All about Books, Book review, The Enchanted Emporium's Bookshelf

Book Review: Tapestries of Life by Anne Sverdrup-Thygeson

It’s the weekend and I plan to spend it reading and appreciating the garden which is coming into bloom. The last year made me appreciate it more than ever and having somewhere to connect with nature has been a godsend for my mental health while shielding during lockdown. Every time a new species of bird visited the feeder or butterfly appeared, I felt extremely lucky. Today’s book Tapestries of Life by Anne Sverdrup-Thygeson discusses this and so much more.

Book Review: Tapestries of Life by Anne Sverdrup-Thygeson

Title: Tapestries of Life

Author: Anne Sverdrup-Thygeson

Publisher: Mudlark

Genre: Non-fiction, Nature, Environmental

Release date: 15th April 2021

Blurb

The second book by the bestselling author of Extraordinary Insects


Trees clean air and water; hoverflies and bees pollinate our crops; the kingfisher inspired the
construction of high-speed trains. In Tapestries of Life, bestselling author Anne Sverdrup-Thygeson
explains how closely we are all connected with the natural world, highlighting our indelible link with
nature’s finely knit system and our everyday lives.


In the heart of natural world is a life-support system like no other, a collective term that describes all
the goods and services we receive – food, fresh water, medicine, pollination, pollution control, carbon
sequestration, erosion prevention, recreation, spiritual health and so much more. In this utterly
captivating book, Anne Sverdrup-Thygeson sets out to explore these wonderful, supportive elements
– taking the reader on a journey through the surprising characteristics of the natural world.

My Thoughts

OK confession time. I wanted to read this book purely for its cover. Like a bright flower to a bee, it drew me in and demanded to be held and read. It promised so much, and it delivered on every count. This book is superb, one of the best and most readable non-fiction books I have read about a complex topic that could have been dry under a different penmanship. It is educational without being preachy. Anne Sverdrup-Thygeson’s passion and knowledge of nature and its connectivity to us is outstanding and shines on the page. Part imparting facts, and part memoir it focuses on how nature and humans interact beyond what we see and how nature is the foundation of our lives and without the help it gives disaster looms. From water, bugs to pharmaceuticals it covers a lot of material. It’s a delight to read, and I reverted to the ten-year-old me who blurted out the random facts I learnt to members of the family when they walked by. It was also horrifying because we are pushing our planet to the limits, and we need to tip the balance in favour of protecting nature even those things we don’t see and help it flourish. This book made me more grateful for what I have and consider ways I can help nature further and also see nature in a different light especially those things like bugs I shy away from. I loved the poems threaded into the book too.

Would I recommend?

Yes! Everyone should read it and every person in the G7 summit also running this weekend should have a copy. Maybe it would convince them to take the issue seriously.

The stunning cover reflects the beautiful book inside. It’s beautifully written, enabling the reader to access knowledge about the connection between humans and nature easily and has changed my outlook for life. It is on my forever shelf and I know I will read it again and again. I look forward to reading her previous book Extraordinary Insects and people who know me will tell you, I usually hate creepy crawlies.

Author Biography

Photo of author Anne Sverdrup-Thygeson
A

Anne Sverdrup-Thygeson is the bestselling author of Extraordinary Insects. A professor at the Norwegian University of Life Sciences(NMBU) in Ås, Norway, she is also a scientific advisor for The Norwegian Institute for Nature Research NINA. She has a Doctorate degree in conservation biology and lectures on nature management and forest biodiversity.

Thank you Random Things Tours for inviting me to this tour and providing me with this gem of a book to give my honest and unbiased opinion.

Happy weekend and reading!

Love

The Enchanted Emporium bookshelf is for magic-orientated books only but I know it would make this an exception. Every witch should read this to boost their connection with the nature they already love.

All about Books, Book review

Book Review: Diving for Pearls by Jamie O’Connell

It’s June already and the sun is shining. I am pleased to share my review for Diving for Pearls by Jamie O’Connell. I was drawn to this novel because of it’s setting, Dubai. My knowledge of this city is minimal but it sounds exotic, stunning and since I’ve sent one of my character’s husband in my WIP out there to work I thought it was time to learn more. Google is great but there is nothing like a good book to bring a place to life. Thank you Random Things Tours for inviting me to this tour and providing me with a copy to read so i could give my honest and unbiased opinion.

Book Review: Diving for Pearls by Jamie O’Connell

Diving for Pearls by Jamie O’Connell

Title: Diving for Pearls

Author: Jamie O’Connell

Publisher: Doubleday

Genre: general fiction, crime

Release date: 3rd June 2021

Blurb

‘A hugely engaging novel from a talented new writer’ JOHN BOYNE

‘A compelling tale uncovering a world of secrets, injustice and, for the lucky few, escape’ 
ANNE GRIFFIN, author of WHEN ALL IS SAID

A young woman’s body floats in the Dubai marina. Her death alters the fates of six people, each one striving for a better life in an unforgiving city…

A young Irish man comes to stay with his sister, keen to erase his troubled past in the heat of the Dubai sun. A Russian sex worker has outsmarted the system so far – but will her luck run out? A Pakistani taxi driver dreams of a future for his daughters. An Emirate man hides the truth about who he really is. An Ethiopian maid tries to carve out a path of her own. From every corner of the globe, Dubai has made promises to them all. Promises of gilded opportunities and bright new horizons, the chance to forget the past and protect long-held secrets.

But Dubai breaks its promises, with deadly consequences. In a city of mirages, how do you find your way out?O’Connell expertly weaves a delicate web of intertwining stories, combining dark wit, and devastating emotional truth as fates collide and lives are shattered.

My Thoughts

Diving for Pearls has beautiful cover which suits the location of Dubai perfectly, and it was a joy to hold.

I wasn’t sure what to expect with this novel but the premise drew me in as did the location. I knew the bare minimum about Dubai, so this tale was an eye opener because it gave an insight into this city, which can be the provider of dreams and wealth but also horror and poverty. There are many realistic characters all with flaws and it gave a snapshot into their lives against the backdrop of the death of a young woman. It took a while to understand how the protagonists were linked but once the penny dropped, I enjoyed it more.

The main focus is on an Irish family living in Dubai, Siobhan with her sons and her brother, Trevor, who is visiting. It showcased the overwhelming wealth some people have compared to others but also how it can disappear at any point. Wealth and security are superficial and under the surface is fear and corruption. This was horrifying to read. Gete, the family’s maid stood out as the protagonist I loved. She saw it all and was a calming influence when consumerism wins over family time and discipline. Her inner strength and belief shined through. I would love her to have her own sequel so I could see what she does next. This novel reads like a movie, dipping into the lives without lingering so some of the connection I wanted to have with some characters was lost. In the main, I think this style suited the story but some character’s stories felt unresolved.

The strength of this novel was the ability to create a visual scene in my mind mind and transport me to Dubai, I could feel the sand, heat and air conditioning. The location felt real and atmospheric. Usually when this is the case, the location is added to my setting wish list but despite the draw of large fish tank in a mall, this novel has scared me into staying at home.

Would I recommend?

Yes, it’s different and there is plenty to discuss if read as a book club read. I enjoyed discovering the location without the travel. It was well researched with memorable characters. It’s a debut novel I will remember and feel it could easily be translated to a tv series.

Author Biography

Author Jamie O’Connell

JAMIE O’CONNELL has had short stories highly commended by the Costa Short Story Award and the Irish Book Award Short Story of the Year. He has been longlisted for BBC Radio 4 Opening Lines Short Story Competition and shortlisted for the Maeve Binchy Travel Award and the Sky Arts Futures Fund. He has an MFA and MA in Creative Writing from University College Dublin. He has worked for Penguin Random House, Gill Books and O’Brien Press. Diving for Pearls is his first novel.

Have you ever been to Dubai or read other books set in this location? I’d love to know in the comments below.

Happy reading and writing!

Love

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Book Review: Threadneedle by Cari Thomas

Finally, it is my turn to review Threadneedle by Cari Thomas and take part in this magical blog tour with Random Things Tour. For those who regularly follow my blow, you know much I love magic and witchcraft fiction so I could not resist the invite to read this advanced copy when I read the blurb. Scroll down to see if it met my expectations.

Book Review: Threadneedle by Cari Thomas

Title: Threadneedle

Author: Cari Thomas

Publisher: Voyager

Genre: YA fantasy, witchlit

Release date: 27th May 2021

Blurb

Anna’s aunt has always warned her of the dangers of magic. Its twists. Its knots. Its deadly consequences. Now Anna counts down the days to the ceremony that will bind her magic forever. Until she meets Effie and Attis. They open her eyes to a London she never knew existed. A shop that sells memories. A secret library where the librarian feeds off words. A club where revellers lose themselves in a haze of spells. But as she is swept deeper into this world, Anna begins to wonder if her aunt was right all along. Is her magic a gift…or a curse? Told through spells created with knots and threads, this is a story that is both innovative and based in traditional witchcraft.

My Thoughts

Where do I start? The physical copy of this book is a joy to hold with its red edges and stunning, vibrant cover. On opening, there is map and I’m a sucker for maps in books, they lure you into a story and add to the excitement of discovering the setting. It adds to the promise that there is a treat inside, and this novel doesn’t fail to deliver. It left me with a crushing book hangover for days.

Threadneedle is intense with a background tension which builds up to a crescendo of a climax that I would never have guessed, despite all the clues cleverly threaded throughout. It’s beautiful, and dark with impressive magical world building blended into reality. The depth and multi-layering means it could easily reread* and allow the reader to discover more about the characters and setting. Some of the imagery of the magic and punishments endured is so powerful it made me believe the book was created by magic itself. It is immersive so I felt Anna’s emotions – her confusion and pain while living with her controlling Aunt and her wonderment at the magic beneath her fingertips and in the locations she visits when she meets Effie. They are deliciously imaginative especially the library for witches and the second-hand shop. Part school drama, it is reminiscent of Heathers, The Craft and Stephen King’s Carrie but has an original feel. The characters are unique, memorable and made me think they were real while reading and beyond.

I love witch and magic themed books but this one is worlds ahead of the best. It has left me reeling in shock and in awe. It left me wanting to read more and I can’t wait to read more from this author. Not since the first reading of Deathly Hallows in the midst of Harry Potter mania has a book hit the spot like this. In fact, forget Hogworts I want to go on a tour of the Threadneedle locations.

Would I recommend?

Yes, it has become one of my favourite books and I know it will be  on permanent  loan from the Enchanted Emporium bookshelf by young and old customers. If you love witchlit, magic or a good YA fantasy this is a must to try. I long to be with fellow book lovers to talk about this for hours. It’s that type of book you don’t want to keep to yourself deserves to be loved, unravelled, discussed and then reread. *I have read it twice but also listening to it on Audible.

Author Biography:

Cari Thomas

Cari Thomas has always loved magic, inspired by her upbringing among the woods and myths of Wales’
Wye Valley. She studied English and Creative Writing at Warwick University and Magazine Journalism at
The Cardiff School of Journalism. Her first job was at teen Sugar magazine where she ran the book club and
quickly realized she wanted to be the one writing the books instead. She went on to work at a creative
agency, spending her spare time researching magic and accumulating an unusual collection of occult books.
She wrote her debut novel Threadneedle while living in London, wandering the city and weaving it with
all the magic she wished it contained. She now lives in Bristol with her husband and son, who bears the
appropriately Celtic name of Taliesin.

A note from Cari Thomas:


I remember the old family stories about my Great Aunt Mary. A fiercely independent,
enigmatic woman who was said to be a witch. Perhaps it was these early stories
seeping into my subconscious, perhaps it was devouring The Worst Witch, or growing
up in rural Wales surrounded by myth and fairy tales, or maybe it was just me, but
from a young age I developed a fascination for all things witches and magic.
But let’s not forget that the witch’s hut always sits outside of the village for a reason.
In my research, I became just as obsessed with magic’s opposite forces – repression,
fear, suspicion and prejudice. After all, if my Great Aunt Mary had been alive a few
centuries earlier she may well have been burnt at the stake.


Witch hunts became an area of fascination for me and the more I read the more outraged I became – how powerful, outspoken women and men, or people of the pagan faith, or simply outsiders, have
time and time again been suppressed, silenced and extinguished from society. How the power structure of the day meant that it was near impossible for them to have a voice and to defend themselves.


Why was it such people terrified those in power? Why were we not taught more about this dark period of history? Why did the themes feel like they still resonated so strongly today?
I explore these tensions in Threadneedle- the freedoms of magic set against a fear of witches and feminine power; schoolgirls forced to take on the injustices of the world one spell at a time.
The sheer joy of writing the book came in bringing these tensions into the modern world and particularly into the London setting we think we know.


Ultimately, this is where the heart of the story lies: in feminine power and sisterhood. It brings together an unlikely set of outsiders, who together must navigate their way through the light and dark of being a young woman in today’s world. A world that is more complex than ever and yet still plagued by many of the same issues that my Great Aunt Mary would have faced, and all the witches who came before her.

Happy reading and writing!

Love

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Book Review: The Dream Weavers by Barbara Erskine

I follow some authors and order their books before I even read the blurb. You know from their backlist their new novel will provide you with hours of escapism and joy. Barbara Erskine is one of these with her unique ability of transporting you to the past with her supernatural time slip novels. I’m thrilled to share my review for new novel, The Dream Weavers.

Book Review: The Dream Weavers by Barbara Erskine

Book Cover: The Dream Weavers by Barbara Erskine

Title: The Dream Weavers

Author: Barbara Erskine

Publisher: Harper Collins UK

Release date: 15th April 2021

Genre: historical time slip

Blurb

The brand-new, gripping historical novel from the Sunday Times bestselling author of Lady of Hay!

‘Warmth, depth, mystery, magic and the supernatural … such a beautiful book!’ bestselling author Santa Montefiore

‘A dazzling roller-coaster of a book that will thrill, enchant and intrigue those who love history and the supernatural’ bestselling author Alison Weir

Mercia, 788 AD

In the grand Saxon halls of Mercia, King Offa rules with cold ambition. His youngest daughter Eadburh is destined for an arranged marriage, but with reckless spirit her heart is taken by a Welsh prince, a man she can never be matched with and who is quickly and cruelly taken from her.

Eadburh inherited her father’s ruthless ways but it’s the gifts passed down from her mother that are far more dangerous. She is determined to carve her own place in the world, yet her path could cause war.

Offa’s Dyke, 2021

In a cottage hidden amongst the misty Welsh hills of Offa’s Dyke, Bea Dalloway is called to help Simon Armstrong, who is searching for peace. Instead he finds himself disturbed by unsettling noises and visions.

It isn’t long before Bea is also swept up by haunting dreams. The past is whispering to them, calling out for the truth to be told at last.  And as dreams and reality weave closer together, Bea and Simon must be strong to resist the pull of the past – and its desire for revenge…

The Sunday Times bestselling author returns with a thrilling tale of lost love, betrayal and secrets that have lain buried over a thousand years…

My Thoughts

According to my Kindle, reading time for this book was 10 hours and 3 mins and what a wonderful 10 hours it was. This novel is pure book heaven and showcases Barbara Erskine’s superior storytelling skills and talent at blending history with fiction and the supernatural. She is still the Queen of time slip fiction. 

It is hard to review without revealing spoilers; part of the thrill of this book is discovering the twists and turns which are always unexpected. Both the contemporary and historical settings are brought to life by the descriptions which ignite the senses. I could smell the herbs in Nesta’s herb garden and imagine being in the halls with King Offa. While reading, I was in these locations and experiencing things with the characters. It made me long to visit Wales and Hereford cathedral. 

All the characters are well developed and I connected with Bea, a modern ghost hunter, for her beliefs and desire to make things better for the ghosts. Eadburh is a complex character and one I wanted to hate but struggled to the more I discovered her story. This novel made me question along with characters, how the traumas people experienced in the past affected their reactions and future events and what would they be like if they had access to the support we have today. 

My only quibble is the novel ended too soon and maybe the end was too tidy, but that could be my hidden revengeful side showing. 

Would I recommend?

Oh yes. Like always, Barbara Erskine has researched the factual stories and seamlessly blended fiction with fact to produce a fantastic read. With Welsh ancestors, reading some of the history about Offa’s Dyke and Prince of Powys, made me want to explore the Welsh history some more. This is one for my forever shelf, and I know will be a popular book on The Enchanted Emporium’s bookshelf. 

Thank you Harper Collins for my advanced copy to review and give my honest opinion. My audio version was downloaded this morning and can’t wait to hold my physical version too.

Have you read this? Let me know what you think in the comment below.

Love

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Book Review: The Coven by Lizzie Fry

I am thrilled to share my review for this wonderful book that is one of Amber’s favourites on the Enchanted Emporium’s bookshelf, The Coven by Lizzie Fry. Scroll down to found out why.

Book Review: The Coven by Lizzie Fry

The Coven by Lizzie Fry

Title: The Coven

Author: Lizzie Fry

Publisher: Little Brown Books

Genre: Fantasy, witchlit and thrillers

Release date: 25th Feb 2021

Blurb

‘A compelling, prescient tale of an alternate world with far too many scary similarities to our own.’ Angela Clarke

Let me repeat myself, so we can be very clear. Women are not the enemy. We must protect them from themselves, just as much as we must protect ourselves.

Imagine a world in which witchcraft is real. In which mothers hand down power to their daughters, power that is used harmlessly and peacefully.

Then imagine that the US President is a populist demagogue who decides that all witches must be imprisoned for their own safety, as well as the safety of those around them – creating a world in which to be female is one step away from being criminal…

As witches across the world are rounded up, one young woman discovers a power she did not know she had. It’s a dangerous force and it puts her top of the list in a global witch hunt.

But she – and the women around her – won’t give in easily. Not while all of women’s power is under threat.

The Coven is a dazzling global thriller that pays homage to the power and potential of women everywhere.

My Thoughts

I consumed this book in a day, but if I hadn’t got other things going on, I would have read it within hours. Full of magical action, fear and twists, I did not want to put it down. This dystopian novel set in our time has the feel of the Handmaid’s Tale but with the added element of witchcraft. Misogyny goes a step further and sees all women as evil, and potentially part of terrorist group if they have dealings with magic, tarot and crystals, etc. There are three types of witches – kitchen witches who can denounce their magic, crystal witches who can only perform magic when boosted by crystals so are contained in specialist camps in caves and the most feared, the Elementals. As someone who is fascinated by magic, owns several packs of tarot cards and is known to casting a good luck spell now and then, this book was disturbing. It made me feel vulnerable reading it.

It follows Chloe, an Elemental who comes into her magic with devastating results and Adalita, a crystal witch who escapes jail with the help of a rogue Sentinel, as they try to evade capture. It is an international thriller but the primary setting is one of my favourite places, Boscastle in Cornwall. It made me long to visit and when I do, knowing the connection to this story will make it more special. It is a story of friendship, and it highlights the power of women when fighting towards a common cause. The chemistry between the characters was a joy to read.

Would I recommend?

Yes! With magical explosions, conspiracy theories, twists and high tension, this highly visual novel is a thrill to read. The recent political events only adds to the tension, and it shows how political spin and control can divide families, communities and countries with horrifying results. It is a must if you love witchy books or a dystopian novel with a twist. I can’t wait to have a physical copy on my own forever shelf. Thank you Little Brown Books for my advanced copy to review and give my honest and unbiased opinion.

The Coven by Lizzie Fry

Happy reading and take care!

Love