Hotel of Horrors

Overlook HotelThat prickling sensation down the back of your neck. The unsettling feeling that someone is watching you. Those unexplainable events that strike fear into your heart. Welcome, to the Overlook Hotel.

A creepy hotel with a dark history sets the scene for the 1977 horror “The Shining” by Stephen King. Even now, 40 years later, the book gives me chills and goosebumps. Jack and Wendy come to the hotel with their son Danny, and will be staying through the winter. Unaware of the history of the place – the fact that guests had died there, and that the previous caretaker went mad and slaughtered his family – they settle in.The Shining

Tension begins to build, as their relationships deteriorate. 5-year-old Danny has what is called the shining; psychic powers that allow him to uncover truths about the hotel and its guests. As the horrific events seem to have tainted the hotel, the hotel in turn seems to taint the occupants. Spiraling out of control and into madness, the nightmares have just begun.

An extremely well-written horror story, I highly recommend this book. If you have seen the movie, I would like to note that King himself did not like the adaptation. I agree that the book is infinetely creepier than the movie, as well as containing better character development. So please give the book a chance, and remember: smiles are contagious 😀

Poetic Romance

For a short but captivating read, I recommend “The Peculiar Life of a Lonely Postman” by Denis Thériault. With poetry as the mouthpiece for the touching story of Bilodo the postman, the book is overflowing with lyrical wordplay and wonderful imagery. Thériault successfully combines an untraditional love-story with the calm flow of Haiku poetry, lovingly presenting a cultural meeting between Canada and Japan.Denis Thériault

Unable to resist the urge to read the intriguing letters he delivers, Bilodo secretly steams them open – and soon finds himself being pulled down a rabbit hole of Haiku correspondence, Japanese lifestyles, romance and mystery.

Although I would usually not read romance novels, this one is different; the mysterious correspondence, assuming another persons life, cultural exchange and sudden twists provide an unexpected adventure, despite being confined to the strict poetic rules of Haiku. So don’t let appearances scare you off, and remember: smiles are contagious 😀

Mockingbird

New York is a wasteland. Humans are slowly dying out – sterile and medicated they roam around aimlessly. Reading and writing is illegal. Conversations and friendship no longer exists. It is in this world we meet Bentley: a man who taught himself to read, who stops medicating and discovers a whole world around him. “Mockingbird” by Walter Tevis gives us a frightening look into a possible future.

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Described as a mix between “Brave New
World” and “1984” it shows the deeply unsettling consequences that computerisation can have on humanity. Even the machines are struggling – falling apart and breaking down as decades pass. Bentley slowly uncovers secrets of the past, which might hold the key to saving humanity from extinction.

A thought-provoking read, it is nearly impossible to put the book down. The incredible journey of Bentley is frightening yet inspirational at the same time. And it is as relevant today as it was nearly 40 years ago when it was written. I highly recommend it, and remember – smiles are contagious 😀

A peculiar adventure

For a fantasy adventure through time, I recommend “Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children,” by Ransom Riggs. The story follows Jacob after a family tragedy, as he follows clues to uncover his grandfather’s past. The trail leads him to a Welsh island, where he discovers some unusal children. The narrative is littered with vintage photographs, giving a deeper dimension to the story and sending it to #1 on the New York Times best seller list where it remained for 45 weeks.

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The story is immensely gripping, making it near impossible to put the book down. The vintage photographs provide a depth to the story I have not seen elsewhere, making the decision to read book number 2 and 3 an easy one. With an abundance of great characters and exciting adventures, it makes a great read for teens and adults in my opinion.

I will admit that the pictures frightened me in the beginning – there is no hiding the fact that they are quite creepy. But then again, they have to be in order to match the story. So don’t let the creep-factor put you off this amazing book, and remember – smiles are contagious 😀

Bill and Melinda Gates: Annual Letter

Every year Bill Gates and his wife Melinda write an annual letter raising awareness on important subjects. For 2017 they focused on the positive changes that have been made in the world – reminding us that optimism is a vital tool in the worldwide efforts. They narrate their letter as a response to Warren Buffett, a fellow philanthropist who made the largest donation to Gates’ foundation – illustrating the effect his donation had.

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The worldwide efforts explained in the letter includes: reducing childhood deaths and newborn mortality, making vaccines available, ending malnutrition, gender equality, ending poverty, and providing modern contraceptives enabling future planning. They close the letter with their ultimate goal:

We want to end our letter with the most magical number we know. It’s zero. This is the number we’re striving toward every day at the foundation. Zero malaria. Zero TB. Zero HIV. Zero malnutrition. Zero preventable deaths. Zero difference between the health of a poor kid and every other kid. Bill Gates, Annual Letter

I implore everyone to read the letter and share it: everyone should know about – and get involved with – the global efforts to better our world. And remember – smiles are contagious 😀

Don’t Panic!

This week I’m recommending a book I first read years ago, but to this day it makes me laugh. Mixing hilarity, adventure and science fiction, Douglas Adams wrote the world-famous Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy in 1979. It sold more than 250,000 copies in the first three months, and it’s been translated into more than 30 languages. If you are still doubting it’s popularity, check out International Towel Day on 25 May – a day where fans carry a towel with them as instructed in the book.

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“The story so far:
In the beginning the Universe was created.
This has made a lot of people very angry and been widely regarded as a bad move.” This quote from The Restaurant at the End of the Universe (the second book in the Hitchhiker series), is why I fell in love with the books. The unexpected twists and absurd events are what makes this book a very amusing read. After the fifth book, people have described it as; A trilogy in five parts, The book that gives a whole new meaning to the word ‘trilogy’, and my favourite; The fifth book in the increasingly inaccurately named Hitchhiker’s Trilogy.

So, for your next read you should try The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy; books filled to the brim with action, hilarity, improbabilities, space travel and adventure. And remember – smiles are contagious 😀

Dracula

The infamous Count Dracula from Transylvania emerged through Bram Stokers book in 1897, searching for his next victim in Stoker’s contemporary London. The epistolary novel tells the story through letters, diary and ship’s log entries and newspaper articles, with different narrators. The gothic classic takes you through a dark and dangerous world, and the age-old struggle between good and evil.

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I admit it is not the easiest read; written in late 19th century it reflects the language of the time. The reason it should be read is simple: it defined the modern vampire and it is a good example of horror and gothic fiction. I truly enjoyed reading Dracula – the suspense looms throughout the story, keeping you engaged until the very end.

So, if you’re up for some classical horror I recommend Dracula by Bram Stoker (just don’t ask every Romanian you meet about Dracula – they’re not that fond of the story). And always remember: smiles are contagious 🙂