Fantasy Friday

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I am a big fan of Fantasy Fiction but I am also very particular and picky about which books and series I choose to read, and eventually which books I like.


Here are the top 2 Fantasy Fiction books on my TBR:

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Outlander
 
by Diana Gabaldon 

I have nearly started this series SO many times, and I keep kicking myself for still not having started it. I have wanted to read it for so long, and have extremely high hopes for it, I just hope that I will love it as much as I anticipate.


Outlander
 is a New York Times bestseller, and has earned the praise of critics and captured the hearts of millions of fans. The story introduces two great characters, Claire Beauchamp Randall and Jamie Fraser, in a spellbinding novel of passion and history that combines exhilarating adventure with a love story for the ages.

Rated 4.6 on amazon.com

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G
raceling 
by Kristin Cashore

This book was recommended to me by a fellow blogger, and once I checked it out, it quickly made it to my list of books to read.
Another best seller and award winner.

Graceling tells the story of the vulnerable yet strong Katsa, a smart, beautiful teenager who lives in a world where selected people are given a Grace, a special talent that can be anything from dancing to swimming. Katsa’s is killing. She is forced to use her extreme skills as his thug. Along the way, Katsa must learn to decipher the true nature of her Grace.

Rated 4.3 on amazon.com

Have you read either of these books,
what did you think?
No spoilers please 😉

 

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Cozy Christmas Reads

I love snuggling up with a book at Christmas time. Gathering by a warm fire and/or twinkling lights, sipping something hot and getting lost in a cozy wintery story.

Here are some books I really enjoy reading at Christmas time:
 (Click the pictures and/or titles for more info.)

Miracle on 34th Street
You have probably all seen the movie, but it does not compare to the book (as usual.) I like the movie and actually the book is a nice extension of it. I was fortunate enough to have read it after the movie, which I think helps. It is a delightful book. The character of Kris Kringle is so enjoyable and jolly, you can’t help but love it. The story is wholesome and teaches us so many important lessons. If you have not read it, I urge you to do so, I think you will be happy you did.
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Book Bean: Eggnog Mocha
Your basic mocha but made with 1/3 parts eggnog 2/3 part milk (or to taste if like it extra sweet.) I also only use about half the amount of normal chocolate.

How the Grinch Stole Christmas
The wonderful classic story by Dr. Seuss. He is so brilliant in his creation of such a horrendously likable creature. We love and loathe the Grinch. Which is why the story is so compelling, and why the ending is so fulfilling. The Grinch has become iconic, he is like Scrooge a symbol to be used for those less keen on Christmas spirit.
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Book Bean:
Nutcrackerccino
A cappuccino sprinkled and swirled with nutmeg.

A Christmas Carol
Speaking of scrooge. This book has to be the most timeless Christmas story of ever told. Everyone one knows the tale, and it has been made in to countless shows and movies. The book is fantastic and I wish more people actually took the time to read it. A Christmas Carol is a hauntingly beautiful book.
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Book Bean: Cinnamint Tea
Mint tea with a dash of cream sprinkled with cinnamon and/or a cinnamon stick.

rudolph_book_coverRudolph The Red -Nose Reindeer
Oh the wonderful story of Rudolph. I love this story. I love the idea of a character being different and then overcoming the struggles and pain that can come from it. I got my anniversary copy of this book at a black-Friday door buster, back when it was still a sane thing to do. This is a great story and the book is lovely.
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Book Bean:
North Pole Cocoa
Rich hot chocolate with marshmallows and candy canes for stir sticks.


The Lion The Witch and The Wardrobe
I hope you are not sick of me mentioning this book yet. How could I not at Christmas time! This is one of my favorite books to read in general, but I especially love to read it at Christmas. It is a wonderful winterland story, that all ages will enjoy. I think it is a great book to read aloud in a group.
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Book Bean:
Spiced Orange Chai
Your favorite Chai with a dollop of marmalade and a sprinkle of spice if you dare (mix while very hot.) You can substitute marmalade for orange liqueur.
Twas The night Before Christmas
A wonderful classic poem that has been made into a beautiful book. The poem alone is great, but adding such detailed and amazing illustrations makes it so special. The art work is stunning.
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Book Bean:
Gingerbread Steamer
Add hot milk and crushed gingerbread crumbs to blender, blend until frothy.  Sprinkle with nutmeg and/or cinnamon.

What books do you like to cozy up with for Christmas?
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Fun Fact: According to the Guinness world records, the tallest Christmas tree ever cut was a 221-foot Douglas fir that was displayed in 1950 at the Northgate Shopping Center in Seattle, Washington.

12 Days of Christmas: Mini Book-Beans for Children

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DAY 9 of 12
“Real isn’t how you are made… It’s a thing that happens to you.”

The Velveteen Rabbit
Margery Williams

This 1922 classic is getting a makeover for the holiday season with a beautiful new festive cover for Christmastime. This edition illustrated by picture book great Don Daily still tells the precious story of the little rabbit stuffed in a stocking as a present and his love for a boy.

Rated 4.5 on amazon.com

the_velveteen_rabbit_shared_piece_1I adore this book! The quality of storytelling and charming characters captivate and move my spirit. The best part of the books is the parallel meaning in-between the lines. If you’ve read it, really read it, you know and appreciate what it is. This is a book everyone should have a chance to enjoy, both as a child and as an adult.

“You become. It takes a long time. That’s why it doesn’t happen often to people who break easily, or have sharp edges, or who have to be carefully kept…”

Book Bean: Velvety Orange Cocoa
Orange_Hot_Chocolate - Edited.jpgIn a saucepan heat 1-1.5 cup milk, .5-1 cup half n’half, a couple strips of orange-rind and 1 full slice of orange over medium heat. When hot add in 1/2 cup of chocolate chips ( like 45% cocoa semi-sweets.) Add 1 tsp cocoa and 2 tsp powdered sugar. Whisk well until melted and smooth. Top with whip, orange rind for garnish,
a sprinkle of orange-sugar, and spice of choice (clove n cinnamon.) 
Orange Infused Sugar: Mix 1/4 tsp of orange extract with 1 cup granulated sugar in a bag. Mush around and mix until evenly distributed. Spread sugar on large rimmed baking sheet. Let stand until sugar is dried (30 min.)

“…Generally, by the time you are Real, most of your hair has been loved off,
and your eyes drop out and you get loose in your joints and very shabby.

But these things don’t matter at all, because once you are Real you can’t be ugly, except to people who don’t understand.”
~Margery Williams, The Velveteen Rabbit

 

12 Days of Christmas: Mini Book-Beans for Children

literary-advent-6-edited-1Day 1 of 12:
“Darkness was cheap, and Scrooge liked it.”

A Christmas Carol
By  Charles Dickens

Tiny Tim, Ghosts, and of course the infamous Scrooge! This fantastic and endearing Christmas classic is a must read for children and adults. It is a great book for older children to read or for adults to read aloud by the fire with family. There are also a few amazing audible version that make great background ambiance.

Rated 4.7 on amazon.com

Cozy up with this book and a make sure to have a warm drink
to keep out the ghostly chills.

12 drinks of Christmas!

unnamedBook Bean: Cinnamon Cocoa Crunch
Something with a little bite in the spirit of scrooge:
In a large pot add 1 cup milk per person. Once the milk is warm whisk in 1 tsp dutch cocoa powder to 2 tsps of sugar (I use bakers sugar or confection sugar so it mixes smooth)
PER cup of milk! Bring to a low simmer.  Whisk in 1/4 tsp of cinnamon per cup of milk, or to taste. Add in 1 Tbls of cream/half n’half per cup. Top with whip and sprinkle with red hots.

a_christmas_carol.jpeg“I will honour Christmas in my heart, and try to keep it all the year. I will live in the Past, the Present, and the Future. The Spirits of all Three shall strive within me. I will not shut out the lessons that they teach!”
― Charles Dickens, A Christmas Carol

Spooktastic Classics

This October I put together a little list of books I’d like to read to get me into the spirit of Hallows Eve. Here is my list, plus a few from past years. Any or all of these books make wonderful reading, but fair warning, some are not for the faint of heart.

Here is my mini list of spooky hair raising classics:

Frankenstein
by Mary Shelley
This is such a fantastic story, I encourage anyone who has not already read it to do so. The story’s background is also really interesting. It’s impressive enough the Shelley could right a book from the perspective of 2 separate males, but she also started this book on a complete whim. She was given the challenge by a peer to right a ghost story while vacationing, and out of that came this iconic masterpiece.

turn.jpgThe Turn of the Screw
by Henry James
I have to admit I barely made it through this book, though it is very well written and a wonderful classic. My reason was purely that I am a big chicken and it scared the daylights out of me. I read it aloud, which really added to it’s eeriness.

The Shining
by Stephen King
I of course had to have Stephen on this list.9781501175466_p0_v2_s550x406 I could decide which book so I chose purely based on the fact that The Shining was one of my first Stephen King experiences. Now for those really looking for a good scare go with “It” though I personally will never be brave enough.

Dracula
by Bram Stoker
This is a beautiful story and a classic that I feel is so under appreciated. Dracula represents everything the Victorians feared: the irrational, the pagan, the erotic and the foreign. If you love classic literature and/or gothic novels, I highly recommend you read this book!
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The Legend of Sleepy Hallow
by Washington Irving
Washington Irving’s haunting, macabre stories will give wide-eyed readers delightful chills. This is a great story and such an awesome read for this time of year. It is especially great to read on particularly gloomy flog laden evenings.

Halloween is just a few days away…
What spooky book/s will you be curling up with?
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French Press Classics

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Its talk like a pirate day, what better way to celebrate then with a few swashbuckling mini beans.

These french classics have it all; heroes, adventure, duels, the high seas, and well even a bit of love. Their literary mastery are well admired. I have a soft spot for epic tales and romanticism, and I hold these three among favorites.

Here are my favorite French presses:

The Count of Monte Cristo

by Alexandre Dumas
Thrown in prison for a crime he has not committed, Edmond Dantes is confined to the grim fortress of If. There he learns of a great hoard of treasure hidden on the Isle of Monte Cristo and he becomes determined not only to escape, but also to unearth the treasure and use it to plot the destruction of the three men responsible for his incarceration.

Dumas’ epic tale of suffering and retribution, inspired by a real-life case of wrongful imprisonment, was a huge popular success when it was first serialized in the 1840s.
Rated: 4.6 on amazon.com

p1000324.jpgBook Bean: Chocolat l’ancienne
Rich and decadent melted dark chocolate poured into cups, and served alongside it’s own separate dish of fresh whipped cream. So thick and creamy, I’ll have mine with Un café please!


Le
s Misérables
by Victor Hugo
Published in 1862 and considered one of the greatest novels of the 19th century. Within this dramatic story are themes that capture the intellect and the emotions: crime and punishment, the relentless persecution of Valjean by Javert, the desperation of Fantine, the amorality of the rogue Thénardier, and the universal desire to escape the prisons of our own minds.

A beautiful and haunting story that many can relate to and easily fall in love with. It is a richly complex emotional tale of good vs. evil and true redemption.
Rated: 4.7 on amazon.com

coffee


Book Bean
: Un café
A coffee, plain and simple, but not as we would have in the U.S. Order “Un Café” and you will get a small cup of plain strong espresso.


The Three Musketeers

by Alexandre Dumas
An adventurous tale of the young man d’Artagnan. Leaving home to travel to Paris, d’Artagnan wishes to join the Musketeers of the Guard. He is not one of the musketeers of the title but befriends Athos, Porthos and Aramis (inseparable friends who live by the motto “all for one, one for all.”) This motto which is first put forth by d’Artagnan, has become a most well known and loved signet.

This historical fiction is full of memorable characters and adventure, and laugh out loud wit and humor that had me completely entertained.
Rated: 4.4 on amazon.com

caffecoffea-comBook Bean: Cafè au Lait A coffee with hot milk added (In comparison to the Itallian caffè latte.) In the U.S. a café au lait is a drink of strong drip coffee or French pressed coffee, to which steamed milk is added.


Auguste Maquet
was a French author, best known as the chief collaborator of French novelist Alexandre Dumas, co-writing such works as
The Count of Monte Cristo and The Three Musketeers.

Fun Fact: Les Misérables as a whole is one of the longest ever written, with approximately 1,500 pages in unabridged English-language editions, and 1,900 pages in French.

Do you have a favorite french classic, and/or a favorite french author?