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Book review Book reviews Tuesday Book Blog

#TuesdayBookBlog Dead of Winter: Journey 5, Llyn Pistyll Falls and Dead of Winter: Journey 6, The Fluting Fell by Teagan Ríordáin Geneviene (@teagangeneviene) Things keep getting intriguing, dangerous and wondrous #fantasy

Hi all:

I bring you the review of the next two installments in the Teagan Ríordáin Geneviene’s serial Dead of Winter. The author has shared that we’re more or less halfway through, and I’m happy there’s much more to come yet, although the story is getting to a point where many of the strands seem to be coming together, although there is much we don’t know yet.

Here they come.

Dead-of-Winter-Journey-5.-Llyn-Pistyll-Falls-by-Teagan-Geneviene

Dead of Winter: Journey 5, Llyn Pistyll Falls by Teagan Ríordáin Geneviene

The titular dead of Winter begin this Journey in a collection of vignettes. The Veil separating the world of the living and the Realm of the Dead has indeed become thin. As feared the dead begin to enter the Realm of the Living. Small outbreaks of chaos are scattered across the world as spirits try to resume their old lives.

Also in those shorts, two characters are introduced who will come back into the story in future Journeys — Gregorios, and Mairead who recalls the circumstance that brought Zasha and Tajín together. The spirits also visit some characters from past Journeys.

Emlyn and company encounter the King of Hell, and this time, Arawn is not in a dream-like netherworld.

https://www.amazon.com/dp/B09431TD6G/

https://www.amazon.es/dp/B09431TD6G/

https://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B09431TD6G/

Dead of Winter Journey 6. The Fluling Fell by Teagan Geneviene

Dead of Winter: Journey 6, The Fluting Fell by Teagan Ríordáin Geneviene

Emlyn’s story continues in Journey 6, The Fluting Fell. She gains tragic insight into Boabhan… horrifying things that she is too young to know. This event also shows an unexpected softer side to another character.

The travelers reach an abandoned estate, Wych Elm Manor, although it is not completely unoccupied. It yields answers as well as questions. Emlyn finds clues that lead them farther into their journey. She also meets the silvery-haired young man again.

The travelers have put some distance between themselves and the Brethren of Un’Naf, but do even worse dangers await them? Danger deepens when they take refuge in a mysterious structure.

Come, be a part of the Journeys of “Dead of Winter.”

https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B096CMTPVP/

https://www.amazon.co.uk/gp/product/B096CMTPVP/

https://www.amazon.es/gp/product/B096CMTPVP/

Author Teagan Geneviene

 

About the author:

Teagan Ríordáin Geneviene lives in a “high desert” town in the Southwest of the USA.

Teagan had always devoured fantasy novels of every type. Then one day there was no new book readily at hand for reading — so she decided to write one. And she hasn’t stopped writing since.

Her work is colored by her experiences from living in the southern states and the desert southwest. Teagan most often writes in the fantasy genre, but she also writes cozy mysteries. Whether it’s a 1920s mystery, a steampunk adventure, or urban fantasy, her stories have a strong element of whimsy.

Founder of the Three Things method of storytelling, her blog “Teagan’s Books” contains serial stories written according to “things” from viewers. www.teagansbooks.com

Major influences include Agatha Christie, Terry Brooks, David Eddings, Robert Jordan, and Charlaine Harris.

See book trailer videos here: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCoM-z7_iH5t2_7aNpy3vG-Q?

My reviews:

I’ve been following the serial Dead of Winter from its first instalment; I have read many of the author’s novels, and I also follow her blog, so I didn’t hesitate when she started publishing this serial, even though I am not a regular reader of fantasy. She has a great imagination, can make the most fabulous scenarios and characters come alive, and she knows how to keep her audience captive, as she has proved week after week when she weaves her tales in her blog, even managing to include in the stories elements that her regular readers contribute. So, I’m not surprised to love this story and to have become hooked on it from the very beginning.

Journey 5 is slightly different from the others, as, although we get to hear (or see) from Haldis, the Watcher, as usual (although she knows many things, she does not remember everything, and her process of rediscovering her memories mirrors Emlyn’s learning, while also guiding and intriguing us at once), we also get to witness with her some episodes that clearly demonstrate what the Deae Matres and Emlyn have suspected for a while, that the veil between the living and the dead has definitely been breached. New characters are introduced, that we are told will appear again, and I am eager to see what happens to them in the future, in particular one of the Deae Matres. And, while the dead might bring comfort and advice to some, to others they provide a terrifying and amply-deserved warning (yes, I’m thinking about you, Elder Pwyll).

And then we follow Emlyn’s journey with the Deae Matres; she realises she is being taught many lessons by all the women; and she starts making personal connections and friends with some of them as well, discovering fascinating affinities between herself and these women and learning about some of their wondrous powers.

We get to know more about these incredible women, we travel with them to vividly and wonderfully described places, we hear about distant lands and traditions, and the chapter ends in a hair-raising cliffhanger. What else could we ask for? Luckily, I had the next Journey in the serial already waiting for me, so I knew what to do. And I hope you follow my example.

 

Journey 6 of this serial is, in some ways, like a microcosm of the whole of our Journey so far. It contains adventures and wonderful and scary events aplenty; it has thoughtful and contemplative moments where the characters question their experiences, thoughts, and feelings; it includes beautiful settings, and it adds to our knowledge of the world the story takes place in and its different traditions and legends; it deepens our awareness of the mysteries underlying the story and how intricately they are woven into its fabric; and it manages to captivate us and keep its hold on us, because we have become as invested in the fate of the characters as they are. Having read some of the author’s other novels and her blog, I think most people who are familiar with her work will recognise certain elements and motifs that tend to appear in her writing no matter what the genre is, characteristic of her oeuvre, that will make her fans very happy.

This particular journey comes with a content warning by the author, as Emlyn shares a vivid dream of the abuse of one of the other characters (I am trying not to give too much of the plot away), and although not explicit, as Geneviene explains, it might be disturbing to people who have survived similar experiences. The warning also contains information and advice on who to contact for those who might feel personally affected or who need support. Although there are other dangerous and scary episodes in this journey, I agree that the vivid shared dream Emlyn experiences is the most disturbing part of it.

I had mentioned Haldis when reviewing Journey 5, and she expresses her doubts and confusion quite clearly at the beginning of this journey, while also leaving us some highly intriguing comments that bring some interesting connections and links to mind and leave us wondering.

Emlyn shows great courage but also an impulsive nature that had been kept under control by her circumstances until now. She is greatly affected by the dream mentioned, and that causes her to question many things and to go into a reflective mood, which seems to affect many of the other characters as well. This more contemplative aspect of the journey allows us to gain insight into some of the characters’ personalities and also to learn more details about their lives. We get to understand why some of the characters behave in the way they do, and also why their interaction with others can appear peculiar at times.

Emlyn gets dragged into the world of the Dead once more, and her experience leaves her with some answers but many more questions. It is clear that Emlyn is called to play an important part in the Deae Matres’ journey, and a new quest —full of magic and wonder— takes form.

In this journey, we get to visit some fascinating locations, and there are beautiful examples of the rich and textured descriptions the author has got us accustomed to (I loved the way she describes the clothes they find, but also the furniture, the landscape…). There are also more episodes of the dead coming into the world of the living, some glimpses at what might be behind some of the things that are happening, and an overall sense that the past, the present, and the future, life and death, and reality and dream might not be as fixed and separate as we’d all like to believe.

I wanted to mention a couple of things I haven’t talked about for a while. The author includes a list of characters and locations at the end of the book, to make sure people can check if they have any doubts and don’t feel lost if they cannot recall the full details about a character or a place. The beauty of this list is that it is updated with every Journey, and that means that not only there are no spoilers, but also that although new information is added with every journey, you don’t need to search through lots of characters and places you know nothing about, which are bound to cause confusion before we can locate the one we are looking for.

The other thing I wanted to mention is the wonderful illustrations that accompany each new chapter, which offer us a gallery of pictures and provide a perfect visual companion to the story.

Is there a cliffhanger? Well, we leave the characters in a pretty dire situation, that is true, although it is not as dramatic and dangerous as the point at what the story left us in the previous Journey. But I know I’ll be thinking about what will happen next until Journey 7 falls on my hands.

(I was provided with an ARC copy of this Journey of the serial, which I freely chose to review).

Thanks to the author for her story and for the care she has invested in the adaptation of her novel into a serial that keeps getting better and better, thanks to all of you for reading, and remember to keep safe, keep smiling, review, share, and of course, never stop reading. ♥

Categories
Book review Book reviews Tuesday Book Blog

#TuesdayBookBlog JUNGLENOMICS: NATURE’S SOLUTIONS TO THE WORLD ENVIRONMENT CRISIS: A NEW PARADIGM FOR THE 21ST CENTURY & BEYOND by Simon M Lamb (@Junglenomics). A complex book with an incredibly simple and sound suggestion #RBRT

Hi all:

I bring you something quite unusual for me. You know I do read non-fiction books, but this one is quite out of my comfort zone, although it touches on a subject that worries most of us.

Junglenomics by Simon M. Lamb
Junglenomics by Simon M. Lamb

Junglenomics: Nature’s Solutions to the World Environment Crisis: a New Paradigm for the 21st Century & Beyond by Simon M Lamb

For all the occasional good news stories, the inescapable fact is that the natural world remains in a spiral of decline. If our children are not to inherit a world decimated by the industrial excesses of our generation, then clearly something fundamental has to change, but what? The good news, Simon Lamb argues, is that Nature itself provides a clear blueprint. It shows us how to reorganise the economic domain to protect and benignly coexist with natural environments, halt species decline and benefit the poorest. Junglenomics is the result of 25 years of research and insight. It provides a new vision of a future world rescued from decline, gained through an understanding of the profound forces at work in modern economies.

https://www.amazon.com/Junglenomics-Natures-Solutions-Environment-Paradigm-ebook/dp/B07VHP4PSL/

https://www.amazon.co.uk/Junglenomics-Natures-Solutions-Environment-Paradigm-ebook/dp/B07VHP4PSL/

https://www.amazon.es/Junglenomics-Natures-Solutions-Environment-Paradigm-ebook/dp/B07VHP4PSL/

Author Simon Lamb
Author Simon Lamb

About the author:

Simon Lamb is a writer on evolution, economics and the environment. He is also a founder partner in a successful Fine Art business. He was born in London in 1951, and his early years were divided between London and Wendens Ambo, Essex, where the beautiful, as yet unspoiled countryside incubated a deep love for nature. He studied economics, maths, languages and art at Wellington College. Simon began his working career in finance in the family firm, but his passion for nature, countryside, and natural science convinced him to move first to North Wales, and later to Dorset, a much-loved childhood stamping ground. He has also been involved in farming for most of his working life. He and his wife Kristina have four children, Chris, Jamie, Antony, and Tom, and 3 grandchildren, Cameron, Sophie and Charlie.

Simon brings something different to this greatest issue of our time – a lifetime’s experience in business and investment markets, a close affinity with the natural world and the cycle of the seasons, an unswerving belief in Darwin and in the ubiquity of natural processes, and a passion for the subject that is absolute and unconditional. He has spent the better part of three decades searching for answers to perhaps the two most pressing questions of our age: why, despite our great intelligence do we, the human race, destroy the natural world? And how can we re-establish our presence within the ancient natural rhythms of life on Earth? In Junglenomics he presents convincing answers to the first, and strong, science-based, practical ways to achieve economic harmony with the natural world.

https://www.junglenomics.com/

My review:

I write this review as a member of Rosie’s Book Review Team (authors, if you are looking for reviews, check here), and I freely chose to review an ARC copy of this non-fiction book.

I must confess to feeling totally unequal to the task of reviewing this book. I did mention that to the author of the book, who insisted that it would be of interest to authors and to the general public, as well as to economist, and particularly to anybody interesting in preserving the environment and finding new (and workable) ways to do it.

I am not an expert in Evolution, Economics, and/or Environmental Sciences, and this book’s approach uses and builds on elements and concepts of all three, so my opinion is far from a knowledgeable one when it comes to evaluating it. All my comments about this book are, as are all reviews, only an expressional as my personal point of view, and in this case I feel particularly unqualified to make an in-depth analysis, as I lack the knowledge required and cannot debate the nitty-gritty details to be able to either agree or disagree with the research. Don’t get me wrong, the basic idea is easy to grasp, but, as usual, the devil is in the detail.

Junglenomics proposes using Nature’s blueprint —the way ecosystems work— to solve the environmental disaster we’re quickly approaching. The author uses evolutionary theory to illustrate how we have got to where we are, explaining that all species are hungry for resources, and that is a normal evolutionary trait. The fact that Homo Sapiens is more successful at it than the rest of the species on our planet, means that we have exploited and accumulated Earth’s resources beyond the point where Nature itself can counteract our actions and re-establish the balance. Although ecosystems can adjust to increases in one bio product or species in different ways, our disruption of our environment has been so quick and drastic, especially in the last couple of centuries that our recent attempts at redress seem to be too-little/too-late.

The author goes on to analyse both, the situation and the attempts at redress, noticing that most have been piecemeal and lacked in a consistent application, for a variety of reasons, but most of all, because rather than appealing to the market (money makes the world go around, let’s not forget, and Lamb makes a good case for how money came to be what it is, a stand-in for our hunger for resources), and trying to find solutions that make sense from an economic point of view (something that will either produce money or reduce costs, or both), so far the focus has been on penalising and restricting practices that, until now, have resulted in great profit and advancement for the markets. Getting a lot of nations, not only developed ones, but also developing nations (that feel they are bearing the brunt of such policies without any of the benefits Western developed nations had had years to reap) to sign up to agreements is difficult, and enforcing them is near impossible, as we have all seen. Rather than accusations and counter-accusations (and the author discusses in detail the reasons for the difficult relationships between ecologists and economists, but also points at some positive recent trends), a combined effort based on a new perspective and understanding of the issues could be the way forward.

This is a book full of gems and information (some totally new to me, and other that I had only heard about in passing), and although what I’ve said might make it sound as if the text deals only in generalities, nothing is further from the truth. The author looks at all (or most) aspects of the question, from climate change (noticing that there is now an extreme focus on that to the detriment of the rest of the imbalances in the ecosystem equation), to waste management (not only factories but also human and animal), not forgetting the pollution of the seas, and the depletion of certain animal species, to name just a few. He highlights organisations, programmes, schemes, industries, and even countries (Costa Rica gets the gold star) that have found workable solutions to some of the problems, proposes specific ways to deal with issues such as funding (issuing bonds, and he mentions war bonds and the similarities with the situation we are in now), the need to find international organizations to monitor the implementation of such plans, and also, the importance of coordinating the efforts and working together at a supranational level.

I am not sure if I am a sceptical who tries hard to give new (and idealistic) proposals a chance, or I’m a dreamer trying hard to be a sceptical. In any case, as I was reading the book, I couldn’t help but write down many of my ideas and my objections/questions in relation the content, and was pleasantly surprised when I discovered that most of them were tackled by the author, who has done much research and has tried to be as even-handed as possible, presenting always the two sides of any argument, and also dealing with the possible criticism and objections. Although his attitude is never complacent and he points out the facts, he does not point the finger of blame at individuals (while he praises those he feels are already applying a Junglenomic-like approach), and despite his realism, he remains optimistic and encouraging.

As I said, I don’t know enough about Economics or Environmental Sciences to offer an informed opinion as to how successful a model Junglenomics would be. It made me think, and at a completely untrained level, the suggestions make sense, although implementing them would be as complicated as the author already envisages. This is clearly a labour of love and much time and effort has gone into the creation of the book and the theoretical/philosophical/practical approach behind it.

Regarding the style of the book, it is not an easy book to read. It is a very ambitious text, and it seems to try to be all things to all people. It does contain some examples and anecdotes to try to make it accessible to all (and it has great quotes in all the chapters), but it also contains tonnes of footnotes, and detailed disquisitions on subjects that are quite specialized, sharing much in common with academic texts (there is an index at the end, and illustrations, charts and diagrams to explain some of the concepts). I kept thinking that a non-expert reader might benefit from more of the examples and stories (we like stories), while if the book is addressed at policy-makers and analysts (both Ecologists and Economists) they wouldn’t necessarily care for the basic explanations. Perhaps two versions, or two separate texts, might achieve both, to reach a wider audience and raise awareness, and to also get into the hands of the people likely to be able to influence policies and induce change. I am sure it would make for a very compelling documentary in the right hands. I’d recommend possible readers to check a sample of the book to decide if they think it would be a good fit for them.

At an anecdotal level, I observed that many of the studies mentioned come from the UK and the European Union (probably down to availability of studies and familiarity with the material, although it does reflect the true situation of the research as well); I wondered about the use of words such as “benign” (it might depend on one’s perspective or definition) and also about the fact that despite trying to be as inclusive and non-Eurocentric as possible, there are topics that are culture-sensitive (the issue of the kinds of animal products used in Chinese Medicine, which he discusses, although I couldn’t help but notice that he uses rabbits as an example of an animal most people would only eat in dire circumstances. I don’t eat any meat, but rabbit is regularly grown for food and eaten in Spain, and I’m sure in other countries as well). I’ve always wondered, when it comes to Ecology, if we can truly observe the ecosystem we’re a part of in any objective manner (we are, indeed, part of the problem, and we know about the observer’s paradox), but…

In summary, this is a book that requires a dedicated reader, keen on digging beyond the surface into the topic of how to save the environment, taking as an example the way ecosystems work (symbiotic relationships in particular) and using sound market strategies. I’ve learned a great deal from it, and I thought I’d leave you with the last quote from the book, a particularly relevant one when it comes to this topic:

I am only one, but still I am one. I cannot do everything, but still I can do something; and because I cannot do everything, I will not refuse to do something I can do. Edward Everett Hale

You only need to think of Greta Thunberg (that the author mentions as well).

Thanks to Rosie, her team, and the author, thanks to all of you for reading, and remember to like, share, comment, click, review, and remember to keep on smiling!

Categories
Book review Book reviews Non-fiction

#Bookreview A HISTORY OF TREES by Simon Wills (@WillsyWriter) (@penswordbooks) The perfect gift for nature. #non-fiction

Hi all:

Another different offering from me, and I think it will make a great gift:

A History of Trees by Simon Wills
A History of Trees by Simon Wills

A History of Trees by Simon Wills The perfect gift for nature lovers who enjoy amusing trivia, stories, and photographs.

Have you ever wondered how trees got their names? What did our ancestors think about trees, and how were they used in the past? This fascinating book will answer many of your questions, but also reveal interesting stories that are not widely known. For example, the nut from which tree was predicted to pay off the UK’s national debt? Or why is Europe’s most popular pear called the ‘conference’? Simon Wills tells the history of twenty-eight common trees in an engaging and entertaining way, and every chapter is illustrated with his photographs. Find out why the London plane tree is so frequently planted in our cities, and how our forebears were in awe of the magical properties of hawthorn. Where is Britain’s largest conker tree? Which tree was believed to protect you against both lightning and witchcraft? The use of bay tree leaves as a sign of victory by athletes in ancient Greece led to them being subsequently adopted by many others – from Roman emperors to the Royal Marines. But why were willow trees associated with Alexander Pope, Napoleon Bonaparte, and Samuel Johnson? Why did Queen Anne pay a large sum for a cutting from a walnut tree in Somerset? Discover the answers to these and many other intriguing tales within the pages of this highly engrossing book.

https://www.amazon.co.uk/History-Trees-Simon-Wills/dp/1526701596/

https://www.pen-and-sword.co.uk/A-History-of-Trees-Paperback/p/16232

Dr Simon Wills
Dr Simon Wills

About the author:

Simon Wills is a history journalist, wildlife photographer and genealogist who writes for many magazines. He is an expert adviser to the BAFTA award-winning ‘Who Do You Think You Are?’ TV series and has also appeared on the show. He is a regular presenter at ‘Who Do You Think You Are?’ Live, and other history-related events. Simon enjoys the meticulous research that’s needed to provide an authentic account of the past, but believes in telling a good story too, and reviewers have noted that he creates a very readable account.

You can follow Simon on Twitter @WillsyWriter or via webpage www.birdsandtrees.net

Simon’s latest publication is ‘A History of Birds’ featuring his original photos. This book is a bit like the TV programme ‘QI’, but for birds: lots of fascinating but true tales, told in an entertaining and informed way, and with many myths debunked. It’s the ‘back story’ to the birds in our everyday lives and covers everything from the ancient Egyptian belief that the Heron was the first animal created, to the arrest of a pigeon for plotting against the Indian Prime Minister in 2016.

His next book will be ‘A History of Trees’, due for publication in October 2018.

Simon’s well-received ‘Wreck of the SS London’ is the intriguing tale of the loss of a luxury liner in 1866. Only three passengers survived the disaster, and it left an indelible mark on Victorian society because the death toll was so heavy. It’s an intriguing story that is at times hard to believe. The unexpected twists and turns of real-life events open up the lost seafaring world of Victorian Britain.

Simon’s practical guide to photographs of our maritime ancestors, ‘Tracing Your Seafaring Ancestors’, reveals the stories behind the images. What rank is that Royal Navy officer? Did he work for P&O? When was this Royal Marine photo taken? Are they lifeboatmen? How can I trace the career of a yachtsman? If you enjoy old photos, like to analyse them, or have seafaring ancestors, then this heavily-illustrated book will keep you interested.

Shortlisted for the Mountbatten Maritime Literature Award, Simon’s novel ‘Lifeboatmen’ is a surprising but true story set in 1866. Lifeboatmen are famed for their courage, but what happens when things don’t go according to plan in the middle of a hurricane?

‘Voyages From The Past’ tells the true stories of passengers who travelled by ship from the 16th to the 20th centuries. Their first-hand accounts illustrate how life at sea has changed dramatically over the centuries. Each voyage is full of the amusing, tragic, or everyday anecdotes of real people – from smelly ship’s captains and crooked ship-owners, to pirates, rats and disease.

Simon also has a longstanding interest in the history of healthcare – working part-time as an information adviser to the NHS. When he’s not working, his interests include cycling, cricket, birdwatching, the theatre, and his dog, Max.

https://www.amazon.co.uk/Simon-Wills/e/B00B5FUQ94

My review:

Thanks to Rosie and the whole team at Pen & Sword for providing me a hardback copy of this beautiful book that I freely chose to review.

I love trees and I can’t imagine living in a place with no trees at all, even if they are not in their natural environment, as is the case in cities. I’m not a connoisseur, although I’ve read some books that featured trees prominently and have enjoyed them, and this volume seemed the perfect opportunity to learn more.

This is a beautiful book that would make a perfect present for anybody interested in trees, in general, and UK trees in particular. It is a photographic book, but it also contains a wealth of written information about trees: factual and botanical data, historical events related to specific trees, folk and mythological stories about them, literary connections, etc. As the author explains in the introduction, due to the limits in the length of the book he could not include all British trees, and he selected the ones he felt were not only better known but had also the best tales to tell. Not that I had any doubt about it, but the author makes a good case for his choice of topic in the introduction: “Beyond their practical utility to us and our simple liking of them, trees form the great forests of the world, which are said to be the lungs of the planet. So trees, more than anything else, keep us alive” (Wills, 2018, p. vi).

The list of trees included in the book are: alder, apple, ash, bay, beech, birch, cherry, elm, hawthorn, hazel, holly, hornbeam, horse chestnut, lime, London plane, magnolia, maple, monkey puzzle, oak, pear, pine, poplar, rowan, sweet chestnut, sycamore, walnut, willow and yew.

This is a book one can deep in and out of as one fancies, or read it cover to cover. I often found myself picking it up just to have a quick look, and discovered an hour later that I was still glued to its pages and its wonderful stories. The original photographs are beautiful, and there are also well-chosen images from the British Library and the Welcome collection, as the author explains in his acknowledgements. The writing is supple and I’d dare say it will appeal to a large variety of people, because although it is not perhaps addressed at botanists or experts, it shares plenty of anecdotes and stories likely to interest most readers.

I had to share this ditty, because we’re in spring already and, well, one never knows:

The fair maid who, the first of May,

Goes to the fields at break of day,

And washes in dew from the hawthorn tree,

Will ever after handsome be (Wills, 2018, p. 67).

If you try it and it works, don’t forget to let me know!

I enjoyed the pictures, the stories, and I became convinced as I read the book that I’d like to read more of the author’s works, and I’d love to attend one of his lectures. Of course, he had me at the acknowledgements already, when he mentioned his dog, Max (oh, don’t worry; there’s a picture of him too).

“Finally, I would like to thank Max, to whom this book is dedicated, for allowing me to frequently stop his walk and take photos of trees. He’s very tolerant” (Mills, 2018, p. viii).

In sum, this is a beautiful, informative, entertaining, and amusing book that will delight all those who love nature, trees in particular, and who enjoy trivia, stories and photographs. Perfect as a present, for yourself or others, as an inspiration, and as a breath of fresh air. Enjoy!

Wills, S. (2018). A history of trees. Barnsley, UK: Pen & Sword White Owl.

Thanks to Rosie and Pen & Sword, thanks to all of you for reading, and remember to like, share, comment, click, and keep reading and smiling!

Categories
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.
First:

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.

Links:

http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00I3A4HCQ/

http://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B00I3A4HCQ/

Paper:

http://www.amazon.com/Alchemy-Ailsa-Abraham/dp/1909841501/

http://www.amazon.co.uk/Alchemy-Ailsa-Abraham/dp/1909841501/

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

http://www.amazon.com/Ailsa-Abraham/e/B00AYKUBQ4/

And her blog:

http://ailsaabraham.com/

And:

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.

Links:

http://www.amazon.com/Bad-Moon-Anita-Dawes-ebook/dp/B009BK3AYS/

http://www.amazon.co.uk/Bad-Moon-Anita-Dawes-ebook/dp/B009BK3AYS/

Paper:

http://www.amazon.com/Bad-Moon-Anita-Dawes/dp/1326330179/

 

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

http://www.amazon.com/Anita-Dawes/e/B0034NUE10/

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

http://jenanita01.com/

http://anitajaydawes.blogspot.co.uk/

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!

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