All about Books, Ellfaenian Journals

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
All about Books

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

All about Books

Book review: A Discovery of Witches by Deborah Harkness 

On social media the trailer of an upcoming Sky 1 series is being shared based on the novel A Discovery of Witches by Deborah Harkness. It looks good with drama, fantasy, action and magic so it must be time to catch up with the book.

A Discovery of Witches by Deborah Harkness

 

Book review: A Discovery of Witches
A Discovery of Witches by Deborah Harkness

 

Title: A Discovery of Witches

Author: Deborah Harkness

Genre: Fiction, fantasy, paranormal

Publisher: Headline

Release Date: 29th September 2011

Blurb

The phenomenal international bestseller and the first volume in the enthralling All SOULS trilogy, preceding SHADOW OF NIGHT and THE BOOK OF LIFE.

It begins with absence and desire. It begins with blood and fear. It begins with a discovery of witches.

When historian Diana Bishop opens an alchemical manuscript in the Bodleian Library, it’s an unwelcome intrusion of magic into her carefully ordered life. Though Diana is a witch of impeccable lineage, the violent death of her parents while she was still a child convinced her that human fear is more potent than any witchcraft. Now Diana has unwittingly exposed herself to a world she’s kept at bay for years; one of powerful witches, creative, destructive daemons and long-lived vampires. Sensing the significance of Diana’s discovery, the creatures gather in Oxford, among them the enigmatic Matthew Clairmont, a vampire geneticist. Diana is inexplicably drawn to Matthew and, in a shadowy world of half-truths and old enmities, ties herself to him without fully understanding the ancient line they are crossing. As they begin to unlock the secrets of the manuscript and their feelings for each other deepen, so the fragile balance of peace unravels…

My Thoughts

This is the first book in the All Souls trilogy and my favourite of the series. From the moment Deborah Harkness transported me to the Bodleian library with Diana Bishop I was hooked.  I could not resist; this book has always the elements   I love – old dusty books, libraries and magic bundled together with descriptive pose and intriguing characters. Lots of characters to discover and love besides the main characters, Diana Bishop and Matthew Clairmont. There are the witches including Emily and Sarah, the extensive vampire family including Miriam, Marcus, Ysabeau and Marthe and deamons especially Hamish. They all have depth and stories beyond this series.

Diana is a character who grew as her back story was revealed throughout the book. As a witch who loves research into the history of alchemy I longed to see the imagery she was seeing in the old manuscripts. Matthew Clairmont has all the element you would expect of a fictional vampire – wealthy, unrealistically handsome, tall and strong with overprotective tendencies but he is grounded by his flaws. They make him more realistic. His back story and secrets add to the depth of character. I found it refreshing that the relationship between him and Diana was more balanced than many vampire stories. She is not your usual damsel in distress.

This a mature paranormal novel with a wonderful blend of unique characters, history, science, location and description to form an epic adventure involving romance, fear and drama. Deborah Harkness has not just created a story for Diana and Matthew she has created a world to explore so it feels as if any character could easily have their own novel. Long after I put the book down my mind would drift back to the plot and characters.

Would I recommend?

Oh yes! I love this book and is in my top 10 favourite books and is on my forever shelf. With the upcoming TV programme I predict it will go wild with discissions. As with all book versus film debates it is worth a read before the programme release. Have you read it and let me know what you think below.

Thank you NetGalley and Headline for the opportunity to read a digital copy of this book in exchange for an honest, unbiased review.

Happy reading!

 

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All about Books

The All Souls Trilogy book review

The trailer is out for the highly anticipated Sky 1 drama A Discovery of Witches so it must be time to delve into a series of books I love and are on my forever shelf with endless revisits – the All Souls Trilogy by Deborah Harkness.

 

The All Souls Trilogy

The trilogy consists of

I will review them in separate posts to avoid any unintended spoilers for the previous books.

The series follows Diana Bishop, a witch and scholar of Alchemy as she inadvertently finds a lost manuscript hunted for centuries by the three paranormal species – witches, vampires and daemons. One of those searching is a vampire, Matthew Clairmont and as their relationship grows so does the danger and the plot thickens.

The detailed descriptions of the Bodleian library, many fully developed characters to fall in love with entwined with the paranormal and history drew me in. Her love for history shines through. Like Harry Potter and Pottermore, The All Souls trilogy is no longer just three books; Deborah Harkness has created a world for fans to explore. A community of like-minded people has grown from it with discussion groups, websites for fans and podcasts. A complete guide of the books, The World of All Souls, was released this year – it is on my Christmas list. There is even a yearly convention to attend in person or online. I have been an online attendee and they are worth a look. With insights to the characters, book readings, competitions and music it adds a new dimension to the reading experience. If you love the books, you can immerse yourself in their magic. The growth and popularity of the All Souls world is helped by Deborah being active and involved on social media sharing insights and updates into the characters and world they live.

When the programme is released I predict a sharp increase in the interest in these books and I can’t wait for the discussions that will follow. With the release of her new book Times Convert in September 2018 it is a busy year Deborah Harkness.

Want to find out more:

Deborah Harkness website

Follow her on Twitter and Facebook

Website for fans:

Daemons Domain 

 

Have you read the books or been to the convention? Let me know below. This is a series I could talk about for hours.

 

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All about Books, Writing journey

July catch up and #NaNoWriMo again

July is here with a heatwave and beautiful sunny days. Perfect weather for camping but I am not packing my tent up. This month is NaNoWriMo Camp so I have joined a cabin with fellow writers for support. My pen and PC mouse are poised ready to start. In the past I have set a target of words with one success but I have research to do so it is target hours this time. Wish me luck I need it.

Books read in June

  • The Quaker by Liam McIlvanney
  • Every Note Played by Lisa Genova
  • Book Towns by Alex Johnson
  • Discovery of Witches by Deborah Harkness- keep eye out for review this week
  • The Tattooist of Auschwitz by Heather Morris
  • Mother by Hannah Begbie
  • How to Keep a Secret by Sarah Morgan
  • A Cornish Secret by Emma Burstall

July reads

With NaNo happening I hope to put my hours in there so apart from blog tour books it is research books for me.

  • Druidcraft by Philip Carr-Gomm
  • The Path of Druidry: Walking the Ancient Green Way by Penny Billington
  • Soul Traveler by Albert Taylor
  • An Artsisan Lovestyle by Kiltie Jackson
  • No.More.Plastic by Martin Dorey

Time for a cuppa and say hello to the sun before I get lost in The Ellfaenian Journals to get organised for tomorrow’s big push.

Enjoy the weekend!

Word count for WIP: 48,106

Percy update: he is still alive!

 

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All about Books

A dream come true: Book Towns by Alex Johnson

I love books. I adore book shops and one of my top things to do on my bucket list was to visit Hay-on-Wye in Wales. That was until I read Book Towns: forty-five paradises of the printed word by Alex Johnson.

Book Towns: forty-five paradises of the printed word

 

Book review for Book Towns
Book Towns: forty-five paradises of the printed word by Alex Johnson

 

Title: Book Towns: forty-five paradises of the printed word

Author: Alex Johnson

Genre: Travel, literature

Publisher: Quarto Publishing Group

Release Date: 22nd March 2018

Blurb

The so-called “Book Towns” of the world are dedicated havens of literature, and the ultimate dream of book lovers everywhere. Book Towns takes readers on a richly illustrated tour of the 40 semi-officially recognized literary towns around the world and outlines the history and development of each community, and offers practical travel advice.

Many Book Towns have emerged in areas of marked attraction, such as Ureña in Spain or Fjaerland in Norway, where bookshops have been set up in buildings including former ferry waiting rooms and banks. While the UK has the best-known examples at Hay, Wigtown and Sedbergh, the book has a broad international appeal, featuring locations such as Jimbochu in Japan, College Street in Calcutta, and major unofficial “book cities” such as Buenos Aires.

My Thoughts

Despite its unassuming and slightly uninspiring cover, this is a wonderful coffee table book. It showcases Book Towns around the world to explore, drool and fantasize over so is perfect to look at while you or visitors are having a cup of tea or coffee.  If like me, you don’t know what book towns are they are towns dedicated to literature with book shops, festivals and history. They are bibliophiles’ dream locations. This non-fiction book covers over 40 of them and inspires with it’s stunning photographs, simple format and descriptions. It made me want to be there to experience the shops, smell the books and browse the endless bookshelves for the perfect book or two or three. I would love to visit them all especially Hay-on-Wye, Sedbergh and Wigtown as they are in the UK but I long to travel to Fjaerland in Norway. If I won the lottery I would go on a worldwide tour ticking them off one by one. It would take me to:

  • France
  • Norway
  • Germany
  • Italy
  • Belgium
  • Austrailia
  • New Zealand
  • USA
  • Portugal
  • South Korea
  • South Africa
  • And more

Would I recommend?

It is an ideal addition to a bookcase and would make a lovely gift for book lovers and travellers. I long for a physical copy to treasure and dream over.

Now where is my passport?

Travelling adventures with books

Thank you NetGalley and Quarto Publishing Group – Frances Lincoln for an advanced copy to review in exchange for an honest and unbiased review. You have made this book dragon very happy.

Book dragon ready to fight for #SaveQuickReads

Have you been to a book town? I would love to hear your experiences.

Love

All about Books, Writing journey

May Catch Up and plans for June 

May slipped by and June has been here a week so it must be time for a quick cuppa and a catch-up.

May catch up and June plans
Time for a cuppa

Writing

 

Though I have made inroads to my WIP with nearly 50,000 words, I began to be overwhelmed by the disjointed scenes my brain had conjured and my inability to arrange them in a coherent chronological order. I found myself caught in a writing slump. Luckily, I heard that Shaunta Grimes was doing a course – ninja write a long (NWAL) and this was an opportunity to revisit my synopsis and characters; to get back on track. It is early days but I feel more upbeat and determined to finish Amber’s tale and a secret project, one Elsie is excited about.

My plans to be organised for the beginning of  NWAL fell apart with an injured hand and then a weekend hospital admission. Though my hand is better than before, physio and painkillers are the way forward to get it back to full use. If I was slow before, I am on snail pace now.

 May catch up

This is the month for taking stock and moving forward towards my goals.

I plan to

  •  follow NWAL’s mantra to read and write every day
  • enter two writing competitions
  • solidify my characters and backstories
  • arrange my scenes into chronological order – a big task
  • research settings for Amber and Willow
  • research Whitby history and folklore
  • delve into the world of witchcraft and Druidry
  • Make mood boards for my main characters

Books read in May

 

Some unique and wonderful books have been read in May including my favourite of the year and possibly my lifetime.

  • The Craftsman by Sharon Bolton. I was eager to read this after reading the short story Alive. It did not disappoint.
  • The Things We Should have Said by Rachel Burton.
  • We Others by Sue Bentley. This book has got under my skin for its imagery, setting, and characters.  If you love fantasy and magical realism find a copy and enjoy. My review on Duvet Dwellers Books is here. It is Elsie’s favourite book too so I apologise in advance if it is talked about a lot.
  • The Songs of Us by Emma Cooper. A romance it has a unique premise of a woman aptly named Melody sings when anxiety kicks in. It’s funny, heartbreaking and clever. There is an accompanying playlist to give the reading experience an added layer.

June reads

 

  • The Date by Louise Jensen
  • Every Note played by Lisa Genova
  • Artisan Lovestyle by Kiltie Jackson
  • The Quaker by Liam McIlvanney
  • Book Towns by Alex Johnson

 

What are you up to this month? Let me know in the comments below.

Happy reading and writing.

Kate Kenzie's Blog