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

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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

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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

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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?

 

 

 

Evil Librarian : (thankfully) not another classic supernatural story

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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!

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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!

 

 

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

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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!

 

My grandmother sends her regards and apologises, by Fredrik Backman

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My grandmother sends her regards and apologises

“Because not all monsters were  monsters from the beginning. Some were made monsters out of pain.”

Elsa is not like other children.

She can recite Harry Potter by memory.  Wikipedia is a piece of cake for her. She knows things other eight-year-olds don’t. Elsa is special. And her only friend is her Granny.

Grandmother has always been Elsa’s hero,

her best friend, and her partner in crime. But when Granny gives her a secret mission, Elsa will realize she knows a lot less about her grandmother than what she thought.

While defending the world they created together, the Kingdom of Almost Awake, Elsa will discover there’s more to people than meets the eye. Not all monsters are evil. People keep secrets, and sometimes there’s a good reason behind them. Anger is sometimes sorrow in disguise. And, most importantly, she will get the hardest lesson of all: that whatever happens, life goes on.

Backman works magic in this novel.

He has managed to touch so many aspects of human relationships in a single story, that it makes it hard to describe. Love, loss, pain, secrets, compassion, laughter and magic. And through it all, the hardest lesson a human learns throughout their lives: the lesson of loss and carrying on.

The author has an incredible ability of describing serious matters in a witty way,. The reader goes back and forth between the reality and the Kingdom of Almost Awake. Surprisingly, however, you will find no difficulty following the story right to its end…or is the end just another beginning?

 

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?

 

 

 

Wolf Hall, by Hilary Mantel

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“The fate of people is made like this, two men in small rooms. Forget the coronations, the conclaves of the cardinals….this is how the world changes.”

Sixteenth century.

Twenty years after their marriage, the Royal Couple have failed to produce a male heir. King Henry VIII is anxiously looking for a way to divorce the Queen and has already set eyes on young Anne Boleyn. The Pope has refused to grant a divorce, and the King needs a clever man he can trust to find a solution to this turmoil. Will Thomas Cromwell be the man Henry has been searching for? How can this low born son of a blacksmith rise up to become the right hand of the King of England?

I have finished Wolf Hall for some time now. I was -and still am- so scared of putting a review of it together. It’ s not that I haven’t formed an opinion -far from it. But how do you write about a book that is such a masterpiece in so many ways?

Winner of the 2009 Man Booker Prize, Wolf Hall is the book you’ll want to read, especially if you’re a fan of historical fiction.

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The Tudor Era has never been portrayed so perfectly before.

Hilary Mantel proves to be an expert on the subject, historically accurate in a surprising depth.

This is not the first time this part of English history has been turned into a novel. However, it presents a really refreshing and different angle. We follow the life of Thomas Cromwell, the man who climbed so far up the Royal Court hierarchy as to become Master Secretary, from the time he left home as a boy, to the reign of Queen Anne Boleyn.

While Cromwell has been portrayed as a witty – even sly man, it is actually the first time we see him as a human being. We follow along a life full of pain, tragedies, happy moments, and a struggle to succeed.

This is the actual, real life Game of Thrones. This is how the world worked, and probably still does, with very little change. This is how the fates of people are created. As Cromwell himself says, this is how fates of people are created. This is the book to read.