The Hunter: Awakening by Nicholas Arriaza

Story Summary:

The Hunter: Awakening, is the first of a series of novels that will explore the nature of good and evil and the question of redemption: Is it available to those who have perpetrated great evil? Not long after the theft of a leather-bound book from a hidden hillside tomb in LA, a young hiker inadvertently awakens something fearsome that has been laid to rest some two hundred years ago. Soon after an emaciated, amnesiac man falls from a cliffside trail into the backyard of young, pregnant, neurosurgeon Melisa Castro. The young doctor feels compelled to help the “John Doe” regain his memory. Meanwhile a vampire who no longer has a hunger for blood comes seeking to rectify the awakening only to find himself in the middle of a power struggle within the family Melisa’s fiancé Chris leads. Chris has yet to tell Melisa of his true nature and the fact, she is carrying a werewolf’s baby.

5 Stars San Francisco Book Review

In The Hunter: Awakening, we are introduced to Melisa Castro, a doctor who helps a man who falls onto her property and seems to have amnesia. As she is four months pregnant, she tries to be careful around him, but she finds herself needing to help this mysterious man. Even stranger, when she touches him, she sees visions of things that happened to him in the past, which he can’t even remember. Melisa is slowly drawn into a world of vampires and werewolves and those that hunt them. She discovers that the battle between the Hunter and his prey has been going on for centuries. Melisa begins to realize that the child she carries might not be normal at all and that she might possess some supernatural powers as well. Because of the child she’s carrying, she is in danger from the Hunter. But things aren’t always black and white. The Hunter has been awakened, but he wasn’t supposed to be, and now no one knows how the story will end.

I thoroughly enjoyed this book and look forward to the next in the series. The plot was great. Who doesn’t love a story about werewolves and vampires? If you don’t, you should. Even though Melisa was the main character, I actually liked Aaron, her future brother-in-law, and Ranald the best. Ranald, the sarcastic vampire, was an enjoyable character to read about. I hope that if I ever become one of the undead, I can still keep it light like he does. Aaron makes his brother, Chris, who is the father of Melisa’s child, just look bad. He’s willing to go as far as needed to protect her and her unborn child.

http://sanfranciscobookreview.com/product/the-hunter-awakening/

Amazon Link – http://amzn.to/2poA9Tc

Author Website: https://www.thehuntersaga.com/

Author Bio:
Nicholas Arriaza has worked as a pizza maker, an electrician, a carpenter, a luxury home electronics salesman, and an owner operator of a successful luxury custom home theater design company. He is now a stay at home dad and fantasy writer. He lives with his wife, their infant son, and Pit-Bull Basil in Los Angeles, CA. THE HUNTER: AWAKENING is his first published novel. He is currently working on the second novel of the saga.

Jordan Trail: A trek through history via ancient villages and wild wadis

(CNN)Picture the Appalachian Trail in California, or the Camino de Santiago in Spain.

That’s the Jordan Trail, and only a slice of it.
The 650-kilometer trail takes about 40 days to complete, starting at the northern tip of Jordan in the city of Umm Qais and ending in Aqaba in the south, where hikers meet the country’s only coastline.
    Jordan is more than just desert, and the cross-section of the nation that the Jordan Trail cuts through is a tour de force in diversity.

    ‘Unique experience’

    Hikers move through four ecosystems, defined by lush and fertile valleys in the north, then on to rugged canyons along the Dead Sea, waterfalls and hot springs in the semi-arid central regions, and finally towards the famed Wadi Rum desert in the south.
    The trail takes old Roman and Ottoman roads through Petra, the Nabatean city that is as famed as it is mystical, and which dates back to about 300 BC. Today, it’s the postcard picture of Jordan.
    Officially opened in February 2017, the Jordan Trail is being billed as a new tourism initiative pegged on inclusivity. The route features 52 local villages, which hikers use as points of lodging, providing business opportunities for towns newly introduced to the tourism trade.
    Trekker Olivia Mason, 25, from Glasgow, Scotland — among the trail’s first hikers — says the route opens up new experiences.
    “We stayed with one family in Khirbet Al Souq and we were only their second guests,” she tells CNN.
    “They gave us their whole house to sleep in and moved in with relatives nearby. We talked with the family about their lives and the area, and in the morning we watched the children go to school in their uniforms. It is these encounters that make the trail a really unique way to experience Jordan.”

    New tourism

    Often classified as an adventure trail, the tour is more suitable for those in strong physical condition, but is still open to a large range of hikers.
    Mahmoud Bdoul, one of the guides along the Jordan Trail, has been taking tourists through Petra for 10 years, and says the trail offers a great escape from the trappings of modernity.
    “When you complete the trail and arrive in Aqaba, you realize the noise of cars has been absent from your life for a month,” Mahmoud said last year after doing the first technical walk-through for the hike.

    Mahmoud was born in a cave in Petra and his Bedouin upbringing introduced him to the peace of the desert at an early age.
    “I spent two years living in the cave where I was born until 1985 when Petra became a UNESCO heritage site,” he says. “The government made an agreement with my Bedouin clan and we moved out of the caves to a new village built on the north side of Petra.”
    Mahmoud’s village became one of the first beneficiaries of the tourism trade in Jordan.
    “The people in my village, as traditional Bedouins, used to depend on goat-herding and growing agricultural crops, such as parsley, wheat and olives,” he adds.
    As a student of sustainable tourism, Mahmoud believes the most vivid memories hikers will take away will be of the people they meet.
    “Visitors will be surprised with the hospitality of Jordanians,” says Mahmoud. “The trail really lets the trekkers enjoy dealing directly with locals in their Jordanian environment, seeing them in their villages and experiencing their daily lives.”
    As Mason completes one of the first publicly open walk-throughs of the trail, she’s living the experience first-hand.
    “There is so much history throughout the trail, of course including Petra, but also sites such as Ajloun Castle, Karak Castle and Iraq Al Amir,” she says.
    “But the culture, too, shines, whether through the homestays where local food is always eaten or people that always welcome you into their home.
    “Everyone always says that if you stopped for everyone who offered a cup of tea on the trail, you’d never finish.”

    Jordan Trail highlights

    Um Qais
    This northernmost point of the Jordan Trail sets hikers off into a panorama that isn’t often associated with the country, let alone the Middle East.
    Verdant forests filled with the sounds of birds and farm animals greet your early footsteps along the route.
    The northeast corner of the nation is where most of the country’s population is located and there are lots of villages along the way, as well as Bedouin herders who mush their goats and sheep with authority.
    This region is truly the most representative of the overall Jordanian population, yet the least known to foreigners.
    Wadi Mujib
    This wadi — the Arabic word for valley — cuts through a central section of the Three Wadis region and opens up on to the Dead Sea.
    The area is a designated reserve, and contains a number of migratory bird species that are popular among bird-spotters.
    During the spring and summer seasons, Wadi Mujib’s canyons fill with water, creating mild rapids you can float down.
    Wadi Hasa
    In south-central Jordan, hikers pass through Wadi Hasa, an area filled with limestone waterfalls and babbling brooks.
    The water from these rivers is used by local farmers, who can be seen growing a host of vegetables, including tomatoes and melons.
    Wadi Hasa also has historical value. The valley, known in Hebrew as Zered, is mentioned in the Torah and the Old Testament, especially the books of Deuteronomy and Numbers, as the place where the Israelites camped on their final approach to Moab.
    Petra and Wadi Rum
    The crown jewels of Jordan’s tourism industry, Petra and Wadi Rum are the highlight of Jordan’s southern desert heartland.
    Here, geology is a natural form of art that shows off its dazzling skills in swirls of sandstone painted in russet palettes on rocks.
    Homestays in Jordan have traditionally been most popular here, where visitors can camp out with Bedouins and ride camels across the mountainous desert of Wadi Rum, living out their own personal reenactment of “Lawrence of Arabia” (which was also filmed here).

    Read more: http://www.cnn.com/2017/05/17/travel/jordan-trail-trekking-highlights/index.html

    Rage and Mercy: Part One by Scott Dresden

    Story Summary
    “This thrilling book delivers a violent tale that is ultimately as surprising as it is gruesome.” Kirkus Review Sayer didn’t expect his life to go any further than wherever his wealthy clients told him to drive to, until he worked for Diana Westcherry. The young, beautiful, epileptic woman stubbornly imposes her kindness on Sayer, exposing a life that could’ve been, if she’d been his mother. Through Diana, Sayer learns that nothing determines a man’s life more than the mother he was born from. And when drug fiends murder her for purse change, Sayer will slaughter all of them to immortalize her, the mother he was denied. But knowing now that the greatest gift a father could give his child is choosing the mother of his child, he abducts Amanda to create the child he was supposed to be. Rage and Mercy is the story of Amanda and Sayer. Amanda is a born again Christian on a mission to shepherd lost souls to God. Sayer is her black kidnapper, determined to give his future child the white, Christian mother he never had. While there is nothing Sayer wouldn’t do for his future child, Amanda must discover if she can endure impossible horrors to prove that no child of God is beyond redemption.

    4.5 Stars San Francisco Book Review

    https://sanfranciscobookreview.com/product/rage-and-mercy-part-1/

    Scott Dresden’s Rage and Mercy: Part One is an intricate fictional work that will engross a reader’s attention start to finish. The murder of Diana, a young, virtuous woman, triggers Sayer, her former driver to embark on the systematic extermination of an unwanted population of drug addicts, referred to as “fiends.” The novel follows Sayer, Diana, Norris, and Adams, the detectives investigating the murders, Margot, a photographer who stumbles across the story, and Amanda, an entwined acquaintance of Diana. Reflective one-liners pop up throughout the narrative, offering thought-provoking concepts, such as “’Catch the devil before you cuff the suspect’” and “’…the most consequential decision a father can ever make for his child is to choose the mother who bears it, and the best fathers do not ask permission or apologize for what they do for their children. I became wealthier than nearly everyone by yielding to no one but my family.’”

    Each chapter incorporates another layer to titillate and enthrall readers. Dresden’s work requires a mature audience to appreciate and comprehend the graphic material woven throughout the novel. Dresden boldly engages the themes of rape and murder in a very candid, up-front manner, while avoiding the tendency of some authors to romanticize the acts. Moreover, he considers these themes through the lens of motherhood in a manner not typically utilized. Readers will have to decide for themselves the character, composition, and impact of a “good” mother. Situations like this arise throughout the narrative, encouraging readers to reconsider self-determined truths, like where the boundary between good and evil truly falls. Readers may find themselves sympathizing with, or even rooting for, the vigilante as he tries to avenge the honorable life stolen before its time.

    Rage and Mercy: Part One will leave readers on the each of their seats anxiously awaiting the next installment of Dresden’s premier work. Clearly identified as Part One, the novel leaves many questions unanswered at the close of the first installment. How deep into the story will Margot probe? What will happen to Amanda after she escapes captivity? Will Sayer walk away before his vendetta consumes him? We can only hope Scott Dresden does not delay. Rage and Mercy: Part One weaves an elaborate narrative of deceit, desire, hope, and destruction that many readers will instantaneously begin again. Ideal for sunny days at the beach or stormy nights with some popcorn, this book will prove an excellent addition to any adult’s reading list.

    Amazon Link – http://amzn.to/2rOUTG3

    Gideon: The Sound and The Glory

    Story Summary:

    Unsung heroes and murderous villains, hidden forever in ancient shadows, now leap to life – blazing onto the pages of revelation. Gideon, a lowly woodcutter, is blessed by an angel to be the savior of all Israel. He does not know why or how and shrinks from this dangerous mission. The commandment to conquer the Midian Empire as one man seems all but impossible. But Gideon’s confidence grows as God guides his every step until he stands fearless and faithfully fulfills his destiny as, “A mighty man of valor.” The fierce warriors, burning towers and devastated cities contained in Gideon’s Journey, are but silver threads that weave into a sweeping tapestry of ancient intrigue. Running through and stitching together the entire saga is The Lord of the Covenant, or The Baal-Berith, also known as Gideon’s mysterious Ephod of Gold.

    Manhattan Book Review – 4 Stars
    https://manhattanbookreview.com/product/gideon-the-sound-and-the-glory/

    Barak’s chances of winning the battle of Mount Tabor were slim, very slim. Back in the middle of the 12th century BCE, the Midian Empire with its far larger and stronger army would surely whip the Israelite forces. Then, divine intervention for the worshipers of Adonai, the one God: a mega-storm suddenly appears on the horizon, torrential rain churns up the dusty plain. The idol-worshiping Sisera’s horse-drawn chariots are stuck in the mud and vanquished.

    Ganci’s retelling of the biblical Book of Judges is a page-turner. Generals and kings highlighted in the book’s five sections leap off the pages of the Old Testament, usually acknowledged as a collection of rules and extraordinarily long lists of names.

    While the author’s forward suggests the realm of science-fiction, within a handful of pages the saga’s origin is revealed. After Barak’s demise, his successor, Gideon, the title’s namesake, takes on leadership of the Israelites. Gideon is a complex character. Physically almost a head and shoulders higher than the other “pesky Israelites,” (Joseph Ganci has a wonderful turn of phrase), he is humble and lacks self-confidence, characteristics which enhance his appeal. Hopefully it is not sacrilegious to compare him with Kirk Douglas in his heyday. He falls deeply in love with Drumah, despite being forbidden to consort with a daughter of the Canaanite enemy. After he “harvest[s] the fruit of her passion” and she spends time hidden in a cave, eventually the rules are bent and she becomes his concubine.

    Gideon’s strength and reputation swell until, when he dies, he is mourned by his seventy sons. Abimelech takes the reins. He is emphatically not a chip off the old block, a thoroughly nasty bit of work who kills all but his youngest brother (who escapes) and tries to unite in one kingdom both the idol-worshipers and the Israelites, an absolute travesty.

    This is ancient history from a twenty-first century perspective. And it works! Once Abimelech is decapitated, the story accelerates. Further intrigue culminates with the leadership of Eli, the young high priest, who takes the reader from the final pages of the Book of Judges to the first Book of Samuel.

    https://www.amazon.com/dp/B01N4LNPMU

    Gringo By Dan “Tito” Davis

    Story Summary:

    Dan “Tito” Davis comes from a town in South Dakota that’s so small everyone knows their neighbor’s cat’s name. But once he got out, he made some noise. While at the University of Nevada-Las Vegas, he started manufacturing White Crosses, aka speed, and soon had the Banditos Motorcycle Club distributing ten million pills a week. After serving a nickel, he got into the weed game, but just when he got going, he was set up by a childhood friend. Facing thirty years, Davis slipped into Mexico, not knowing a word of Spanish, which began a thirteen-year odyssey that led him to an underground hideout for a MedellIn cartel, through the jungles of the Darien Gap, the middle of Mumbai’s madness, and much more.

    5 Stars San Francisco Book Review – http://sanfranciscobookreview.com/product/gringo/

    https://www.amazon.com/Gringo-Life-Edge-International-Fugitive/dp/1938812840

    Can this slow dating app work in our modern, fast-swipe era?

    Image: appetence / mashable composite 

    Speed is of the essence in our modern age of fast-swipe online dating. So much so that the process of swiping, matching, and chatting can feel like a race to to that great (or not so great, depending) finish line we call a date.

    But a brand new dating app wants people to take things slow real slow, in fact using the ancient art of conversation to seduce matches. It’s pretty groundbreaking stuff for those getting by with the odd “DTF?” message on Tinder.

    Appetence, which is free to download on iOS from the iTunes store and claims to be the world’s first “slow dating” app, forces users to talk to each other before they can see each other’s profile pictures.

    How so? Upon downloading the app, users are asked to select a bunch of their interests and tastes relating to music, gastronomy, movies, TV, books, and even pets. The app’s “slow matchmaking” algorithm then shows you compatible profiles based on your interests and search settings.

    Unlike Tinder, Bumble, and basically every other dating app out there, the app won’t just show you photos of your match. You have to earn that privilege by talking to them. When you first start conversing with your match, your profile photo appears entirely covered by a pattern.

    Image: rachel thompson / mashable

    Image: rachel thompson / mashable

    As you chat with your match you have the opportunity to like the messages or “encounters” they send you. The more you like, the more pieces of your profile photo are revealed. But it’s not easy. Your match needs 50 likes in order to see your full profile photo. And you, in return, need 50 likes to see theirs. Which means you’ll both need to have some serious banter.

    This slow approach to dating is certainly novel in a world where speedy swipes are based largely on profile photos, and you can kind of see the point: “Unfortunately, our society today promotes relationships with increasingly fragile ties. ‘Fast Dating’ has made many women and men tired of not feeling special,” says Appetence founder Camilla Forsell.

    “The conversations have become monotonous and similar, and having a ‘Match’ is no longer as exciting as the first few times,” Forsell continues, adding that she wants people to “seduce” one another using just “their way with words.” Hmmm.

    But, the real question is: Do people really have the time and patience to invest in a protracted conversation with someone you might not actually fancy? In the age of fast swiping, most of us just want to get in and get out of dating apps as soon as possible. And for most of us, actually seeing someone is part of that equation.

    Read more: http://mashable.com/2017/05/10/slow-dating-app-appetence/

    The Uncanny Valley by S.W. Campbell – Interesting Book

    Story Summary: We all know a Paul. A person who seems to see stuff that isn’t there. The type the polite call quirky and the blunt call nuts. Conspiracies? He’s got a few. He’s got his finger on how the world really works. He knows what kind of shit is coming down the pipe. Flee across the West Texas desert to Mexico? Makes sense to him. Feel like you’re being watched? You bet your ass someone is watching. Best turn off your cell phone. Troubles? Of course, that’s just part of life. Doubts? No time for doubts. Shit is getting real. Get in, buckle up, crack open a beer. The only real question is, how far down the rabbit hole are you willing to follow? Paul is an every man gone off the rails. Fearing the tightening noose of government surveillance he sets out with his family on a twisting psychological jaunt to break free of society’s restrictions, no matter what the cost. Hero and villain. Culprit and victim. Paul is stuck in a world he wants no part of. Sacrifices are made and connections are severed. As his world collapses around him, Paul perseveres in his quest, unsure about his way forward, but increasingly feeling that there is no way for him to turn back.

    5 Stars Seattle Book Review https://seattlebookreview.com/product/the-uncanny-valley/

    Amazon Link – http://amzn.to/2rfCeGx

    book reviewing for fee

    Vanity Reviews Versus Fee-For-Review

    Probably one of the most controversial topics still in the book publishing industry is the idea of an author (or publicist) paying for a review of their book. It’s an offshoot of the self-publishing versus publishing industry argument that comes from the old vanity presses of the past.

    A vanity press, for the younger readers, was a publishing company that would charge an author for the entire print run of a book. The publisher might make attempts to sell the book, but their profit had already been taken in the print run of the book (and sometimes ongoing storage fees of the unsold books). The publisher often kept rights to the book, provided little to no support (cover design, marketing, etc.), or charged excessive fees for those services. The books usually didn’t go through an approval or editing process, the only things required being a manuscript and the money to pay the publisher.

    So, the stigma of the vanity press was a hold-over into the era of self-publishing. While many of the vanity press companies morphed into self-publishers, other companies truly did provide a cheap, effective way for an author to get a book into print and platforms to sell it to an audience apart from the traditional publishing route. And even with many self-publishing authors reaching best-seller status with their books, there still is, in the book industry, that same lingering stigma of the vanity press for self-publishers.

    Leading from that is the issue of paying for reviews. As more print publications reduced or eliminated their book sections, the competition for authors and publishers to get attention for books escalated. So, in 2001, ForeWord Reviews launched Clarion Reviews, which charged a fee to provide a review for a book. From there, fee-for-review services popped up, and with the rise of Amazon, services that would provide as many 5-star reviews for your book or product as you could afford.

    Over the years, paid review services have become more acceptable, though still controversial to some. Even Kirkus Reviews, the oldest book review service in the U.S., has a paid version for authors or publishers that can’t be reviewed through general submission. But the sigma of the vanity press has also rolled over into the fee-for-review programs. And in some cases, for good reason.

    For every professional review company offering a neutral, professional review for a fee, there is another company offering a glowing 5-star review for a fee. While they couch their program in vague generalities about placing a book with the perfect reader or that they only release 4- and 5-star reviews, they’re really just going to write up a review guaranteed to make the author happy. Kirkus reviewers have always been anonymous, so they have the freedom to say what they think without potential retribution, and because fee-for-reviews isn’t the primary income stream for Kirkus, they also don’t need an author to be happy with a glowing review so they’ll come back with the next book the author writes.

    Publisher’s Weekly moved away from their old PW Select program where self-published authors had to pay a fee to get a chance (25%) of a review, and now just charges authors for a database listing and some general promotion of their book within the PW and BookLife ecosystem.

    One good sign if a review program is more “vanity” than “fee:” does the company review any other books or only books they’re paid to review? Much like the vanity publishers whose only business model was being paid by authors to publish their book, not sell the book to bookstores or the public for the author, vanity review services only review books they’ve been paid to review. That creates both the impression that they’re only in the business of providing “feel good” reviews for authors and getting them to come back book after book, but also reduces the credibility of the review to bookstores, libraries, and other readers.

    Reasons to pay for a review:

    1. It can get you that first review to kick-start your marketing and to give you something to include on your book cover and media kit (if you get the review done pre-publication).

    2. You’re looking for an independent, critical look at your book, outside of your friends and family who have read it so far.

    3. Your local newspaper or media outlets don’t do local book reviews (or any book reviews).

    4. You need a professional book review (or several) to get your local bookstores or libraries to carry the book or set up a local author appearance for you.

    Things to watch out for:

    1. The fee-for-review service only reviews books they’ve been paid to review, or the majority of the books they review are paid reviews.

    2. They don’t review books and authors you don’t recognize (all of the books reviewed are self-published or very small press).

    3. Industry professionals recognize and recommend the service and don’t get a referral fee for sending business to them (not something easy to discover, but an important issue).

    Make sure you get a review that is accurate, honest, and reflects a good general view of the book and isn’t a generic three-sentence review that could have been generated by reading the back cover or a couple of other reviews online.

    The only companies that I can find that do more than just fee-for-review, i.e. the majority of the reviews done are not paid for by authors are (in order of when they began offering the service as far as I can tell):

    1. Forward Reviews
    2. City Book Review
    San Francisco Book Review
    Manhattan Book Review
    Seattle Book Review
    Kids’ BookBuzz
    3. Kirkus Indie Reviews

    Places that only review books for a fee:

    1. Indie Reader
    2. Self-Publishing Review
    3. Blue Ink Reviews

    How much would fictional houses cost in real life?

    (CNN)From Great Gatsby’s luxury estate to Count Dracula’s Transylvanian lair and Amelie Poulain’s tiny Parisian pad, the houses in which our favorite fictional characters reside are often inspired by real-life properties.

    CNN tracked down some of literary and cinematographic history’s most famous post codes and calculated their value in today’s property markets. Use the slider tool to reveal their prices.

    The Great Gatsby (1925), F. Scott Fitzgerald

      Great Gatsby’s home in F. Scott Fitzgerald’s novelis a symbol of1920s wealth in America.
      “In his blue garden men and girls came and went like moths among the whisperings and the champagne and the stars,” the narrator says of Gatsby’s buzzing property.
      One of the properties thought to have inspired Fitzgerald — and director Baz Luhrmann’s 2013 film adaptation, the source of the image above — is the Beacon Towers in Great Neck, Long Island, near where the author lived between 1922 and 1924, and wrote the first three chapters of the novel.
      Demolished in 1945, the Gothic building had belonged to suffragette and architectural designer Alva Belmont, who threw opulent parties for the city’s elite.
      All this history combined with literary fame, would have further upped the mansion’s price today, says associate broker Maggie Keats of Douglas Elliman Real Estate.

      Master and Margarita (1967), Mikhail Bulgakov

      The famous, morbid ball scene in Bulgakov’s novel was partly inspired by wild parties held at the Spaso House, the US ambassador to Russia’s residence since 1933.
      Bulgakov and his wife attended one such revelry in 1935, where live pheasants, baby bears, goats and roosters mingled with guests in smoking jackets and ball dresses.
      According to Savills global real-estate agent, the value of the Spaso House today puts it in the top 5% of Moscow’s real estate.
      Despite this, the US government paid $3 per year between 1990 and 2004 to rent the building — this fixed price was set by a Soviet-era contract, which devalued after the collapse of the USSR. The rent has since changed but is a secret.

      Sherlock Holmes,Sir Arthur Conan Doyle

      When Conan Doyle wrote his detective series, the real Baker Street in London stopped in the 100s — 221B didn’t exist.
      When the street was renumbered in the 1930s, the Abbey National Building Society bank was assigned the notorious number 221.
      The bank received so many letters addressing the famous detective that it hired a secretary to respond to the queries.
      A dispute over whether the Sherlock Holmes Museum — located at 239 Baker Street, and opened in 1990 — or the bank should receive such letters was resolved in 2002, when the bank left the building.
      The Holmes Museum, which emulates the detective’s home, is technically located between 237 and 241 Baker Streetalthough special permission from the City of Westminster allowed it to list its addressas 221b.
      The property’s current exorbitant price tag may have proved challenging even for the celebrity detective, due to the explosion of London’s property market over the past 20 years.

      Pippi Longstocking, Astrid Lindgren

      The nine-year-old Swedish children’s book heroine Pippi lives in Villa Villekulla with a monkey, Mr Nilsson, and a horse who is usually found on the porch. One of the house’s main treasures is the tree that grows Swedish soda water.
      The house pictured above, built for the 1969 Swedish TV series based on Lindgren’s books, is now the Pippi Longstocking Museum located at the heart of an attraction parkin the small town of Kneippbyn on Sweden’s Gotland Island.

      In the Mood For Love (2000), Wong Kar-wai

      The two small flats where this movie plays out shape the plot and atmosphere of this classic romance, as neighbors Chow Mo-wan and Su Li-zhen learn that their spouses are having an affair.
      The typically cramped Hong Kong properties reflect the characters’ lack of privacy — they are constantly spied upon by other neighbors and their landlords — and are a catalyst for them falling in love.
      But there is also a political context. By the early 1960s — the era depicted in the film — thousands of Shanghai exiles had moved to Hong Kong, especially to the North Point neighborhood.
      Many of them were wealthy business people (like Su’s husband) and intellectuals (such as Chow), and expecting their move to be temporary they led a separate life to locals, which explains the characters’ sense of alienation.
      Engel & Vlkers estimated the value based on the cost of an average 861-square-foot (80sqm)flat in a traditional walk-up in North Point, Hong Kong.

      One Hundred Years of Solitude (1967), Gabriel Garca Mrquez

      The house in which generations of the Buenda family live, love and die in the fictional village of Macondo was inspired by Nobel laureate Gabriel Garcia Marquez’s grandparents’ home in Aracataca, Colombia, where the author grew up.
      “Neither my mother nor I, of course, could even have imagined that this simple two-day trip (to sell my grandparents’ house) would be so decisive that the longest and most diligent of lives would not be enough for me to finish recounting it,” Marquez wrote about his trip to the house as a young man in his autobiography “Living to Tell the Tale”.
      Based on Marquez’s writings, Colombia’s Ministry of Culture in 2010 spent $350,000 reconstructing the house — which had been demolished — and opened it as a museum in the author’s name.

      Dracula (1897), Bram Stoker

      The Bran Castle in Brasov, which is now owned by the Romanian royal family, is generally associated with the famous vampire Dracula, and consequently receives 800,000 visitors a year.
      But there isn’t any historical evidence to support the myth around Bran. Built in the early 13th century by the Teutonic knights, the castle has no concrete link to Vlad Tepes — the Wallachian medieval king who inspired Stoker’s vampire. While Tepes ordered the killing of many Saxons in Brasov, it is not known if he ever stepped foot in the castle.
      Nevertheless, Forbes magazine deemed the property to be the most expensive European home in 2007.
      Romanian real estate agents Transylvanian Properties used that figure to make their estimate, taking into account subsequent renovations and extensions.

      Amlie, (2001), Jean-Pierre Jeunet

      This film’s whimsical depiction of contemporary Parisian life revolves around Amlie Poulain, a shy waitress who lives in a tiny Montmartre flat.
      With its crimson walls, replica Renaissance paintings, and pig-shaped bedside table lamp, the flat reflects Amlie’s cheekiness and charm.
      The neighborhood is part of the 18th arrondissement, in north Paris, near the Sacre-Coeur basilica, the Moulin Rouge cabaret and a Dali museum. Montmartre became famous as an artists’ hub, where the likes of Pablo Picasso and Vincent Van Gogh lived, attracted by the cheap rents.
      But this is not the case anymore — the general increase in property prices across Paris, as well as tourism and the municipal renovations in the area, led to a 260% increase in property prices from 2000 to 2016, according to MeilleursAgents.
      Amlie set locations are part ofthe tourists’ route, and the film might have played a role in the neighborhood’s property price rise.

      Out of Africa (1937), Karen Blixen

      In her memoir, Danish author Blixen described in detail the Nairobi farmhouse in which she lived from 1917 until 1931 — a description which later informed the 1985 film of the same name starring Meryl Streep.
      After Blixen’s return to Europe, the house had multiple owners until in 1964 the Danish government bought it and gave it to the Kenyan government as an independence gift.
      Initially, the government used the building as a college principal’s home, but it opened it as a museum in 1986, after the success of “Out of Africa” the movie.
      The film, however, was shot in a different house in Kenya, which had previously belonged to Ngina Kenyatta, the widow of the east African country’s first President Jomo Kenyatta.

      And one that really is fictional…

      Hogwarts is the center of the Harry Potter world. Built in the Scottish Highlands in 993 AD, according to JK Rowling’s texts, this old ruined castle features 142 staircases, ample towers, turrets and forests, as well as a quidditch field and lake.
      The Harry Potter films usedseveral locations in England to recreate the magic of Hogwarts, including the banquet hall at Christ Collegeand the Bodleian Library in Oxford, Gloucester Cathedral and Alnwick Castle in Northumberland.
      Because of this, CNN asked a real estate expert to estimate the approximate value of thefictional building only, excluding fields and forests, and assuming it were located in the Scottish Highlands.

      Read more: http://www.cnn.com/2017/04/26/architecture/famous-fictional-houses-one-square-meter/index.html

      The Salad Oil King New Book Review

      From the San Francisco Book Review:

      There’s something about criminal stories that commands our attention. Maybe it’s the chance to look behind the curtain of illegality and see just how someone can manage to pull off a wild scheme. Maybe it’s the curiosity of wondering what goes through someone’s mind and brings them to commit actions the rest of us would never dream of. Whichever the case, the story of Alfonso “Fonso” Gravanese has all the elements needed to be a classic tale of American crime, and it spins out from a master storyteller.

      Full Review Here – http://sanfranciscobookreview.com/product/salad-oil-king/

      Get The Salad Oil King HERE