Book review, The Enchanted Emporium's Bookshelf

Book Review: The Wildest Hunt by Jo Zebedee

I have already read a few festive novels but they are primarily romances. This review is for a completely different seasonal read for those who love spookier and creepier novels on these cold and dark evenings – The Wildest Hunt by Jo Zebedee.

Book Review: The Wildest Hunt by Jo Zebedee

Book cover for The Wildest Hunt by Jo Zebedee
The Wildest Hunt by Jo Zebedee

Title: The Wildest Hunt

Author: Jo Zebedee

Publisher:  Inspired Quill 

Genre: Fantasy, thriller

Release Date: 27th November 2021

Blurb

A long-dead child.

An artist who paints the fae.

An ancient estate on a blood-filled land.

The commission was close to Amelia’s dream: a cosy cottage in Donegal over Christmas and the chance to paint the beautiful Glenveagh estate. But when the weather closes in and the country shuts down, a ritual begins – one that traps Amelia in its circles of magic. Stranded in a place where iron is power, her heart can no longer be trusted and the land itself is a weapon, Amelia’s survival depends on unravelling the truth of a decades-old death. Even if it draws the same ancient danger to herself.

My Thoughts

I knew I was in for a treat when the supernatural spookiness began in the first chapter with the arrival of the grey lady and the highly visual descriptions sent shivers down my spine. It lured me into Amelia’s life and set up the tension and malevolence for the rest of the story.

The tension and impending danger for Amelia doesn’t let up until the conclusion, making it a thrilling if very dark read. The Irish countryside and the Glenveagh estate are ideal locations for the sinister fae hunt and it reminded me of the menacing Overlook hotel grounds in The Shining. There are plenty of nooks and places for danger to lurk, and it has a character of its own.  

There are two points of view: Amelia, an artist who has the ability to draw the supernatural and Jean who longs to discover the truth about the death of her childhood friend. Both are intriguing and make you want to turn the page and, as the secrets were revealed, knowing both sides ramped up the fear factor and made me suspicious of everyone. It’s definitely a book that kept me reading long past bedtime.

Would I recommend?

Yes, if you fancy a sinister, highly imaginative festive read. This blend of Irish folklore and a supernatural mystery set over the Christmas period is one that draws you in for an unnerving and thrilling journey and makes a refreshing change from the cinnamon and mistletoe laced romances that normally fill bookshelves in December.

With magic, supernatural abilities and fae, this will be a popular read with those witches who enjoy a darker novels from the Enchanted Emporium Bookshelf.

Author Biography

Author Jo Zebedee

Listed as one of The Guardian’s Top 10 Irish Sci-Fi authors, Jo writes stories based both in her native Northern Ireland and her fictional world of Abendau.

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Thank you Random Thing Tours for inviting me to this tour and providing an advanced copy for me to review and give my honest and unbiased opinion.

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Book review, The Enchanted Emporium's Bookshelf

Book Review: The Moon Almanac by Judith Hurrell

Hello, December! I’m delighted to share my first review of this month with this unusual and delightful book The Moon Almanac by Judith Hurrell.

Book Review: Moon Almanac by Judith Hurrell

The Moon Almanac by Judith Hurrell

Title: The Moon Almanac

Author: Judith Hurrell

Publisher: Summersdale

Genre: Non-fiction, nature, lunar

Release Date: 23rd August 2021

Blurb

When can you spot the Hunter’s Moon, a Smiling Moon or a Pink Moon?
How can the phases of the moon help your garden grow?
What influence does the full moon have on hamsters, coral and skylarks?


Navigate the rhythms of the night sky with this evocative collection of poetry, prose and precious
wisdom. Illuminating the moon’s influence on the natural world and its depiction in folklore and the arts,
The Moon Almanac will open your eyes to the wonders of our brightest celestial neighbour.
Includes information on:


 History and folklore – learn about wolves howling at the moon and the stories behind the names
such as holiday moon, the old moon etc.
 Trivia – includes details of the Apollo missions, the first man on the moon, astronomy discoveries,
the tides, daylight moons, harvest moons and more.
 The moon in religion and mythology – gods and goddesses of the moon, religious beliefs about
the moon.
 The moon and biological rhythms – find out how you can align your body and your sleeping
patterns with the moon, and how important the moon is to your circadian rhythm.
 Words of wisdom and lunar quotes.

My Thoughts

First off, this book is beautiful and with its midnight blue cover and simple silver design, it begs to be held and read. Inside it is just as stunning with intricate illustrations using the same colour way. It feels as special as it reads.

Each section is divided into months of the year and includes information about the upcoming moon cycles, poems, folklore from all areas of the globe and snippets of literature related to the month’s moon. It is full of facts that range from scientific facts to the meanings behind moon related phrases. Who knew the phrase “over the moon” is over 500 years old. It’s one of those books that has to be seen in reality to see its true delight.

Inside The Moon Almanac

Would I recommend?

Yes, I adore this book and is a joy to read. It will be one I will refer to on a regular basis as the year progresses. I feel privileged to have this treasure on my bookcase and know it will also be popular and well loved by those visiting The Enchanted Emporium Bookshelf. It would make a wonderful Christmas or Yule gift for anyone who loves nature or the moon.

Author Biography

Judith Hurrell

Judith Hurrell is a freelance writer who lives in Buckinghamshire. When she’s not writing, you’ll find her in nature, going on about the sky, the sea, the earth and the trees to her family and dogs. She was inspired to write this book after joining a women’s circle, which meets every month to mark and celebrate the 12 phases of the lunar cycle.

Thank you Random Thing Tours for inviting me to this tour and providing an advanced copy for me to review and give my honest and unbiased opinion.

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Book Review: Wish You Were Here by Jodi Picoult

Book Review: Wish You Were Here by Jodi Picoult

Wish You Were Here by Jodi Picoult

Title: Wish You Were Here

Author: Jodi Picoult

Publisher: Hodder & Stoughton

Genre: Fiction

Release Date: 25th November 2021

Blurb

If your life was going perfectly to plan, would you risk everything to change it? 

Diana O’Toole’s life is going perfectly to plan. At twenty-nine, she’s up for promotion to her dream job as an art specialist at Sotheby’s and she’s about to fly to the Galapagos where she’s convinced her surgeon boyfriend, Finn, is going to propose.

But then the virus hits New York City and Finn breaks the news: the hospital needs him, he has to stay. But you should still go, he insists. And reluctantly, she agrees.

Once she’s in the Galapagos, the world shuts down around her, leaving Diana stranded – albeit in paradise. Completely isolated, with only intermittent news from the outside world, Diana finds herself examining everything that has brought her to this point and wondering if there’s a better way to live.

But not everything is as it seems . . .

My Thoughts

Ever since I read My Sister’s Keeper years ago, I have been a fan of Jodi Picoult books and she is an author I’d always buy the book without focussing on the blurb, but I did have my concerns about reading about the pandemic while cases are still high and the surrounding emotions are still raw. I needn’t have worried; I loved this book.

I was hooked with the opening scene with its fantastic imagery of the Diana’s father restoring the painting on the Grand Central Terminal ceiling. I knew from how Diana saw the world and her love of art I’d enjoy getting to know her better.

This novel is a tale of two halves and highlights the different experiences people had depending on the location, the depth of infection in the area and people’s reaction to it as a whole. The first chapters with Diana in the Galapagos islands were true escapism with the calm, stunning location and sense of community leaping off the page, making them a joy to read despite the climatic threat in the background. Conversely Finn’s experience trapped in New York facing the harsh realities of being on the frontline in the pandemic were heart breaking and eye opening. This novel does not shy away from the cruelty and horror of the disease which made for powerful but disturbing reading. For this reason, I think at the moment Wish You Were Here will be a marmite book – some people will love it and others who have been deeply touched by the virus will find it too close to home. In time it will gain more readers and become an important reflection on the realities of the last couple of years.

The Jodi Picoult twist came as a shock and drew me in further. It was fascinating and made me long to dig deeper, I wish I could chat more about it but that would be a huge spoiler. You’ll have to wait until you’ve read it and find like-minded people to discuss it with.  

Would I recommend?

Yes, this is an emotional and powerful book with a character finding her way in unfamiliar territories and has a unique Jodi Picoult twist. Not many authors would get away with a novel based on the pandemic while it is still raging but she’s managed it with great characterisation, sensitivity and the clever use of balancing the harsh and traumatic scenes set in New York with the calmer escapism of the idyllic islands. It’s a book for my forever shelf.

Author Biography

Photo of Jodi Picoult
Jodi Picoult

Jodi Picoult is the author of twenty five internationally bestselling novels, including MY SISTER’S KEEPER, HOUSE RULES and SMALL GREAT THINGS, and has also co-written two YA books with her daughter Samantha van Leer, BETWEEN THE LINES and OFF THE PAGE. She lives in New Hampshire with her husband and three children.

Her most recent adult novel, A SPARK OF LIGHT first published in the UK on 30th October 2018, and was a #1 Sunday Times and New York Times bestseller

https://twitter.com/jodipicoult

https://www.instagram.com/jodipicoult/?hl=en

Thank you Hodder & Stoughton for inviting me to this tour and providing an advanced copy for me to review and give my honest and unbiased opinion.

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Book Review: Meet Me in Another Life by Catriona Silvey

I’m excited to share my review for Meet Me in Another Life by Catriona Silvey that first appeared in my other blog From under the Duvet but it deserves another shout out. This novel’s blurb made me jump up and down with excitement as it sounded different and I wondered how the author would tackle a potential complicated premise. Books like these make me feel privileged to be a book blogger and able to discover new authors regularly. Scroll down to see if this novel met my expectations.

BOOK REVIEW: MEET ME IN ANOTHER LIFE BY CATRIONA SILVEY

Book Cover: Meet Me in Another Life by Catriona Silvey

BLURB:

Joyful, devastating, and profound, Meet Me in Another Life is a story of love and connection in every possible form

 Thora and Santi have met before…

Under the clocktower in central Cologne, with nothing but the stars above and their futures ahead. They will meet again…

They don’t know it yet, but they’ll meet again: in numerous lives they will become friends, colleagues, lovers, enemies – meeting over and over for the first time, every time; each coming to know every version of the other. But as they’re endlessly drawn together and the lines between their different lives begin to blur, they are faced with one question: why?

They must discover the truth of their strange attachment before this, and all their lives, are lost forever.

Title: Meet Me in Another Life

Author: Catriona Silvey

Publisher: HarperVoyager

Genre: General fiction, fantasy, sci fi

Release date: 8th July 2021

MY THOUGHTS

This novel wasn’t what I expecting but it was breathtakingly beautiful and exceeded my expectations by miles. With an unimaginable and unforgettable ending, this has to be one of the most original reads I’ve read for a long time. I think I’d have to go back to Barbara Erskine’s Lady of Hay for its uniqueness when time slip novels weren’t a genre of its own thirty years ago.

The novel offers snapshots of Thora’s and Santi’s lifes; each one set in Cologne where a broken clock tower watches over them. Sometimes they’re lovers, other times they are friends or child and teacher; the novel shows endless relationship possibilities but both characters know things they shouldn’t, and see constellations that are out of sync with the ones they see in the sky. Each lifetime reveals something more about the characters and are captivating with the emotions conveyed. The small cast of characters were cleverly weaved into each life and though different, they never lost the true personality and essence of themselves. They made me keep turning the page as did the mystery connecting the Thora and Santi together. Was it fate as gentle Santi believed? Or all about choice as spiky Thora believed? When I finished the last page, I longed to begin the story again to hunt for all the clues leading to the ending I never anticipated but found so satisfying.

The limited location of Cologne worked well and as I got to know Thora and Santi through their lives, I also felt connected to the place. It has made me add Cologne to the places I want to visit. 

WOULD I RECOMMEND?

Yes. Read a copy, absorb it and then find some fellow bookworms to chat to about it because it’s too great to keep to yourself, and the themes and plot needs unpicking and discussing. It’s a highly imaginative, captivating and emotional read with many threads to discuss making it perfect for book clubs or dark, wintry evenings when you need a novel with depth, and uniqueness that gets your neurons zinging with joy and intrigue.

This is one for my forever shelf and one I’m sure will be popular with those who visit the Enchanted Emporium bookshelf.

AUTHOR BIOGRAPHY

Author: Catriona Silvey

Catriona Silvey was born in Glasgow and grew up in Perthshire and Derbyshire, which left her with a strange accent and a distrust of flat places. She overcame the latter to do a BA in English at Cambridge, and spent the next few years there working in scientific publishing. After that she did a PhD in language evolution, in the hope of finding out where all these words came from in the first place. Following stints in Edinburgh and Chicago, she returned to Cambridge, where she lives with her husband and a very peculiar cat. When she’s not working as a researcher studying meaning in language, she writes. Her short stories have been performed at the Edinburgh Literary Festival and shortlisted for the Bridport Prize.

Thank you Random Things Tour for the advanced copy for read so I could give my honest and unbiased opinion.

Happy reading!

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Book Review: The Nightmare Tree by Paul O’Neill

It’s been a while since I have read a horror book, but with Halloween galloping closer, I was excited to be invited to the blog tour for The Nightmare Tree by Paul O’Neill. With a tag line ‘ Somewhere between Iain Banks and Stephen King’, I had high expectations. Scroll down to see if it exceeded them.

Book Review: The Nightmare Tree by Paul O’Neill

The Nightmare Tree by Paul O’Neill

Title: The Nightmare Tree

Author: Paul O’Neill

Publisher:

Genre: Horror, short stories

Release Date: 10th September 2021

Purchase: Amazon

Blurb

‘Somewhere between Iain Banks and Stephen King’

The debut short story collection from a fresh new voice. Thirteen tales of horror and suspense. In the forgotten places of Scotland, terror awaits.

‘Intriguing and heartfelt’

Contains the chilling stories: The Great Slime Kings – Three’s a Crowd – The Summer Bullet – The Only Emperor – Down Below is Silence and Darkness – Guardians – In a Jar of Spiders – We the Dark Deniers – Blocks – Nightmare Soup – The Dumps – Once Upon a Flame – The Nightmare Tree (novella).

Dare you stand before the Nightmare Tree and make your wish?

‘Oh my God!’

‘Powerful

My Thoughts

I’m very glad this was a collection of short stories and not a full length novel – I do not think my nerves will have coped. Whoever quoted the tagline was not lying; while I haven’t read any Iain Banks novels this collection was very classic Stephen King-esque without the excess waffle. These compact stories make every word count and were on the edge of being too horrifying for me which is an excellent sign for horror writing especially when this wasn’t because of over the top violence or goriness.

The power of these stories is the ability to tap into the reader’s imagination and allow it to fill in the gaps of the unsaid. I found myself trapped in the scenarios and nightmares on the page.  Paul O’Neill has the ability to transform the ordinary into something disturbing and horrifying. From his descriptions of the swamp in The Great Slime Kings, snow drifts in The Only Emperor, and the leaves slamming on the window panes in The Nightmare Tree, the effects of these stories will linger and unnerve me for a long time to come. Especially on damp nights when I have to venture outside to bring Nigel, our Jack Russell, in when he finds a toad.

Would I recommend?

If you love horror, give it ago but be warned, it made me sleep with the light one and despite immersing myself into festive books, my nerves haven’t recovered. They hit the spot in tension, fear and lingering chills.

Author Biography

Photo of Paul O'Neill Author
Paul O’Neill

Paul is a short story writer from Scotland.

He is a PR / Internal Communications professional who tries not to let the horror of corporate-speak seep into his stories. |

His stories have appeared in Scare Street’s Night Terrors series, Purple Wall Stories, and Fae Corps Press’ Nightmare Whispers anthology, with an upcoming story in Eerie River Publishing’s It Calls from the Doors anthology.

You can find him sharing his love of short stories on twitter @PaulOn1984. 

Thank you Random Thing Tours for inviting me to this tour and providing an advanced copy for me to review and give my honest and unbiased opinion.

What are your favourite horror books? Let me know in the comments below.

Happy reading!

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