5 July 2019

Maresi Red Mantle - Maria Turtschaninoff

I'll start with a quick overview of books one and two of the Red Abbey Chronicles. Book one tells Maresi's story of growing up at the Red Abbey. She arrived there as a young child and though she always missed her family, she loves her friends and the Sisters on the island. Rather than continue with Maresi, book two goes back to the lives of the women who founded the Abbey and how they came together to rescue themselves from a life of servitude to a selfish, cruel man.

In book three we are once again following Maresi and her personal mission to go back to her family and her home village. There she wants to start a school where she can teach girls all the things she has learnt at the Red Abbey. She has quite a journey to reach her home and even once there it is not as easy as she had hoped to fit in and set up the school.

This book is written a little differently to the others, as a series of letters from Maresi back to the the sisters and her friends in the Abbey. I wasn't too keen on this format at first but I soon forgot this as I was completely immersed in the story. 

Though Maresi has to endure many hardships and setbacks, there are some moments of such true kindness that I felt so emotional. Whenever she feels like giving up, the people around her surprise her and remind her of her true purpose. I don't want to give away any spoilers but the resolution scene was so dramatic and described so wonderfully. Plus Karun is like a dream man, so perfect!

I've made a Red Abbey cocktail, adapting the Red Earl by adding strawberries and lemon juice.
Muddle a few raspberries and strawberries in a cocktail shaker, add in 1&1/2 shots of vodka, 1/2 shot limoncello, 1/2 shot lemon juice and a dash of sugar syrup (you can leave out the sugar if you prefer, especially if the fruit is quite sweet). Shake with ice and strain into a glass. Garnish with a raspberry float.

8 June 2019

Stepsister - Jennifer Donnelly

When girls are supposed to be pretty and nice and nothing else, what can you do if you're a little bit different? Constantly being reminded of what you're not, is a good recipe for bad feelings and resentment to grow and this is what happens to Ella's ugly stepsisters. When Ella gets her dream come true and marries the prince, the whole town hears how she was treated and her step-family must now endure the same treatment from everyone else.

Isabelle's future has been written on her map by the Fates, and nothing can change that harsh reality. Except maybe for Chance. He is determined to give Isabelle the opportunity to change her fate and in doing so, maybe make up for some of his own mistakes. The Crone, however, is convinced that people don't want to take chances and are better off blindly following their fate.

I really enjoyed the interactions between Ella and Isabelle. It made both of them more real and substantial characters. Ella is portrayed as quite a soppy girl. But she's also very kind and just trying to make things better for everyone, however she can.
Chance and his troupe create a play for Isabelle in the book and the description was so vivid it made me feel like I was there. Isabelle was almost spellbound and so was I. I think this play should be written and played to girls everywhere, I would love to see it for real.

For most of the book I was interested but not entirely gripped, however the last quarter of the book I did not want to put it down. I feel like there is so much in here that is worth the time and investment. There is more to true beauty than being sweet, pretty and amiable. I found it was very inspiring.
There's a wonderful quote which is so true I will try to remember it always - 

Believe that you can make your own way. Or don't. Either way, you are right.

Twist of Fate is a very appropriate cocktail for this book, with both Fate and Chance vying to influence Isabelle's future. I am not usually a fan of scotch but this one is particularly drinkable. Shake the following with ice, 1&1/2 shots smoky scotch, 1 shot grenadine, 3/4 shot lime juice, 2 dashes grapefruit bitters. Strain into a rocks glass with ice.

28 May 2019

Book Mix & Match 6

To go with this lovely collection of books, I've made a Collection Cocktail. Shake with ice: 3/4 shot vodka, 3/4 shot lemon vodka, 3/4 shot Benedictine, 3/4 shot Blackberry liqueur and 1/2 shot lime juice. Strain into a martini glass. I would love to know if you make the cocktail, share your pictures and tag me so I can see your creations!

Outside - Sarah Ann Juckes
Ele believes in the Outside even if none of the Others do. She's been in the Tower forever and the only thing she sees from the Outside is Him, but she knows it's there and she is determined to find a way out.
Hints of the shocking truth keep coming through and I found myself constantly revising my ideas of what was happening and who the others were. Even after finishing the book I couldn't stop thinking about it.

The Masked City - Genevieve Cogman
Irene is a very rare librarian, she works for the Invisible Library but unlike most of her colleagues, she was actually born to two librarians. When her assistant, Kai, is kidnapped, she takes the full weight of responsibility and blames herself. Despite the many powers of the kidnappers, it is up to her to rescue him and hopefully prevent a war between the Fae and the Dragons. 
Irene is a brave, accomplished and quick thinking character. Fiercely loyal to the library, but still thinking for herself. I would LOVE to be able to use the Language. Librarians can use it like magic and it would be amazing to have that power. Even without it, working as a library-spy sounds intriguing. This is the second book of the Invisible Library series and I am so looking forward to reading more.

The Binding - Bridget Collins
The blurb for this book was intriguing, but the ideas that hooked me also horrified me! I love books about books, but this is quite different. In this world, books are memories, bound when someone wants to forget something from their life. Most people are repulsed by the idea while others look to profit from it.
I immediately felt for Emmett who tries so hard not to be a burden on his family. He believes he's been ill for a long time and even now finds working on his family's farm very difficult, blaming himself for everything that goes wrong. When the local binder requests him to be her apprentice, he doesn't want to go. He remembers how disgusted his father was when he saw him reading a book as a child. Now he knows better than to have anything to do with books. But it doesn't seem that he has a choice and finds himself settling into life with the binder as if he was made for it.
I found myself completely absorbed by the writing and intrigued to know what would happen to Emmett. 

Vote for Effie - Laura Wood
Effie has just started at a new school and it's not long before she finds plenty of injustice to fight against. She decides to run against the unrivalled Junior school president and champion anyone who needs support at the school. I really enjoyed reading about Effie's plans to change her new school for the better, and her absolute determination to win the election.
I could really empathise with Effie and her Greek family. My favourite character was Lil, Effie's little sister. She was so funny! I sometimes think younger books can seem quite childish but this one is easy to read for all ages.

Oh My Gods - Alexandra Sheppard
I love anything to do with mythology, particularly Greek so that meant I just had to read this book. Being half Greek, though unfortunately not half Goddess, made it even more appealing.
Helen is such a down to Earth, normal girl apart from the little matter of her father being the King of the Greek Gods. She hasn't had the easiest life so far and now she just wants to settle down in her new home, make some friends at school and maybe even have her first real kiss. Of course, life never goes to plan and her new family cause no end of problems for her.
Though the Gods have been around for centuries, they can still learn something from Helen. She's a normal girl but when she's needed, she finds the bravery inside her and shows the Gods who is wisest! I really hope there will be more books starring Helen.

Have you read any of these books? Which would you pick up first? Let me know in the comments!

19 May 2019

Perfectly Preventable Deaths - Deirdre Sullivan

Madeline and Catlin move to the remote town of Ballyfrann when their mother remarries. The fact that their new stepfather lives in a castle isn't anywhere near the most peculiar thing about their new life and home. The people are mysterious and distant, everyone seems to have secrets. When Catlin falls in love, Madeline is convinced there is something sinister about Lon. Madeline gradually has to accept that there is a power to her strange feelings and inexplicable gathering habits. But she has always had big plans for her life, now she has to decide just how much she is willing to sacrifice to save her twin sister.

I can't imagine what it would be like to move to such a new place. Living in a castle, knowing nothing about the town. There's also the question of what actually happened to their father. He is mentioned but you still want to know more.
The story is quite slow moving but I really liked the writing. It is so descriptive and emotive without being too flowery. You feel the danger and mystery. The book isn't exactly action packed but the plot is subtle. I found the girls' language a bit strange though. Madeline talks a bit teenage-speak even just to herself. They also very rarely seem to have an accent but it pops up now and then.

Two words that stand out in the book are salt and bird. Once you read it you'll know why! So here is the Salty Bird cocktail. It came out such a gorgeous colour and so lovely and frothy. Let me know what you think in the comments.
Put all the following ingredients in a shaker with ice, shake well, then pour into a tall ice-filled glass. 1&1/2 shots white rum, 3/4 shot Campari (I used Aperol which worked very well), 1&1/2 shots pineapple juice, 1/2 shot lime juice. 1/4 shot sugar syrup, a pinch of salt.

6 May 2019

Emily Eternal - M.G. Wheaton

More than just an Artificial Intelligence, Emily is an Artificial Consciousness. She lives like a normal human as much as possible, with a whole campus simulation to walk around, a dorm room and even kitchen gadgets that she can't quite figure out. Emily can actually feel emotions, though she does like to check that some of them haven't just been programmed in. 

Emily was created to be a kind of virtual psychiatrist, but when the world discovers that the sun is dying much sooner than anyone ever imagined, her brain is needed to help find a solution. After seemingly endless attempts to find a answer, a group of scientists require Emily's help to save all of humanity digitally instead. However, it is while doing this that Emily discovers a different possibility. She sees an alternative that might just work to actually save people's lives.

I really liked the way Emily was revealed to the reader gradually at the start. It is so fascinating seeing how Emily's mind works and following the connections she makes. She has such an amazing brain but at the same time is a very relatable, wonderful character. This book had a fantastic mix of science and emotion, with mystery, intrigue, and a dash of romance. I never could have imagined the solution Emily comes up with, she manages to keep you guessing all through.

In consideration of Emily's indomitable spirit, here's an Eternal Spirit to sip on while reading.
Mix all the following ingredients in a shaker with ice, then fine strain into a cocktail glass: 1&1/2 shots white rum, 1/2 shot vermouth, 1/3 shot amaretto, 2/3 shot lemon juice, 3 slices of peeled cucumber, 1 teaspoon sugar.