“Reflection: A Twisted Tale” by Elizabeth Lim, review

Reflection: A Twisted Tale is one of the novels in the Twisted Tales series. When being written, the series includes seven titles that was published over the past 4 years, with the seventh being newly released this summer and the eighth due in early 2020. Each book of the series is stand-alone, which means you can read whichever stories that intrigue you the most in whichever order that you feel like.

If you are
unfamiliar with the series, each novel provides a spin on a Disney classic,
twisting the tales we know clearly and discovering how the characters would
react should be an element of their story go astray. The twist takes place at
this point where Mulan defeats the Huns after causing an avalanche on the
mountain. In the midst of the commotion, Captain Li Shang is wounded mortally.
Mulan has to travel to the underworld, under the reign of King Yama, in order to
rescue Shang and bring him back to China.

Reflection was written by Elizabeth Lim while the other novels of the series were written by Jen Calonita and Liz Braswell. However, as with the past installments in the Twisted Tales series, this novel is jam-packed with adventure, with Elizabeth Lim’s descriptive style perfectly weaving Chinese underworld and cultural mythology into Mulan’s established character lines. The result really is a beautiful read.  Surely, Mulan is our powerful protagonist, along with Captain Shang by her side throughout. Mushu, who is everyone’s favourite dragon, also has a brief appearance, but disappointingly does not present throughout most of the novel. Instead, we will be joined by the great lion ShiShi – the captain’s family guardian. Although nowhere near as sassy or scrawny as Mushu, the lion ShiShi serves as a lovable and wise guide through the underworld, which doesn’t sound like the place where you would want to travel alone, even if you are a coursing river. Similarly to Once Upon a Dream, the adventure narrative follows our heroes on a long journey through countless action scenes, with bandit ghosts and demons, family ancestors to battle along way through the levels of King Yama’s realm.

The Good Thieves by Katherine Rundell, Review

The writing of Katherine Rundell is magic. Each of her books is filled with such whimsy and charming characters and The Good Thieves is no exception.

The book is set in New York City in the ’1920s. A writer’s note mentions the real phenomenon of a Carnegie Hall’s circus, which is the backdrop for the story and adds a fantastic and enchanting setting. Then the story winds around the streets of ’1920s New York City in all its gilt-edged glory, when Vita and her ragtag group of friends plan a heist to steal her grandfather’s precious emerald necklace, which is the key to hiring a lawyer and fighting for the castle of her grandfather, put together piece by piece from the Hudson Valley, and snatched by a conniving real estate developer with ties to the mob.

Vita is
brave and cunning with her love for her grandfather as well as her hatred for
evil men such as Sorrotore, who takes advantage of the less fortunate for their
greedy personal gain. She is the “just-in-case,” because of her ability to
throw with expert precision, a skill that her grandfather taught her as she was
bedridden with polio as a child, a sickness which claimed the full use of one
of her feet.

The circus
boys, Sam and Arkady, are both virtuosos. Arkady has an uncanny way with
animals. He can train the birds of New York and horses and dogs that he just
met while Sam can fly. Their acrobatic skills are unbelievable and will help
the group get over the high walls of the castle.

The team is rounded out by Silk, an unwilling thief, who wants to live a normal life. She was an orphan and lived off the streets, pickpocketing into glamorous parties like the ones Sorrotore throws, a servant, when Vita met her. She turns Vita down, preferring to work alone and avoid getting caught with a team of unknown kids. However, her lock-pick skill is unparalleled so eventually, she joins the team.

Top 8 Casino Based Books (part 2)

5. The Battle for Las Vegas, written by Dennis Griffin

During the 1970s and 1980s, Vegas was a battleground between law and organized crime. The Battle for Las Vegas focuses not just on the big names of the time such as “The Ant” Spilotro and Frank “Lefty” Rosenthal but also on the key law enforcement figures helping to bring down the mob rule of the biggest casinos. It’s argued to be a more rounded approach to the subject than the book Casino: Love and Honor in Las Vegas.

6. Not a Penny More, Not a Penny Less, written by
Jeffery Archer

Four people that
lost their fortune to the same man, come together to claim it all back. Although
it focuses on several elements of high society in their attempts to con the con
artist, the story takes the four men to Monte Carlo as part of their game to
outwit the person that defrauded them. It provides readers an interesting
insight into the glitz of Monaco with lavish seafront casinos and nightlife.

7. The Biggest Game in Town, written by Al Alvarez

The Biggest Game in Town is considered as the most important book ever written about game poker. The book deeply examines the poker tables in Las Vegas. Alvarez, an avid poker player, traveled to Vegas to study The World Series of Poker – the most famous tournament in the game. There are also biographies of some famous players and an unprecedented view of the modern game.

8. The Professor, the Banker, and the Suicide King,
written by Michael Craig

The people that play in casinos are often as interesting as the casinos themselves. The Professor, the Banker, and the Suicide King is Andrew Beal’s biography as well as his challenge of high stakes poker games in Vegas, particularly about his years-long challenge to a group of celebrated players called “The Corporation”. The book adds all the tension of a casino game meanwhile delving into the world of the nail-biting game of poker.

Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland by Lewis Carroll, review

Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland, written by Lewis Carroll, was published in 1865 and has been loved by British children since then. The story with fantastical tales and riddles became one of the most famous works of English-language fiction. It was beautifully illustrated by British artist John Tenniel.

The story’s major character is Alice, a young girl that
falls asleep in a meadow, dreaming that she follows the White Rabbit down a
rabbit hole. She has a lot of wondrous, often bizarre adventures with very illogical
and strange creatures, often unexpectedly changing size (she shrinks to 3
inches and grows as tall as a house).

She encounters the Duchess (with a baby that becomes a
pig), the hookah-smoking Caterpillar, 
and the Cheshire Cat, and also attends a strange endless tea party with the
March Hare and the Mad Hatter. Then she plays a croquet game with uncooperative
hedgehogs for croquet balls and an unmanageable flamingo for a croquet mallet when
the Queen calls for the execution of almost everyone present. Later, at the behest
of the Queen, the Gryphon takes her to meet the sobbing Mock Turtle that describes
his education in subjects like Ambition, Uglification, Distraction, and
Derision. Alice is then considered as a witness in the trial of the Knave of
Hearts, who has been accused of having stolen the tarts of the Queen. Luckily,
when the Queen demands that Alice be beheaded, she awakens from her dream after
realizing that the characters are only a pack of cards.

Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland was originally told by Carroll to Alice, Edith, and Lorina Liddell (the three daughters of Henry George Liddell, Dean of Christ Church, Oxford, where Carroll had studied) on a picnic in 1862. Alice asked him to write out the stories for her, and then he produced a hand-lettered collection named Alice’s Adventures Under Ground. A guest visiting the Liddell family saw the collection and thought that it should be published, so Carroll revised and expanded it. Although the book at first baffled critics, it then attracted a following and by the end of the 19th century, it had become Britain’s most popular book for children, and within two more decades, it was one of the world’s most popular storybooks.

Five books for teaching young children how to be great leaders

It is never too early to start teaching your children about
leading others. There are simple ideas and stories on leadership in the
following books that help young children build the skills to become positive, courageous,
and compassionate leaders.

Swimmy, written by
Leo Lionni

The book tells the story of the fish Swimmy who is different
from the other fish in his school. However, when the other fish are scared of
the dangers, he knows how to combine his uniqueness with a little ingenuity, bravery,
and teamwork to lead his friends to overcome their fears.

My First Biography:
Martin Luther King, Jr., written by Marion Dane Bauer

My First Biography: Martin Luther King, Jr., aimed at beginning readers, describes the journey of Dr. King from a child seeing social injustice all around him to the iconic civil rights leader that helped Americans get closer to racial equality.

Little Blue Truck,
written by Jill McElmurry

Little Blue Truck is a board book offering a great story for teaching toddlers how to overcome obstacles with a little help from their friends. It is amazingly illustrated with the fun truck and animal noises, helping kids learn perseverance, compassion, and teamwork to become a good leader.

Oh, the Places You’ll
Go!, written by Dr. Seuss

The classic book Oh, the Places You’ll Go! encourages kids to have confidence in themselves and broaden their horizons. It gives children the encouragement that they all have the potential to do whatever they want.

The Day the Crayons
Quit, written by Drew Daywalt

Duncan opens his crayons box one day and finds it empty. The
reason is that they have gone on strike because of various grievances, including
overwork, boredom, and professional jealousy. Finally, a solution is reached
that makes everyone happy. The Day the Crayons Quit shows that part of leading
is to understand the feelings and perspectives of others.

Top 8 Casino Based Books (part 1)

There are many amazing books, including both fiction and
non-fiction ones, about casinos over the last century or more. From the casinos
of prohibition USA to the glamour of Monte Carlo and Las Vegas, some of these
provide great entertainment or even give an amazing insight into the professional
gambling world.

1. Casino: Love and
Honor in Las Vegas, written by Nicholas Pileggi

This non-fiction book shows the mob’s loss of influence over
the legal casinos in Las Vegas, offering an unprecedented look into the rule of
mafia’s shady world including money-laundering and the police’s efforts to
bring down the seedier side of Las Vegas. It was made into the 1990s film “Casino”,
featuring Robert De Niro, Sharon Stone, and Joe Pesci.

2. Casino Royale,
written by Ian Fleming

The glitz and glamour that James Bond loved casinos have attracted 007 times after time. We first see him enter a casino with Martini in hand in this first Bond novel. In an effort to fight against his nemesis Le Chiffre, he gets into an exclusive casino in order to play a game of baccarat with a prize of 50 million French Francs. Casino Royale was the book which started it all and has been converted to the movie twice.

3. The Gambler,
written by Fyodor Dostoyevsky

One of the earliest books about casinos in this list, the great Russian novelist Fyodor Dostoyevsky wrote The Gambler ironically to pay off his own debts. It tells the story of a young man that desperately wants to improve his status working in a rich Russian general’s household. He attempts this by gambling in the casinos but ends of suffering loss after loss. He becomes obsessed and so addicted that the rest of his life suffers.

4. Last Call, written
by Tim Powers

Last Call is a weird fantasy novel which is very typical of Tim Powers who is well-known for The Anubis Gates and On Stranger Tides. Scott Crane, the major character of the novel, has hit rock bottom – his wife has died, he has lost an eye, and he’s heading towards alcoholism. But the worst thing is that he thinks he may have gambled away his soul since 20 years ago and now he has to come back to the seedy life of the casino to win it back because somebody is trying to kill him.

Five Funny Board Books for Busy Toddlers

From learning nursery rhymes to social skills, here is the list of five funny board books for toddlers!

A Counting Book About Sharing

Writter: Caryn Rivadeneira

Amanda Gulliver

Beaming Books

Ages: 0-3

This sweet book makes “Mine!”, a toddler’s favorite word, become a way to share. With parents’ guide to helping kids learn about belonging and inclusiveness, this board book is a great way to start to teach your kids about sharing at the earliest stages.

Little Piggy and Other Favorite Nursery Rhymes

Illustrator: Genine Delahaye

Tiger Tales

Ages: 0-4

Join with funny nursery rhymes in this amazing board book. With exciting text layouts, bold and colorful illustrations, this book is a great gift for your babies’ first birthdays!

Anne of Green Gables: A Babylit Places Primer

Writter: Jennifer Adams

Illustrator: Alison Oliver

Gibbs Smith

Ages: 0-3

Anne of Green Gables follows in the oh-so-fashionable footsteps
of other Babylit® taking
on the great literary classics
and does
not disappoint. With a literary tone, and bold, simplistic design, these
books are suitable for
new parents who adore the classics.

My Little Cuddle Bug

Writter: Nicola Edwards

Illustrator: Natalie Marshall

Silver Dolphin Books

Ages: 0-3

Snuggle up and page through the sweet and delighting illustrations
of this amazingg
book for the littlest cuddle-bugs. With soothing text, clever cutouts, thick and easy to turn pages, this will
become a fast favorite,
especially for bedtime.

Can Dream

Writter and Illustrator: Betsy Snyder

Publisher: Chronicle Books

Ages: 0-4

I Can Dream is a great addition to the I CAN series, bringing finger-wiggling fun to the various ways kids can dream of their futures. Want to be a marine biologist? A racecar driver? A firefighter? Diversely drawn children do it all in style. Like other books in the I CAN series, the cute cutouts of I Can Dream make dancing with fingers the great way to bond with your little kids.

The Best Books About Healthy Eating (part 2)


  1. The 30-Day Ketogenic Cleanse

A ketogenic diet is a low-carb diet which is designed to train the body to burn fat instead of sugar for fuel. “The 30-Day Ketogenic Cleanse” offers a kick-start for people who are new to this dietary regimen or want to return after stopping for a short period of time. It provides meal plans, shopping lists, and tips to maintain the ketogenic diet and information about the negative effects of sugar.

  1. Food Freedom Forever

Cravings, loss of energy, and regained weight are common complaints of yo-yo dieters. “Food Freedom Forever” shows that forming lasting healthy habits will free you from the cycle of dieting and offers tips to find your own healthy eating balance as well as advice for dealing with vacations, holidays, and other social situations which have the potential to derail healthy habits.

  1. The Heal Your Gut Cookbook 

Writing the foreword in “The Heal Your Gut Cookbook,” Dr. Natasha Campbell-McBride discusses a wide range of chronic conditions which can be made worse or caused by poor gut health. This book provides various food preparation techniques and recipes to restore the proper balance of healthy bacteria.

  1. Food to Live By

This book takes things back to the basics. Author and co-founder of Earthbound Farm Myra Goodman mostly cooks simple dishes with organic ingredients. The recipes are easy to prepare, including important information about care and handling of ingredients. She also includes photos of her dishes.

  1. Wildly Affordable Organic

Organic food is a healthier choice because it is free of pesticides and antibiotics. Unluckily, it is also an expensive option. This book gives you tricks to eat well without the high price tag and tips to cook easy seasonal meals, make your family’s lifestyle greener, and save money on grocery runs.

  1. At Home in the Whole Food Kitchen

Chef Amy Chaplin applies her love and knowledge of food in a book which is designed to teach the basics of healthy eating. All recipes in this book are vegetarian and many are vegan-friendly, too!



The Best Books About Healthy Eating (part 1)


One of the hottest topics in the present is healthy eating. It is difficult to define “healthy eating” because it means different things for each person, depending on their needs and starting points. However, our busy lives don’t always make it easy for us to plan healthy diets. These following books offer a guide to various types of healthy eating and different recipes and hack to keep your eating on track.

  1. Eat, Drink, and Be Healthy: The Harvard Medical School Guide to Healthy Eating

There is a lot of advice about diet and carbohydrates; however, not all of it is grounded by science. Using research to debunk fad diets such as Atkins and South Beach, in “Eat, Drink, and Be Healthy,” Dr. Walter Willett offers a guide for balancing your diet, including the right ratio of carbs, proteins, fats, and other food groups. In addition, he even provides a critique of USDA guidelines about carbs.

  1. The Blue Zones Solution

Blue Zones are defined by Author Dan Buettner as places in the Earth where people have been recorded as living the longest. This book explores diet and lifestyle techniques in areas including Japan, Okinawa, Italy, Sardinia, and more. Dan Buettner with “The Blue Zone Solution” guides how you can apply them to your own daily life. There are also recipes and checklists that you can follow to create your own Blue Zone.

  1. Hungry Girl Clean & Hungry

Today, so many foods have processed with artificial ingredients that can be harmful to our long-term health. In this book, the healthy eating TV show and website tackle clean eating with all recipes that are easy to make using clean ingredients from any supermarket.

  1. Paleo Cooking with Your Instant Pot

An Instant Pot combines a crockpot, rice cooker, and pressure cooker into one pot. It is handy for Paleo cooking because of saving a lot of time. Author Jennifer Robins of “Paleo Cooking with Your Instant Pot” shows you how to use an Instant Pot to easily prepare several Paleo dishes.

Top 10 Sports Books for Kids (part 2)

  1. Baseball: Then to WOW!, by The Editors of Sports Illustrated Kids

History fans will be wowed by Baseball: Then to WOW!, which traces the history over the past century of baseball. This books teaches kids about the evolution, the equipment of the game, and also the story behind baseball frankfurters. It uses a multifaceted approach, with fun facts, text, and pictures, and will have your kids humming “Take Me Out to the Ballgame” before they know it.

  1. Scholastic Year in Sports 2016, by James Buckley Jr.

If your kids are multi-talented athletes that can bounce between basketball, baseball, hockey, and soccer (or at least show their interest in each of them), this book is right up their alley. It provides an extensive recap on the scholastic year in sports so that your kids can catch up on those they may have missed, from MMA, to lacrosse.

  1. Big Book of Who Basketball, by The Editors of Sports Illustrated Kids 

This is a book that any basketball lovers will have trouble putting down! From Michael Jordan, to Magic Johnson, to Shaq, all the great basketball stars are accounted for. Your kids can learn facts, stats, and see pictures of all these legendary players.

  1. The TOP 10 of Everything in SPORTS, by The Editors of Sports Illustrated Kids

You have got to love a great top 10 list. This book takes that fun format, along with Sports Illustrated pictures, in order to tell fans everything about all things sports-related. It gives a fun and detailed look at the world of professional sports and is perfect for any athlete, fan, and benchwarmer.

  1. Big Book of Who: ALL-STARS, by The Editors of Sports Illustrated Kids

This book was written for kids, but many adults could also definitely use it. It will help you have stats on all of the stars, both in past and present. A good primer for your kids to wow their friends with their sports knowledge.

  1. Big Book of Who: Football Revised & Updated, by Editors of Sports Illustrated for Kids

Whether their knowledge of football is wide or not, young football fans will learn at least one thing from this book. Containing 101 football stars that every fan needs to know, this book is arranged in a fun question and answer format.s