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: 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

 

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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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Book review: The Date by Louise Jensen

As soon as I spied the latest Louise Jensen’s novel on the screen I knew I needed to read it.  I know from experience from reading her previous books The Gift and The Surrogate once opened I was in for a thrilling, high tension ride.

The Date by Louise Jensen

 

The Date Louise Jensen
The Date by Louise Jensen

Title: The Date

Author: Louise Jensen

Genre: Psychological Thriller

Publisher: Bookouture

Release Date: 21st June 2018

Blurb:

One night can change everything. 

‘I know it as soon as I wake up and open my eyes… Something is wrong.’

Her Saturday night started normally. Recently separated from her husband, Ali has been persuaded by her friends to go on a date with a new man. She is ready, she is nervous, she is excited. She is about to take a step into her new future. By Sunday morning, Ali’s life is unrecognisable. She wakes, and she knows that something is wrong. She is home, she is alone, she is hurt and she has no memory of what happened to her. 

Worse still, when she looks in the mirror, Ali doesn’t recognise the face staring back at her. She can’t recognise her friends and family. And she can’t recognise the person who is trying to destroy her… 

From the no. 1 bestselling author of The Sister, The Gift, and The Surrogate, The Date is a gripping page-turner that will keep you awake until the early hours. Perfect for fans of The Girl on the Train and Before I Go To Sleep. 

My Thoughts

I made the mistake of thinking I could read just one chapter before I started the day I was wrong. Never has a tagline of “An unputdownable psychological thriller with a breathtaking twist” been so appropriate. The Date captivated me from the first page until the last. Louise Jensen’s use of language and pace threw me straight into the story as Ali wakes up from her date the night before. My heart raced along with hers as the tension deepened and the implications of her acquired prosopagnosia or “face blindness” became apparent. It causes everyday problems but when you are under threat anyone could be an attacker or the date.  The use of this condition adds more fear into this plot and works well.  The novel begins with the nonsensical and now eerie poem The Owl and The Pussycat by Edward Lear and it set the tone for the book. I did not know where this story was going and the twists took me to unimaginable places.

Louise Jensen is the queen of twists and tension. She does not let you go until the final word has been read but even then you are left reeling by revelations the book has revealed. She is on psychological thriller writer I can read again because the second time despite knowing the upcoming twists she manages to place you into the character’s mind again who is oblivious to the trauma ahead.

Would I recommend?

Oh yes. Don’t dilly dally if you love psychological thrillers, put it in your basket now! Her books are on my forever shelf when they are not on loan to book trustworthy friends.

More information on Louise Jensen and her books can be found here

She also has a blog here

Thank you @Bookouture, NetGalley and @Fab_Fiction for letting me read an advanced copy.

 

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Book review: Letters to Iris by Elizabeth Noble

 

Taking a break from writing, I have had the pleasure to read Elizabeth Noble’s new release Letters to Iris

Book cover for Letters to Iris
Letters to Iris by Elizabeth Noble

 

Title: Letters to Iris

Author: Elizabeth Noble

Genre: Women’s fiction

Publisher: Penguin UK Michael Joseph

Release date: 5th April 2018

Blurb

A gloriously uplifting story about love in all its forms from the Number One Sunday Times bestselling author of The Reading Group and Things I Want My Daughters to Know Tess has a secret – one which is going to turn her life upside down in just nine months’ time. The only person she can confide in is her beloved grandmother. But Iris is slipping further away each day. Then chance brings a stranger into Tess’s life. Gigi’s heart goes out to Tess, knowing what it’s like to feel alone. She’s determined to show her that there’s a silver lining to every cloud. As their unlikely friendship blossoms, Tess feels inspired to open up. But something still holds her back – until she discovers Iris has a secret of her own. A suitcase of letters from another time, the missing pieces of a life she never shared. Could the letters hold the answers that Tess thought lost for ever? An uplifting, unforgettable story about keeping secrets, taking chances and finding happiness where you least expect it. Praise for Elizabeth Noble ‘A great writer. You’ll be rooting for Noble’s protagonists as soon as you meet them’ Daily Mail ‘Noble is the mistress of the tearjerking message of love’ Express ‘Deliciously readable’ Times

My thoughts

I loved the depth and soul of this book as it delves into the complex bond of grandmothers, mothers and daughters. Iris is the connecting thread between all of the female characters who are all facing challenges related to their time of life whether it is becoming a mother, facing an empty nest or dementia and end of life. It is emotional on all levels but left me feeling uplifted by the strength these women showed.

I instantly felt a bond with all the main characters especially Gigi and this made me read into the night because I needed to know a little bit more as the story developed and Iris’ history was uncovered.

Would I recommend?

Yes, if you love women’s fiction with believable characters. It is an exploration of the strength of women wherever they are on their life journey.

Thank you NetGalley and Michael Joseph for allowing me to read an advanced copy in return for an honest review.

Happy reading!

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Book Review: Write Smart, Write Happy by Cheryl St. John

I love creating worlds, developing characters and plotting their stories but I struggle with the art of writing and getting the images in my mind written in a coherent, enjoyable way. Part of this is the crippling self-doubt which I have talked about lots on here and some of it is the fact I haven’t got a clue what I am doing. To combat this I am reading around the subject. Thank you to F+W Media and NetGalley for giving me the copy in exchange to an honest review.

Title: Write Smart, Write Happy – how to become a more productive, resilient and successful writer

Author: Cheryl St. John

Publisher: F+W Media, Writer’s Digest Books

Blurb

Vanquish Your Writing Doubts & Obstacles

Writing is a vulnerable occupation; it is both personal and intimate. The act of writing, cycles of revision, and the confusing publishing industry can shatter a writer’s confidence, leaving you feeling like an imposter, overcome with rejection. Survival–and success–requires commitment, honesty, courage, resilience, sacrifice, and miles and miles of heart.

You have everything you need as a writer–it lies within, in the form of consistency and self-confidence. With Write Smart, Write Happy, best-selling author Cheryl St. John will help you unlock your skills, guiding you to overcome every hesitation, obstacle,  form of writer’s block, and procrastination habit you have. Within these pages, you’ll learn to:

Organize your writing life by using a planner, scheduling your yearly goals, and acknowledging career plans.Sharpen your saw by recharging your creativity, developing positive motivation, and creating healthy writing habits.Affirm your beliefs by overcoming self-doubt, learning to use affirmations, and altering your thinking.Conquer remaining fears by releasing tendencies towards perfectionism and establishing strategies for habitual success.Written with a no-nonsense attitude, St. John’s “advice from the trenches” will help you take an introspective look at your own writing habits and life. Through examples and inspiration from writers who struggled with–and overcame–rejection and reservations, discover the path towards writing smarter and happier today.

My Thoughts

This is an encouraging book which helps put writing worries in perspective with advice that can be used in all aspects of life. Cheryl St. John has written over 40 books for Harlequin and Silhouette so has a wealth of information to share including organising your time and work. She is an advocate for planners and gives detailed examples of her own schedule. This is helpful but for someone as disorganised as me it was overwhelming and left me feeling daunted at the challenge ahead, despite her empathising everyone works differently. I nearly stopped reading but am glad I continued because the advice on self-doubt and the chapters beyond came into their own when I hit a writing slump. It is full of quotes to remind you about the realities of writing, positivity, affirmation, tips to help you deal with disappointment, failure, social media and pressures of being a writer. The focus is on traditional publishing so it discusses dealing with editors and deadlines. She backs up all her advice with her own experiences. One of the main messages, like many of these books, is just sit down and write.

Would I recommend?

 If you are struggling with the stress of all aspects of writing, editing and publishing or crippling self-doubt this may be the book to read. It has tips I use regularly and is aimed at writers at all stages of their career.

 

Happy reading and writing

 

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