Book Review: Shadow of Night by Deborah Harkness

All Souls Trilogy reviews

The premiere of A Discovery of Witches based on the All Souls books  aired last week so it’s time to catch up with the rest of the trilogy book reviews starting with Shadow of Night.

Warning: Spoilers for the first book of series A Discovery of Witches may follow.

Book Review: Shadow of Night
Shadow of Night by  Deborah Harkness

Title: Shadow of Night

Author: Deborah Harkness

Genre: Fiction, supernatural

Publisher: Headline

Release Date: 14th February 2013

Blurb
It began with A DISCOVERY OF WITCHES.

Historian Diana Bishop, descended from a line of powerful witches, and long-lived vampire Matthew Clairmont have broken the laws dividing creatures. When Diana discovered a significant alchemical manuscript in the Bodleian Library, she sparked a struggle in which she became bound to Matthew. Now the fragile coexistence of witches, daemons, vampires and humans is dangerously threatened.
Seeking safety, Diana and Matthew travel back in time to London, 1590. But they soon realise that the past may not provide a haven. Reclaiming his former identity as poet and spy for Queen Elizabeth, the vampire falls back in with a group of radicals known as the School of Night. Many are unruly daemons, the creative minds of the age, including playwright Christopher Marlowe and mathematician Thomas Harriot.
Together Matthew and Diana scour Tudor London for the elusive manuscript Ashmole 782, and search for the witch who will teach Diana how to control her remarkable powers…

Fall under the spell of Diana and Matthew once more in this stunning, richly imagined, epic tale.

My Thoughts

As Matthew and Diana timewalk to 1590 when the witches’ powers were strong this sequel has a different feel to the first; it is historical fiction with a paranormal twist. I love the historical details and Deborah Harkness excels at bringing everyday Tudor life alive. I could smell and feel London as the characters walk through the city and interact with old characters and new. The introduction of recognisable personalities of the time such as William Shakespeare and Kit Marlow works well and inspired me to look into their works but it was the witches which fascinated me. The world of All Souls is expanded with new witches, daemons and vampires.

The pace is different and in places slower so not as page turning as A Discovery of Witches but it is still a strong book. The characters and twists keep the plot moving forward and all the details help bring things together in the Book of Life.

When I first read this book, A Discovery of Witches remained my favourite of the series but the more I reread this one the more details I see and has become the one I love most.

Would I recommend?

Of course. It has prime place on my forever bookshelf.

Thank you Headline and NetGalley for a digital copy.

Have you read this yet? What did you think? Let me know in the comments below.

Happy reading!

Kate Kenzie's Blog

 

September arrival and summer goodbyes

August Catch Up and September Plans

September is here with the promise of my favourite season  — Autumn. Cold, crisp mornings with colourful leaves littering the ground tempts people to run through them like a toddler. They always make me smile. Or am I the only one who feels that urge to do that when faced with a pile of leaves? Colder days also make me want to curl up, read  and write.

 

September Catch Up

 

My visitors left a few days so writing is back on my agenda and I hope to see my word count increase as I get my writing room back but best of all writing group has begun again. Two hours a week of uninterrupted writing time, catching up with friends and of course, eating biscuits or if we are lucky cake. I lost a stone over the summer by not eating carbs – I wonder if this will continue when fresh homemade cakes such as warm chocolate brownies are brought in. I have missed the companionship of fellow writers, the exercises and prompts but especially the laughs our stories will bring either by design or accident. I have my new notebook and pencil ready to be filled.

Last month reads

This month planned reads

  • The Lost Children by Helen Phifer
  • The Amber Maze by Christopher Bowden – watch out for a review this week at Duvet Dwellers books
  • Josie James and the Teardrops Summer by Lily Mae Walters – watch out for review on Duvet Dwellers books this week.
  • Titania’s Book of Hours A Celebration of the Witch’s Year by Titania Hardie – a bargain find in the charity shop

I am cutting back on blog tours and reviews to focus on my WIP but it would be impossible not to read and luckily, writers need to read. I wonder if there are any writers who find reading a chore.

Happy writing and reading!

 

Book Review: Coffee Break Companion by SL Grigg

It is Coffee Break Companion’s 6 month anniversary. Earlier this year I was lucky to meet S L Grigg – the interview can be found here – and now it’s time for the book review.

Coffee Break Companion by S L Grigg review:

Have a break with Coffee Break Companion

Title: Coffee Break Companion

Author: S L Grigg

Purchase information: https://amzn.to/2ofgtmA

SLGrigg CBC

Connect with the Author:

www.facebook.com/SLGRIGG76
www.slgrigg76.wordpress.com

Blurb

Grab that cup of coffee (or tea if you prefer), maybe add a splash of something stronger, settle down and enjoy your break with this gripping collection of flash fiction and poetry that will send shivers down your spine. With an added bonus of a longer story at the end that will fill your lunch break. What are you waiting for? Dive in! Everything from a discovery in an Ice Cavern, to a tornado. Mermaids, and Dragons. Mystery and Horror. This collection of flash fiction and poetry has something to capture anyone’s imagination, with a final chilling thriller that will leave you gasping for air.

My thoughts

As the title suggests this book is one to read over your coffee break or those free five minutes in the day. This collection of poems, short stories and flash fiction is easy to read over several breaks and there is something for everyone.
The raw emotion of some poems and the chapter ‘Loneliness’ brought tears to my eyes and a lump in my throat. I credit this book as one of the ones which opened my eyes to the depth and connection poetry can portray in a few sentences. I no longer shy away or skip the pages when I see a poem but jump in and enjoy so thank you SL Grigg.
As a writer, I enjoyed the editing exercises she shares to show the transformation from one story to another with the cutting of word count. I felt privileged to read the stories written in her childhood and I reminisced about my own afternoons scribbling in my teenage notebook.
I am looking forward to reading more from SL Grigg in the future.

Would I recommend?

Yes, put the kettle on and escape for 5 minutes.

Have you read this book?

Let me know your thoughts below.

Happy reading and drinking your cuppa or coffee!

For the love of trees and solitude: Forest Bathing continued

Reading Forest Bathing Retreat has made me long to be surrounded by trees, soak up the atmosphere and hear the sound of the woodlands; the bird song, the trickle of a nearby stream, the creak of a branch, the rustle of leaves as they dance in the soft breeze and my breath as I inhale deeply the fresh air. I dream of sinking to the base of a large tree shaded under its extensive canopy and write in the dappled green light. I miss the solitude of being able to write in nature alone; the oneness I feel and the creativity it encourages. It is one of the top things I miss since losing my mobility and independence. Herbie, my trusted scooter is lovely. He takes me out of the four walls into the countryside lanes to see and hear the world outside but the true places of interest, those off the beaten track away from cyclists, zooming cars and trundling tractors remain inaccessible. They are tantalizing close. I can see them over the bridge wall or rickety stye and it is hard not to think if only.

If out, I also rely on others to accompany me; gone are the days when I could leave a scribbled note on the side declaring I will be back soon. I dream of being left in a wood for a few hours or even an hour with some goodies – a flask of coffee and cinnamon roll will do, a notebook, a phone to type on and just be.

Be happy

Be creative

Be me.

And mainly be alone.

 

Writing in solitude without interruption is when I write my best work. My mind is free to grasp the thoughts and words without competition of conversation, expectation and general activity. Sentences flow easier and the clarity of images and dialogue are stronger. The only battle I have is from my own distracting thoughts but add nature into the equation and it is easier to block these and allow creativity in.

I miss the days when as a child, I would grab my notebook or novel and sit by a brook near my home in the shade of trees hidden from view. No parents, arguing siblings or frantic pets. I did not care it was on a public footpath nor that the silence was interrupted by the roar of a busy A road 100 yards away. To me, it was a little bit of heaven and the seeds of Ellfaen were planted.

Now, I must leap into my imagination and allow Amber to amble through the forest. I will focus on bringing nature into my writing room, snap photos of trees I can get to and peruse the web for images to create a forest on my laptop for inspiration and cyber forest bathing.

Do you have a favourite place to write, read or be? Let me know in the comments below. Even better, if you visit or see some wonderful trees and nature on your travels share the joy tag me on Instagram.

Happy writing, reading and if you are lucky a walk in the trees.

 

Book Review: Forest Bathing Retreat by Hannah Fries

I was drawn to this book because of my love of trees and my research for my WIP where forests play a big role. I have always found being surrounded by trees calming and a place I like to retreat so Forest Bathing sounds ideal.

Book Review: Forest Bathing Retreat by Hannah Fries

 

Book review for Forest Bathing Retreat
Forest Bathing Retreat cover

Title: Forest Bathing Retreat

Author: Hannah Fries

Genre: Non-fiction, spirituality

Publisher: Storey Publishing

Release Date: 4th September 2018

Blurb

People have been retreating to the woods for quiet meditation, and inspiration for centuries, and recent research finds that time spent in the forest doesn’t just feel good but is, in fact, good for you. Inspired by the Japanese concept of shinrin-yoku, or forest bathing, poet Hannah Fries invites readers to bask in the company of trees, whether in a city park or a rural nature preserve.

Fries combines her own reflections and guided mindfulness exercises with a curated selection of inspirational writing from poets, naturalists, artists, scientists, and thinkers throughout the centuries and across cultures, including Japanese haiku masters, 19th century European Romantics, American Transcendentalists, and contemporary environmentalists. Accompanied by beautiful forest photography, Forest Bathing Retreat is a distinctive gift that invites frequent revisiting for fresh insights and inspiration

Author Page: http://hannah-fries.squarespace.com/

My thoughts

Forest Bathing is based on the idea walking among trees is good for our health and soul. This book is full of stunning photographs, quotes, poems and facts relating to trees . I love the new words I have learnt by reading this book. Do you know what psithurism means? This book will tell you. It guides you through the woodland encouraging you to relax, meditate and notice surrounding nature using all senses so you can learn from trees.
As many of you know I have struggled with poetry but books like these open my mind to them and show me, they can be a wonderful way to express ideas and feelings.
I would love a physical copy for future reference dip to into when woodlands are too far away and inaccessible. As someone who relies on wheels to explore finding accessible woods is difficult and this book places a little piece of their magic in your hands and home.

Would I recommend?

It is perfect for fellow dendrophile* as a gift and I would recommend it for photos and quotes alone.

Thank you NetGalley and Storey Publishing for allowing me an advanced copy to read in exchange for an honest, unbiased review.

Do you love the forest? Share your favourite tree related poem or quote below.

Happy reading!

Kate Kenzie's Blog

* someone who loves trees and forests