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Cookie Break

Writer, stationery addict & occasional cat pillow. Adorer of all things cute. Tea and pasta fanatic.

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favourite books

WWW Wednesday 8th February 2017

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This meme is hosted by Sam over at Taking on a World of Words. A similar meme, This Week in Books is hosted by Lipsyy Lost and Found.

Why not join in? Just answer the following three questions in a post and then put a link to that post in the comments over at Taking on a World of Words.

WWW Wednesday

This meme will be categorised together with my book reviews. All links will get you to the book’s Goodreads listing, as always 🙂

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What I’m currently reading

08022017-2Ashael Rising

I’m very nearly done with this now and should finish it on Thursday. It’s the only ARC I’ve got at the moment so I’ll be able to return to my tbr pile after this!

I’ve really enjoyed it, and should get my review written early next week. Since I only post one review a week here it’ll be a while before it’ll go live but it’ll be on Goodreads right away 🙂

Blurb:

Ashael is a hunter-gatherer woman, apprenticed to Bhearra, the healer and spiritual leader of their tribe.

The Zanthar are invaders from another world who extend their own lives by stealing the life-force of everything around them. They were last seen on KalaDene 200 years ago. They have returned, looking for The Vessel, a being prophesied to hold the life-force of the land.

Iwan is a slave to the Zanthar, descendant of the folk that were taken as slaves the last time the Zanthar visited this world. He is sent out as a spy, while his mother is held hostage to ensure his compliance.

When Iwan and Ashael meet and she invites him to stay in Oak Cam, neither of them realise that she is the one the Zanthar seek. The fate of KalaDene and all of its people rests on Ashael’s shoulders.

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What I recently finished reading

nano-reward-4Siege and Storm

I really liked Siege and Storm. I’d agree that it wasn’t as good as the first book, but I still flew through it and I love the Russian mythology weaving into it. I’m excited to read the final title in the series now and see how everything’s going to play out.

Blurb:

Hunted across the True Sea, haunted by the lives she took on the Fold, Alina must try to make a life with Mal in an unfamiliar land. She finds starting new is not easy while keeping her identity as the Sun Summoner a secret. She can’t outrun her past or her destiny for long.

The Darkling has emerged from the Shadow Fold with a terrifying new power and a dangerous plan that will test the very boundaries of the natural world. With the help of a notorious privateer, Alina returns to the country she abandoned, determined to fight the forces gathering against Ravka. But as her power grows, Alina slips deeper into the Darkling’s game of forbidden magic, and farther away from Mal. Somehow, she will have to choose between her country, her power, and the love she always thought would guide her–or risk losing everything to the oncoming storm.

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What I think I’ll read next

nano-reward-5Ruin and Rising

This is still my next read… It’s taken me a while to get through my ARC since I read two books parallel to each other for a while, but it won’t be long now! I’m hoping to start it on Friday, maybe even Thursday. I’m really looking forward to it now!

Blurb:

The Darkling rules Ravka from his shadow throne.

Now the nation’s fate rests with a broken Sun Summoner, a disgraced tracker, and the shattered remnants of a once-great magical army.

Deep in an ancient network of tunnels and caverns, a weakened Alina must submit to the dubious protection of the Apparat and the zealots who worship her as a Saint. Yet her plans lie elsewhere, with the hunt for the elusive firebird and the hope that an outlaw prince still survives.

Alina will have to forge new alliances and put aside old rivalries as she and Mal race to find the last of Morozova’s amplifiers. But as she begins to unravel the Darkling’s secrets, she reveals a past that will forever alter her understanding of the bond they share and the power she wields. The firebird is the one thing that stands between Ravka and destruction—and claiming it could cost Alina the very future she’s fighting for.

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Have you read any of these and would like to chat about it? I look forward to hearing from you if you do – just leave a comment below and we can get this book club started!

My Favourite Reads of 2016 – Indie Edition!

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A couple of weeks ago I gave a shout-out to my favourite reads this year – and today I’m doing exactly the same thing, but for the incredible indie authors I’ve discovered this year!

I know we indie authors don’t always have a good reputation, due to the ease of self-publishing. That’s why I’m hoping that you’re going to take away some great recommendations from today’s post! A lot of us really do put our backs and souls into our books, and all of the novels below are great examples of indie authors who’ve done just that.

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EVO Shift was my second read by K. J. Chapman, and the sequel to her debut novel EVO Nation. They’re fast paced, the characters are beautifully developed (especially Yana) and there are plot twists and cliff hangers everywhere!

The Siblings

The Siblings is A. Morgan’s exciting, fast-paced, action-packed debut novel. As the title suggests, it’s about a brother and a sister in a dystopian future, where intense sun radiation has destroyed much of civilisation. They get separated, and discover terrible truths about the survival of humanity.

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I couldn’t believe this was self-published, it’s that good. If a dark urban fantasy with demons, shadows and sexy vampires (the traditional, awesome, dangerous kind, not the sparkly fairy kind) sounds like your thing I beg you to give this one a go. You won’t regret it.

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I devoured all three of these. Infernal Ties is the prequel novella, so it won’t take you long at all to decide if this series is for you! I’m looking forward to reading the final book next year, too. It features beautifully vivid mentions of Prague, and the character development is superb!

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I found so many amazing indie books this year simply because I know the authors on my various social media hangouts, and Awaken was one of them. I loved the plot immensely, and am really glad I decided to pick it up. While it has some religious sub tones they are very slight and background info more than anything, and didn’t in any way effect my enjoyment of the book (being not religious myself at all). The writing had a strange familiar feel to it, and I flew through it!

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I hadn’t read urban gothic before (although, The Making of Gabriel Davenport can probably also fall into that category) so I had no expectations going in, but I loved every moment of it. It was dark, it had funny moments, and – best of all – the MC Phoebe’s sarcasm matched my own! I’ve got the sequel Crescent Moon waiting for me now, and am really excited to get to it.

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Having read Chapman’s EVO Nation series I was looking forward to seeing how she handled high fantasy. This is her first novel in the genre, and with magic and prophecy playing such a huge part in it she’s handled it rather well! If you love destined lovers, prophecy and a villain you’ll love to hate, then this is for you!

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This was two kinds of firsts for me. I’ve never read erotic novels and I hadn’t read anything by Meldon before, either, so I went in with no expectations. Since this is a novella, and fast-paced, I could easily have read it in one day if my day job wasn’t a thing *shakes fist* It features both a lot of steamy action and an intriguing plot, which has Aphrodite and Loki solving murder mysteries. You also get a small insight into old religions, which made for interesting side info!www-07122016-3

Eléonore is Faith Riven’s debut novel, but it doesn’t read like one. It’s confident, action-packed and emotional, and I’d have read the whole thing in one sitting if it wasn’t for responsibilities and the day job *shakes fist some more* My review for it went up last week, so do check it out! 🙂

What are your favourite indie reads this year? Which ones would you recommend? Get a tea and some cookies, and let’s chat! 🙂

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For all my book reviews, please take a look here.

For Cookie Break’s home page, click me!

My Favourite Reads of 2016

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I’ve had amazing luck with my reading this year. Most of the books I’ve read were either every bit as good as I’d hoped they’d be, or they’ve exceeded expectations! I’ve found some incredible new authors, some new favourites, and the forever shelf on my bookshelf has had quite a few new additions, too! Thanks to Goodreads next year promises to be just as exciting – but right now I’d like to look back over the best books I’ve read this year, and make some recommendations while I’m at it 🙂

Watch out for the indie edition of this post in a couple of weeks, too! 😉

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Warheart marked the end of a long, wonderful series for me. In total there are 17 books, including the prequels, in the Sword of Truth series, so finishing it was bittersweet for me. I’d spend so much time in Goodkind’s world that moving on wasn’t easy, but at the same time I was excited to dive into something new. This was High Fantasy at its best for me, and I can’t recommend them enough! The first book is called Wizard’s First Rule – just be prepared for a long ride!

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I was drawn in by the cover and the blurb, although, I’ll admit, I thought this was about someone with DID (Dissociative Identity Disorder (split personality)) It’s not. It’s about a girl who literally splits into two every year around her birthday, and that makes this one hell of an emotional roller coaster! Don’t finish it in public. You’ll want chocolate, and a lot of tissues! (I can’t stress enough how many tissues you’ll need – or how much chocolate!)

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I received The Name of the Wind as a Christmas gift a year ago. I hadn’t heard of it before and its size was intimidating, which is why it waited a little longer on my shelf before I braved it. The second book is even longer, but if you want an Epic Fantasy story (you know you do, don’t live in denial!) then it doesn’t get much better than these! Once I’d started reading the length no longer bothered me. You know a book is good when you’re halfway through its 994 pages and want more!

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I admit, I had my difficulties with these two. They were slow starting for me, and they didn’t draw me in as much as they did everyone else, but they still deserve to be on here for the incredible world building, wonderful magic, and fantastic characters! If you haven’t read these yet you probably want to. Go on, treat yourself!

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Do I need to say anything? Just read them. They were wonderful, fantastic, and everything I want in a book. Please read them. Read them now!

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I actually hesitated putting this on here, because I saw the film afterwards and the film was terrible, and ruined it for me. But then I remembered the beautiful writing style, and remembered that the film did it an injustice. I really enjoyed this book, and think that you might, too. If you’ve seen the film, ignore it. The book is so. Much. Better!

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The Ocean at the End of the Lane was everything you might expect from a Neil Gaiman novel – Magical and wonderful, and it did something not many books manage. It left me feeling empty. It stayed with me for a while after I finished it, and it made me wish magic was real more than any other book has done. This was the first year I picked up a Neil Gaiman book, and he’s immediately become one of my favourite authors.

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Because I didn’t enjoy ADSoM and AGoS as much, I went in with low expectations but This Savage Song made up for it. It was so beautifully written, and I found an insane amount of quotes for my little red book! The sequel is on my insta-buy list, and I’m really looking forward to it.

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This was another one for my little red book. The writing style in this was different than most books I’ve read but stunning, and I ended up with so many quotes I loved! Along with The Name of the Wind and Six of Crows, this book is my happy place. If I’m ever stuck in my own writing, I leave through this, and it makes everything better ^-^

What are your favourite reads this year? If you were to recommend only one book (… fine, make it two), which would it be?

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For all my book reviews, please take a look here.

For Cookie Break’s home page, click me!

Review: The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms by N. K. Jemisin

Reviews

The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms (Inheritance #1)

by N. K. Jemisin

“Yeine Darr is an outcast from the barbarian north. But when her mother dies under mysterious circumstances, she is summoned to the majestic city of Sky. There, to her shock, Yeine is named an heiress to the king. But the throne of the Hundred Thousand Kingdoms is not easily won, and Yeine is thrust into a vicious power struggle.”

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What I thought:

The tales of the Arameri’s weapons are full of them slaughtering whole armies. There are no stories of crazed barbarian girls fighting back.

There are now, and her name is Yeine.

How do I begin to review this marvel? I scrapped my original review because it was far too long, and you don’t want to read through my rambling for that long (hence why I’m wasting time now, obviously), but this isn’t easy to review! I’ll try to keep it short.

At first I didn’t get on with The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms, for a number of reasons. The writing style is very different to anything I’ve read before (more on that in a moment) and it confused me a little at first, but then I got used to it and loved it. There was a lot of information given on the first hundred pages or so, and I felt a wee bit overwhelmed with all this history. And there was no map. Jemisin has created a rather large world, many of the countries are mentioned several times, and the lack of a map meant that I couldn’t orientate myself properly.

Despite all that, The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms is now one of my favourite reads this year/ever.

One cannot argue with madness. But sometimes, with luck and the Skyfather’s blessing, one can understand it.

Yeine has been elected one of three heirs to the Arameri throne, and she couldn’t want it less. Everyone is watching to see how she’ll embarrass herself and her heritage next, her cousin is trying to kill her (or at the very least emotionally blackmail her), and the Gods ask her to die so they might escape enslavement. Yeine is not impressed.

In Jemisin’s world, the Gods aren’t beings who live in heaven. They are slaves to the Arameri, their weapons, and they need Yeine to help them get revenge. She isn’t impressed by that, either.

Despite what she wants, she stays, and soon her struggle to survive in this power-hungry world becomes personal.

Yeine’s voice is a very honest, sarcastic one, and she interrupts the flow of the story to ramble a little, tell a related story to offer background info, or generally to make her dislike for her situation known. While her interruptions confused me at first I grew to love them pretty quickly.

The characters are excellent. There’s a family of gods, a power-mad cousin, and the truth behind Yeine’s mother’s murder. And – best of all – it had an antagonist I loved to hate! I’m beyond happy that she’ll get what she deserves.

The writing is fantastic. I made so many notes of phrases and paragraphs that stood out to me, and it made me want to write. Next time I’m in need of an inspiration surge I’ll be leafing through it.

Yes, I struggled in the beginning, and I wasn’t convinced that I’d enjoy it, but it has more than earned its place on my Forever Shelf!

Here’s another quote, in case my review (I was going to keep this short, wasn’t I? Sorry.) wasn’t enough to convince you:

So there was love, once. 

More than love. And now there’s more than hate. Mortals have no words for what we gods feel. Gods have no words for such things.

But love like that doesn’t just disappear, does it? No matter how powerful the hate, there is always a little love left, underneath.

Yes. Horrible, isn’t it?

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Have you read The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms, or would you like to? Get some cookies, drop me a comment and let’s get this book club going!

I don’t review books professionally. These reviews are mainly a small summary and my opinion on books I’ve loved, they are not intended to be anything more. All ‘reviews’ include a picture, title and name of author linking to the book’s Goodreads listing, the blurb from the back of the book and my non-professional verdict.

For all other book reviews, please take a look here.

WWW Wednesday 14th September 2016

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This meme is hosted by Sam over at Taking on a World of Words. A similar meme, This Week in Books is hosted by Lipsyy Lost and Found.

Why not join in? Just answer the following three questions in a post and then put a link to that post in the comments over at Taking on a World of Words.

WWW WednesdayThis meme will be categorised together with my book reviews. All links will get you to the book’s Goodreads listing, as always 🙂

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What I’m currently reading

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Why, oh why, am I struggling with this? It’s funny (the book, not my finding it difficult – that’s weird and unnatural), the writing is smooth and flows easily, but for some reason I can’t put my finger on I’m struggling to get into it.

I wasn’t sure what to read next (is there such a thing as too much choice when it comes to books? Hmm…) so my SO picked this one for me. I’m not very far into it yet but so far I’m enjoying it. I’m hoping to get a good chunk of it read this week.

Blurb:

According to the Nice and Accurate Prophecies of Agnes Nutter – the world’s only totally reliable guide to the future – the world will end on a Saturday. Next Saturday, in fact. Just after tea…

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What I recently finished reading

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The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms

This was a slow start for me – it’s a huge world with no map to help me put places into perspective, and a lot of history and information was poured into the first hundred pages – but once I got my head around everything I really loved it. The writing style was different to anything I’ve read before, and as I said, it’s a huge world with a lot of history – the world building is fantastic!

So, while it was a slow start for me it’s become one of my favourite books this year. I’ve made a note of a lot of quotes, and will include a few favourites in my review 🙂

Blurb:

Yeine Darr is an outcast from the barbarian north. But when her mother dies under mysterious circumstances, she is summoned to the majestic city of Sky. There, to her shock, Yeine is named an heiress to the king. But the throne of the Hundred Thousand Kingdoms is not easily won, and Yeine is thrust into a vicious power struggle.

and…

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Witch Infernal

I really enjoyed Witch Infernal, and my review is already live on Goodreads if you fancy checking it out now – if not, it’ll be up here next week 🙂

Blurb:

The city’s been quiet since Evie and her friends closed the hellmouth. The lycans and Sidhe are on their best behaviour, the witches haven’t been heard from, and Evie should be enjoying the break.

Evelyn Hawke wasn’t made for the quiet life. She’s bored.

Luckily for her, things start going wrong, and she’s expected to fix everyone else’s problems. A trio of celestials task Evie and her friends with the job of tracking down the witch who opened the hellmouth and putting an end to her. Little do they know that the witch has big plans and a far-reaching influence.

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What I think I’ll read next

There are a couple of books I’d like to read next, but Crooked Kingdom is going to be out very soon, and I will read it as soon as it pops through my door! I don’t want to have to put another book aside for it, but I’ll see how quickly I get through Good Omens. I’ve received a few books for review recently and some of them are quite short, so I might read one of those while I wait for Crooked Kingdom to arrive.

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Have you read any of these and would like to chat about it? I look forward to hearing from you if you do – just leave a comment below and we can get this book club started!

Review: Hell’s Teeth by James Fahy

ReviewsHell’s Teeth

by James Fahy

“New Oxford.

A third of the human population has been lost.

The wars came, and they created a monster. The Pale, a subhuman, vampire-like drone. Then they lost control.

In the thirty years that followed, humankind sought to rebuild itself within the walls of New Oxford.

But society had become fractured – humans now lived incongruously among Genetic Others, themselves a group of many subspecies.

The most dangerous of them all: the vampires.

Somehow, these groups have managed a peaceful co-existence under the controlling government influence of the Cabal. But that is all about to change…

When Phoebe Harkness receives a phone call in the middle of the night, things take a turn to the horrifying. Her supervisor at Blue Lab One, a high-security research facility, has gone missing.

And all that is left behind: her teeth.

Dr Harkness now finds herself in a race against time to stop further bloodshed and uncover the mystery behind the victims of this horrific crime. She must navigate the dark underworld of the vampire community, without becoming someone’s prey herself…

But she is not alone – on her side, against all odds, is another vampire. Together they must fight for answers before it’s too late…

Hell’s Teeth is the gripping first instalment of the urban gothic Phoebe Harkness series. It follows the young doctor as she stalks through the corrupt dystopia of New Oxford.”

WWW 27072016.4What I thought:

Hell’s Teeth was my first read by this author, and a recommendation via Instagram. I wasn’t sure what to expect except vampires, since urban gothic isn’t my usual genre, but I think it’s earned itself more of my attention!

Hell’s Teeth jumps straight into the story, and draws you in right away through it’s action-filled plot, its lore of the world and – my favourite – the MC’s sarcasm.

Phoebe Harkness is a scientist working on a cure for mankind’s own fabricated nightmare. Without wanting to give away too much – there are monsters outside the save walls of New Oxford, and they waste no time tearing into their prey. They are faster, more resilient and far more violent than people, and they were created by humans. Naturally, humans can’t control them, and Phoebe is the scientist in charge of developing a cure.

The plot moves quickly from the first page on. There wasn’t one moment when I wondered if a chapter was really necessary, not one character I thought it could have done without – everything is justified, everything and everyone moves the plot along. It’s gripping right from the start, and thanks to Phoebe’s marvellous sarcasm I bonded with her very quickly. Honestly, I think we’re soul mates.

The characters aside, it’s the lore of the world that kept me turning the pages. There are vampires, werewolves, necromancers – but not quite like we know them, and just enough information is given without dumping too much info on the reader at once. In fact, not much at all is said about the other races. Hell’s Teeth focuses on their vampires, so, while the other races are mentioned and we get a bit of information, we don’t get so much that it wouldn’t make sense in the context. We don’t receive info for the sake of it, and it’s left me really curious about the sequel.

There were a couple of minor things which bugged me slightly; there were small inconsistencies in spelling, a few tense changes, and other minor things like that, but nothing that made me want to stop reading. On the contrary – I was sad every time I had to put it down, and all those positives more than made up for it.

Overall this was a thrilling read, with a fascinating world which I loved exploring, and well-known races with fresh twists. This was my first urban gothic read, but it won’t be my last!

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Have you read Hell’s Teeth, or would you like to? Get some cookies, drop me a comment and let’s get this book club going!

I don’t review books professionally. These reviews are mainly a small summary and my opinion on books I’ve loved, they are not intended to be anything more. All ‘reviews’ include a picture, title and name of author linking to the book’s Goodreads listing, the blurb from the back of the book and my non-professional verdict.

For all other book reviews, please take a look here.

Review: The Ocean at the End of the Lane by Neil Gaiman

Reviews

The Ocean at the End of the Lane

by Neil Gaiman

“Sussex, England. A middle-aged man returns to his childhood home to attend a funeral. Although the house he lived in is long gone, he is drawn to the farm at the end of the road, where, when he was seven, he encountered a most remarkable girl, Lettie Hempstock, and her mother and grandmother. He hasn’t thought of Lettie in decades, and yet as he sits by the pond (a pond that she’d claimed was an ocean) behind the ramshackle old farmhouse, the unremembered past comes flooding back. And it is a past too strange, too frightening, too dangerous to have happened to anyone, let alone a small boy.

Forty years earlier, a man committed suicide in a stolen car at this farm at the end of the road. Like a fuse on a firework, his death lit a touchpaper and resonated in unimaginable ways. The darkness was unleashed, something scary and thoroughly incomprehensible to a little boy. And Lettie—magical, comforting, wise beyond her years—promised to protect him, no matter what.”

WWW27072016.2What I thought:

Would it be enough if I told you to read it because it’s magical? No? Fine, let me try.

This was my second read by Gaiman, but after Stardust I expected a lot of magic and a lot of wonder, and it oozed both.

You know you’re reading a great book when it makes you want to write, when it makes you want to create something magical and fantastic, and this book had me feeling that way all the way through.

The Ocean at the End of the Lane is about a man who returns to his childhood home, and suddenly remembers magical (apologies if I keep repeating myself – it’s not my fault this book is so damn magical, all right?) events that happened when he was a child. This book is his memory of those events – and the end just about broke something in me, and it’s still aching now.

It’s commonly accepted that magic only exists in movies and books, and then along comes Gaiman with books like this one and he makes you wonder if perhaps a little bit remains after all, and we just can’t see it. As writers many of us want to believe at least a little, but he makes it sound like the most natural thing in an extraordinary way, and I just love him for it.

There was one scene in particular which stood out for me and completely absorbed me, and that was when the main character entered Lettie’s ocean. The whole book was filled with magic, but this scene elevated things further for me.

The ending did something only very few books have achieved – it hurt me, I’m still hurting now several weeks after having finished it, and I love it all the more for it. I’m hurting for the MC, I’m hurting for myself and our desolate world, and it left me feeling empty.

If fantasy is your preferred genre – or even if it isn’t, if you’re up for a change – I can’t recommend this book enough.

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Have you read The Ocean at the End of the Lane? Get some cookies, drop me a comment and let’s get this book club going!

I don’t review books professionally. These reviews are mainly a small summary and my opinion on books I’ve loved, they are not intended to be anything more. All ‘reviews’ include a picture, title and name of author linking to the book’s Goodreads listing, the blurb from the back of the book and my non-professional verdict.

For all other book reviews, please take a look here.

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