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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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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 😉

 

Spring Fling!

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Today is the first day of Spring and it is in full swing! The sun is shining bright and I am ready to get back into gear.
Here is What I’ve Been Sipping on this Spring:

Proof of Heaven
by Dr. Eben Alexander

Rated 4.3 on amazon.com
This is a story that would be remarkable no matter who it happened to, but the unique and intriguing circumstances make it all the more enchanting. A highly trained and respected neurosurgeon contracts (mysteriously) an extremely rare brain disease, has an extensive and scientifically unexplained near death experience, and then miraculously makes a statistically impossible full recovery.
That it happened to Dr. Even Alexander makes it revolutionary. This is even truer of this new edition, in which he expands upon the lessons he learned from his experience, adding new insights and guidance for a world more in need of them than ever. Reading this book inspires a whole new way at looking at life and one’s self; that is both comforting and enthralling.

Playing with Fire
by Tess Gerritsen

Rated 4.3 on amazon.com
I bought this book completely on a whim, because while purchasing it for a friend I read the first page and instantly knew it was my cuppa tea. This musically inspired thriller was also a romantic historical fiction.
It had an air of antique ambiance that I was quickly and completely absorbed in. To my surprise it also happened to take place in pre-WW2 Italy, did she write this just for me!

This book is deeply personal to the author and her musical background, which added an intimacy to the reading experience that was wonderful. The story also inspired/compelled her to compose a peace of music “Incendio” that has been performed by international violinist Yi-Jia Susanne Hou.

The Five People You Meet in Heaven
by Mitch Albom

Rated 4.6 on amazon.com
Eddie is a wounded war veteran, an old man who has lived, in his mind, an uninspired life. His job is fixing rides at a seaside amusement park. On his 83rd birthday, a tragic accident kills him, as he tries to save a little girl from a falling cart. He awakes in the afterlife, where he learns that heaven is not a destination. It’s a place where your life is explained to you by five people, some of whom you knew, others who may have been strangers.
One by one, from childhood to soldier to old age, Eddie’s five people revisit their connections to him on earth, illuminating the mysteries of his “meaningless” life, and revealing the haunting secret behind the eternal question: “Why was I here?”

Here is a new go to favorite of mine I tried on my trip

Book Bean: Green Tea Lemonade

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Add some old school charm to your afternoon tea! Make some iced green tea and add a splash of homemade or prepared lemonade for a lightly sweet twist. Serve with lemon slices and mint leaves. Find a place under a tree or on a porch swing to lose yourself in a book while sipping this crisp and refreshing drink, and enjoy the added benefit of a healthy boost of energy!

Papillon
by Henri Charrière

Rated 4.5 on amazon.com
A young man called “Papillon,” for the butterfly tattoo on his chest, was convicted in Paris in 1931 of a murder he did not commit. Sentenced to life imprisonment in the penal colony of French Guiana, he became obsessed with one goal: escape. After planning and executing a series of treacherous yet failed attempts over many years, he was eventually sent to the notorious Devil’s Island, a place from which no one has ever escaped .
His flight to freedom remains one of the most incredible feats of human cunning, will, and endurance ever undertaken.

The Count of Monte Cristo
by Alexander Dumas

Rated 4.6 on amazon.com
Dumas’ classic novel of wrongful imprisonment, adventure and revenge. Thrown in prison for a crime he has not committed, Edmond Dantes is confined to the grim fortress of the Château d’If. There he learns of a great hoard of treasure hidden on the Isle of Monte Cristo and becomes determined not only to escape but to unearth the treasure and use it to plot the destruction of the three men responsible for his incarceration.

I love Dumas’ storytelling; he is romantic, witty, and poetic, and yet the way he can spin an intriguing adventure cannot be matched! This story (as is customary to his writing) has it all.

I’ve also been trying this new coffee out, and it is fantastic

BookBean: Seabrook Blend
by Grounds for Change

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A perfect match for my current nautical reading selections! Full-bodied, rich, and so deliciously smooth; with noticeable notes of hazelnut and caramel that are a pleasant delight. Each cup is interesting and full of flavor and culture, a perfect blend.

So what have you been reading/sipping? Do share!

The Luck of the Irish

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Every year on March 17, the Irish and the Irish-at-heart all over the world observe St.Patrick’s Day. It began as a religious feast day for the patron saint of Ireland and has now become an international festival celebrating Irish culture with parades, dancing, special foods, and other culture rich delights.
Why not celebrate with literature as well.

Here is a mini literary tribute to this special day:

St. Patrick of Ireland: A Biography
by Philip Freeman
Ireland’s patron saint has long been shrouded in legend, but the true story of St. Patrick is far more inspiring than the myths. In St. Patrick of Ireland, Philip Freeman brings the historic Patrick and his world vividly to life. Born late in the fourth century to an aristocratic British family, Patrick’s life was changed forever when he was abducted and taken to Ireland just before his sixteenth birthday. He spent six grueling years there as a slave.

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Rated 4.6 on amazon.com

Book Bean: Shamrock Steamer
Add 1/2 pack of pistachio pudding powder and 2 cups hot/steamed milk to blender and blend, add espresso if desired (can also be served cold.) Garnish with crushed pistachio and mint.

Oscar Wilde

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Born October 16th 1864 he was an Irish playwright, novelist, essayist, and poet. He became one of London’s most popular playwrights in the early 1890’s. He is remembered for his epigrams, his novel The Picture of Dorian Gray, his plays. He is also as well known for his imprisonment for homosexuality after engaging in an affair with the marquess of Quensberry’s son. He spent his last three years in impoverished exile and died of Cerebral Meningitis on 30 November 1900.

“Some cause happiness wherever they go; others whenever they go.”

The Picture of Dorian Gray
by Oscar Wilde

Dorian Gray is a young man whose physical appearance is handsome and innocent. An aspiring artist paints a beautiful portrait of Dorian. Dorian wishes that he always look like his youthful appearance in the portrait. The wish comes true. Dorian remains the same; youthful and charming, but the portrait begins to transform itself into the image of his soul. Dorian lives a hedonistic the leads him to commit atrocities.

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Rated 4.3 on amazon.com

Book Bean: Wilde Grey Latte
Earl Grey tea steeped dense or pulled in espresso machine, vanilla extract/flavor, steamed milk, topped with a little froth and lavender garnish.

The Irish Americans: A History
by Jay P. Dolan
Four dominant themes in Irish-American history emerge from this new study by Dolan (The American Catholic Experience: A History from Colonial Times to the Present), professor emeritus of history at the University of Notre Dame. These four are politics, religion, labor and nationalism. Beginning in 1729, when a decline in the linen trade and a poor harvest sparked a rush to America, Dolan traces the exodus to the beckoning colonies.

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Rated 4.3 on amazon.com

Book Bean: Irish Coffee
Hot coffee, Irish whiskey, and sugar, stirred, and topped with thick cream.st-patricks-day-sayings-blessings-quotes-phrases-irish-sayings-image-1

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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“At one time, most of my friends could hear the bell, but as years passed,
it fell silent for all of them..”

The Polar Express
by Chris Van Allsburg

1986 Caldecott Medal Winner

A young boy, lying awake one Christmas Eve, is welcomed aboard a magical trip to the North Pole . . .

Through dark forests, over tall mountains, and across a desert of ice, the Polar Express makes its way to the city atop the world, where the boy will make his Christmas wish.
Rated  4.7 on amazon.com

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lowsynhotchocolatedrinkBook Bean: Hot Choc-o-Late!
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Made from scratch with cocoa powder, semi-sweet chocolate, milk and cream. Yum. OH yeah and with marshmallows of course.

Though I’ve grown old, the bell still rings for me,
as it does for all who truly believe.” 
Chris Van Allsburg, The Polar Express