Sunday, December 22, 2019

Reading Plans for 2020

I haven't had the best year of my life, to be honest. Actually, it's been quite a disaster. For me, 2019 represented the end of two very important things, which I have to say I was counting on to remain sane.

It's taken me a lot of time to get back on track, and I'm still recovering. I still have a lot of recovering to do, but I've accepted that I now have to take it easy. I'm not even looking for a job right now, and to be honest, I'll probably still take my time for another half a year or more.

I read around 28 books in 2019, which is disappointing considering that I have almost never read under 50 books in a year. In fact, back in 2013 or 2014, I read more than 80 books.

For 2020, I'm planning on reading 100 books, but if I can read more, that'd be even better. The reason I'm writing this here is because in a way I'm making myself accountable for it. I'll read some in Romanian, for which I am not going to write reviews here, but I will also read many in English, so for those I will write reviews.

As you might have told, this blog thing has been a disaster, and I don't have amazing expectations from it. I'll just review the books and not really expect people to read them. I will do it regularly, though, since I expect to read a book every 3 to 5 days or so.

I'm going to Istanbul next year, in February, around my birthday, which is one of the most exciting things I'll probably get to do in 2020. For 2019, a trip to Bulgaria was an experience I'm not going to forget too soon. In any case, traveling will give me the opportunity to read, since there'll be planes and trains to take, and what better else to do when you are in transit other than read? :)

If anyone is still checking out this blog, I hope 2020 works out well in every way for you and I hope that you've had a better 2019 than I did.
Continue reading Reading Plans for 2020

Monday, September 30, 2019

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Submission by Michel Houellebecq {Review}

After reading silly books for almost two years, I finally got back to reading something more serious. I am barely getting back on track after recovering a bout of depression and burnout. My yearly challenge is to read 20 books in 2019, which I know is pretty low for me, but it is enough. This year, I've read:

  • A is for Arsenic by Kathryn Harkup
  • All Cats Are Introverts by Francesco Marciuliano
  • The Tuscan Child by Rhys Bowen (which I LOVED!)
  • Submission by Michel Houellebecq
  • Arheologia iubirii by Catalin Pavel (this is a great book by a Romanian archeologist and novelist)
  • The Long Goodbye by Raymond Chandler
  • Updates on the Communist Manifesto by Slavoj Zizek
  • Hollywood by Charles Bukowski
  • Un joc fara reguli by Lucian Boia (this is a pretty awesome book by a Romanian historian)
  • Requiem for the American Dream by Noam Chomsky
  • (I finally finished) Come, Tell Me How you Live by Agatha Christie 
  • Murder in the Mews by Agatha Christie
  • The Storyteller's Secret by Carmine Gallo (which I hated and I'm done for non-fiction for a long while, I hope)
  • The Conquest of Happiness by Bertrand Russell
I'd like to write about Submission today because it was one of those books that impressed me the most. As you can see, I'm trying to do a bit of reading on social issues as I'm beginning to be more and more interested in how people live and how we can improve welfare for everyone. 

The story

The action takes place in 2022 in France. There are regular episodes of violence in the streets, and they are all kept secret by the media. The new Muslim Party is becoming more and more popular. In a second general election, Mohammed Ben Abbes (the Muslim Party's candidate) beats Marine Le Pen. On the next day, women are to abandon the Western fashion. They start to wear long smocks over their trousers.

The main character teaches a course at a university and is surprised to see that he gets an offer to retire. After all, both men and women who used to teach Western and generally modern (and useless) courses were of no use to the Muslim education. Women get the same pension offer - they basically receive the same amount of money they'd get if they were to work, but they do so without going to work. Naturally, they start leaving their jobs, probably also because they feel a little intimated by the fact that the faculty is now mostly composed of men.

People start converting and men begin to marry more wives. Although I originally thought of the main character as the typical misunderstood {late} teenager that's now in his 40s, what happens at the end of the book was a complete surprise to me.

Before you jump into any wrong conclusions, let me tell you that anything related to the Muslim culture is not depicted in this book in a negative way. It's just a dystopian novel about a probable political (and religious and social) situation in 2022 in France. There is a lot of talk in this book about religion, and about how the Western world has lost its connection to it. In a way, you get the feeling that most adults have lost their purpose and can't find any meaning in their lives any longer. That's where Islam comes in and offers it to them.

Is it worth reading?

Did I like the book? Well, yes, very much. Not necessarily because of what happened in it, in the sense that taking the power was pretty easy for the intelligent Muslims, and it seemed to me like the Western civilization didn't have any regrets. That's probably because we've lost our traditional values, in a way that will probably never happen with Muslims. 

They care a lot about their ways while we don't. We're acceptant of pretty much anything and anyone, and the well-known saying 'agree to disagree' has definitely influenced the way we think about the world. 

While they might have more radical views compared to Westerners, Muslims care about what happens with their communities. We seem to have lost empathy for the people around us, and we don't necessarily make a goal out of helping them, if they need any help.

I totally get why some people might be bothered by the story, especially those that care about the Western 'values'. I felt a little weird while reading the novel, partly because I related to the main character. I, too, have often asked myself what point there is to life, and that's very likely to not have happened had I been interested in social issues or religion, or had I been a part of a tight-knit community.

So, while it might be a little challenging to read or to digest, this is a very interesting book. Plus, it's short - I think it has less than 200 pages but I can't say for sure since I read it on my Kindle. I suggest you challenge your views and give it a go!

Continue reading Submission by Michel Houellebecq {Review}

Thursday, May 30, 2019


Big Little Print - A Very Cool Online Store

Big Print Little Print are a small team operating out of their East London studio. Their online store has over 2500 different designs printed onto various novel pages and vintage dictionaries. They add to their collection almost every month with truly beautiful designs.

The most unique part about big print little print would have to be their vintage dictionary page art. Combining unique design with real pages taken from vintage dictionaries, these prints can make for a truly inventive gift. At the same time, it is easy to imagine such a piece hanging in your own space. There is something intensely engaging about the vulnerability of the figure presented in this piece, combined with a message that many consider to be inspirational to their own notions of self-care. When you set these concepts against a vintage dictionary page, the end result is something that can stun and fascinate in equal measures.

Their latest range as of writing this is the Hipster Animals where they have beautifully stitched animals and humans together to create a truly wonderful unique piece of art. It doesn’t do it justice to try and describe the final outcome with words and is something you have to go and look at for yourself. Some of their more notable collections are the Harry Potter book page prints, Alice in Wonderland and their Pawtrait dictionary page prints. These adorable cartoon animals that are ideal for any children’s nursery walls.

Whether you purchase this incredible vintage dictionary art or encyclopedia print for yourself, or as a gift, you are nonetheless celebrating the diversity of creation, and the notion that we all deserve the ability and opportunity to take care of ourselves.

The pages are all plucked at random from these beautiful upcycled books. This makes each piece truly unique to you as no two pages are alike. Fear not, if you get a dictionary page that you’re unhappy with they offer a free page replacement. If that doesn’t sweeten the deal enough the offer free shipping on all orders worldwide, 30 days free returns and a 2 day dispatch.
Continue reading Big Little Print - A Very Cool Online Store

Thursday, April 4, 2019

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Blitzball - The Book Lots of Influencers are Talking About

A lot of Influencers are posting about Blitzball by Barton Ludwig. In Blitzball, Addie, a teen cloned to be Hitler, battles his genetics and the Nazis who created him at a school where soccer is war.

Here are what some influencers are saying: 

Blitzball has been quite well received on social media as it's an enjoyable book but one that also takes a strong stand against racism. What I enjoyed most about this book was that it felt like something different. I love dystopian stories but this was not your typical dystopian. Although it deals with such a dark theme and for the most part, it is a drama, it was mixed with a lot of comedy as well. If I had to compare it to a book, it would probably be something like Horrorstory or My Best Friends Exorcism, two very popular books. I'm surprised that not more people know about this book.

I'm a big fan of dark comedy and shows like "Maniac" I really gravitate towards. Blitzball had a lot of the dark comedy you'd expect with such a theme but it did it in a tasteful way. However, this is a story set in high school so be prepared to encounter the type of Seth Rogan and Judd Apetow humor we've come to love and expect. However, for me no amount of laughs can justify a character I don't connect with. I thought I'd have a hard time connecting to Addie but I didn't because I felt like he was a victim too as he didn't ask to be cloned to be Hitler. It happened to him and then it was something he had to deal with. The reason I connected to him so well I think is because he wants to break free of the chains that his society has imposed on him and I think a lot of teens can relate to this as well.

One of the best things about this story for me was that it really fits with the current political situation in America right now and the rise in tensions among different ethnic groups. North Prep, the rival school of Addie's school, Reichfield, is filled with minorities, namely Mexicans. How appropriate for the political situation, right?

I feel with a lot of things, I'm an early adopter, meaning I often discover things first, like snapchat. I feel that this book is something that could really take off. For books of 2019, Blitzball has to be one of my favorites followed by The Dreamers. Blitzball is available on Amazon here: http:/

Continue reading Blitzball - The Book Lots of Influencers are Talking About

Wednesday, February 6, 2019


Step Into The World of Free eBooks

I love a bargain when I see it, and since I own and read on my Kindle Voyage every single day, I've become addicted to several websites that I have used to download free ebooks from Amazon, in particular. Naturally, there are many other sources that one can utilize nowadays. Things have changed a lot over the past couple of years.

I once made a video (no longer available) and wrote a post about getting free books but I will admit that I haven't used any of those sites for quite some time. For example, I stopped using Project Gutenberg some years ago because I find that I am no longer attracted to the idea of reading classic literature. It's much too stuffy for me.

Another thing that happened is that my enthusiasm about NetGalley kind of faded away, too. I know that it's one of the greatest options that readers have when it comes to borrowing newly released books or ARCs, but I've lost my interest in it.
I have to admit, I do not like being told to upload a review by a certain date. I have my own pace when it comes to reading, and what that means is that I will usually burn through an erotica novel in one night and will take my sweet time with a Jeffrey Eugenides novel (even a month). That happens because one genre is so different from the other. Erotica is fast food whereas quality contemporary lit can only be compared to gourmet cuisine.

One thing I haven't tried yet is reading on my iPhone or MacBook. I have both of these gadgets but I do not own an iPad, but I've heard that it's great for reading. However, I somehow doubt that it's better than my Kindle, at least when it comes to the display. There are plenty of free Kindle and Apple books out there today, though, and that's what appeals most to me.

Besides, when it comes to erotica, most books are series. It figures that I don't want to spend my money on the first novel from a series and then realize that I don't like the author's style or I can't relate to the characters.
If I pay for the first book, I will have effectively wasted my money if I don't like it. Some sites offer links to free Kindle books by genre, which is something rather unique. Back in the day, I used to use Instafreebie (now Prolific Works) to check out their weekly featured giveaways, but there aren't any particular categories when it comes to the downloads. For example, as I am writing this, you can get free books in interracial romance, contemporary romance, mystery & thriller, and clean science fiction. But where's the rest? Where's the historical fiction? Where's the non-fiction? Surely you see what I mean.

While some might think that I'm cheap because I love free Kindle books, the truth is that not all people have the money to pay for them, and using piracy instead is plain wrong and never an option I could ever support. In my older article, I talked about how you can be a little creative when it comes to getting free books, and if you're a convincing 'stalker' of an author, you can get in touch with them via Twitter (or some other social media network) and ask them for a review copy in return for your undying support and appreciation. This works best if you have a book blog, of course, since you can provide them with a link, too.

I'd like to end by saying that it's not impossible to get free ebooks, especially nowadays. It's a wonderful way of making sure that what you're going to get hooked on actually deserves your interest. Surely a series like A Game of Thrones would get you hooked right from the beginning, but one like Fifty Shades of Gray?... I think not.

By the way, did you hear that E.L. James is about to publish a new book? I hope this time around, her main female character doesn't talk to 'her inner goddess' as much as Anastasia Steele used to (because that... that made me go absolutely crazy!).
Continue reading Step Into The World of Free eBooks

Thursday, January 24, 2019

A Guide to Buying the Best Pens for Coloring Books

Like I said in one of my recent posts, I would start publishing buying guides for pretty much anything book-related. Today, I’m coming at you with a post on getting the best bang for the buck when you’re in the market for the best pens for coloring books. I know that it can be challenging getting the right ones, so that’s why I’m here - I’ll give you my advice since I’ve been researching book stuff topics for years and years now.

I made a list of factors that you ought to mull over to make sure that you’re purchasing just what you need. Keep in mind that the definition of ‘pens’ differs largely from one product to the other and that some people like markers, crayons, or something else, so the diversity might baffle you.

Types of colored pens

There are several kinds of pens for coloring books out there. First, we have the fountain pen, which is slowly but surely becoming obsolete, and that’s because it is difficult to control, it can be expensive, but it does provide flexibility and smooth application. Unfortunately, changing or replacing the ink is anything but hassle-free, so given the array of cons to this option, it might not be the right one to take into account.

Next, we have the ballpoint pen, which is typically affordable, has a good ink life, and requires little to no maintenance. It might not give you the same amount of freedom with regard to the application, and if you don’t use it for a while, the ink can become blobby or sticky.

Fiber tip pens have excellent color output and another advantage is that the ink dries a lot faster than with other pens. However, you might notice that you’ll go through the ink rather quickly.

Gel ink pens are also rather popular because they offer benefits such as a powerful color output, smooth color application, and very little effort when they’re used. However, they also run out of ink rather fast and they might not provide that much flexibility.

I know that a pen isn’t the same as a pencil, but people who like coloring books might appreciate the second instead of the first strictly because you can use an eraser for times when you went outside the pattern, for example.


You should have a pen for each color because that’s the only way that you can make sure that they are accurate. You can’t blend them as you would if you were to paint, for example. Some types come in rather wide ranges of color selections, but with others, you’ll notice that the selection is somewhat limited. Water-based pens come in fewer colors compared to their gel-based counterparts, for example.

Ink type

Probably the most important aspect that you have to consider when you’re in the market for colored pens for coloring books is the fact that the color should not bleed through the paper and get on the other side. Cheaper coloring books usually come with patterns on both sides of the paper, so the last thing you might want to do would be to ruin the next pattern because of a cheap or poorly made pen.

Each type of ink has pros and cons in this respect. For example, gel ink can bleed through paper but it provides deep and intense colors. Oil-based ink is prone to bubbling, but it dries somewhat quickly. Water-based ink takes a long time to dry, and the colors might not be extremely deep or precise.

The ink does matter, it’s true, but the quality of your coloring book does, as well. If it’s cheaply made, the paper will be thin, and so regardless of how carefully you apply the colors, it will bleed and get to the other side, thereby ruining a pattern.

Final advice

If you’re having a hard time telling which product you ought to spend your cents on, perhaps you should go through some reviews of pens for coloring books. Other people, who decide to relax and spend their spare time in the same way you do can assist you when it comes to finding out whether the ink bleeds, whether you can go through the ink quickly, or any other aspect you might need to find out.

Sometimes, it makes more sense to invest in a set rather than getting individual pens separately. You get a lot more colors and therefore, you have the opportunity to express your creativity in an effective manner.

*image via Pixabay
Continue reading A Guide to Buying the Best Pens for Coloring Books

Monday, January 21, 2019


A Guide to Buying the Best Books for 20-Year-Olds

Hi! This is a new post from my series of guides for people who love reading. In today’s ‘episode’, I’ll show you a couple of tips on how you can find the perfect book for a 20-year-old. It can be tricky navigating through all of the books available for sale these days, and if you don’t know the person you’re planning to give a gift to, it can be even trickier. Here’s what you should consider if you want to get a good book for a 20-year-old.

Find out as much as you can about that person
As much of a cliche as it might sound, this is the first thing you have to do. You definitely wouldn’t enjoy receiving a book that offends you or that you have zero intention on reading, right? The point here is that you should get a book that actually has a chance of being read, both for the sake of the book and for the sake of the person that got it as a gift.

If you’re a close friend of that person or if he or she is a family member, you’re probably already aware of what they’re passionate about. Don’t just think that someone who doesn’t enjoy reading will take it up just like that - it isn’t true. However, you could start by analyzing that gift recipient’s tastes and preferences.

I’m going to give you an example to make things a bit easier. Let’s say you’re trying to get a book for your brother. What does your brother enjoy to do in his spare time? Does he like DIY-ing? Does he like fishing, hunting, camping, hiking, or any other type of outdoor activity? Does he like humor?

If you take the time to answer these questions, you’ll find out what type of book you can consider. For example, for DIY people, you could get them a book on home repair and improvement, homemade products, DIY solar power, car repair, wood pallet projects, or anything else. For those who like fishing, a book on several species or techniques could be a good choice, but don’t underestimate those that are collections of fishing stories, either. For people who like to laugh, nothing’s better than a book in the humor category, for example.

20 is a difficult age
There are a lot of challenges to overcome when you’re 20, and a practical book such as one on making smart financial decisions could be the right way of going about things. While they are in their 20s, many people make bad money mistakes - whether it’s ruining their credit, too many credit cards, too many bank accounts - whatever it is that has gone through your mind, one of them has to be it.

If you’re the parent of a 20-year-old, choosing a book like The Financial Diet (which is very easy to read even for someone who is bad at math or making financial decisions) can both be a good thing for your son or daughter, but it can also put your mind at ease.


Another aspect that you ought to consider is the fact that not all books are the same. Just like some are paperbacks and hardbacks, there’s also the option of you choosing the electronic version (the e-book). Sure, that might not be so glamorous since you won’t be able to hand the book to the gift recipient - but still, if you know for sure that the 20-year-old you’re getting it for doesn’t have any physical copies and is maybe trying not to buy printed books just to be eco-friendly, an e-book might be a logical choice.


This is pretty tricky. If you don’t know that much about the person, you’ll have to do a bit of investigating - ask his or her friends to find out what genre he likes. Keep in mind that there are people who like to read non-fiction (such as The Financial Diet book we’ve mentioned before), but there are others that only read fiction and can’t stand non-fiction, no matter how well it might be written.

I used to be like that. When I was in my 20s, I loved reading mysteries and thrillers, but also memoirs and contemporary lit. I never even thought that I’d get to the point where I’d start to enjoy reading non-fiction. And guess what? It did happen, but once I was past the age of 29. I made the mistake of starting my ‘non-fiction journey’ with one of Seth Godin’s books, and since I wasn’t even in the same industry at that time and it seemed like his book was an endless repetition of whatever he said in the first chapter, I gave up the whole genre.

Much later on, when I came across Mindset: Changing The Way You think to Fulfil Your Potential by Carol Dweck, I understood that not all non-fiction books are the same. Some can actually help you.

So, what does this 20-year-old usually read?

So, there you have it. Here are my two cents on how you can pick a great book for a 20-year-old. If you liked this post, consider sharing it with your friends.
Continue reading A Guide to Buying the Best Books for 20-Year-Olds

Saturday, January 19, 2019

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Densters Large Set Building Toys - Review

I don't usually review products for children, both because they are not in the niche of this particular website and because I personally have used few of them over time. However, I did want to showcase this one because it seems pretty remarkable to me, despite being released rather recently.

The Densters Large Set is a short collection of toy monsters designed for children, as well as adults, and it comes with as many as eight versatile and whimsical characters. With their assistance, you can build the inside of a hide-away or that of a fort.


One of the coolest thing that I have found about these toys is that they can be used for a variety of purposes. You really do not have to be a kid to be able to enjoy them. In fact, I couldn't help noticing that they can be used both conveniently and effectively as anything ranging from blanket pegs to bookmarks, door stoppers, and even a bag hook.

One of them can even be utilized as a phone stand, which naturally comes in handy if you are looking to communicate with a person that you haven't seen in a while. Apps like Facetime and Skype can be used with ease if your smartphone is supported by one of these toys.


Attaching the Densters to your furniture is extremely simple because they are designed in such a way so as to minimize the effort on the part of the user. The fact that every little toy has its own name is a cute detail. For example, you can use the Grumpo as a door stopper, but the Cheekabo can be clamped onto chairs or shelves so as to hold your bag or anything else. The Snella is a perfect little surface sucker whereas the Hoopsta can be hooked around knobs, as well as curtains.


Since I'm always concerned with the safety of an item whenever I try to analyze its quality, it's worth noting here that these toys are made from BPA-free materials, so they pose no risk to kids in this respect.

Furthermore, their design does not include any risky parts that could be swallowed or on which children could cut themselves - there are no small parts or sharp edges. However, the manufacturing brand does recommend their use with kids older than 3, so you might want to consider that.

Educational purpose

Many studies have found that building forts and dens can be quite educational and the best thing about this type of activity is that it helps with the development of children's creative thinking. Naturally, your child will want to experiment with all sorts of materials to build as many structures as possible, so it might be a good idea to have several blankets ready after purchasing this set.


Although I personally haven't been able to find any info regarding the exact materials that these toys are made of, they have been deemed as durable and highly flexible, which is why they can be stretched and can put up with some serious abuse over time.

So there you have it. If you're in the market for a toy set that can stimulate your child's creativity and ingeniousness, the Densters Large Set might be a good choice.
Continue reading Densters Large Set Building Toys - Review