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#NetGalley #Book #Review of The Age of Witches by Louisa Morgan #HistoricalFiction #MagicRealism

 

The Age of Witches

by Louisa Morgan

Age of Witches Cover

Release date: April 7th, 2020

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I received a complimentary ARC copy of The Age of Witches by Louisa Morgan from NetGalley and Redhook Books in order to read and give an honest review.

Although slow to get into it is a well-written, engaging tale that once you are into it is well worth the read

The third in an unconnected series from Louisa Morgan Age of Witches is brilliant as a standalone.  Following the interconnected lives of three descendants of Bridget Bishop, a witch executed during the Salem Witch trials we see the good, the bad and the ugly of the craft.  Set in the late 1800’s we are introduced to Harriet the kindhearted elder of the group who as a healer has set up shop in New York. She prefers to use the craft to help others. We also meet Frances, who grew up in poverty and was deprived of her power only learning of it when her mother passes away.  Angry with her station in life she uses her power to elevate herself in society, by bewitching a young widower and finally getting the finances and respect never afforded to her before. We also meet Annis, the young stepdaughter of Frances who fights against her stepmothers controlling ways, preferring her horses to shopping and socials. Annis, not a “proper young lady” wishes to become the “unthinkable” for a young woman, a horse breeder, hoping to build an empire of her own.  Frances has plans of her own, wishing to obtain the one thing that would elevate her in society, a royal title and will use her powers to ensure that it happens.    Harriet who has watched over Annis through the years after her mother, another Bishop descendant passes away, steps in to ensure Frances doesn’t get away with the unthinkable.  

When the opportunity to arrange a marriage with a young Lord in England in financial straits arises Frances begins to bewitch those around her to meet her goal.  Harriet follows them overseas knowing Annis is at risk and is still unaware of her powers.  When the young Lord James finally meets Annis, he finds it difficult to accept Annis’s unorthodox behaviour Frances becomes desperate and her power, perverse. 

 Although slow to get into it is a well-written, engaging tale that once you are into it is well worth the read.  Louisa Morgan does an excellent job and creating brilliant multifaceted characters each with their own strengths and weaknesses, showing kindness and compassion in the name of family which is the one thing I found prevalent in this book. All in all a brilliant book I would definitely recommend. 

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#BookReview The Lost Future of Pepperharrow (The Watchmaker of Filigree Street #2) by Natasha Pulley #MagicRealism #Steampunk #HistoricalFiction #NetGalley

Review

The Lost Future of Pepperharrow

(The Watchmaker of Filigree Street #2)

by Natasha Pulley

Release date: March 3rd, 2020

The Lost Future of Pepperharrow

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I received a complimentary ARC copy of  The Lost Future of Pepperharrow (The Watchmaker of Filigree Street #2) by Natasha Pulley from NetGalley  Bloomsbury Publishing in order to read and give an honest review.

I am a huge fan of Natasha Pulley, she has such a unique and wonderful voice, her novels are always magical and mesmerizing. The Lost Future of Pepperharrow is the second instalment in her The Watchmaker of Filigree Street which as expected is incredibly well written, complex, completely unique and captivating. Although it definitely stands on its own I really do recommend reading the first book, The Watchmaker of Filigree Street.

We start a while after the events in The Watchmaker of Filigree. Thaniel Steepleton, Keita Mori and Thaniel’s daughter, Six and their Katsu their mechanical quirky octopus begin their adventure in Victorian-era London living their lives when they are asked to travel to investigate a ghost-infested British Legation in Tokyo.  Pulley introduces us to steampunk Tokyo, Hokkaido and even the infamous Aokigahara forest. Thaniel suffering from tuberculosis in the thick London fog agrees to accept the posting as an interpreter, while Mori returns to his royal home to use his powers to investigate unfortunately having to also face a past that he has worked hard to put behind him.

Slowly the Legation begins to see an increase in ghostly activity which seems to be plaguing them. Stranger things begin to happen when Pepperharrow, a woman from Mori’s past is called upon to honour a debt, Mori starts to change and seems incredibly distant.   When Mori goes missing, Thaniel and Pepper independently go to extreme lengths to find him.

This book has everything, the author introduces us to some larger than life heroes and villains in this instalment as well as introducing us to an interesting scientific plotline. I would highly recommend this book, Natasha Pulley has given us an exquisite novel, filled with characters that come to life, rich, well-researched world-building and beautiful, flawless prose that should be savoured and enjoyed.

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#BookReview of The Companion by Kim Taylor Blakemore via #NetGalley #Historical #Suspense

 

Review

The Companion

A Novel

by Kim Taylor Blakemore

Release date: January 14th, 2020

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I received a complimentary ARC copy of The Companion, A Novel by Kim Taylor Blakemore from NetGalley and Lake Union Publishing in order to read and give an honest review.

an exquisitely written, atmospheric suspense that kept me engaged right to the last page...”

Author, Kim Taylor Blakemore gives us a beautifully written historical fiction novel brimming with slow-building suspense and atmosphere.  Set in 1855, New Hampshire, our narrator, Lucy Blunt is in her jail cell awaiting the hangman’s noose looking back at the events that led her to that moment.   

Lucy running away from her past shows up with falsified reference letters in hand at prominent mill owner Mr. Burton’s estate to get a position as a servant. Hired, Lucy settles in working in the kitchen, although the work is tiring and tedious but acts as a distraction from her past and the overwhelming grief that haunts her.  Her predecessor Mary is found dead and she is thrown in the middle of a grieving household. When Rebecca, the blind mistress, Eugenie Burton’s nasty companion, falls ill, Lucy ends up filling in. Unlike Rebecca, Lucy is respectful and kind towards Eugenie, earning her respect and affection.  Once jealousy rears its ugly head betrayal, threats and murder are not far behind.  

One of my favourite things about The Companion is the character development Each character felt well rounded, distinct and very real, each struggling with their lot in life. My only complaint, to be honest, I didn’t care for the open ending, in my opinion, it felt unfinished, I felt it deserved “more”. Although the ending wasn’t for me the story was an exquisitely written, atmospheric suspense that kept me engaged right to the last page. I would highly recommend.   

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#BookReview Welcoming the Unwelcome: Wholehearted Living in a Brokenhearted World by Pema Chodron via #NetGalley #Mindfulness #Meditation #Bodhisattva

Review

Welcoming the Unwelcome

Wholehearted Living in a Brokenhearted World

by Pema Chodron

Release date: October 8th, 2019

 

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I received a complimentary ARC copy of Welcoming the Unwelcome: Wholehearted Living in a Brokenhearted World by Pema Chodron from NetGalley and Shambhala Publications, Inc. in order to read and give an honest review.

“…is a brilliant yet challenging read and one I know I will read again…”

I recently became a fan of Pema Chodron after reading Taking the Leap: Freeing Ourselves from Old Habits and Fears and was so pleased to hear she had a new book coming out. Just beginning my journey toward Bodhisattva, I appreciate her downtoearth and non-intimidating approach to Buddhist teachings.  

In Welcoming the Unwelcome Chodron offers us wisdom on how to face the often overwhelming and uncomfortable aspects of life, embracing our emotions about those aspects while fostering a sense of peace by putting things in perspective. Each chapter discusses a particular practice with stories of others as well as personal insight about her journey.  The overall message to me was learning to see both the positives and negatives in ourselves in order to foster a level of understanding of our vulnerabilities and to help us to gain insight and compassion towards others. 

Throughout the book, Chodron offers us spiritual teachings to awaken us and assist us through our journey towards enlightenment. Although the practices are discussed in detail in each chapter, she has been kind enough to include a detailed outline of the practices at the back where they are mentioned in a more direct “how-to” approach. This book is a brilliant yet challenging read and one I know I will read again learning more each time I read it.  

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#NetGalley #BookReview The Psychology of Time Travel A Novel by Kate Mascarenhas #Mystery #TimeTravel #Fantasy

Review

Psychology of Time Travel Cover

The Psychology of Time Travel

by Kate Mascarenhas

Release date: February 12th, 2019

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I received a complimentary ARC copy of The Psychology of Time Travel
by Kate Mascarenhas NetGalley and Crooked Lane Books in order to read and give an honest review.

… A unique and interesting entry in the time travel genre. 

I have always been a huge fan of time travel stories. Kate Mascarenhas’s debut The Psychology of Time Travel focuses on what happens to people’s psyche when they travel back and forth in time. What would happen if you could go back in time whenever you wanted and spend a day with loved ones who have passed away? Would it change how you view death? Would you take life for granted? The Psychology Of Time Travel answers these questions.

When four women discover time travel in 1960’s they launch an empire for themselves called “The Conclave” When one of the pioneers, Barbara suffers from a very public psychotic episode she is removed from the team and ostracized. The beginning of the book lays the groundwork for each of their personal journeys and how they adjust to the ability to travel and to meet their future or “silver” selves. Some flourish, some flounder, except for Barbara who is not allowed back and not only loses her purpose but her friends too.

The book picks up in the modern day when Barbara receives a cryptic clue of a death notice about an elderly woman who is murdered in the future. Barbara and her psychologist granddaughter Ruby begin trying to unravel the pieces. There is also a suspicious and puzzling murder of a woman in a small museum which occurs in a locked room with no way in or out. The body is damaged beyond recognition, no one is certain who it is, why they were there or how it happened. When a young museum worker Odette finds the body, she is traumatized, ends up seeking counsel from Ruby and can’t rest until she finds out what happened. Odette follows her suspicions and even goes undercover at the Conclave to get to the bottom of it. How could she solve a murder where the murderer could slip in an out of time?

Told from various viewpoints and throughout various time periods, this book tracks multiple characters jumping back and forth in time, some even meeting their future selves in the same room. It takes a while to catch onto which “version” of the character is present.

A unique and interesting entry in the time travel genre. Mascarenhas has created a very character driven novel with multifaceted characters who you grow to care about.

Definitely, an emotional roller coaster filled with mystery and fantasy. I look forward to reading more from this author. Highly recommend!

Posted in Books

#Book #Review Matters of Vital Interest by Eric Lerner via #NetGalley #Biography #LeonardCohen #Songwriter #Poet #Artist

Review

Matters of Vital Interest Cover

Matters of Vital Interest

 A Forty-Year Friendship with Leonard Cohen

by Eric Lerner

Release date: October 16th, 2018

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I received a complimentary ARC copy of Matters of Vital Interest: A Forty-Year Friendship with Leonard Cohen by Eric Lerner from NetGalley and De Capo Press in order to read and give an honest review.

I have been a fan of Leonard Cohen since my teens. Unlike most of the new wave, punk heroes of my youth, Cohen’s work somehow spoke to me on a very different level. He was not glammed up with spiked hair and eyeliner but had a cool elegance that made him and his music stand out for me. Although his work was, and still is, brilliant, poetic and fairly well known, the man himself, always seemed to remain a mystery…until now. Author Eric Lerner, a close personal friend of Cohen for over forty years shares with us an intimate and unique portrait of the man, his spirit and the creative and curious workings of his mind.   

As a fan I really enjoyed this, although bittersweet and intensely emotional at times, it gave us a glimpse inside Cohen’s life like nothing else I have watched or read. Lerner and Cohen endured a great deal throughout their friendship from trying to find spiritual meaning and weathering their creative storms, to divorce, parenting and ultimately illness. These two went through it all, offering support, kindness, wit and most importantly honesty.  We saw them search for spiritual meaning, exploring Zen Buddhism while still adhering to their Jewish faith. I giggled at the story of their existential conversation whilst watching a nature documentary about penguins. We learn about what made Cohen tick, how proud he was to be a father and the little idiosyncrasies that make us see him as perhaps a little less mysterious and if anything, the very human, honest and extremely self-aware artist he was. 

I love the fact Lerner gives us a glimpse into Cohen’s life in a respectful but very honest way, highlighting the good but also sharing the troublesome often overwhelming things that Cohen endured in his life. My only issue with the book, although it wouldn’t stop me reading it, was the fact it jumps around in spots. Some sections seemed like a meandering internal dialogue going back and forth, revisiting things as they came to Lerner’s mind but often seemed a bit repetitive in my opinion.

All in all, I really enjoyed this unique gift to Cohen fans everywhere, an honest, captivating glimpse at the man and his music, a must read in my opinion.

Posted in Books, Uncategorized

#Review The Clockmaker’s Daughter A Novel by Kate Morton #HistoricalFiction #Mystery #Paranormal #NetGalley

Review

Clockmaker's Daughter Cover

The Clockmaker’s Daughter A Novel

by Kate Morton

Release date: October 9th, 2018

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I received a complimentary ARC copy of The Clockmaker’s Daughter A Novel by Kate Morton from NetGalley and Simon & Schuster Canada in order to read and give an honest review.

… intricately woven into an absorbing, entertaining and hauntingly beautiful novel…

Kate Morton skillfully creates an epic gothic tale, intricately woven into an absorbing, entertaining and hauntingly beautiful novel that in my opinion is perhaps one of her best. The Clockmaker’s Daughter is so complex it’s difficult to summarize, there are layers upon layers of historical detail, mystery, love and loss with a touch of paranormal. 

The story follows multiple characters, shifting through different periods of time spanning from the 1860’s to the present day, all intertwined and connected to Birchwood Manor by the Thames.  One thing I love about Kate Morton’s work is she creates such fascinating and multifaceted characters with atmospheric settings that draw you into the story from the beginning. Each character is unique, the female characters strong and intelligent. In The Clockmaker’s Daughter, all of the characters are brilliant but one voice stands out for me, Birdie. We learn first-hand about her traumatic life, tragic death and her thoughts and feelings on both.

The story opens with London archivist Elodie Winslow, cataloguing the archives of James Stratton when she happens across a mysterious leather satchel containing a photograph of a stunning Victorian woman and a sketch of a mysterious house by the river. Elodie instantly feels connected to the items and is compelled to discover the origins of the house which is eerily similar to a house in a bedtime story her mother used to tell her before she died. Despite being in the middle of planning a wedding Elodie is determined to see whether it is, in fact, the house contained in the stories from her childhood. During her investigation, she discovers the satchel belongs to the artist, Edward Radcliffe and the photo is of his muse and secret love Lily and Elodie becomes obsessed with uncovering their story and is driven to visit Birchwood Manor.   The Manor’s incarnations include Edward Radcliffe’s artist’s retreat, a school for young ladies, home to a widow with three young children, the inspiration for a student’s thesis and lastly a museum dedicated to the artist Edward Radcliffe. Birchwood Manor, in some ways, seems to become a character in itself, the house seems to have a distinct personality. In each of its incarnations, the house holds a special space in each of the occupants’ hearts as well as concealing secrets in its walls about tragic events that occurred during the summer of 1862 which include murder, betrayal and loss.

I absolutely loved this book, it is not for those who are looking for a fast-paced page-turner, it definitely requires patience but it is a slow but satisfying read that is worth it and one I would highly recommend!

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#NetGalley #Review Pure Skin Care Nourishing Recipes for Vibrant Skin & Natural Beauty by Stephanie L. Tourles

 

Review

Pure Skin Care  by Stephanie L. Tourles

Nourishing Recipes for Vibrant Skin & Natural Beauty

by Stephanie L. Tourles

Pure Skin Care Cover

Release date: September 18th, 2018

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I received a complimentary ARC copy of Pure Skin Care: Nourishing Recipes for Vibrant Skin & Natural Beauty by Stephanie L. Tourles from NetGalley and Storey Publishing in order to read and give an honest review.

For the past ten years due to skin sensitivities I have been using more natural based cosmetics and skin care products.  The past year I have taken it even more serious going right back to basics by using pure natural items to cleanse and moisturize and honestly, the timing of this book could not be more perfect.

In Pure Skin Care, Stephanie L. Tourles educates us on the science of our skin, how to care for it, giving us information on tips to care for it other than applying products externally.   Pure Skin Care includes 78 recipes for all types of beauty products from cleansers, toners, scrubs, masks, moisturizers, steams, creams and balms, and features some easy recipes for every price range. Some ingredients are most likely in your pantry, others can be purchased at health food stores and even some local grocers.   Tourles even gives us tips and techniques even teaching us to grow and dry our own herbs.

I tried creating some of the recipes and found them easy to follow, I was able to tailor them to my specific skin type and loved the results.  I particularly liked the Balance Restorer, Light and Lively Moisturizer, Salt of the Earth Scrub, Tranquility Toner and the Lavender Protection Balm, all were fairly easy to make and have left my skin glowing!

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#Review of Motherland (Captain Natalya Ivanova #1) by G. D. Abson (@garry_abson) via #NetGalley #Thriller

Review

Motherland GDAbson Cover

Motherland

(Captain Natalya Ivanova #1)

by G. D. Abson

Release date: April 26th, 2018

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I received a complimentary ARC copy of Motherland (Captain Natalya Ivanova #1) by G. D. Abson from NetGalley and Mirror Books in order to read and give an honest review.

“Incredible characters, intriguing plot and oh, so clever…”

First in a new series by author G.D. Abson, this thriller is the start of something very promising. Fast-paced and gritty, Motherland hooks the reader early on forcing them to hold on for dear life through the twists and turns of this brilliant story.  

Set in modern-day St. Petersburg, Captain Natalya Ivanova of the Criminal Investigations Directorate investigates the disappearance of Zena Dahl, the adopted daughter of Swedish billionaire Thorsen Dahl. As lead investigator Natalya faces one obstacle after another trying to find Zena before it’s too late. When a body is found the kidnapping turns into a homicide investigation and someone wielding a great deal of power will do anything to keep her from finding the truth.  Natalya has to fight it all: political intrigue, corruption, misogyny, marital issues, threats to her family, false accusations, betrayal from those she trusts, mobsters and threats from the FSB (formerly KGB) all to piece together what happened to Zena.  

Abson’s ability to create very real multifaceted characters is brilliant. Natalya, the protagonist, in my opinion, is well written, she is portrayed as down to earth, intelligent, strong, honest, yet flawed and comes across as very real. Married to her co-worker Mikhail, they live a believable family life with her step-son Anton. Through marital strife and threats to her family, she handles it with courage, conviction and a touch of humor. For me, almost every character comes to life on the page, the good, the bad and the well…disgusting.  

Incredible characters, intriguing plot, and a twist at the end that was truly unexpected. I thoroughly enjoyed this book and look forward to future books in the Captain Natalya Ivanova series.  If you are looking for a clever fast-paced thriller, I would highly recommend reading Motherland.  

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#Book Review of The Berkeley Bowl Cookbook by Laura McLively via #Vegetarian #NetGalley

Review

Berkeley Bowl Cover

The Berkeley Bowl Cookbook

Recipes Inspired by the Extraordinary Produce of California’s Most Iconic Market

by Laura McLively

Release date: April 17th, 2018

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I received a complimentary ARC copy of The Berkeley Bowl Cookbook
Recipes Inspired by the Extraordinary Produce of California’s Most Iconic Market
by Laura McLively from NetGalley and Parallax Press in order to read and give an honest review.

Loved this cookbook! It’s nice to bring Californian cuisine to Toronto Canada.  This book was full of amazing vegetarian recipes with unique ingredients, easy to follow instructions, beautiful coloured photographs, and creative seasonal menus.

Although some of the ingredients aren’t found in your average grocery store I was able to find them at a local Asian grocery store. Even if you can’t obtain the ingredients easily, one of the things that impressed me about this book was the fact it gave you a few suitable and easily available substitutions. I was also fond of the fact it categorized the recipes by the type of vegetable you’re using I.e. Leaves; Flower, Seeds and Pods; Spores and Succulents; Stems; Roots and Tubers; and Sweet and Savory Fruit instead of the appetizers, entrees etc.

I recommend this to anyone looking for a culinary adventure! It has something to suit every vegetarians’ taste. With dishes such as Sweet & Sour Tofu with Gooseberries, Indian Stuffed Eggplant and my new favorite dessert, Lemongrass Coconut Ice Cream you can’t go wrong!