The watchmaker of Filigree street

{AC3657CB-4C16-4B7D-BE06-C1FF6560D7FC}Img400London, 1884. Thaniel Steepleton comes home from work to find someone has broken into his flat and left an elaborate, expensive clock for him. Six months later, when the clock saves his life from a bomb explosion, Thaniel will try to find the watchmaker and get some answers. In the same time, Grace Carrow , a theoretical physicist, is struggling to become a respected scientist in a time when women were supposed to be strictly wives and child bearers, while her mother is desperately trying to get her married. When Thaniel and Grace meet the watchmaker, mysterious things start to happen.

This is a very good mystery, full of plot twists that will leave you gasping. Admittingly, you will have to give the book some time. Personally, I found the first twenty pages or so a bit boring, but after that the story became much better, and very interesting. The character of Mr. Mori, the watchmaker, is so elaborate and mysterious, that will have you binge reading in no time.

There is more to it than the actual plot, however. I loved the fact that the author handled serious issues in the book  in a way that it blends in completely. For example, it depicts aspects of racism (in this story it is English against Japanese), women in science and voting rights, and marriage as an obligation versus marriage for love. It is sweet, without being corny.

All in all, considering that it is the author’s first novel, The watchmaker of Filigree street is quite an achievement.  If you are into fantasy books, this is one worthy of your time, especially if Victorian era is a personally favourite of yours.

Howl’s Moving Castle: There’s no fairytale like this fairytale

Howl-s-Moving-Castle-howls-moving-castle-4919316-853-480Sophie Hatter, living in magical Victorian era,  is the eldest of three daughters, and a girl resigned in the fate of doing a job she doesn’t love . When an evil witch curses her to look like an eighty year old woman, she decides to leave her town forever and becomes the maid of notorious wizard Howl in his magical, constant- moving castle. However, she soon finds out that Howl’s bad reputation might not me justified.

A lovely story that entertains and at the same time teaches really well the concept of stereotypes and how wrong they can be. If I had to summarize the book in two phrases, those would be “things are not always what they seem to be” and “believe in yourself”. The story certainly boosts your confidence, an inner voice in you saying you are worth much more than you think you do. It also  reminds you that sometimes you need to give people more time to reveal themselves to you, and that you might need to value less others’ opinions of people and more your own.

imagesHowl’s moving castle, written by  Diana Wynne Jones, was first published in 1986 and is the first of a series of books about the wizard Howl. In 2004 an animated adaptation of the story was released, directed by Hayao Miyazaki and produced by the famous  Studio Ghibli. Although the film broke box office records in Japan, and was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Animated Feature, I highly recommend you read the book before watching the film. There are many aspects of the story, especially about the character of Howl, that were not fully depicted in the film, therefore making it more difficult for the viewers to understand the story in depth.

So should you read this? Well, do you like books about magic? If so, definitely! Do you like stories with deeper meanings? Absolutely. This is a book you will not regret reading. Trust a fellow reader’s opinion!

Learn Greek in 25 years

Greek 1No, this is not an actual teach-yourself book. Sure, it has a lot of phrases for you to learn. But most importantly, through tones of humor and sarcasm the author helps you get familiar with some of the biggest aspects of everyday life in Greece. Some of the existing stereotypes are true, some completely wrong, but altogether it is absolutely hilarious reading about his point of view as a British living in Greek.

This is a lot of fun for Greeks as well. It gives you the opportunity to have a good laugh but also think more seriously about our “darkest side”, such as politics, traffic, and sometimes our temper. Do not take this book too seriously , whether a Greek or a foreigner. Its purpose is to make you laugh. And it does that. A lot. As I imagine, it is most hilarious for bilinguals, who can understand both being a Greek and a foreigner.

So think of it as a couple (because you won’t need more than that to finish the book) of fun hours spent reading a hilarious, good- humored book. After all, the title of the first chapter says it all “Welcome to Greek! You haven’t a chance” !!

 

Inferno: Dan Brown never disappoints

dan-brown-inferno-magyarHarvard University professor of symbology Robert Langdon wakes up in a hospital with a head wound and no memory of the past few days. He quickly realizes he is lying on a hospital bed in Florence. Along with Sienna Brooks, one of the doctors attending him, he will try to make sense of the last days, the reason he is in Italy instead of home, and why a professional killer is trying to hunt him down.

There are lots of things one can say about this novel, but you can’t really write a detailed review without spoilers. After all, it is a Dan Brown novel, and everyone who’s read at least one of his books knows that every page hides a surprise. And that is exactly its charm. While reading, I could honestly find no part of the story  heading towards boredom. Descriptions of places and items are long enough to help you get a mental glimpse of them but not let you get bored. The characters are intelligent way beyond average. The most important thing, however, is that everything described, from buildings to literature and from culture history to science details, everything is accurate. Brown is famous for always researching before writing and this makes his novels so much more enjoyable. I have found that it is easier to dive into a story when a lot, if not most, of its detailed line is historically and scientifically accurate.

Inferno is part of the writer’s Robert Langdon series, which currently holds 4 novels, among which are The Da Vinci Code and Angels and Demons, both successfully turned into movie adaptations. Sony Pictures has dated a film adaptation to be released for Inferno, on October 14, 2016 , with Ron Howard as director  and Tom Hanks  as Robert Langdon. The novel  was translated into French, Russian, Turkish, German, Dutch, Spanish, Catalan, Italian, Portuguese, Finnish, Norwegian, Swedish and Danish for simultaneous release and has, up to date, sold more than 6 million copies worldwide.

Should you read it? If you are a fan of mysteries, riddles, or thee Robert Langdon series in particular, then yes, definitely! Be prepared for a lot of action and a quickly paced story. And don’t worry, you don’t have to read the previous novels first in order to understand what’s going on – every novel is a new adventure that is self-standing.

The Night Circus: Dark, Bittersweet, Magical

“We lead strange lives, chasing our dreams from place to place”

Night CircusImagine a circus that mysteriously appears at night; one that is so extraordinary, it looks nothing like any other you have ever seen. Imagine opening your eyes in front of its gate at midnight, listening to its great black and white clock chiming, the smell of caramel pop corn in the air, the place full of black and white tents ready to welcome you into magic. This is not a mere description. This is what it actually feels like when you open Erin Morgenstern’s book. And it is just the beginning.

Le Cirque des Rêves, the Circus of Dreams, is a circus that appears from place to place and only opens its gates during the night. It’s a wondrous place: each tent contains a different kind of illusion… or so the guests believe. There is more than meets the eye in the Circus of Dreams, and powers stand behind it that normal people cannot imagine.  Celia Bowen and Marco Alisdair, raised and educated by the best Victorian Era magicians, have stepped into an ancient game of Magic with the circus grounds as their stage.

One of the most exciting books of its genre, besides its fascinating tale, its romance, and, above all, its magic, what drives you into it more than anything else is that what you read draws you into the story as if you are already there. You can smell the caramel apples, you can hear the clock chiming. And the tents, the wonders inside… it is as if you are there! Morgenstern’s unique way of describing every detail of this fantasy world helps the reader dive into the book and become one of the circus’ guests.

It is a dark story, yet it makes you realize that hope can arise through any situation, help can come from people you would never expect, and betrayal from loved ones you never thought were capable of it.

Uncle Montague’s Tales Of Terror OR How I slept with the lights on

chris-priestleyEdgar loves visiting uncle Montague; his house is out in the woods, he always has tea, and the best part of spending time with him is the story time.  You see, the interesting thing is, uncle Montague always has the best stories to tell, and every one of them is as spooky as can be. But are they just stories? Or is Edgar about to find more on his latest visit?

Chris Priestley’s book is rated age 7+, which means a seven year old can read it, but I’ll admit I’m 29 and some of these stories scared me to the point of having to turn the lights on at night in order to move from one room to another. Most of them are very well written and based on the element of the unknown. Not the bloody-gooey type of writing, so if you’re a fan of that type of stories, this is not the book for you. This is atmospheric in a way an old black and white horror movie from the sixties would be, which is what makes it more than a children’s book, along with the beautiful illustration by David Roberts.

 

It’s well written, short enough as not for the reader to get tired, long enough to satisfy your hunger for night time scary story reading. Give it a try!