Wednesday, 5 February 2020

URBAN FANTASY REVIEW: The Sisters Grimm - Menna Van Praag

Release Date: 03/10/19
Publisher: Transworld Publishers

There are hundreds, possibly thousands, of sisters Grimm on Earth.
You may well be one of them, though you might never know it.
You think you’re ordinary.
You never suspect that you’re stronger than you seem, braver than you feel or greater than you imagine.

But I hope that by the time you finish this tale, you’ll start listening to the whispers that speak of unknown things, the signs that point in unseen directions and the nudges that suggest unimagined possibilities.

I hope too that you’ll discover your own magnificence, your own magic . . .

This is the story of four sisters Grimm – daughters born to different mothers on the same day, each born out of bright-white wishing and black-edged desire. They found each other at eight years-old, were separated at thirteen and now, at nearly eighteen, it is imperative that they find each other once again. 

In thirty-three days they will meet their father in Everwhere. Only then will they discover who they truly are, and what they can truly do. Then they must fight to save their lives and the lives of the ones they love. Three will live, one will die. You’ll have to read on to find out who and why… 

I love to try something a little different and this title certainly sold itself to me with the book blurb.  However whilst after reading it, it wasn't really my cup of tea, I did admire the way that the author brought the characters across to the reader, giving them foibles as well as strengths, grounded reality alongside their magical abilities.

It has solid prose, dialogue that will help them feel real and whilst for me I felt that the pace was lacking, it does show that the author will win themselves fans with this series.  All round a book that is one hell of a start to a writers career and whilst this one is a pass for me, I will read future outings to see what other wonderful worlds she has created.

Tuesday, 12 November 2019

CRIME THRILLER REVIEW: The Scent of Death - Simon Beckett

Release Date: 03/10/19
Publisher: Bantam Press

SYNOPSIS: ‘Masterful storytelling and macabre forensic details make his novels utterly chilling reads’ TESS GERRITSEN

Once a busy hospital, St Jude’s now stands derelict, awaiting demolition.
When a partially mummified corpse is found in the building’s cavernous loft, forensics expert Dr David Hunter is called in to take a look. He can’t say how long the body’s been there, but he is certain it’s that of a young woman. And that she was pregnant.

Then part of the attic floor collapses, revealing another of the hospital’s secrets: a bricked-up chamber with beds inside. And some of them are still occupied.

For Hunter, what began as a straightforward case is about to become a twisted nightmare. And it soon becomes clear that St Jude’s hasn’t claimed its last victim . . .

Chilling, visceral and masterfully paced, Simon Beckett’s new crime thriller will leave you gasping.

f you love a book of death, crime solving and forensic anthropology but want to try something a little more british than Kathy Reichs, then this is the author for you. He brings to live Dr Hunter, who throughout his outings, has faced death, picked up psychological scars and above all else learned to find inner strength to rebuild himself and find a sense of forgiveness for personal tragedies.

The prose is wonderful, the way that he brings the dialogue to the page is delightful and for me, when you add great pace alongside characters that you care about to the fore, makes sure that the reader is presented with a wonderful crime thriller that will have you staying up late with the promise of one more chapter to disappointment as the last page is turned.

For me, this latest outing is a wonderful example of British Crime and to be honest I'd love to see David brought to the small screen. Truly a cracking read and a real pleasure to spend time with.

Monday, 11 November 2019

THRILLER REVIEW: The Shape of Night - Tess Gerritsen

Release Date: 03/10/19
Publisher:  Bantam Press

SYNOPSIS: If the walls could talk . . . they'd tell her to leave. Now.

When Ava arrives at Brodie’s Watch, she thinks she has found the perfect place to hide from her past. Something terrible happened, something she is deeply ashamed of, and all she wants is to forget.

But the old house on the hill both welcomes and repels her and Ava quickly begins to suspect she is not alone. Either that or she is losing her mind.

The house is full of secrets, but is the creeping sense of danger coming from within its walls, or from somewhere else entirely?

REVIEW: Tess is an author I've loved for years. However for me this title is quite a departure from her usual fair as this is a wonderful ghost story that gives the reader a tale that will have you believing in love and forgiveness, self contempt to redemption.

As you'd expect from Tess, the principle characters come across wonderfully, rounded and believable with thier foibles as well as strengths which when backed with solid dialogue give you a cast that you care about. The twists within give you a wonderful ride and when added to her top notch understanding of pace all round leave you wondering not only where the time went but wanting more.

All round I was more than enthused with this tale from Tess and at the end of the day, I think that this one will be a good introduction to new readers without them having to buy in to established characters in multi-title series but also gives them a great chance to try her and fall for the writing that has won her fans the world over. Magic

Sunday, 10 November 2019

SPIRITUAL REVIEW: The Way of Fire and Ice - Ryan Smith

Release Date: 01/11/19
Publisher:  Llewellyn Publications

SYNOPSIS: The Way of Fire and Ice reimagines and grounds Norse Paganism in today s world, providing practical information on crafting ritual, developing personal mystical practices, and building sustainable community. Instead of being a guide to the reconstruction of ancient Norse religion, this material helps you participate in a radical modern revival that integrates Norse deities and beliefs with elements of Neopagan practice. Author Ryan Smith shares steps you can take to begin relationships with the gods, ancestors, and spirits of place. You will also find fascinating perspectives on Norse cosmology, the runes, the nine worlds, and much more. Whether you want to improve your spiritual connection in the routine matters of daily life or want to work with bigger questions of purpose and meaning, the ideas presented here will serve you well on your journey.  

REVIEW: I've spent a lot of time reading through the mythologies and theologies of various societies and each one has fascinated me with the way that they've gone on to explain how things occurred, how they've effected the mindset of the various peoples and also demonstrated through the stories how things were met and overcome. 

For me, Norse mythology is perhaps the most human of those that I've read with even the gods making human errors and having to face their fates when the time of ragnorak comes. This book takes you through the various aspects of the norse religion addressing various offshoots and even facing its own dark rising from the far right stealing and manipulating the stories for their own use. 

The book deals with that, explains the errors and also goes on to show you how their own teaching give them various means to explore the human experience, showing you ways to utlise the runes both for divination as well as magic and how your own fate is yours to control through strength and courage rather than letting it be manipulated. Its a solid read, it doesn't take prisoners and I find it refreshing how it deals with all aspects revealing the darker things that can happen alongside how to walk your own path. 

All round its utterly refreshing and for me a title I had a hell of a time putting down.

Saturday, 9 November 2019

FACTUAL GHOST STORIES: Haunted Rails - Matthew L Swayne

Release Date: 25/10/19
Publisher: Llewellyn Publications

SYNOPSIS: First you hear the mournful wail of the ghost train s horn. Then you hear the throaty diesel engines roar and the heavy wheels clatter and groan on the steel tracks. You see the bright searchlight cut the inky dark And, moments later, it s gone. Vanished in thin air. Haunted Rails is filled with stories of ghost trains, haunted locomotives, and spectral cabooses. Within these pages, you ll read the riveting stories of fatal crashes and the ghosts that linger in old railroad stations and museums. You ll discover engineers, conductors, and brakemen who perished on the job but have yet to cross over into the light. This book includes dozens of true ghost stories that take place on famous rail lines and in out-of-the-way locations that will delight even the most fervent railroad fan.

REVIEW: As a fan of a sitting by a campfire and listening to ghost stories I love spending time hearing stories that whilst old are brand new to me. This book takes you on the rails of america to hear a whole host of stories from ghostly signalmen to haunted cabooses. From female apparitions to eerie rail stations. Its a title full of short stories, that brings them to the fore, well written, to the point and with research from those who have investigated the claims themselves where possible.
All round a fun read and one that I was more than happy to spend time with, especially when you add good storytelling blended with research to help back up the story. Great fun.

Friday, 8 November 2019

SPIRITUAL REVIEW: Unicorn Magic: Awaken to Mystical Energy and Embrace your Personal Power - Tess Whitehurst

Release Date:   08/11/19
Publisher: Llewellyn Publications

SYNOPSIS: Discover your personal strength through the whimsical-yet-practical lens of unicorn wisdom. This enchanting book is about finding your core power in a spiritual way—finding what makes you a unique, magical being.

Employing unicorn legends and lore as a sparkling framework, Unicorn Magic includes spiritual insight and practical exercises that counteract the current madness of our culture with the beauty and wonder that is our true legacy and birthright. Explore a wide range of topics, including energy work, meditation, ritual, activism and service, dreamwork, powers of the natural world (like crystals, herbs, and trees), creating a unicorn altar, spellwork, and more. With Tess Whitehurst's guidance, you'll rediscover your sense of wonder, awaken your intuition, and find the courage to make positive change in your life and in the world.

REVIEW: A book that I was more than interested in reading however for me it was a title that I sadly couldn't connect with in a meaningful way. Not that others won't but when I was a good way through, the practices didn't feel appropriate for me and an inner voice was telling me that it was sadly a title that I was just reading for knowledge in another area of the magic realm.

Tess' passion does show, it has exercises that will allow those who feel it appropriate to them to work through and develop an understanding but for me, sadly a miss.

Thursday, 7 November 2019

SPIRITUAL REVIEW: Honoring the Ancestors - Mallorie Vaudoise

Release Date: 24/10/19
Publisher: Llewellyn Publishing

SYNOPSIS: Ancestor veneration is one of the most widespread spiritual practices in the world. This book shares techniques to help you connect to your ancestors and receive the benefits that come from veneration more love in your life, better outcomes in creative pursuits, and an improved sense of wellness. Discover how genealogical research, family recipes, gentle rituals, and even practices like music and dancing can help open a wonderful new dimension of your spiritual journey. Honoring Your Ancestors shares the important distinctions between working with blood ancestors, lineage ancestors, and affinity ancestors. You will also explore the topic of ancestral trauma so you can be sure to develop a veneration practice that s uplifting and affirming for you.

REVIEW: Mysticism is on the increase over more recent years and whilst for a great many of us, some parts are strange and almost alien, its when you sit down and do your research that you can find a great many truths that add not only a sense of belonging but a sense of knowing those who have come before.

Within this title are ways for you to connect to your past blending mental exercises with psychological aspects alongside reasoning from other cultures who practice ancestral worship to help bring the points across to create an almost universal understanding so that we feel their connections down through the ages. It gives you a sense of belonging, an ideology of understanding those who have gone before but perhaps best of all ways to understand yourself better.

All round a fascinating read and one that I will take lessons from for quite some time to come.