Spotlight On: A Fall Fairy Tale by Nicola Werner

Remember those leave piles in your back yard? Did you jump into them? Did you hide inside them and let the fall sun tickle your skin?

When I lived in the US with my parents and my sister, I had the possibility to enjoy a real autumn (actually quite a few), not one of those cold soggy ones I am used to in Europe. No, it was a fall with golden leaves, squirrels hiding nuts, dears eating crabapples, warm October days…

Watching all these events unfold lead my always creative mother to write a book illustrated with water paints. A present for my sister, and a happy memory spiced up with a little magic.

But see for yourself, the story written in 2002 is slowly unfolding on @themusicinyou_ my mother’s post humous Instagram channel. Can you tell who’s who?

Continue here…

Missing you!

Live the Music that plays within you!

Find out more about Nicola


When a dog changes everything… Book review of Buster & Moo by Geoff Le Pard

Book review of Buster & Moo by Geoff Le Pard

Laden is having an affair while trying to secure a promotion, for nothing in the world does she want her boyfriend Mervin to find out that she’s sleeping with a junior colleague. They don’t talk much and seem to avoid the things that are really important to them, like the question whether or not they should try again to start a family. Past pain has led them to almost grow into strangers. Adopting a dog seems like a good plan to get their love life back on track as well as Mervin’s fitness. They find themselves rehousing a dog called Buster, quickly rebaptised. He previously belonged to Dave and Sheri, who due to the curveballs that life has been trowing at them cannot keep their furry companion. Continue reading “When a dog changes everything… Book review of Buster & Moo by Geoff Le Pard”

Following a girl in an all-male profession…, a book review of “First Lady of the Keys” by Lucy Brazier


Following a girl in an all-male profession…, a book review of “First Lady of the Keys” by Lucy Brazier”

At Old College, the main priorities seem to be food, tea, and alcohol. At least so it seems when PorterGirl starts sharing her adventures as Deputy Head Porter. Her job has so far never been filled by a woman, thus it is her mission to prove that this traditionally male role can definitely be filled by a female and that she’s not only there to be something pretty skipping around the grounds.  Continue reading “Following a girl in an all-male profession…, a book review of “First Lady of the Keys” by Lucy Brazier”

B is for Book #AtoZChallenge

B is for Book

I read the book, quickly, the way I devoured the likes of Harry Potter and other childhood favourites. It was the first time that I read an ebook and that on my phone. I suddenly had a hard time putting down that computer we call phone (I don’t actually use it that much for calling). While I read the book, about the three ghost children, who had way too early lost their lives and who were stuck in our world fighting evil entities and trying to figure out how to go to the nice place, I thought of my mom, because I was sure that this was the type of story she would love to read.

Book, From Cornflakes to Eternity by S.D.GatesThe book, From Cornflakes to Eternity (here’s my review of it), written by fellow blogger S.D. Gates, who I had the pleasure ‘meeting’ during last year’s A to Z Challenge, she was too late to sign up on the official website, but participated anyways, I am glad that she did, because I might not have found out about her first book. I found out after the challenge that she had a book out in the wild, waiting for reads and reviews, when she had a special offer for it on kindle. So yes, I read it for free, but reading it I longed to pay for what I was reading. Continue reading “B is for Book #AtoZChallenge”

True love, a book review: “Not Today, But Someday” by Lori L. Otto

Emi, who due to the sudden breakup of her parents has moved in the middle of the school year, has stopped believing in love. Her first friend in her new hight school is the rather artistic Nate, who is desperately searching for love, or at least physical satisfaction. As the story unfolds the two narrators quickly find each other more or less consciously attracted to the other. The reader is wondering all along how long will they be able to resist one another, after all there is something special about their relationship.

Not Today, But Someday by Lori L. Otto, first published in 2012, is set in 1995 and the prequel to the Emi Lost & Found Series. From the start the reader is in the middle of the story, we don’t know all the details, but once a question can be thought of the answers is surely waiting somewhere close. With the diary style of Emi and Nate telling the story in constant alternation, one does not grow tired of it, actually I grew curious, wanting to always know what either Emi or Nate were thinking and feeling about a given situation.

In my opinion nothing negative can be said about Otto’s story. Just maybe that it was written in such a way that I read it quicker than I wanted. The ending marked by promises and being quite promising for the rest of the series, I am curious to find out what will happen next in Nate’s and Emi’s adventure.

Book review written by Solveig Werner of Not Today, But Someday by Lori L. Otto, third edition 2014, first published in 2012 by Lori L. Otto Publications.

You can connect with Lori L. Otto on her blog

Life in a French small town ~ a book review and recommendation of “Chronicles from Château de Moines” by Evelyne Holingue

After his mother lost her battle with cancer, Scott, his younger sister, and his “hippy” father move from California to rural France. In the fall of 1970, in the small town of Château de Moines a new life starts for all of them, far away from the ghosts of their past. Scott quickly adapts to his new life, he becomes a regular customer of the towns café and even discovers some sides of the town that are even unknown to the locals. He attends football games played by the children of North African immigrants.

One of the people with whom Scott develops a deep friendship is Sylvie, a girl longing to own a pair of Levi’s jeans, who loves to listen to American music and has many dreams she does not dare to voice. Sylvie is at first annoyed by the presence of Scott, all she can think of, is his smile, his movie star smile. Thus, she tries to avoid even listening to her favourite music.

Chronicles from Château de Moines is a beautiful book by Evelyne Holingue, it is told through the eyes of the French girl Sylvie and through those of Scott, who dares to perturb her everyday life. Written in a diary style, this book is fun to read (even if you are not of the age group it is for…), and the reader feels as though they have known both of the narrators for a long time. The sharing of their most intimate thoughts, worries, and memories do help with this identification process.

But Chronicles from Château de Moines is not just the story of 12 year olds worries. It is a portrait of rural France in the 1970s. People are worried about what is hippy and groovy (American) and what is foreign and unknown (North African immigration). Life’s negative sides such as fear, mistrust, sadness, and warfare as well as more positive ones such as friendship, love, trust, and peace can be found within the pages of this book.

Many lessons are transmitted through this story. For example the book encourages the reader to pick up where they gave up, like Scott who quit plucking his guitar strings, as well as to be brave and have confidence in one’s talents, such as Sylvie, who is pushed by her friend to make her voice heard.

I can wholeheartedly recommend Evelyne Holingue’s book. I always feel that sometimes important lessons and messages are very well, maybe even best, if transmitted through the voice of a child character.

Book review by Solveig Werner of Chronicles from Château de Moines by Evelyne Holingue, Burel Press, 2014

You can connect with Evelyne on her blog. Last week, I reviewed her other book Trapped in Paris, please check out that review too.

Where you can find Chronicles from Château de Moines 
On iTunes, here it is currently for free, until Labour Day (Sep. 7th 2015)
Amazon UK, Amazon US

Discovering a different side of Paris ~ A book review and recommendation of “Trapped in Paris” by Evelyne Holingue

After a trip to Paris, Cameron, a 16 year old American is on his way back home to Maine. But sometimes natural events make us change plans. Due to the eruption of a Volcano in Island, Charles de Gaulle airport is now longer letting planes take off. After a tiring night at the airport and even though Cameron has promised his mom not to leave the airport, he leaves for the city with his new friend Framboise. Both are short on money and thus decide to spend the next night on the banks of the Seine, which turns out to be a horrible mistake. They suddenly find themselves caught in a web of organised crime.

Trapped in Paris by Evelyne Holingue, is a book packed with suspense, as well as many unexpected twists. Cameron is regularly haunted by the memories of his past love, but this does not keep him from learning many valuable lessons for life. The themes of true love, friendship, family, ageing, and courage spring to my mind. The protagonists are two sweet kids that one can easily relate to, with fears and other worries which one might call proper for their age, but which I think are universal.

If you are like me not part of the age group that this book is aimed at, then go ahead anyways. It is a true page turner. I must confess that I read it in no time, and when I was not reading it, was wondering what was going to happen next. Filled with French vocabulary words, and a boy wishing he had listened more in French class, the most unthinkable reasons for why it is important to learn foreign languages are encountered. In the end you might say, let’s go for some language immersion! Anyone francophile, Paris loving, or just curious for a good adventure should pick up this book, I wholeheartedly recommend it!

Book review by Solveig Werner of Trapped in Paris by Evelyne Holingue, 2012, Burel Press

You can connect with Evelyne on her blog.

Where to find Trapped in Paris:
Currently Trapped in Paris can be found for free on iBooks until Labour day (Sep. 7th 2015)
Amazon US, Amazon UK, Amazon France

An ingredient, a hunt, a love for a book – a book recommendation “Vanilla: Travels in Search of the Luscious Substance” by Tim Ecott

An ingredient, a hunt, a love for a book

A book recommendation “Vanilla: Travels in Search of the Luscious Substance” by Tim Ecott

How hard can it be to find a book?

Once again an order for my favourite ingredient, Vanilla, had arrived at our house. This time, I was curious, I wanted to know more. Actually, I wanted to know everything about Vanilla. Being a researcher by nature but also by education (I have a Research Master in Politics), I tried to gather as much information as possible about this strange bean. Wikipedia, was not too helpful, there was only little information, but other websites were scares too. Going back and forth between websites and different language versions of Wikipedia, I decided that I needed to do some real research, which means GET A BOOK on the topic. Continue reading “An ingredient, a hunt, a love for a book – a book recommendation “Vanilla: Travels in Search of the Luscious Substance” by Tim Ecott”

What is Time? – A Book Review about: “The History of Time – A Very Short Introduction” by Leofranc Holford-Strevens

Around Easter, so ages ago, I sat down to write this review/recommendation. And now for moths it has been in my drafts unfinished… But I really wanted to write and post a review of the book The History of Time – A Very Short Introduction by Leofranc Holford-Strevens, because I absolutely enjoyed it, and learned so many different things (of which I of course forgot many since I finished the book).

Not so long ago it was the summer solstice, summer has started, the days have started to shorten. All of these elements are related to one thing, TIME. The thing we cannot really grasp, that moves by too quickly or too slowly, that we never seem to have enough of, or else I would have done this review a long time ago…

But what is time?  The History of Time – A Very Short Introduction by Leofranc Holford-Strevens gives a concise explanation of what time is. How time has changed over centuries. How it has been measured, and what elements influence its measurement.

I do not recall exactly what I expected to find in the book, I guess an explanation of how humans went from time being dictated by the sun to the modern world of computers calculating time. When I read The History of Time by Holford-Strevens, I found out that time is a rather complex phenomenon, influenced amongst other things by astronomy, religion, and seasons.

If we take as an example Easter, every year Easter falls at a different moment, after all some years Valentine’s day is ruined by the vow to not eat chocolate during lent. Holford-Strevens explains all of the rules of how Easter is calculated, it is rather complex, and has been a real messy situation in the past. Equinox, moon, and the church one belongs to all influence the calculation of Easter. I liked the idea of Easter happening at two different moments within one country, as was the case of Sweden where it was astronomically calculated:

The case of 1798, however, illustrates a difficulty inherent in the astronomical Easter: although at Uraniborg full moon occurred just before midnight on Saturday, 31 March, in most of Sweden it was already Sunday, 1 April, so that the observance of the astronomical Easter on that day would have entailed celebrating on the day of full moon, a major impropriety. (p.61-62)

Besides Easter, things such as the week are taken apart and explained in detail. There are the countries that are close to roman goods in the naming of the weekdays where as others are closer to nordic gods. For example Friday, which definitely belongs to women: in French it is Vendredi from Venus and in English and Germanic languages it is named after the goddess Freya. Thursday is named after Thor and after Jupiter, which are the goods of Thunder. And well in German the middle of the week, Wednesday is actually called “Mittwoch” meaning mid-week (because even if we often think so otherwise the week starts Sundays and ends on Saturdays).

You know that sometimes the authorities (often religious) decided to leave out a few days in the year? Or that during leap years you would find the same day twice in a row?

As always, I do not want to give too much away, but if you are wondering why non-christian countries and cultures use the christian calendar for counting, are interested in the zodiac, in the days of the week, naming of months. Why a day is 24 hours long and so on, well then I can only recommend that you open The history of Time by Leofranc Holford-Strevens.

Book review by Solveig Werner of The History of Time – A Very Short Introduction by Leofranc Holford-Strevens, published in 2005 by Oxford University Press in the series Very Short Introductions

You can find the book here: Amazon UK, Amazon US

And as the subject of time has interested me at various occasions, I do invite you to read my recent short story “A long forgotten picnic” which deals with travel in time, and my flash fiction piece “Time” written for the A to Z Challenge this April, and toying with the question of stopping time.

A book review – “The Tramp – Book one of the Bound Chronicles” by Sarah Wathen

Tourists rarely come to Shirley County, it seems that when they do it’s because they are a bit lost. Shirley County, and not its inhabitants, is hostile towards outsiders. Still Candy Vale cannot imagine leaving, and that with her childhood having been marked by troublesome events. Even though there are many different story lines within the books, and many characters to keep track of, I think that Candy is the main character (at least she is my favourite). It is the end of the summer holidays, the school year is about to start, and Candy is going crazy for Sam, a newcomer in Shirley Country. She is attracted to him and his artistic skills. But with the return of her best friend John, whose sick Grandfather is shaken by strange dreams, and who loves researching, finds out that Sam has a darker past than Candy wants to admit.

The Tramp – Book one of the Bound Chronicles by Sarah Wathen lets the reader discover the different sides of Shirley County, how it is seen by tourists, locals, new locals, and regular visitors. And it is definitely not always as peaceful and comforting as one could think of a prohibition county. Sarah Wathen’s writing is rich with images, that lets the reader easily imagine the setting, but also feel what the different characters feel. Not rarely did I have a smile creep on my face or a shiver run down my spine.

Even though The Tramp is beautifully written, I had a hard time getting hooked by the story. Because it took a while to unfold, but once I was captured, there was no turning back and I wanted to know more. This slow beginning was probably due to wide variety of characters that were introduced, so many characters and different story lines, that I have to confess that I got a bit lost at times. It was’t rare that I had to go back a few chapters to find myself in the story. Some storylines were only short, and a one time appearance, that I guess that these characters will be important in the subsequent books.

As I mentioned above, Sarah Wathen makes one feel, see and even live the scene. She paints with words, just like she painted the cover art. Now it’s a bit over a week since I finished the novel, and the story has marked me, some scenes were so lively that they are hard to forget. I absolutely adore the character Candy Vale, and am hoping to find out soon how the story continues, as the ending is quite a cliffhanger. For some reason  The Tramp sometimes reminded of A Casual Vacancy by J.K. Rowling.

Book review by Solveig Werner about The Tramp – Book one of the Bound Cronicles by Sarah Wathen; LayerCake Production 2015

You can find the book here: On Amazon US| on Amazon UK

And check out Sarah Weather’s blog as well as her brilliant story she wrote for the A to Z Challenge (linking you to the letter A).