December 28, 2015

The Reading Book Post, December 28th


Hello, everyone!Merry Christmas and happy holidays! Only a few days of 2015 are left and I can't wait to welcome the new year. Plus, The Reading Armchair's blogiversary is approaching. The Reading Book Post this week is mostly Christmas-themed, so enjoy.

  • 82 literary critics have created for the BBC a list of the 100 best British books. The results show that many of these books were written by women. The list is pretty interesting!



  • What's better than listening to a Christmas story? Listen to Ja Rule read How the Grinch Stole Christmas!  for the BBC Radio 1.


  • And if you want to listen to more stories there are plenty of celebrities who have read our most beloved Christmas tales, like The Polar Express, The Night Before Christmas and A Christmas Carol. Enjoy!




  • Have you ever wondered what is the origin of all of the Christmas words we use? Santa Clause, Mistletoe, Tinsel, Carol and many other words are explained. I would never guess the origin of some of those words!


  • Listen to these five clips from the children's books. Can you guess from which books they are and who narrates them? That's one tricky quiz!


  • Which "A Christmas Carol" Character Are You? Take the quiz to find out! I got Tiny Tim, which one  are you?

December 27, 2015

Review: The Ghost of Christmas by K.J. Emrick


Title: The Ghost of Christmas

Author: K.J. Emrick

Series: Darcy Sweet Mystery #4 

Publisher: South Coast Publishing

Date of Publication: 2013

Number of Pages: 75

Summary

Darcy Sweet loves the Christmas season with its snow and Christmas trees and colorful decorations. She also loves the Christmas pageant that her town puts on every year. However this year things don't go as smoothly as hoped when an unexpected visitor shows up: The ghost of a murdered man who was a former pageant Santa. The ghost needs Darcy to find out who his killer is so he may finally rest in peace. However, things are complicated further when there is an attempt on Darcy and her boyfriend's life, while he is wearing the ghost's Santa costume. Will they find the ghost's killer in time when every attempt Darcy makes is being impeded by forces unknown? Will they make it to Christmas in one piece or will the Santa suit claim another victim?

Review

Now that we've reached the last week of the year, I have a confession to make: I like cozy mysteries. The Darcy Sweet Mystery series was my introduction to the genre and as I read more installments from it, I like it even more.

Darcy Sweet lives in Misty Hollows, a town full of mysteries. When something bad is about to happen, a mysterious mist rises in the town, which is quite frequently. For Darcy, who can see ghosts, this often becomes dangerous, as she tries to help the ghosts and solve the mysteries of the town. In the fourth installment of the series, The Ghost of Chrismas, Darcy feels unsure about her future with her boyfriend Jon. This is when the ghost of Roger August visits her and informs her that he was murdered 20 years ago. So, Darcy ones again finds herself in a perilous situation! 

In The Ghost of Christmas, the elements of romance and the problems in the relationship between Darcy and Jon are more central than the murder. This fact doesn't bother me, as it's the fourth book of the series and I've wanted to learn more about the way Jon feels about Darcy's ability. And for a moment, it's so bad that they almost break up. By the end of the book, I feel like both of them learn things about themselves that they weren't aware of and their relationship gets stronger. 

The mystery was quite interesting as well. Darcy's ability and her aunt's ghost give good starting points for the investigation. The Santa suit, also, gives an unpredictable twist to the mystery. Is it really haunted? Like the other novels in the series, the conclusion comes quickly and quite easily. 

All in all, The Ghost of Christmas is a light mystery, easy to read during the holiday season. With the Christmas pageant, it has a wonderful seasonal atmosphere. But don't expect too much suspense, because you'll be disappointed.

So, my advice is...

Visit Misty Hollows!     

December 25, 2015

Review: Snowed In by Rachel Hawthorne


Title: Snowed In

Author: Rachel Hawthorne 

Publisher: HarperTeen

Date of Publication: 2007

Number of Pages: 261

Find it at: Book Depository

Summary

Well, apparently I live here now - my mom just bought the place. And named it after me, Ashleigh, which was nice. But did she know how cold it is here??

Um, it's a tiny island with not much to do, unless you really like sleigh rides. But I gotta say there are quite a few hot guys on this cold island...

Review

First of all, I love Christmas! Every year, around this time I want to read books about the season, and winter, and snow, and Christmas trees, and all these things. Well, I couldn't ask for anything more from Snowed In! This novel is ideal for the holiday season.

Ashleigh Sneaux (I just love the name) has just moved in a tiny island with her mother, where everyone uses sleighs for their transportation, as there are no cars. The island is also located north in the US, so the amount of snow and cold is immense. Think only that Ash moved there from Texas. But, as soon as the two women move to their place, Ash finds out that there are some hot guys in their new community, Chase and Josh. Will she get over the fact that she doesn't date the same guy for more than twice? 

Snowed In has an absolutely adorable story! Ashleigh doesn't do stable relationships and Josh (the main love interest) is already in a long-term one. The way they find their attraction for each other is just too cute, I've been giggling most of the time! Their conversations were hilarious, as well. From the very start, you can see the spark and that they are right for each other. How do you know that it's a great match? When her surname is Sneaux and his is Wynter.

Our main two protagonists, Ash and Josh, are so likable! Ash, at first, finds it difficult to fit in the community, but she tries hard. Her attraction for Josh is instant, which I don't really get, but it's something that I have been expecting. What really bothers me in her character is her stubbornness about the boyfriend thing. Even though she feels all those things for the first time, she still pushes Josh away. Thanks to her best friend Tara they were able to move forward a little! Josh, on the other hand, is so cute! He is the nice guy, he helps Ashleigh a lot and he has to deal with the worst girlfriend. Nathalie, Josh's girlfriend, is the character that I dislike the most in this book. Seriously, what is wrong with her? She refers to Josh as "my boyfriend" and only that and she even admits that she likes having a boyfriend more than she likes Josh himself. Oh well!

Snowed In is definitely an enjoyable read! It has an adorable story and likable characters. They may be a little immature at times, but by the end of the book, they learn their lesson. If you're looking for a holiday read, I recommend it!

So, my advice is...

Go for a sleigh ride!   

Merry Christmas!


Merry Christmas, everyone! I hope you'll spend this day among the people you love. Since The Reading Armchair's first blogiversary is approaching (January 1st), I'd like to thank all of you who have supported me this year.   

December 24, 2015

Review: The Fin: Fate, is Only Waist Weep... by Matthew Danza

Title: The Fin: Fate, is Only Waist Deep...

Author: Matthew Danza 

Publisher: Self-published

Date of Publication: 2015

Number of Pages: 78

Disclaimer: The author provided me a copy of his book in exchange of an honest review. Thank you so much!

Summary

Lee Kager, her twin brother James, their best friend Adam and their father have been shipwrecked on a sandbar near the shores of Horseshoe Island. Stranded several miles from the local shore with no means of communication and the ocean’s tide rising fast, the only thing standing between them and the shore is a shark with an appetite for human flesh. Join their quest for survival as they fight their way to shore. Inspired by the blockbuster hit, Jaws. Read the book before you go swimming, and know that fate, is only waist deep.

Review

I have never read a book about a shark attack, not even Jaws. Maybe because I live in a country where shark sightings are scarce and attacks are even scarcer. But this fact didn't stop me from picking up The Fin, so this novel was my introduction to this particular theme.

The story is quite simple. Lee, our protagonist, goes fishing with her brother, father and best friend. But in a moment when they don't pay attention, they hit a sandbar and so their boat is gradually sinking. As they try to find a way to inform somebody that they need help, due to lack of signal and broken radio, the first attack happens. As it's only natural, their panic grows and so they desperately try to find a way to survive.

But there is one problem. About half of the book is just setup. We get to know our characters, Lee's relationship with each one of them, her concern about the future and all these things that make us feel for her. Normally, this is one thing that I look for in a novel, but here I felt that I needed less, or, at least, I needed the action to come earlier. Apart from that, once the boat hits the sandbar it becomes really interesting and I couldn't really put it down. You feel the danger they are in and you know that they only have a few hours before the tide sinks the boat completely. Moreover, they are hungry and thirsty and shocked. Everything is against them!

As I've already said, Lee is well-developed. We learn about her plans for the future, how she feels about the island she grew up and her relationship with the other three characters. I particularly understand her need to leave the island. I felt really close to her and that's why I felt sorry for her and anxious about her survival. But I could use more information about the other three characters, Lee's brother James, their friend Adam and the twin's father. There are some nice parts where they recall stories of the past that let glimpses of their characters reach us and I'd love to discover more.

The Fin is a short novel, but a well-written one. Except for the issues I've already stated, it's a novel with great action. I am a little unsure about the first half of it, some parts of the conversations between the characters felt forced, but once the shark actually appears the thrill is there. It was a great introduction to shark attacks and I'm certainly glad that I've read it.

So, my advice is...

Swim Among the Sharks!   

December 21, 2015

The Reading Book Post, December 21st


Hello, everyone! It's only four days until Christmas and, honestly, I can't wait! I like spending this day with my family and this year in particular I'm in the mood for this holiday season. Anyway, let's see what happened in the literary world the previous week.

  • The poet Allen Prowle has returned the award money he received when he got the 2015 Stephen Spender Prize for Poetry in Translation due to allegations of plagiarism. He had received the award for his translation of Johnson Brothers Ltd by Rutger Kopland.


  • You can now read an exclusive excerpt of Kerry Kettler's upcoming novel, The First Time She Downed. The book is due in March 2016. You can also see a preview of Allen: Son of Hellcock, written by Will Tracy and Gabe Kopolwitz and features art by Miguel Porto. The Z2 comic is now available!


  • A homeless man in France has written his memoirs about the 27 years he has spent on the streets of Paris. The book is called Je Tape La Manche: Une Vie Dans La Rue (My Life as a Panhandle: A Life on the Streets) and has sold nearly 50,000 copies. 

  • A recent survey by Vervesearch has shown that the bestselling books have increased in length by 25% over the last 15 years. Isn't that great?

  • Did you like The Martian? Andy Weir has revealed that his next novel will take place on the Moon, will feature a female protagonist and we should expect it either in late 2016 or early 2017. I can't wait!

  • A very rare watercolour illustration of a Hans Christian Andersen's fairytale has been sold at an auction. The illustration was created by Key Nielsen in 1923 and it shows the nightingale that sings for the Emperor of China. Isn't it beautiful?

  • Margaret Atwood will write in collaboration with Johnnie Christmas the new graphic novel Angel Catbird. The graphic novel will be about a very unusual superhero who is part cat and part bird and it will be released in the fall of 2016. 

  • Now that the end of 2015 is approaching you will see many lists about the best books of the year. Here is a list of the best book covers of 2015 according to The New York Times. Some of those covers are really impressive!

  • Which Studio Ghibli Female Character Are You? Take the quiz to find out! I got Shizuku Tsukishima from the film Whisper of the Heart and I couldn't be happier. Which one did you get?

December 20, 2015

Review: Undertow by Toni Holly

Title: Undertow

Author: Toni Holly 

Publisher: Pink Gables Publishing

Date of Publication: 2015

Number of Pages: 123

Disclaimer: The author provided me a copy of his book in exchange of an honest review. Thank you so much!

Summary

A hereditary curse.

Tiffany "Tiffy" Schafer is a novice Shaman. Saddled with spook-o-vision on her sixteenth birthday, Tiffy can chat with ghosts and may eventually be able to speak with Nature spirits like her Nana. Instead of vacations and sunbathing, she gets to spend an exciting summer in strict tutelage of how to use her new "gifts."

A summer of strange disappearances.

After a friend of Tiffy's ex-boyfriend goes missing, the boy returns as a grotesque Merrow: an undead thrall of a water witch. She realizes there's something fishy going on in her coastal town than simple disappearances. Caught in the middle of this brewing supernatural battle is the boy Tiffy swore to love forever. The prize: his heart.

Review

Undertow is a very quick paranormal read, yet one that I enjoyed immensely. I've always liked stories about shamans and spirits and this one has plenty of these two! You also know by now my fascination with folklore, so encountering creatures like merrows is a bonus for me.

Tiffany, our protagonist, is a shaman in training. At least, that's her intention of spending her summer with her Nana, from which she inherited her gift as well. One day, two ghosts ask for her help and the same morning she accidentally learns that her friend is missing. From this point on, everything gets complicated as she finds herself in a dangerous situation. This novel has a very intriguing story, which sucked into its world from the very beginning. It has some twists towards the end that I wasn't expecting, which certainly added to the enjoyment. My only problem is that I'd like it to be more extensive. I felt that when the action reached its peak, the resolution came too quickly.

Tiffy, also known as the Tiffinator, is a very likeable character. We feel for her when she meets her ex-boyfriend with a new girl, or when he tries to approach her and she's confused. We are anxious when she is in danger and we are shocked by her findings. But she is a strong character and she copes with everything that comes in her way with an admirable determination. The only thing I could say is that I'd like the secondary character to have a more active role in the story. I liked Father Vincent instantly, but he appeared very little in the novel. Also, Nana could be a great guide for Tiffy, a thing that I missed.

Therefore, Undertow proved to be a great novel, although it is pretty short. The writing is very good and it makes you want to know more about the story and the characters. The ending left me feeling that there might be a sequel, or at least other adventures with Tiffany and her new-found powers. If you like paranormal novels, I recommend it wholeheartedly!

So, my advice is...

Dive deep in the ocean!

December 19, 2015

Review: Nightmares by Dan Sihota


Title: Nightmares

Author: Dan Sihota

Publisher: Self-published

Date of Publication: 2015

Number of Pages: 121

Disclaimer: The author provided me a copy of his book in exchange of an honest review. Thank you so much!

Summary

A collection of stories which chill the senses with tales of vivid imagery. Prepare to be drawn into worlds of dark innermost secrets, bleak violence, and ancient lore.

Review

Nightmares is a collection of nine short stories. All of them deal with situations that feel like nightmares do come true, so I couldn't imagine a better title for the collection. 

Some of the stories are pretty realistic, while others have heavy supernatural elements. Whether a young man is taking the bus to visit his girlfriend, or a group of friends travel to India, things get really quickly out of hand. And there is no hope to be seen. In fact, all of protagonists have dark futures ahead of them. I like the fact that superstition and folklore is a part of some of these stories and these are the ones that I prefered, stories like The Spell, Dead Man's Fruit and The Field. I also like the fact that many of them are set in India, a country that seems so different from my own, yet has such rich traditions. 

But I didn't find all of the stories that appealing. For example, the first two stories, Road Rage and The Bus Journey, left me unsure. I couldn't really understand why things were happening the way they did. In these two stories, I couldn't really connect with the characters, because I felt that I was lacking information about their idiosyncrasy. 

The rest of the protagonists, though, were pretty likeable and I was sorry to see them in misery and distress. Ok, some of them brought their bad luck upon themselves, but I was still sad about the way the ended up. I have to comment in particular about the main character of the short story called Torture. He is such a well-developed character that I was very impressed.

All in all, Nightmares is a good collection of unsettling stories. This is a pretty quick read and if you love horror stories and maybe a little bit of violence, then you'll definitely find something to like. 

So my advice is...

Live your nightmares!

December 16, 2015

Review: Slade House by David Mitchell


Title: The Slade House

Author: David Mitchell

Publisher: Random House

Date of Publication: 2015

Number of Pages: 238

Find it at: Book Depository

Summary

Keep your eyes peeled for a small black iron door.

Down the road from a working-class British pub, along the brick wall of a narrow alley, if the conditions are exactly right, you’ll find the entrance to Slade House. A stranger will greet you by name and invite you inside. At first, you won’t want to leave. Later, you’ll find that you can’t. Every nine years, the house’s residents—an odd brother and sister—extend a unique invitation to someone who’s different or lonely: a precocious teenager, a recently divorced policeman, a shy college student. But what really goes on inside? For those who find out, it’s already too late...

Review

Before anything else I have to declare that I'll try not to sound too much of a fangirl. I'll sincerely try.

Slade House is a collection of five stories all revolving around a mysterious house in Slade alley. Each story is nine years after the previous one and they are all related in some way or another. This is not a new pattern for David Mitchell, as we've seen him do something similar both in Ghostwritten and in Cloud Atlas. Nevertheless, the way everything adds up in the story of Slade House and at the same time in Mitchell's universe brings us closer to understand it better and reach out for its secrets.

The stories of the Slade House are intriguing. They are short, and quite easy to read, yet they suck you in a bizarre world which is not that much different from our own. The only difference? The existence of supernatural creatures. Deeply connected to the Bone Clocks, we encounter once again the Atemporals which suck human souls, in order to live forever. But Norah and Jonah Grayer work on their own, hidden from the Shaded Way. The twins, are indeed soul vampires. They have created a system which enables their souls to live on with the condition that their birth bodies remain intact and they provide energy for this system every nine years. The energy they need is of course the soul of an engifted person. So, every nine years they choose someone and lure him into the Slade House.

In that way, the five victims that we get to know are the ones from the last five decades of the Grayer twins. Each one has completely different circumstances, different age and gender and different ways of perceiving what they are going through. The one thing that I found in common is that they all faced serious problems. For example, on the one hand, Nathan Bishop is a socially awkward boy and on the other hand Inspector Edmonds has grave financial problems. Sally Timms is the next victim and she has self-esteem and anxiety problems and she is followed in the next decade by her sister Freya who tries to figure out what actually happened to her sister. The last one that enters the Slade House is none other than Marinus,  the same one from The Thousand Autumns of Jacob de Zoet and The Bone Clocks. You can guess my delight when I got to the last story and encountered Marinus for another time! He/she is one of my all-time favourite characters and it's never disappointing. Apart from Marinus, I liked all of the protagonists. I was able to understand their way of thinking and how they dealt with each situation. I got closer to Sally Timms because I felt that she was closer to my own character. And she got caught with the most hellish way!

While reading the stories I was able to find a certain pattern in the way the Grayer twins realised their plans. Each one of the victims has a very specific reason to find Slade House, or at least to be near the Slade Alley. They all encounter a jogger wearing black and glow-in-the-dark orange, which might be a coincidence, but by the end we know that Norah is using the mind of this jogger. Later, when they enter the house they are compelled for some reason to go up the stairs, they see the clock with no hands, they see the portraits of the previous victims on the walls and they also see a portrait of themselves. When they reach the end of the stairs they find a door with a shiny doorknob and when they enter they find themselves in a totally different environment, where everything is as they'd wanted it to be. But in their most blissfull moment they awake into a dark attick with ony the candlelight and this sums it up. I find it very appealing that there is this certain ritual, it indicated that the Grayer twins are very methodic in their ways. Maybe they are a little archaic, as Marinus points out, but they stick to them and up to a point they succeed.

But can the Slade House stand as a horror novel? There is neither much violence in it, nor much blood spilt. In fact, there is no blood shed. Norah and Jonah are interested only in the souls of the engifted ones. If there were other people with them, they were just casualties that they had to get rid of. But it's creepy and weird and can certainly give you goosebumps. I remember when I was reading the first story, The Right Sort, I was shocked by the way the twins manipulated Nathan and the same thing happened again and again in all the following stories. I can conclude that the atmosphere was right.

As I've already told you Slade House fits perfectly in the universe David Mitchell has created with his work. The biggest proof is Marinus, a character that appeared in other two novels and I hope will appear again in the future. We learn that the twins learnt the Shaded Way, from The Bone Clocks, as well as that Norah had contacted Enomoto Sensei, whose grandfather appeared in The Thousand Autumns of Jacob de Zoet. But there are also subtler nods to Mitchell's previous novels. Someone is reading Crispin Hersey's Desiccated Embryos (from The Bone Clocks), another is dreaming of Vyvyan Ayrs (from Cloud Atlas) and a third is working for the Spyglass magazine (The Bone Clocks and Cloud Atlas). This world just keeps getting more and more real with each new novel!

All in all, Slade House was an excellent book for me. I waited for its publication for a long time and I wasn't disappointed at all. Once I got reading it, I couldn't put it down. Although it's not necessary to have read The Bone Clocks before this one, I would strongly recommend that you do so. You will get a better understanding what Norah and Jonah Grayer really is and so the story will become clearer. So, if you've read and enjoyed The Bone Clocks and you like David Mitchell's writing style. you will love it. But if you haven't read anything by this author before, I would advise you to begin with some of his other novels first. Lastly, I have to admit that the end of this novel made me ask for more and I could certainly see Norah Grayer returning to get her revenge.

So, my advice is...

Don't open the small black iron door!


November 30, 2015

The Reading Book Post, November 30th


Hello, everyone! The last day of autumn is here and I'm ready for the winter and the holiday season (I know it's early, but I can't wait for Christmas to arrive). Anyway, like every Monday, let's see what happened in the literary world the previous week.


  • Hatchards, the oldest bookshop in London, released a list of the best novels of the last 200 years, After this list, they asked all the customers to vote, in order to decide which one of them is the best. The results are finally announced and the readers have chosen The Warden by Anthony Trollope as their favourite novel of the last 200 years.


  • The Ladybird book series is getting an adult remake! Penguin has released eight news instalments for the series, which will be penned by Joel Morris and Jason Hazeley.They were published on November 19.

  • A new audiobook version of Pride and Prejudice is been prepared, narrated by Rosamund Pike. You can listen to a small recording!

  • A list of the best-selling manga for 2015 is now available. There is no surprise here, as One Piece was the top-selling manga for the seventh year in a row.

  • Those of you who have read Oliver Twist are familiar with Fagin. This character is said to be based on a real-life figure named Isaac "Ikey" Solomon. You can read his story in this very interesting article.   


  • What Book Universe Do You Belong In? Take the quiz to find out! I got Wonderland, how about you?

November 28, 2015

Play(list) by the Book: The Slade House


Hello, everyone! I'm so so happy that I finally got the chance to create another literary playlist. And what's making it even better is that it's a playlist based on David Mitchell's new novel The Slade House. For such a short novel (only 238 pages long) the playlist is quite long, so sit back and enjoy!



As usual, in the playlist I've included all the songs and artists mentioned in the novel. When a specific song isn't mentioned I picked one that I liked. Special case in this Play(list) by the Book is the song Here Comes the Bride which is mentioned as  a parody with lyrics 

"Here comes the bride
a million miles wide"


Previous Play(list) by the Book here.

November 26, 2015

Thursday Quotables: The Slade House



Hello, everyone! Welcome to Thursday Quotables! This weekly feature is hosted by 
Bookshelf  Fantasies. Every week we highlight a great quote, line, or passage discovered during your reading each week.




Happy Thanksgiving, everyone! So, after a small absence from this weekly feature, I'm finally back on track. For this week, I'll share with you some quotes from David Mitchell's latest novel The Slade House. It's basically a ghost story, but it's amazing (I couldn't expect anything else from my favourite author).

1.
The clock's really tall. I put my ear against its wooden chest and hear its heart: krunk...kronk...krunk...kronk... It has no hands. It's got words instead, on its old, pale-as-bone clock face, saying TIME IS and under that TIME WAS and under that TIME IS NOT.

2.
If you don't feet into the system, the system makes life hell.

3.
People are masks, with masks under those masks, and masks under those, and down you go.


Have you read The Slade House? Which one was your favourite quote?

November 25, 2015

Weeckies: The Door in the Wall by H.G. Wells


Hello, everybody! This week's short story is The Door in the Wall by H.G. Wells. It was first published in 1911 in the collection The Door in the Wall, and Other Stories. But the edition I read is none other than Penguin's Little Black Classics #77, A Slip Under the Microscope


I've enjoyed immensely the H.G. Wells' novels that I've read, The War of the Worlds and The Invisible Man. Also, The Door in the Wall wasn't my first attempt to read Wells' short stories, since I've read Empire of the Ants, and Other Stories. So, I had an idea what to expect although this story isn't as hard science fiction as are some of the author's other stories.                                                                                                                                                           Lionel, a promising politician, confides in his friend a secret that he carries almost all of his life. When he was just a little boy, he wandered alone and found a white wall and a green door. His urge to enter this door was so great that in the end he ended up opening it. It turned out that the door led to a different world with a different quality, a warmer, more penetrating and mellower light. After this experience, he tried to find this door again but he couldn't. It only appeared to him at random moments and for one reason or another he didn't open it again. The knowledge of what he was missing was devastating to him.

Only one person is of interest in The Door in the Wall and that is Lionel. For this reason, we learn nothing about the narrator of the story. He is just the one that passes along the story, without judging or offering his own view. Indeed, the reader is the one to ultimately decide whether Lionel's story was real or fantasy. The reactions of the politician are intense, the agony and frustration that this door makes him feel seem real. But this is an extraordinary story, something that cannot be explained with science and the mind can't quite grasp.

   We see our world fair and common, the hoarding and the pit. By our daylight standard he walked out of security into darkness, danger, and death.    But did he see like that? 

November 24, 2015

Manga Review: Flower in a Storm by Shigeyoshi Takagi


Title: Flower in a Storm

Author: Shigeyoshi Takagi

Publisher: VIZ Media LLC

Date of Publication: 2010

Number of Volumes: 2

Number of Pages: 200 (each volume)

Find it at: Book Depository (Vol.1), Book Depository (Vol. 2)


Summary

Love is like a storm. Riko Sassoku is trying to lead a normal high school life when Ran Tachibana bursts into her classroom carrying a gun and telling her that her life is now his. Ran, the richest, most powerful 17-year-old in Japan wants her as his wife, and he's not taking no for an answer! If Ran can't capture her by five o'clock the next day, he'll give up on her, but he has all that money can buy at his disposal. However, Riko has one trick up her sleeve--she has superpowers!

Review

It is the truth that I enjoy a lot a good shojo manga from time to time. Flower in a Storm was one of the titles that came up almost every time that I was trying to decide which one to read next. So, it was expected that I would pick it up at some point. It also had many other advantages, like an interesting premise and small size (only two volumes). What more could I ask from a light and quick read?

The story of Flower in a Storm wasn't that original. A rich boy came out of the blue and demanded to marry the protagonist. Everything happened so quickly that I was perplexed on how he met her and fell for her. They hadn't met before this incident, there wasn't a family connection, they basically lived in different worlds. Of course, an explanation is offered in the manga, but it wasn't satisfying enough. If there were a better one, the story would have been much more interesting.

The plot then became mostly episodic. In each chapter, something happened, like an assassin attacking Ran or Riko and while the two of them were trying to overcome these dangers they became slightly closer. At least Riko because Ran's feelings were already there. It was so swoon-worthy to watch Riko wonder why she felt so anxious for not seeing Ran! It might not be the first time that I've read a manga with a protagonist with these feelings, but it was certainly well executed.

What troubled me in Flower in a Storm and I couldn't enjoy it as much as I'd like to was the characters and their development. Both Ran and Riko felt more like some sort of archetypes, rather than original characters. Ran was the rich and eccentric kid, who would do anything to show off. Riko, on the other hand, was the one who had always been slightly different from everyone else and that's why she wanted to just be ordinary.

If you read the summary of this manga before this review, then you'd surely expect that Riko had some kind of superpower. Riko was just very athletic, she could run really fast and she could also beat anyone that came in her way. When I was reading Flower in a Storm it didn't bother me at all, but I found it really weird that I was supposed to consider it as something out of the ordinary.

All in all, Flower in a Storm was quite an enjoyable manga, although it was pretty generic. I could predict what was going to happen in the beginning of each chapter and I couldn't really connect with the characters. But, I have to admit that the idea with the clock was amazing. I would recommend it to anyone who would like to read something light and quick.  

So, my advice is...

Get caught up in the storm!


November 23, 2015

The Reading Book Post, November 23rd


Hello, everyone! The past week was extremely busy. I'm finally beginning to be more familiar with the city and I like it very much. Anyway, let's see what happened in the literary world the previous week.

  • The 2015 National Book Awards winners were announced. Among the winners is Adam Johnson for his book Fortune Smiles: Stories and Neal Shusterman for his novel Challenger Deep. Also, the National Book Award lifetime achievement was awarded to Don DeLillo. Moreover, the Costa Book Awards shortlist was revealed earlier this week. Morrissey's book, List of the Lost, has been nominated for an award! To be precise, it's been nominated for the Bad Sex in Fiction Awards.


  • Have you heard of The Love that Split the World by Emily Henry? You can now read the fist two chapter, until its upcoming publication on January 26, 2016. Also, you can now see the cover and read an excerpt from Places No One Knows by Brenna Yovanoff, which will be published on May 17, 2016. Lastly, you can read an extract from Drew Barrymore's Wildflower, which is now available.


  • Looking for something to watch? There are plenty of interviews and all sort of videos with our favourite authors online. You can watch David Mitchell explain why Darth Vader is interesting while Superman is boring or you can watch Salman Rushdie arguing that ISIS' most dangerous weapon is media. You can also watch a small part of a rare lecture of Kurt Vonnegut on Man-Eating Lampreys. And for all the Lord of the Rings fans there is a 1968 documentary which features an interview with the author, J.R.R. Tolkien.


  • The literary magazine, The Strand, has recently published in its holiday issue a rediscovered play by author William Faulkner. The play is called Twixt Cup and Lip and the author wrote it in his early 20s, probably for a college theatre group.


  • Which Roald Dahl Character Are You? Take the quiz to find out! It turns out that I am Charlie Bucket from Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory, which one are you?

November 21, 2015

Confession Saturday: Dear Jane Eyre


Hello, everyone! Confession Saturday is a weekly feature, in which we will have the chance to express our feelings towards certain characters. This time of the week we will choose one character and write to him/her about all the things we would like to say. We can explain why we like or dislike each character, which of his/her actions we don't understand and generally whatever comes to mind. 


This week, my letter will be addressed to none other than Jane Eyre, the beloved protagonist of the novel with the same name by Charlotte Bronte. I've always felt a great admiration for Jane, you might even say that she is one of my role models. 


Dear Jane,

I admire you! From the very beginning, you had a difficult life. Nothing was given to you and the way your aunt and cousins treated you was just awful. But you worked hard and you became a woman of her own mind. You never hesitated to speak out your mind and how beautiful it proved to be!

You got mixed in a really complicated situation with Mr. Rochester. You fell in love and you almost reached happiness, but reality hit you and you had to make an important decision. This is one of the things that I try to adopt in my life. You could stay with Mr. Rochester and become his mistress, but instead you chose to leave him, although he begged you to stay. I love the way that you demanded what was right to you. You were certainly hurt, but you followed your beliefs. 

The strength of your mind wasn't born by your status or your riches. You were determined enough to cultivate yourself. And being a woman in that time was difficult. I love how you had the courage to say to your lover and employer the courage to say that you are "a free human with an independent will". I wish I can be more like you in the future.

Yours,
Aeriko 

November 16, 2015

The Reading Book Post, November 16th


Hello, everybody! It's been a pretty busy week for me, but I'm very content with the results of my efforts. I've settled down in my new apartment and I've found a job that I'm very interested in. Anyway, as every Monday, let's see what happened in the literary world the previous week.

  • So, Amazon has released the list of the 100 Best Books of 2015, according to its editors. Number 1 is Lauren Groff's Fates and Furies. Is your favourite book of the year (so far) in the list? Which one would you add?


  • An unpublished short story AND a poem by Charlotte Brontë? Yes, please! The Brontë Society has discovered the manuscripts inside a much-treasured book by Charlotte's mother.

  • You can now see the cover of the upcoming novel of John Corey Whaley, Illogical Behavior, which is stunning! You can also read an exclusive excerpt from the novel, which is due on May 10, 2016.

  • Author Josh Spero has an amazing concept for his upcoming book, Second-Hand Stories. He tracks down the previous owners of books he got at second-hand bookshops. Second-Hand Stories will be released on November 25, 2015 and I can't wait! 

  • Any Quentin Tarantino fan? Well, I've got news for you. The director has collaborated with Playboy and the artist Zach Meyer, in order to create a comic set in the same world of his upcoming film The Hateful Eight. The comic is only 8 pages long and it's supposed to work as a sneak peak of the film. You can read it online, right now!

  • Which Famous Author Should Write Your Biography? Take the quiz to find out! I got Johnathan Safran Foer, which one did you get?

November 15, 2015

Weeckies: During the Dance by Mark Lawrence


Hello, everybody! This week our short story is none other than During the Dance by Mark Lawrence. You can find it and read it for free on Amazon and you can also listen to the audiobook, read by T.O. Munro. It's a short story written on 2004, after the birth of the author's fourth child, which is very disabled. 


During the Dance is a short story about 2000 words long. But, despite its length, it manages to be a very emotional journey. Many of you might be familiar with Mark Lawrence, author of series such as The Broken Empire and The Red Queen's War. The writing style is totally different, yet it's still magnificent.                                                                                                                                             The story is about a boy and his little sister, who is able to see other people's auras in the form of tiny people. She is a very energetic girl, one that could make everybody's day and she's constantly talking about the creatures she sees, or dancers as she calls them. She can even predict things that will happen based on what these creatures tell her. But there was only one problem, she can't see her brother's dancer because he doesn't let it out.                                                                                                               
During the Dance is a story about memories, loss and embracing who you are. It's a really quick read, but one I can guarantee that it will linger on your mind for much longer. It can surely touch anyone who happens to read it, so if you have a few minutes give it a chance. It was also great to see another side of Mark Lawrence. 

November 9, 2015

The Reading Book Post, November 9th


Hello, everyone! So, I've finally moved to another city and everything is so new to me! I got a cold, though, as soon as I got here. Anyway, last week The Reading Armchair officially got a Facebook page, so you can like it. In the meantime, let's see what happened in the literary world the previous week.

  • So, this week a lot of prizes were announced. First of all, Kerry Hudson has won the French Prix Femina for translated fiction, for her second novel Thirst. Also, Jacqueline Wilson was awarded the JM Barrie award for a lifetime of unforgettable writing for children. The Samuel Johnson Prize for Non-fiction 2015 was given to Steve Silberman for his book Neurotribes: The Legacy of Autism and how to Think Smarter About People who Think Differently. Another French Award, the Prix Goncourt, was given to Matthias Énard for his novel Zone. Roxane Gay won the PEN freedom to write award. Lastly, the 2015 World Fantasy Awards were announced. Among the winners is David Mitchell for his novel The Bone Clocks.  

  • Read an excerpt from Tommy Wallach's upcoming novel Thanks for the Trouble. The novel is due on February 23, 2016. You can also read an excerpt from Supernova the new novel by C.A. Higgins. Supernova will be a prequel to Lightless and it will be published on July 26, 2016.

  • There is a Harry Potter colouring book and it's completely amazing! Just take a look! It's been published tomorrow, so grab your pens everybody!

  • The word of the year 2015, according to Collin's dictionary is binge-watch, which is essentially defined as "to watch a large number of television programs in succession". I bet we all know the meaning of this word (especially when it comes to anime, for me).

  • I think I've found the next destination I want to travel to! Where? Tokyo, Japan. Conveniently, this amazing hostel opens this month and I'm impressed. What a wonderful environment!


  • Eoin Colfer has made a deal with Marvel to write a new Iron Man novel. The young adult novel is due on the autumn of 2016.

  • Amazon has opened its first actual bookstore. It's located in Seattle, Washington. The prices of the books will be the same as they can be found online and also customers will be able to try out products like Amazon Kindle etc.

  • Remember a while back that I shared with a link for a vending machine which would give random used books? Well, it turns out that there is another vending machine, but in this one you can get short stories. Why isn't something like that here?

  • Which Fictional City Should You Live In? Take the quiz to find out! I got Pawnee, Indiana. Which one did you get?  

November 6, 2015

Review: Assassin's Creed: Renaissance


Title: Assassin's Creed: Renaissance

Author: Oliver Bowden

Publisher: Ace

Date of Publication: 2009

Number of Pages: 516

Find it at: Book Depository


Summary

Betrayed by the ruling families of Italy, a young man embarks upon an epic quest for vengeance. To eradicate corruption and restore his family's honour, he will learn the art of the assassins. To his allies, Ezio will become a force for change, fighting for freedom and justice. To his enemies, he will become a threat.

Review

Even if you're not a gamer, the chances are that you've heard of Assassin's Creed before. Ubisoft is releasing a new installment of the game every year. I have played some of the games before and what impressed me the most was the story. So, when I heard that a series of novels was coming out I was excited and I anticipated books heavy on historical elements. I was also curious to see how all of the unique aspects of the gameplay would fit into the plot. Lastly, from which game would the novels begin? As it turns out, the starting point is Assassin's Creed II and the story of one of the most popular assassins of the series, Ezio Auditore.

Ezio is a man who has lost everything. His father and brothers are accused and executed falsely by the ruling families in Florence. In order to remain alive and save his mother and sister, he flees his hometown and ends up in his uncle Mario's palazzo. There he learns that he has a heavy heritage to live up to. Is he ready to accept it, though? He decided to cooperate with the Order of the Assassins because they are after the same men he seeks revenge from. As he dives deeper and one mission leads to another, he discovers the truth behind the ruling games and the fight between the Assassins and the Templars. Moreover, his list for the people he has to go after in order to restore his father's name is filled constantly with even more powerful names, with the peak being Rodrigo Borgia.

So, to sum things up, take a hero with a powerful motive, add a family heritage, a lot of historical figures and facts, sprinkle a lot of action and you're done! Seems like a recipe for success, right? Well, that's where all the problems begin. It's the first time that I've encountered a story with so much potential not being taken advantage of, at all.

First of all, I couldn't care for a single character in the whole novel! Yes, we follow Ezio in his journey and he is in danger at times, but I couldn't feel fear for him. Although we have his backstory and his motives explained, I never figured out the character traits that make Ezio who he is. His thoughts and feelings are somewhat generic and things that you'd expect to hear from a person with these experiences. As for the secondary characters, well, they weren't developed at all, so I can't really say anything about them.

The other big problem of this novel is that the story doesn't have continuity, at least one that feels natural. While reading Assassin's Creed, I was constantly under the impression that the author wrote it while he was playing the game and he was just writing it down at the same time. To make things clear, imagine Ezio on a mission. He goes where he has to go, accomplishes with some way or another the assassination and then he meets someone that tells him who he needs to kill next. The first time it didn't bother me, but it happened all the time. Shouldn't Ezio at least question his missions? We are in a totally different medium, so things have to be explained.

This brings us to the last problem. The elements of the game, such as the wall-climbing, the leap of faith and the looting feel unnatural. They are there just because they are essential elements in the game. They are recognizable and if they weren't there I would certainly feel their loss, but I expected them to be included in a way that it didn't shout "Hey, here goes the famous leap of faith! Don't miss it!". In some instances, I even expected a NEW SKILL UNLOCKED to pop up.  

Assassin's Creed was a major disappointment for me. I like historical novels and the action of this one promised to be an enjoyable read. But instead it fell flat, without a memorable hero and a world poorly constructed. At least it made me want to play Brotherhood, the next game in the series. And if you want to get acquainted with Ezio Auditore, then don't hesitate to pick up Assassin's Creed II. This is a clear victory for the video games format.




November 5, 2015

Join The Reading Armchair on Facebook!


Hello, everybody! This is exciting news! The Reading Armchair is now on Facebook. You can visit and like the page at The Reading Armchair. I'm really happy that the blog is expanding little by little and I hope for more exciting news in the future :)

October 28, 2015

Weeckies: How the Marquis Got His Coat Back by Neil Gaiman


Hello, everybody! I've been preparing this feature for quite some time and today it's finally the day for the first post. In Weeckies, which is a mixture of weekly and quickies, I'll be talking about short stories. For the first week of Weeckies, I have chosen a story by one of my favourite authors, Neil Gaiman. It's called How The Marquis Got His Coat Back and you can find in the short story collection Rogues which was co-edited by George R.R. Martin and Gardner Dozois.


If you're a Neil Gaiman fan, then the title of this short story alone lets you know that we have the return of a character previously known to us. The Marquis refers, of course, to Marquis de Carabas, a character that first appeared in Neverwhere. I was more than happy to read more of his adventures, as Marquis is one of the characters I instantly liked from the novel. Plus, returning to London Below was more than appealing to me. It's a totally different world located below London simultaneously to our own and has its own rules. The paths of London Below are not the paths of London Above: they rely to no little extent on things like belief and opinion and tradition as much as they rely upon the realities of maps.   

But don't worry if you haven't read Neverwhere. This short story takes place after the novel and it just borrows the fact that the Marquis lost his coat (I'm not going to reveal anything more, as I'm urging you to pick up Neverwhere). What is so special about this coat anyway? It's what gives Marquis the confidence to be the person who has become. Someone that reminds a picture of a cat wearing two boots. Indeed, without it Marquis de Carabas seems a little lost. He has at times his usual wit, but going in the dangerous territory of Shepherd's Bush with even an obvious plan? That's unheard! Marquis was always the one that out planned everybody, he could get to places and obtain things that were impossible. In this short story, though, he has an unlikely ally: his brother Peregrine. From the little we encounter him, he picked my interest and I'd gladly find out more about him. 

All in all, this was an excellent short story, about 30 pages long. Despite its length, it managed to suck me into this unique world of London Below. The truth is that it made me want to re-read Neverwhere. It also made me realize that I'd love to read more stories about the adventures of Marquis de Carabas, he is a favourite of mine after all. 

October 27, 2015

Literary Rome

Hello, everybody! As you know last week I went on a short vacation in Rome, Italy. I had a great time and I loved the city. But Rome has always been attractive to some of the most well-known writers of the previous centuries. During my stay, I had the chance to visit some spots that are significant to all of us literary lovers. Here is a list of what a book lover can see in the eternal city:

Keats-Shelley Memorial House


Located in the Spanish Steps in Piazza di Spagna, this is the place where Keats spent his last days. My photo was taken at night by my mobile, so it's a little blurry.

Found on: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/John_Keats

Antico Caffè Greco


Also located near Piazza di Spagna, this is one of the oldest cafès in Rome (dating back in 1760). Many famous writers, such as George Eliot, Nikolai Gogol, Henry James and Nathaniel Hawthorne visited this cafè.

Villa Borghese



Found on http://www.romeartlover.it/Borghese.html

One of my favourite places in Rome, in Villa Borghese you can find these sculptures of the famour writers Nikolai Gogol, Lord Byron, Alexander Pushkin, Ahmet Shawki, Ferdowsi, Nizami Ganjavi and Victor Hugo (who you can below).

Found on https://www.pinterest.com/pin/425027283561605289


This is called The Gift a piece of modern art by the Joseph Kosuth. You can find it in Museo Nazionale D'Arte Moderna, also located in Villa Borghese. I love this quote by Ludwig Wittgenstein.

National Roman Museum




Among the numerous sculptures that there are in the National Roman Museum, I saw these busts of Socrates and Sappho



These are some of the things that I explored in Rome.
To finish this post, here is a list of novels taking place in the eternal city:




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