‘Given to the Sea’ by Mindy McGinnis Spoiler free book review.

 

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This is my first book by Mindy Mcginnis and I received it in my ‘Fairyloot’ April monthly subscription box. I do love the fantasy genre, and I had just completed a book when this arrived, so I figured that I would choose this as my next read and avoid the agony that I normally go through as I peruse my book shelves to search for my next choice.

 

Lets start with the book’s synopsis:

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KHOSA was born to be fed to the sea. To prevent the kind of wave that once destroyed the Kingdom of Stille. She can’t be sacrificed until she produces an heir, but human touch repels her…except for the touch of the Indiri.

 Dara and Donil are the last of the Indiri, a native race with magic that’s seductive- a force of nature- but dwindling since the Pietra slaughtered their people.

 Witt leads the Pietra, the fierce warriors who are now marching on the Kingdom of Stille. The stone shores of Witt’s Kingdom harbor a secret threat, and to ensure the survival of his people, he’s prepared to conquer every speck of Stille’s soil.mermaid 4

 Vincent stands to inherit the throne of Stille, but has no wife to share it with. When the beautiful and mysterious Khosa arrives without an heir, Vincent knows that his father will stop at nothing to make sure she fulfills her duty. Torn between protecting his Kingdom and protecting the girl whose face is tied to its very existence, Vincent’s loyalty is soon at odds with his heart.

 While royals scheme, Pietrans and the Indiri struggle to survive, the rising sea calls for its Given, and Khosa is destined to answer.’

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Firstly I will have to say that I most likely would not have picked this book up myself after reading the synopsis. It appears too ‘busy’ too many characters and too many agendas vying for attention, and that usually puts me off.

However, I was certainly drawn in by the stunning book jacket design by Cliff Nielson and Maria Fazio.

 

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This is a story told from multiple perspectives. Khosa’s chapters are the only ones written in first person, so I initially assumed that she was the main character with the others as supporting cast. However, as I read on, I felt this was not the case. Here is my own synopsis:

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Khosa was conceived to be a sacrifice to the sea, as was her mother before her, and all female ancestors. Born out of superstition and fear, her life is a gift from the people from the Kingdom of Stille to the sea. They believe that by sacrificing ‘The Given’, to it, the sea, the sea would be assuaged from eating up the last of the diminishing land that it has been nibbling for generations. Khosa has been bred for this reason only, and her ‘keepers’ have succeeded in brainwashing her to yearn for this, without fear. As such, she has no hopes or ambitions other than waiting for her fate to be sealed. However, she needs to first choose a mate, and she is loath to do so as she is repelled by human touch. The people in the Kingdom are getting restless, as she cannot be sacrificed until she has produced an heir. Only then can she be taken to dance on the sea.

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We soon meet the kind and honorable Vincent, who at the beginning of the story is third in line to the throne, and sees a dark future for himself of waiting in the wings forevermore, before fate finally calls him to become King. He is not particularly impatient for the throne, but he feels completely unmoored, drifting from day to day, just waiting for the day to arrive when he is able to perform the role that he was conceived to fulfill. Both Vincent and Khosa are victims of generations of fate and tradition; until the day they meet, when they see a true reflection of themselves in each other. It is only then that they begin to truly question their futures and whether the end can justify the means.

 

 

 

 

Add to this a cast of characters from different tribes with competing ambitions, and motivations, who are now put into situations where they have no choice but to question their own fates. The reader watches as the earth shifts beneath them all, and eons of tradition and rituals begin to be questioned by all. Is the future really set in stone?

 

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I found this book to be well written, and I had no problem with the flow, despite the constant changing of perspectives and very short chapters. McGinnis deftly picks up the story from character to character as the perspective shifts, and she slips easily into the soul of the next person. Each chapter is headed with the characters name, to further assist, and avoid confusion.

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I felt that the story was well executed, and I think it had a well-defined logic with an ending that wrapped it up nicely but could not be accused of being twee or predictable. Technically it was very good, and there lies my only problem with it.

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I have to reiterate that while the story is very well written, I felt that it didn’t have as much soul as I would have liked. I felt that McGinnis didn’t delve into the characters hearts quite as deeply as I would have prefered. Or perhaps she did? Maybe none of the characters were capable of any feelings other than negative ones. But what I would have given for a happy moment or two in this book!

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On the whole I felt it was a very sad and haunting tale. However, I felt it coasted along for at least three hundred pages before any action began, but it still managed to keep my interest until the end.

There were times when I did wonder how the author was going to bring this ship to shore satisfactorily in the diminishing pages that were left, but I have to concede that she did it with aplomb, and I didn’t close the book with any regrets, although I do have to say, that I did feel an overall air of depression threading right through the story, that was hard to shake.

 

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I’m not familiar with Mindy McGinnis’ earlier works so I’m not able to compare and contrast it with them, but I’m trying to be as fair as possible. Perhaps I need to pick up another of her books to discover if the maudlin tone runs through all her work or if this was just accrued as part of this story.

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This is my personal honest review. I’d be very happy to hear your own opinions of this book in the comments. I’d give it 3.75 stars for sure. It would have hit the 4 star mark if only there had been more lighthearted moments scattered throughout the pages.

 

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I hope you’ve enjoyed this book review!

lots of love, Sally xxx

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Alice in Wonderland themed Giveaway!

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Hi guys,

As promised, I’m just popping up this post for you so you can see what goodies are included in my Instagram  #bookscupsandcandles8k giveaway. I do love to host a giveaway, and I think I get just as excited as my participants do. I was thrilled to see that the winners of my last giveaway, which was Beauty and the Beast themed, were from  different countries. I sent prizes to Sunny colorado here in the U.S and then to Italy and to France. I’m just hoping the European ladies get theirs soon. I can’t wait to hear from them. Anyway, here are some pictures of this giveaway, I’ll include details at the end of the post on how to enter .

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My giveaways always include a book, a cup and a candle of course, but I have fun looking for cute items that fit the theme that I have chosen. so firstly the book. I am giving you a choice of either the Hardback edition with the black and red cover or the U.K paperback edition. Your choice!

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The hardback here is shown without its cover as my copy was from a subscription box. Yours will be new. Or you may prefer to choose the book on the right,the U.K paperback copy 

 

 

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I have also included a stunning Alice themed coloring book. It’s really lovely. The cup is a really sweet mug designed by Evie Bookish. I chose the black and white monochrome design with the script on it as I think it matches so beautifully with the checkered tablecloth and also the Heartless book cover when the jacket is removed.

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I’m also including a new funko Pop Alice. There is a fridge magnet ‘We’re all mad here’ and this adorable library style bookmark which has kindly been donated by Amanda from North Ave Candles.  Also, in honor of my #soaksunday bath posts, I have added a Unicorn rainbow bath bubble from Lush.And what about these darling little props. These are a Disney set (yours will be new in box) that make super cute photo props. They are glittery and sparkle so nicely.

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There are more in the set. Alice is included, but I think she’s gone visiting today. 😉

They’re really cute. I think Disney make these sets for just about every movie that they made. I’d love to collect more.

 

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I mustn’t forget the cushion cover/pillow case that I waited so long for. It is such a good size too. I’m very happy with mine. Yours is new in packet and is sealed. Again, I have chosen to keep to the monochrome colors.

 

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Cute right? There are also magnetic Alice themed bookmarks included, and I’ve added some pins/ badges to the haul. Finally I am so grateful to Amanda from North Ave candles. She has also donated March’s candle of the month ‘The March Hare’ It smells delicious!

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I really love Amanda’s candles, and she is the sweetest person you ever could meet. I remember placing my first order with Amanda and putting it to the back of my mind because I was so used to candle makers taking 3-6 weeks to deliver. I was totally stoked when my order arrived less than a week later! It was so refreshing! And I fell madly in love with her bookish themed candles immediately . They smell SO GOOD! You must try them.

 

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Well, I think that’s all the prizes listed. Now the details of how to enter. It closes 10th April – thats tomorrow night from this post going up. You will also get two extra entries if you like and comment on this post =)

To enter, just follow my link to the original Instagram post which I will list at the end.

You will need to:

  1. Like the original post
  2. Follow my feed @bookscupsandcandles
  3. Tag 3 friends who may be interested
  4. repost the original picture with the #bookscupsandcandles8k   (screenshot it and crop and repost

ALL STEPS MUST BE TAKEN or entry is void.

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I can’t express how important this is. On so many of my giveaways, a persons name comes up and I check their feed and they haven’t reposted or followed, so I move on and draw another name. It’s sad really. They would have won. I don’t think it’s a lot to ask. It helps me to grow my feed and at the end of the giveaway you can delete your picture!

Rules: Obviously I’m not affiliated with Instagram or any of its sister companies.

  1. Must be a public account
  2. must repost, follow, like, hashtag etc
  3. no giveaway accounts

Not many rules as you can see. Finally follow this link for the post: Bookscupsandcandles

I’ll be drawing the winner on the 17th April. One week from closing date.

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The next giveaway is Harry Potter themed and will start shortly after to celebrate my 9K. However, I’m heading fast towards 10K now so there will be yet another giveaway when I reach that milestone. That will be huge because 10K is such an achievement for me.

Thank you guys so much for following me. I love books and reading so much, I really love this community and all the friends I have made along the way.

GOOD LUCK GUYS!

lots of love, Sally xxx

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Welcome to my #Soaksunday week 6

 

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I don’t know what has gotten into me lately, I think I have a touch of Spring fever. I’m organizing and cleaning, I’m laundering and sorting and falling back in love with my house all over again, even though we are still contemplating moving. Maybe it was the dark nights of winter finally passing, maybe its because the Florida heat is just right- not to hot and not too cold for me. Whatever the reason, I’m bouncing around with a big spring in my step right now. However, that is all well and good but that means that I am also throughly exhausted by the end of the day, and I’m so ready for a long soak in a hot bath.

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So while this is my #soaksunday post, I’ve actually been soaking all week! You see, to me, a morning shower is fine, but I am not personally a shower person. I’m in, washed, and out in less than ten minutes.It is to cleanse only. But I can stay in a bubble bath for the longest time -a couple of hours sometimes.

 

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So this week it’s been morning showers and evening baths. I take my current read in with me (at present I’m reading the Gisha trilogy and loving it), a nice drink, (usually tea but I’m on a little health kick right now ready for my upcoming  Disney cruise in six weeks: EEK! So I’m overdosing on juices) and either play something relaxing on Amazon’s Alexa or watch a movie on my laptop by candle light. It really resets me.

 

This Sunday I used a combination of Lush products and a bath bomb by ‘All of the book things’ It was a lovely combination. I used ‘The Joy of Jelly’ shower jelly by Lush Kitchen, and ‘The comforter’ by Lush USA. It made for a lovely bath cocktail.

 

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Once the water was really running I added the ‘Red as Dawn‘ bath bomb for a final flourish. It has a spicy dogwood and ginger scent, and gives a clean, perky scent, which is perfect for renewing your energy levels.

 

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My read for today is the last of the Grisha trilogy by Leigh Bardugo. I’m reading ‘Ruin and Rising’ and it’s SO good. I cannot wait to see how it ends. I’m sure there are many more twists and turns to come. You can get your copy of this series ( starting with ‘Shadow and Bone’ from Amazon  You will not regret it!

 

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If you’re like me and love collecting bookish merchandise , how about this perfect candle by The Melting Library

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It smells delicious!

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Thank you for joining me this week. I hope you enjoyed this post.

Please check in this week as I’ll be uploading detailed pictures of my latest  Instagram giveaway, which is Alice in Wonderland  themed. You’ll be able to earn extra entries with your blog comments. And who knows I mean even give an extra prize for my blog commenters like I did last month.

Take care,

lots of love, Sally xxx

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Crushing on Classics.

 

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I have just spent a lovely week reading and enjoying the classic book: ‘Jane Eyre’ by Charlotte Bronte. It is a book that I have wanted to read for the longest time and I am so happy that I finally picked it up, because it was everything that I expected it to be and much more. I think that it has actually become my new favorite classic.

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Only a few months ago I picked up ‘Wuthering Heights’ by Emily Bronte for the first time too, and it knocked my socks off. It was certainly a most contentious book for the age, and I was rather impressed with the risk that Ms. Bronte had taken in sending it for publication back in 1846. Even though she used the male pseudonym of ‘Ellis Bell’ as author, it was still considered very risqué for its time. Did you know that Charlotte Bronte told her father that she had written her first book (Jane Eyre), only after it had been published and received its first glowing reviews? Or that the Emily and Anne Bronte did not dare actually tell their father that they too had since become published authors (especially as ‘Wuthering Heights’ created such a maelstrom of gossip!)

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(I will write a post focusing on the Bronte family very soon, but today I want to encourage you to pick up a classic book yourself.)

 

You see there is something magical in the classics that appear to be sadly lacking in much of today’s literature. They display a different style of writing completely from contemporary literature, that beautifully encompasses the culture of those times.

 

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And necessarily so. For example, the pace of life was much more sedate; so most of the stories are a slow burn of passion, intrigue and/ or danger, unlike today’s fast paced plots where, it can be argued, we expect to be held breathless on some rollercoaster of a ride within the first ten pages, or we want our money back!

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Likewise, it appears that those authors of the past, (see Dickens and Austin too) invite us into their protagonists’ head far more often than those of the present; we hear their thoughts and feelings as they constantly echo off the page, signaling to the reader all the ‘why’s’ before we even have a chance to ask. Contrast this with modern literature and these questions of motivation are often left unanswered until the last possible moment- when all is revealed- or not!  It’s a different format for a different age.

 

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Furthermore, with the classics, one can notice that the authors tend to focus immensely on the descriptive’; painting a portrait of each scene in almost intimate detail. The wait can be agony for the reader who wants to know ‘what is going to happen next?’ because they are forced to slow down and match the pace of the time with that of the author, and invest themselves into the story fully and deeply, whether they want to sacrifice their time or not.

It is non-negotiable.

Consider this:

 

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From Jane Eyre, a description of her meeting acquaintances of her master for the first time, while she was working as a Governess at his home. Their station is above hers:

 

‘There were eight; yet, somehow, as they flocked in, they gave the impression of a much larger number. Some of them were very tall; many were dressed in white; all had a sweeping amplitude of array that seemed to magnify their person’s as a mist magnifies the moon. I rose and curtseyed to them: one or two bent their heads in return; the others only stared at me.

 They dispersed about the room, reminding me, by the lightness and buoyancy of their movements, of a flock of white plumy birds. Some of them threw theirselves in half-reclining positions on the sofas and ottomans: some bent over the tables and examined the flowers and books: the rest gathered in a group around the fire: all talked in a low but clear tone which seemed habitual to them.”  (P171)

 

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Note the contrast between the descriptions of one person 150 years ago (above) walking into a room full of strangers, with another, published this year:

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From Shadow and Bone by Leigh Bardugo:

 

 

“Genya led me to the same domed room where we had gathered the previous afternoon for the processional. It wasn’t nearly as crowded today, but there was still a lively buzz of conversation. In the corners, Grisha clustered around samovars and lounged on divans, warming themselves by elaborately tiled ovens. Others breakfasted at the four long tables arranged in a square at the room’s center. Again, a hush seemed to fall as we entered, but this time people at least pretended to carry on their conversations as we passed” (p121)

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In today’s writing we don’t waste words!

 

But that is the very attraction of these classic books to me. Sometimes I want to focus less on plot and more on character driven novels. ‘What’s going through his/her mind?’ ‘Why is he/she acting like that?’ Etc., etc. We are forced to consider every circumstance, every viewpoint and to take nothing at face value. By the end of the book, the reader has a thorough understanding of how each character is driven.

 

 

Having said all this, I don’t think I could spend my days only reading classic books.-I’m also a product of our times and sometimes I do want to run rather than ramble through the pages of a good read. But my point is this:

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There is wonder and enchantment in strolling through a book from another age. We are given a threefold gift, as we not only absorb a good story, but we learn history, and some culture along the way. It may be true that you need to have some patience to fully appreciate a classic book to its fullest extent, but the rewards are wonderful. I strongly advise you to pick up a classic book soon. Put aside some time and treat yourself to a wonderful story from almost forgotten worlds. Clear your calendar, and create a niche of time just to absorb all the nuances and magic that these books hold.

You will see a different world, you will step back in time and experience the world of our ancestors. You will exit them a changed person. Now that’s why I’m crushing on classics.

 

 

lots of love, Sally xx

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World Book Day: What was your favorite childhood read?

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I have been a voracious reader for as long as I can remember. Even as a child, any book I could get my hands on, I would read. I could never get enough. However, if you asked me as an adult what my favorite book  was, my answer would change day by day because they’d always be something newer on the horizon that might just be ‘The one’.

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However, back when I was around age seven, I was given a dog-eared copy of C.S. Lewis’ book ‘The Lion, the Witch & the Wardrobe’ and yes- I’m going to say it – it changed my life.

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This was ‘The One’ – my first love affair with a book. I inhaled it from cover to cover in one read. I cried intermittently at various stages of the story and wept buckets at the crescendo; wanting to step inside and take control of the story because I just couldn’t bear to be a witness of  events that were out of my control-yet paradoxically, neither could I step away from it  for more than the moment  it took to take a steadying breath, in order to fortify myself  because I just had to know whether things would become better. I still vividly remember my shaking hands as I turned each page, catching myself holding my breath and finally praying my hardest for the happily ever after that I had to have.

 

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That book both nourished me and yet traumatized me in ways that I cannot adequately describe, and it stayed with me and will stay with me for my lifetime. narnia-19

I cannot isolate one particular reason for why this book touched my soul in the way it did. I guess I feel it was a perfect blend of elements: the four child characters of which little Lucy was the main protagonist maybe? I had three older brothers and I felt her pain at not ever being taken seriously enough. Or perhaps it was the winter setting? Winter had always been my favorite season. The battle of good versus evil? For sure, that was an element because I was hoping against hope that good would win out in the end. But whatever the reasoning of the head, this book touched my heart in so many wonderful ways that day, and I have reread it a couple of times since. And each time, it still hits the spot.

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Now I know this book is part of the ‘Chronicles of Narnia’ series. I have read the first book ‘The Magicians Nephew’ and also  the third book ‘The Horse and his Boy’, but iI have yet to complete the rest. I have the set waiting patiently for me to pick them up, and I know I will eventually. Just not yet, but I will.

Now if there is a person the this big wide world who has not yet heard of, or read the ‘Chronicles Of Narnia’, or ‘The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe’ in particular, here is the official synopsis:

‘NARNIA…the land beyond the wardrobe door,  secret place frozen in eternal winter…a magical country waiting to be set free.

Lucy is the first to find the secret of the wardrobe in the Professor’s mysterious old house.At first, her brothers and sister don’t believe her when she tells of her visit to the land of Narnia. But soon Edmund, then Peter and Susan step through the wardrobe themselves. In Narnia they find a country buried under the evil enchantment of the White Witch. When they meet the Great Lion, Aslan, they realize they’ve been called to a great adventure and bravely join the battle to free Narnia from the Witches sinister spell.’

I do hope that I can entice at least one person who reads this blog, to either pick up this book for themselves or buy it for a child that they know would love it. There is not a book on earth that I would offer a higher recommendation for than this!

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So moving on to my adult favorites I have my own story to tell…

I once applied for a job in a bookstore back in England while I was at college. I had a great interview and everything was going really well until I was asked the $60,000 question: ‘What is your favorite book?’

My mind went blank. I stuttered and stammered, and came up empty. My only answer was “I haven’t found it yet’. I asked what their most popular book was. The answer was ‘The Davinci Code’. I hadn’t read it. How embarrassing. You see there was so much hype when that book was published that like ’50 Shades’ the whole world went crazy buying it. So I didn’t.Just because I didn’t want to be a sheep. #fool

I mean, it was still selling millions back then, even though it had been published several years before my interview, but I was my own worst enemy and refused to jump on that bandwagon. To my own expense. I did not get offered the job, despite the fact that I was reading four or so books per week. Maybe he had other better contenders, but personally I think I blew it on that one question. And so, I went right out and bought that Dan Brown book.

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I read it cover to over pretty much overnight. And guess what? It’s the best book I’ve ever read.


I finally met ‘The One, and  although it was much too late to swing that job. But then I’m an optimist, and so the moral of the story is that I realize that if I hadn’t had that interview, I would never have read that book- or everything else that Brown wrote after.

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I am still looking for my next favorite book.

I’m hoping that it will be the one I am writing. That would be so cool.

In the meantime, if you are already a fan of Narnia, I can totally recommend these two literary critiques:

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Inside Narnia by Devin Brown  ‘Longtime fans of the Chronicles as well as newcomers to the series will find this book both insightful and informative’ _ Jerry Walls

And also The Magician’s Book by Laura Miller

Lots of love, Sally xxx

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Book Review: Outlander by Diana Gabaldon

 

 

 

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Outlander is first and foremost a time-travel story. Claire Randall, a young married combat nurse in 1945, is whisked away,back in time to the Highlands of 1740’s Scotland. She and her husband were visiting Inverness for their delayed honeymoon. The war had interrupted their new marriage and prior to this they had barely seen each other in five full years. The honeymoon was planned as a relaxing vacation and time away for Claire and her husband Frank to reconnect, but it became a place of almost complete disconnection instead, in ways that neither of them could ever have imagined.

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During an outing alone, Claire is thrown into a time before cars and planes, before tanks and machine guns, before antibiotics. If women had little voice in the 1940’s they had none in the 1740’s! Within moments of arriving, breathless and confused, she faces imminent danger and she is whisked away from her arrival point, not knowing if she can or will ever find it again. We follow her life as she is forced to adapt to her new surroundings, and meet new people, making the best of her situation but making enemies as well as friends along the way; as she is a ‘Sassenach’ – an outsider with an English accent, who may never truly ‘fit in’ or be fully trusted by the born Scots.

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When she meets James Fraser, an unlikely friendship begins, and the most unlikely (yet somehow believable) romance follows. The book synopsis states that: ‘James Fraser shows her a love so absolute that Claire becomes a woman torn between fidelity and desire- and two vastly different men in two irreconcilable lives’ I have to agree and couldn’t put it better myself!

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Will Claire ever get home again? Will she still want to? These questions and more followed my path through the pages and kept me spellbound until the end. I thank goodness that it took me so long to discover this series, as I don’t think I could cope with not knowing how the story would progress in future installments. Imagine reading the first book and having to wait a year before you could find out what happened next?

 

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It took me several attempts to get into ‘Outlander’ I have to confess, but I’ve learned since then that quite a few readers also suffered teething problems with this first book. However, once I was ‘in’ I couldn’t pull myself away from it, so I’m so pleased that I persevered. My problem was that these books demand your full attention. I couldn’t read them whilst the T.V was competing in the background, or when people were distracting me. Usually this never bothers me and I can tune out background distractions easily, but with these books, I found that I needed total peace in order to fully immerse myself into them. Once I had, the rewards were great.

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Gabaldon’s writing is very detailed. She can take pages and pages to describe a scene that would be only short moments in ‘real time’. Yet her talent lies in those details. In my opinion, her ability to describe every aspect of a scene is nothing short of alchemy itself. Perhaps that is why I needed total silence and zero distractions while reading her books. I needed to focus on the words completely and needed to be fully relaxed in order to sink into the story and permit myself to be fully captivated by it.

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Be warned, these books are not for snacking on. Starting at 627 pages long, (Outlander Hardback) they are a full meal; in fact they are a veritable banquet. Outlander is packed full of meaty conflicts between clans, brawls between the British and the Scots, and the tenderest morsels of romance too. There is never a dull moment.

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True, some critics complain that there is an overindulgence in sexual violence, and at times I think it can shock; as details are brandished about in all their Technicolor glory, (or perhaps that is my own imagination working overtime?) and we are never in any doubt about ‘what exactly happened’; but then others have argued that this is only Gabaldon painting a very clear picture of those brutish times – and Gabaldon is nothing if not authentic in her details.

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I felt the heartburn acutely by the last page. In fact I’d say that I suffered indigestion for the full two days that it took for Amazon to whip out the desert to me: Dragonfly in Amber- hardback at 743 pages.

In that day before delivery I was suffering from a severe book hangover, and I found myself manically scouring my bookshelves for something light and fluffy to cleanse my palette between courses. A quick sip of silly later, I was fortified once more and couldn’t wait to crack open the next installment of this huge Scottish saga.

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And so when I open the first page of Dragonfly in Ember and discover that I am back in Inverness, I gasp. When I note that it is now 1968, I am now shaking. What? When? How?…. Claire?

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To find out, I strongly suggest you pick up this series soon.

Lots of love, Sally xxx

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Welcome to Week 5 of Soak Sunday.

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Goodness what a busy weekend I’ve had!

 

Some back story: late last year we thought we’d found our dream house. It meant moving several hundred miles away, but we were willing to make a fresh start. It was an old Victorian painted lady and I had great plans for it. Anyway someone beat us to it and we decided to stay where we were, after all, we loved our home and hadn’t actually intended to move prior to falling in love with the Victoria when the details landed in my in-box..

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But you know how that goes- once you decide to move you suddenly can’t stop looking for properties. So we spent Saturday viewing model homes in this area. We found some great contenders and that put us in the right frame of mind to clear out the clutter in our lives ready for when we find the perfect place.

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So Sunday was spent with us facing all our clutter and taking a trip to the garbage tip. Not fun but necessary! It was hard work and every muscle ached by the end of the day, but boy, what a satisfying feeling!

So to get to my point, I really needed a long soak to ease those exhausted muscles. I also needed an injection of energy too since it was only afternoon when we’d finished. So I chose a lovely bath cocktail with citrus notes, to both relax and invigorate me.

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I began with pouring some ‘Olive branch shower gel on the base of the bath, to start up the bubble process. Then I chose the ‘Refresher‘ shower jelly which I’d already prepared into cubes, and I mixed that with the ‘Ex Factor’ bath bomb (that little one with a stick figure in it) that I bought from the Lush Kitchen in the U.K (they ship to the U.S.A)…

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Then I  added two other bathbomb’s for maximum impact – I chose ‘Fizzbanger‘  as seen above. This lovely fizzing bath bomb looks like lemon but is fun of the scent of cinnamon and apples. The colors are spectacular and I did not expect them! They were stunning.

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Finally I added  ‘Yoga Bomb‘ which looks orange but has sandalwood, olibanum and ho wood oils encased inside.

 

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This was even prettier! I wish I could share the scent with you. They were so delicious.

 

 

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I set myself up with a lovely candle from ‘The melting Library’ (I think they are no longer in business sadly) and relaxed into the most delicious citrus scented bubble bath and settled down to read more of my new Diana Gabaldon book ‘Dragonfly in Amber’. It was the perfect end to a busy day. I think I was in there until the water went cold!

 

 

Finally I just want to remind you that Tuesday 28th Feb (tomorrow from this post) is the final day to enter my Beauty and the beast giveaway. You will find full details on my instagram feed. Remember you will earn two extra entries if you leave a comment on this blog (be sure to leave your instagram name here too) I will announce the winner by the weekend and will be giving details about my new Alice in Wonderland themed giveaway which is starting just a couple in just a couple of weeks! Kindly scroll back on here to see the prizes in glorious full detail too.

Have a great day. I’ll be back tomorrow with my ‘Outlander’ book review.

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Lots of love, Sally xxx

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Beauty & The Beast Instagram Give Away!

beauty-rose-clocheWelcome back, and I am so stoked to announce my first giveaway of 2017. I decided to theme this one ‘Beauty & the Beast’ since the live action movie will be out next month. I really cannot wait, can you? Oh yes the giveaway is INTERNATIONAL too. I always set aside the shipping money before I list.

So this movie is very special to me and my husband. You can read this little story on my latest instagram post, if you are interested.

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Anyway, lets get right onto the giveaway details shall we?…

First, lets see what you will be winning….

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I only took the funk’s out of the box for the photos!

Be warned, it keeps growing!

So first we have the gorgeous Beauty & the Beast coloring book. I can’t tell you just how stunning this book is. The pages are so beautiful.I can’t even…

img_2083 The inside is even more beautiful. It has scenes from the movie and also lots of patterns to doodle along with.

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This one is my favorite.

I’m sure Emma Watson will make the perfect Belle, don”t you?

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So along with the coloring book we have two Funko pops, one each of Belle and the Beast.You can see thee in the main picture. Then I added some cute fairy lights because I love them so much and will take any excuse to use fairy lights. My library is like a grotto! Then I ordered these precious magnetic book marks to add to the parcel as an extra.

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Lets, see, what else?… Oh yes, how about the story itself.  I bought this book.

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And then yesterday I happened to visit the book store and bought a ton of new things for me, and decided that wouldn’t it be cute to add this book and mini mystery funko pack too…

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I really wanted to make this giveaway something special. I have added a cute keyring, an adorable pillow cover and mug from Society 6 designed by Evie Bookish. Not show ing is a sampler candle from In the wick of time called ‘Be our Guest’. I’m so excited. And by the way, nobody is sponsoring me on this giveaway, I have purchased everything myself, trying to pick out super cute items that I hope you will love.

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Now you can be totally set up for all future Instagram and blog posts.  I have one more item to add and thats the faux rose- I mean it wouldn’t be right to not include the magic rose. I hope you love it.

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Now the details of how to enter.

 

beauty-rose-clocheSo all you have to do is:

* LIKE THE  Instagram giveaway post here *

*FOLLOW ME on instagram* – yes I do check.

*TAG TWO FRIENDS WHO MIGHT BE INTERESTED*

*REPOST THE GIVEAWAY PIC WITH THE TAG #bookscupsandcandles7k *

(yes you do need to repost, I do check and it’s a small price to pay for a chance to win all these goodies)

*FOR 2 EXTRA ENTRIES FOLLOW ME ON HERE (and you’ll be first to hear about the next two giveaways too)

Easy! Now the last date to enter is FEB 28th 2017. The winner will be announced a few days later.

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Okay, now the boring bit: The giveaway is not affiliated with Instagram or any of the brands that I am listing. Your feed MUST be public, and post must stay up until I announce that your names have all been inputted into the random name generator.

So remember, LIKe, FOLLOW, TAG, REPOST – DONE!

 

Good Luck everybody.

NEXT  TWO GIVEAWAYs will be in March (Alice in Wonderland) and April (Harry Potter)

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Lots of love, Sally xxxf3

Happy Valentine’s Day!

valentine-all-1Happy Valentine’s day fellow Bookstagrammers and Book bloggers! I hope you’re having a wonderful day.Whether you are married, dating or single, today is the day to show everyone some lurvvvvvv.

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I love any chance to use pink in my posts, so please forgive me for overgramming today. Some of my favorite pink books are these gorgeous pink Penguins which were released to honor cancer survivors in Australia and New Zealand. I wish they’d been available here. I had to special order mine and could only buy these ones. Just a small sample of what was available. But they’re so lovely. I’d love to buy more if you know where I can get some in the U.S.

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My hubby spoiled me this year with a heart shaped balloon, heart shaped chocolates, a heart shaped ornament, a dozen red roses and a gorgeous card too. He really surprised me. Such a sweetie! =)

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I couldn’t resist posting some stunning pink bookish merch too. I love this gorgeous cushion design and the lovely mug that I ordered from Red Bubble by one of my favorite artists Nyxsullivan

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And talking of gorgeousness. Have you discovered these amazing bookish candles from

Amanda at North Ave Candles

She sells the most amazing candles that not only smell delicious, but look so cute and what I just love is that Amanda ships quicker than any other candle store I’ve used. One of my pet peeves is that every other bookish candle store that Ive bought from take four to six weeks to deliver the goods. I mean my money is paid to them instantly, so Why don’t they have stock? Amanda ships right out to you FAST! and her candles smell as delicious as they look. This one is based on the book ‘The Secret Garden’ and is is beautiful!

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I love the old fashioned library card labels. And Amanda has just started making badges/buttons and bookmarks to match. Kindly keep checking back and I’ll post some pictures this week on my Instagram account

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Finally, how do you like poetry? I recently picked up some contemporary poetry when I purchased this darling book : ‘The Universe of us’ by Lang Leav  The only poetry I’d read previously had been quiet limited, with my absolute favorite being ‘If’ by Rudyard Kipling. I used to have that on my fridge door when I first emigrated here and was incredibly homesick for my family and friends back in Britain.

img_1827I hope you’ve had a wonderful Valentine’s day, whatever you’re doing.

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Lost of love, Sally xxx

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Book Review: Salem’s Lot by Stephen King

 

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Yes you read that correctly, I am reviewing a book that was written by the King way back in 1975.

Why now?

Because I’ve just finished a reread of it and I was blown away by the huge difference in Stephen King’s writing style of back in the day. ‘Salem’s Lot’ is so phenomenally well written, I had a huge new appreciation for the book. There are pages of prose entwined with detailed descriptions, enough characters to fill a classroom; yet each have their own individual personalities, their own mannerisms and their own agendas.

 

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I was first introduced to King’s work in my early teens. I inhaled his books and even watched some of the old ‘B’ movie translations of them (lets face it, it took years before any film maker could handle a Stephen King book with the respect it deserved. These stories need BIG budgets) I collected the paperbacks, and after I had devoured them, they stood proudly on my shelf for quite a few years. Then I finally realized I had to donate them. One of the problems with keeping paperbacks on display for a long time is the discoloration they suffer. So I reluctantly handed  them over.I like to keep my books pristine.

For a while I read other genres, slipping into each of his new releases as I found them, but using the library as my main source. Then last week I was in Books-a-Million when I stumbled across a new cover design for ‘Salem’s Lot’.

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I am a sucker, a marketers dream. I fell head over heels in love with it. I picked it up and popped it in my cart (yes I shop with a cart, I believe the store managers invested in them especially for me) My intention was to rebuild my collection with these spiffy new cover designs but not to actually reread them because goodness knows I have more books waiting to be read than I have room to house them.

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However, as I stepped into my waiting car (read that as my husband picking me up) I began rifling through my new haul, and the book lingered in my hands for just a moment too long. At this point I have to tell you that I had ‘Outlander’ waiting for me at home. It had taken me three attempts to get into the ‘Outlander’ book and I had finally read past the first fifty pages. I was finally ‘in’. But I made the mistake of opening the pages of ‘Salem’s Lot’and reading the first line:

 

“Almost everyone thought the man and the boy were father and son.”

HOOKED.

I read on, for a page or two, (or so I intended) and before I knew it we were home and twenty minutes had passed and I knew then beyond all reasonable doubt that I was reading this book right now and ‘Outlander’ would just have to wait patiently for me yet again.

You see there was ‘something’ about King’s writing in this book. Something precious and rare. Something that I missed the first time around.

Don’t misunderstand me, I love King’s signature style of character driven novels with fast paced action, witty repartee between characters and things you would never believe, being, well…believable. But here in ‘Salem’s Lot’ we have all this and more!

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Salem’s Lot was Stephen King’s second book, right after ‘Carrie’. Can you imagine how hard it would be for a new author to tackle a book about Vampires and make the reader be able to suspend reality? No pressure right? So my theory is that he put everything into this book…and it worked.

Its only a few months ago that I finally read Bram Stoker’s ‘Dracula’ for the first time. This is hard for me to confess, especially since I was born and bred in a small town not far from Whitby, where much of the book is based. Shame on me. Its one of my favorite towns to visit when I go back to England too.

Stoker’s writing is spectacular. It is timeless. It is absorbing and intriguing even after being written almost one hundred and fifty years ago.It was an amazing read. And I really believe now that Stephen King wanted to pay true homage to Stoker with ‘Salem’s Lot’. He does not copy Stoker’s style at all- that’s not what I am saying- but I feel like King tries his very best in this book. It’s like all his other books are a (very tasty) quick bake and Salem’s Lot is fine cuisine. It sounds paradoxical to say that his effort on this work shows, yet it appears effortless too.

Please pick it up if you get a chance. I’d even recommend this book to someone who doesn’t particularly choose Horror as an enjoyable genre, Just for the phenomenal writing.It really is too good to miss.

Needless to say, I have since purchased two more of his books to reread: ‘The Shining’ and ‘The Stand’ (I may be a while with a review of ‘The Stand’) These covers are so stunning!

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If you are interested in the covers that got me hooked, they are the Anchor paperback edition, part of Random house. And if you want to watch the ‘B’ movie version (as I did afterwards) you can buy it cheaply from HERE Enjoy!

 

Lots of love,

Sally xxx

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