Book of the Week: ‘Naji and the Mystery of the Dig’ by Vahid Imani

Naji andthe mystery of the dig is the highly engaging tale of a day in the life of Naji,an eight year old girl growing up in Persia. Author Vahid Imani has crafted a book which is sure to hold the interest of young readers while offering a rare and enchanting glimpse into the fascinating culture of Persia.  
Children’s Literary Classics

There’s a deep, dark hole in Naji’s yard and it’s full of secrets. But will the girl’s curiosity lead her to answers, or disaster?  

When Naji wakes to a strange sound she discovers a group of workers digging a hole just outside her room. Filled with intrigue, she wonders what they’ll find at the bottom. Sleeping monsters? Skeletons and curses? Her father warns her to stay away. The worksite is no place for a child, and if she isn’t careful, she’ll be snatched up by a Looloo; mythical creatures that lurk in the shadows.

Summoning her courage, Naji decides to investigate—until a terrible event leaves the whole neighborhood panicking. Have the terrifying Looloos struck again? As it turns out, the answer is far more surprising than Naji and her father could ever imagine.  

Based on a true story, this award-winning middle-grade chapter book includes a glossary, study projects, and discussion questions. Join Naji on a suspense-filled exploration of Persian culture and folklore as she learns that sometimes, the best adventures are waiting right under your nose.

Winner of a Gold award in 2015 from The Children’s Literary Classics.
Winner of 2015 Best In Category: Cultural Issues Preteen from The Children’s Literary Classics.
Winner of 2015 Best In Category: Best First Chapter Book from The Children’s Literary Classics.

Find out more about Naji and the Mystery of the Dig at 
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About the Author

Vahid Imani was born and raised in Tehran, Iran, and made the United States his home in 1979. Coming from an old civilization, he is fascinated by ancient cultures and archeology. He earned a master’s degree from Gonzaga University’s School of Business, Spokane Washington, in 1980. An enthusiast of fine art, he has been creating music, poetry and stories since he was seven years old. He is father of three children and grandfather of three (so far). Currently, when he is not dreaming about his next book, he is teaching music and classical guitar to children of all ages.

Reader Reviews: 

Great kids book
A wonderful book! A charming story that introduces readers to the Persian culture. The study guide in the back of the book adds the educational aspect of this mystery novel. I highly recommend this book for every child’s bookshelf. 
Kellie Henkel 5.0 out of 5 stars 
Reviewed in the United States on January 7, 2021


Great book for third grade
I teach third grade. After my students read an opening Reading unit with a couple of tales from Aladdin, this book was a perfect Real Aloud for students after lunch. They really enjoyed the aspect of the ‘mystery’ and the tales of Naji, an eight year old girl from mid 20th century Persia. It was fascinating and culturally rich with wonderful sensory imagery. My students are looking forward to a sequel. I really enjoyed the book myself and it presents a wonderful slice of city life in Tehran 80 years ago.
Gilson 5.0 out of 5 stars 
Reviewed in the United States on December 12, 2020

Book Review: ‘Nix Alba: Vita In Morte: A Snow White Vampire Novelette’ by Lanie Goodell

The much beloved fairy tale of Snow White gets a cold, dark twist in this paranormal reinvention by Lanie Goodell. Many elements of the story remain the same, although the reader experiences a heightened sense of sinister suspense as Snow’s true nature is revealed to the reader.

This is definitely not the Disney or children’s storybook version of the story, harking back to the macabre intensity of the fairy tale’s earliest form while adding additional original twists to the tale.

Comfortably read in under an hour, this story was both interesting and darkly entertaining without being too mentally demanding.

Book Review: ‘Severn’ by S.E. Turner

Although ‘Severn’ is book 9 in The Kingdom of Durundal series, there is absolutely nothing repetitive or predictable about this book. The author has cleverly and covertly woven discreet threads of the earlier narrative into this story, concealing the intricacy of the narrative until the story carries the reader to the well-crafted moment of revelation in which the connections and relationships become clear and crystallise.

This is a tale of strength and survival, of brotherhood and friendship, and of death and destiny. Different narratives interweave and blend together, keeping the reader fully engaged in Severn’s story. It is an enthralling story which moves at an exciting pace and is very hard to put down once started.

The cast of characters are varied and vibrant, with powerful and relatable motivations and interests. The settings are portrayed so vividly that the reader can almost feel the snap of the wind in their face or the crackle of a fire as it burns.

Turner’s craft as an author is so finely honed that readers who are new to this series can easily read ‘Severn’ as a standalone, and then enjoy the earlier books in the series without having received significant spoilers.

‘Severn’ is a highly recommended read.

Book Review: ‘Newcomer’ Elmwick Academy Book 1 by Emilia Zeeland

This first book in the Elmwick Academy series delivers a refreshing change to the “you’re a witch, here’s a wand, there’s a school of magic” trope that has become so popular. It’s an excellent  and highly original YA paranormal story that is engaging and interesting for YA and older readers alike.

‘Newcomer’ introduces Cami O’Brien, a 16 year old who faces a unique challenge: she already knows what her legacy and powers are, but she must learn to control and use them before they destroy her and everyone she cares about.

This is not just a story of challenge and magic, but also one of friendship and loyalty among unlikely allies.

Elmwick seems to be a town like any other, yet it is populated by a unique mix of people who reflect both their individual qualities and their family histories in their actions and motivations.

The writing is excellent and the story moves at a good pace. The story is unpredictable and exciting, delivering some most intriguing twists. The book finishes with sufficient resolution to be satisfying while leaving some questions to be answered in the next book in the series.

Book Review: ‘Lonely Hearts Complex: A Tombora Springs Novella’ by S.K. Wee

Part murder mystery, part personal journey, ‘Lonely Hearts Complex’ is an interesting and authentic read that immerses the reader in the lives of the Ruth, Riley and Marshall, residents of Tombora Springs.

The characters are diverse, likeable and engaging. Their personal stories keep the reader intrigued and maintain a good level of excitement and suspense as the narrative continues.

This book is comfortably read in a couple of hours and delivers a most enjoyable contemporary light mystery read. 

New Release: ‘Then and There Here and Where’ – Orabella the Oracle Saga Book 1

Then and There, Here and Where is a new release YA novel by Esabella Strickland which has appeared #1 on Amazon’s hot new release list. 

The main character of the book; Orabella has a learning disability while learning to become a heroine. Esabella’s goal is to have girls feel connected and empowered by Orabella. The story presents positive values for teens, including powerful messages about individuality, bullying and making good choices.

Fresh out of middle school, 12-year-old Orabella thought the worst of her worries would be choosing between going to high school and being homeschooled—between sticking with her friends or being free from the bullying she receives because of her learning disability. But she soon discovers that the world she knew, school included, isn’t what it seems. An eerie encounter with a mysterious raven during the Summer Solstice Festival—and the sudden disappearance of her parents soon after—forces her to move in with her grandparents, where strange occurrences happen more and more often. When Oreballa stumbles upon a family secret with roots in Ancient Egypt, she’s thrust into a world of ancient spirits, time-traveling, and, most importantly, the Tree of Life, a spiritual entity that maintains the stability of the entire universe.Newly aware of her true destiny, Orabella must learn to shed her self-doubt and insecurities surrounding her learning disability and adjust to her new role as a protector of humanity and the Tree of Life against the mischievous spirit, Iblis, and his forces of darkness in order to keep the universe in balance and find her parents.

Find out more about this book and its author at www.orabellatheoracle.com

Book Review: ‘Arija and the Burning City’ by Zachary Chopchinski

The third book following ‘Webley and the World Machine’ and ‘Kip and the Grinders’ in Zachary Chopchinski’s Hall of Doors Steampunk adventure series  is another action-packed, highly entertaining adventure story that features Adal, Arija and their friends Kip and Ypsilon as they negotiate a most challenging world full of dark creatures and even darker intentions. 

Chopchinski yet again demonstrates his creativity and humour in his edgy writing, sassy dialogue, and the complexity of the settings and the creatures who inhabit them. This novel, while still full of adrenaline and suspense, also explores some of the characters’ personal issues and motivations, developing more maturity and thoughtfulness amongst the familiar snark and showmanship.

One distinct contrast to the first two books in the series is that there is some sexual content in this book that makes it less suitable for younger readers, and really making it an NA rather than YA novel.

A blend of steampunk and paranormal fantasy, ‘Kip and the Grinders’ is an original and suspenseful story that will keep readers intrigued and entertained.

Book Review: ‘Gone Witching’ Witches of Runesbury Book 1 by Mirren Hogan

The first book in the Witches of Runesbury series featuring Scarlett Oliver, this is an excellent read.

This book offers a fresh and highly original combination of elements that are very popular among readers, yet have been made the author’s own with a unique setting, characters and storyline that are most intriguing and entertaining.

The book is very well written, and hard to put down once started. The narrative develops steadily and delivers some great twists that ensure the story is unpredictable and exciting.

Runesbury is populated by a variety of well-developed and complex character, some of whom the reader is clearly meant to love, and others who are obviously meant to be disliked and distrusted. There are some cleverly tailored red herrings amongst them for good measure, and they certainly help to keep the reader guessing.

All in all, this is a most enjoyable book and I look forward to reading more in the series.

Book Review: ‘The Ghost of Grym: A Short Story’ by Michelle Connor

This is a short Gothic story full of darkness and foreboding, portraying the worst of human nature as the twists reveal themselves. 

Read in less than half an hour, this well-written story provides an intriguing escape that fits into any busy day.

Book Review: ‘Ghost Swifts, Blue Poppies and the Red Star’ by Nathan Dylan Goodwin

Rather than a ‘whodunnit’ kind of mystery, this is a story about particular events of World War I and the consequences of those events for one English family.

Harriet McDougall is not a detective as such, but when she feels the need to find answers about her sons’ experiences in the war, she uses her intelligence, instincts and resourcefulness to investigate until she finds the resolution she seeks. Harriet is a sincere and kind woman whom readers will both like and admire.

The cast of characters is varied and interesting, adding colour, texture and some surprising twists and turns to the story.

This story is very interesting but also quite emotive and challenging, creating a profound effect on the reader. The narrative progresses at a good pace, drawing the reader deeper into Harriet’s quest and into her family as the story unfolds.

This is an excellent story for lovers of both historical fiction and mystery, but also for readers who value remembrance of the fallen.