All about Books, Book review

Book Review: The Secret Voices by M J White

I’m so excited to share my review for The Secret Voices by M J White. As soon as I heard an extract from this novel it went to the top of my must read list so imagine my excitement at being invited to this blog tour. Thanks Rachel from Rachel’s Random Resources. Scroll down to see if it lived up to its promise and my high expectations.

Book Review: The Secret Voices by M J White

Book Cover for The Secret Voices by M J White.

Dark sky with woman wearing a yellow coat looking out to the sea.
The Secret Voices by M J White

Title: The Secret  Voices

Author: M J White

Publisher: Hera

Genre: Crime

Release Date: 28th April 2022

Purchase Links

AMZ: https://amzn.to/3IdYXpJ

Kobo: https://bit.ly/3fxbUia

Apple: https://apple.co/3IwAZGz

Blurb

They said they’d keep me safe.

They said, ‘It’s okay, Hannah. You know you can trust me.’

They lied.

When eight-year-old Hannah Perry goes missing in the small Suffolk village of St Just, the community is rocked. Heading up the investigation is Acting DS Rob Minshull, but he’s out of his depth in a case that seems to mirror the disappearance of a young boy, seven years ago. That search ended in unimaginable tragedy…and Minshull is praying that history won’t be repeated.

But with an investigation full of dead ends, and a kidnapper taunting the police with sinister deliveries of Hannah’s belongings and cryptic notes, the young girl’s life hangs perilously in danger.

Until Dr Cora Lael enters the picture. A psychologist with a unique ability, Cora’s rare gift allows her to sense emotions attached to discarded objects. When she is shown the first of Hannah’s belongings, she hears the child’s piercing scream.

With few leads on the case, could Cora prove Hannah’s only hope? And as time runs out, can they find Hannah before history repeats itself…?

A twisty, original and utterly gripping detective thriller that fans of James Oswald and LJ Ross will love. Don’t miss the crime thriller debut from the bestselling women’s fiction author, Miranda Dickinson.

My Thoughts

I’m so excited to share my review for The Secret Voices by M J White. As soon as I heard about this novel it went to the top of my must-read list so imagine my excitement at being invited to this blog tour. Thanks Rachel from Rachel’s Random Resources. Scroll down to see if it lived up to its promise and my high expectations.

I was hooked on this story before I began reading it because of an extract read by M J White aka the best-selling romantic novelist Miranda Dickinson on her weekly chatty show where she introduced 8 year old Hannah. The innocence of her voice as she has been lured into hiding by them shone through and once the premise of the story was told I needed to know more.

I galloped through this book.  It was unputadownable. Forget sleep I needed to know the ending. I love dark crime series with strong and distinctive characters with depth and backstories that you know will be revealed in time. This hit the spot and I felt the same thrill reading this as I did when I discovered Sharon Bolton’s Lacey Flint books and Mo Hayder.

Told in many points of view, I not only wanted to know whodunnit and why, I was invested emotionally in the all the characters. I cared for them especially Hannah and Dr Cora Lael. Cora is a protagonist to remember, not just for her voice but her unique ability to hear emotional echoes from objects. While I love books with a paranormal twist, I loved the fact that this gift isn’t using this trope but her ability is an extension of synaesthesia. Synaesthesia is where people experience words or emotions as colours or taste. Using this condition grounds this novel into reality. Like many who are different, Cora has challenges to manage her condition and the backlash she receives.

Acting Detective Sergeant Rob Minshull has challenges of his own and the banter between his team made this side of the novel feel realistic. The pace of the case was gripping and the use of Hannah’s voice while in captivity added to the gravity of the situation and feeling her fear and hearing her child logic to explain what has happened were heart breaking to read.

Fast paced with many twists and a chemistry brewing between Cora and Minshull, this is one of the best books I’ve read for a long time and I’m excited for the future cases.

Would I recommend?

Yes, yes, yes.  This one of my favourite books of the year so far. The premise, characters and tone of this novel hooked me in. It’s more than a crime procedural novel with an intriguing twist, it has heart. With an atmospheric setting, it’s a series for my forever shelf and would be wonderful on screen too. I have reread it and even knowing the culprit, it didn’t lose its urgency or depth which makes it a triumph I can’t wait to discover what happens to Dr Cora Lael and Minshull do next.

Author Biography

Photo of M J White aka Miranda Dickinson
M J White

MJ White is the crime pen name of the internationally bestselling author Miranda Dickinson. To date she has sold over one million books worldwide and has been translated into sixteen languages. Miranda has always been a huge fan of crime fiction and The Secret Voices marks the start of a new and exciting departure for her writing.

https://twitter.com/MJWhite13

Other blogs on the tour*

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

Love

Other blogs on this tour

April 28th

Niki Preston, Jera’s Jamboree, Splashes into books

April 29th

Ramblingmads.com, Bookmadjo – Mad about books, Baker’s not so secret blog

Jessica Belmont, Bookish Jottings, Varietats

1st May

Confessions of a bookaholic, Monika Reads, Jenny Lou’s book reviews

2nd May

Quirkybookreads, Jane Hunt Writer, Kelly T’s Space

3rd May

Cal Turner’s reviews, Jaffareadstoo, Heidi Lynn’s book reviews

4th May

Nicki’s book blog, A Little Book Problem, @breathe.andread

5th May

Herding cats, Kate Kenzie Writes, Afternoonbookery

6th May

Iheartbooks.blog, Sharon beyond the books, The word is out – Alyson’s reviews

7th May

Chez Maxima, @more.books.yes.please, Sibzzreads

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

Book Review: The Embroidered Book by Kate Heartfield

Today’s review is for the gorgeous The Embroidered Book by Kate Heartfield, a magical novel based in the time running up to the French Revolution.

Book Review: The Embroidered Book by Kate Heartfield

Book Cover for The Embroidered Book by Kate Heartfield
The Embroidered Book by Kate Heartfield

Title: The Embroidered Book

Author: Kate Heartfield

Publisher: Harper Voyager

Genre: Fantasy, historical

Release Date: 17th February 2022

Blurb

‘Power is not something you are given. Power is something you take. When you are a woman, it is a little more difficult, that’s all’

 1768. Charlotte, daughter of the Habsburg Empress, arrives in Naples to marry a man she has never met. Her sister Antoine is sent to France, and in the mirrored corridors of Versailles they rename her Marie Antoinette.

The sisters are alone, but they are not powerless.

When they were only children, they discovered a book of spells – spells that work, with dark and unpredictable consequences. In a time of vicious court politics, of discovery and dizzying change, they use the book to take control of their lives. But every spell requires a sacrifice.

 And as love between the sisters turns to rivalry, they will send Europe spiralling into revolution.

My Thoughts

Harper Voyager excel at designing book covers that catch your eye and lure you in as if they are enchanted like many of the articles in this book. The cover made me need this book even before I became intrigued by the blurb. I love books with a magical twist but my European history is dire and my knowledge of Marie Antoinette is patchy so I did worry the plot would go over my head. I love historical fiction but with an attention span of a gnat, I have a tendency to get confused. There was no need for my concerns. With a list of main characters at the front and immersive plot I was thrown into the lives of Charlotte and Antoinette after they discover  an embroidered book of magic. The spectacular blend of magic, history and sense of place kept me enthralled.

It is an epic read of 656 pages where the two sisters have to journey through the complex politics of these turbulent times while balancing family and societal expectations when their central reason is to do anything is to do the best for their respective countries. It’s told with empathy and made me consider questions about power, class and influence.

The palaces and characters were brought to life and it was a highly visual experience reading it and would make a wonderful tv series under the right director.

Would I recommend?

Oh yes, The Embroidered Book is one to read, keep and treasure. It is as beautiful inside as out and though it’s a work of fiction it gave me a platform to build my knowledge of this era while I was immersed in magic. Full of imagination, magical world building overlaid by historical fact it is a must for fans of both history and fantasy.

It is a book for my forever shelf and will be popular for visitors to the Enchanted Emporium bookshelf.

Author Biography

Photo of Kate Heartfield
Kate Heartfield

Kate Heartfield is the author of The Embroidered Book, a historical fantasy novel out in February 2022. Her debut novel won Canada’s Aurora Award, and her novellas, stories and games have been shortlisted for the Nebula, Locus, Crawford, Sunburst and Aurora awards. A former journalist, Kate lives near Ottawa, Canada.

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, The Enchanted Emporium's Bookshelf

Book Review: The Runes – Grounding in Northern Magic by James Flowerdew

My first introduction to runes was at the Jorvick centre in York as a child and they invoked a sense of mystery and magic, yet the pouch of runes I have had for the last 20 years have sat in my drawer unused. Unlike tarot cards which felt instinctive, I’ve never really connected with them and the booklet they came with was dry and hard to grasp. When I saw this book, I hoped it would allow me to learn about my runes in a constructive way. Scroll down to see if this was achieved.

Book Review: The Runes, Grounding in Northern Magic by James Flowerdew

Title: The Runes A Grounding in Northern Magic

Author: James Flowerdew

Publisher: The Magic Road

Genre: SPIRITUAL / MAGIC / MYTHOS

Release Date: 23rd September 2021

Purchase: Amazon

ISBN: 9780993227226 (PAPERBACK)
ISBN: 9781914090455 (EBOOK)

Blurb

The runes are more than an ancient alphabet. They are a key to the wisdom of the ancient peoples that used them in both language and magic.

THE RUNES, A Grounding in Northern Magic by James Flowerdew aims to help you on your first steps to divining with The Runes and using the magic of these ancient peoples. Actual practical success and failure is also shared candidly in the hope that the reader can learn in a safe and steady manner. All combined into a neat guide to Runic practices and the inner workings of this ancient alphabet.

Full of direct references to ancient texts, as well as ripping yarns and poignant anecdotes, this book demonstrates Rune magic and the underlying principles and culture that inform it, as well as some general magical practices.

This guide helps make sure that the reader’s first steps into Runic mysticism are on solid ground and allows everyone who wishes to work with The Runes to make intelligent choices of their own.

My Thoughts

First off, this book is beautiful with many illustrations which are a delight to look at and along with stories help make the information enclosed more accessible. The book goes beyond what each rune means, for very good reasons. Runes are complex items and not something to use lightly, as James Flowerdew discusses. He gives a balanced overview of the runes history, including their dark uses in the second world war and the far right, as well as where runes fit in magical systems and whether runes are right for you. There are then clear instructions on the runes’ uses and magic.

There is a lot of information to take in, but the tone and language takes a topic that from my experience can be dry and complicated into something understandable, interesting and highly readable. It has left me wanting to learn more.  

This book maybe titled The Runes, but it offers so much more, including discussions on the Pagan ideas surrounding the runes and the different gods. This book has left me feeling more positive and less daunted about using my runes, especially now I know instead of them being an elitist tool, runes were for the everyday person.

Would I recommend?

Yes, if you are a beginner interested in runes and Northern magic or more experienced, this is a book to read. It went beyond my expectations and gave a balanced insight into not only the meanings of the runes but their history, connections to the gods, and their uses. With stunning illustrations, it was a joy to read and a book I know I’ll return to again and again.

With its connections to magic, the North and divination, this will be a hit with the visitors to The Enchanted Emporium’s bookshelf.

Author Biography

James Flowerdew

Discovering the runes in his early teens, James is an avid folklorist and historian with a particular focus on ancient pagan cultures.
He is a practising neo-pagan with an emphasis on the Northern Tradition, but likes to see that as part of a larger global discourse that spans back to Neolithic times and hopefully distantly into the future.
Trained as an artist and illustrator, James Flowerdew currently writes and paints in Edinburgh.

Other blogs on this tour

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: 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

Other Blogs on the tour
All about Books, Book review

Book Review: The Book of Magic by Alice Hoffman

My first book review of the year is a book I looked forward to ever since I knew it was written, The Book of Magic by Alice Hoffman. This is book four and the conclusion of the Practical Magic series but with a witchy world full of wonderful characters with many backstories to explore a reader can always wish for more.

Book Review: The Book of Magic by Alice Hoffman

Book cover for The Book of Magic by Alice Hoffman
The Book of Magic by Alice Hoffman

Title: A Book of Magic

Author: Alice Hoffman

Publisher: Simon and Schuster

Genre: fiction, fantasy, witchlit

Release Date: 6th Jan 2022

Blurb

‘Full of Hoffman’s bewitching and lucid prose and vivid characters, The Book of Magic is ultimately about the very human magic of family and love and actions that echo through generations… it casts a spell’  —Matt Haig

THE STUNNING, UNFORGETTABLE CONCLUSION TO THE BELOVED PRACTICAL MAGIC SERIES

For centuries, the Owens family has been cursed in matters of love. When beloved aunt Jet Owens hears the sound of the deathwatch beetle, she knows that it is a signal. She has finally discovered the secret to breaking the curse, but time is running out. She has only seven days to live.

Unaware of the family’s witchcraft lineage and all it entails, one of the young sisters of the new Owens generation has fallen in love. As the curse strikes once again, her love’s fate hangs in the balance, spurring three generations of Owens to venture back to where it all began and use their gifts to break the spell that has marked all their lives.

But doing so threatens to destroy everything the family has fought so hard to protect. How much will they give up for the greatest gift of all?

My Thoughts

I had high hopes for this book, and it didn’t let me down. From the moment Jet heard the death-watch beetle and begins a mission to stop the 300-year-old curse for good, I was hooked back into the world where reality is blended seamlessly with magic to discover whether this could be achieved.

The Rules of Magic, which follows the siblings Franny, Jet and Vincent, is my favourite novel in the series so I loved meeting them again, even if they were in their 80s. The journey to find a cure for the Owens’ curse brings the characters to Essex in England, and the descriptions and sense of place reignited my desire to visit there. It has been on my literary tour wishlist since I read Hiding from the Light by Barbara Erskine.

The strength of these books are the original characterisation, depth of magical world building and the lyrical prose that is littered with references to herbal references. This all adds to the central witchy theme.

It is a strong conclusion to a series about curses, forbidden love and redemption and this one in particular is an ode to books and libraries.

Though it could be read out of sequence, you will enjoy it more and be less confused with the multitude of characters if read in order. This could be done in order of the release dates  – Practical MagicThe Rules of MagicMagic LessonsThe Book of Magic – or chronologically –Magic LessonsThe Rules of MagicPractical MagicThe Book of Magic.

Would I recommend?

If like me and those at The Enchanted Emporium you love books about magic, witches and books, this is a series to read. With magical prose and storytelling, a unique collection of characters and immersive worldbuilding this novel gives a satisfying conclusion to a wonderful tale of revenge, love and redemption.

I look forward to having a physical copy on my forever bookshelf for rereads and I know as soon as a copy is put on the Enchanted Emporium bookshelf, it will be on permanent loan by the witches of Whitby and beyond.

Thank you Simon and Schuster via NetGalley providing an advanced copy for me to review and give my honest and unbiased opinion.

Have you read this series or watched the film Practical Magic starring Nicole Kidman and Sandra Bullock? Let me know in the comments below.

Trailer for Practical Magic

Happy reading!

Love