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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All about Books, Book review

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

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

The Woman and the Witch revi
All about Books, Book review, The Enchanted Emporium's Bookshelf

Book Review: The Woman and the Witch by Amanda Larkman

One of the most popular books borrowed from The Enchanted Emporium’s bookshelf is The Woman and the Witch by Amanda Larkman so I am pleased to share my review. Scroll down to see why it is so popular.

Book Review: The Woman and the Witch by Amanda Larkman

Book cover for The Woman and the Witch by Amanda Larkman

Title: The Woman and the Witch

Author: Amanda Larkman

Genre: Women’s fiction, fantasy

Publisher: Indie

Release date: 30th March 2020

Blurb

‘I see the wood first. A knitted shawl of green and black tossed across the shoulders of the ancient hills. I take a great gulp of breath, my lungs no longer compressed by cages of contorted bone. I want to drink the cool air like water, scented as it is with earth and starlight.But as I drift close to the house, I falter. Something is wrong. I will myself on, ignoring the whispers of pain beginning to curl up from my bed-ridden body. A ball of dread is growing in my stomach; it is so terribly black and heavy it slows me down. My hands shake. The light is gone.’Nothing ever changes in the village of Witchford until the day a hundred year old, bad-tempered witch falls and breaks her hip, and a fifty year old cleaner decides her life is over. Both are haunted by ghosts, but can Frieda help Angie to find out what her long dead father is trying to tell her? And can Angie help Frieda fight off the wolf who circles ever closer?

Purchase links

The Woman and the Witch https://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B086K184T8

Airy Cages and Other Stories https://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B08KRJYZZT

My Thoughts

I discovered this book when it popped up on my Facebook newsfeed and the title drew me in. As many of you know, I cannot resist witch related fiction, and this book did not disappoint. Behind the quiet cover hides a powerful book with strong characters who jumped off the page into my heart. The protagonists, Frieda and Angie are polar opposites, and unlike some dual point of view books, I loved them both dearly and wanted to read both of their stories rather than favour one. This added to the enjoyment of the novel.

 Frieda is a hundred-year-old witch who is feeling her age and the darkness that is forcing its way in. Her waspish demeanour reminded me of a lady I cared for and loved when I worked in the nursing home. She did not suffer fools gladly, and you felt privileged if she let it slip she liked you. I could easily imagine she would have cast spells in revenge of maltreatment or a bad cup of tea if she could, which added to my enjoyment of Frieda’s antics. It was refreshing not to read about nice, sweet old ladies often depicted in fiction. The novel slips into the past to show her use of power to manipulate, her love of partying in the highly visual era just after the war, and her run in with evil. She is a character I secretly would like to be when I age.

Angie’s life is not happening how she planned and is limping from day to day in her 30-year-old marriage, but this is turned on its head when she meets Frieda and her house. The house is a character of its own and a place I’d like to explore. The combination of the chemistry between unlikely duo, the imaginative magic threaded throughout and the increased tension when Frieda’s past gets closer made this an emotional and thrill to read.

Would I recommend?

This novel has everything I want in a book – witches, ghosts, love and suspense and is one for my forever shelf. I can see why it is highly recommended by Willow and the Enchanted Emporium. I can’t wait to read Amanda Larkman’s other book of short stories and what she releases next.

Watch this space for my chat with Amanda Larkman later this week.

Author Biography

Author Amanda Larkman

Amanda Larkman was born in a hospital as it was being bombed during a revolution. The rest of her upbringing, in the countryside of Kent, has been relatively peaceful.

She graduated with an English degree and has taught English for over twenty years. ‘The Woman and the Witch’ is her first novel.

Hobbies include trying to find the perfect way to make popcorn, watching her mad labradoodle run like a galloping horse, and reading brilliant novels that make her feel bitter and jealous.

She has a husband and two teenage children, all of whom are far nicer than the characters in her book.

Social Media links

Twitter https://twitter.com/MiddleageWar

Website https://middle-agedwarrior.com/

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

Facebook https://www.facebook.com/MiddleageWar/

Have you read Amanda’s book? I would love to know your thoughts below.

Take care and stay safe.

Love

All about Books

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.