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.

All about Books, Book review

Book Review: Magic Lessons by Alice Hoffman

My first witchy book review is Magic Lessons by Alice Hoffman. As soon as I read she was writing a prequel Practical Magic explaining the origin of the Owen curse, the countdown to publication was on. After reading Rules of Magic last year, I fell in love with her prose and the Owen family. I was thrilled to be given an ARC to review via NetGalley. Read on to see if it was worth the wait.

If like me you love listening to interviews with authors talking about their books, read on for a gem of a chat.

Book Review: Magic Lessons by Alice Hoffman

Magic Lessons by Alice Hoffman

Title: Magic Lessons

Author: Alice Hoffman

Genre: magic realism, adult fiction

Publisher: Simon and Schuster, Scribner UK

Release date: 6th Oct 2020

Purchase link: Amazon

Blurb

Where does the story of the Owens family begin? With a baby abandoned in a snowy field in the 1600s. Under the care of Hannah Owens, little Maria learns about the “Unnamed Arts.” Hannah recognizes that Maria has a gift and she teaches the girl all she knows.

When Maria is abandoned by the man she loves, she follows him to Salem, Massachusetts. Here she invokes the curse that will haunt her family. And it’s is here that she learns the rules of magic and the lesson that she will carry with her for the rest of her life. Love is the only thing that matters

My Thoughts

Despite my excitement I was anxious to begin this novel in case my high expectations were unfounded and there are times I struggle to read historical fiction, which this is. I need not have worried; the arrival of Maria into Hannah Owen’s life captivated me, and I remained in her world for hours; I did not want to stop reading.

Maria’s early carefree childhood with Hannah was a joy to read and connected me to her and Cadin, making the rest of the book an emotional ride as she travels across the globe to end up in Salem, Massachusetts. As a reader, you know the danger she will face when she blindly believes she will be fine. This knowledge added to the tension. The novel is short on dialogue which surprised me because it is a rare these days but I found I did not miss it because of Alice Hoffman’s talent for setting the scene, her magical prose and the observations of love in all its guises. The study of love with its joy and dangers is the core of this novel; it brings lightness, warmth, darkness, and destruction.

It is a well-researched historical fiction as seen in the lists of herbs, and spells written in the Owen’s grimoires and highlights the prejudice against women who are different and do not follow the social constructs created by men and the dangers they faced.

I have not read Practical Magic yet, and it is years since I watched the film, so my memory of her story was vague. I would be interested to hear what others with a firmer grounding of the curse think of Maria’s tale and the origin of the curse. Though this book is part of a series, you can easily read it as a standalone.

Would I recommend?

Alice Hoffman is a queen of magical storytelling, making Magic Lessons a pleasure to read. This emotional novel has depth, and I came away with the desire to wear my red boots with pride and the lessons of the Owens are tattooed in my heart. The observations of love in all its forms were what I needed to hear. It will be on my forever bookshelf with the rest of the series, ready for a reread and will inspire my own writing. Alice Hoffman’s shows how a novel involving witches and magic can be successful and loved in the mainstream.

Interview with Alice Hoffman about Magic Lessons

As promised an interview with Alice Hoffman discussing this book. I hope you enjoy.

Thank you Simon and Schuster via NetGalley for an advanced copy so I could give my honest and unbiased opinion.

Happy reading and stay safe!

Love

#DystoniaAroundTheWorld Challenge, Short story

Flash Fiction for #DystoniaAroundTheWorld: The Fallen

Hello September! The beginning of my favourite season and Dystonia Awareness Month. As promised in my previous blog, I am sharing flash fiction written for the Dystonia Around The World challenge in aid throughout the month. My aim is to complete 1000 miles of writing to fundraise and spread awareness for Dystonia UK. I have faltered in my writing thanks to dystonia flaring but I am hoping to get back on track.For more information and my fundraising page, click here.

So following on from the woodland theme of A Walk in the Woods which I shared  to celebrate 100 miles, here is The Fallen.

 

The Fallen

 

Her long fingers ran over the ridges of the rough bark, and along the smoother lime lichen. They dipped into a furrow, disturbing a black beetle in its resting place. It scuttled away. A lone tear escaped, betraying her efforts of being stoic. She bit her lip and gulped the sob down. When the news came in, she hoped this magnificent solid specimen would survive, but the abundance of blue sky at their approach confirmed her fears. In full leaf and his splendour finery on display, he did not stand a chance when the high winds ripped through the woodland, uprooting the sturdy, and whipping the young, testing their resolve to survive.  The majestic were felled by an unforgiving and relentless storm set on destruction to transform the familiar and loved landscape. The words on the clipboard blurred as she marked her location on the map and scribbled on the form. Name: Quercus.

How many others would mourn the loss of the magnificent oak, the keeper of secrets, creator of memories? More than enough, she decided. There were those who stood under the green canopy for illicit kisses, the readers who immersed themselves in another world while cocooned in his branches and generations of children who learnt to climb on his accommodating lower limbs. She moved along to locate the lovers’ initials circled by a deeply scratched heart, a sign of their eternal love, except now it was over with the exposure of the labyrinth of roots ripped from the earth.

Age? She nibbled the end of her pencil. 569 years. Her certainty wavered but there was no time to check. The petrichor intensified as she bent down to place her ear and flat palm against the trunk, hoping to feel the low thud of his wooden heart. His silence matched the crows circling above.

No one knew it was coming. There was no warning. Her chest tightened. Except from Harold. His repeated mutterings of an incoming storm increased in strength the evening before, but they were ignored and then silenced by the turn of a bedroom key; all of them certain his prophecy belonged to a storm decades before, playing on a historical loop in his mind. It made no difference; it could not be stopped, but she could have captured the landscape in her memory one last time.

It’s the circle of life. The fallen would provide shelter and nutrient for the new, but the flash of neon yellow through the remaining trees and groan of machinery advancing said different. She pressed her lips to the bark and murmured her goodbye. With a flick of her black tipped delicate wings, she darted away.

 

oak-tree-2018822_1920

More soon. Take care and stay safe!

Love

just Kate

All about Books

Book review: A Discovery of Witches by Deborah Harkness 

On social media the trailer of an upcoming Sky 1 series is being shared based on the novel A Discovery of Witches by Deborah Harkness. It looks good with drama, fantasy, action and magic so it must be time to catch up with the book.

A Discovery of Witches by Deborah Harkness

 

Book review: A Discovery of Witches
A Discovery of Witches by Deborah Harkness

 

Title: A Discovery of Witches

Author: Deborah Harkness

Genre: Fiction, fantasy, paranormal

Publisher: Headline

Release Date: 29th September 2011

Blurb

The phenomenal international bestseller and the first volume in the enthralling All SOULS trilogy, preceding SHADOW OF NIGHT and THE BOOK OF LIFE.

It begins with absence and desire. It begins with blood and fear. It begins with a discovery of witches.

When historian Diana Bishop opens an alchemical manuscript in the Bodleian Library, it’s an unwelcome intrusion of magic into her carefully ordered life. Though Diana is a witch of impeccable lineage, the violent death of her parents while she was still a child convinced her that human fear is more potent than any witchcraft. Now Diana has unwittingly exposed herself to a world she’s kept at bay for years; one of powerful witches, creative, destructive daemons and long-lived vampires. Sensing the significance of Diana’s discovery, the creatures gather in Oxford, among them the enigmatic Matthew Clairmont, a vampire geneticist. Diana is inexplicably drawn to Matthew and, in a shadowy world of half-truths and old enmities, ties herself to him without fully understanding the ancient line they are crossing. As they begin to unlock the secrets of the manuscript and their feelings for each other deepen, so the fragile balance of peace unravels…

My Thoughts

This is the first book in the All Souls trilogy and my favourite of the series. From the moment Deborah Harkness transported me to the Bodleian library with Diana Bishop I was hooked.  I could not resist; this book has always the elements   I love – old dusty books, libraries and magic bundled together with descriptive pose and intriguing characters. Lots of characters to discover and love besides the main characters, Diana Bishop and Matthew Clairmont. There are the witches including Emily and Sarah, the extensive vampire family including Miriam, Marcus, Ysabeau and Marthe and deamons especially Hamish. They all have depth and stories beyond this series.

Diana is a character who grew as her back story was revealed throughout the book. As a witch who loves research into the history of alchemy I longed to see the imagery she was seeing in the old manuscripts. Matthew Clairmont has all the element you would expect of a fictional vampire – wealthy, unrealistically handsome, tall and strong with overprotective tendencies but he is grounded by his flaws. They make him more realistic. His back story and secrets add to the depth of character. I found it refreshing that the relationship between him and Diana was more balanced than many vampire stories. She is not your usual damsel in distress.

This a mature paranormal novel with a wonderful blend of unique characters, history, science, location and description to form an epic adventure involving romance, fear and drama. Deborah Harkness has not just created a story for Diana and Matthew she has created a world to explore so it feels as if any character could easily have their own novel. Long after I put the book down my mind would drift back to the plot and characters.

Would I recommend?

Oh yes! I love this book and is in my top 10 favourite books and is on my forever shelf. With the upcoming TV programme I predict it will go wild with discissions. As with all book versus film debates it is worth a read before the programme release. Have you read it and let me know what you think below.

Thank you NetGalley and Headline for the opportunity to read a digital copy of this book in exchange for an honest, unbiased review.

Happy reading!

 

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All about Books

In love with The Toymakers by Robert Dinsdale – Book Review

Some books make you stop reading,  unable to pick up a new one up while you recover from the awe of storytelling, love of characters and powerful emotion the book has evoked.  As a writer, it makes me want to put your pen and notebook away as it puts it puts my work to shame.  The Toymakers is one such book and it makes me want to grab a copy for all my friends and demand they read it – mainly so I can talk obsessively about it with someone. As I consider you my friends and finances dictate I can not go on a shopping spree*, I am sharing a post originally published on Duvet Dwellers Books instead.

Hope you enjoy.

What book has given you a book hangover?

* Maybe a giveaway will be needed in the future

 

Book Review: The Toymakers by Robert Dinsdale

 

The Toymakers by Robert Dinsdale caught my eye before it was published because the blurb instantly reminding me of my favourite film,  Mr. Magorium’s Wonder Emporium.

I had high expectations as I placed a reservation on it at the library and that was before my friends who were lucky to receive an ARC raved about it including Mai Musings. A copy is now in my hands and the last page has been turned — blimely what a book!

The Toymakers
The Toymakers

Title: The Toymakers

Author: Robert Dinsdale

Publisher: Del Ray

Release date: 8th Feb 2018

Blurb:

Do you remember when you believed in magic?

The Emporium opens with the first frost of winter. It is the same every year. Across the city, when children wake to see ferns of white stretched across their windows, or walk to school to hear ice crackling underfoot, the whispers begin: the Emporium is open! 

It is 1917, and London has spent years in the shadow of the First World War. In the heart of Mayfair, though, there is a place of hope. A place where children’s dreams can come true, where the impossible becomes possible – that place is Papa Jack’s Toy Emporium.

For years Papa Jack has created and sold his famous magical toys: hobby horses, patchwork dogs and bears that seem alive, toy boxes bigger on the inside than out, ‘instant trees’ that sprout from boxes, tin soldiers that can fight battles on their own. Now his sons, Kaspar and Emil, are just old enough to join the family trade. Into this family comes a young Cathy Wray – homeless and vulnerable. The Emporium takes her in, makes her one of its own. But Cathy is about to discover that while all toy shops are places of wonder, only one is truly magical…

My thoughts

This book was magical, stunning, and beyond my high expectations. The premise of a magical toyshop where toys are brought to life is one of childhood stories and movies but Robert Dinsdale with his superb imagination, writing style and the backdrop of the first World War has turned it into an amazing work of adult fantasy fiction.

From the moment I entered the shop with Cathy Wray, I was enchanted and captivated by the store, toys, and the relationship that evolves between herself and the two brothers, Kaspar and Emil. It is hard to say anything about the book without giving any of the magic away because discovering it for yourself part of the joy of this book but it takes you on a journey of emotions from childish delight and wonder to heartbreaking sobs. The main characters and toys will stay with me forever.

Would I recommend?

Yes! This is a book that I could get passionate about, demanding all my friends read so I can talk about it for hours. It is on my Kindle and will soon be on my forever shelf so I can dip into it at any time. Buy it (no excuse as this month it is 99p on Kindle Monthly), borrow it and delve into its magic then let me know what you think.

Kindle version available now: https://amzn.to/2GJBzoG

Happy reading!

Kate signature

 

Originally posted in Duvet Dwellers Book Club

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