Tuesday Musings.

Anyone else feeling like this?

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Book Review – Illusions of Fate by Kiersten White

Author – Kiera

 

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“I did my best to keep you from crossing paths with this world. And I shall do my best to protect you now that you have.”

‘Jessamin has been an outcast since she moved from her island home of Melei to the dreary country of Albion. Everything changes when she meets Finn, a gorgeous, enigmatic young lord who introduces her to the secret world of Albion’s nobility, a world that has everything Jessamin doesn’t—power, money, status…and magic. But Finn has secrets of his own, dangerous secrets that the vicious Lord Downpike will do anything to possess. Unless Jessamin, armed only with her wits and her determination, can stop him.’

I know what you’re thinking – we’ve seen this book on thebookspa before! You would be right; I included it in my Favourite Covers post. Well, now I’ve actually read it and I’m very happy to say that the beauty inside the cover matches the outside. I have fallen in love with this book. It was one of those stories that I just wanted to start reading again after I finished the last page. I will definitely be reading this again very soon.

“I’m saving your life!”
“You were ready to give in! I saved my own life. You are simply keeping me company on this leg of my escape.”

 

The main thing I enjoyed about this book was the characters. Jessamin is an amazing protagonist. She is extremely clever, strong minded and funny. I enjoyed the development of her character and seeing her stand up for what she believes in despite the prejudices against her.
Finn. I love Finn. He is a gentleman and a scholar, which is a nice change! He does what is right because he can, and he does it in such a charming way.  Eleanor is Jessamin’s friend, and it is lovely to see how their relationship flourish. There is no jealousy or backstabbing, they are there for each other and the exchanges between them are so fun to read. Also, I would like Sir Bird to be real. If anyone has read this and feels the same, please let me know I’m not completely weird!

The world building is not as in-depth as I would have liked, mainly because there is a lot to go over and the book itself is quite short. I don’t think it lacked anything because of it, but I am greedy and do enjoy more complex world building. Still, it had atmosphere and colour. I also really like the way magic is used and that is explained in depth so you really get a sense of the personally experience each magic user has.

This is a fast paced story, with magic and action from page one – literally! If you are a fan of historical romance or fantasy novels I would really suggest you read this. I will be recommending (nagging until people read it) this to a lot of people.

Book Club Outing – Harry Potter Studio Tour

Author – Laura

At the end of November our Book Club spent the day immersed in the Wizarding World of Harry Potter. Kiera, Hazel, Toni and Laura made the 80 mile trip to Leavesden Studios in a car much less exciting than a flying Ford Anglia. But apart from a small spillage before we even set off we got there in one piece!

Harry Potter Studio Tour Christmas TreeTo say we were excited is a bit of an understatement. The minute we saw the Christmas tree in the foyer that was it.

Feeling festive with our Hogwarts in the Snow badges we joined the queue and managed to get right to the front. I’d like to say we planned it that way, but to be honest we were away with the fairies, high on glitter and baubles. We could have been stood anywhere and it wouldn’t have mattered.

I don’t want to reveal any spoilers, but from the moment we entered the first room (Toni had an extra special birthday treat… ) to the minute we climbed back into the car, tired but happy, we had an incredible time. One of the major highlights was the snow machine. We were drinking Butterbeer, in the snow. It shouldn’t get much more amazing. Except it does. All kinds of amazing.

The shop is expensive, but there are so many fabulous things to buy it would be just wrong to not buy a little something. I fell in love with a pink Pygmy Puff, and Hazel bought enough Chocolate Frogs to feed the whole of Gryffindor common room!

If you’re even a little bit of a fan of Harry Potter then you will love the Tour – it’s worth every penny.

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One can never have enough socks,” said Dumbledore. “Another Christmas has come and gone and I didn’t get a single pair. People will insist on giving me books.”

Well that sounds good to me!

 

 

From everyone here at The Bookspa,

We wish you a very Merry Christmas, and a Happy New Year!

Book Review – Outlander by Diana Gabaldon

Author – Yasmin

‘Claire Randall is leading a double life. She has a husband in one century – and a lover in another. 

In 1945 Claire Randall is back from the war and reunited with her husband on a second honeymoon in Scotland. Innocently she walks through a stone circle in the Highlands, and finds herself in a violent skirmish taking place in 1743. Suddenly she is a Sassenach, an outlander, in a country torn by war and clan feuds.’

I hadn’t heard of this series of books before. Historical romance isn’t normally my thing but I have read a few books like this set in Scotland. Nothing as epic and adventurous as Outlander though!

I discovered the book through the TV series that came out this year (which I loved), and now having read the book and seeing the show I can’t decide which one I like best! The series sticks closely to the book and you get to see all the amazing story lines and characters come to life. In the book you do get a lot more information, and even though it’s told from the main character Claire’s point of view, you get to know the other characters very well.

The book is beautifully written and the story just grabs you and takes you on a whirlwind adventure.

Claire has been married for seven years, but for the past five has been separated from her husband, working as a nurse in France during World War II. They reunite and head to Scotland for a second honeymoon, and so her historian husband can look up his ancestor, who was a Red Coat Dragoon in the British army of King George II.

One night Claire and her husband Frank go to Craigh na Dun to watch a ritual dance by Druids. They go to explore the stones but one of the Druids comes back so they have to leave, and the next day Claire goes back by herself. While there looking for a certain flower she is drawn to one of the stones and when she lays her hands on it something strange and frightening happens. She wakes up on the grass in front of the stone disorientated, and goes back down the hill in search of her car. When she doesn’t find it she continues to wander until she hears gunshots and then finds herself coming face to face with her husband, or so she thinks. Scared and alone Claire tries to run and ends up a being taken by a Highlander to a group of his friends nearby, and this is when she meets war chieftain Dougal MacKenzie, who takes her prisoner thinking her an English spy. This is where she also meets Jamie who’s injured so she helps him.

From her first meeting with Jamie they form a distant yet respectful sort of friendship with each other, but the more time they spend together the closer they become. After lots of suspicion she begins to be accepted at Castle Leoch, home of the MacKenzie clan. Following another horrible meeting with her husbands ancestor, Black Jack Randall, Claire realises that the only way to keep herself safe from being taken by him is by changing her nationality from English to Scottish. The only way to accomplish this is for her to marry a Scot; Jamie Fraser. Although Claire has grown close to him and trusts him, she still loves her husband and wants to find a way back to her own time.

Claire doesn’t find the chance to try to get back to Craigh na Dun, and after spending more time with Jamie,  who is now her husband, she starts to have deep feelings for him.

There is also a very rough time ahead for the Highlanders, as Claire remembers the battle of Culloden which will happen within a year or two, in which the British army practically wipe out the clan. Falling in love with Jamie and all her friends at Leoch she becomes very worried for everyone. How is she supposed to tell them what she knows, what will come and have them believe her instead of being accused as a witch?

This story will take you on a massive adventure, it will pull at your heartstrings, it will frustrate you and it will have you laughing and wanting more. I’m addicted and can’t stop – I’m reading book 5 and still want more!!

 

Christmas Reads.

Author – Kiera

It’s that time of year again, and I couldn’t be happier! I love this time of year. Christmas shopping at different markets, gatherings with friends and loads of yummy food. I also like to find a few Christmas/winter themed books to read snuggled up with a hot chocolate. So I thought I would put a little list together for those who want something to suit the season.

My True Love Gave To Me

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If you love holiday stories, holiday movies, made-for-TV-holiday specials, holiday episodes of your favorite sitcoms and, especially, if you love holiday anthologies, you’re going to fall in love with MY TRUE LOVE GAVE TO ME: TWELVE HOLIDAY STORIES by twelve bestselling young adult writers, edited by international bestselling author Stephanie Perkins.

This is the top of my Christmas to read pile. It has short stories by several of my favourite authors, and i can’t wait to get stuck in!

 

Let It Snow

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Sparkling white snowdrifts, beautiful presents wrapped in ribbons, and multicolored lights glittering in the night through the falling snow. A Christmas Eve snowstorm transforms one small town into a romantic haven, the kind you see only in movies. Well, kinda. After all, a cold and wet hike from a stranded train through the middle of nowhere would not normally end with a delicious kiss from a charming stranger. And no one would think that a trip to the Waffle House through four feet of snow would lead to love with an old friend. Or that the way back to true love begins with a painfully early morning shift at Starbucks. Thanks to three of today’s bestselling teen authors—John Green, Maureen Johnson, and Lauren Myracle—the magic of the holidays shines on these hilarious and charming interconnected tales of love, romance, and breathtaking kisses.

These are three light, fluffy and heart warming stories. What more could you ask for from a Christmas read? It’s also high up on my list to get read in the next week or two.

 

A Christmas Feast by Katie Fforde

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A delicious Christmas feast of short stories from the Sunday Times No. 1 bestselling author of A French Affair and The Perfect Match.

Add some extra sparkle to your Christmas by joining Katie Fforde for a perfect, romantic Christmas feast of short stories. Collected together for the first time and including one brand new story.

Make your Christmas wishes come true…

 

I Heart Christmas by Lindsey Kelk

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Angela’s planning her very own fairytale of New York…

• Enormous Christmas tree
• Eggnog
• Eccentric British traditions
• Gorgeous man

But Santa’s throwing her a few curveballs – new job (as if it’s not mental enough already), new baby-craze from her best friend Jenny, and Alex determined they should grow up and settle down. Once friends start turning up uninvited on her doorstep (and leading her astray), can Angela really have a merry little Christmas? So much for happy holidays – something’s got to give…

These two books are by authors that I really enjoy the work of, and I have no doubt that their festive novels will be no different!

 

The Night Before Christmas

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As St. Nick and eight tiny reindeer descend through a brilliant night sky onto the roof of a Victorian house in a snowy New England village, the famous Christmas poem begins. The father of the family narrates the words just as Clement Moore wrote them, and artist Jan Brett captures the spirit in brilliant illustrations that reflect this memorable night. Visually she extends this favorite Christmas story for children, who will delight in watching the two mischievous stowaways from the North Pole enthusiastically exploring the sacks of gifts on the roof while St. Nick, unaware, journeys down the chimney… until the toys spill down onto the lawn and he turns with a jerk!

I thought I would add this one on the end, as I’m sure I will be reading it daily for the next week! My son really enjoys this one, and you can’t beat a classic.

 

So there are a few of the books I will be trying to get to this Christmas. We would love to hear what you plan on reading during the next few weeks 🙂

Book Review – We Were Liars by E. Lockhart

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Author-Hazel

This weeks review is a little different. Myself and Kiera decided on a whim to ‘buddy’ read We Were Liars. Being my first ever buddy read, I really enjoyed reading this way. We were able to discuss our thoughts and feelings about the story as we read.

To start this review off, here is the books synopsis:-

A beautiful and distinguished family.

A private island.

A brilliant, damaged girl; a passionate, political boy.

A group of four friends – the Liars – whose friendship turns destructive.

A revolution. An accident. A secret.

Lies upon lies.

True love.

The truth.

I’ve got quite a lot to say about this book, so I’m going to break it down. Here goes…

The plot

We Were Liars is a story about a girl, Cady, who suffered a traumatic accident and was left with selective amnesia and terrible migraines. The story is split into sections and the timeline shifts, sometimes without warning, between before, at the time of and after the accident.

There is a huge twist at the end of the story, which I did not see coming, but after you find out the twist, thinking back on the rest of the story, there are clues weaved throughout, but do not seem significant until you find out.

The writing

The story is written in first person narrative which isn’t my favourite but it worked well in this story. The writing was lyrical, poetic and metaphorical at times and I really enjoyed the mini fairy tale re-tellings throughout the book. It is a beautifully written and fast paced novel.

The characters

Although I didn’t relate to any of the characters, they were well fleshed out and they all had their own distinctive personalities. My favourite, I think, was Johnny. He’s quite a playful and funny character.

Things I loved…

The Map – Although not helpful to the story, I still loved it. They do say the greatest stories begin with a map….

The Family Tree – To begin with it confused me, this family tree, but as I read the story it made sense and whilst reading if I forgot who was in whose family line, I just referred to the family tree.

The Metaphors – I’ll admit to start with they confused me, one particular line floored me and I had to re-read the paragraph:-

‘Then he pulled out a handgun and shot me in the chest’.

A fantastic and shocking metaphor for how Cady’s father made her feel when he left her and her mother.

The fairytale re-tellings – Great mini stories all on their own, they made you really think about the politics going on inside of the Sinclair family. They held a moral and thought provoking story in themselves which related brilliantly to Cady’s story.

The mystery – I do love a mystery in a novel. The suspensefulness of the minute clues woven throughout. Sometimes you pick up on them. Sometimes you don’t. I like it when I don’t. As much as I love feeling brilliant when I’ve figured out a story and guessed the plot correctly, I much prefer being totally shocked and gripped to the very end in anticipation of the story’s climax. We Were Liars did that for me, I didn’t see it coming at all.

In conclusion, I loved the story, it was brilliantly written and left me guessing to the very end. My verdict – read it but don’t read any spoilers before you do, it will ruin the experience otherwise!

Over to my fellow buddy reader, Kiera.

I have to say that I really enjoyed reading We Were Liars. The writing style made me feel like I was in the brain of a dramatic, self absorbed and privileged teenager. That being said Cady’s character really appealed to me, and the connection she had with the liars was palpable. I knew going in to this story that it wasn’t going to end the way I thought it would, but even then it took me most of the book to figure out what was happening. This is such a clever story, and you will find yourself thinking about it for quite a while after finishing it and having moments of clarity, or ‘how did I miss that?!’ moments. All in all a very enjoyable read.

Most Anticipated Reads

Author – Yasmin

Burned by Karen Marie Moning

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This is the seventh fever book!

It feel’s like forever that I’ve been waiting for this to come out, but January’s not so far away now!

I love, love, love this series! The author writes an amazing story of family loyalty, heartbreak, adventure and romance with some hilariously awkward moments thrown in and great characters you just want to get to know. The changes and progression of the main character, Mac,  is awesome, she starts of as a young naive pretty girl but through each book you see her gaining strength, learning hard lessons and becoming a kick ass woman. There’s lots of magic, betrayal, secrets, different dimensions, savage beasts and royal Fae and hot as hell alpha males, yum. This is packed full series that won’t leave you bored or disappointed .

The End of Tomorrow by Tara Brown

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The third book in Single Lady Spy series.

This is another book I can’t wait to get my hands on. Tara Brown does an awesome job of weaving lies, secrets and betrayal into this dark romance, in a world where no one is really as they seem. You’ve got drug lords, government secrets, adventure and danger and poor single mum of two. Evie has been out of the CIA for years now looking after her children, but is dragged back into this dangerous world when her husband dies and has been thought to given her something a lot of people want. Evie feels too old for the crap she’s being put through but soldiers on, and I love her character. It’s refreshing to read about a single mum in her late 30’s, who has normal daily problems but can still kick ass and have lots of great dirty sex with a tall, dark and devilishly sexy man! The books are fast paced and lots of fun to read!

Verum by Courtney Cole

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The Nocte Trilogy book two.

I read the first book recently and thoroughly enjoyed it. This is a beautiful and sad story of twin brother and sister who grew up in a funeral home, have very few friends or lives outside themselves or their home. The twin brother has several different forms of mental illness which makes his sister very protective of him, they’re each others best and only friends. The author does a great job of taking you on a sad and dark story through a mind not broken but cracked and drowning in grief, secrets and illusion. Don’t worry it’s not all depressing, there’s romance and happiness too and I can’t wait to continue the story when this book comes out.

High Stakes by Helen Harper

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Bo Blackmen book three.

Ive really enjoyed reading the first two books in this series so far. Set in London you have different houses of vampire that people can sign up for. But once you have there’s no going back. Not an original take on vampires but still refreshing and new in its own way, these books are good fun to read with murder, vamps and demons, witches and all sorts of paranormal creatures. The grey and rainy background of London adds that little something more to some of the darker scenes. Fast paced, action and romance makes this for me a great read and can’t wait for book three.

Book Review – We Are All Completely Beside Ourselves by Karen Joy Fowler

Author – Laura

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Rosemary’s young, just at college, and she’s decided not to tell anyone a thing about her family. So we’re not going to tell you too much either: you’ll have to find out for yourselves what it is that makes her unhappy family unlike any other. Rosemary is now an only child, but she used to have a sister the same age as her, and an older brother. Both are now gone – vanished from her life. There’s something unique about Rosemary’s sister, Fern. So now she’s telling her story; a looping narrative that begins towards the end, and then goes back to the beginning. Twice. 

This is a beautiful book. But its really hard to review properly without revealing a clanger of a spoiler… So bear with me while I share what I can!

The book is narrated by Rosemary Cooke, who is the youngest child in a pretty unorthodox family. Her father is a scientist, who can’t always leave his work at home, and who believes that every negative event should teach a lesson, and her older brother is a fugitive, wanted by the FBI for domestic terrorism. The story follows the lives of Rosemary and her siblings, Lowell and Fern, their eventual disappearance from her life, and the shocking reasons why.

And that, my friends, is about all I can say about the plot!

I loved the writing style. When you first meet Rosemary the narration is really funny – the humour is so dry, and I laughed out loud at times. The further I got into the book the more odd I felt. Because the narrative is light, almost flippant, you don’t realise to start with that this book gets dark. Like, sitting in the corner of a black room with the lights off, dark. It creeps up on you until all of a sudden big fat tears are rolling down your cheeks and you get hiccups. The second half of the book is definitely slower paced than the first, but I defy you to make it to the end without at least a sniffle or two.

It’s hard to pinpoint why, and the feeling is vague, but I think my view of the world has shifted slightly after reading this.

A beautiful, heartbreaking read.

***** Five Stars