Sunday, January 24, 2016

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New Releases: The Bachelor Girl's Guide to Murder by Rachel McMillan

This novel is going to be released in April 2016. We had the wonderful chance of reading it because we're NetGalley users. In case you didn't know, NetGalley is one of the best places in the world when it comes to getting free e-books that haven't yet seen the light of day.

The Bachelor Girl's Guide to Murder by Rachel McMillan

What's it about?

The action is set in 1910, in Toronto. We have to be honest and say that we knew little to nothing in regards to Toronto in general and that period in particular. In fact, we had no knowledge that women were still looked at as they were at the end of the 19th century. Therefore, they were somehow forced to get a man, get married, build a family and just become a homemaker, in general. That may now look like a tedious thing for the modern woman, but it seems it was just the lifelong dream of many girls at the time.

The book traces the adventures and misadventures of two female friends who are living together: Jem and Merinda. While Jem might be tempted to think that the homemaking lifestyle suits her, Merinda is your regular tomboy. She wears pants, which was something out of the ordinary back at the beginning of the 20th century and usually acts like a man. Moreover, she enjoys dressing up like a man and going out at night to investigate mysteries
A murder takes place in the city, so these two women eventually start snooping around as much as their sex allows them to.

How does it stand out from other mystery & thrillers?

For one, it's funny. Pretty much all mysteries and thrillers have to be entertaining up to some point in order to actually be enjoyable. However, things are somewhat different with this one. First off, the detectives are two females, which was nice to read about, for a change. Secondly, the topics developed in the book are very diverse and range from the number of immigrants who were coming to Canada at the beginning of the 20th century to how much corruption the town was suffering from. From a historical point of view, the novel is extremely well-written. We took the time to go through the notes at the end of the book and found that the author did an incredible research in regards to what was happening in Toronto at the time. Sure, some of the details were figments of her imagination, but overall, Rachel McMillan couldn't have done a better job.
Therefore, The Bachelor Girl's Guide to Murder is unique, in that it has different characters and quite a thrilling plotline.


As previously mentioned, there are two main characters in this book: Merinda and Jem. Merinda comes from a rather wealthy family where her parents allow her to behave and dress up like a man. She lives in the same boardinghouse as Jem, who comes from a somewhat traditional family. The fact of the matter is that Jem receives a letter from her parents according to which they've disowned her due to her inability to choose a husband and stop living and working in the city. 
Two other characters show up as the plot develops. One of them is a journalist whose origins are Italian (Ray), and the other is a local policeman who sometimes lets the girls in on details regarding the murders (Jasper). The other characters are quite enjoyable as well, regardless of whether they're good or bad.


We decided to give The Bachelor Girl's Guide to Murder a 5-star rating on Goodreads and Amazon. This review is unbiased in spite of the fact that we've received the book for free, from NetGalley. We honestly enjoyed the book and thought it's a delicious combo of historical fiction and mystery.

Click here to check out the price of this book on Amazon!

Continue reading New Releases: The Bachelor Girl's Guide to Murder by Rachel McMillan

Thursday, January 21, 2016

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6 Great Books for Children Aged 5 to 6

Read about the most popular books for children under the age of 4!

The most popular books for children under the age of 6

We've looked at countless ratings and reviews written by many parents all over the world, particularly in the United States. We've analyzed the quality of the paper, the brightness and crispness of the images, the educational impact these books have on children, and even the way they perform on social media. Here are the titles that we think are the creme de la creme for 5 and 6-year-olds.

Blue and Bertie by Kristyna Litten

This 32-page treasure is about the tale of Bertie, a giraffe who has never tried something new in his life. He eats the same breakfast every day and goes through the same events time and time again. One day, he oversleeps and realizes he's been left behind. He can't find his herd anymore, and he's left to deal with a number of things that he would have never come to know had he remained in the same group. It's the heartwarming story of how things fit together when you're willing to try new things.

The Rhyming Rabbit by Julia Donaldson and Lydia Monks

This is the story of a Rhyming Rabbit who's feeling a bit left out and lonely. He knows that everyone around him can't stand his poems, and that's why he feels like he desperately needs a friend or someone who might share his passion for rhyming. Fortunately, one night he meets someone who's just right, as this person loves poetry almost as much as himself. This is one of the top-rated children books we've come across during our research, so it might be worth considering if you're prospecting the market for a totally affordable children's book.

I am Henry Finch by Alexis Deacon and Viviane Schwarz

The neat thing about this book is that it's not only destined for kids but also to philosophers of all ages. The story of Henry Finch is related to bravery and how sometimes one has to commit to getting out of his or her comfort zone, just to prove to himself or herself that he's worth the life he's been given. Henry wants to be great and courageous, and so when the Beast shows up, he sees that it's the right time to show his bravery to the whole world. The excellent illustrations in this book will undoubtedly delight the eye of adults and kids alike.

Other titles kids might enjoy

Peanuts: I Love You, Snoopy (Board Book)

If you're trying to teach things like friendship, honesty, and loyalty to your child, it might be a good idea to watch some Peanuts with him or her. There's a myriad of branded merchandise you might want to have a look at if you're into Snoopy as we are. After all, he's one of the coolest pets ever to have been imagined. This is a fun board book that will definitely delight a 5 or 6-year-old.

The Fox and the Crow by Mairi Mackinnon and Rocio Martinez

Everybody knows this folk tale. The Crow isn't willing to give her cheese to the Fox, and the Fox wants to try all the aces he has up his sleeve to get that cheese. The Crow can't possibly resist to the Fox's flattery, and it's becoming more and more difficult for her to avoid responsing to the questions posed by the Fox. This is a retelling of an Aesop classic that's been developed by the University of Roehampton specifically for children who are only beginning to learn how to read.

How to Babysit a Grandpa by Jean Reagan and Lee Wildish

This is a fun read for children of all ages. It's a twist, in that it tells children how they can entertain their grandfathers. There's a plethora of tips and tricks in this book, ranging from what kids should feed to their grandpas to what they should do for fun, on a walk. How to play with grandpa is also explained in the book. The illustrations are breathtaking, and it comes as no surprise that this is one of the most popular books in the line.

Image credits: Pixabay
Continue reading 6 Great Books for Children Aged 5 to 6

Friday, January 15, 2016

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New Releases: The Longest Night by Andria Williams

We were fortunate enough to have received this book from the publishing house, via Netgalley. If you're not yet aware of NetGalley, be sure to check it out, as it's one of the most fantastic ways of getting free ebooks for your Kindle.

Some people say that this book is a reenactment of Revolutionary Road. Others might say that they were expecting a nuclear story, and all they got was the story of an affair that didn't even happen. All we can say is that we thoroughly enjoyed The Longest Night, and it has a high chance of being the best book we will have read in 2016.

The Longest Night centers on Paul and Nat Collier, a couple that has two little girls, Libby and Sam. Most of the action is set throughout 1960 and 1961 when Paul gets a new job at a nuclear station from Idaho Falls. Paul comes from a dysfunctional family composed of two alcoholic parents. He joined the army when he was about sixteen just because he needed some law and order in his life. Nat, on the other hand, comes from a rather open-minded family. In fact, her parents were some of the strangest characters ever to have been imagined. Although they might look like an unlikely couple, they genuinely love each other and make it work.

After arriving in Idaho Falls and taking charge of his new responsibilities, Paul discovers that the reactor he was working on has a high chance of exploding. Not only is he frightened of the possibility that his wife and little girls be exposed to the radiation but he has to confront his Master Sargeant and realize that the latter has no intention of solving the malfunctions of the reactor. One thing leads to the other, and Paul ends up stationed in Antarctica, leaving Nat all alone in Idaho Falls, with very few people she knows and practically no one she trusts. Nat soon befriends a local cowboy, Esrom, and things start changing at a whole new level. Is it a recipe for disaster? Should he have avoided leaving home? Should he have left the army?

The Longest Night is a gripping story that kept us at the edge of our beds. The writing style is downright beautiful, and the action is constructed in such a way that the reader manages to resonate with all the characters. It doesn't matter if they're good or bad. The bottom line is that, at some point, the reader could have been in their shoes. Andria Williams has researched the topic of the reactor that did blow up in Idaho Falls in the 1960s, and so the novel came out realistic. It might come off as romance to some people, but it didn't strike us as a common combination of real and fictitious explosiveness.

In life, things sometimes just happen. People get killed because of stupid accidents. People get cheated on, or they're under the impression they've been cheated on. People gossip and spread silly rumors that might be disastrous for the ones they're about. That's what we loved the most about Andria Williams's novel: it's as natural as life itself.

Image credits: Pixabay
Continue reading New Releases: The Longest Night by Andria Williams

Wednesday, January 13, 2016

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9 Of The Most Popular Books for Children Under 4

Trying to convince a kid younger than 4 to read is downright confusing. For one, he or she isn't yet able to read. He's probably learned his way around pictures and several letters by now, but he might not be capable of reading per se. If you're considering buying a set of books for your son or daughter, nephew, or maybe for the kid of someone you know, you probably need to check out the list we've put together for your consideration.
We've grouped the books into several categories, so you don't get mixed up. The main idea to keep in mind is that you should try to have fun with the kid when handing him or her the gift, although some children tend not to be amused when getting books for Christmas. Read the book together and go through all the stories and pictures with patience. Have a look at our selection to see whether you'd be interested in picking something out for a child under the age of 4.

The most acclaimed books

Waiting by Kevin Henkes

All children are waiting to grow up, and Kevin Henkes seems to be aware of this more than other people. This small, colorful, and inspiring book is about anything from the seasons to friendship and imaginative play. The sentences are short enough to be understood by any kid between the ages of 3 and 5. The main characters are a puppy, an owl, a bear, a pig, and a rabbit, which is why Waiting is also destined for animal-lovers.

The Little Engine That Could by Watty Piper and Loren Long

We have to admit having read this one as well, several years ago, when we were way past our 20s. We loved it! But how could have we helped ourselves? The Little Engine That Could is a charming story of a train that is filled with gifts and toys for children, which has the bad luck of breaking down before completing its mission. The kids risk being left with no gifts, and a tiny blue train has to decide whether he has enough courage to give the train a helping hand. Since it might contain a little too much text for a 4-year old, we recommend reading it to children. They'll be enthralled by it in no time.

Lenny and Lucy by Philip C. Stead and Erin E. Stead

Also a tale of courage, Lenny and Lucy is the story of a little boy named Peter, who leaves with his father to live in a new and distant place. It just so happens that this new home of theirs is located deep in the distant woods, which leaves Peter feeling a bit fearful. Left with just Harold the dog, Peter realizes that he doesn't have that many things to do in the woods. He eventually creates his friend, Lenny, and ends up putting together a companion for him as well, Lucy. With a little help from his two friends and his dog, Peter soon discovers that living in his new home isn't scary at all.


The Gruffalo by Julia Donaldson

In case you didn't know, the Gruffalo is one of the most popular books for children out there in the world. We admit to having read this one as well, and we loved every word and picture of it! The story has been turned into an animated movie, so if your child isn't yet ready to grasp the complexity of the tale, you might be interested in at least renting the DVD. The Gruffalo centers on a little white mouse that risks being eaten by various predators making their way in the woods. To escape his demise, the mouse invents a story about a strange and creepy creature that is expecting him: the Gruffalo. Little does the mousey know that the Gruffalo actually exists.

I Want My Hat Back by Jon Klassen

This is the story of a bear who's lost his hat. Since violence isn't in his character, the bear takes the time and effort to go around and ask all the animals in the woods whether they've seen his hat or not. Everything is well until a deer comes along and asks a simple question. It is this simple gesture the one that reminds the bear of something and all of the sudden, his search is dominated by vengeance.

Where's Wallace by Hilary Knight

Everyone's gathered to see Wallace at the zoo, an orangutan. But the orangutan has other plans compared to the ones of the public, and he wants to see the whole wide world that's outside the zoo. Along with his six friends, he plans and adventure, and he needs to be discovered by a certain Mr. Frumbee, and the neat thing about the entire story is that the child has to help Mr. Frumbee do his job and complete his mission. This is a rather affordable, colorful book for kids under the age of 4. It's entertaining and sweet.

Family Life

The Wonderful Things You Will Be by Emily Windfield Martin

This book is just beautiful, with imaginative illustrations that leave the child fascinated with the story. The Wonderful Things You Will Be has to be read time and time again to children, as it's both humorous and inspiring. It's a bestseller on a broad array of online marketplaces and has gathered a collection of 5-star ratings on both Goodreads and online marketplaces.

Hush Little Polar Bear by Jeff Mack

Hush Little Polar Bear is an imaginative story about a cute little furry polar bear that can travel to magical places with the help of dreams. The illustrations in this book are downright lush and lovable and make the perfect thing to look at before going to sleep. Before you know it, you might be dozing off with your little boy or little girl.

Oh, The Places You'll Go! by Dr. Seuss

Dr. Seuss is a classic, and in our opinion, virtually anything that's been published under this name has a high chance of being successful with kids. From The Cat in the Hat to The Lorax, most of Dr. Seuss's stories are inspirational and optimistic. This one's even more so because it somehow manages to explain to children that not everything in life is great, but it all turns out well in the end. As is the case with so many other Dr. Seuss works, this one is humorous and fun. We read it when we were around 27 and thoroughly enjoyed it.

We'd like to give you some other recommendations if you're looking to explain the concept of friendship to a 4-year-old. We hope you enjoyed our little list and will consider it when giving books to kids younger than 4.

Continue reading 9 Of The Most Popular Books for Children Under 4

Monday, January 11, 2016

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How To Read 50 Books In A Year

100 books in a year can be intimidating. But 50 should be a reasonable goal, particularly if you're set on expanding your culture and learning about new things. We've talked about reading challenges and whether or not they're useful for readers, but we can't refrain from sticking to this goal time and time again. There's a set of simple rules you can use to avoid abandoning the challenge, and we've decided to share it with you.

Write some of the titles you want to read on a piece of paper

New Years resolutions might not be for everyone in the world, and perhaps the same goes for personal challenges. However, nobody said that writing down a list of the things you want to do before you die or before the year ends isn't productive. In fact, jotting down the names of the books you'd like to read is one of the most efficient ways of making sure you're never too far behind on your reading expectations. Get a beautiful notebook and use it to document your progress. As you complete your goal, be sure to make several notes on the subject of the books and on how they made you feel while you were reading them. Your memory might be tricky, and so in several years from now, you might not know just how much you loved that new novel by Jeffrey Eugenides.

Use social media judiciously

Social media networks are counterproductive, but you probably know that already. They're clever thieves that don't do much unless you work in online marketing. Stop browsing through the photos of your friends or the ones of your exes. Instead of comparing your social media life to the one of your friends and acquaintances, get more out of your existence by reading.
If you're that invested in social media, in general, you can use your passion to your advantage. There's a myriad of titles out there regarding social media marketing, which you can use to learn more about each network in particular. In fact, if you plan on documenting your progress on a blog or Goodreads, these books might be helpful:
- 365 Ideas To Go From Good To Great On Twitter, John Sparks
- Social Media Marketing Workbook: How to Market Your Business on Social Media, Jason McDonald
- Built-In Social: Essential Social Marketing Practices for Every Small Business, Jeff Korhan

Buy a Kindle or some other E-Ink device

E-book readers aren't everyone's cup of tea. Their batteries often last for several weeks on a single charge. What this means for the end-user is that he or she won't be forced to carry a hefty book around. Why not enjoy Game of Thrones on your Kindle instead of carrying a 1000-page hardcover with you?

Always carry a book or your e-book reader with you

Did you ever feel like you could do more with the time you spend in public institutions? Whether you have to pay a tax or open up a new banking account, the bottom line is waiting in line might be considerably more productive if you simply brought your book with you. If you think reading in a line is weird, just read on your smartphone. There are a plethora of apps for reading that are now available which make the whole task a lot easier and enjoyable.

Make use of public transportation

Depending on where you live in the world, public transportation might be more or less convenient. It's still one of the most ways of getting to work in the morning, especially in Europe. Most of the young workers in Europe prefer traveling by train because it saves them a lot of hassle. For one, it's cheaper to buy a bus or train card. Second, you won't have to pay attention to the road all of the time. You can do whatever you want with both your hands and your eyes, and why not hold a book and read?

Get acquainted with audiobooks

While audiobooks might not be the cheapest thing in the world, if you're not interested in purchasing them, there are still several options you can use. One of the most well-known websites and apps we've employed in the past is Librivox. There are more ways of taking advantage of Librivox, in that you can either download the books on your computer and transfer them to your mobile device or install the free app from the App Store or Google Play.
Audible is, by far, one of the most professional websites people use nowadays for listening to audiobooks. The ones narrating the stories are professional actors, so the entire experience is a lot more theatrical and somehow realistic compared to the audiobooks you may find with Librivox.

Read before going to bed

Many individuals nowadays have trouble going to sleep. If you've never tried pairing a cup of chamomile or linden tea with a good book before going to bed, you might want to give it a try. The neat thing about reading is that, sooner or later, you're bound to realize that your eyelids are slowly but surely becoming attracted to one another.

Decide if it's more productive to read one or several books at a time

For some, reading just one book is enough. For others, including several members of our team, that's close to impossible. We're never able to have enough patience to go through a novel in one sitting. But that's not a bad idea, after all, because there's no risk of the reader becoming confused as long as he or she reads books from different fields. We've seen success stories from people who usually read NonFiction and Contemporary Literature at the same time.

Use quick reads

This is a trick that almost everyone in our team uses right when December starts knocking on our doors. Some might go for comic books and graphic novels, and others might prefer children's books. Whatever the case, the main idea to keep in mind is that there are no rules. Goodreads has several lists that feature short novels, and we'll tell you that some of them are better than many lengthy books. Here're just a few examples:
- Animal Farm, George Orwell
- Of Mice and Men, John Steinbeck
- Lord of the Flies, William Golding
- The Metamorphosis, Franz Kafka
- The Old Man Who Read Love Stories, Luis Sepulveda
- A Single Man, Christopher Isherwood

Find the right books for you

Getting recommendations from friends is great, but what if you don't have the time to ask for a buddy's advice? Several websites can refer books depending on your taste:
- What Should I Read Next?
- YourNextRead
- WhichBook

Free images via Pixabay
Continue reading How To Read 50 Books In A Year

Thursday, January 7, 2016

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Books and Art: Lumio

Since we're keen on presenting you the latest developments regarding technology, art, and the literary works of our days, we've decided to create a special category dealing with Books and Art. The first showcase in the category is Lumio.

What's Lumio?

The product per se was launched back in 2013 when a Kickstarter campaign was created and managed to raise more than $570,000. Lumio is, in fact, a portable and flexible lamp that can be folded into a single compact book. Sure, it's not a book or even an e-book reader, but it will do wonders when it comes to reading anything on a dark evening or night. Plus, it's won a lot of prizes in terms of innovative product design, and it's been the main cause of a fight between investors.

The cheapest Lumio lamp costs around $190, which might be a too high price point for a regular customer. However, book aficionados will undoubtedly have a peek at its features and design, in spite of it being a little too pricey for the budgets of regular bookworms. The Walnut Lumio lamp looks like a hardcover book. Probably the neatest thing about this product is that it can open up to 360 degrees.

If you don't need that much light when you're doing your reading before bedtime, you might want to check out the Mini Lumio+, which costs just $125. The lamp comes with all the features and perks of the full-size alternative, it's just more compact and easier to take on the road.

Finally, if you're very picky about your design or artsy items, you can customize your own Lumio, as the end-product will be available in the color, size and fabric of your choice. In addition, if you're buying your Lumios for your employees, you may even want to customize it with the logo of your brand.

All in all, this looks like a pretty revolutionary reading lamp that's worth having a look at. You just have to ask yourself whether or not your budget can afford spending over one hundred dollars on a lamp instead of paying for actual books or ebooks. After all, there are cheaper alternatives to Lumio, such as Prudance, which costs less than one hundred and fifty dollars for the full-size version.

Image source: Lumio
Continue reading Books and Art: Lumio

Wednesday, January 6, 2016

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5 Books You Should Read in 2016

Escaping from reality with a good book can't be challenged by almost anything in the world. If you find that you're more likely to spend some time with a book than going out on the town during a weekend, we've put together a short list of the five books you're likely to look forward this year. Some are thrillers while others are crime dramas. Whatever your personal taste, you have a high chance of being swept off your feet by one of the following titles. Check them out below.

One More Day by Kelly Simmons

One More Day is one of the fascinating thrillers to look for in 2016, as it deals with the mysterious disappearing of a child from the backseat of his mother's car. Carrie Morgan has to deal with the disappearance of her son as best as she can, only to discover that several months after having vanished, he's come back home. The return lasts for just twenty-four hours, leaving Carrie feeling baffled and shattered to the bone. Once a week has gone by, Carrie has faced several events that all involve a grim secret. She eventually has to choose between finding out about what happened to her son and revealing certain details of her past.
Expected date of publication: February 1st, 2016

Outrun the Moon by Stacey Lee
Outrun the Moon is set at the beginning of the 20th century in San Francisco, where a fifteen-year-old Mercy Wong struggles to find her way out of poverty. She's determined to leave Chinatown and start living the good life, especially since she has recently been accepted to a high-class School for Girls. Getting in might be easy, but staying in is difficult.
The book deals with the social challenges of the first part of the 20th century in the United States and even features a historic earthquake that rocks San Francisco and the nearby area. With such diverse characters and an exceptional historical backdrop, Outrun the Moon might be worth considering if you're willing to buy new books this year.
Expected date of publication: May 24th, 2016

A Study in Charlotte by Brittany Cavallaro
A Study in Charlotte is clearly something else. Brittany Cavallaro manages to combine humor with mystery in this amazing Sherlock Holmes retelling. The action is set in Connecticut, where Jamie Watson, the great-grandson of the famous John Watson meets the granddaughter of Holmes himself, Charlotte. She's inherited part of the detective's wit and genius. Although the two youngsters seem to be destined to an eternal rivalry, they eventually have to work together to solve a mysterious case and prove their innocence as well.
Expected date of publication: March 1st, 2016

How to Hang a Witch by Adriana Mather
We're moving into Young Adult territory with this one, as it seems to be specifically destined for fans of Mean Girls and Conversion. The action of this novel is set in Salem, the recent home of a certain Samantha Mather. The girl has to face a plethora of disturbing events, of which some are caused by a group of girls that go by the name of The Descendants. Sam has to deal with a ghost and somehow resolve a mystery and a very old curse.

Heartless by Marissa Meyer
Fans of the Lunar Chronicles may finally rejoice. Feiwel and Friends are publishing another Marissa Meyer title; this time, it's an Alice in Wonderland retelling. The main character is Catherine, who's been living in Wonderland for all her life and is one of the most desired girls on all land. A talented baker, she's expected to receive a marriage proposal from the King of Hearts at a ball. Fortunately for some people and unfortunately for others, she meets a young man named Jest at the same ball. Catherine may finally be in for a surprise, and one that's coming from her own heart.
Expected date of publication: November 8th, 2016

Image source: Pixabay
Continue reading 5 Books You Should Read in 2016