Book Review – Cinder by Marissa Meyer

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Humans and androids crowd the raucous streets of New Beijing. A deadly plague ravages the population. From space, a ruthless lunar people watch, waiting to make their move. No one knows that Earth’s fate hinges on one girl.

Cinder, a gifted mechanic, is a cyborg. She’s a second-class citizen with a mysterious past, reviled by her stepmother and blamed for her stepsister’s illness. But when her life becomes intertwined with the handsome Prince Kai’s, she suddenly finds herself at the centre of an intergalactic struggle and a forbidden attraction. Caught between duty and freedom, loyalty and betrayal, she must uncover secrets about her past in order to protect her world’s future.

Author Hazel

Cinder is the first book in the Lunar Chronicles series. It is a young adult, sci-if romance/fairy tale retelling.

Cinder is based on the popular fairy tale of Cinderella, and has a similar basic plot. Cinder is treated like a slave by her stepmother and stepsister, there is a young, handsome Prince to fall in love with, an enchanting ball and then the pivotal plot point of Cinder losing her glass slipper. Now imagine this beloved story, but in Cinder, Cinderella is a cyborg! She lives in New Beijing, part of the Eastern Commonwealth, created after world war IV. She is a mechanic, and instead of animals as friends, she has androids.

New Beijing is an emergent new society rising from the destruction of world war IV. Earth is plagued by a lethal disease called letumosis. It is also teetering on the edge of another war with Luna. Luna is obviously the moon, but in this story, it is inhabited by Lunars. The leader of this race is the evil Queen Levana, who supposedly killed her own sister in order to take the throne. Lunars have special abilities known colloquially on Earth as magic but scientifically it is explained as manipulation of the bio-chemical electrical signatures within the brain or ‘glamouring’. The emperor of New Beijing has letumosis, so Prince Kaito (Kai) is desperately seeking a cure whilst trying to avoid a political marriage with the evil Queen Levana. He first meets Cinder when he brings his beloved android to be repaired and the fantastic plot and budding romance begins there.

I absolutely loved this book. Marissa Meyer has woven in such a fantastic and intricate plot within the basic story of Cinderella. I love the sci-if aspect of the story and the futuristic time the story is based in. I loved and hated the characters. Iko, Cinder’s android sidekick was brilliant. I loved how she had an almost human personality and her and Cinder’s friendship was lovely. Although Peony was one of Cinder’s stepsisters, they had a lovely sisterly relationship. Dr Erland was an eccentric and a little weird side character, who lends a scientifically heroic hand to Cinder. He was really interesting. Then of course there’s Cinder and Prince Kai. An almost opposites attract relationship, I loved his gentle persuing of Cinder, even when she kept turning him down.

Marissa Meyer wrote Adri and and Queen Levana so well, I hated them(almost as much as Joffrey from GoT lol). Adri was greedy and manipulative and used poor Cinder almost to her death. And Queen Levana is the epitome of evil, leading an entire people with brain washing and manipulation, only succeeding in getting what she wants through these methods.

The story is so gripping and imaginative even with it being a retelling. The story is plot and character driven, and I can’t wait to see where it goes. The characters were so well written, all with distinctive personalities and relationships with each other. It will be interesting to see who else we meet during the rest of the series.

Overall, I loved this book, so much I want to read the next one, Scarlet, straight away, and I rarely read a series back to back. I highly recommend this book and I gave it 5 🌟. Happy reading :mrgreen:📖

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Wednesday Wonderings

Author – Laura

It’s hard to believe, but we could be considered an odd bunch here at The Bookspa. Fortunately we know each other pretty well, and aside from a knowing wink or two when Yasmin starts talking about the Black Dagger Brotherhood :), we could spend hours talking about our favourite book characters.

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If you’re a kindred spirit, and you’re happy while away hour after hour discussing the not insignificant virtues of heroes and heroines like Akiva and Karou, then you’re welcome at The Bookspa any time!

Book Club Review – The Diviners by Libba Bray

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It’s 1920s New York City. It’s flappers and Follies, jazz and gin. It’s after the war but before the depression. And for certain group of bright young things it’s the opportunity to party like never before.

For Evie O’Neill, it’s escape. She’s never fit in in small town Ohio and when she causes yet another scandal, she’s shipped off to stay with an uncle in the big city. But far from being exile, this is exactly what she’s always wanted: the chance to show how thoroughly modern and incredibly daring she can be.

But New York City isn’t about just jazz babies and follies girls. It has a darker side. Young women are being murdered across the city. And these aren’t crimes of passion. They’re gruesome. They’re planned. They bear a strange resemblance to an obscure group of tarot cards. And the New York City police can’t solve them alone.

Evie wasn’t just escaping the stifling life of Ohio, she was running from the knowledge of what she could do. She has a secret. A mysterious power that could help catch the killer – if he doesn’t catch her first.

Author – Kiera.

I had really mixed feeling about this month’s book. On the one hand I loved the characters, the setting and the story. But on the other hand it felt very slow and over stuffed with information and storylines, which unfortunately made it less enjoyable to read.
New York in the 20’s was a fascinating time time to read about! The fashion and the parties, the vernacular and the mix of cultures and religions. It was almost a character in itself. I don’t think the story could have been suited so well to any other time or place. The way the time period formed the characters was perfect and I look forward to reading more of it throughout the series.
While on the subject of characters, I had a few favourites – Sam Lloyd being the first. He’s such a playful guy, but the way he treats Evie makes me think he has a softer side too. Theta and Henry were my other characters of choice. I loved the bond they have, and the fact that they treat people kindly and with respect even though they may not have always been treated that way themselves.
The main storyline was just the right amount of mystery and creepy. Naughty John and The Brethren definitely gave me the heebie jeebies, and it was interesting unravelling the story as events unfolded.

One of the disappointments for me was that all these characters had different abilities/powers but we never really saw any of them. I felt that it was a shame for such a long book that it wasn’t one of the main elements. Also the amounts of povs made it feel very disjointed. Everytime I got a good momentum going it would change and it really slowed the reading down. It just felt like the author felt the need to set the ground work for every character she wants to include in the series in the first book, and I just felt that it bogged the story down.
Overall I gave this 🌟🌟🌟

Author – Hazel

The Diviners was my pick for book club this month and I’m glad to say I thoroughly enjoyed this book. It has been on my TBR for a few months and our lovely Laura bought the book for me for Christmas. I really enjoyed the time period that the story was set in, it added to the atmosphere of the spooky plot. The story is told from quite a few perspectives but there wasn’t one that I didn’t enjoy. The author took her time developing all the characters, but for me this didn’t take away from the storyline. I really enjoyed reading and learning about the characters, but Jericho piqued my interest the most. From the very first introduction of him to the story, the mystery surrounding him grabbed me. I really enjoyed the dynamic between Evie and Sam. Him being very flirtatious and her struggling with a love/hate thing for him. I’m interested to see how the relationships between the characters develop as the story does. I’m also really interested to see how Libba Bray develops the ‘Diviners’ storyline, whether or not they band together as a type of ‘Avengers’ task force or if they continue to struggle alone with their gifts.

Naughty John was a creepy and gruesome bad guy. The way Libba Bray wrote him really did give me the chills. The Brethren, who were essentially Naughty John’s disciples, behaved like a cult and cults and cultish behaviour always rubs me the wrong way, so for me they alone were scary enough.

Overall I loved the book and I’m really looking forward to the next one, Lair of Dreams. I gave this book 🌟🌟🌟🌟🌟.

Author – Laura

I really enjoyed this book, it feels both familiar and unique at the same time. Considering the size (a whopping 600+ pages) it took me just 3 sittings to complete. I think I would have struggled reading it in smaller chunks, as there are quite a few different POVs to follow, and storylines that felt like they were going to converge but then just don’t. The dialogue and banter between the characters was my favourite part, with some absolute humdingers –

“Harold Brodie is a louse and a lothario who cheats at cards and has a different girl in his rumble seat every week. That coupe of his is pos-i-tute-ly a petting palace. And he’s a terrible kisser to boot.”
Evie’s parents stared in stunned silence.
“Or so I’ve heard.”

“Theta crashed next to them on the thick zebra-skin rug. “I’m embalmed.”
“Potted and splificated?”
“Ossified to the gills. Time for night-night.

“She is the elephant’s eyebrows,” Evie whispered appreciatively. “Those jewels! How her neck must ache.”

Evie as a character wasn’t all that endearing, but what she lacked in warmth and humility she made up for in sass and charm. She is a proper wild child, who acts first and thinks later. It works in her favour most of the time, but I did feel a bit sorry for Mabel at times! The entire ensemble cast was great, and the atmosphere was so decadent. 1920s NYC is definitely where I would go in a time machine, complete with jewelled headband and fringed flapper dress. I’d even cut my hair short…

I’ll admit to being quite disappointed that after 600 pages there wasn’t some kind of ‘X-Men’ style Diviners team up; it was hinted at all the way through – the book is called ‘The Diviners’ after all, but it just never happened. It would have been a great final battle with Naughty John: to have a few of them use their powers together to defeat the bad guy, but it wasn’t to be.

I’m definitely going to read the second book, and hopefully I’ll get my wish for a superhero showdown, but perhaps with more pearls and less adamantium claws.

Wednesday Wonderings

This week I have been trying to read Linger, the second book in the Wolves of Mercy Falls series by Maggie Stiefvater. I’ve been really busy, so I’ve been catching a moment here and there; before dinner, after dinner, on my lunchbreak at work…

I finally finished it today, sat on a bench in the beautiful sunshine, surrounded by ducks and flowers. It sounds idyllic, but actually it was a short 30 minute break in which I also had to eat my lunch and buy some tights. Oh the glamorous life I lead.

It led me to think how wonderful life would be if there was a whole day in the week that we could spend just sitting, reading and daydreaming. It seems Lena Dunham feels the same way.

Whatever you’re doing this week, make sure you save some time to get lost in a good book. You won’t regret it!

Laura x

Eighth day

Book Review – Thoughtless by S.C Stephens

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For almost two years now, Kiera’s boyfriend, Denny, has been everything she’s ever wanted: loving, tender and endlessly devoted to her. When they head off  to a new city to start their lives together, Denny at his dream job and Kiera at a top-notch university, everything seems perfect. Then an unforeseen obligation forces the happy couple apart.

Feeling lonely, confused, and in need of comfort, Kiera turns to an unexpected source – a local rock star named Kellan Kyle. At first, he’s purely a friend that she can lean on, but as her loneliness grows, so does their relationship. And then one night everything changes…and none of them will ever be the same.

Author-Hazel

Thoughtless is a New Adult romance novel set in Seattle. The story is told from Kiera’s perspective, the female protagonist. The story is about a young couple, Kiera and Denny, who move to Seattle, Denny for an internship and Kiera, for a college scholarship. They rent a room from Denny’s friend Kellan, and a slow but red-hot affair begins between Kiera and Kellan.

The writing of this book was gripping and addictive. I couldn’t put it down and when I had no other choice but to, I kept thinking about the story. It is a character driven novel with little world-building but the way S.C Stephens writes tension between characters was amazing. The tension between Kiera and Kellan was sizzling! I really felt it whilst reading.

Kellan was my favourite character. Drop dead gorgeous, good with his hands, cheeky, charming and funny. Some of his dialogue had me laughing out loud. He was a very swoon worthy character whom I couldn’t get enough of.

Kiera, what can I say! OK, the affair started innocently enough, but the fact that she allowed herself to get into that situation and still think that she was innocent, is beyond me. She was insanely naive and selfish, essentially bed-hopping between two men who loved her and whom she claimed she loved. Her indecisiveness was shocking and about 75% in, it started to get annoying. Kellan was what kept me reading. I just wanted to slap her. I don’t believe anyone, experienced in love and relationships or not, could lead two men on that they love, continuing to hurt them profoundly because of her indecision. It started off feeling like nativity but ended up being just downright selfish.

Eventually there was a happy ending but, I don’t feel like Kiera deserved it. The story is though provoking and made me think about what I would do in her situation, but I could not relate to her because I believe my decisions would have been different. Did I mention she was crazy clingy too?

Overall the story was good, I really enjoyed reading it and would recommend it if you don’t mind reading about infidelity.

Book Review – Masque of the Red Death by Bethany Griffin

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Author – Kiera.

 

My review this week is going to be a bit different. Sort of a three in one. I originally saw Masque of the Red Death while on the hunt for Steam Punk and Dystopian books on Goodreads. It was only after I picked it up that I realised it was based on the novel of the same name by Edgar Allan Poe. So this is where it gets tricky. Bethany Griffin wrote two full novels and a novella based on the original short story, and I have read them all. To be able to reference it properly I thought I should read the original too. Which means this review will be a combination of my thoughts on them all.

Edgar Allan Poe’s short story is based around Prince Prospero and his attempts to avoid the Red Death that is ravaging the lands, by barricading himself in his castle with one thousand guests and throwing lavish masquerade balls. The masquerades are set within seven rooms, each with their own theme and each more disturbing than the last. It is important to note that Prince Prospero is missing a fair few of his marbles. This quote sums it up perfectly for me – ‘There were much of the beautiful, much of the wanton, much of the bizarre, something of the terrible and not a little of that which might have excited disgust’.

motrdBethany Griffin’s stories take from this idea and spin it into a world of misery and death and an interesting set of characters, while keeping all of the strange atmosphere in Poe’s version. It is based around our main protagonist, Araby Worth. The world has been ripped apart by plague and her father is a scientist that has invented masks that protect people from contagion. The only problem is that Prospero is in charge of distribution of the masks, which means only those who can afford to pay for them are protected. Araby is tormented by the death of her twin brother Finn, and to try and escape the pain she spends a lot of her time in the Debauchery Club with her best friend April. They drink, take drugs and generally try to forget the horrors of the world around them. Here is where we meet Will and Elliot. Will works at the club and Araby is drawn to his tattoos and dark tousled hair. Elliot is April’s brother and he recruits Araby to help his cause to try and make the city a better place – which means taking control away from Prospero.  I’m sure you can see where this is going – love triangle anyone?

dotrdDance of the Red Death is where you can really see the influence of Poe’s novel on this story. The masquerade takes place in this book, and it is just as intense and strange. I really liked the progression of the characters throughout both of these books. There are many twists and turns that I didn’t see coming and they all seem to force the characters forward with decisions they make. From what I have seen there is a divide between Will lovers and Elliot lovers. I am firmly in the Will camp. They both do horrible things, but I think I understand Will’s actions more.

These books feel equally character and story line driven, and in a way the world building is a character in itself. I could clearly picture the city and the club, the swamp filled with crocodiles and the porcelain masks they wore. No detail is left out and it makes for a vibrant reading experience.

I was looking for a gritty Dystopian novel and I certainly got that, with Steampunk elements and a gothic twist too!

Friday Favourites – Book Boyfriends!

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Author – Kiera

 

So, this topic has been in the pipe line for a while, the only problem we have is we fight over who gets which book boyfriend – logical, right? We couldn’t decide what to do for today’s post, so I flipped a coin and here we are. If you don’t hear from me in the next few weeks, please send a search party 😉

I also feel the need to apologize in advance because this post will probably get rather swoony.

In no particular order (as I love all my book boyfriends equally) we have;

 

Rhage – Black Dagger Brotherhood.

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There are many reasons Rhage is my favourite Black Dagger Brother. He’s funny, laid back and says it as it is. He’s also 6 ft 8 and transforms into a dragon type beast when he loses his temper. All my favourite things. In my opinion all scenes in BDB are improved by Rhage and his book is still my favourite in the ever expanding series. Plus any character that Jesse Pavelka can portray is fine by me.

 

Clay – Bitten.

I feel like I’m going to tick all he stereotypical supernatural boxes. Vampire – Tick. Werewolf – Tick. Still Clay is lovely (we won’t talk about him biting Elena against her will) and I love his protective streak – which might also be a common theme here. He is clever, gorgeous, loyal and very anti social. I think we would get along great.

 

Stefan – The Vampire Diaries.

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Okay, so maybe we aren’t done with the vampires yet. This is the last one, I promise (as much as I want to include Edward….) and yes I chose this picture for the suit. You are welcome. The main things that I love about Stefan is that he is a gentleman and he’s sensitive. Got to love a guy that keeps a diary. The Salvatore brothers seem to divide people, and I’m firmly on the Stefan side. It’s just a shame that Jeremy isn’t in the books.

 

Fade – The Razorland Trilogy.

I couldn’t find a picture I liked enough for Fade but he is described as having silky black hair and impossibly dark, deep eyes with a ring of violet surrounding. He is lean and fit and fights with a grace that no one else can compete with.  Fade goes through a lot in these books and some pretty gruesome things at that, but he is such a strong character and I think that is what is most appealing about him. Plus he’s just lovely.

 

Akiva – Daughter of Smoke and Bone.

I know you’re all shocked by this one. I love Akiva – he’s my favourite. I’m not sure I need to say much more! I’m sure you’re all fed up of hearing about it by now.

Book Club Review – Stray by Rachel Vincent

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There are only eight breeding female werecats left . . .
And I’m one of them.

I look like an all-American grad student. But I am a werecat, a shape-shifter, and I live in two worlds.

Despite reservations from my family and my Pride, I escaped the pressure to continue my species and carved out a normal life for myself. Until the night a Stray attacked.

I’d been warned about Strays — werecats without a Pride, constantly on the lookout for someone like me: attractive, female, and fertile. I fought him off, but then learned two of my fellow tabbies had disappeared.

This brush with danger was all my Pride needed to summon me back . . . for my own protection. Yeah, right. But I’m no meek kitty. I’ll take on whatever — and whoever — I have to in order to find my friends. Watch out, Strays — ’cause I got claws, and I’m not afraid to use them . . .

Author – Kiera

This was Yasmin’s pick for March, and I have to say that I really enjoyed it! There is a sort of formula for these types of supernatural/urban fantasy stories which generally creates a similar outcome each time (alpha male + strong willed female × bad guy kidnapping her = lots of drama and a few steamy scenes) but if you like the formula then you will enjoy Stray. It is easy to read, and although the first portion of the book is a lot of information about werecats and their family histories – which wasn’t to everyone’s tastes, I personally loved it. Probably because I’m nosey!

I liked Faythe, she is a typical spoiled only girl in the family and she wants to do things her own way. As well as being head strong she is also smart and capable of looking after herself, which makes a nice change.
There are a lot of peripheral characters in this story, which can get quite confusing at times, but I quickly found my favourites and hope to read more about them later on in the series. Especially Jace and Parker. Swoon.
I really enjoyed the character development that happened with Faythe, she went through a lot in quite a short space of time and you could see her becoming unsure of her choices and questioning her actions. It was definitely important to the story that she get knocked down a peg or two so that she could start to see things from her Pride’s point of view.

All in all it was a 616 page book that I read within a few hours. Which is normally a good sign!

Author – Laura

*** 3 Stars

Overall I enjoyed Stray. I did feel that it was unnecessarily long, and as Kiera said its quite formulaic, but if it ain’t broke…

I really liked the various supporting characters, and how each of them contributed to the story. Ethan and Jace stood out for me, and secretly I think Faythe might have made the wrong choice with Marc.

As the main character I found Faythe difficult to like; I’m not sure why, but I just didn’t warm to her. She was massively over-confident to begin with, and appeared quite selfish. The character development was great and she was a different person by the end of the book.

Sometimes you just want something familiar and easy to read. Stray totally delivers on both counts.

Author – Antonia

When Yasmin first told us of the book for this month I was a bit apprehensive with 600 pages. However i managed to complete with a day to spare. Anyway so moving on to the review. I did enjoy this book and the action involved. I found Faythe to be rather needy and always wanting her own way. She was very head strong and knew what she wanted. This helped her in a few situations. I loved the way her character progressed throughout the book and the fight in her. The pride went through a lot together and it was good to see them help one another. Definitely worth a read 🙂

Mini Review – The Witch of Salt and Storm by Kendall Kulper

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Sixteen-year-old Avery Roe wants only to take her rightful place as the sea witch of Prince Island, making the charms that keep the island’s whalers safe and prosperous at sea. But before she could learn how to control her power, her mother – the first Roe woman in centuries to turn her back on magic – steals Avery away from her grandmother. Avery must escape before her grandmother dies, taking with her the secrets of the Roe’s power.

The one magical remnant left to Avery is the ability to read dreams, and one night she foresees her own murder. Time is running short, both for her and for the people of her island who need the witches’ help to thrive.

Avery has never read a dream that hasn’t come true, but a tattooed harpoon boy named Tane tells her he can help her change her fate. Becoming a witch may prevent her murder and save her island from ruin, but Avery discovers it will also require a sacrifice she never expected. And as she falls in love with Tane, she learns it is his life and hers that hang in the balance.

 

Author – Kiera.

I have mixed feeling about The Witch of Salt and Storm. I really love the premise and the setting. The writing style was lovely and lyrical but it also felt a bit disjointed at times and I had to read a few things twice to understand what was meant. This might be considered a bad thing, and I know some people will find it off putting, but it fit the style of the story quite well. The first half of the book moved at a very slow pace. There is a lot of family history, lore and scene setting to get through. I found it enjoyable but it didn’t move the storyline along as quickly as I would have liked. I loved the magic system, and can understand the lure of the sea. Each of the Roe witches had a different ability from their connection with the sea, and was all so interesting! I just would have liked a bit more of it throughout the book.

There is a good mix of characters, and I found myself drawn towards Avery’s Grandmother and Tane. They both have quite turbulent pasts yet remain honest and likeable.

I know that Whaling happened and why it did. I also understand why it was an integral part of the story, but that being said it wasn’t something I enjoyed reading about.

Overall though I found it slow I did enjoy reading this. Historical fantasy isn’t something I have read much of, and this has definitely made me want to read more.

Friday Favourites – Books I loved as a child.

Author – Kiera.

I have an endless list for this topic of Friday Favourites. There is something special about childhood books, you always remember them fondly and get a real sense of nostalgia. With many of these picks I could tell you where I was when I read them, what I had been doing, who I with. I also have many of the copies I read stashed away in a box for safe keeping.

I’m going to try and be somewhat chronological with this post and hope I can narrow it down a bit, let’s see how that goes!

 

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Roald Dahl.

This one is probably pretty common, I don’t think there is a book lover out there that has not read a Roald Dahl book or two! I specifically remember reading The Twits, Matilda and James and the Giant Peach repeatedly. His writing style and the brilliant illustrations always made it so easy for me to picture his colourful characters. I even have the recipe book to go along with the stories, though I confess the only thing I really make is the Bruce Bogtrotter cake nowadays.

 

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Enid Blyton.

This is another author I read a lot of as a youngster. The books that will always stick in my mind are The Faraway Tree stories and The Famous Five. Clearly I wanted to pack my spotted handkerchief and go off on lots of fun adventures as a nine year old! While the Roald Dahl books appealed to me because of their characters, these were all about the imagery and world building. I think I checked all the trees in the local area to see if Moonface happened to be living in one. No such luck!

 

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The Switch – Anthony Horowitz.

I used to get given book recommendations most weeks from my teachers growing up. Before the days of Goodreads (how did we cope?) it was a case of heading the library and filtering through books until you found something that sounded good. So to have someone suggest a book you might like was always a great start. This was one of them, and the one that stand out most in my mind. I love Anthony Horowitz’s writing style even now and this is going to be one that I read with my son at some point in the near future.

 

 

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The Artemis Fowl Series – Eoin Colfer.

I was fourteen when this series started. It was recommended (as many books are) by my Aunt and we started reading them together. This is an amazing series to have someone to experience with. The story lines are fun and fast paced, the characters are hilarious and the world building is great. Even now we still make references to these books in general conversation. People must think we’re mad.

 

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And last, but not least! The Bartimaeus Trilogy by Jonathan Stroud.

Now, I’m going to say something that is probably going to get me in trouble. This is what I reading when everyone else was reading Harry Potter. I’m sorry, don’t hate me. As a teen I was very much – if everyone else is doing it, then I’m going to be doing something else. In this case it actually worked out pretty well, because this series will always be one of my favourite fantasy stories, and actually they are often compared to Harry Potter now. A boy who does magic, must be like HP.

This series had me laughing all the way through, even though it is gritty and all the characters are flawed. I think it set a standard for what I like and look for in fantasy novels now.

 

I’m going to leave it there, while there are so many more I want to mention these are the ones that always come to mind first. What are your favourite childhood reads?