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France

Halloween at Disneyland Paris

Disneyland Paris

I’m back!  Where have I been, you ask?  Well, last week I treated my sister to four nights at Disneyland Paris for her birthday.

Spoiler warning: if you haven’t been to Disneyland Paris before and want to experience its magical surprises firsthand, then perhaps you should read no more…

We stayed in the Sequoia Lodge, a mere five minute walk (at our excited power-walking pace, anyway) from the entrance to the Disney Village.

Disneyland Paris

I loved all the little rustic touches – though the long, dark corridors in this style were a bit spooky…

Our hotel even had a swimming pool – it was a nice relaxing way to end the busy days in the park.  Even if we were evacuated from the pool after a child left behind a… well, you get the idea (no filters on this blog!).

Disneyland Paris

Disneyland Paris

Disneyland Paris

8.30am, and it was already very busy!

Sleeping Beauty’s castle is a stunning piece of architecture, and it just made me smile whenever I caught a glimpse of it.  As it sits at the centre of the park, you can see its spires from just about anywhere.

Disneyland Paris

Disneyland Paris

The ceiling of the castle was just beautiful.

So, our first ride on our first day was the Buzz Lightyear Laser Blast – after queuing for a fair old while, the ride broke down, and we decided to go elsewhere instead (a bit of an anticlimactic start to the day!).  Fortunately there were lots of other rides in Discoveryland to enjoy.

Disneyland Paris

Disneyland Paris

The robotics all over the park were incredible – realistic, fluid movements that certainly rival my robot experiences in Tokyo!

We visited over Halloween, which meant we got to enjoy all the spooky decor, and Halloween-themed parades!

Disneyland Paris

Disneyland Paris

Disneyland Paris

Disneyland Paris

I just couldn’t get enough of these decorations from the new Disney film, Coco.

Disneyland Paris

Goofy’s Skeletoon Street Party was loads of fun – I still have the music stuck in my head now!

Disneyland Paris

Frontierland was definitely my favourite place (can you tell?), and I loved Phantom Manor and Big Thunder Mountain – two of my favourite rides.

Disneyland Paris

The level of detail in the park was amazing – even the restaurants looked impressive, fitting in with the theme of the area they were in.

Disneyland Paris

Our lunch venue in Discoveryland, day one.

Disneyland Paris

Disneyland Paris

We made sure to go on as many rides as we could, no matter how big or small… including the Mad Hatter’s Tea Cups!

Disneyland Paris

I saw someone from work in the queue to It’s A Small World – spooky!  It was fun trying to guess the different countries as we floated around the ride.

I’m not someone who really goes for the whole ‘meet the characters’ thing, but it was surprisingly easy to get into the spirit of Disney.  I’m quite sure I was shouting “look, it’s Gaston!” along with everyone else!  I still draw the line at high fives and hugs though.

Disneyland Paris

The Disney Illuminations show was really atmospheric – I think Let It Go even brought a tear to my eye!

Disneyland Paris

Disneyland Paris

I promise it only looks like Sleeping Beauty’s castle is exploding…

Disneyland Paris

Terrible lighting for photos, but the Disney Stars parade was the highlight of the trip for me. We saw it on our very last night – an epic end to an epic trip.

Disneyland Paris

How incredible to visit Disneyland for not just its 25th anniversary, but for Halloween too.  It was stiflingly busy at times, with queues of over 100 minutes for some rides, that luckily we managed to avoid with some FastPass planning.  Still, it was surreal to step into what can only be described as an alternative universe, unlike anything I’ve ever experienced before – there’s so much left to say, so many memories of daft or awe-inspiring moments that I will treasure for the rest of my life.

Disneyland Paris

Look out for my (shorter) post of our day in Walt Disney Studios – coming soon!

Emma

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November 4, 2017
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Book Review: The Little Bookshop on the Seine by Rebecca Raisin

The Little Bookshop on the Seine

Title: The Little Bookshop on the Seine

Author: Rebecca Raisin

Genre: Fiction, Chick Lit, Christmas, Contemporary, Romance, Cultural (France)

First Published: October 2015

‘It was easier to hide behind the cover of my books, and I found happiness there.’

INFO | Goodreads 

BUY | Amazon


_Summary

Small town bookshop owner Sarah Smith is asked by her heartbroken Parisian friend to do a bookshop exchange. With her boyfriend caught up in his job as a reporter, Sarah decides to step out of her comfort zone and move to Paris in search of adventure.

_review

Not usually one for chick lits, I was encouraged by fellow book club members Jess (The Teacup Library) and Emily (The Geek Undergraduate) to consider this book for our Christmas read.  I am pleased to say that I have been truly converted by the experience, and have so many good things to say about this book.

Firstly, let’s talk characters.  Sarah is our narrator and is exactly my kind of protagonist. She is shy and bookish, with a romantic view of the world.  Her beautiful descriptions of Paris read like something out of a travel guide, and will trigger wanderlust in everyone who reads them.  Rebecca Raisin writes with great knowledge and passion about the city and culture, and it is easy to be transported to the busy little bookshop on the Seine.  Much to my delight, Sarah’s transition to the new shop is not easy – the challenges she faces with finances and staff are very real, and I love to see characters problem-solve.  For Sarah, getting things in line at the bookshop were a major part of her character development, and certainly made things more exciting!

Ridge (Sarah’s partner) isn’t my cup of tea, but I can appreciate what Sarah sees in him – he shows a great deal of affection towards her, and seems genuinely guilty for not being around more. I like that there is a lot of mystery surrounding his work and schedule, and this fuels Sarah’s and the reader’s fear that he is being led astray during his long stints away from home. I was quick to believe that he could be unfaithful, but this became less likely as I read on, as I trusted in Sarah’s judgement of him.  Even so, I was unsure which direction their relationship would take – with her new found confidence, Sarah must choose whether to let the love of her life go, or to learn to live with his hectic lifestyle.  This builds up to a nice little twist at the end which I wasn’t expecting.

I was led to assume – probably from other books I have read – that things would fall apart with Ridge and she would get swept up by a certain sexy Parisian writer. It just wasn’t about that at all, and I can only applaud author Rebecca Raisin for producing a strong character in a strong and healthy relationship.  The characters show that communication is key, and the moral of the story is that by being honest with each other, Sarah and Ridge are able to talk openly about their feelings.  This was so refreshing – how many books have I read where couples just don’t talk to each other like normal people?

‘I had to remember my life wasn’t a romance novel, no matter how much I wanted it to be.’

This book is about love and romance but even more so it is about friendship and independence. It was a huge deal for me that Sarah gained confidence in herself and gave time to form friendships and focus on business in the bookshop.  I found the bookshop staff to all be unique with distinctive personalities and backgrounds.  I developed a soft spot for TJ, and was pleased that Sarah was able to make more than one male friend who had no interest in pursuing something romantic with her.

My only criticism is that I felt the ending was slightly rushed.  I loved how loose ends were tied up, but after the whole novel had been so steadily paced, it did feel that suddenly a lot of events happened at once.  I’m probably just nitpicking now!

I’m glad that I stepped out of my comfort zone like Sarah and picked up a chick lit this Christmas.  I’ve discovered a wonderful book and a brand new author I’ll be reading more of in the future!

Star Rating: ★★★★★ (5/5)


Thank you for joining us for this month’s book club!  If you are interested in Rebecca Raisin’s work, she was kind enough to participate in a Q&A earlier in the month, available to read here.

Happy reading!

Emma

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December 31, 2015
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