Book review: Inside the Secret Life of Fairies: Where Dreams Come True by Maggie Hamilton

What is it about fairies that enchants us so? Where do these elusive beings live, and what do they do? Why is it some see fairies and others do not? What’s the truth about glamour? And why when they promise your dreams will come true, do fairies grant three wishes?

Maggie Hamilton has spent a decade exploring the rich world of the fairy. Having talked with people from all walks of life, she captures their astonishing, sometimes poignant encounters with fairies here. Read about the fairies found in people’s homes and gardens, deep in nature, and in city streets and parks.

On this mesmerising journey deep into this achingly beautiful otherworld, you’ll discover the many exquisite possibilities present at dawn and dusk, and why the fairy kingdom has an ecology all of its own. Learn about the notes plants sound, and why some indigenous peoples no longer need to pick a plant to access its healing properties. Find out how to work with fairies to heal the earth and your own bruised spirit, and how this quest can transform you inside and out.

For those with their own fairy stories to tell, and fairy lovers everywhere.

 

My Thoughts

What an absolutely enchanting this book is! Exquisitely told in a genuine, heartfelt and inquiring fashion, Inside the Secret Life of Fairies sets out to enchant and delight while inviting readers to make that deeper connection with nature that is our birthright – a too often unrecognised gift of being. Hamilton takes us on a journey of discovery at a time in our history when humanity has disconnected from nature. Smart phones, urbanisation, the pressure and pace and demands all pull us all away from simple acts such as observing a flower or a meadow. We live in a time when even our holidays are fake and constructed. Just simply reading Inside the Secret Life of Fairies acts like a salve.

In gentle and uplifting prose, Hamilton coaxes all of us into accepting the existence of the fairy realm: fairies are nature spirits of the plant and animal kingdoms, fairies are loving light energy, fairies are divine portions of the Creator. We may see or feel fairies when we see the world as sacred, when we indwell in nature. Fairies can be experienced anywhere but we are more likely to encounter their energy in the wilderness. I am reminded of a recent experience of my own, when I stood in the Valley of Fire in Nevada. Desert, fringed by mountains with breathtaking rock formations. I felt expansive, at one with the environment, a profound connection I couldn’t make sense of, and an overwhelming sense of belonging. It was as if I could hear the silence. The feelings were so powerful, all-consuming, and yet subtle. I had to pull myself away. Then I read this fed back to me by Hamilton:

‘This, I’ve discovered, is what the fairy realms do. They help us connect more profoundly to ourselves and to the whole of life.’

Inside the Secret Life of Fairies is fundamentally spiritual and refreshingly unpretentious. I especially appreciated Hamilton’s honesty, her questioning, her doubts. And then, her revelations. Written in part as memoir and part informative, the author gifts us a valuable lesson; to take time out and really connect with nature. Following in the footsteps of the Caddys and Dorothy MacClean of Findhorn, and of all those who have gone before and live today in communion with nature,  Inside the Secret Life of Fairies is a very special self-help book, a survival guide in this crazy, artificial reality most of us now live in. Ultimately, Hamilton has penned a book that, through the lens of an overlooked spiritual reality, encourages us all to care for our world.

I’m off to clean my house! If you want to know why, read this truly exceptional book. No superlatives do it justice!

https://www.maggiehamilton.org/

Isobel Blackthorn is an award-winning author of unique and engaging fiction. She writes dark psychological thrillers, mysteries, and contemporary and literary fiction. Isobel was shortlisted for the Ada Cambridge Prose Prize 2019 for her biographical short story, ‘Nothing to Declare’. The Legacy of Old Gran Parks is the winner of the Raven Awards 2019. Isobel holds a PhD from the University of Western Sydney, for her research on the works of Theosophist Alice A. Bailey, the ‘Mother of the New Age.’ She is the author of The Unlikely Occultist: a biographical novel of Alice A. Bailey.

Book Review: Hallowed Ground by Paul Twivy

I am delighted to have been invited to join Rachel’s Random Resources book tour of Hallowed Ground by Paul Twivy.

About Hallowed Ground

This magical story is inspired by the most haunting and least explored country in the world – Namibia – with its foggy skeleton coasts; buried goldmines, shocking secrets and awe-inspiring sand dunes.

Spread across the face of its deserts are hundreds of miles of ‘fairy circles’ : vast enough to be seen from space. They grow and die with the same lifespan as humans, yet no-one has been able to explain why or how they appear.
Then one day, three teenagers and their families arrive from different parts of the globe. Helped by bushmen, the buried possessions of a Victorian explorer, and a uniquely spotless, golden leopard, they solve the mystery of the African Circles. What will they discover beneath this hallowed ground? And how will it change the future of the planet above it?

My Thoughts

Hallowed Ground is a rendering of the Namibian myth of fairy circles into a mystery involving a group of teenagers and their families. The author is clearly passionate about his subject, something that shines through the pages. The writing is good, the pacing considered. I admit I found the character introductions at the beginning of the novel rather tedious and would have preferred a different approach.

Hallowed Ground is an ambitious novel, blending as it does ancient myths and present day issues, held within the mystery narrative. The novel is presented as YA, the protagonists are teenagers, and I surmise Twivy has an educational purpose in mind.

It is commendable that the author brings to the attention of those who do not know a country with a rich culture, fascinating geography and brutal history of genocide.

 

Paul Twivy and his book can be found at these websites

www.thefairycircles.com and https://hallowedground.co.uk

 

 

Blackthorn Book Tours Review: Rose by Rami Ungar

 

Rose Taggert awakens in a greenhouse with no clear memory of the past two years and, to her horror, finds her body transformed into an unrecognizable form.

Paris Kuyper has convinced Rose that they are lovers and as Paris could not bear for her to die, he has used an ancient and dark magic to save her from certain death.

But the dark magic Paris has used comes at a price. A price which a terrible demon is determined to extract from Rose.

My Thoughts

At first Rose seems like the sort of light horror novel that will also appeal to fans of YA. Very fast, punchy writing, the narrative action packed and filled with the angsts and worries and conflicts typical of those in their late teens. The story opens with sociology graduate Rose Taggart, who awakes to find herself lying on a table in a greenhouse and realises she has partial amnesia. In a few short paragraphs the horror of her new circumstances unravels as she finds she has been the subject of a spell from ‘The Forest God’s Record’, a grimoire that fell into the hands of her apparent boyfriend Paris. A playful wit vibrates behind the words, Ungar taunting his readers with the absurd, the ridiculous, Rose a hat tip to Kafka’s Metamorphosis. Instead of finding herself transformed into an insect, Rose is part plant, a rose no less. Somehow Ungar renders Rose’s metaphysical calamity plausible.

The playful wit soon gives way to a descent into the ominous and the spooky, Rose’s situation unraveling, the lens pulled back bit by bit, the suspense building and building, culminating in an unexpected ending. Rose contains good characterisation, enough descriptions to offer a sense of place and Ungar demonstrates a keen talent for plotting.  In all Rose makes for very entertaining and disturbing reading.

About Rami Ungar

Rami Ungar knew he wanted to be a writer from the age of five, when he first became exposed to the world of Harry Potter and wanted to create imaginative worlds like Harry’s. As a tween, he fell in love with the works of Anne Rice and Stephen King and, as he was getting too old to sneak up on people and shout “Boo!’ (not that that ever stopped him), he decided to merge his two loves and become a horror writer.

Today, Rami lives and writes in Columbus, Ohio. He’s self-published three novels and one collection of short stories, and his stories have appeared in other publications here and there. Rose, his first novel with Castrum Press, will be released June 21st, 2019.

When he’s not writing your nightmares or coming up with those, he’s enjoying anything from the latest horror novel or movie to anime and manga to ballet, collecting anything that catches his fancy, and giving you the impression he may not be entirely human.

https://ramiungarthewriter.com

https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/46374205-rose

https://www.facebook.com/RamiUngarWriter/

@RamiUngarWriter

Buy Link

 

 

Book review: Stone Circle by Kate Murdoch

About Stone Circle

Is the Ability to Read Minds a Blessing or a Curse?

When Antonius’s father dies, he must work to support his family. He finds employment as a servant in the Palazzo Ducal, home of Conte Valperga. Sixteenth-century Pesaro is a society governed by status and Antonius has limited opportunities.

When a competition is announced, Antonius seizes his chance. The winner will be apprenticed to the town seer. Antonius shares first place with his employer’s son.

The two men compete for their mentor’s approval. As their knowledge of magic and alchemy grows, so does the rivalry and animosity between them. When the love of a beautiful woman is at stake, Antonius must find a way to follow his heart and navigate his future.

My Thoughts

Stone Circle is a classic, romantic tale suited to young adult and adult audiences. Set in Renaissance Italy, the story is brimming with the esoteric practice of the era  – geomancy, astrology and ‘seeing’ are especially prominent. The inclusion of such practices might for some place the novel in the fantasy genre, but I would dispute that. Esoteric practice is not fantasy! This novel might just as well be termed visionary fiction or magic realism.

The story is simple. When seer Savinus needs a new apprentice, he devises a simple test to find one. Two applicants show the necessary attributes and Savinus decides to take them both on, making the poor and lowly and very talented Antonius his primary apprentice, and the rich and spoilt and lesser talented Nichola his secondary. Any reader will predict the tensions to follow. Nicholas shows himself to be jealous and spiteful, and Antonius of fine character. Yet he is a man with burdens and troubles and might not make the best decisions. Both young men are also attracted to Savinus’ beautiful and intelligent daughter, Giulia – also a seer – and competing for her affections. Giulia cannot practice her talents as she is female and would be classed a witch and persecuted if she did. Yet she is always there, always at the edge of being exposed.

The plot is as old as storytelling but Murdoch fills it with a unique complexity the result of her intriguing cast of lovingly crafted characters and the esoteric theme. Add to this an evocatively portrayed historical setting and the result is a captivating and gentle read that progresses at a measured pace with numerous delights and insights along the way. Stone Circle is a novel filled with charm, a story that envelopes the reader and takes them far from everyday reality. Highly recommended.

Book review: Burning Crowe by Geoff Smith

About Burning Crowe

Two teenagers, both alike in indignity. Will they be civil? Or will there be blood?

Bartholomew Crowe is 18 years old. His dad dead, and deserted by his stepmother, he’s running seriously low on justice. And when he is hired to find a rich kid gone AWOL, it isn’t just a job; it’s a chance to do good, a chance to fix things up, to make things right.

Handsome and loaded, Zack Richards has it all. A beautiful girlfriend. A burgeoning sideline in music management. Hell, he’s even semi-famous! But for all his good fortune, Zack Richards is angry. He’s addicted to trouble. And he’s gone into hiding.

But Bart isn’t the only one with Zack in his sights.

And as tensions rise and bullets fly, Bartholomew Crowe learns that the only things he can count on are friendship, and love.

My Thoughts

Burning Crowe is one of those thrillers that is impossible to put down. Smith draws the reader into the dark underworld of Margate and Ramsgate, two coastal towns in Kent, England – all sandy beaches and fun parks on the pier –  that were once primary holiday destinations for Londoners, and later infamous for gang violence. The author takes his readers into clubs and pubs and squats and cheap hotels, on the waterfront, the beaches, the arcade and there’s even a fabulous scene in the Turner Gallery. I enjoyed this realistic backdrop; Smith’s portrayal of these towns, through the youthful eyes of his protagonist, is well-executed and appropriately noir.

Smith’s private investigator is as unlikely as it gets, an eighteen year old not yet out of school, setting off on his first case, his solution to all the hurt he is feeling after the death of his father and his step mother’s apparent rejection. This is not a criticism; Bartholomew Crowe is a well-rounded and thoroughly endearing if hapless PI, bumbling and stumbling along, the most ineffectual hero, yet a hero turns out to be.

Smith deploys all the elements of a really good thriller, the twists and turns of the plot as the various players reveal their hand in a slow game of bluff, deceit and lies, play out convincingly. The pacing is good, the characters sharply defined. I particularly enjoyed the exchange of emails between Crowe and his granddad and seeing how that played out in the end. Satisfying complex, Burning Crowe is in essence a coming of age tale of love and relationships and the tensions in blended families. It is also a story of malice and greed and vengeance. This novel held my attention the the very end.

Find Burning Crowe here

 

Isobel Blackthorn is a prolific novelist of unique and engaging fiction. She writes dark psychological thrillers, mysteries, and contemporary and literary fiction. On the dark side are Twerk, The Cabin Sessions and The Legacy of Old Gran Parks. Her Canary Islands’ collection begins with The Drago Tree and includes A Matter of Latitude and Clarissa’s Warning. Her interest in the occult is explored in The Unlikely Occultist: A biographical novel of Alice A. Bailey and the dark mystery A Perfect Square. Even her first novel, Asylum, contains a touch of the magical. Isobel is at work on her fourth Canary Islands’ novel, a sweeping historical work based on her own family history. You can find her novels here on her website.

Book Review: Overture by Vanessa Couchman

Overture

What if you had a unique talent, but everything conspired against your dreams?

France, 1897. Born to a modest farming family, Marie-Thérèse has a remarkable singing voice and wants to become a professional singer. But too many obstacles, including her parents’ opposition, stand in her way. And, through no fault of her own, she makes a dangerous enemy of the local landlord.

When the family circumstances change suddenly, Marie-Thérèse and her mother must move to Paris to work in her aunt’s restaurant. Her ambitions rekindle, but the road to success is paved with setbacks until a chance meeting gives her a precious opportunity.

She is close to achieving all her dreams, but the ghosts of the past come back to haunt her and threaten Marie-Thérèse’s life as well as her career.

My Review

Overture presents a charming and realistic portrait of early nineteenth century rural France and the struggles that befall a humble farmer’s daughter doomed to labour for her parents and a future husband, a daughter with a natural talent, a gift that sets her apart. From the outset, Marie-Thérèse is forced to face the restrictions of her circumstances, and this she does with resentment but also with loyalty and respect. She is a dutiful daughter, not wilful or rebellious. Opportunity comes her way when her widowed mother moves them to Paris to stay with her sister, Marie-Thérèse’s aunt.

Couchman has penned a slow-paced and charming coming-of-age tale. The author’s knowledge of the setting and period appear sound and she has crafted a convincing and well-rounded protagonist in Marie-Thérèse. The supporting cast are equally well-presented and the pacing and plot twists are executed with aplomb. A light an entertaining read, Overture will appeal to those who enjoy their historical fiction unladen with complex detail and exposition. Recommended.

Purchase Link

http://mybook.to/OvertureBook1

Author Bio – Vanessa Couchman is a novelist, short story author and freelance writer and has lived in an 18th-century farmhouse in southwest France since 1997. French and Corsican history and culture provide great inspiration for her fiction. She has written two novels set on the Mediterranean island of Corsica: The House at Zaronza and The Corsican Widow. Her third novel, Overture, is Book 1 of a trilogy set in France between 1897 and 1945. Vanessa’s short stories have won and been placed in creative writing competitions and published in anthologies.

Social Media Links –

Website: https://vanessacouchmanwriter.com

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/vanessacouchman.author/

Twitter:  https://twitter.com/Vanessainfrance

Amazon Author Page: http://author.to/VanessaCouchman

 

 

A stunning review of Clarissa’s Warning

In this busy world of ours, authors can generally expect reviews of one or two paragraphs. Every now and then one comes along that is much more than that. I am delighted to share extracts from this very long and heartwarming review of Clarissa’s Warning by Kamal of Kiri Books.

“Set in the picturesque setting of an unspoiled island, Fuerteventura – one of Spain’s Canary Islands, off the coast of Africa and Spain, the story weaves all the elements of an archplot in a masterly stroke. The story has a classical design with linear time-flow, causality, single protagonist, consistent reality, active protagonist, external conflict with the exception of the ending, which remains open. Sitting on the top of the story triangle, ‘Clarissa’s Warning’ demonstrates infinitesimal elan over its elements.

Recruiting the latent energies of a scarred soul in defeating the malice play of the supernatural, Isobel Blackthorn has created a protagonist that constantly sheds layers of insecurity and vulnerability, one at a time, to expose the solid-substance she is made of.

Claire is a wilful character with a conscious desire. And she gets a chance to fulfil her desire, courtesy, the lottery-ticket. She has the capacity to fulfil her desire and is appropriately reflected by her independent decisions and strong-willed actions. She holds the cohesive bond with the readers with the glue of empathy. As the story progresses, gaps between expectations and result keep on widening, raising the conflict level and upping the potential of the climax. Placement of the crisis, along with the design, is suitable and controls length of the climax with a palpable fervour. The flashbacks are sporadic, fact-filled and meaningful; especially the flashback of Claire mother’s demise is very graphic and emotive.

The story has a riveting rendition of the Fuerteventura and its history – the belly juice of a beetle that made it preferred inhabitable area of the wealthy, the captivating array of social and personal lives through the lens of colonialism, and the abundance of beauty of nature and traditions. The dialogues are crisp, colloquial and contextual.

The subtext dominates everywhere. When Claire mentions there are five routes to Tiscamanita and she had taken them all, she establishes herself as an exploratory and inquisitive person. She wants to restore a ruin is, in a subtle and indirect way, symbolic of her fierce desire to mend her broken past….

Her unresolved grief, of her mother’s demise, make her inner substance resonate with the subliminal energies rather too fittingly…Sensing the opportunity, the spirits use her as a conduit to express their anguish, warn her, wreck her, take help from her, or plainly observe her.

The story navigates with the enlivened characters, each with a backstory and a brain of their own…The plot has plenty of twists and turns and the structure of scenes, tightly knitted in neatly separated chapters, is taut and spill-proof…

…The anticipation of the unknown and narrative integrity keeps the conflict cocooned and growing, to burst in the final scenes with brilliantly planted and spaced expositions. In the final acts, the veiled and vilifying esoteric elements snatch away the driving seat, chase Claire to run for her life, a sprint in which she discovers the version of truth that alluded her throughout. She welcomes her own metamorphosis, and comes at terms with becoming fearless after making eye-contacts with the ever-evading reality. The light of Mafasca and the legend of Olivia Stone heightened the curiosity-quotient in this tightly-packed thriller.

Recruiting the latent energies of a scarred soul in defeating the malice play of the supernatural, Isobel Blackthorn has created a protagonist that constantly sheds layers of insecurity and vulnerability, one at a time, to expose the solid-substance she is made of.

A terrific and transforming piece of work by Isobel Blackthorn!