All about Books, Book review

Book Review: A Plethora of Phantoms

Book Review: A Plethora of Phantoms

Book Cover for A Plethora of Phantoms
A Plethora of Phantoms by Penny Hampson

Title: A Plethora of Phantoms

Author: Penny Hampson

Publisher: Dark Stroke

Genre: Ghost, LGBTQA romance

Release Date: 20th December 2021

Purchase: http://mybook.to/plethoraofphantoms

Blurb

What makes Freddie shiver? Is it the spooky happenings in his family’s stately home? Or is it Marcus, the handsome antique dealer who Freddie thinks he can’t have?

Freddie Lanyon has it all: a loving family, a privileged background, and a stately home filled with antiques. What his family don’t know is that Freddie is desperately unhappy.

Troubled by spirits that only he can see, Freddie Lanyon, the heir to Lanyon Park, is also in denial about his sexuality. It takes a meeting with handsome and psychic antique dealer, Marcus Spender, to convince Freddie that he might need to change. 

When Freddie’s latest purchase of an antique dressing case triggers fresh poltergeist activity, he is awakened each night by an anguished spirit seeking help. Contacting the previous owner of the dressing case leads Freddie and Marcus on a journey to Cornwall, but what starts out as a straightforward quest soon turns into a challenge to their growing relationship.

Will Freddie’s restless spectral visitor be finally laid to rest? And will Freddie find the courage to be true to himself at last?

My Thoughts

I loved this paranormal romantic novel for the acceptance by the protagonist, Freddie, that ghosts are real. It gave the book an added authenticity and allowed the story to develop quickly without him having to overcome his disbelief that the strange goings on maybe of supernatural origin. I also enjoyed the main spectre having an obsession with tidiness rather than destruction. It was a refreshing change.

Freddie was a believable character and I could feel his distress at not only keeping his psychic ability secret but also not being comfortable coming out because of his title and aristocratic heritage. The friendship and chemistry between him and Marcus made me turn the page as they went on a quest to dig into the history of the dressing case. I’ve read The Unquiet Spirit, her previous book and liked the connection between Freddie and its characters. Overlapping characters always add depth to a novel and helps immerse the reader into the fictional the world. I’m looking forward to reading more novels in this series.

Would I recommend?

Yes. Discovering the history behind the ghost rich manor and chemistry between the two heroes is a joy to read and pure spooky romantic escapism. It’s ideal weekend reading or for evening after a stressful day.

It’s on for the bookshelf at The Enchanted Emporium and will be fought over by the ghosts and witches in the Witch’s Yard.

Author Biography

Author Penny Hampson
Penny Hampson

Some time ago Penny Hampson decided to follow her passion for history by studying with the Open University. She graduated with honours and went on to complete a post-graduate degree.

Penny then landed her dream role, working in an environment where she was surrounded by rare books and historical manuscripts. Flash forward nineteen years, and the opportunity came along to indulge her other main passion – writing. Penny joined the New Writers’ Scheme of the Romantic Novelists’ Association and  three years later published her debut novel, A Gentleman’s Promise, a  historical mystery/romance. Other books in the same genre soon followed.

But never happy in a rut, Penny also writes contemporary suspense with paranormal and romantic elements. Her first book in this genre is The Unquiet Spirit, published by Darkstroke.

Penny lives with her family in Oxfordshire, and when she is not writing, she enjoys reading, walking, swimming, and the odd gin and tonic (not all at the same time).

For more on Penny’s writing, visit her blog: https://pennyhampson.co.uk/blog/

Twitter: @penny_hampson

Facebook: www.facebook.com/pennyhampsonauthor

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

Love

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Book Review: Demon by Matt Wesolowski

From a delightful romance yesterday, I am excited to share a review for a horror novel, Demon by Matt Wesolowski. I love the paranormal and crime thrillers so when I saw the blurb for Demon, I needed to know more. Scroll down to see if this excitement was justified.

Book Review: Demon by Matt Wesolowski

Book cover Demon by Matt Wesolowski
Demon by Matt Wesolowski

Title: Demon

Author: Matt Wesolowski

Publisher: Orenda books

Genre: Horror/Crime

Release Date: 20th Jan 2022

Blurb

Scott King’s podcast investigates the 1995 cold case of a demon possession in a rural Yorkshire village, where a 12-year-old boy was murdered in cold blood by two children. Book six in the chilling, award-winning Six Stories series.

In 1995, the picture-perfect village of Ussalthwaite was the site of one of the most heinous crimes imaginable, in a case that shocked the world.

Twelve-year-old Sidney Parsons was savagely murdered by two boys his own age. No reason was ever given for this terrible crime, and the ‘Demonic Duo’ who killed him were imprisoned until their release in 2002, when they were given new identities and lifetime anonymity.

Elusive online journalist Scott King investigates the lead-up and aftermath of the killing, uncovering dark and fanciful stories of demonic possession, and encountering a village torn apart by this unspeakable act. And, as episodes of his Six Stories podcast begin to air, King himself becomes a target, with dreadful secrets from his own past dredged up and threats escalating to a terrifying level. It becomes clear that whatever drove those two boys to kill is still there, lurking, and the campaign of horror has just begun…

My Thoughts

I’m a lover of podcasts so this unique format suited me and this creepy tale well. Based in the depths of the Yorkshire Moors, the descriptions captured the brooding atmospheric location and added to the eeriness of the crime. This novel has a great sense of place. Setting plays a huge part in the narrative; the old kilns left over from when the village relied on the mining industry are the forbidden playground for the village children lured there by the warnings of danger and whispering of the presence of the devil. The murder of Sidney Parsons by the Demonic Duo adds to this lore.

Scott King’s podcast focuses on this horrific crime but the true horror is revealed when listening to the six people’s versions of the events. The deeper Scott digs the more immersive it becomes and creepier truths are revealed. The spotlight on the village inevitably has consequences and tensions rise when one of the murderers new names is set to be leaked. With twists I wasn’t expecting and superb storytelling, this was a chilling read where less is more and the reader is allowed to use their own imagination to terrify themselves. While some of the threads told can be explained with logic and other versions with supernatural leanings remain unexplained and it’s only when seen as a whole the true story is told.

Not only is this a fantastic horror/crime novel, it has a deeper message about society, prejudice and the increased influence of social media.

Would I recommend?

Yes, Demon is a well-crafted story in a clever format that adds to the atmospheric terror of the tale. This is the sixth novel in the Six Stories series so I’m happy to have more books to add to my TBR. With its supernatural leanings, Demon is a horrifying addition to The Enchanted Emporium Bookshelf that will give some nightmares.

Author Biography

Photo of author Matt Wesolowski
Matt Wesolowski

Matt Wesolowski is an author from Newcastle-Upon-Tyne in the UK. He is an English tutor for young people in care. Matt started his writing career in horror, and his short horror fiction has been published in numerous UK- an US-based anthologies such as Midnight Movie Creature, Selfies from the End of the World, Cold Iron and many more. His novella, The Black Land, a horror story set on the Northumberland coast, was published in 2013. Matt was a winner of the Pitch Perfect competition at Bloody Scotland Crime Writing Festival in 2015. His debut thriller, Six Stories, was a bestseller in the USA, Canada, the UK and Australia, and a WH Smith Fresh Talent pick, and TV rights were sold to a major Hollywood studio. A prequel, Hydra, was published in 2018 and became an international bestseller, Changeling (2019), Beast (2020) And Deity (2021) soon followed suit.

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.

Love

All about Books, Book review

Book Review: The Start of Something by Miranda Dickinson

It’s only a week until the book I’m reviewing is released and I can’t wait any longer especially when I’ve seen on social media the unique signed copies that are available at Tea leaves and Reads and Bert’s books. If you like the sound of The Start of Something by Miranda Dickinson and need to treat yourself, you may want to pop over to pre-order soon. Scroll down to see why I’m excited about this romantic novel.

Photo of quirky signed copies of The Start of Something by Miranda Dickinson

Book Review: The Start of Something by Miranda Dickinson

Book cover The Start of Something by Miranda Dickinson
The Start of Something by Miranda Dickinson

Title: The Start of Something

Author: Miranda Dickinson

Publisher: HQ

Genre: Romance

Release Date: 3rd February 2021

Spotify playlist: https://t.co/S79z2ICdAP

Purchase:

Tea Leaves and Reads – March book box

Bert’s Books – signed copy

Amazon – Kindle

Blurb

Lachlan Wallace is stuck at home after a car accident stalled his army career. With months of physiotherapy still to endure and only his rescue dog and cat for company, he’s taken to gazing out of the window, watching the world spin on without him. And then he notices a vase of flowers on the windowsill of the apartment opposite his. Drawn to their hope and colour, he decides to reach out and sticks a message in his window…

Bethan Gwynne is a stranger in a new town. Bringing up her son Noah by herself, she is slowly rebuilding her life, but loneliness is one obstacle she has yet to overcome. She’s intrigued by a glimpse of her neighbour in the apartment across from hers – and then, one evening, she sees a message in his window just for her:

WHAT ARE THOSE FLOWERS CALLED?

And so begins a love story of two people reaching out, daring to trust a stranger…

My Thoughts

I discovered this book by chance when I came across Miranda’s Chatty Night on Facebook and she was discussing it.* I was excited to be accepted for an advanced copy and had high expectations for it and I wasn’t disappointed. It was everything I wanted it to be and more.

As someone who has been shielding throughout the pandemic, this novel hit a nerve; the loneliness of being in four walls is gripping despite having had years of being used to living in a reduced environment and this book captured the feelings well. Simple things like seeing flowers in the window or a surprise letter can make a huge difference to the day. They add excitement and a sense of belonging. As soon as Lachlan and Bethan began communicating via letters in the window I was invested in their relationship.

Bethan and her flowers brought light and sunshine to the novel despite her challenges, but it was Lachlan I connected with. His emotions around his accident and situation took me back to the early days of my illness and disability. His feelings were captured well.

There are many memorable characters but one who stood out is Noah. With his stone collecting dragons, he shone. Life and books are always better with dragons.

I enjoyed watching the relationship between Bethan and Lachlan grow but I did have to stop reading midway as my heart ached too much.  I could see what may happen and I didn’t want either of them to be hurt.

Would I recommend?

Yes,  Miranda Dickinson has the ability to tap into the characters and bring them alive so they connect to the reader. The Start of Something is an uplifting story of loneliness and hope and reminds you small changes and reaching out to others can make a big difference. Loneliness is crippling for many, and has been heightened in the last couple of years, so Bethan and Lachlan’s tale shows a way forward; It is possible to improve people’s lives and communities with simple gestures and love.

I loved this book for its message, the characters who will be forever in my heart and on my bookshelf when I receive my physical copy. The Start of Something may not be accepted on the Enchanted Emporium Bookshelf but it will be the first book in the upcoming Rosa’s Box of Romance so the customers of The Enchanted Emporium can enjoy and spread the word.

 *If you ever need an hour of fun and bookish chat and community, pop over to Miranda’s Facebook page on Weds night – it’s a uplifting treat.

Author Biography

Photo of Miranda Dickinson holding The Start of Something
Miranda Dickinson

Miranda Dickinson has always had a head full of stories. Born in Wolverhampton, in The Black Country, West Midlands, she grew up in Kingswinford and dreamed of one day writing a book that would reach the heady heights of Kingswinford Library… Her first novel, Fairytale of New York (2009) was discovered on Authonomy.com – HarperCollins’ site for unpublished authors. Within three weeks of its release, Fairytale of New York had entered the Sunday Times Top Ten Bestsellers List, where it remained for five weeks – making it the world’s first crowd-sourced bestseller. The novel was also shortlisted for the RNA’s Romantic Novel of the Year Award 2010 at the Pure Passion Awards.

Miranda is a six-times Sunday Times Bestseller, with Fairytale of New York, Welcome to My World, It Started With a Kiss, When I Fall in Love, Take a Look at Me Now, I’ll Take New York, A Parcel for Anna Browne and Searching for a Silver Lining, a Christmas novella, Christmas in St Ives, is a festive treat and prequel to her ninth novel, Somewhere Beyond the Sea. The Day We Meet Again has won critical acclaim and is much loved by readers, most recently publishing in the US and Canada, taking her words Stateside for the first time.

Miranda is an international bestseller in four countries and her books have been translated into sixteen languages. To date, she has sold one million books worldwide. Her latest book is Our Story, out now.

Miranda is the founder of WriteFoxy – resources, vlogs and inspiration writing days for writers of all ages and abilities. Her popular vlogs feature her own publishing journey for each new novel, together with advice for authors and lots and lots of hats!

Miranda lives in Dudley with her husband, Bob and daughter, Flo. She is also a singer-songwriter and recently released her first solo album, About Time.

Social media

WEB: www.miranda-dickinson.com
MUSIC: www.soundcloud.com/mirandadickinson FACEBOOK: www.facebook.com/MirandaDickinsonAuthor INSTAGRAM: www.instagram.com/wurdsmyth
BLOG: www.coffeeandroses.blogspot.com
STORIES: www.septembers-cafe.blogspot.com
TWITTER: www.twitter.com/wurdsmyth

Thank you HQ Stories providing an advanced copy for me to review and give my honest and unbiased opinion.

Love

All about Books, Book review, Writing journey, Writing process

Book Review: Write It All Down by Cathy Rentzenbrink

Welcome to my first book review on the topic of writing this year – Write It All Down How to put your life on the page by Cathy Rentzenbrink. I’ve never considered writing a memoir but the blurb of this book caught my eye and I wanted to know more.

Book Review: Write It All Down by Cathy Rentzenbrink

Book cover for Write it all down How to put your life on the page by Cathy Rentzenbrink
Write it all down How to put your life on the page by Cathy Rentzenbrink

Title: Write it all down How to put your life on the page

Author: Cathy Rentzenbrink

Publisher: bluebird books for life

Genre: Non-fiction, memoir writing

Release Date: 6th Jan 2022

Blurb

Why do we want to write and what stops us? How does the urge to express ourselves fight with the worry that no-one will care or that we will get in trouble? How do we identify and overcome everything that gets in our way so we can start making work?

Sunday Times bestselling author Cathy Rentzenbrink shows you how to tackle all this and more in Write It All Down, a guide to putting your life on the page. This is a kind, encouraging and stimulating book that explores the nature of memoir writing and offers helpful guidance on how to write your life on paper. Rentzenbrink will help you to discover the pleasure and solace to be found in writing; the profound satisfaction of wrestling a story onto a page and seeing the events of your life transformed through the experience of writing the self.

Perfect for both seasoned writers as well as writing amateurs and everyone in between, this helpful handbook will steer you through the philosophical and practical challenges of writing the self. Intertwined with reflections, anecdotes and exercises from successful writers such as Dolly Alderton, Matt Haig, Kit de Waal, Sathnam Sanghera and Maggie O’Farrell, Write It All Down is at once an intimate and enjoyable narrative and an invitation to share your story.

Talking points and feature ideas:

 • ‘How writing changed my life’ – Cathy’s personal story

 • Top 5 tips on how to write your own story

 • How to use this book for your own wellbeing

 • Writing in a digital world: the importance of storytelling

 • New Year’s Resolutions – why you shouldn’t diet, but learn something new instead

 • Therapy – both Cathy’s personal experiences, and how to use writing as therapy

My Thoughts

The introduction begins with the words – Dear Writer, I am so pleased to meet you. Welcome. – and that is how I felt the instant I began reading. I felt as if Cathy had welcomed me into her writing world and she was giving me a personal lesson in writing. Write It All Down is a highly accessible read and can be read from the beginning to the end like I did or dipped into.

I’ve read a several how to write books now and attended tutorials and conferences on the subject but this book contained fresh hints and viewpoints on the subject. The idea of writing about my life is slightly horrifying but this book isn’t just about writing to be published it’s about exploring yourself and tapping into your life and being creative.

It covers many aspects that are relevant to all types of writing including tackling first drafts, mindset, edits in all their forms and what happens when the words don’t flow. I came away from reading this uplifted, inspired and less daunted on writing my current project. I also have pages of thoughts on my own life that I know I can explore in the future.

Would I recommend?

Yes. I’d recommend this not just for those who are considering writing a memoir but for all writers at the beginning of their journey or stuck in a rut. The friendly tone, simple exercises, and explanations provide a safe space to explore ideas, and inspire creativity. It gives a nudge towards facing the fear that can block writing.

Write It All Down is a welcome addition to my forever reference shelf and will reread parts in the future when I need a positive reminder that I can write and the reasons behind my motivation to do so.

Author Biography

Author Cathy Rentzenbrink
Author Cathy Rentzenbrink

Cathy Rentzenbrink is the author of the Sunday Times best-seller The Last Act of Love and of A Manual for Heartache, Dear Reader: The Comfort and Joy of Books and Everyone is Still Alive. It took her twenty years to wrestle her own life story on the page and she loves to use what she has learnt about the profound nature of writing the self in the service of others. Cathy has taught for Arvon, Curtis Brown Creative, at Falmouth University and at festivals and in prisons, and welcomes anyone, no matter what their experience, education, background or story. She believes that everyone’s life would be improved by picking up a pen and is at her happiest when encouraging her students to have the courage to delve into themselves and see the magic that will start to happen on the page.

Websitehttps://cathyreadsbooks.com/

 Instagram – @writeitalldown_

Twitter – @catrentzenbrink

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

Happy writing!

Love

All about Books, Book review

Book Review: The Hidden Village by Imogen Matthews

Today I’m pleased to share my book review for a historical fiction novel The Hidden Village by Imogen Matthews.

Book Review: The Hidden Village by Imogen Matthews

Book cover for the The Hidden Village by Imogen Matthews
The Hidden Village by Imogen Matthews

Title: The Hidden Village

Author: Imogen Matthews

Publisher: Bookouture

Genre: Historical fiction

Release Date: 17th Jan 2022

Purchase: https://geni.us/B09LVLB82Fsocial

Blurb

A Nazi soldier slams his rifle into her father’s head. From her hiding place, Sofie stifles a scream as tears roll down her face. Suddenly she can’t take it any more. ‘Stop, stop!’ she sobs, rushing out and pushing the soldier away. And then freezes, as he snarls and whips the gun round to point at her…

Holland, 1943: the Nazis are in occupation. German soldiers patrol the streets, and each week more families disappear without trace, never to be seen again. So when armed soldiers storm Sofie’s house and threaten her father at gunpoint, she knows their time – and luck – has run out.

Fleeing in the middle of the night to hide in a neighbour’s secret attic, the constant threat of a German raid means they can’t stay long. So Sofie’s parents make the heart-rending decision to send their daughter away. Concealed in the woods is a secret village, built by the town as a haven for Jewish families like Sofie’s. Remote, cold and bleak, yet filled with the hopeful laughter of children playing, it is the one place Sofie has the chance to live.

But rumours of the hidden village have been swirling, and the Nazis are determined to find it. As soldiers patrol the woods in ever-greater numbers, snow cuts the villagers off from the outside world and starvation sets in. Sofie knows what she must do, even though it means putting herself in danger. And when the worst happens, Sofie is faced with a terrible decision – save the village, or save herself…

An absolutely heart-breaking and gripping WWII historical novel based on the true story of an entire town who put themselves in danger to keep strangers safe. What happens will restore your faith in humanity. Fans of Fiona Valpy, The Tattooist of Auschwitz and The Choice will never forget this incredibly moving tale and the real-life heroes who inspired it.

My Thoughts

It is not often I read historical fiction unless it is in a dual timeline, but this book begged to be read. A friend has Norwegian roots and listening to her family stories made me interested in reading more about this time. The Hidden Village threw me straight into the action with children playing innocently and Germans approaching the village. I continued reading with a sense of trepidation because we all know the atrocities they bring with them.

Told in third person, this story focuses on three main characters; young Jan who is still in his childhood but longs to be seen as older, Sofie a teenager whose future is looking bright until she is forced to hide and Sara Jan’s mother, whose husband helps set up the hidden village. The three viewpoints give a good overview of life because of their different stages of their lives and place in the community. Through Sofie’s eyes we see live in the forest, Sara experiences the goings on in the town battling to keep the Jews safe and Jan is a go between connecting the two.

Community is a key theme in this novel and despite the never ending threat of discovery, it was uplifting to read how powerful this sense of community was, which enabled the village to stay safe and fed during this time. Though the novel was harrowing in places, it was never graphic in it’s portrayal of the Nazi brutality and relied on the reader’s imagination and description of the sounds of hobnailed boots on floorboards to rank up the tension.  

The villagers’ loss of liberty and possessions and having to rebuild a community made me reflect on the important things in my life and be more grateful for what I have.

Would I recommend?

Yes, The Hidden Village gives a fascinating insight into life in Holland during the second World War and shows the horror of the time and the courage displayed by those who stood up against the evil of the Nazi regime. It is uplifting and shows love, and everyday things and emotions still occurred despite the dangerous threat of discovery. Perfect for those who love historical fiction and WW2 memoirs.

Author Biography

Imogen Matthews

Imogen Matthews writes novels based on true stories about the Netherlands during the German occupation in World War 2. Some stories she discovered by chance, others are based on her Dutch mother’s own experiences of hardship and survival during the Hunger Winter of 1944-45.

Her first novel, The Hidden Village, is set in the Veluwe woods, a beautiful part of Holland that Imogen has visited frequently over the past 30 years. It was in these woods that she discovered the story of the real hidden village which provided shelter in underground huts for Jews during WW2. Imogen retells the story of the hidden village with characters drawn from real life and from her imagination.

Within weeks of publication in 2017, The Hidden Village became an international bestseller, ranking at the top of a number Amazon’s most-read book lists.

Following on from The Hidden Village comes Hidden in the Shadows, which has the pace of a thriller yet is also a love story. It tells the story about two young people who are brutally torn apart and must find a way to be together against all odds.

Imogen’s third WW2 novel, The Girl Across the Wire Fence, is set in Amersfoort, Netherlands, and is based on the unforgettable tale of two young lovers who risked everything to keep hope alive in the very depths of hell – the little known Dutch concentration camp called Kamp Amersfoort.

Imogen’s WW2 novels are published by Bookouture, a digital imprint of Hachette.

Learn more about Imogen’s story in this video: https://youtu.be/2YO0IWJSjj0

Author social media

www.imogenmatthewsbooks.com

Facebook: @theHiddenVillagenovel

Twitter: @ImogenMatthews3

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

Love

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