Stardust by Neil Gaiman

Cynthia StardustLife moves at a leisurely pace in the tiny town of Wall – named after the imposing stone barrier which separates the town from a grassy meadow. Here, young Tristran Thorn has lost his heart to the beautiful Victoria Forester and for the coveted prize of her hand, Tristran vows to retrieve a fallen star and deliver it to his beloved. It is an oath that sends him over the ancient wall and into a world that is dangerous and strange beyond imagining . .

A very descriptive story with a great cast of magical creatures. It was quite dark in places. Help was given to Tristan whenever he needed it, which pushed him towards the story’s conclusion. I think watching the movie first helped me bring the book alive, even though there are many differences. The movie gives you a sweeping story whereas the book is more descriptive and matter-of-fact. I enjoyed both formats of the story.

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Orlando by Virginia Woolf

amy-orlando.jpgOrlando is such a beautiful, lyrical, whimsical, funny, dreamlike, book; I wanted to read it out loud. It’s an historical fantasy story about an aristocratic young man, with a great passion for nature and living, who somehow lives outside of time, and one day wakes up as a woman. Yes, it is bizarre, but a joyful, amusing, and exotic journey.

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Slade house by David Mitchell

Amy Slade HouseEvery nine years, someone will find just what they have been hoping for at Slade House, a grand old house that almost appears out of nowhere, and then, they disappear. Beginning in 1979, and ending in 2015, we are those poor unfortunates as they discover the horrors behind the house. It is creepy, not really scary, and so very clever, as we get into the heads of needy people, just as things are turning around for them, then spectacularly turned upside down. You don’t need to have read his earlier book, The Bone Clocks, but if you have, it will be especially good.

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La belle sauvage by Phillip Pullman

Amy la belle sauvageIt has been a long time since I read His Dark Materials, and I very much enjoyed my time back in Pullman’s Brytain. A curious and thoughtful young boy lives with his parents, in a pub outside Oxford, but as he becomes involved in the life of baby Lyra, he must make a dangerous journey. It’s a magical world, in many senses, and the journey is delightful, frightening, heart-wrenching and full of wonder. I do hope we don’t have to wait too long for the next instalment.

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The last days of new Paris by China Mieville

Amy Last Days of New ParisTotally bizarre, The Last Days of New Paris certainly isn’t a book for everyone. It is alternate history set in two time periods, 1941 and 1950. What is created in 1940, leaves Thibaut and Sam still fighting Nazis in 1950 Paris, along with surrealist art that has come to life, and demons. It’s kind of like looking at surrealist artworks; I don’t really have any idea of what is going on, but it is disturbing, intriguing, frightening and somehow beautiful.

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The improbability of love by Hannah Rothschild

Amy Improbability of LoveThe Improbability of Love is the story of an 18th Century French painting, which turns up in a junk shop, and sets an awful lot of drama in motion. It’s a fast-paced mystery/thriller with elements of chick lit and satire. It was a bit of a mixed bag for me, sometimes the sense of everything going wrong before it could go right, just made me want to put it down, and I found some aspects over done, but the resolution was satisfying and the journey often amusing or engaging.

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Every heart a doorway by Susan McGuire

Amy Every heart a DoorwayEvery Heart a Doorway is an odd little story about a school for children who walked through doorways to strange lands, that on their return home, they long for. It started really well, and there is lots of imaginative detail, but I found it just too short and abrupt to have captured me fully. The characters were well drawn, if a little self-consciously diverse, but the action happened too quickly. It would probably make a good movie, that would be too scary for me!

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Gilded cage by Vic James

Amy Gilded CageSet in an alternate, modern day Britain, The Gilded Cage is about power and the class system, with a magical twist. The aristocrats, or Equals, have magic, called Skill, and they rule, making every commoner spend 10 years of their lives as slaves to them. One family begin their slave days together and become entwined with Equals, caught up in political machinations as they try to protect each other. It’s dark and clever, engrossing and, sadly, the recently released first book in the series. Now, to wait for the next….

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Sorcerer to the crown by Zen Cho

amy-sorcerer-to-the-crownSorcerer to the Crown is a lush, vibrant, imaginative and thoroughly delightful tale. Zacharias Wythe is the Sorcerer Royal in Regency London. As a freed, African slave, he is not well liked and has much to worry him when he meets Prunella Gentleman, who, full of magical ability when it was suppressed in women, turns his, and everyone else’s, world inside out. Engaging characters, a clever plot and just the right amount of humour and romance, I really loved this book.

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