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.

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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!

Posted in Books

#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! 

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Book #Review of The Wolf (Under the Northern Sky #1) by Leo Carew (@leocarew1) (#NetGalley)

Review

The Wolf Cover

The Wolf

(Under the Northern Sky #1)

by Leo Carew

Release date: April 1st, 2018

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I received a complimentary ARC copy of The Wolf (Under the Northern Sky #1) by Leo Carew from NetGalley and Orbit/Hatchette Book Group in order to read and give an honest review.

Intense, gripping and an adventure not to be missed.  

When young Roper, son of the Anakim’s Black Lord watches his father slaughtered in battle, he is thrust into the role of leader of the Black Kingdom’s Army and new Black Lord of the Kingdom. When forced to retreat or lose thousands of soldiers he becomes a disappointment and is mocked by everyone in the kingdom.  Their opponents, the Sutherners, after the death of their commander, are left in the hands of Bellamus, referred to by the kingdom as an “upstart” or “nobody”. Both sides fates being left to men who are sorely underestimated and who must prove their worth’s to their kingdoms.

Roper faces opposition at every turn by the Black Kingdom’s fiercest and most decorated soldier,  Uvoren.  Uvoren, feels the kingdoms should be rightfully his and will go to any length to obtain it.  After basic posturing, humiliation and a smear campaign by Uvoren, Roper must find a way to become a hero to his people and gain confidence in himself.  He does everything in his power to not only become a great warrior but to become a great and fair leader to his people.

In his debut novel, Carew does an impeccable job of creating a foreboding frozen northern landscape along with masterfully depicting the lifestyle and culture of the Anakim people who live there. His characters feel genuine, flawed and incredibly believable. Fraught with intriguing political twists and battle scenes that are as vivid as they are powerful this book will keep you engaged in Carew’s world right to the end. The end leaves not on a cliffhanger but open to the next instalment which I for one will be eagerly waiting for.

Although I read urban fantasy and am not a regular reader of Epic Fantasy I loved The Wolf, I found it intense and captivating.  If you enjoy epic fantasy such as George RR Martin’s Game of Thrones this series might appeal to you.

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Book #Review of Everyday Gratitude: Inspiration for Living Life by A Network for Grateful Living, David Steindl-Rast (Foreword), Kristi Nelson (Introduction) (#NetGalley)

 

REVIEW

Everyday Gratitude

Everyday Gratitude: Inspiration for Living Life

by A Network for Grateful Living, David Steindl-Rast (Foreword), Kristi Nelson (Introduction)

Release date: April 3rd, 2018

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I received a complimentary ARC copy of Everyday Gratitude: Inspiration for Living Life by A Network for Grateful Living, David Steindl-Rast (Foreword), Kristi Nelson (Introduction) from NetGalley and Storey Publishing in order to read and give an honest review.

~A great reminder when things become overwhelming, Everyday Gratitude guides us to find the small treasures of positivity in our everyday lives.~

Everyday Gratitude: Inspiration for Living Life as a Gift is not a how-to book per se but a great reminder when feeling overwhelmed to find something to be grateful for each and every day. Each page has a colourful image, an inspiring quote from everyone from Helen Keller to Dalai Lama, as well as a question which prompts you to think about how that quote can be applied to your life.  If you journal these would make excellent journal prompts to help you find the positives in your lives

All in all, not an in-depth heavy read but a nice reminder to help gain clarity and perspective when things might not necessarily be going well for you. I personally found it to be the little boost to get my focus going in the right direction, especially on the trying days.

I really enjoyed this book which I know will become one that I will refer to time and again.

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Book #Review of A Glimmer of Hope (The Avalon Chronicles #1) by Steve McHugh (@StevejMchugh) (#NetGalley)

Review

Glimmer of Hope Cover

A Glimmer of Hope

(The Avalon Chronicles #1)

by Steve McHugh

Release date: April 1st, 2018

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I received a complimentary ARC copy of A Glimmer of Hope (The Avalon Chronicles #1) by Steve McHugh from NetGalley and 47North in order to read and give an honest review.

…a well written, unique and fast-paced #urbanfantasy novel!

 Layla Cassidy, daughter of an infamous serial killer, spent her life running away from her old life and the possibility of turning into her father.  She changes her name, hides her past and settles into a routine of night clerk at a train depot and student of metallurgy during the day. One night while at work she is kidnapped and her friends slaughtered in an attempt to gain information on her father’s secret prison. She is kidnapped and held captive in a secret compound underground guarded by vile supernatural creatures. She manages to escape but not before activating secret scrolls which bind her with three spirits and a demon, all of which now residing in her head and giving her powers outside of her realm of understanding.
Now she must learn to cope with them all talking to her, control her new powers and tame the demon inside her head threatening to turn her into the murderer. After her escape, she learns she is not alone, there are others just like her who will help protect and guide her.

I enjoyed A Glimmer of hope, although slow to start it is well worth the wait. A caution to those squeamish about violence, there are some gory scenes but on the whole, the book has well-developed characters, a unique and interesting plot culminating in a heart-stopping conclusion.  If you want to a well written, unique and fast-paced #urbanfantasy novel, this is for you.

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Book #Review of The Bone Curse (Benjamin Oris #1) by Carrie Rubin (@carrie_rubin) (#NetGalley)

Review

Bone Curse Cover

The Bone Curse

(Benjamin Oris #1)

by Carrie Rubin

Release date: March 27th, 2018

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I received a complimentary ARC copy of The Bone Curse (Benjamin Oris #1) by Carrie Rubin from NetGalley and ScienceThrillers Media in order to read and give an honest review.

Part thriller, part paranormal mystery, this is a fast-paced, well-crafted and brilliantly original novel!

Pragmatic medical student, Ben Oris, is on vacation with his best friend Laurette, a Haitian medical student, when an injury occurs while visiting the Catacombs. Ben possessed by unseen forces accidentally cuts his hand on a centuries-old bone, a cut that puts Ben and all those he holds dear in a life and death battle with evil forces too irrational for his rational mind to believe. Laurette knows that something evil is following Ben but it challenges his logical, scientific mind putting their friendship and lives in peril.

The book weaves a tale through medical anomalies, Haitian Vodou and the bonds of family and friendship which culminates in a heart-stopping conclusion. The characters are interesting, quirky and believable which when combined with an intriguing plot will keep you turning the pages until the wee hours of the morning.

I thoroughly enjoyed this book, I found this to be unique and captivating and would recommend it to anyone who enjoys a good thriller with an occult twist. I’m definitely looking forward to reading Carrie Rubin’s next Benjamin Oris book!

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Book #Review of #ShadowHunt (Disrupted Magic # 3) by Melissa F. Olson (#NetGalley)

Shadow Hunt (Disrupted Magic #3)

by Melissa F. Olson

Release date: February 13th, 2018

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Shadow Hunt Cover


I received a complimentary ARC copy of Shadow Hunt (Disrupted Magic #3) by Melissa F. Olson from NetGalley in order to read and give an honest review.

The last book of the Disrupted Trilogy and the end of Scarlett’s second series picks up immediately after the second book, Blood Gamble left off. Weeks after the events in Las Vegas and the death of Jamieson, another Null she finds out she is pregnant with his child. A rare occurrence, Scarlett is dealing with the aftermath of finding out that after years of believing it was impossible she is, in fact, going to have a baby, the baby of two very powerful Nulls.  Scarlett tries to keep the pregnancy under wraps until she learns more about her options and the consequences of having a null child.  Not knowing who to turn to she sneaks out of town to consult with Maven, an ancient Vampire she feels might be able to give her advice.  Leaving her bargest, Shadow, at home and in the care of Jesse she is on her way, not knowing the danger she is leaving them to face.  Jesse opens the door to an innocent looking visitor which launches an evil plot by Shadow’s former owners, the Luparii who come to retrieve what’s theirs and put their plan into motion. The Luparrii’s see Scarlett as a threat and will do everything in their power to see her destroyed. After her secret is outted, Scarlett teams up with werewolves, vamps, witches and humans to stand with against the magical Wild Hunt which that would ultimately end the world as they know it.

I really enjoyed Shadow Hunt. It gives us a character-driven, fast-paced and complex storyline that you’ll want to devour in one sitting.  I think this, in my opinion, was the best of the trilogy and even though it’s the end of this trilogy I hope we hear from Scarlet and Jesse in the future.

My book Review of Midnight Curse (Disrupted Magic #1) by Melissa F. Olson found here.