Books

#NetGalley #BookReview Welcoming the Unwelcome: Wholehearted Living in a Brokenhearted World by Pema Chodron #Mindfulness #Meditation #Bodhisattva

Review

Welcoming the Unwelcome

Wholehearted Living in a Brokenhearted World

by Pema Chodron

Release date: October 8th, 2019

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I received a complimentary ARC copy of Welcoming the Unwelcome: Wholehearted Living in a Brokenhearted World by Pema Chodron from NetGalley and Shambhala Publications, Inc. in order to read and give an honest review.

“…is a brilliant yet challenging read and one I know I will read again…”

I recently became a fan of Pema Chodron after reading Taking the Leap: Freeing Ourselves from Old Habits and Fears and was so pleased to hear she had a new book coming out. Just beginning my journey toward Bodhisattva, I appreciate her downtoearth and non-intimidating approach to Buddhist teachings.  

In Welcoming the Unwelcome Chodron offers us wisdom on how to face the often overwhelming and uncomfortable aspects of life, embracing our emotions about those aspects while fostering a sense of peace by putting things in perspective. Each chapter discusses a particular practice with stories of others as well as personal insight about her journey.  The overall message to me was learning to see both the positives and negatives in ourselves in order to foster a level of understanding of our vulnerabilities and to help us to gain insight and compassion towards others. 

Throughout the book, Chodron offers us spiritual teachings to awaken us and assist us through our journey towards enlightenment. Although the practices are discussed in detail in each chapter, she has been kind enough to include a detailed outline of the practices at the back where they are mentioned in a more direct “how-to” approach. This book is a brilliant yet challenging read and one I know I will read again learning more each time I read it.  

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Books

#NetGalley #BookReview of Gallows Court by Martin Edwards #Mystery #GoldenAge

 

Review

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Gallows Court

by Martin Edwards

Release date: September 17th, 2019

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I received a complimentary ARC copy of Gallows Court by Martin Edwards from NetGalley and Poisoned Pen Press in order to read and give an honest review.

“…interesting characters, an atmospheric, intricate and extremely clever plot filled with a head-spinning amount of twists, turns and perfectly placed red-herrings.”

New to author Martin Edwards, I am so impressed with Gallows Court! This novel is right out of the Golden Age of Mystery and I loved it! Edwards has created an intriguing and dynamic story to rival those of such greats as Agatha Christie and Ellery Queen but with his own unique twist. 

Set in  London, 1930, ambitious crime writer Jacob Flint tries to work his way up the ladder at a disreputable rag called “The Clarion”. Pursuing a story about a string of mysterious deaths, his path crosses with the late Judge Savernake’s daughter, Rachel Savernake an amateur sleuth, who was capable of solving a crime that had Scotland stymied. Getting a scoop from the infamous and very wealthy Ms Savernake would catapult him to the top of his field. While fed anonymous tips, interviewing witnesses and following bizarre leads Jacob is led into some questionable situations which seem to cast his suspicions on Rachel and makes him realize there is more going on than meets the eye.  

This book had it all, interesting characters, an atmospheric, intricate and extremely clever plot, filled with a head-spinning amount of twists, turns and perfectly placed red-herrings. All in all an extremely satisfying read and one that I highly recommend.

Books, Information

#NetGalley #BookReview How to #Draw and #Write in #FountainPen A Modern Guide by Ayano Usamura

 

Review

How to Draw and Write in FountainPen

A Modern Guide

by Ayano Usamura

Release date: September 17th, 2019

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I received a complimentary ARC copy of How to Draw and Write in FountainPen
A Modern Guide by Ayano Usamura from NetGalley and The Experiment Publishing Company in order to read and give an honest review.

“a fun, informative well written with great step-by-step illustrations, this book is a must-have for all those who are crafty or  love to add a little creativity to their journals…”

Whether you’re familiar with using a fountain pen or a complete novice this book offers how-to’s, tips and tricks to help you get the most out of writing with a fountain pen.  I have been using a fountain pen since I inherited my grandfather’s old Sheaffer Imperial when I was eight years old (many moons ago). I still have that pen but over the years have added about 15 more to my collection.  Although I have always written with them, I have never used fountain pens favouring technical pens for any inked artistic drawings. 

I have been journaling for years and over the past few have decided to add art and organization to my journalling practice.  My bullet journal has evolved from simple to-do lists into an artistic, fun, motivating and inspiring record of plans, goals and trackers. This book is fantastic in the fact it offers so much that both novice and experienced users will find useful. I for one loved the detailed how-tos for creating quick fun doodles for my bujo spreads which I am now using my fountain pens to create.

I highly recommend this book, it’s a fun, informative well written with great step-by-step illustrations, this book is a must-have for all those who are crafty or love to add a little creativity to their journals.

Books

#NetGalley #Review of Serious Moonlight by Jenn Bennett #Teens #YA #Romance #Mystery

 

Review

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Serious Moonlight

by Jenn Bennett

Release date: April 16th, 2019

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I received a complimentary ARC copy of Serious Moonlight by Jenn Bennett from NetGalley and Simon & Schuster Canada in order to read and give an honest review.

“…filled with unique, quirky characters, incredible wit and it didn’t hurt she mentioned David Bowie a number of times…frankly, I was sold after that.”

I’ve been a fan of Jenn Bennett’s urban fantasy series and when this popped up on Net Galley even though it was YA, I thought I would give it a try.

I have to admit I really did enjoy this book. Like her other books, this was filled with unique, quirky characters, incredible wit and it didn’t hurt she mentioned David Bowie a number of times…frankly, I was sold after that.

Our main protagonist eighteen-year-old Birdie after the death of her mother is raised by her grandparents along with the assistance of her Mom’s eccentric best friend “Aunt Mona”.

After living with her grandparents, and under the watchful eye of her strict and very religious grandmother, Birdie becomes a very shy and introverted young woman. Being homeschooled, having strict rules, and not really knowing what true friendship is, Birdie’s view of the world and her experiences are very limited. After her grandmother passes, her grandfather who thankfully had bonded with Birdie over their love of mysteries, was a bit more laid-back allowing Birdie some freedom. At first, Birdie goes a bit wild having a one-night stand with a stranger which doesn’t turn out as expected. She struggles with her poor reaction to the situation, more so when she turns up at her first job, the graveyard shift at a famous hotel and said one-night stand, Daniel, is a co-worker. As Birdie tries to navigate “adulthood” her and nineteen-year-old Daniel strike up a friendship working on uncovering the truth behind a mysterious hotel guest that leads to a shocking and unexpected discovery.

All-in-all a fun, well written, character driven book, I would highly recommend it. Just a note to parent’s this book does contain sexual content as well as suicide but it is handled in a very responsible and tasteful manner.

 

Books

#Witchcraft and #SecretSocieties of Rural England: The Magic of Toadmen, Plough Witches, Mummers, and Bonesmen by Nigel Pennick via #NetGalley #Review #NonFiction #Historical

 

Review

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Witchcraft and Secret Societies of Rural England

The Magic of Toadmen, Plough Witches, Mummers, and Bonesmen

by

Nigel Pennick

Release date: April 9th, 2019

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I received a complimentary ARC copy of Witchcraft and Secret Societies of Rural England: The Magic of Toadmen, Plough Witches, Mummers, and Bonesmen
by Nigel Pennick from NetGalley and Inner Traditions/Destiny Books in order to read and give an honest review.

As a fantasy fiction writer, I have read some of Mr Pennick’s previous works as research material in the past, so this was right up my alley.

This author is prolific and knowledgeable when it comes to the folklore that surrounds paganism and it definitely shows in “Witchcraft and Secret Societies of Rural England”.  As always, the author’s work is interesting, very meticulously researched and it is evident beyond doubt that he is passionate about the subject matter.

Witchcraft and Secret Societies of Rural England” covers everything from the secret guilds that arose around trades to magic and folklore that surrounded witches. Sharing with the reader and giving us insight into their traditions and how they came to be.

Considering much of the history of these subjects was spread through oral tradition, being passed down through the generations, the author has discovered some very unique and interesting tales that are the origins of sayings or traditions still present today.  What really intrigued me was the folklore behind some of the artefacts that have survived, in particular, the “witch bottles” and “sprite traps”. Another impressive touch, which was particularly helpful, was the fact that the author included photographs and illustrations.

I really enjoyed this book and would definitely recommend it to anyone interested in learning about folklore and traditions that surround Anglo-Saxon paganism.

Books

#NetGalley #Review of The Sound of Suffering by Darin C. Brown #Sci Fi & #Fantasy #Teens #YA

Review

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The Sound of Suffering

by Darin C. Brown

Release date: February 21st, 2019

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I received a complimentary ARC copy of The Sound of Suffering by Darin C. Brown from NetGalley and Doc Squared Publishing/Independent Book Publishers Association (IBPA), Members’ in order to read and give an honest review.

Hunter is on a quest to find out what the aura’s, scents and sounds he experiences around people mean.  This is the second book in the Masters of Perceptions series, the first I have not read but feel it didn’t hamper my ability to enjoy the story.  Young Hunter is autistic and suffers from overwhelming stimuli when he comes in contact with others. At this point, he is learning a little bit about himself and his abilities.  While excelling at school and working his way through earning his Karate belts he still struggles with learning how to handle his gift and how to interact with those around him.  He has people to help him though, a few friends, one of which has a dubious reputation, his desk mate and his Sensei all help him but he finds his biggest confidant to be his grandfather who lives across the country.  When he gets strange sensations indicating one of his teachers is in trouble he can’t ignore the feeling and becomes determined to help her.  His friends by his side he sets out on a dangerous adventure that is much bigger than just helping his teacher. I won’t give any more away the plot takes an interesting turn you need to read!

The characters are well-written and as mentioned the story takes an unexpected and interesting path. I would give this story 4.5 stars only because I found that some things seemed a bit unnecessary and they detracted from the story. Although I appreciate that the author is trying to teach the reader through the process of reading, sometimes the “info dumps” distracted me from the flow of the story, it felt hard to stay connected.  It’s really is an ingenious story with interesting characters but many of the lessons seem repetitive. All in all, though I think it’s worth reading and would definitely recommend it!

Books

#NetGalley #Book #Review The Homecoming by Andrew Pyper ( @andrewpyper ) #Mystery #Thriller #Psychological

 

Review

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The Homecoming

by Andrew Pyper

Release date: February 26th, 2019

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I received a complimentary ARC copy of The Homecoming by Andrew Pyper via NetGalley and Simon & Schuster Canada in order to read and give an honest review.

… this book is clever, complex and thrilling…taking the reader on a rollercoaster ride fraught with psychological twists and turns…

Already a fan of Andrew Pyper’s work I was thrilled to be afforded the opportunity to read and review his latest book The Homecoming.  Like most of his novels, this book is clever, complex and thrilling…taking the reader on a rollercoaster ride fraught with psychological twists and turns.

When Ray Quinlan dies his family is summoned to the Pacific west coast to attend Belfountain, a secluded rainforest estate to discuss his last will and testament. Ray’s widow, son Aaron and two daughters, Franny and Bridge. Delivered by limos they are dropped off and forced to surrender their cellphones.  It is explained to them their eccentric father left them an extortionate sum of money, but there is a catch. They must spend thirty days at Belfountain without phones, television, the internet, food delivery drop off and absolutely no contact from the outside world.

As always, Pyper excels at crafting brilliant psychological and incredibly creative plotlines but also does an outstanding job creating unique and cleverly multifaceted characters. Each character is so well written he manages to create an incredibly realistic and dysfunctional Quinlan family, each battling their own demons and coping with painful, traumatic pasts.

When another set of limos deposits four more mysterious individuals Belfountain is thrown into chaos unleashing family secrets, challenging family loyalty and causing the estate to become deadly prison.

This book is so unique, unlike any other book I have read, which, being an avid reader is a rarity for me! Another great read from Andrew Pyper that definitely won’t disappoint!

 

Books

#NetGalley #Book #Review of The Hangman’s Secret (#Victorian #Mystery No.3) by Laura Joh Rowland

 

The Hangman’s Secret

(#Victorian #Mystery No.3)

by Laura Joh Rowland

Release date: January 18th, 2018

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I received a complimentary ARC copy The Hangman’s Secret (#Victorian #Mystery No.3) by Laura Joh Rowland from NetGalley & Crooked Lane Books in order to read and give an honest review.

Another fantastic book in Laura Joh Rowland’s Victorian Mystery series featuring photographer and private detective Sarah Bain. Rowland, a master at writing fast-paced, suspenseful whodunits again keeps readers on the edge of their seat with this newest entry. I have been fortunate enough to read and review her first two books in the series, the first The Ripper’s Shadow and the second A Mortal Likeness, all three fantastic mysteries I would recommend.
This time around as the story opens we see Sarah Bain has landed on her feet from the previous book A Mortal Likeness. She is working as a photographer for Sir Gerald Mariner, photographing crime scenes for his London newspaper the Daily World. Sarah, Hugh, and Mick are living and working together, her relationship with Constable Barrett is going well, life seems perfect…until a call to photograph the corpse of the decapitated body of a well-known hangman, Harry Warbrick. After initially considered suicide when Sir Gerald gets wind that it was under suspicious terms, he decides to launch a contest, a race to see whether they can beat the police and solve the crime. The contest puts Sarah in a precarious position, she will have to hide what she finds from her police officer lover after they had just survived the events of the last book, “A Mortal Likeness”. Sarah is convinced that Warbrick’s murder is somehow a result of something that occurred at the execution of Amelia Carlisle, the “Baby-Butcher,” who’d killed hundreds of infants in her care. While investigating Sarah is plagued by political cover-ups, run-ins with dangerous people and an old animosity rears it’s ugly head when a former nemesis, Inspector Reid, is back and as threatening as ever.

The case tests Sarah like none other, her life, reputation, relationship, friendships, and job are all in jeopardy and my heart breaks for her throughout the book. Just when you think it can’t get any worse Rowland throws another twist that will keep you on an emotional rollercoaster. I won’t reveal anymore but if you are a fan of clever, fast-paced, mysteries this is definitely a must read.

Books

#NetGalley #BookReview Death of an Eye by Dana Stabenow #HistoricalFiction #Mystery

Review

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Death of an Eye

by Dana Stabenow

Release date: December 6th, 2018

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I received a complimentary ARC copy of Death of an Eye by Dana Stabenow from NetGalley and Head of Zeus Publishing in order to read and give an honest review.

…an original, quick and entertaining read which I enjoyed…

Fans of Dana Stabenow’s Kate Shugak’s series set in Alaska will be surprised by her new series Eye of Isis. In her first instalment in this series Death of an Eye seems to be a more cosy mystery than historical fiction. Not quite as gritty as her Shugak series but still quite enjoyable.  

Set in 47 BCE. A pregnant Cleopatra is the ruler of Alexandria when her trusted spy or “Queen’s Eye”, Khemit, is murdered while secretly investigating the theft of a fresh mint of royal coins.  With Julius Caesar away, Cleopatra is vulnerable and needs someone she trusts to help her so she calls upon her most trusted childhood friend Tetisheri (Sheri ) to help her get to the bottom of it. Although a merchant, Sheri has left a horrible marriage and become a partner in her Uncle Neb’s importing business. Being well educated, having the ability to speak many languages and having connections allow Shari to obtain the information she requires without seeming suspicious. One of the Cleopatra’s trusted guards, Apollodorus, sets out to help Sheri as she navigates a murder investigation rife with politics, sociopaths and danger.  Sheri becomes a target for Cleopatra’s power hungry and wicked brother Ptolemy, Roman diplomats not pleased with women in power, bloodthirsty pirates and her abusive ex-husband, Hunifer all trying to thwart her every move.  

Although Stabenow’s work is set in ancient Alexandria and has historical elements this novel it is more of a clever fun mystery with a touch of romance and humour. I was expecting a perhaps darker more sinister story but her strong, educated, honourable and feisty characters mixed dangerous devious villains make this an original, quick and entertaining read which I enjoyed. 

 

Books

#NetGalley #BookReview Once Upon a River A Novel by Diane Setterfield #HistoricalFiction #Mystery

 

Review

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Once Upon a River

A Novel

by Diane Setterfield

Release date: December 4th, 2018

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I received a complimentary ARC copy of Once Upon a River: A Novel by Diane Setterfield from NetGalley and Atria Books in order to read and give an honest review.

…masterfully written and engaging, character-driven story…

A fairytale for adults, “Once Upon A River” by Diane Setterfield captivates you with her unique brand of atmospheric, character-driven storytelling.  Hard to categorize, Once Upon a River is a mix of folklore and historical mystery in which Setterfield manages to craft several heart-wrenching tales of death, deceit, and heartbreak. 

The story begins at The Swan Inn on the Thames when an injured man stumbles in carrying what everyone believes is a dead child. When a nurse and healer, Rita, is examining the child, she finds that although she had no pulse earlier, she suddenly comes back to life. The child does not speak and no one knows who she is although there are missing children, long missing and presumed dead that have not been seen for years. Three families arrive at the swan with hopes that this child might be their lost baby. The Vaughan’s, whose daughter Amelia, went missing two years prior; Lily White, an emotionally unstable middle-aged woman who believes this girl is her sister Ann; and lastly Robert Armstrong, who believes she is his son Robin’s missing daughter, Alice Armstrong whose mother is rumored to have drowned Alice before taking her own life.  Stories are shared and the locals are relentless in their pursuit of spreading their tale of the miracle child. There are so many well written, engaging characters who capture your interest if not your heart, Robert Armstrong being one but Rita is perhaps my favourite character. Strong, compassionate and intelligent Rita plays a detective of sorts determined to find out what happened to the little girl.  

Although the story is slow to unfold her well-crafted characters keep the reader’s curiosity piqued. There is focus on the three families enduring heartbreak and elation as well as the dark secrets that come out along the way.  It also has it’s mysterious and deceptive characters that will keep you guessing exactly who this little girl is and who was responsible for her near death. We also hear about the mysterious “ferryman” who moves up and down the Thames taking those whose time is up to the other side of the river, definitely playing into the folklore believed by the Inn’s patrons.  

If you are interested in a masterfully written and engaging, character-driven story I would definitely recommend Once Upon A River!