Book review Down in the Woods by MJ Arlidge
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Book Review Down in the Woods by M.J Arlidge

I returned to the forest this month but it wasn’t for the relaxing stroll of forest bathing but a heart stopping race against time to stop a killer with DI Helen Grace.

Book Review: Down in the Woods by M.J Arlidge

 

Book review Down to the Woods by MJ Arlidge

Down to the Woods by M.J Arlidge

Title: Down in the Woods

Author: M.J Arlidge

Publisher:  Penguin UK – Michael Joseph

Genre: Mystery and suspense, thriller

Release Date: 20th September 2018

Blurb

If you go down to the woods today

The last thing Tom Campbell remembers is camping in the New Forest with his girlfriend, Melissa. Now he is helpless, alone and consumed by fear, hunted through the woods by a sinister, masked figure…

When Tom’s body is found, displayed with grisly relish, Helen Grace takes the case. But before she can catch her breath, a second victim is taken – a serial killer is on the loose.

You better not go alone…

Something dark and deadly stalks the forest. Helen and her team must race against time to catch the perpetrator, before more blood is shed.

But the hunt will take Helen back into the eerie twilit woods – and this time she might not make it out alive.

My Thoughts

I love crime thrillers but M.J Arlidge is one of two writers I eagerly wait for the next instalment.  DI Helen Grace is a complex character and has been through the wars since she first arrived screeching into the fiction world on her motorbike in Eeny Meeny. This novel is menacing, creepy and unnerving with heart-stopping chase scenes deep in depths of New Forest which send shivers down my spine even now.  There is a good balance of the investigation and the familiar characters’ personal lives. As the series continues, DI Helen Grace evolves and it is a joy to read as is catching up with Charlie who is juggling with motherhood and pressure of a violent case. This series has not faltered.

Would I recommend?

If you love gripping suspence and not shy from grusome crime add this to your TBR list now. It is perfect for the run up to Halloween for the setting alone.

Happy reading!

 

Kate Kenzie's Blog

 

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Book Review: A Spark of Life by Jodi Picoult

I am a huge fan of Jodi Picoult so was very excited to recieve an advanced copy of her new release A Spark of Light. Thank you NetGalley and Hodder and Stoughton for the opportunity to read this.

A Spark of Light by Jodi Picoult

Book Cover of A Spark of Light by Jodi Picoult
A Spark of Light by Jodi Picoult

Title: A Spark of Light

Author: Jodi Picoult

Publisher: Hodder and Stoughon

Genre: General Fiction

Release date: 30th October 2018

Blurb

Whose choice is it? 

The masterful new novel from the Number One bestselling author of Small Great Things.

The Center for women’s reproductive health offers a last chance at hope – but nobody ends up there by choice.

Its very existence is controversial, and to the demonstrators who barricade the building every day, the service it offers is no different from legalised murder.

Now life and death decisions are being made horrifyingly real: a lone protester with a gun has taken the staff, patients and visitors hostage.

Starting at the tensest moment in the negotiations for their release, A Spark of Light unravels backwards, revealing hour by urgent hour what brought each of these people – the gunman, the negotiator, the doctors, nurses and women who have come to them for treatment – to this point.

And certainties unwind as truths and secrets are peeled away, revealing the complexity of balancing the right to life with the right to choose.

My Thoughts

This is another divisive novel by Jodi Picoult told sensitively as it tries to deal with all sides of the abortion debate. It is honest, gritty and hard-hitting and doesn’t shy away from the heightened emotion abortion evokes and the physical aspects of the procedure. Some may find parts distressing and a trigger.  The plot revolves around the stories of the women and doctor at a women’s centre in Mississippi when a gunman attacks – these include a 15-year-old girl, her aunt, doctor and nurse. Each have their own reasons for being there that day and all different characters. Unusually, it is told in a reverse chronological order taking you from the end of day to the beginning. This could have been an awkward format but Jodi Picoult’s style and talent carries it off.  My heartstrings were pulled because I felt an attachment to all characters whatever their beliefs and was on the roller coaster of emotion with them as the terror unfolds. It is a story about life and should read to start a conversation.

After all, as Jodi Picoult says

“Honestly, I do not believe we, as a society, will ever agree on this issue. The stakes are too high, and both sides operate from places of unshakable belief . But I do think that the first step is to talk to each other—and more important, to listen. We may not see eye to eye, but we can respect each other’s opinions and find the truth in them. Perhaps in those honest conversations, instead of demonizing each other, we might see each other as imperfect humans, doing our best.”

A Spark of Life Jodi Picoult 2018

Would I recommend?

Yes, whatever side you are on this novel shines a light on the shades of grey in the abortion debate which divides many in all countries. It is not an easy read but you come out of it a different person.

Have you read it? Let me know your thoughts in the comments below.

Kate Kenzie's Blog

 

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Book Review: Shadow of Night by Deborah Harkness

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

 

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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!

 

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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!

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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

 

Book Review for The Illustrated Herbiary
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Book Review: The Illustrated Herbiary by Maia Toll

 

This beautiful book popped up on my NetGalley dashboard and with my recent interest in herb growing and research for The Journals I was excited to receive a digital copy from Storey Publishing to give an unbiased, honest review.

The Illustrated Herbiary by Maia Toll

 

Book review for The Illustrated Herbiary
The Illustrated Herbiary by Maia Toll

Title: The Illustrated Herbiary: Guidance and Rituals from 36 Bewitching Botanicals

Author: Maia Toll

Publisher: Storey Publishing

Release Date: 7th August 2018

Genre: Non-fiction, botanical, spirituality

Blurb

Rosemary is for remembrance; sage is for wisdom. The symbolism of plants — whether in the ancient Greek doctrine of signatures or the Victorian secret language of flowers — has fascinated us for centuries. Contemporary herbalist Maia Toll adds her distinctive spin to this tradition with profiles of the mysterious personalities of 36 herbs, fruits, and flowers. Combining a passion for plants with imagery reminiscent of tarot, enticing text offers reflections and rituals to tap into each plant’s power for healing, self-reflection, and everyday guidance. Smaller versions of the illustrations are featured on 36 cards to help guide your thoughts and meditations

My Thoughts

This book was different to what I was expecting in the best possible way. Rather than an encyclopedia of herbs  I thought it would be, it is a reflective look at a selection of plants and their meanings and uses with the view to guide the reader in meditation and life. The illustrations are beautifully vibrant, bold with the distinctive look of tarot cards which complement the easy-to-read text well.  I loved the insight into the meanings of the plants, inspiring quotes, snippets of information and the simple rituals you can slip into your daily routine. It was a pleasure to read as a book but with the additional cards included with the physical copy I am certain the oracle potential will come into its own. I keep returning to my copy; the more I do, the more I see, and the more magical and grounding it is. I feel lucky, Maia Toll has shared some of the knowledge she learnt from her year stay in Ireland with a healer and herbalist. As I look at the plants in my garden and in the Yorkshire countryside I have a greater appreciation and connection to them. Sometimes you read a book and hear the author’s voice in your head urging you to discover more; this is one of them. I was happy to discover her blog so I can do that.

Favourite flower

Book review for The Illustrated Herbiary
Trillium – A plant to be inspired by

My favourite flower and the one that calls to me has to be one I have never heard of, Trillium. With it’s simple flower nestled in the forest floor, it helps the birth of ideas and nurtures them; just what I need in my creativity.  And I will always remember Valerian and her permission to have guilt free afternoon naps.

Would I recommend?

It may not be the in-depth book I was expecting but I long to have a physical copy of this magical, insightful book and the accompanying cards on my bookshelf to delve into for guidance and inspiration. I need this book so they are high on my Christmas wish list, if I can wait that long.

Thank you NetGalley and Storey Publishing for the opportunity to review this book.

Hope you are not sweltering in the summer heat.

Happy reading!

Kate Kenzie's Blog