RECENT REVIEWS & ENDORSEMENTS

  • Little Book of Unknowing, A
    Jennifer Kavanagh
    If you have not read the Quaker writer, Jennifer Kavanagh, then you must. In all her previous books she displays such wisdom and spiritual insight and ‘A little book of Unknowing’ is no exception. Literally a little book of only 56 pages it is easily read, but don’t be put off by the size in the thought that it cannot contain much - it is full of insightful gems. Kavanagh will always push the boundaries of our spiritual assumptions and expectations and challenge our long held certainties.
    This short book looks at how we can let go of our knowing and our certainties and in so doing have a fuller spiritual life. It is a book that is written for anyone who is exploring their spirituality; in true Quaker style it is totally and refreshingly inclusive.
    There are lots of quotes from spiritual writers which provide all sorts of connections that can be followed up and cross referenced. The opening quote in the book invites you in; “help me to be quiet, to sit here...slowly unknowing everything, becoming dark, becoming yielding, just sitting.” Gunilla Norris. It is described as a ‘little book about a particular way of being in the world’, I found myself excited by the concept of unknowing and wanting to explore it more. A great read.

    ~ , Magnet magazine

  • Emancipation of B, The
    Jennifer Kavanagh
    As a child, B had two conflicting dreams; one to be a knight defending the vulnerable; the other to be a hermit living in complete solitude. Something of a social misfit, B manages to engineer a cell of sorts from which he retreats from urban life, discovering a kind of freedom he hadn’t anticipated. Cut off from demands of daily living, B desires to explore ‘a different dimension’. Using Buddhist practices, he discovers ‘an emptiness, a letting go.’
    The reader is drawn into B’s present, intrigued by the way he spends days unregulated by pressures of time and responsibility. Simultaneously, we discover B’s past as he himself comes to terms with it, particularly his home and family life, with all its tensions, hurts and rivalries. As the layers of his life are stripped back, B’s self perceptions change.
    This is a beautifully written novel with a haunting central character. As I became more absorbed by B, I became fearful for him; at the end, wanting to know what might happen next.
    On reflection, the story challenges us to reconsider more honestly our relationships with people and with the world around us, to turn away from the frenzy of contemporary living towards a simplicity of being.
    ~ , Magnet magazine

  • Beat the Rain
    Nigel Jay Cooper
    We chose Beat the Rain for our book club and loved it! As well as being an enjoyable read, there are so many good topics of discussion in this book. The plot takes unexpected twists and turns which keeps you turning the pages to find out what happens next. The Ancaster, Canada book club gives this one two thumbs up... 5 stars :) ~ Jessica Simons, Amazon Customer Review

  • Pagan Portals - Animal Magic
    Rachel Patterson
    For any beginner it is priceless.. For the experienced it is a great little reference book with some brilliant ideas inside. I dont have many books that i read that are "I can't put down books" but this one has been a defo i can't put down book. Great read and funny comments from the author which add to its magic. I love it ~ Kris, Amazon

  • Mental Penguins
    Ivelin Sardamov
    As an educator and working with students in this digital age, I found Mental Penguins to be a fascinating, provoking and well-researched novel. Although I wasn't entirely convinced by the conclusions Sardamov comes to, I was intrigued by his findings and tales of his students. It provoked me to think about my own stance on social media and technology and how I address it with my own students. I believe we both have a long way to tackle this particularly subject but I am sure we will do it in very different ways! ~ Morgan Melhuish, NetGalley/Educator at Baku Oxford School, Azerbaijan

  • Deconstructing Dirty Dancing
    Stephen Lee Naish
    In the blurb for Deconstructing Dirty Dancing, the author Stephen Naish describes it “as a film that has haunted him for decades” and it’s a feeling that I can more than identify with. Whole sections of dialogue can be recalled verbatim just from a chance phrase encountered in day-to-day life. I find myself humming the Kellerman Anthem while washing up. Hearing a song from the soundtrack instantly triggers an overwhelming wave of nostalgia for the late eighties when I first encountered the film, which I went on to watch, with my sister, over a hundred times. I’m probably quite a tough audience for a book on Dirty Dancing.

    Naish’s basic premise is of Dirty Dancing as a story about the loss of personal innocence that reflects the societal loss of innocence in 1960s America. It may not be a staggeringly original one, but it’s a valid argument which he reiterates through a scene-by-scene interpretation of the film. He highlights some interesting parallels with Lynch’s Blue Velvet, another film which exemplifies the innocence lost in the transition from childhood to adulthood, the corruption of the American Dream and which stylistically draws on the distinctive early 60s and late 80s periods... I was particularly struck by the suggestion that Penny’s interception of Dr Houseman during the merengue class he and Baby attend symbolises the role she will play in coming between the two characters. Similarly, the idea that Plight of the Peasants, the book Baby is reading at the start of the film foretells her own critical reevaluation of the role of class plays in her life I found fascinating. I’d never even noticed the title of the book before, perhaps I can blame the dodgy quality of VHS. The biggest revelation for me, however, was Naish’s suggestion that the final scene is interpreted as fantasy. It had never occurred to me how my own nostalgia for the film had blinkered my interpretation of it, which has always been as a straight narrative. Naish persuasively argues that Johnny driving away is the ‘real’ ending of the film, pointing out the signposts that indicate we are leaving reality and entering cinematic fantasy courtesy of Baby’s imagination. A suitably Lynchian interpretation and one which has for me ignited a desire to re-watch Dirty Dancing in a completely new way, which considering my history with the film is high praise indeed.

    ~ Hazel Smoczynska , GoodReads/ThePloughmans Lunch

  • Last Stop, The
    Michael H. Burnam
    A Science Fiction with UFOs, super power suits and flying further than Mars in a few hours.

    This book was fast paced with action, adventure and visits to the moon. This book was one that I will definitely be reading again!

    My favourite character has to be Pam, who, although can’t walk very well, has spirit, which names her my favourite character.

    ... I Recommend it to UFO lovers! ~ Beatrice Rivers, NetGalley

  • Stillness on Shaking Ground
    Carol A. Wilson
    5/5 Stars
    A very enjoyable read,loved the things she writes about,and I really loved reading it,I would recommend this book ~ Ann Stewart, NetGalley

  • Invisible Hand, The
    James Hartley
    Truthfully, I find the plot amazing. I don't think integrating any Shakespearean play into the story has been done before. It's a fresh idea. This story reminds of Sam Sotto's Love and Gravity. It also has time travel but instead of a historical genius, in here it features a classic play by no other than Mr. William Shakespeare. If time permits, I would like to reread this story. I want to fully grasp it and connect with it. I don't think I was able to appreciate what it was telling me the first time. ...I am looking forward to reading the next books. ~ Gurlay Garcia, I Am Not A BookWorm!

  • Deconstructing Dirty Dancing
    Stephen Lee Naish
    I accidentally ended up with this book from NetGalley and I was in two minds about whether to read it or to just contact the publisher and explain my error. In the end I decided to read it. I think everyone my age will have watched and loved Dirty Dancing when they were around their early teens. I know so many people who still consider this one of their favourite films. It was my favourite feel-good film for many years.

    This is a wonderful book for anyone who considers themselves a fan of the film as it really does look at all the key moments, and allows you to re-live them. I liked the descriptions of some of the deleted scenes from the film and the discussion on how they may or may not have added to the storyline had they have been left in – it’s made me want to buy the special edition DVD so I can see those deleted scenes now! Occasionally there are really interesting references to other studies that have discussed Dirty Dancing and I would have loved more of that, but it has led me to look at the bibliography at the back of this book so that I can maybe read more on the subject another time...

    I found the author’s analysis of the end of Dirty Dancing utterly fascinating. I’ve watched the film numerous times and I’ve always thought that the ending was just super romantic and a perfect end to the film. Naish considers the idea that the whole ending was just a fantasy that Baby was having, it was what she imagined happened and that really the love story between her and Johnny was over when he left Kellermans earlier in the the film. I actually see that this is entirely plausible and it has made me really think about whether this is more likely than how I’ve always viewed it.

    All in all this is an interesting, nostalgic look back on a great film and if you’re a Dirty Dancing fan I think you’ll very much enjoy this book – I definitely recommend it.

    ~ Hayley C, Rather Too Fond Of Books

  • Deconstructing Dirty Dancing
    Stephen Lee Naish
    5/5 Stars - My library will purchase this book.

    Thankful for early access to this little gem through NetGalley. As someone who can't count how many times I've watched this movie, it's nice to have it legitimized with some well thought out explanations of the cultural and political representations portrayed in the film, as well as the enduring impact it has had on so many. Naish walks through the movie in sequence by film timing, and I found myself reciting the lines in my head before he could even get to them. While I didn't gain any mind-blowing insights from his meditation on Dirty Dancing, I delighted in reliving the movie (yet again) from a different perspective and felt a justifiable camaraderie with him and my other (probably secret) Dirty Dancing loving peeps. ~ Stephanie Rosso, Librarian, NetGalley

  • Catherine of Braganza
    Sarah-Beth Watkins
    Our story begins with the arrival of the English fleet at Lisbon. Catherine of Braganza is to be married to England’s King Charles II during the 17th Century.

    This book traces the period of time during which Catherine was married to Charles II. She was sorely tested by Charles’ philandering and many at the court did not like her for her Catholic beliefs. They plotted against her in a vicious manner.

    She was married to Charles for more than twenty years and although pregnant a number of times, she was never able to have a live birth.

    Charles was a very stubborn man and refused to give up parading his mistresses in front of Catherine. Unable to get a ship back to Portugal, Catherine was trapped. At the same time, Catherine refused to take his main mistress into service with her and this caused much grief.

    This is a sad and trying biography. I felt bad for Catherine, but knowing the mores of the day, it was okay for men to have affairs, but not women. It states that Catherine was aware of her brothers acting the same way, but forcing the other woman into Catherine’s face seems a bit much.

    This is a very well written and researched book. I found it fascinating. I will look into more of Sarah-Beth Watkins’ books. ~ Joyce Fox, NetGalley

  • Pagan Portals - Animal Magic
    Rachel Patterson
    This fantastic book is packed with everything you could ever wish to know about connecting and working with Animal Spirit guides. There are lots of excersises and meditations to help you along the way, I read it through first and plan to go back to them. I couldn't put this book down and recommend to to anyone who is interested in this subject. ~ Kindle customer, Amazon

  • Pagan Portals - Animal Magic
    Rachel Patterson
    Another wonderful book from Rachel Patterson. Written in her usual down to earth style, with many exercises and meditations to enable the reader to connect with their Animal Guides. ~ Heather Dewhurst, Amazon

  • Spirit Trap, The
    Veryan Williams-Wynn
    5.0 out of 5 stars
    Read it at night on your own- you will love it!
    By Pragz on 16 April 2017
    Format: Kindle Edition
    Awesome book! Loved reading this total thriller. I was petrified whist reading the spirt trap however I couldn't put it down. The author describes the catacombs with great precision and gives you a good understanding of the history of the revolution. I would recommend this as a fun and light read to anyone. Read it alone at night on your own...you will love it!
    ~ Pragz, Amazon india

  • Catherine of Braganza
    Sarah-Beth Watkins
    British Royalty particularly the Tudors and Stuarts have been a seamless source for writers both of the fiction and non fiction variety. But some of the Royals of these periods have been somewhat overlooked and one of those that fits into this category is Catherine of Braganza, a Portuguese princess married to Charles II, who was Queen of England, Scotland and Ireland from 1662 to 1685. This well written book by Sarah Beth-Watkins seeks to redress this omission.

    The biography follows the life of Catherine from the Royal Household in Portugal to her marriage to King Charles II and the trials and tribulations that her life entailed. This was a time of upheaval in British politics and society with the restoration of the monarchy taking place in 1660 just two years before Catherine became Queen. One not only gets an insight into the politics of the time with continued fear and mistrust of Roman Catholicism which placed this Catholic Queen in grave danger throughout her time here but also some of the great events that took place during her reign which included the Great Plague, the fire of London and the sea wars with the Netherlands. Use is made of contemporaneous diary entries.

    Catherine had to put up with the King's numerous mistresses which she did stoically and befriended many of his illegitimate children. Unfortunately she was unable to have children herself leading to the problems of succession as Charles's brother James was of course a Catholic. Remarkably the story of Catherine does not end with the death of Charles as back in Portugal she acted as regent for her brother, Peter II.

    I must admit I was so engrossed with this story I read it in one sitting and if you are interested in history I would certainly recommend this. ~ George Heard , NetGalley

  • Catherine of Braganza
    Sarah-Beth Watkins
    5/5 Stars. An excellent account of the life of one of our most overlooked queens. Informative & easy to read. The impact of religious differences & her husband's mistresses (especially Lady Castlemaine) is explained thoroughly & sympathetically. Read this in a matter of hours as it was so engaging. Highly recommended. ~ Cath Bell, NetGalley

  • Catherine of Braganza
    Sarah-Beth Watkins
    I have always been interested in the many Queens of England. I have read some books about the Merry Monarch's mistresses, but I haven't found any about his wife, so I was glad to find this book about Catherine of Braganza. It was a very informative read, starting from her birth up to her final years when she returned to Portugal to become regent. I have never read anything from Sarah-Beth Watkins before, and next time I won't be reluctant to pick up a book from her!
    ~ Kayenne Bee, NetGalley

  • Stillness on Shaking Ground
    Carol A. Wilson
    Thank you to Net Galley, author and publisher for the opportunity to read this wonderful book. Nepal has always intrigued me and this author draws you in completely with her captivating style of writing. Nepal has suffered so much tragedy but the spirit of its people always shines through. I would highly recommend this book. ~ Susan Glegg, NetGalley

  • Catherine of Braganza
    Sarah-Beth Watkins
    I found this a refreshing and interesting read about his queen, Catherine of Braganza... Any reader who has an interest in history would no doubt enjoy reading this. ~ Bethany Stafford, GoodReads

©2016 John Hunt Publishing Ltd.