledge of magic. Not long after that, a young practician of magic, Jonathan Strange, arrives in town. Between theory and practice, the last two magicians of England will either work together to save the nation in the Napoleonic Wars, or fight to the death, taking England with them as they fall. Is maybe Magic more dangerous than it is useful for this land?

Od Magic, by Patricia A. McKillip

Brenden has been born with a gift.The land can communicate with him, and plants thrive under his touch.An outcast of his village, he will soon meet the Great Wizard Od. Brenden accepts her invitation to become a gardener in her School of Magic, and it is there that he will discover that his gift is much more powerful than he thought, to the point that he himself could become a danger to the Kingdom.

M is for Magic, by Neil Gaiman

Sometimes you just need some short stories instead of “the long thing”. This is a collection of eleven short stories from fairytales and magical realms. Full of mystery, humor and suspense, they are scary, sad and happy at the same time. A fascinating collection.

Brownies and Broomsticks , by Bailey Cates

For the fans of mystery books, this is the first book from a series called Magical Bakery Mysteries. Katie Lightfoot is a Hedgewitch with a culinary diploma. Moving to Savannah, Georgia, she hopes to start a new life. When a man is found dead outside her newly established baker, Katie will use her wits and magical powers to help the police unravel the mystery. And maybe, along the way, love will be waiting for her.

The Night Circus, by Erin Morgestern

This list would not be complete without this masterpiece.

The circus arrives without warning.Just like out of thin air, you will see it appear one morning. Its doors open only after dark. Inside, magical things will appear, and behind the scenes, two powerful magicians are secretly planning the next moves of their duel.

 

7 books for a ‘mental’ getaway: the books that will transport you to other places!

Most of us can’t afford to  travel too often, but there is always an amazing alternative to that: books! Books can transport you, not only to different places, and also to different eras. Here are seven choices that will do the trick for you – and they’re amazingly written, too!

The Historian

The Historian will guide you through three different eras. Using stories within stories, you will meet London, Istanbul, Budapest, Sofia, Crete, and many more places. Kostova’s book is truly a masterpiece, and you will soon find you can’t let that book off your hands!

The Medici Curse

There’s no place like…wait for it…Florence! Yes, Florence in the Medici era, and back today, and back again… A hunt for the background story of a mysterious painting will guide you through Florence and Tuscan villages in summertime.

Rivers of London

Rivers of London follows a young policeman who discovers magic actually exists, and his hunt for a supernatural felon in the streets of London. The story is set in the present, but is nonetheless very well written.

The Axeman’s Jazz

An absolute must-read, Axeman’s Jazz takes you to New Orleans in 1919. And as if that wasn’t fascinating enough, you will follow the hunt for one of the most notorious serial killers of that time, the Axeman of New Orleans. Ready to pick up the book yet?

The White Tiger

Travel to India and watch the life of Barlam Halwai, as he sets off from a small, poor village to become his own man; finding and overcoming obstacles in various, sometimes dubious ways.

The Miniaturist

Set in seventeenth century Amsterdam, follow the life of Nella Oortman is she leaves her home and gets married into a wealthy, yet peculiar family of sugar traders. Beautifully written, historically detailed and with a plot twist that will make you gasp- the Miniaturist is absolutely worth reading!

Silver in the blood

1890, Bucharest, Romania. Dacia and Lou arrive from New York to meet their maternal family, but they find much more than what they expected. A beautiful fantasy novel that truly makes you wan to travel to Romania.

Lily and the octopus-Let’s talk about books and (beautiful) heartbreaks

There are books to make you laugh, and books to make you feel scared. Mysteries and romances and all kinds of beautiful fairy tales out there. Biographies of interesting people, of dangerous people, of intelligent people. And then there is a category I call The Books Of Beautiful Heartbreaks. Is there such a thing as a beautiful heartbreak, you’ll ask. Well, yes, let me tell you about Lily and the octopus.

Lily is a happy, lovable dog that lives with her owner. She calls him “That Guy”…and sometimes “Dad”. Then one day, her Dad wakes up to find that Lily has a lump on her head- an octopus. And the heartbreak begins.

Through the author’s struggle to come to terms with his little companion’s illness, we get to see the two of them going through life, tackling problems, having a good time, be there for each other. I promise you, I got to love Lily as if I had met her myself. How strong can your bond with a dog be? Unbreakable. How much love can a small creature who can’t talk to you give to you? Endless. I laughed so much. My heart grew two inches by living – not merely reading, but actually living- with Lily and her Dad. My heart also broke. And I sat there, on my couch, crying my heart out, sobbing like a little girl, not being able to catch my breath for minutes. And after that – I kid you not- crying randomly all through the day just thinking about what I read, what I experienced through reading. Was it worth it? Yes. No hesitation. Just; yes.

This is the kind of book that would be the King of the beautiful heartbreaks. Sometimes, as in life, so in books, you have to go through the tough parts and they are worth it. Sometimes a story will be so beautiful and it will teach you so many lessons that the pain will be absolutely worth it.

So, do you read it? Yes. Read this emotional roller coaster. Read this beautiful story. Laugh, cry, get through it all. I hope you find it incredible. I hope some of you will want to create a Book Club of Heartbreakingly beautiful stories with me. And i hope you don’t avoid the pain in the stories. Go ahead. Be brave.