Friday Favourites – Worlds We’d Like to Live In.

Author – Kiera.

Laura did an amazing job with her post last week, and I have to say I’m a bit jealous of all the places she chose! I would quite happily live in any of those places. So after a few days thought (and going through most of my reading history)  I have a short list of my own.

 

The Night Circus.

 

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There are so many reasons I would love to live in the Night Circus. It’s beautiful, mystical, magical and many other words that end in ‘al’. I used to love going to the circus as a child, and even though things have changed over the years, I still love them now. Especially in books. There is a picture somewhere of four year old me sitting on an elephant at the circus that used to visit our town each year. Four year olds are fearless! I’m sure I wouldn’t be brave enough to do that now.Most of my clothes are black or white anyway, so no problem there. I’m much more of a night owl than a morning person, and I like traveling on trains (who doesn’t?).  I would quite happily travel the world and explore the Night Circus indefinitely while eating caramel apples, chocolate mice and drinking mulled cider. Meeting new people, discovering new tents filled with wonderful things. All sounds good, right?

 

Wonderland.

There are so many takes on Wonderland, and I have to say I love them all, even the darker versions! Though I will admit it did take me longer than it should have to play through Alice Returns… Scary stuff! I think for purpose of the blog we will assume that I’m going to live in one of the nicer versions. I would love to spend my time drinking tea with the Mad Hatter, or eating jam tarts with the Queen of Hearts. I would try not to make her angry with me though. Wandering around looking for the Cheshire cat and following the White Rabbit… All sounds like fun to me!

 

Rapture.

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Now, this is technically cheating as it’s all based on the game and I do have a stipulation or two to go with it. There is a book set in the same world though, so we’re just going to go with it.

I think Rapture is beautiful place, and while the idea of being in an under water city does terrify me slightly, I think watching all the sea creatures swimming around would be worth it! Also, I would like to make friends with a Big Daddy, better to have them on your side! My stipulation is – I would like to leave before everyone goes crazy on plasmids and splicers wreck the place. I would also try and avoid some of the characters whose sanity isn’t what it used to be….  If you’re not a big gamer I would still recommend the book to you, it is really good in it’s own right, and it might even encourage you to give the game a try.

Wednesday Wonderings

Author – Laura

“I wonder what I should read next…” Pretty much the question I ask myself every time I finish a book.

So imagine my excitement when I found the aptly named site – What Should I Read Next?

It’s really very simple. You just enter the name of a book you like or your favourite author, and the site will search a huge database of books to give you a host of recommendations for what to read next.

I do have a ‘To Read’ list of nearly 400 on Goodreads, but there’s always room for more.

Try it – you might just discover an amazing book you never even knew existed.

Book Club Review – Out of the Easy by Ruta Sepetys.

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It’s 1950, and as the French Quarter of New Orleans simmers with secrets, seventeen-year-old Josie Moraine is silently stirring a pot of her own. Known among locals as the daughter of a brothel prostitute, Josie wants more out of life than the Big Easy has to offer.

She devises a plan to get out, but a mysterious death in the Quarter leaves Josie tangled in an investigation that will challenge her allegiance to her mother, her conscience, and Willie Woodley, the brusque madam on Conti Street. Josie is caught between the dream of an elite college and a clandestine underworld. New Orleans lures her in her quest for truth, dangling temptation at every turn, and escalating to the ultimate test.

 

Author – Kiera.

It was my choice of book this month, and I have had my eye on this book for a while. At first I was a bit hesitant to pick it, as there are mixed opinions on Historical Fiction throughout our group. I had even decided on a different book. After a few firm words from Laura I decided that I was going with this one, and that was that! I’m glad I did, because part of the reason we all wanted to be part of a book club was to discover things we may not have found on our own.

It is a very character driven story, and that was fine by me as each and every character stirred up some kind of emotion. Josie Moraine is our main protagonist, and she is clever, independent, street smart and bookish. She hasn’t had the easiest childhood being the daughter of a prostitute, but because of this she is determined to make a better life for herself.  I loved the relationship between Jo and Willie. You could tell that no matter how frosty she may seem she really loves Jo, and there is something very heart warming about their interactions. Willie was probably my favourite character in the book, she gave her respect to everyone and demanded respect from everyone in return. Her story really was one of making the best out of what you have, and she passed that lesson on to Jo. Along with the loveable characters there are a good few to hate in this book too.

I liked the murder mystery aspect of the story. It was a good old fashion ‘who done it’ type of affair, and 1950’s New Orleans was the perfect setting for it! I found this book to be so atmospheric it was almost like I wasn’t just reading it, but I was there watching everything happen, and that is because of Ruta Sepetys’ amazing writing.

 

Author – Hazel

Historical fiction was one of the few genres that just didn’t appeal to me. I think that because of my poor history GCSE class at secondary school, whenever someone uttered the words ‘Historical Fiction’, I immediately thought of war stories, most predominantly author World War I and II. That class burned away any type of interest or passion I could have had or developed and ever since then I’ve steered clear of anything historical. That being said I absolutely loved this book and it has re-ignited some interest in the genre. This story gave me lots of feels. Sadness, frustration, anger, love! It had some really lovely heartwarming moments that made me feel all warm and smiley and it had some laugh out loud moments; Willie was very funny. It had some moments where I felt so frustrated and angry, not at the story but at some of the characters – I wanted to beat poor Josie’s mother with a stick and chop off John Lockwell’s dirty hands!

The story was beautifully written and paced; there was a mystery and a romance – two of my favourite things in a novel. The characters were all well developed, whether they were prominent in the story or just background ones. My favourites were Willie – she had a sharp tongue and she was tough but she really loved and cared for Josie; Cokie – he sort of adopted Josie as a big brother type, he took care of her and was just a genuinely nice guy; and of course there’s Jesse. I’m always drawn to the bad boy or the loveable rogue, and Jessie was that guy, stunningly handsome, charismatic and good with his hands, what more could you ask for 😉

 

Author – Antonia

I could not put this book down. From start to finish I was really intrigued and drawn in. Each character had lots to bring to the story. Some of them extremely loveable whilst others not so. I really enjoyed watching Josie fight for something she never thought possible and the determination she had. I also loved the bond between Josie and Willie. Willie very much cared for Josie and took her under her wing when her useless mother couldn’t. Cokie was very loyal and caring also – I think he was my favourite character. Then you had John Lockwell, Louise (Josie’s mother) and Cincinnati. I disliked these for different reasons.

I found the book was beautifully written and easy to read. As I’m new to the reading scene I’m open to reading different genres and I enjoyed this one. Good pick Kiera 🙂

 

Author – Laura

I’d like to take a teeny bit of credit for this choice. Mostly because it was brilliant. (If it had been awful I’d have denied all knowledge).

Some books have a really distinct ‘feel’, and this one was warm, sultry and almost comforting. There was so much love, in various forms, that reading it felt like snuggling in your favourite blanket. It was lovely to read a straightforward, standalone story with a clear plot (although the mystery keeps you guessing all the way through).

New Orleans is a vibrant city and the difference between the Quarter and Uptown was really well written. Its like I was there; the smells, the heat, the … all of it. The characters were all well developed, and it was easy to see why Josie felt the way she did about her awful mother. The relationships between Josie and the girls who work for Willie were really touching at times, but my favourite character was Cokie. He is so constant and true, and he loves Josie unconditionally. I loved his unfailing hope and honesty.

Above all this book is about achieving your dreams no matter what your start in life, and I thought it was wonderful.

 

Author – Yasmin

I very much enjoyed reading, Out of the Easy. Right at the start I was pulled in and became interested in Josie’s story.

She doesn’t have the best start in life and with her mother being a selfish and uncaring prostitute, Josie grows up around all sorts of people. Criminals, kleptomaniacs, caring bookshop owners and a tough madam of a brothel. Josie doesn’t let her sad situation stop her from trying to make a better life for herself though and fights for what she wants. I loved her strong personality.

All the trouble starts after a man she meets while working at the bookstore is found dead later that night. And with Josie’s mum back with her old criminal lover tensions and suspicions run high.

The book is very well written and flows nicely. There are plenty of characters to love and have a laugh with, others you’ll hate, and even a sweet pinch of romance. Trust me this story won’t disappoint.

Friday Favourites – Worlds We’d Like to Live In

Author – Laura

I don’t know about you, but I’m happiest with a book in my hand, being transported to somewhere far, far away, even just for half an hour. I love books that take you on a journey, and introduce you to strange and fantastic new worlds and characters.

I’ve picked three of my favourite fantasy locations, and there are a few similarities between them; I think I might like a touch of the whimsical!

Lothlórien – Middle Earth

Lothlorien

Lothlórien is a forest located next to the lower Misty Mountains, ruled by Celeborn and Galadriel and featured in both the Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit. Legolas himself said “That is the fairest of all the dwellings of my people”. This place is pure magic – tree houses, elves, tranquillity, music, light… Life would be so peaceful and calm, everyone would be ethereally beautiful and I could sleep in a house like this.

Narnia

Narnia

Words cannot describe how much I want to live in a land where animals can talk to you. If I could have a super power it would be to communicate with animals. In Narnia all the animals talk. I am excited just thinking about it. I love the snow and ice, and the mix of real and surreal. The lamppost in the forest for example. Finding a magical world at the back of an old wardrobe is a hope that has stuck with me from childhood – I still have to have a sneaky check, just in case.

Neverland

neverland

There are mermaids and pirates, they never get old and if you believe, (with a little fairy dust) you can fly. AND, if you’re a Lost Boy, you get to live in a den! I’m not actually sure it gets any better than that. Saying that, I always feel there is an undercurrent of sadness throughout all the iterations of Neverland, so I think I’d like to go there on a holiday, rather than become a permanent resident!

Wednesday Wonderings.

Author – Kiera.

You might have noticed a pattern with the books I choose to review. I always write about books I loved or at least really enjoyed, and I think there are two reasons for this. The first reason is that I pick books that I’m fairly sure I will enjoy, which is normally determined by it’s genre, author, by recommendations or more importantly my mood. I can’t read Contemporary if I’m in the mood for Dystopian. It just won’t stick. Is anyone else like this?

The second reason is that I have a hard time writing negatively about something that someone has poured their heart and soul into. Reading is so subjective and personal, and while everyone is entitled to their opinion I just don’t feel comfortable with publicly bashing someone’s work. We were talking about this earlier and Gillian Flynn’s Gone Girl was the example. I don’t like thrillers/crime/anything gory/anything scary. I have nothing against any of these things, I’m just a bit of a marshmallow. So I didn’t particularly enjoy Gone Girl. I thought it was well written, and excellently structured so I no idea what was going to happen, but it just didn’t float my boat. So my reading experience was tainted by my own personal traits and preferences and that in turn was reflected in my rating of the book. I guess that’s why being part of a book club is good. It diversifies your reading habits in ways you couldn’t do on your own, and I’m grateful for that. It also means I have to learn how to voice an opinion about certain books that might not be as positive as if I’d picked the book myself.

We all have opinions, and they might be right and they might not, but I think as long as they are discussed respectfully then it’s not a bad thing. Plus chances are you’ll probably learn something new along the way.

Book Review/Buddy Read – The Miniaturist by Jessie Burton

 There is nothing hidden that will not be revealed . . .

On an autumn day in 1686, eighteen-year-old Nella Oortman knocks at the door of a grand house in the wealthiest quarter of Amsterdam. She has come from the country to begin a new life as the wife of illustrious merchant trader Johannes Brandt, but instead she is met by his sharp-tongued sister, Marin. Only later does Johannes appear and present her with an extraordinary wedding gift: a cabinet-sized replica of their home. It is to be furnished by an elusive miniaturist, whose tiny creations mirror their real-life counterparts in unexpected ways . . .

Nella is at first mystified by the closed world of the Brandt household, but as she uncovers its secrets she realizes the escalating dangers that await them all. Does the miniaturist hold their fate in her hands? And will she be the key to their salvation or the architect of their downfall?

Kiera

This book was a bit stop/start for me. Some chapters flew by and others moved at a snail’s pace. I think it is important to say from the start that I really enjoyed reading this, especially as a buddy read. There were lots of mysteries to uncover and it was a lot of fun trying to figure out what they were with Laura as we read.

This book is beautifully written and Jessie Burton is a magician with words! Even when we had things figured out she would switch things up and leave me convinced we were wrong. It almost felt like slight of hand. She had me looking right while things were happening over on the left. While I was reading I did find it a bit confusing, and found myself reading the same paragraph a few times, just to make sure I was aware of what was going on. You do see through the smoke and mirrors by the end though, and it’s really quite clever.

I really liked the characters on the whole. They all had their flaws (by the time periods standards) and unfortunately for them they were exploited by those trying to gain from them.

I was slightly disappointed by one of the threads of the storyline. It really felt unfinished and I find that frustrating. I would be really interested to hear what you thought about it. If you’ve read it let us know!

 

Laura

First of all, how gorgeous is this book? I have the hardback version, and from the sleeve to the blue edges to the pages it’s absolutely beautiful.

The story almost reads like poetry; each sentence is a tiny little masterpiece and it all comes together in an emotive and, at times, very creepy tale. The time period and landscape was unfamiliar to me (my knowledge of Dutch history is rather lacking), but the writing is so descriptive I was right there with Nella and Marin in the freezing cold house in Amsterdam.

As Kiera said, the plot twists and turns, and there were more than a couple of *gasp* moments. You’re never quite sure where the story is going to take you, and it keeps you gripped until the last couple of chapters, where it all feels a tiny bit rushed. There are a number of individual character story lines running through the book, and most are tied up quite neatly – no unnecessary cliffhangers here people – but there is one (that arguably might be the most significant) which seems to come to a dead end. Unless we both missed an important plot twist somewhere.

Reading a book with Kiera has been really interesting. We chatted about it every 100 pages or so, and drew some similar and some very different conclusions. I think a Buddy Read is a great idea – it’s amazing how two people can read the same book and pick up on different things.

I’d totally recommend this book, it covers a host of genres – historical fiction, crime and even a hint of the supernatural, so there is something for everyone. Considering this is Jessie Burton’s debut, I think it could quite easily become a modern classic.

 

Friday Favourites – Book to Screen Adaptations

Author – Hazel

It’s my turn this week to choose my favourite book to screen adaptations and I found this a little tricky as both Laura and Kiera picked some favourites of mine. After some thought, and a look at my DVD/blu-Ray collection, I managed to compile a small list….

The Da Vinci code

As much as it may make some people wince, I really like Dan Brown’s novels. So far I’ve read The Da Vinci code, Angels and Demons and The Lost Symbol and I plan to read more. As much as I enjoyed reading The Da Vinci code, I really loved the movie. Tom Hanks does a wonderful job of portraying Robert Langdon and the mystery and thrill of the book really comes through in the film. Dare I say it but I liked the film more than the book! But only by a fraction.

The Notebook

A go-to soppy romance movie for me, I loved The Notebook. I swooned (Ryan Gosling), I laughed, I cried. In my opinion again (sorry!), the movie was better than the book. Of all the Nicholas Sparks adaptations Safe Haven has been my favourite, though I havent read the book. But Hollywood do like adapting his novels, so watch this space, my opinion might change….

Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone

Harry Potter, need I say more. The first movie has really stuck with me. The excitement of finding out that Harry is a Wizard, and the magical atmosphere the film has really encapsulates how I felt reading the book. For some reason, I always think of Christmas whenever I watch the movie. As much as the books are fabulous, the movie adaptations are incredible and will forever be a must see for kids and adults alike.

Pretty Little Liars

A guilty pleasure for me especially as I’m almost 31 years old, Pretty Little Liars is addictive. It’s a pychological thriller but aimed at teenagers and the show is utterly gripping. I’ve read the first few books in the series and I must say yet again, I prefer the tv show! The books read like they’re aimed at the younger readers, where as the tv show has grabbed my viewing as old as I am.

Witches of East End

I started watching the show before I read the book and I was hooked. It’s like a soap opera but with a paranormal twist. I adored Freya and Killian right from the get go and was on tenterhooks waiting to see if their forbidden love would flourish. Aunt Wendy was also funny and brilliant. So when I found out the show was cancelled after series 2 had ended on a cliffhanger to boot, I was absolutely gutted. Please bring it back! The book however was a huge disappointment. It wasn’t bad but was only ok. I think the TV adaptation gave me high expectations that were just not met.

True Blood

Like the books, the TV show started out strong. It took me a while to warm to Sookie but I loved Vampire Bill and then Eric, but my favourite TV show characters were Alcide and Jessica. The minute I saw Alcide I fell in love, and Jessica brought a different dimension to the TV show with her love story with Hoyt, and her struggles at adjusting to becoming a vampire. The books, like I said started off strong but by book 10 something was just missing from them, I can’t put my finger on it but they were just ok. And that ending for both the books and tv show – what?!

 

 

Wednesday Wonderings

It’s been a bit of a rubbish week for us girls to be honest, but fortunately we’ve had our trusty bookshelves (and each other) for support.

There’s something very healing about picking up a fabulous book, getting snuggled in a blanket and switching off the world for a little while.

Let us know your ‘go-to’ book when you’re feeling low!

Laura
x

Book Review – Before we met by Lucie Whitehouse

Author-Hazel

Hannah, independent, headstrong, and determined not to follow in the footsteps of her bitterly divorced mother, has always avoided commitment. But one hot New York summer she meets Mark Reilly, a fellow Brit, and is swept up in a love affair that changes all her ideas about what marriage might mean.

Now, living in their elegant, expensive London townhouse and adored by her fantastically successful husband, she knows she was right to let down her guard.

But when Mark does not return from a business trip to the U.S and when the hours of waiting for him stretch into days, the foundations of Hannah’s certainty begin to crack. Why do Mark’s colleagues believe he has gone to Paris not America? Why is there no record of him at his hotel? And who is the mysterious woman who has been telephoning him over the last few weeks?

Hannah begins to dig into her husband’s life, uncovering revelations that throw into doubt everything she has ever believed about him. As her investigation leads her away from their fairytale romance into a place of violence and fear she must decide whether the secrets Mark has been keeping are designed to protect him or protect her…

imageBefore we met is a psychological thriller that follows Hannah, the female protagonist, finding out that her fairytale marriage is not all rainbows and unicorns.

Mark and Hannah, a professional married couple reside in London but met whilst living and working in New York. Hannah is between jobs since they moved back to London but Mark often has to travel back to the U.S for business purposes. It is whilst he is on one of these supposed ‘business’ trips that the story begins.

After some confusion, (Mark not making it back home and not being able to contact Hannah) Mark does call Hannah and gives her a plethora of reasons why he’s not home and why he has not contacted her. Relieved, Hannah accepts his excuses and carries on her day. She then recieves a call back from Mark’s assistant, Neesha. This is when ideas of doubt begin to appear. Neesha believed Mark was surprising Hannah with a trip to Rome for the weekend but to her surprise, Mark is in New York settling a business arrangement!

At this surprising discovery and Hannah’s niggling doubts, she goes on the hunt and discovers something quite shocking!

I quickly became sucked in by this story. It’s fast paced, with quick but thorough character development. Although the world building isn’t all sweeping mountains and glorious sunbeams, it gives just enough information to paint a picture of the characters surroundings. I rapidly became invested in Hannah’s character. She goes through a myriad of feelings and emotions which I felt along with her, testament to Lucie Whitehouse’s writing.

The story and mystery progress, and as you acquire clues and answers to the niggling questions, more doubts and queries arise. The writing is perfectly paced, giving you enough information to keep you wanting more and the story’s structure isn’t just beginning, middle, end. It flows beautifully with shocking revelations throughout but with an incredible twist near the end. As much as I had formed my own ideas and guesses about the plot and characters, I didn’t quite see the end coming and there were times when I gasped out loud whilst reading.

All in all this was a great book, a fantastic psychological thriller and mystery. A brilliant page turner. I recommend picking it up.

Happy reading ❤️📖

Friday Favourites – Book to Screen Adaptations.

Author – Kiera.

I have struggled with this weeks Friday Faves a little bit. I am very fussy with adaptations, especially if it is from a book I really love! I like them to stick to the story as closely as possible and get quite disgruntled when they don’t. Hmph.

With that being said here are some of my favourite adaptations.

 

Bitten.

I really enjoyed the book, and the show is almost identical! There are a few changes, but in this case I can see how it will benefit the show. The books follows the same set of characters for the first two, then it starts flitting between different characters in each book. The series seems set up to follow the first set of characters throughout, so some changes have been made to make the storyline carry on from there. Both the book and the show have amazing characters, full of southern charm. I literally melt every time Clay says ‘Darlin’.

The Vampire Diaries.

I don’t think I have met anybody that doesn’t like The Vampire Diaries. The first book was written over twenty years ago, and has a very different feel to it than the show. Plus the show seemed to take some ideas from the book and then take it in any and every direction they wanted! Despite the differences, I really enjoy watching it. There is never a dull episode, and no town knows how to party like Mystic Falls.

The Lord Of The Rings (and The Hobbit)

We’ve all seen LOTR, right? I don’t know that many people who have read the books though. This makes me sad, because while they are heavy going there is a lot of detail in there that they just couldn’t fit into the films. Even with the extended versions! Though it seems to be the opposite with The Hobbit. While I have enjoyed the films (I haven’t seen the last one yet) there is an awful lot of filler to them. I love them in any form though. They are amazing.

Memoirs Of A Geisha.

I love the film. I love the book. If you haven’t seen or read it go now! They are both so atmospheric, full of passion and utterly captivating. You get glimpses into Japanese culture and traditions, and the complexity of the Geisha’s nature. I know some people thought it was an actual memoir, and that seemed to tick them off. As long as you go into this knowing it’s fiction, I don’t think it’s a problem.

Mary Poppins.

Mary Poppins is my favourite film. I have so many good memories attached to this film! I know it word for word and used to make my friends act out different scenes from it when we were out playing. I was a bit older when I read the book, which is a good thing because the Disney version is a lot lighter and fluffier than it’s book counter-part. They did a great job extracting some of the iconic scenes from the book and putting their own spin on them. Mary Poppins is not as likeable in the books, so it’s probably a good thing they did!