Book Review: Beltane by Alys West

This is a little late as May Day was at the beginning of the month, but I am pleased to share my review for Beltane by Alys West. As many of you know, I love spooky or supernatural books so the blurb caught my attention as did the mention of Glastonbury. Have you ever been? It is always somewhere I wanted to go. By chance, as I was reading this novel a postcard arrived showing me the Abbey ruins. This helped me set the scenes in this book perfectly. Scroll down to see whether it was exciting as the blurb suggested.

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Glastonbury Abbey

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Glastonbury Tor

Book Review: Beltane by Alys West

Beltane cover

Title: Beltane

Author: Alys West

Publisher: Fabrian Books

Release Date: 8th June 2016

Genre: Fiction, supernatural

Purchase: Amazon

Blurb:

Struggling artist, Zoe arrives in Glastonbury seeking inspiration. The small Somerset town is steeped in myth and legend and Zoe’s sure it’ll be the perfect place to work on a book about King Arthur. But behind the shops selling witchcraft supplies and crystals real magic is being practised.
When Zoe meets Finn her life changes forever. Not only is he a druid connected to the ancient energies of the earth but she dreamed about him long before they met. Finn’s life is in terrible danger and Zoe’s dreams start to reveal more of the plot against him.
After dreaming of a deadly battle at a stone circle on Dartmoor, Zoe starts to wonder if the dark magic around her is playing tricks of its own or if she really can see the future. Will she learn to trust Finn, and herself, in time to stand any hope of surviving the powerful magic that will be unleashed at Beltane? Or is it already too late?
This gripping story of magic, romance and the supernatural will entrance fans of Deborah Harkness and Phil Rickman and keep you spellbound until the very last page.

My Thoughts

Wow! I was trapped in the spell of this book from the first chapter and was not released until the last page. I loved the premise, the characters and the foreboding atmosphere. It got under my skin. I needed to know what happened next.

As a heroine, Zoe is memorable for her strength of will as she stumbles into a battle of magic on a vacation designed to inspire her work. Her visits to the places linked to the Arthurian legends made me add them to my own bucket list, not only because of these tales but so I can imagine Finn and her acting out the scenes of their own story. Forget a ghost walk, I would do my own Beltane trail if they are accessible to wheels. The imagery invoked by the written word is ideal for this powerful, fast paced, and highly imaginary tale of witchcraft, druidry and magic. A thread of romance between Zoe and Finn runs throughout but it is the menace and creepiness of Maeve that will stay with me forever.

Would I recommend?

Yes. This is a thrilling spooky contemporary novel to escape into. The tension grabbed me making me stay up throughout the night to finish it. I am pleased to have this on my forever shelf to return to in the future. I can’t wait to read Alys West’s new novel in this series Storm Witch.

Author Biography

ALys West 2020

Alys West

Alys West writes contemporary fantasy and steampunk. Her first novel, Beltane was inspired by the folklore of Glastonbury. Her second novel, The Dirigible King’s Daughter is a steampunk romance set in Whitby. Storm Witch is her third novel and is set in the beautiful Orkney islands which she fell in love with back in 2010 and has used every excuse to return to since (including setting a novel there!) She is fascinated by folklore and folk tales which are a big influence on the stories she tells.

Alys has a MA in Creative Writing from York St John University and teaches creative writing at the Centre for Lifelong Learning at the University of York. She’s also a book whisperer (like a book doctor but more holistic) and mentor to aspiring writers.

When she’s not writing you can find her at folk gigs, doing yoga and attempting to crochet. She occasionally blogs at www.alyswest.com, intermittently tweets at @alyswestyork and spends rather too much time on Facebook where you can find her at Alys West Writer. She is also on Instagram at @alyswestwriter. To keep up with Alys’s news you can join her Facebook readers’ group ‘Druids, Spellworkers and Dirigibles’.

Storm Witch will be published on Friday 17th April and is available to purchase/pre-order here.

Look out for the review for Storm Witch here soon.

Happy reading and stay safe!

Love

Katie signature pink

Book Review: The Craftsman by Sharon Bolton

Book Review: The Craftsman by Sharon Bolton

With Halloween and the spookiness of October just passed, and discovering the next book in the trilogy is out at the end of the next year, I decided to revisit The Craftsman by Sharon Bolton.

Book Review: The Craftsman by Sharon Bolton

The Craftsman

The Craftsman by Sharon Bolton

Title: The Craftsman

Author: Sharon Bolton

Publisher: Trapeze

Genre: Psychological Thriller

Release Date: 3rd May 2018

Blurb

He makes his living from death. But is he capable of murder? Florence Lovelady’s career was made when she convicted coffin-maker Larry Grassbrook of a series of child murders 30 years ago. Like something from our worst nightmares, the victims were buried, but while they were still alive. Larry confessed the crimes; it was an open and shut case. But now he’s dead, and events from the past start to repeat themselves. Did she get it wrong all those years ago? Or is there something much darker at play?

My Thoughts

Since I first read The Craftsman last year, I have visited Lancaster and seeing the  its stunning mountains and dramatic landscape of the Lancashire countryside in reality added to the creepy atmosphere of this novel. Set in the footholds of the hills of Pendle, famous for the Pendle witch trials, there is an air of menace throughout made worse by the horrific murders. Being buried alive is a fear I have after reading Peter James’ Twilight.* The death of  serial killer, The Craftsman, draws Detective Florence Lovelady back to Lancashire where she began her career and the discovery of an effigy makes her question whether he was really guilty or a victim of miscarriage of justice. With a blend of murder investigations and supernatural it drew me in and kept me turning the page even though this was a reread. I have discovered she is one crime writer you can read over and over because even if you know the truth, you always learn something new and the tension of the chase still remains. Watching the George Gently TV series helped me visualise Flossie and her working environment in the 1960’s where she faces not only the danger of a killer on the loose, but the patriarchy attitude and discrimination at that time. She is independent, brave and has self-belief I wish I had at her age.

Would I recommend?

Yes. Sharon Bolton has a talent for sending chills down your spine with her creepy psychological thrillers and this is no exception. It’s dark, disturbing and makes you leave the light on.  It is the beginning of a series, though there is a prequel short story on Kindle, Alive. It is perfect for the dark evenings and curling up in front of the fire when you want the thrill of being spooked and discovering who did it.  I can’t wait for the next book.

What are you reading this weekend?

Happy reading!

Love

*An excellent horror book which I may have to read again.

Book Review: Dead & Talking by Des Burkinshaw

I am pleased to share my review for Dead & Talking: A Porter and the Gliss Investigation as part of a blog tour with Rachel’s Random Resources.

Book Review: Dead & Talking by Des Burkinshaw

Dead & Talking Kindle sleeve FINAL DES

Dead & Talking: A Porter and the Gliss Investigation

Title: Dead & Talking: A Porter and the Gliss Investigation

Author: Des Burkinshaw

Genre: Supernatural  historical thriller

Publisher: magnificent!

Release Date: 10 Mar. 2019

Blurb

If a ghost appeared from nowhere, rescued you from suicide and then ordered you to start solving crimes to help dead people, what would you do? When it happens to Porter Norton, he just wants to put his head in his hands and have nothing to do with it. But now he has to atone for the family curse that has seen all the men die at their own hands for five generations. The Gliss, the sarcastic spirit that rescues him, says he can now and see and hear the Dead – if he’s close to their remains. Porter has to use his unwelcome gift to clear up past injustices. Or else. Forced to investigate the murder of a WW1 British Tommy executed for spying in 1917, he begins to suspect the case has links to his own family history. Along the way, Porter enlists the help of a bickering group of misfits, who struggle to stay involved – because only fools believe in the supernatural, don’t they? Full of pop culture references, banter and twists, the story takes us from present-day London and Flanders to scenes from World War 1. As Porter, The Gliss, and friends, get deeper into the explosive case, they discover their own lives and sanity are at stake. An evil from WW1 pursues them all.

Purchase Links:

US – https://www.amazon.com/dp/B07PLLNB4M

UK – https://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B07PLLNB4M

My Thoughts

I’m not sure what I was expecting but this novel exceeded my expectations. It wasn’t a book I wanted to rush but longed to savour each scene. This is unusual for me as I am a reader who likes to gallop to the end if I am immersed in the story. I enjoyed the style, pace and Torchwood-like content – full of distinctive characters, supernatural battles, suspense and danger. The pose was a good balance of description, dialogue with banter and action creating vivid, highly visual scenes. It is easy to imagine the story on the screen.

There are many memorable characters to love. Despite descriptions to the contrary, I visualised and heard The Gliss as the Max, the robotic commander in The Flight of the Navigator which added an extra surreal element to this wonderful book. The dynamics between the characters move the plot forward because of their different personalities  particularly Porter and his sister Cherry. It highlights the contrast between how siblings can react to a common upbringing which affects their adult life.  My favourite person has to be Feng for his unique, unhinged view of the world which is needed to add lightness because the book delves into the dark subjects of depression, suicide and horrors of World War One. Some readers may find some scenes distressing.

Would I recommend?

If you love supernatural thrillers with unforgettable and quirky characters, yes. This is one of my favourite supernatural books, on par with the early  Peter James books so I will be following this series and author closely. I would be pleased to have this book on my forever shelf as I suspect it is one which will improve with each rereading.

Author Biography

Dead and Talking - DES DARK

Des Burkinshaw

Born in the middle of the Summer of Love on a pre-fab council estate in Luton, teenage bitterness and a chance viewing of the Watergate movie, All the President’s Men, made him vow to become a journalist and bring down the government.

First he had to pay for his journalism course, so he became a civil servant. Literally the day he had enough for his fees, he packed it in.
Twelve years on from watching the film, he was a journalist at The Times and had a big hand in bringing down John Major’s government. News ambitions sated, he packed that in too.

Several years of working for Channel 4, ITV and the BBC as a senior producer saw him working across the world, but he eventually got fed up with asking bands how the new album was coming along, and packed it in.

He set up his own production company magnificent! in 2002 and simultaneously worked on the BBC Live Events team for another 10 years. But then six years of work on the Olympics came along, so he packed the BBC in. Again.

Des has jammed with many of his heroes from Paul McCartney to Brian Wilson, Queen to Nancy Sinatra. He has interviewed many A-listers, including David Bowie, Michael Caine, John Cleese and even Noam Chomsky.

He has directed/produced a fairly long list of people – Muse, Coldplay, Michael Jackson, Jay-Z, produced BBC3’s Glastonbury coverage for a couple of years, made films about leprosy in India, comedy shorts with Miranda Hart and Lenny Henry and played guitar for Chas and Dave at the Hackney Empire.

He has made 300+ short films for the Queen, MI5, the BBC, Sky, Discovery, EMI, the British Academy and dozens of authorities, charities and private sector firms. His most recent publication was a series of interviews with leading academics like Mary Beard on the state of the humanities which was published as a standalone magazine by the British Academy.

Fed up with travelling and determined to be a half-decent dad, he now works in London as often as he can. He runs the Young Directors Film School making movies with young people and is about to head up the Digital Film and Video MA at Tileyard. An avid musician and producer, he releases his third album as Romano Chorizo (he plays drums, bass, piano, guitar and really bad sax).

He hates to be pigeon-holed, thinks creativity is a learned state of mind and wishes they would teach people memory and learning techniques at school.

Dead & Talking is his debut novel, the first in a series of Porter & The Gliss investigations.

 

Social Media Links

Website www.desburkinshaw.com

Twitter twitter.com/DesBurkinshaw,

Facebook facebook as Des Burkinshaw

Giveaway to Win 3 x Signed Copies of Dead & Talking (Open INT)*

I am pleased to offer you the chance to read this book.

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Reading this book reminded me of why I love book blogging; it gives the opportunity to discover an author and series which may have slipped under my radar otherwise. I loved the hours I spent immersed in Norton and Gliss’ investigation so thank you Rachel’s Random Resources for inviting me to the tour and free ARC to read.

Good luck and happy reading!

Love

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