Book Review….

 

 

The Mortal Instruments & The Infernal Devices by Cassandra Clare.

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Cassandra Clare’s fabulous series have been around for a little while now, but it was only this year that I finally got around to actually reading them. I purchased both sets over a year ago, but I never seemed to find or make the time to pick one up. Maybe I felt a little intimidated by seeing the whole set sat on my bookshelves- a little pressured perhaps, to work my way through them all from beginning to end. What if I did not like them? I was taking quite a risk in buying the whole series based upon my Bookstagram friend’s recommendations.

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Of course I needn’t have worried. I loved each and every book. What I DID do though, was to read them in the order suggested on Cassandra’s website. This meant starting with the first book in ‘The Mortal instruments’ series which is set in modern day, then weaving away from this set at book three, and into ‘The Infernal Devices’ trilogy, which is set in Victorian times; then back again to the Mortal Instruments again.

 

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Confusing? No, not really. It basically introduces the reader to some characters from the past who will make another appearance in the middle of the Mortal Instruments. If you choose to read each set separately, it won’t spoil your enjoyment at all.

 

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So starting with ‘The Mortal Instruments’ series, book one is ‘City of Bones’.

Here is the synopsis:

 

When Clary fray heads out to the Pandemonium Club in New York City, she hardly expects to witness a murder- much less a murder committed by three teenagers with odd markings. This is Clary’s first meeting with the Shadowhunters, warriors dedicated to ridding the earth of demons and keeping the odd werewolves and vampires in line. It’s also her first meeting with gorgeous, Golden haired Jace. Within twenty-four hours Clary is pulled into Jace’s world with a vengeance when her mother disappears and Clary herself is attacked by a demon. But why would demons be interested in an ordinary mundane like Clary? And how did she suddenly get the sight? The Shadowhunters would like to know.”

 

To be honest, when I read the blurb, I wasn’t sure if this was for me. But I knew this series had such a huge fan following, it had to be good. I loved the idea of a fantasy novel that incorporated so many mythical creatures, (we have vampires, werewolves, demons, faeries, warlocks, withes etc.) and I loved that it was set in contemporary New-York.

 

 

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So my take is this: Clary’s life is normal. She lives with her mother in a New-York apartment, has a best friend named Simon whom she has known since Kindergarten, and her life is pretty much normal, pretty mundane… except that it isn’t. Her life is about to get very complicated very quickly and the twists and turns just keep coming. This girls’ mind must be reeling as she discovers that there is so much more to life than meets the eye. How she copes with this information is admirable. Clary rises up to all the new challenges that meet her, and shows an inner strength that we all wish we had. Of course there is a love interest, maybe a love triangle?

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Anyhow, book one introduces us to all kind of magic and mayhem and leaves us with a cliff- hanger that made me move right on to the next book as soon as I’d turned the last page! The world building is incredible (you’ll find out what I mean when you read it) and each book gets better and better. The amount of detail is phenomenal! All you need to know is that the Shadowhunters are the good guys, demons are the bad guys and all the others in-between have their own place in this fight against good and evil. Once you understand this, you can feel free to enjoy all the ideosyncricities of the others- and there are many.

 

The books in ‘The Mortal Instruments’ series are:

 

City of Bones

City of Ashes
City of Glassbee1

City of Lost Souls

City of Fallen Angels

City of Heavenly Fire

 

This series was so good that I want to re-read them all again and again and this time I will tab the pages because there is just so much great writing in there!

 

Similarly, ‘The Infernal Devices’ trilogy is just as addictive.

 

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This is a trilogy, beginning with ‘The Clockwork Angel’.     queenbeeclips_0012_13

The synopsis says:

When Tessa Gray crosses the ocean to find her brother, her destination is England, the time is the reign of Queen Victoria, and something terrifying is waiting for her in London’s Downward, where vampires, warlocks, and other supernatural folk stalk the gaslit streets. Only the Shadowhunters, warriors dedicated to ridding the world of demons, keep order admit the chaos. Kidnapped by there mysterious Dark sisters, who are members of a secret organization called the Pandemonium club, Tessa soon learns that she herself is a downworlder with a rare ability : the power to transform, at will, into another person. What’s more, the Magister, the shadowy figure who runs the club, will stop at nothing to claim Tessa’s power for his own. Friendless and hunted,Tessa takes refuge with the Shadowhunters, of the London Institute, who swear t o find her brother if she will use her power to help them. She soon finds herself fascinated by- and torn between- two best friends: James, whose fragile beauty hides a deadly secret, and blue-eyed Will, whose caustic within volatile moods keep everyone in his life at arm’s length…everyone, that is, but Tessa. As their search draws them deep into the heart of an arcane plot that threatens to destroy the Shadowhunters, Tessa realizes that she may need to choose between saving her brother and helping her new friends save the world… and that live may be the most dangerous magic of all’

 

I loved this trilogy. I loved the steampunk era, the magic and mystery. I loved reading about the old London. Clare takes us across Britain to the City of York, a place that I personally know and love. I could picture the city in Victorian times, and see the action taking place.She has certainly done her homework with geography and history and it makes the story come to full blooded life in action and adventure with a dash of romance thrown in too. I think the trilogy is actually my favorite!

The books are:

Clockwork Angel

Clockwork Prince

Clockwork Princess

 

I wholeheartedly recommend this series to all ages, not just young adult. But pick it up quickly as Cassandra Clare is writing a further series which is connected to this one and you don’t want to fall behind!

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Autumn Vibes

Autumn….     fall-harvest-glitter-rose

 

I love autumn.

I love the cool sharp bite of the air, the colors of the changing leaves, the silky damp chill in the breeze, that you feel flitting across your face as you leave the house and the door clunks closed heavily behind you. I love the scent of fall too. There is a special scent that fills the air that is different to any other season; somewhat spicy and fruity- due perhaps to the fallen apples after they have tumbled to the ground, spilling their scents and adding their own fragrance into the atmosphere.

 

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I love watching little children walking with their parents, while kicking up the fallen leaves, so they can watch them swirl and dance about them. Who doesn’t love to see the pinch of pink in our cheeks after a brisk walk when the autumn air has been nipping at them? Autumn air seems so cleansing.

 

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I love the transition from summer clothes to fall layers. Shades of brown, cream, green and teal, and deep brick red. I feel warmer just looking at these colors, never mind being wrapped up in them. I ‘m always excited to see the changing storefront displays, noting how the artists can manage to create a swirling forest of magical colors. No wonder I feel the urge to treat myself to new fall make-up collections, and clothes, despite a closet that is already pretty full. These people can work magic.

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Yes magic is in the air, and I’m under its spell.

Which leads me to the excitement of Halloween coming up. It’s such a wonderful season! For children everywhere, the importance of ‘what to wear’ on that special night is tantamount to happiness, if only for twenty-four hours.

 

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For the rest of us, we must remember to buy in huge supplies of candy, because as much as we have better things to do with our money (such as buy books) we don’t want to be that house. And finally after jumping up a thousand times to answer the doorbell, when the candy tub is empty and the last little witch has gone home, we get to switch the porch light back off and collapse on the sofa with a mug of hot chocolate (made Italian style please) and a giant bar of Toblerone that we hid earlier.

 

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Now is the time to curl up in front of a good movie, usually a vintage rom,com, set in the fall. Try ‘Stepmom’ if you want to have a good cry too. This follows the wheel of the year along with its story – but have your tissues ready. What about ‘You’ve got Mail’? Oh how I love the vintage set design for Cathy’s apartment. Swoon.

 

Or maybe you would prefer a good old horror? ‘Poltergeist’ for example, either the vintage version or the newer one, both are so good. I love to marathon my DVD’s of the ‘American Horror Story’ series. ‘Dream House’ is another great favorite of mine. And today I just watched ‘The Conjuring 2’ It was SO good, and based on a true story. Rent yours from Redbox, and if you like it, buy it later.

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Now is the time to bake all your pumpkin spice cookies. You don’t need to bake from scratch; you can buy the Pillsbury version to save time. Either way you will fill your home with a fabulous aroma of fall that cannot help but make you want to curl up in a corner with your next favorite read.

 

Here are some books I’d recommend for the season.

 

img_6092The first two are by my all-time favorite author: Alice Hoffman. Most of you will have heard of ‘Practical Magic’ the Disney movie which this book inspired, but have you ever read the actual book? It is much different. You can see where the movie was inspired by it, but there are many more adult themes in the book. I have read all of Alice Hoffman’s books and my personal favorite is: ‘The Probable Future’. I’m actually rereading it right now. It was one of those books that I held to my heart right after reading the last word on the last page.Do you ever do this?

I also wholly recommend that you read ‘Garden Spells’ by Sarah Addison Allen too. Her writing style is very much like Alice Hoffman’s, inasmuch as she uses much more description than dialogue in her stories. I was so thrilled to discover Sarah’s books. I’m sure I did a little happy dance after reading the first page.

 

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Next I recommend you cook up some delicious fall recipes from Sophie Dahl’s cookbook: ‘Miss Dahl’s Voluptuous Delights’ This girl loves autumn so much she started her seasonal cookbook with it. I personally loved her recipe for ‘Poached eggs on portobello mushrooms with goats cheese’ although I broiled/ grilled the mushrooms for ten minutes and not the five that she suggested. I prefer them more wilted than raw.

img_6090I could really wax lyrical about autumn for hours on end. I guess I miss it so much. Living in Florida is lovely but I do miss my seasons.

If you have any great fall reads that you want to recommend, I’d love to hear from you.

Until next time, with love, Sally xx

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Every Cloud has a Silver Lining…

 

Or so they say!

 

Hi, my friends, I’m just popping it to keep you updated. Well, we lived through Hurricane Matthew with no damage, thank goodness. This time last year we had a huge tree outside the front windows, and we had it removed because it was cutting all the light out. I’m so pleased that we did that because fallen trees are a huge problem here now.

 

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So after initially being so disappointed at having our Disney cruise cancelled, I soon realized that I’d much rather be safe. I’m a great believer that every cloud has a silver lining and that was proven true when we were informed that not only would we be getting our money back, but we would also be offered twenty percent off the cost, when we rebook!

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So last night was spent watching the news updates and checking in on friends all the time. I am presently reading ‘City of Heavenly Fire’ by Cassandra Clare, so I inhaled a hundred pages of that before trying to sleep. Naturally it was a little difficult to concentrate while the storm was brewing. I was a little nervous because our windows are paper-thin here. But all was well, although we have a curfew until tomorrow night.

 

Anyway, yesterday was a great day for bookish deliveries prior to the storm starting. I received these awesome bookmarks from  Ribonitachocolate     and I love them so much, I had to order more right away. I mean how could I not? They’re just so darn cute.

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And look! My husband bought me the typewriter that I’ve been coveting from Michael’s store, for so long. It’s my birthday on Sunday, and I think he was going to buy me another Disney portrait while we were on the cruise, but since that is no longer possible I got my type writer  three days early instead. I’m so lucky. 🙂

 

 

This week I also received my first candle order from Reckless Gypsy  . I’m really impressed. They have a hidden crystal inside each one and they smell so clean and fresh even when unlit. It’s hard to explain how they smell. I guess there’s citrus in them for sure but I can’t determine the other scents except to say they are so fresh and lovely. They smell different to every other candle I have but in a great way. I feel cleansed just burning them. I can see me going back for more and more.

 

 

Just so pretty!

Well, this is short and sweet. Normal service will resume tomorrow. But I just wanted to check in and let you know that we’re okay here.

lots of love, Sally xx

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How to be a die-hard ‘Bookstagrammer’ without it taking over your life…

Aka, How to store your books and props so they’re easily accessible !

Good Morning sweeties, it’s so good to see you again, come in, come in.

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I am a born collector. I have to say that in a positive tone of voice otherwise you may think my home is like something out of an episode of the ‘Hoarders’ show. It isn’t, I assure you, though I guess if I didn’t have such regular purges, it could be.

Right now, I should have written and published at least another two blog posts since my last one, but the truth is I’ve been busy deep cleaning. It wasn’t meant to be a deep clean week. I decided my rainbow book shelves were looking a little cluttered, and figured that it wouldn’t take too long to fix them. Which it didn’t, but then the rest of my book shelves began to look tired too. So my ‘quick tidy’ of the shelves turned into a deep clean of my bedroom. Yikes!cleaning-06

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But I’m also pleased that I’m doing it. My room is looking fresher, brighter and almost zings with the color. I just wish it was this time next week and it was done.

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I may have added one or two extras after this pic was taken.

 

 

 

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Close up of my bedside bookcase. It was monochrome but now it matches better with the two above.

 

Anyhow…This post is not about my cleaning abilities of lack thereof. It is about being a bookstagrammer and collector and not letting it get out of control. So I’m sharing with you some of my secrets. These secrets mean I can have my cake and eat it, and so can you. Lets get into it.

Firstly, I accept that my bedroom is a good size. We bought this place as a fixer-upper two years ago. It’s an average sized house in an average sub-division. that’s my room on the top left, with the round window too!

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This was taken last Christmas, lol 90*F

We filled the home with love and light( and hard work, creating storage) and that was fine, because I love to see transformations. I won’t go into house stuff at any greater length, but it allowed me to figure out my priorities, ie: where to store my beloved books.

I came up with the idea of having a built-in that was at least three book lengths deep. Surely that would be enough space to unpack my collection? I designed it so I could have a faux fireplace there too, to break up the line of vision. I’m also a British gal living in Florida. I miss fireplaces. They make a house into a home. My flickering flames are so obviously faux, but they’re pretty!

 

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When I took this, I was also a magazine collector! I now have sorted through my magazines and only keep the current month’s edition.

This built-in has really helped me with storage, without a doubt. But somehow I still managed to outgrow it, despite regular purges. Many of the books on here are non-fiction. I have biographies, home interior design books, self-help, how-to, and tons of diverse subjects, most dominant on here are the true crime genre. My fiction has slipped onto the front row too, because lets face it, the cover designs are so much prettier.

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Every six weeks or so, I arrange a pick-up from the Vietnam Veterans. I donate to them because the money goes directly to the cause and is not diluted between paying managers high wages like Oxfam does (did you know that? A friend told me she earned over 30K in pounds as a manager at Oxfam and that was before I moved here seven years ago) Shocking right? So I donate to where the people get the money, not managers. I keep a medium-sized box in a corner of my dining room and I add things each week until it is full and then I call for a pick-up. Usually I have three boxes to collect when I call. I buy the boxes new because they’re only $1.50 each from Home Depot or Lowes and they wont fall apart when they’re lifted. It’s a small price to pay as far as I’m concerned.

I also regularly donate books to my local library. I treat my books with respect and devotion, so when I donate a book, it looks and feels brand new. No cracked spines, bent over pages or dog-eared covers. My local library staff get excited when I deliver.

 

So regular purges keep my home from being featured in a Hoarders episode. What else? pretty storage boxes, that’s what. Here’s where it gets interesting.

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Chair is from Home Goods. Boxes top and bottom from Michael’s, middle one from Home Goods

I buy mine from Home Goods or Michael’s. Both stock some really cute ones. Here you can see I have three different styles to show you. They fit nicely under my bed, and if you have a divan, and can’t store them there, they look so pretty on your windowsill or the top of your bookshelf. These cost only $5.99 each. And if you buy from Michaels and take in one of their weekly coupons, you can get up to fifty percent off. Result!!!

 

Now what does a bookstagrammer store inside these boxes? Are you dying to take a peek? This is where the magic happens….

Well, firstly you could use your boxes as a prop themselves, like this:

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They look pretty displayed like this, right?

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Or closed as background like this

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I love this rectangular blue one. I store all my gel pens and pencil collection in this one

So you get the picture.

Or you can be really savvy and organized and store all your book photo props inside them like this…

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Neat and tidy and instantly accessible 

Now we’re talking…

I have , bookmarks, butterflies, cards, feathers, flowers stars, steam punk props,   basically you name it.

Now at first I would keep the props in their original packaging, but as time passed and I added more props, this became increasingly difficult. Eventually after chasing feathers everywhere, I decided on the ziplock bag approach. #cuesingingangels  It has been a life saver! Now I can see at a glance, what I need, where it belongs, and grab it fast. Of course I’m still finding new prop ideas all the time, but now I have the best filing system ever for them. Need more room? buy another box and start again.

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Love these bookmarks from Boookmarky

Everything is under the same roofs to speak. It makes life so much easier, and I’m more inclined to put my props away immediately now that there have a home.

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So thats the small storage solutions taken care of. What about the big ones. Flowers! I don’t know about you but I used flowers as a major part of my Bookstagramming. I am not a crafty person, but I can throw a few flowers across some books and it can look pretty good, but it’s where to put them afterwards. Now for me, the answer was staring me in the face and had been for a long time. My mannequin. I had bought it a few years ago from Next UK and loved it. Now Next Direct are here in the States- Yippee! I had dressed it with fairy lights and dragged it downstairs each Christmas, but it was left to its own devices for the rest of the year. Then I had the idea of storing my flowers on it.

flower-storageIt started like this, but now it is more like a shrub with overflowing flowers everywhere. I’ll be ‘pruning’ this tonight.I’ll update a picture on my Instagram later today.

Another cute idea that I thought of was to drape them over my headboard or climbing up my bed posts. Or you could lay them artistically across the tops of your bookshelves. It just takes some time to sit down and plan what effect you would like. I have found a lot of inspiration on pinterest lately. This link takes you to my boards so you can see where my ideas come from (except the flower manaquin – I discovered that before I discovered pinterest, but I’ve found some cool ideas to decorate it up for Christmas!)

I have tons more that I could say on this subject, but I see this is becoming a long post. I guess I get excited about books so much. Anyway, I hope you like this post. I have lots more bookish posts lined up, so kindly keep checking back or better still, add yourself to my mailing list.

As for me, I’m now trying to get my organization head on for packing for my Disney cruise. I’m so excited! I’m soooo hoping my hubby gets me another Disney picture for this birthday. I’ve kept a space on the right of my TV just in case….

Have a lovely day, curl up in your book nook , light a candle and drift to other worlds.

Lots of love

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Sally XX