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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, The Enchanted Emporium's Bookshelf

#LoveMyLibaryWeek An Enchanted Library

Its Love My Library week so I want to reveal one of The Enchanted Emporium secrets.

An example of a much loved little library

Inspired by the wonderful small free libraries she saw online, Amber dragged out a small cabinet she found in the depths of the Emporium’s stock room into the Witch’s Yard. Her aim was to share recommended books with those with magical leanings to help them learn their craft when funds were low, but it grew to include any book she, Willow or Rosa adored. The only clause they discovered was the book needed a magical or supernatural thread. Without it, the book would leap from the shelf and ricochet across the yard to the nearest puddle, and the cabinet has its own impeccable taste. Rosa tried to sneak in much loved non-magic orientated books with horrifying consequences. I cannot say it that no books were hurt during her experiments. On one occasion a novel burst into flames and no, I will not say the title as it would be cruel to the book and the author. 

The cabinet is possessive over an illustrated copy of A Christmas Carol, allowing only some to borrow to take it away. There have been reports of the book placing itself on top of the borrowers reading pile and appearing near them and nudging them if ignored. Once read, it finds its own way home. Borrowing it has become a badge of honour; not only because of the worthiness of the person but who has the nerve to live with such an impatient novel. 

It’s favourites are those by Alice Hoffman including Magic Lessons, The Once and Future Witches by Alix E Harrow, The Castle Clair witch series by Sharon Booth, and Beltane by Alys West.

Books for all age groups are welcome. The other day a young child added Room on the Broom by Julia Donaldson, and the cabinet’s sigh of happiness drifted into the store for all to hear. If you have read or watched the film, I’m sure you would understand why. 

Over time, I will share reviews of some books it has on the shelves. Some of these include The Midnight Library by Matt Haig, The Woman and the Witch by Amanda Larkman, Threadneedle by Cari Thomas and The Ultimate Guide to the Witch’s Wheel of the Year by Anjou Kiernan. And I’d love your recommendations of books you love, and you think would impress this small witch library and Black Cat who guards it. 

Take care of yourself and love your library. Happy writing, reading, and stay safe!

Love

P.S Thank you A Little Book Problem for your help this week.

All about Books, Book review

Book Review: Once and future witches by Alix E. Harrow

My plan was to shout about this last month as part of the witchy Halloween take over but life had other ideas so I am happy to share my delayed review for Once and Future Witches by Alix. E Harrow.

Book Review: Once and future witches by Alix E. Harrow

Title: Once and future witches

Author: Alix E. Harrow

Publisher: Little Brown Book Group

Genre: Sci-fi and fantasy

Release date: 15th October 2020

Blurb

‘The Once and Future Witches is a gorgeous and thrilling paean to the ferocious power of women’ Laini Taylor, New York Times bestselling author of Strange the Dreamer

In 1893, there’s no such thing as witches. There used to be, in the wild, dark days before the burnings began, but now witching is nothing but tidy charms and nursery rhymes. If the modern woman wants any measure of power, she must find it at the ballot box.

But when the three Eastwood sisters join the suffragists of New Salem, they begin to pursue the forgotten ways that might turn the women’s movement into the witch’s movement. Stalked by shadows and sickness, hunted by forces who will not suffer a witch to vote – and perhaps not even to live – the sisters must delve into the oldest magics, draw new alliances, and heal the bond between them if they want to survive.

There’s no such thing as witches. But there will be.

Praise for The Once and Future Witches:

‘A brilliant dazzle of a book . . . I devoured it in enormous gulps, and utterly loved it’ Kat Howard, author of The Unkindness of Ghosts

‘Compelling, exhilarating and magical – a must read’ Booklist (starred review)

‘Delightful . . . a tale of women’s battle for equality, of fairy tales twisted into wonderfully witchy spells, of magics both large and small, and history re-imagined’ Louisa Morgan, author of A Secret History of Witches

‘A love letter to folklore and the rebellious women of history’ Publishers Weekly

‘A breathtaking book – brilliant and raw and dark and complicated’ Sarah Gailey, author of Magic for Liars

My Thoughts

This novel blew me away and I’m in awe of the prose, vivid storytelling and unusual, powerful characters. The three Eastwood sisters drew me into their story like the witchcraft they practise and they refused to let me go. Forget sleep, chores and reality, I had to read as long as I could. It is a book for a lazy, indulgent weekends where you have no distractions.

Blending the suffragette movement with women fighting for the vote with a movement to release witching from its shackles so women are empowered is clever, powerful and urges the reader to read more. The characters of the Eastwood sisters are so well developed they leap of the page and the descriptions of location make the story form a movie in the mind. The twists and turns along with the love, anger and hate the sisters encounter as they find their way to Avalon make this book unforgettable.

The conclusion is unexpected but is perfect.

Would I recommend?

Yes, yes, yes. This is my favourite book of the year for its powerful storytelling, unique characters, vivid imagery and theme. If you love books that are different, witchy or highlight the strength of women when challenged this is a must. It would make a fantastic series, but like all things, nothing can beat the insight you gain from the written word; it left me wanting more.

I am grateful to Little Brown Books for the advanced copy so I could give my honest, unbiased opinion. This is one of those books I would have missed if it had not been brought to my attention and the world would have been a little bit greyer without.

Have you read it? I would love to know what you thought, comment below.

Take care and happy reading!

Love

All about Books, Book review

Book Review: Beltane by Alys West

The witch themed book reviews continue with Beltane by Alys West. I read it in May and discussed it on my sister blog, From Under the Duvet.

BOOK REVIEW: BELTANE BY ALYS WEST

Beltane cover

Title: Beltane

Author: Alys West

Publisher: Fabrian Books

Release Date: 8th June 2016

Genre: Fiction, supernatural

Purchase: Amazon

BLURB:

Struggling artist, Zoe arrives in Glastonbury seeking inspiration. The small Somerset town is steeped in myth and legend and Zoe’s sure it’ll be the perfect place to work on a book about King Arthur. But behind the shops selling witchcraft supplies and crystals real magic is being practised.
When Zoe meets Finn her life changes forever. Not only is he a druid connected to the ancient energies of the earth but she dreamed about him long before they met. Finn’s life is in terrible danger and Zoe’s dreams start to reveal more of the plot against him.
After dreaming of a deadly battle at a stone circle on Dartmoor, Zoe starts to wonder if the dark magic around her is playing tricks of its own or if she really can see the future. Will she learn to trust Finn, and herself, in time to stand any hope of surviving the powerful magic that will be unleashed at Beltane? Or is it already too late?
This gripping story of magic, romance and the supernatural will entrance fans of Deborah Harkness and Phil Rickman and keep you spellbound until the very last page.

MY THOUGHTS

Wow! I was trapped in the spell of this book from the first chapter and was not released until the last page. I loved the premise, the characters and the foreboding atmosphere. It got under my skin. I needed to know what happened next.

As a heroine, Zoe is memorable for her strength of will as she stumbles into a battle of magic on a vacation designed to inspire her work. Her visits to the places linked to the Arthurian legends made me add them to my own bucket list, not only because of these tales but so I can imagine Finn and her acting out the scenes of their own story. Forget a ghost walk, I would do my own Beltane trail if they are accessible to wheels. The imagery invoked by the written word is ideal for this powerful, fast paced, and highly imaginary tale of witchcraft, druidry and magic. A thread of romance between Zoe and Finn runs throughout but it is the menace and creepiness of Maeve that will stay with me forever.

WOULD I RECOMMEND?

Yes. This is a thrilling spooky contemporary novel to escape into. The tension grabbed me making me stay up throughout the night to finish it. I am pleased to have this on my forever shelf to return to in the future. I can’t wait to read Alys West’s new novel in this series Storm Witch.

AUTHOR BIOGRAPHY

ALys West 2020
Alys West

Alys West writes contemporary fantasy and steampunk. Her first novel, Beltane was inspired by the folklore of Glastonbury. Her second novel, The Dirigible King’s Daughter is a steampunk romance set in Whitby. Storm Witch is her third novel and is set in the beautiful Orkney islands which she fell in love with back in 2010 and has used every excuse to return to since (including setting a novel there!) She is fascinated by folklore and folk tales which are a big influence on the stories she tells.

Alys has a MA in Creative Writing from York St John University and teaches creative writing at the Centre for Lifelong Learning at the University of York. She’s also a book whisperer (like a book doctor but more holistic) and mentor to aspiring writers.

When she’s not writing you can find her at folk gigs, doing yoga and attempting to crochet. She occasionally blogs at www.alyswest.com, intermittently tweets at @alyswestyork and spends rather too much time on Facebook where you can find her at Alys West Writer. She is also on Instagram at @alyswestwriter. To keep up with Alys’s news you can join her Facebook readers’ group ‘Druids, Spellworkers and Dirigibles’.

Storm Witch’s book review will be published here later this month.

Happy reading and stay safe!

Love

All about Books, Book review

Book Review: To Catch a Witch by Sharon Booth

My second witchy book review* is To Catch a Witch by one of my favourite Yorkshire author’s Sharon Booth, who we met last year on my sister blog, From Under the Duvet. You can find her interview here. She is also a fellow member of the RNA and is an inspiration when I consider going down the indie path with some of my work. When I listen to her chat, the idea seems a viable option with a chance of success. It is the last novel in the Castle Clair trilogy. Read on to discover more.

BOOK REVIEW: TO CATCH THE WITCH BY SHARON BOOTH

To Catch a Witch by Sharon Booth

Title: To Catch a Witch

Author: Sharon Booth

Publisher: Green Ginger Publishing

Genre: Romance, uplifting fiction, witchlit

Release Date: 28th April 2020

Links

Facebook: www.facebook.com/sharonbooth.writer

Twitter: www.twitter.com/Sharon_Booth1

Instagram: www.instagram.com/sharonboothwriter

Amazon page: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Sharon-Booth/e/B00PP5S1X8

Website: www.sharonboothwriter.com

BLURB

Return to Castle Clair for the final chapter of the St Clair story.

It’s three hundred and fifty years since the famous witch’s leap happened in the North Yorkshire town. Riverside Walk is swarming with eager tourists, wanting to pay tribute to the legendary Blaise St Clair. It’s also Christmas Eve, and the family has gathered to celebrate an eventful year, and to look forward to even better times ahead.

But a shock event changes everything, bringing a whole lot of trouble to the door of Castle Lodge.

For something big is happening in Castle Clair. Strangers are arriving, a prophecy is unfolding, a mystery is deepening, a reckoning is coming … and someone’s getting rather too fond of Mrs Greenwood’s baking.

The past is colliding with the present, and the future is in jeopardy. No wonder the High Council of Witches is a bit miffed.

Will the St Clairs have enough strength, courage ~ and chocolate fudge cake ~ to see them through?

Or is this the end of the world as they know it?

MY THOUGHTS

I was mesmerised by the other two novels based in Castle Clair which tell the stories of Sky and Star St Clair and pre-ordered this one, eager for its release but delayed reading it until now. Why? I did not want the series and the magic to end. Mistake. Big mistake, I could have reread the entire series by now. What was not a mistake was the timing. Celeste’s story begins on Christmas Eve, the 350th anniversary of Blaise St Clair’s death at Witches Leap, making it an ideal book for October with the preparations of both Halloween and Christmas. Witches and Christmas, my favourite things make it a winning combination.

Sharon Booth’s wonderful storytelling invoked the Christmas spirit and drew me into the St Clair’s world. The opening chapters are upbeat, quirky, and full of laughter as well as trepidation of what is to come. The many references to Dr Who to describe the situation made me smile and added to the festive atmosphere. Like the Muppet’s Christmas Carol, Dr Who specials make Christmas.

Celeste fast became my favourite witch with her innocent, romantic view of love, believing she will meet the one. Her gentle and kind nature makes her the ideal match for Blaise, the 17th century witch. I enjoyed watching him grapple with the steep learning curve of fitting in to the 21st century, including the changing roles of women and zippers. That scene is one I cannot get out of my head.

WOULD I RECOMMEND?

To Catch A Witch is witchy escapism wrapped up in an uplifting romance that also revisits the other St Clair sisters. With many twists and turns, it was a joy to read and is firmly one of my forever shelf with the rest of the series. This has become my favourite, but it would be wrong to read it again without the others. I can feel a Halloween tradition brewing.

AUTHOR BIOGRAPHY

Sharon Booth

Sharon Booth is a member of the Romantic Novelists’ Association and writes uplifting women’s fiction — “love, laughter, and happy ever after”. Although a happy ending for her main characters is guaranteed, she makes them work for it!

Sharon grew up in the East Yorkshire town of Hessle, where her enduring love for all things Yorkshire was born. She now lives in Kingston-upon-Hull with her husband and their much-loved German Shepherd dog.

Since giving up her admin job at a medical practice, she spends a lot of time assuring her family of five children, assorted in-laws and hordes of grandchildren – not to mention a sceptical mother and a contrary hairdresser – that writing full-time IS a “proper” job and she HASN’T taken early retirement.

She has a love/hate relationship with chocolate, adores Doctor Who and Cary Grant movies, and admits to being shamefully prone to all-consuming crushes on fictional heroes.

You can sign up to Sharon’s newsletter at smarturl.it/sharonsnewsletter

Happy reading and stay safe!

Love

* This review was first published on From Under the Duvet earlier this month.