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.

From a master of storytelling: Norse Mythology, by Neil Gaiman

If I had to just use one phrase to describe this book it would be this; storytelling to a new level. If you are a fiction literature fan, Neil Gaiman is surely no stranger to you. From Coraline to Stardust, to American Gods, to everything, really, he is widely considered as a master storyteller.

Trying to be as objective as possible, I still have to admit it’s difficult not to be excited when it comes to Gaiman’s books. There are only a handful of writers that I believe always present the best possible results for readers.

This time, he takes us to the land of the Norse Gods, retelling the myths in his own, unique way. Whether a fan of Loki, Thor, or Freya, you will find a story to love. Norse Mythology is a collection of short stories that reimagine the myths in a funny, amusing way. If you have studied the norse myths before, you will definitely notice that the writer has extensive knowledge of them, which actually makes the book even more enjoyable.

All in all, you can’t go wrong with Gaiman. Every book of his is indeed a unique experience, and Norse Mythology, long anticipated from his fans everywhere, is not going to dissapoint you.

Of Love & Loss: Marina, by Carlos Ruis Zafon

If you knew you would lose someone, would you choose to love them all the same?

“We all have a secret buried under lock and key in the attic of our soul. This is mine.”

Fifteen-year-old Oscar Drai loves to wander in Barcelona in his time off school. One of his wanderings will lead him to a strange house, where he meets Marina, the girl of his dreams.

Together they are going to discover hidden places, but along with them, they are going to see things they should not have seen, and they will uncover secrets that were best left unseen. A mysterious veiled woman visits the old cemetery the last Sunday of every month, and following her will be the beginning of the unravelling of a tragedy.

On a first glimpse, you would probably think this is just a mystery. There’s a vast variety to choose from in this genre, especially in the last five years or so. What makes this  book so different, is that it is more than just a mystery.

This is a book of love, all kinds of it, all the ways love manifests between people. Love of a husband about a wife long gone, love of a father for an only daughter, friendship, love between two people that cannot be together. This is a book about loss. Anger, death, breakups, betrayal, madness. This is a book about the joys and pain of loving, and winning, and loosing.And in that sense, it is a wonderful and tragic story that goes beyond searching for the mystery. Marina is a woman you will get to love, and get angry with, and admire. For women everywhere, Marina is a role model. Whether a man or a woman, you will in some sense fall in love with her character, her streangth, even her weakness.

Carlos Ruis Zafon is no unknown writer. He has long been considered a master in mysteries, and he will not disappoint you. Even the skilled readers will realise that they cannot predict the end, which is the essence of a good mystery novel. A plot within a plot, it is easily readable and unpredictable at the same time.

For the ‘newbies’ of Zafon, this is probably his best book to start with. Marina will be carved in your thoughts for a long, long time.

The Medici Curse


She was the most beautiful girl Arnaldo had ever seen”

Rainaissance Florence; Arnaldo visits the house of the Medici in order to paint the portrait of Lorenzo The Magnificent’s daughter. What he doesn’t expect is the beauty and the character that lies beneath her face. But the Medici is a powerful family, and Alessandra de Medici is already betrothed to a powerful man.

Florence, present. Maria discovers a beautiful painting underneath a mediocre drawing. Strange things start happening around her family, and she is determined to find out why.

In the Medici Curse, to stories seemingly different from each other start to unravel before the reader’s eyes. One takes you to the past, the other keeps you in the present. But just as you will start wondering what they have in common, things start to perplex, and the plot starts to unravel.

This is a pleasant, well written story. Easily read through a day, it is short enough not to tire the reader, long enough to stand decently as a novel. The plot does not bore you, and it is quite pleasant. There is, however, the other side of the story. In this case, if you are a strong reader and have read plenty, you will probably unravel the plot correctly in your head long before the writer does. This doesn’t mean that this is just another everyday love story. It is not, although I have to admit that there is a lot of Romeo-and-Juliet going on in it. It is just not the exceptional “I did not see this coming” plot. Again, if you haven’t read much, it is quite fine.

All in all, should you read this book? Do you need a light reading? Then yes. Are you a romantic? Definitely, you’ll like it plenty. Do you seek the exceptional? Maybe not. This is an easy, pleasant reading for a day or two, but it’s probably one of the books I would only read once in my life.

 

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.