5 August 2019

City of Wishes Serial - Rachel Morgan

This is a different take on the Cinderella story, where Elle is not just an unwanted stepdaughter, but a human slave to her fae step-family. However, unlike most humans Elle does have one gift. She is determined to use it to buy her own freedom and that of her younger step-sister. 

Elle's stepmother really is a horrible piece of work, the way she so casually hurts her own daughter as punishment to Elle and also the other way round. I was very interested in finding out what Dex's true motives were, and the clues about Elle's mother were intriguing. The Godmother is one of my favourite characters. She's kind of evil but in a cool way, I would love a book or even just a short story about her. To be honest all the characters are pretty cool, even the side characters seem interesting, I would like more about Cress too.

The series was written in six parts and I really enjoyed the serialisation aspect of the book. It was almost like watching a TV series though I found it so hard to wait for the next instalment each time. My only complaint is that the books are so short. They are supposed to be, but I felt like just as I was getting immersed in the story, it finished. And Rachel Morgan really knows how to leave you hanging and desperate for more! 

Essence Cocktail
Stir together 1 shot of orange vodka, 1/4 shot of lemon juice and a dash of sugar with some ice. Strain into a cocktail glass and stir in some edible glitter. Top with prosecco, the bubbles will help keep the drink shimmering. I used pink & gold glitter which turned the drink a pretty peach colour, but to be more faithful to the book you could use pure gold like the faeries' essence.

26 July 2019

What I Read On My Holidays 

I've just had a wonderful holiday in Greece and I'm pretty pleased with my reading progress. I took a pile of paperbacks that I really wanted to read, as well as my kindle and of course library apps for audiobooks. Before looking ahead, how many of these do you think I managed to read?

In my physical books pile were:
Tales Of Folk and Fey by Melissa Marr
Under a Dancing Star by Laura Wood
The Quiet at the End of the World by Lauren James
The Guggenheim Mystery by Robin Stevens
The Price Guide to the Occult by Leslye Walton

First I finished off Two of Swords by Colleen Vanderlinden on kindle and The Familiars by Stacey Halls on audio. From the list above I read Tales Of Folk and Fey, The Price Guide to the Occult and The Quiet at the End of the World. I managed to just get started on Under a Dancing Star near the end of the holiday and was excessively happy to see it matched my nails AND the sea! Then I finished it off on the plane home so I'm counting that as on holiday. Naturally the only one I didn't manage was a library book which was due back soon, The Guggenheim Mystery, but I made that one my priority as soon as I got back.

Here are some short reviews of my favourites:

Two of Swords - Colleen Vanderlinden
Moira is determined to leave the past behind and focus on the kitchen magic that she loves. Things are going well, her bakery is successful and she has made some good friends. But then her Bounty Hunter past makes a comeback and she is drawn into her old world again. Moira's necromancy has never sat well with her kitchen magic and now threatens to take over if she lets it. She has some tricky decisions to make that could affect the rest of her life.

The Quiet at the End of the World - Lauren James
I took this on holiday knowing my sister would want to read it too. She actually read it first and then kept nagging me to get to it asap because she couldn't wait to discuss it with someone! Of course, I knew I would enjoy it as I loved The Loneliest Girl in the Universe.
I had no idea how this book could possibly end but I was still surprised at the conclusion. In fact there were so many surprises throughout the book. I really loved the ending, it was so uplifting and hopeful. 

Under a Dancing Star - Laura Wood
Bea and Ben are so perfect for each other. Exactly what the other needs to balance them out. The romantic letter Ben writes is just the best thing ever! And Bea trying on trousers for the first time articulates exactly how I feel (Pockets! What a delight.). I think Bea is one of my favourite heroines, she's so feisty and has the best sense of humour. I enjoyed the book so much I finished almost the whole thing on the plane home. Then had nothing else to read as I hadn't expected to get through it all so quickly. Rooky mistake not having a spare book!
Disclaimer... I actually haven't read Much Ado About Nothing! However, I now do want to read it and I'm sure it will be even better with this new perspective. 

As I was in Greece my drink of choice was actually a coffee. Frappe is made by mixing together instant coffee with a little water and sugar to taste. Once frothy, add ice, milk if wanted, and more water to get a lovely long, ice cold drink. 

Did you guess the number of books correctly? Have you read and enjoyed any of these? I would love to hear which is your favourite.

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!