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

Book Review: Whispers of the Runes by Christina Courtenay

Today, I’m excited to share my review for a romantic time-slip novel, Whispers of the Runes by Christina Courtenay. Firstly, I was attracted to this by the title as I love runes and wondered how they would be incorporated into a story and secondly the time slip to the times of the Vikings. Ever since, I visited York as a child I have been fascinated by the era.

Book Review: Whispers of Runes by Christina Courtenay

Whispers of the Runes by Christina Courtney

Title: Whispers of the Runes

Author: Christina Courtenay

Publisher: Headline

Genre: Time slip, romance

Release date: 24th June 2021

Blurb

Time is no barrier for a love that is destined to be.

She couldn’t be sure that she had travelled through time … but deep down she just knew.

And her only way back had just disappeared.

When jewellery designer Sara Mattsson is propelled back to the ninth century, after cutting herself on a Viking knife she uncovers at an archaeological dig, she is quick to accept what has happened to her. For this is not the first Sara has heard of time travel.

Although acutely aware of the danger she faces when she loses the knife – and with it her way to return to her own time – this is also the opportunity of a lifetime. What better way to add authenticity to the Viking and Anglo-Saxon motifs used in her designs?

As luck has it, the first person Sara encounters is Rurik Eskilsson, a fellow silversmith, who is also no stranger to the concept of time travel. Agreeing that Sara can accompany him to Jorvik, they embark on a journey even more perilous than one through time. But Fate has brought these two kindred spirits together across the ages for a reason…

Purchase Links

UK – https://www.amazon.co.uk/Whispers-Runes-enthralling-romantic-timeslip-ebook/dp/B08L6535FJ/

US – https://www.amazon.com/Whispers-Runes-enthralling-romantic-timeslip-ebook/dp/B08L6535FJ/

My Thoughts

This is the first book I have read from Christina Courtenay, though I have others waiting patiently on my Kindle which I need to catch up on. I loved it and though it is the third in the Runes series; it works well as a standalone. This highly readable romantic novel follows a modern silversmith, Sara, when she slips into the 9th century thanks to an ancient sword. I quickly connected to her when she meets a shipwrecked Viking, Rurik. Unlike the traditional stereotypical Viking we all expect, he is chivalrous, kind and unphased by her time travelling because he has met a wanderer before in a previous book. I loved this twist because it meant Sara did not have to pretend to be someone she wasn’t, increasing the speed of the story. Rurik is also a silversmith, giving the characters a common thread to discuss and allow the chemistry between them build. He really is a Viking everyone could fall in love with.

As like all time travellers, Sara is faced with dangers from others but this tension is balanced with the everyday life of the Vikings. The highly detailed descriptions of this gave the novel depth and was able to transport me to the tents in the camps immersed in the smells and chat. Unlike some well researched historical fiction the details are perfectly blended with the storytelling and were never a distraction but made it a joy to read.

I can’t wait to be able to nudge the other books in the series up my TBR pile and catch up with the series.

Would I recommend?

Yes, it is a perfect summer read with the perfect gentle hero to fall in love with, set in interesting times and locations. Living on near the East Coast of Yorkshire, I can’t help love books even more if they are located in places nearby, this novel is no different and makes me long for when I can get to York again.

The magic in the Runes series may be subtle but with swords that allow time travel, this novel has a well-deserved place on the Enchanted Emporium bookshelf and will be popular with many witchy and non-witchy customers of The Enchanted Emporium.

Author Biography

Christina Courtenay

Christina Courtenay writes historical romance, time slip and time travel stories, and lives in Herefordshire (near the Welsh border) in the UK. Although born in England, she has a Swedish mother and was brought up in Sweden – hence her abiding interest in the Vikings. Christina is a former chairman of the UK’s Romantic Novelists’ Association and has won several awards, including the RoNA for Best Historical Romantic Novel twice with Highland Storms (2012) and The Gilded Fan (2014).  Whispers of the Runes (time travel published by Headline 24th June 2021) is her latest novel. Christina is a keen amateur genealogist and loves history and archaeology (the armchair variety).

Social Media Links

Website: http://www.christinacourtenay.com

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/christinacourtenayauthor?fref=ts

Twitter: https://twitter.com/PiaCCourtenay

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/ChristinaCourtenayAuthor/

Giveaway to Win a signed copy of Whispers of the Runes plus a pair of silver Viking style earrings  (Open INT)*

Click here to enter

Giveaway prizes

Thank you Rachel’s Random Resources for inviting me to this tour and the advanced copy to review and give my honest and unbiased opinion.

Happy reading and good luck!

Love

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*Terms and Conditions –Worldwide entries welcome.  Please enter using the Rafflecopter box below.  The winner will be selected at random via Rafflecopter from all valid entries and will be notified by Twitter and/or email. If no response is received within 7 days then Rachel’s Random Resources reserves the right to select an alternative winner. Open to all entrants aged 18 or over.  Any personal data given as part of the competition entry is used for this purpose only and will not be shared with third parties, with the exception of the winners’ information. This will passed to the giveaway organiser and used only for fulfilment of the prize, after which time Rachel’s Random Resources will delete the data.  I am not responsible for despatch or delivery of the prize.

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.

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

Book Review: The Shape of Darkness by Laura Purcell

Today I’m reviewing a book and audiobook recommended to me by the lovely Julie at A Little Book Problem, The Shape of Darkness by Laura Purcell. While I love reading words from the page I have come to love the audio experience especially for books of the supernatural type. Audiobooks in conjunction with a physical copy are a perfect combination because you can read yourself but also take advantage of the story when busy or late at night in the dark.

Book Review: The Shape of Darkness by Laura Purcell

Shape of Darkness by Laura Purcell

Title: The Shape of Darkness

Author: Laura Purcell

Narrator: Sophie Aldred

Publisher: Bloomsbury UK Audio Raven Books

Genre: General fiction, paranormal thriller, historical fiction

Pub Date 21 Jan 2021

Blurb

‘Dripping with atmosphere with a corkscrew plot, Laura Purcell just gets better and better’ STACEY HALLS

‘It truly kept me guessing to the very last page’ SONIA VELTON

Wicked deeds require the cover of darkness…

A struggling silhouette artist in Victorian Bath seeks out a renowned child spirit medium in order to speak to the dead – and to try and identify their killers – in this beguiling new tale from Laura Purcell.

Silhouette artist Agnes is struggling to keep her business afloat. Still recovering from a serious illness herself, making enough money to support her elderly mother and her orphaned nephew Cedric has never been easy, but then one of her clients is murdered shortly after sitting for Agnes, and then another, and another…

Desperately seeking an answer, Agnes approaches Pearl, a child spirit medium lodging in Bath with her older half-sister and her ailing father, hoping that if Pearl can make contact with those who died, they might reveal who killed them. But Agnes and Pearl quickly discover that instead they may have opened the door to something that they can never put back…

What secrets lie hidden in the darkness?

My Thoughts

This novel took me to the 1850s where Agnes has a business producing shades, silhouettes made with paper and scissors, an occupation I knew nothing about but is as fascinating as the premise of the book. Blended with history of early spiritualism, I was captivated by both POVs, Agnes with her household comprising her Mum and nephew Cedric and Pearl with Myrtle and her dad. I enjoyed the suspense, description of the past and the pure spookiness of this tale. With the details of the seances and the murders following Agnes customers, I was hooked into the mystery. I needed to know who was behind the crimes and the secrets all the characters were hiding. There were many twists and turns – some I guessed, but others were completely unexpected and emotional. Pearl was so young to be in the career of a medium, I felt maternal over here and wished I could reach in to comfort her.

This dark and eerie Gothic novel gave me goosebumps because it sits on the right side of believability, if that’s a word. Books involving the supernatural are always scarier if it could happen. Listening to a ghost story adds another dimension to the fear factor, similar to having it told to you around the campfire on a winter’s night. Sophie Aldred is well matched to narrate this tale with the correct tone and pace, adds depth to the story and brings the characters to life making it an enjoyable, thrilling experience.

Would I recommend?

Yes, in all editions. The audiobook gave this eerie novel an extra dimension but the story is a fantastic read if you love historical fiction or the supernatural. It is one for my forever bookshelf and a firm favourite on The Enchanted Emporium Bookshelf too. It is highly recommended by Old Percy who remembers when silhouette artists were all the rage during his lifetime.

Thank you Bloomsbury UK audio for the advanced copy so I could review and give my honest and unbiased opinion.

Do you listen to audiobooks too? What’s your favourite ghost story?

Love

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

Book Review: Sleep Tight by C.S Green

It seems ages since I have read a crime novel series but the tagline of Sleep Tight by C.S Green and the cover drew me in. The blurb made me want to read, scroll down to see if my high expectations were met.

Book Review: Sleep Tight by C.S Green

Book Cover Sleep Tight by C.S Green

Title: Sleep Tight

Author: C.S Green

Publisher: Harper Fiction

Release date: 4th March 2021

Blurb

The nightmare is only just beginning…

When DC Rose Gifford is called to investigate the death of a young woman suffocated in her bed, she can’t shake the feeling that there’s more to the crime than meets the eye.

It looks like a straightforward crime scene – but the police can’t find the killer. Enter DS Moony – an eccentric older detective who runs UCIT, a secret department of the Met set up to solve supernatural crimes. Moony wants Rose to help her out – but Rose doesn’t believe in any of that.

Does she?

As the killer prepares to strike again, Rose must pick a side – before a second woman dies.

Twisty, original and compelling, SLEEP TIGHT is perfect for fans of Alex North and Cara Hunter.

My Thoughts

Usually if a book gives me a chill, I’d say it made me leave the light on all night, but with this one it was a case of drinking vast quantities of coffee before bed to prevent sleep. Not only so I could binge read it to the end, but because I did not want to witness the nightmares of the victims. They were horrifying and the emotions believable, making it worse.

The combination of a classic crime procedural novel and the paranormal gave this an unusual twist and allowed C. S Green to experiment with the method and motivation for a locked room murder. It’s clever, well written, and the suspense kept me turning the pages, as did the wonderful characterisation of DC Rose Gifford and Mack. Haunted by the past and the secret she holds, Rose is determined to keep that side of her away from her job as a police officer, but the weird nature of the murders means things get out of her control. Her battle with her desire to keep her life grounded in the rational and the need to face the illogical to solve the crime was a joy to read.

As the first book in the series, there were plenty of threads and hints of backstory to latch on to which make me want to read on beyond this one. As much as I wanted to know who had done it, I didn’t want Sleep Tight to end.

Would I recommend?

Yes, this is an original and creepy crime thriller blended perfectly with the supernatural. C. S Green is an author to watch, and I now face the frustrating wait to read the next one. I can’t wait to catch up with Rose Gifford again and see where this series takes me.

Author Biography

Author C.S Green

C.S Green is the pseudonym for Sunday Times and ebook bestseller Cass Green. Her debut adult novel The Woman Next Door was a No.1 e-book bestseller and her second, In A Cottage, In A Wood was a Sunday Times top ten and USA Today bestseller. Don’t You Cry was her third standalone thriller. She is the Writer in Residence at East Barnet School and teaches crime fiction at City University and children’s fiction for Writers and Artist’s Yearbook.

Social media:

Twitter: @carolinesgreen

Website: carolinegreenwriter.co.uk

Facebook: Caroline Green Author

Instagram: carolinegreen70

Once you have read this book you will understand why it is one of Amber’s favourites and recommended from The Enchanted Emporium’s bookshelf

Thank you Harper Fiction for the advanced copy so I could review and give my honest and unbiased opinion.

Happy reading and take care!

Love