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.

Wednesday, 6 November 2019

SPIRITUAL BOOK REVIEW: Pagan Portals: Fairy Queens - Morgan Daimler

Release Date: 29/09/19
Publisher: Moon Books

SYNOPSIS: Mysterious and intriguing, the Queens of Fairy have been intertwined with mortal lives and imaginations for as long as we have had myth and folklore. Goddesses to some, fictional characters to others, these powerful Queens are bound up in the history of witchcraft and still have a role to play today. This book takes a look at who the Fairy Queens are, explores some of their individual stories, and considers how we can still connect to them and honor them in the world today.
REVIEW: Another interesting read in regard to magic from other sources, and whether its dragons, unicorns or fae, I suspect its along the same lines as the various pantheons however on a different plane, which depending upon your own personality and beliefs makes your selected one easier to visit.

Its well written, brings in folklore as well as allowing the reader to learn as well as adapt to learning the various mysteries on their own level at their own pace without having the reader feel rushed. Its easy to follow, is a fascinating read and above all else allows you to through a personable authorly voice to help identify what you feel will work for you.

Each person will get something different out of this title and whether you're a novice or an established adept, there is new information to help you carry on your own personal journey. Well phrased, easy to dip into and definitely an author I'll read more titles from.

Tuesday, 5 November 2019

FANTASY REVIEW: Shroud of Prophecy 1: Fate of the Fallen - Kel Kade

Release Date: 05/11/19
Publisher: Tor UK

SYNOPSIS: Fate of the Fallen is the start of a brand new adventure from New York Times bestselling author Kel Kade

Not all stories have happy endings.
Everyone loves Mathias. Naturally, when he discovers it’s his destiny to save the world, he dives in head first, pulling his best friend Aaslo along for the ride.

However, saving the world isn’t as easy, or exciting, as it sounds in the stories. The going gets rough and folks start to believe their best chance for survival is to surrender to the forces of evil, which isn’t how the prophecy goes. At all. As the list of allies grows thin, and the friends find themselves staring death in the face they must decide how to become the heroes they were destined to be or, failing that, how to survive.

REVIEW: This is a book that I read and then wanted to take the time to think about my review before writing as I wanted to make sense of everything and figure out how to do it without ruining the tale in any way for the reader.

Yes the plotline in the blurb sounds a lot like your typical stereotypical fantasy title however what the author does differently is have the prophecy thing turned on its head, exploring what happens when evil triumphs.

Its a cracking concept, the prose is solid and the overall arc is more than entertaining. The pace keeps up with what the reader would expect of a first book in a series and what the author really has done well is flesh the characters out so that as a reader you give a damn as to what happens to them.

As you'd expect with this, its a title that really does take you for a ride with its quirky twists, some cracking asides and dialogue that will keep you reading late into the night not only because of how hard a time you'll have putting it down but also because of the joy of taking a different tack to a great many other titles out there.

SPIRITUAL REVIEW: Chakra;s: Using the Chakras for Emotional, Physical, and Spiritual Well-Being - Tori Hartman

Release Date: 05/11/19
Publisher: St Martin's Essentials

SYNOPSIS: Explore the power of the seven chakras in your own life
Chakras: An Introduction to Using the Chakras for Emotional, Physical, and Spiritual Wellbeing is a simple, modern guide to chakras, offering insight into how they function and how to access their healing energies in your own life. These seemingly mystical energy meridians are key centers of energy in our bodies; tapping into their power can promote health and happiness, physically, mentally, and spiritually. Designed for complete beginners, this latest title in The Start Here Guide series is meant to be the first book you read on the subject. Chakras offers a simplified history of the chakras, their key areas of influence, and most importantly, how to work with the powerful energy flow in your own life.
Author Tori Hartman is a professional intuitive who has worked with chakra wisdom for years and is deeply familiar with the transformative power of chakra energies. Throughout the book, she will lead you through modern chakra practices and provide practical exercises that allow you to experience the chakras yourself. A thorough resources section provides beginners with all the information they need to learn more and to dive deeper into their study of the chakras. Chakras is a truly exceptional guide for any beginner.

REVIEW: With this title by Tori, the reader is introduced to the various chakra's and their colours and given exercises to connect with various issues within that may have been causing problems below the surface.

Its well written, it takes you through various levels and also gets you to explore not only your own problems but some that may have carried through quite some time, even repeated from earlier generations. The various exercises will take you some time to achieve and the sense of achievement as you hit goals really does lift you. All round a good book and whilst I'm more into Reiki than chakra's I can see how the exercises within this title will also help with that. Magic.

Friday, 1 November 2019

SPIRITUAL REVIEW: A Practical Guide to Pagan Priesthood - Rev Lora O'Brien

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

SYNOPSIS: There s a pressing need in the Pagan community for strong, aware, responsible, and accountable leaders. This book provides a down-to-earth perspective on what it means to be a priestess or priest and explores the duties, responsibilities, challenges, and benefits of stepping into such a role. Whether you are currently a priest or priestess, are considering becoming one, or would like to be more informed about Pagan leadership so you can better support your community, this book helps you learn about the practical skills required and provides ideas on how you can acquire or improve them. As Paganism continues to grow and new generations become leaders, this guide shares a practical picture of what the Pagan clergy can be.
REVIEW: As a reader fascinated with a lot of different aspects of the spiritualism I picked this book up to see how the more religious side of the equation worked for those within and whilst I couldn't see myself as a member of the Pagan Priesthood, I found the lessons within interesting and explained really well.

However for me, other than this, I really didn't get on with the book as I felt it wasn't quite written for the pagan faith in and of itself, more of how all priests should act for any faith. Don't get me wrong, that's not always a bad thing bringing the moralistic stance to practitioners however for me, the only real lesson that I took from the whole title was to think about how your own acts and actions would impair others around, which I suppose is perhaps the whole point of the book.

All round its solid enough and obviously written by someone who knows what they're talking about but for me, it wasn't a title I had to spend hours with or will be rereading again which sadly means it wouldn't be something that would have to have shelf space.