Book reviews

#BookReviews Two magical books: ‘Alchemy’ by Ailsa Abraham (@ailsaabraham) and ‘Bad Moon’ by Anita Dawes #TuesdayBookBlog

Hi all:
I know I’ve been telling you for a while that I had reviews pending to share, and I thought as you might have a bit of time to read over the holidays (ha!) I’d bring you some before the year ends. (Doesn’t time fly!)
Here two books that although very different share fabulous plots, strong female characters and a good deal of ‘magic’, ‘secrets’ and very unexpected things. Both writers are also great bloggers and I’m sure will keep coming back.

Alchemy by Ailsa Abraham
Alchemy by Ailsa Abraham

Alchemy by Ailsa Abraham. Sometimes perfect solutions bring unexpected problems.

Ailsa Abraham’s novel Alchemy starts with a premise that would be the perfect ending for many novels, in appearance promising an idyllic utopian future for all. With a mysterious thriller-like beginning, a discovery that for once falls in the right hands, and a deal too good for all governments to ignore, one wonders where the story will go from there. Fascinating and enlightened characters appear and then quickly get to work, and new characters, whose relationship to the previous ones is not always evident at first, make an entry.

There is magic related to Pagan religious practice, and we follow two young children, a boy and a girl, as they discover their faith and are trained to reach the highest ranks. Do not worry if you’re not very versed in the different pagan practices and groups, as Adrian, a Professor in Ancient Religious Studies and once born (not magical) and his girlfriend, Helen, a thriller writer, serve as a point of contact and questioning guides into the ins and outs of the new world religious order. And if you thought everything seemed too nice to be true, there’s evil at work and dangerous alliances that put humanity at risk. A pair of unlikely hero and heroine will have to step forward and pay the price.

If you think fights over fuel and religious wars are responsible for all that’s wrong in our world, read this book and you might think again. Alchemy is a novel that combines a plot interesting from an ethical and philosophical point of view, with a good story and fascinating characters that I hope will be further developed in other books in the series. And if you like a good romantic story of impossible love, Riga and Iamo are far more interesting than Romeo and Juliette. (And two of the most intriguing characters I’ve met in recent times).

If you have an open mind and like to explore big questions whilst being transported to worlds both familiar and completely alien to ours, you should read this book. If you love adventures that go beyond the usual, don’t miss it. If you love beautifully written books with great characters, this one is for you too. In summary, if you have a bit of imagination and enjoy reading, give it a go. I am looking forward to reviewing Shaman’s Drum soon.



Here, her Amazon page so you can keep up with her news. And don’t forget to follow!

And her blog:


Bad Moon by Anita Dawes
Bad Moon by Anita Dawes (and Jaye Marie, her sister, as they are a team)

Bad Moon by Anita Dawes. Blood Ties and an Unforgiving Fate.

Bad Moon is narrated in the first person by Annie, a young girl who lives happily with her family: mother (Ruby), father (Jed), and older brother (Nathan). She adores her father, although her mother’s behaviour is far from exemplary (she regularly invites other men to her home and that results in incidents with her husband, who takes it out on the men and seem remarkably tolerant of his wife’s behaviour). At first, Annie is worried that she might end up becoming a woman like her mother when she grows up and thinks it is all due to her mother’s family (her father says that her mother was born under a ‘bad moon’ and she comes from ‘the Hills’ where people seem to have their own morality and rules of behaviour). The inhabitants of the Hills seem to be directly related to those of The Hills Have Eyes or the banjo players in Deliverance. What Annie doesn’t know is that things are worse than she ever could imagine. She has lived all her life in a world of lies and secrets. She is convinced she must learn the truth to avoid history repeating itself and is prepared to go to any lengths to achieve that. The costs are high indeed.

Annie does not have much formal schooling (she decides to leave school when she realises things aren’t as they should) but she is extremely articulate, and some of the descriptions of the landscape surrounding her home, of her experiences and dreams, her mystical feelings on visiting the caves previously inhabited by a Native-American tribe, and her reflections are beautiful and lyrical. We might disagree with some of her decisions but it is difficult not to admire her determination. She never tries to be liked or makes excuses for her own behaviour (she might blame others at times, but despite not being a believer or having much in the way of role models, she does question her actions and tries to make things better), and she is neither all good nor all bad. It’s a testimony to the skill of the author that although Annie’s head is not a pleasant place to be in, we can’t help but wish she’ll succeed and live to see another day.

With themes including incest, rape, infanticide, murder, cannibalism, paedophilia and plenty of violence, this is not a gentle novel or an easy read. There is sex and violence, although these are not graphically rendered, but anybody with a modicum of imagination will be left with many powerful images difficult to forget. The strong intuition of the main character, the roles of fate, blood and family history and the communities portrayed turn this book into a tragedy where instead of kings and gods we have as protagonists a family in the outskirts of society and outside of history. (The historical period of the story and the outside society are not described in detail and this adds to the sense of claustrophobia an entrapment.)

If Annie is a heroine, a tragic hero or an anti-hero is open to interpretation and I haven’t decided yet. I’m not sure I’d like to meet her in real life, but I know I’d like to read more about her.




Here is her Amazon page to keep up with her news. And don’t forget to follow!:

And her (and sister Jaye Marie’s) blogs:

Thanks to the authors for two great books, thanks to you all for reading, and don’t forget to share, like, comment, and CLICK! And Keep Reading!

By OlgaNunez

I was born in Barcelona and after living in the UK for many years have now returned home. I teach English, volunteer at Sants 3 Ràdio, a local radio station, I'm a writer, translator (English-Spanish and vice-versa) and I'm a medical doctor and worked in Forensic Psychiatry many years. I also have a BA and a PhD in American Literature and Film, and a Masters in Criminology. I've always loved books and apart from writing them I review them often.
I write a bit of everything, check my books for more information and my about page for links.
My blog is bilingual, English and Spanish.

26 replies on “#BookReviews Two magical books: ‘Alchemy’ by Ailsa Abraham (@ailsaabraham) and ‘Bad Moon’ by Anita Dawes #TuesdayBookBlog”

Two very interesting reviews, Olga. I’m sure I’d like the first one, and I enjoyed your insights on the second one. I don’t know how you find the time for all these reviews. But then, I’m not a very fast reader.
Great big hug! 🙂

I wonder myself although I love reading and I never go anywhere without the Kindle, going for a walk, going up and down stairs, wherever I know I might have to wait… I’m sure you’d love Ailsa’s book for sure. Anita’s is a fascinating story although harrowing at times. 🙂

Good morning, Olga….fantastic reviews….you drew me right in. The first book definitely goes n my list….the second, although very intriguing sounds like one I would need to read under the right circumstances….i.e. not just before I go to sleep at nights! You mentioned ‘Deliverance’ a movie that to this day terrifies me….even the wonderful theme tune sets me off:) Have a lovely day and hopefully relatively relaxed run up to Christmas . Janet. x

Thanks, Janet. Yes, ‘Alchemy’ is a book that I think will appeal to most readers and the ideas behind it are even more interesting now with all that has happened recently. ‘Bad Moon’ is fascinating and not your standard story, although not a comfortable read, but well worth it.
I hope you have a lovely time too. I have two projects for others to finish (hopefully this week) and then I’ll be dedicating some time to my own things. Not planning on celebrating Christmas as such. Not my thing. But plan to try and take it easier. 🙂

Thank you for this….I have ordered Alchemy and will order Bad Moon….Christmas is not my thing either. I will spend the Christmas Day with my Mother and for the rest of the time, just hang loose:) What I am really looking forward to is the arrival of my daughter, Christie, on the 20th January…..happy days. Janet. x

I hope you enjoy the time with you mother and I’m sure your daughter’s visit will be fabulous. I have quite a few non-festive things to do and some non-festive books to read. And still a few more reviews left to share…:) (Oh, and the publishers sent me Virginia MacGregor’s next book’s ARC ‘Return of Norah Wells’ that I’m truly looking forward to, although I have a few other books to read before….) Be well and have a magical time. And love to your mother and your daughter. 🙂

Virginia just e mailed to notify me that she will be having a book launch for ‘Return of Norah Wells’ in Reading on January 21st….I am hoping that my daughter and I will be able to attend. Most interestingly, in one of those amazing interconnections of life, it turned out that Virginia had met my daughter in the States several years ago……Until I read your book review for ‘What Milo Saw’ I had never heard of Virginia, and so tangible evidence of the power of your words. You be well and have a lovely season….Janet. x

Thank you, Janet. Sounds great. I don’t think you had told me Virginia had met your daughter. I must say ‘The Astonishing Return of Norah Wells’ sounds fantastic. I hope you can go with your daughter. It’s a bit far for me but I’ll try and keep track and see where she’s going (although not sure at the moment of my schedule in January). At least I’ll do my best to read the book before then. Some wonderful books coming up Have an amazing time, Janet.

I have pre-ordered the book, ‘The Astonishing Return of Norah Wells’ and will let you know if Christie and I get to Reading on the 21st. Virginia meeting Christie was one of those wonderful ‘interconnection’ moments. Virginia was actually staying with my ex husband and his wife Heather, (I am still very good friends with both of them) Virginia had met Heather at a writing workshop in New England…..and that’s how Christie met her. A wonderful small world story. Janet.

You’re right. Great story and the world is so small indeed. Perhaps there are some laws of physics (or others) that explain why our paths cross with certain people several times no matter where we are or what we’re doing.
I’m going to try my hardest to catch up on some reading over these next few days (I have a few things that I’m planning on doing but hope I should have some time, or I’ll make it). I’m also hoping the general level of activity will go down a bit over the holidays…

I do believe that there are certain people in our lives that our conduits…..maybe you are one for me:) I also hope that the general level of activity diminishes greatly over the next week or so….Enjoy. x

Thanks for the introduction to these two writers, Olga. I like the sound of the second book a lot, even though it looks like it might be a ‘tough’ read.
Best wishes, Pete.

Thoughtful reviews, Olga. The first book sounds quite intriguing. Not just your average thriller, right? I like that it gets the reader to think about compelling social/philosophical issues. And the second book…it’s not often that the protagonist is questionable or that the story is a tragedy in modern literature. Great finds!

Thanks, Lorna. Definitely both are not your usual book. Alchemy makes you think about the order of things and question what we think is true. ‘Bad Moon’ is a fascinating book. One of those where the characters are not likeable or straight forward, but they are truly compelling. ♥

They are fascinating and so different, but still… Thanks, JP. And good luck with the transformation of all your books (I see it’s going well 🙂

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