Falling Kingdoms by Morgan Rhodes

Falling Kingdoms

Reviewed by Sarah Graves- Henry Larsen Public School

A riveting story about a heavily divided land on the brink of war, Falling Kingdoms is a thrilling drama. Lucia, Magnus, Cleo and Jonas all deal with several issues in the countries Auranos, Paelsia and Limeros, where tensions run extremely high. The characters are dispersed among the three countries, but soon cross each others’ paths in the wake of war, forcing them to face their varying dilemmas. In this grief-stricken land filled with treachery, poverty, sorcery, secrets and yearning, everyone clashes already, not knowing the horror that is to fall, and much sooner than expected. The main cause for the conflict, the one that no one seems to see, is the inequality. It could be seen as a modern representation of the injustice in the world today or a flashback to the times when all was dark, but it’s up to you to decide.

This book was one of the most enchanting books I have ever read; a new twist at every chapter made for a hard-to-put-down read. It is a very intense book indeed, putting you almost in tears one second and smiling to your ears the next. A true teen novel, it incorporates serious modern issues, history, magic and intense drama. The book has different points of view, making you side with all and no characters. A very engaging read, it gives you a real point of view, genuinely changing your opinion every page and helping you connect with the characters. As you can imagine, it results in a wonderfully climactic novel that will leave you fearing what comes next, puzzling the possibilities and wanting even more.


Our Bestsellers for February

1.       The Orenda                                        Joseph Boyden                  Fiction

2.       Imposter Bride                                  Nancy Richler                     Fiction

3.       It’s not Luck                                        Eliyahn Goldratt                Economy

4.       Redshift                                               Patrick White                     Poetry

5.       Dominion                                            C.J. Sansom                        Fiction  

6.       Life after Life                                     Kate Atkinson                    Fiction

7.       The Last Indian Summer                   Robert Lalonde                Fiction

8.       Winter in Madrid                              C.J. Sansom                        Fiction

9.       The Woman Upstairs                      Claire Messud                   Fiction

10.     David and Goliath                            Malcolm Gladwell            Psychology

11.     The War that ended Peace          Margaret MacMillan         History

February Newsletter

Yes, February has just arrived even though, judging by the recent severe cold, it feels as if it has been February for several months. One bright spot is that more people are curling up in the warmth with a good book!  Perhaps confirming that escapism is a factor,our best-sellers list for January (see below) shows a stronger inclination to works of fiction than is usual, with several new titles making the list. History is still popular with local historian Tim Cook (“The Madman and the Butcher”) joining Margaret MacMillan (“The War that Ended Peace”) on the list in informing us about the “Great” War in this anniversary year of its outbreak.

February completes our first year as owners of the bookstore. It has gone quickly. The financial results for the year were very good with a significant increase in revenues and we have been able to put money into improvements in the bookstore such as new equipment and into increased choices of stock. Some challenges remain, of course, but we’re very optimistic about the future.

In the publicity surrounding the new ownership last year we were continually asked the question ‘Why on earth did you do that?” We had two responses. “We think it will be fun” and “We think the bookstore can become a self-sustaining business”. The former has proven true. There has been much to learn but, with the help of our superbly knowledgeable staff, it has been fun. It’s a great place to work except for the temptation to buy books every day.  My excuse is that it’s now part of my job to read more books!

As for the second response, we have taken an important step in that direction.

Some of the things that we learned in the last year might interest you. The bookstore is not at all like a library. It is much more dynamic. For example, the average “age” (i.e months the stock has been on the shelves) is about 4-5 months. The average age of the books sold is less than 3 months although this is weighted by the many special orders that are only in our hands for a few days. These numbers are typical for successful bookstores today. Books go back and forth to the publishers (and a lot of paperwork is generated).

Somewhat to my surprise, the book-selling and book appreciation business is also a very social activity. I’m sure we have many “lone” readers but social activities attract many and influence sales. People come in to the bookstore to chat about what they’ve read or might want to read. Our staff gather impressions and pass them on to other customers. We have expanded to two Book Discussion Clubs because of popular demand. Our Books n’Brew sessions giving the opportunity to meet authors (in collaboration with the Clocktower pub) were almost all sold-out, books providing the key to a pleasant social evening. Book launches were similarly popular. We’ll be doing more events in the coming months. Please check our calendar page.

Some areas that we hope to improve on are sales to schools and to teachers for instructional purposes. We offer discounts to encourage such sales (contact any of our staff to discuss your needs and hear how we can help). We have longstanding connections to a few of the local schools- even suggesting lists of titles for school prizes -but there is room to expand our services to others.  We also serve some libraries in small municipalities and would be pleased to help more there too.

A final comment is how positive an experience it has been to be part of this neighbourhood, to support neighbourhood initiatives whenever we can and to collaborate with other neighbourhood businesses. Thank you everyone.

Our January Bestsellers

1.       In the Garden of Beasts                  Erik Larsen                          History

2.       The Best Laid Plans                          Terry Fallis                           Fiction

3.       The War that Ended Peace           Margaret MacMillan       History

4.       Imposter Bride                                  Nancy Richler                     Fiction

5.       Dear Life                                             Alice Munro                       Fiction

6.       The Goldfinch                                   Donna Tartt                        Fiction  

7.       The Orenda                                       Joseph Boyden                  Fiction

8.       Up and Down                                   Terry Fallis                           Fiction

9.       The Lost beneath the Ice               Andrew Cohen                      History

10.   How We Lead: Canada in a…          Joe Clark                              Politics

11.   Being, a Tale for the Time               Ruth Ozeki                          Fiction

12.   Underground to Canada                 Barbara Smucker                   Youth

13.   Winter in Madrid                              C.J. Sansom                        Fiction

14.   Life after Life                                     Kate Atkinson                    Fiction  

15.   The Madman and the Butcher         Tim Cook                             Biography

January Newsletter

Happy New Year to all our customers! We finished off 2013 with excellent sales in December. As with many retail businesses, November and December are critical to our financial well-being. Many “Thank you”s to all our customers. We hope that we solved a few gift dilemmas for you and also that we provided a pleasant shopping experience in the process.

Now we come to a less interesting part of our business operations-assessing the inventory that we built up so as to provide enough choice during the Holiday rush and returning excess products to the respective publishers. We will be closed all day on Sunday January 26 to carry out a complete inventory check-individually counting about 5000 or so books. In preparation for that, we will hold an inventory sale in mid-January. Watch this space for details of the big event -coming shortly.

The two Book Clubs resume in January.   On January 15th, the first group meet at the New Edinburgh Square Residence at 7.30p.m. On January 29th, the second group meet at the Edinburgh Retirement Residence also at 7.30p.m. The January book is “In the Garden of the Beasts” by Erik Larsen. Beginning in 1933 in Berlin, it tells the story of William Dodd who became the first American Ambassador to Hitler’s Germany in what was a critical point in history. “The book lends a stunning eye-witness perspective on events revealing an era of surprising nuance and complexity”. The book is available in the bookstore at a discount during this month. We’ll have more book events to announce later.

Our December best sellers list is given below. We have the usual mix of non-fiction (Biography/Politics/History) and Fiction and the numbers are heavily influenced by book signing events and the word-of-mouth that follows. There are a few surprises. One is that Victoria Abbott made the list twice with her “book Collector mysteries”. It is interesting that both Joseph Bryden’s “The Orenda” and Charlotte Gray’s “The Massey Murder”, which have been on the best sellers list for several months, had a resurgence in December. A sleeper near the bottom of the list is “The Rosie Project” by Graeme Simsion for which we’re getting great reports back from customers as a feel good read. Maybe it will be this year’s version of “The hundred year old man who jumped out the window and …” which had steady sales throughout 2013 as word spread about it.

Good reading in 2014! Remember that one of the few guaranteed antidotes to brutally cold weather (that doesn’t involve long distance travel) is to curl up indoors with a good book.

Our Best Sellers for December

Check our e-store for details of each book.

1.       How we lead: Canada in a…        Joe Clark                                              Politics

2.       The Sayers Swindle                         Victoria Abbott                                 Mystery

3.       Dear Life                                              Alice Monro                                       Fiction

4.       An Astronauts guide to..               Chris Hadfield                                    Biography

5.       The War that ended the Peace  Margaret MacMillan                       History 

6.       The Way of the 88 Temples         Robert Sibley                                     Travel

7.       Lives of the Family                           Denise Chong                                    History

8.       The Longer I’m Prime Minister..                Paul Wells                          Biography

9.       The Orenda                                        Joseph Bryden                                  Fiction

10.   The Massey Murder                       Charlotte Gray                                  Fiction

11.   Shopping for Votes                         Susan Delacourt                               Politics 

12.   True Confessions of a Film Critic          Robert Fontaine                        Arts & Music

13.   Road Ends                                           Mary Lawson                                     Fiction

14.   Building the Orange Wave           Brad Lavigne                                      Biography

15.   Conversations with a dead man            Mark Abley                           Biography

16.   The Luminaries                                 Eleanor Catton                                  Fiction

17.   In the garden of beasts                 Erik Larson                                          History

18.  Longbourn                            JoBaker                                   Fiction                                                  

19.   The Christie Curse                           Victoria Abbott                                 Mystery

20.   Sweetness of a simple life           D. Beresford-Kroeger                    Sci & Nature

21.   David & Goliath: Undergoing ..   Malcom Gladwell                             Psychology

22.   The Rosie Project                             Graeme Simsion                               Fiction

23.   The Day the Crayons Quit             Drew Daywalt                                    Kids       



Booklovers Holiday Quiz

December 2013

Try our holiday quiz and then test your friends. 20 questions on recently published books. Answers given below or use the bookstore search engine.

1.      Who is the police Inspector in the crime novel featuring the village of Three Pines?

 2.      What book is about a maid who shoots her employer on his doorstep?

 3.      How many temples are there in the Shikoku Pilgrimage ( the “Henro Michi”)?

 4.      What are the recent books written by past or present Prime Ministers?

 5.      What detective series features an overweight, turban wearing, chain smoking Inspector? Where does he live?

 6.      Where is the setting for Alice Munro’s short stories in “Dear Life”?

 7.      Who won the Giller prize this year? What was the book?

 8.      What two books recently appeared about NDP stalwarts?

 9.      What famous book is set in New Zealand in the 1800’s?

 10.  Which crime series is set around Palermo, Sicily and features Sicilian cuisine?

 11.  What did the hundred year old man do?

 12.  Who made an unlikely Pilgrimage?

 13.  What is the Rosie Project?

 14.  Who wrote “The War that ended the Peace”?

 15.  Where is the No1 Ladies Detective Agency set?

 16.  What shopping does Susan Delacourt describe?

 17.  In local author Barabara Fradkin’s Mysteries, who are the Inspector and the Staff Sergeant?

 18.  What did the Road do in Mary Lawson’s latest novel?

 19.  What Nation features in Joseph Bryden’s “The Orenda”?

 20.  What is the title of Margaret Atwood’s third volume of her dystopian trilogy?

 Good luck!


All 20 correct:             Book-loving Champion (but you should get out more)

15-19: Qualified for a job in a Bookstore

10-14: You must be one of our highly valued customers

5-9: The store re-opens on Dec 27th

0-4: You have a great reading opportunity ahead.

Quiz Answers:

1.        Chief Inspector Gamache in Louise Penny’s “How the light gets in”:

2.        “The Massey Murder” by Charlotte Gray

3.        “The Way of the 88 Temples” by Robert Sibley

4.        (a)”A great game” by Stephen Harper (b) “How we lead: Canada in a century of change” by Joe Clark

5.        Inspector Singh Investigates. He is based in Singapore. Series by Shamini Flint.

6.        SW Ontario

7.        Lynn Coady for “Hellgoing”

8.        (a) Sven Robinson “A life in Politics” (b) “Building the Orange Wave” by Brad Lavigne

9.        “The Luminaries” by Eleanor Catton; Booker Prize winner

10.     The Inspector Montalbano Series by Andrea Camilleri

11.     “climbed out of the window and disappeared” by Jonas Jonasson

12.     Harold Fry. (author Rachel Joyce)

13.     The scientific search for the perfect partner. Novel by Graeme Simsion

14.     Margaret MacMillan

15.     Botswana: Series by McCall-Smith

16.     “Shopping for votes”

17.     Inspector Michael Green and Staff Sergeant Brian Sullivan

18.     “Road Ends”

19.     Huron

20.     “MaddAddan”



December Newsletter

We’re ready for the Christmas rush but don’t leave everything until the last minute!  The shelves are stocked. The staff are ready with advice. The store is buzzing. Or you can avoid the crowds and buy at our on-line bookstore. We’ve added to our collection of cards and calendars. The boxed card sets from UNICEF are going fast but there are many other interesting choices. A calendar featuring Ottawa photos from 1938 has been a best seller. We have jigsaw puzzles and various other games. The Great Penguin Bookchase is the newest game. It is a kind of trivial pursuits for booklovers-recommended for adults. A very popular series of kits for children have been the wooden construction sets of models derived from Leonardo’s drawings such as a siege catapult and a flying machine. The former won an award as one of the best toys for 2013. Our electronic gift cards are selling well –the best solution when you don’t really know quite what to buy.

In the meantime, there are lots of events still going on in December. Please check our newly upgraded Calendar page for details. There are several book signings planned in December. You can click on any item on the calendar to see full details of the featured books. The very successful Books ‘n Brew series at the Clocktower Pub has switched to Sundays in December-see the calendar. (The previously planned event for Dec 8th with Mark Abley will now be held in the store from 1.00-3.00p.m).There will be a pause in this series in January but we hope to resume later since there has been such a great response.

The November bestseller list for the store is given below. It is heavily influenced by our special events with a dominance of Biography and Politics. Since it was the season for literary awards-Nobel Prize, Booker Prize, Giller Prize and so on- the award winners dominate the fiction category.

We will be closed Christmas Day, Boxing Day and New Year’s Day to catch our breath a little but are planning some special events in January to celebrate the end of year 1 of the new ownership. We close at 3.00p.m. on Christmas Eve and New Year’s Eve.

Greetings from all our staff for the Holiday Season. May you have a wonderful celebration.

Best Sellers in November

1.  Shopping for Votes                         Susan Delacourt                               Politics 

2.  Welcome to the Broadcast          Don Newman                                    Biography

3.  Svend Robinson: A life in..           Graeme Truelove                            Biography

4. Road Ends                                          Mary Lawson                                    Fiction

5.  Humanity’s Saving Grace              Alex Binkley                                       Sci-Fi

6.  The War that ended the Peace  Margaret MacMillan                       History                 

7.  How we lead: Canada in a…          Joe Clark                                              Politics

8.  The Longer I’m Prime Minister..              Paul Wells                               Biography

9.  Dear Life                                              Alice Monro                                       Fiction

10. Troubled Pilgrimage: Passage..  Balwant Bhanega                             Biography

11. The Luminaries                                 Eleanor Catton                                  Fiction

12. The Orenda                                        Joseph Bryden                                  Fiction

13. A Message for the Emperor          Mark Frutkin                                      Fiction

14. The Forgotten                                   Nathan Greenfield                          History

15. A Crack in the Pavement              Georgie Binks                                    Fiction

16. Hellgoing: Stories                             Lynn Coady                                       Fiction

17. The Massey Murder                       Charlotte Gray                                  Fiction

18. An Astronauts guide to..               Chris Hadfield                                    Biography

19. More than Cash Flow                     Julie Broad                                          Economy







November Newsletter

We’re all set for the pre-Christmas rush with over 6000 books in stock and more on the way. Come in and take a look and maybe you’ll find that perfect gift, possibly even for yourself! You can also browse on our e-store website and order other books from our suppliers. There is now a search station in the store too. We have new electronic gift cards which can be purchased at the store or on-line. To cope with the rush, we’ve added another staff member, Stephanie, who has a lot of bookstore experience.

In November and December we have many special events –book signings and book readings. It’s always interesting to meet the authors. We’ve added a calendar page to the website so that you can see all the events well in advance. Our Books and Brew series has been an outstanding success so far with sold-out sessions in many cases. The series is held at the Clocktower Pub next door. You can buy the books at a discount and there is a discount (15%) on dinner if you also buy one of the Clocktower brews. Early reservations are recommended. In December, the series switches to Sunday nights with dinner suggested for 5.30p.m. The December schedule is

Dec. 1                    Denise Chong                    “Lives of the Family”

Dec 8                     Mark Abley                         “Conversations with a Dead Man”

Dec 15                   Robert Sibley                     “The way of the 88 Temples”

A new series will begin in January.

We have just posted our 20 best sellers for the month of October (see the posting below)– headed by Charlotte Gray’s “The Massey Murder” for the second month in a row.  Once again history and biography dominate the list but there are a few surprises too. This month we might expect Lynn Coady’s Giller Prize winner “Hellgoing” to head the list.

Drop in for a visit and enjoy the friendly neighbourhood atmosphere of Books on Beechwood. Please note that we are open on November 11th but only after 1.00p.m.