December is the absolute perfect time to catch up on some enjoyable reading! Luckily we’ve got you covered with two fabulous books to read while relaxing this festive season.


THE RULES OF MAGIC – Alice Hoffman

Rating: 5/5

This is another Reese Witherspoon Book Club pick  – one of my favourite sources for new reads (follow @reesesbookclubxhellosunshine on Instagram). The Rules of Magic is the prequel to Practical Magic which you may remember as the movie starring Nicole Kidman and Sandra Bullock in the 90’s. In it two sisters are raised by their elderly aunts. The Rules of Magic tells the story of these aunts and their brother – Frances, Bridget (Jet) and Vincent. Although this is a prequel, I have neither read nor watched Practical Magic, so be assured that you can enjoy this as a stand-alone read.

The three Owens siblings, who are from a long line of Massachusetts witches cursed from the 1600s, live in New York in the fifties/sixties. Susanna, their mother, knows they are different: irresistible Vincent, beautiful Jet and difficult Franny. She teaches them the rules of magic: no walking in the moonlight, no red shoes, no cats, no wearing black, no crows and most importantly, no falling in love, ever. But after a summer spent with their aunt Isabelle, the children begin to discover who they really are, breaking all the rules their mother had taught them in the process.

I absolutely loved this book, it is currently tied with Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine of my favourite book of the year. It is beautifully written, with wonderful language and gorgeous imagery. It is not about literal magic with spells and potions, it is more subtle and clever than that. The story and pace are so gentle, I sometimes felt like I was lying in the sunshine, or drinking a cup of warm tea while I was reading it.  There are also heart-breaking moments in The Rules of Magic, when I wanted to sob. This beautiful book is a must-read about love and acceptance, friendship and family which will make you believe in magic.


ORIGIN – Dan Brown

Rating: 3.5/5

I have read every Dan Brown novel, starting with the Da Vinci Code when I was 15. They do all follow a similar pattern, yet I continually find myself hooked and totally unable to put them down until the “Big Mystery” is revealed. I however delayed reading Origin because it was an eye-watering $32 on kindle, and I had decided to be responsible and borrow it from the Library. Unfortunately, these good intentions were spoilt when I panic-purchased Origin just before a long-haul flight.

This book stars Dan Brown’s long-time hero, symbologist Robert Langdon, and is centred around his friend, tech billionaire and futurist Edmond Kirsch. Edmond has made a momentous discovery, answering the two questions mankind has been asking for millennia: Where do we come from and where are we going?

I was very interested to know what Edmond had discovered (naturally you have to wait quite a few chapters for that) and in the end, I was a little disappointed with that aspect of the book. However, there is the requisite amount of drama and clue following that we have come to love from Dan Brown – combined with a race against the clock. I am a sucker for this stuff! I have also always enjoyed the descriptions of famous art works and buildings included in the Robert Langdon books. This one is set in Spain and it is great to read about some of the Spanish art and architecture instead of the more popular Italian history.

I also really liked the Artificial Intelligence aspect of this book as I have no doubt mankind is entering an age of unimaginable AI. I however hope we are a few years away from the technology described in Dan Brown’s book!

Overall this was the perfect choice to keep me company over the Atlantic. I awarded 3.5 stars because although formulaic, Dan Brown really does know how to keep you hooked.


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