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.

 

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.

 

Silver in the Blood

silver-in-the-bloodDacia and Loulou are maternal cousins, whose mothers are from a high nobility family of Romania. Born and raised in New York, two years before their eighteenth birthdays they are  ordered to travel to Bucharest in order to meet with their maternal family. The year is 1897, and Romania has recently become a whole nation under the reign of King Carol. Beautiful country as it may be, though, the girls quickly realize that something is very, very wrong with their Florescu relatives. And why is everyone so persistent as far as Dacia’s acquaintance with Prince Mihai Dracula is concerned?

There are a lot of supernatural stories out there nowadays, since it is a trending genre. I can assure you this is one of the good stories, the well written ones, one that – especially if you have read Stoker’s Dracula – you will appreciate.  Written in Stoker’s style, with letters between the heroes and extracts of their diaries, it is a truly well composed story. The big secret of the Florescu Family reveals itself only halfway through the book, and although the words silver, blood, Romania and Dracula make you obviously very suspicious, thing are not exactly what you imagine they will be. Which for a book, I believe, is a very good thing.

 

Should you read this? If you are a fan of the supernatural element, you should definitely give it a go. If you like fiction but you’re not a big fan of mysterious things/creatures/circumstances…well, I still say give it a go, you might end up liking it. Besides, trying a different genre from time to time is a great way to enhance your preferences!

The giving tree

givingtreeAn apple tree and a child play together every day. While the child grows things start to change. He starts being concerned with other issues, leaving the playing behind.  The apple tree , however, never stops loving him. So every time the growing man appears, the apple tree makes a sacrifice for his happiness, whether it is her leaves, her branches, or her heart.

A highly controversial children book, it has been a subject of both criticism and praise ever since its first publication in 1964. The Giving Tree teaches the act of selfless love and complete devotion, yet it seems just a tiny bit difficult for a child to grasp. The story seems to not be exactly for children, yet a little bit too simplified for adults. The concept of never being satisfied and materialism are points too hard for a child to understand.  The_Giving_Tree

Whatever the criticism concerning the book, it is worth a try for your child as well as yourself. It is a small, melancholic but beautiful story that is certainly worth giving devoting a little time on.

Seraphina

Seraphina_book_cover_(US_addition)“We are all monsters and bastards, and we are all beautiful”

Welcome to  the kingdom of Goredd, where after many years of war against the dragons, humanity has decides to live with them after the signing of a peace treaty. After the King is found murdered under suspicious conditions, Seraphina, a sixteen year old court musician, gets involuntarily involved and tries to solve the mystery along with Prince Lucian.

A complicated world unravels before the readers’ eyes; Goredd is a Kingdom of wonders, a Victorian-type parallel universe, where music is wondrous, people are suspicious, and dragons, who can take human form, are extremely intelligent but lack any emotion. Complicated politics, lack of tolerance, hatred, but in the same time light, intelligence, understanding, and eventually love, are all aspects you will meet in Hartman’s novel.

However, the most important issue addressed is the aspect of being different in a society with zero tolerance regarding uniqueness. There is a clear picture of what people, today, in our universe (not only Seraphina’s) go through when they are even a tiny bit different from everybody else. Hiding your unique abilities, your strange thoughts, your different character, being scared, and eventually embracing yourself and becoming strong is the best lesson you could ever get from a book. And it so happens that it is a lesson Seraphina will offer you!

Some quotes to get you through bad days

Everybody has bad days. When mine approach, a book is always a friend that helps. Another way to see things in a lighter shade, is your favourite authors’ sayings. So here are some of mine, hope they help on “rainy” days.

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“Be who you are and say what you feel, because those who mind don’t matter, and those who matter don’t mind.”
― Bernard M. Baruch

“You’ve gotta dance like there’s nobody watching,
Love like you’ll never be hurt,
Sing like there’s nobody listening,
And live like it’s heaven on earth.”
― William W. Purkey

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“In three words I can sum up everything I’ve learned about life: it goes on.”
― Robert Frost

 

“I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.”
― Maya Angelou

“To live is the rarest thing in the world. Most people exist, that is all.”
― Oscar Wilde

“To be yourself in a world that is constantly trying to make you something else is the greatest accomplishment.”
― Ralph Waldo Emerson

“Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things that you didn’t do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover.”
― H. Jackson Brown Jr.

“It is better to be hated for what you are than to be loved for what you are not.”
― André Gide, Autumn Leaves