Category Archives: Reviews

My 2017 Reading Year – Books to Escape With…

2017 was a tough year. I’ve had a couple of years where it has been difficult to pick up a book and just enjoy reading, for several reasons, not least caring for elderly parents and running my family. I read 10 books in 2016, and set myself a goal of 12 for 2017.

My 2017 Reading Year – Books to Escape With - The Last Krystallos

But a serious bout of depression and work on my own book got in the way of time to read, so I only managed 7 in 2017. Still, 7 is better than zero, and I loved the books, so I’m sharing my reading year with you.

1. Quest of the Dreamwalker - Stacy BennettStacy Bennett’s Quest of the Dreamwalker absolutely enthralled me, an evocative fantasy and the first book in the Corthan Legacy series. I usually know straight away if a book is going to fit with me, and from the first paragraph I knew this one would fit like a glove. Stacy Bennett’s writing enchanted me right from the start with beautiful and lyrical description that let me slip into Cara’s world. The writing is captivating, gorgeous prose, and words that weave – dreamlike – through your imagination. (Read more of my review…)

This book was a beautiful way to start a difficult year. I needed to be able to escape this world, and Cara’s world did just that. I’ve been a fan of Stacy Bennett’s writing for a long time, and I couldn’t wait for more in her series.

2. Darkly Wood - Max PowerThe second book I read was Darkly Wood by Max Power. I don’t usually go for horror, but this was the most gorgeous prose and a tantalising story.  This book is beautifully and lyrically written, if you love prose and poetic writing this book is definitely for you. At first I worried I would be turned off by the length and intricacy of Power’s text, but it enthralled me, gave amazing visuals, and kept me enchanted by the individual stories as well as Daisy May’s narrative. Several times I thought I knew where the book was going, but each time a new twist took me in a new direction, just like Darkly Wood does itself…
This is a long book, with a lot of exposition, but the beauty of its expression and constant twists and turns kept me captivated, and as soon as I’d finished Darkly Wood I bought its follow up and began reading on. I didn’t want this tale to stop and was quite happy lost in its dark malevolence.
(Read more of my review…)

3. Darkly Wood II - Max PowerThe horror in this book crept into me, just as its protagonists crept, or meandered, or hurried into the titular wood. Like I said I began the second book as soon as I’d finished the first, so my next book was: Darkly Wood II: The woman who never wore shoes and Max Power intrigued me all over again!

This book, Darkly Wood II, continues Daisy May’s story, and like the titular wood’s dark magic you will be lured into the web and you’ll find yourself quite captive.
Daisy May finds herself drawn back to Darkly Wood, and with years of research and memories behind her it’s not something she relishes. She’s haunted and damaged by her past, but when called upon she knows she must face its evil once again. (Read more of my review…)

My escape was paramount this year and these books were filling the void.

4. 101 Questions for Humanity - J Edward NeillIn August we went on a family holiday a real trek over 600 miles away to the north coast of Scotland. It was another effort to escape and I did and I loved it! While in the car we opened J Edward Neill’s book 101 Questions for Humanity: Coffee Table Philosophy and delved into its philosophical questions. We mixed the thought provoking questions with more from his second book 101 Questions for the End of the World: Volume 10 (Coffee Table Philosophy) We loved them and the questions kept us entertained for hours! My children are all adults (almost) and I suppose I thought I knew them – ha! These questions provided some great discussions and responses that I hadn’t expected, amongst many I did.
So you know what to expect these are a couple of the questions put to you: ‘Set aside your belief system. Describe the afterlife as the way you want it to be.’, ‘Aside from food, water, and your home, could you live happily from now until the end without buying a single thing more?’, and ‘What is the worst crime conceivable?’ That’s only three, there are 98 more…
(Read more of my review…)

5. 101 Questions for the End of the World Volume 10 Coffee Table PhilosophyAnd Its companion book ‘101 Questions for Humanity’ was very much a flick through and discuss, this book needed more intense thinking and evaluation, and the questions posed are much longer and more intricate. We thought hard about some of our answers, and this book requires thought about science, the universe, and theories. It was indeed a real philosophical discussion starter. (Read more of my review…)

6. Nobody Told Me - SR KarfeltLater in the year I was able to read a book I had wanted to for a while. My mother died from cancer, pneumonia and Alzheimer’s at the end of 2016, a tough time indeed, and this book was off the reading list for this reason. But as the year progressed I needed to read it. Author S R Karfelt knew what I’d been through and I knew what she’d been through. It was time to read Nobody Told Me: Love in the Time of Dementia.  Alzheimer’s is the thief of time, stealing memories and lives with no compunction at all – my words not the author’s, but we are on the same page. If you have ever experienced Dementia/Alzheimer’s in any way you need to read this book. Author, S. R. Karfelt, has been and is going through it all and eloquently puts her experiences on paper. I adore this book with its raw honesty, the beauty in its characters, and I love the way it skips and wanders through the past and present – just like dementia does. (Read more of my review…) I needed and devoured this book and it made me stronger. If you know anyone dealing with the grief of dementia, point them to this book. That’s all I can say. It is healing.

7. Tales of the Archer - Stacy BennettThe last book I read on 2017 was Tales of the Archer: A Corthan Companion by Stacy Bennett and it took me full circle. A companion book to The Quest of the Dreamwalker which I loved as it intertwined legend and stories amongst its narrative and kept me captivated. Reid has a history that even he isn’t completely sure of, but his gentle heart yearns for love and acceptance. As the Archer of the title, Reid is a well respected member of the Bear Clan and his stories and song weave through not only the narrative, but through the hearts of his clan too. I adore the way the author adds depth through her use of Corthan legend and fable intertwined throughout the story.
The characters are beautifully drawn with empathy and we easily become part of their tale. This is not an action story but a work of the characters and their lives.
(Read more of my review…)

My reading year was beautiful, captured by five novels that weaved through my mind and took me to far away places. I was healed by the books I read last year.

If you’re looking for some great fantasy, take a look at the books mentioned above. Thought-provoking philosophy from J Edward Neill, and healing words to comfort grief then read Nobody Told Me.

I’m very much looking forward to my 2018 reading year… and have challenged myself to the 12 books I wanted to complete this year. We’ll see how I do…

For something different, check out my Hope Within Books and A Symphony of Dragons: I’m a sensory writer and I delve into sensitive subjects that will lift your spirit and steal your heart, and I conjure worlds of fantasy and post-apocalypse which will ignite your imagination.


Narberth Book Fair 2017 – Come and Find Your New Book

Saturday 23rd September 2017 come to the Narberth Book Fair
and find inspiration, authors, and books – lots and lots of books!

Book Fair Special Offer Lisa Shambrook

© Lisa Shambrook

Narberth Book Fair 2017I will be part of this lovely Book Fair, which began some years ago as part of the Tenby Arts Festival. The fair has outgrown its home and we can now be found at the Queen’s Hall, 44 High Street, Narberth, SA67 7AS, and you can also visit the Narberth Food Festival on the same weekend, what could be better? Great books and delicious food all in one place!

You will find many authors and their books from 10am to 4pm, and attend a variety of talks and book readings all FREEand with only 13 weeks ‘til Christmas this is your ideal time to start shopping for that bookworm in your life, or just treat yourself!

I will be signing and selling copies of the Hope Within Novels, and my new release this year A Symphony of Dragons, a collection of dragon themed short tales.

The_Hope_Within_novels_Lisa-Shambrook-Low-Res-205kb Book covers x3

The Hope Within novels © Lisa Shambrook

And to make it even better I have a fantastic SPECIAL OFFER for buyers at the Book FairWhen you buy A Symphony of Dragons you will also get a FREE copy of Beneath the Rainbow.

Book Fair Special Offer Today Symphony and Rainbow adI will also be selling items from Amaranth Alchemy perfect book related Stocking Fillers…

All my books cost £5 each at Book Fairs which is a significant discount on Paperback prices online or in stores…and I’d love to see you there!

Check out my Narberth Book Fair Author Page and read an interview with me…

A Symphony of Dragons April 2017

Asher – BHC Press – A Symphony of Dragons

“A Symphony of Dragons is a book of short stories…each one about a dragon, or dragons. The lyrical, descriptive writing conveys both beauty and fear… The author will surprise you with her imagination and intricate detail.”
A Symphony of Dragons review on Amazon ~ Penny

“I was completely caught off guard by this breathtaking story. It is sweet, touching, uplifting, and frankly just beautiful.”
Beneath the Rainbow review
on Amazon ~ Sophie Moss, award-winning author of ‘The Selkie Spell’

“Highly recommend this beautifully woven story! I found myself immersed in this book, wanting to turn the page to find out what happened next!”
Beneath the Old Oak review
on Amazon ~ Bunnygirl

​“…I have compared it to Mitch Albom because this feels like the story he didn’t get around to writing yet. A really wonderful tale. Don’t miss out on this one.”
Beneath the Distant Star review
on Amazon ~ Mr Dead

Book Fairs coming up at which I will be attending…

Carmarthenshire Carmarthen Library Book Fair – Sat 21st October

Carmarthen Book Fair, St Peter’s Civic Hall – Sat 11th November

Llandeilo Christmas Book Fair – Sat 9th December

See you in Narberth!

Coping with Alzheimer’s: Sadness, Love, and Humour

I saw a lonesome forget-me-not gaze up at me the other day,
late in the year for these delicate blue flowers,
but they will always remind me of my mother.
They will forever be linked with the disease that stole her.

Coping with Alzheimer_s amid Tears of Sadness, Love, and Humour The Last Krystallos

The forget-me-not is the poster flower for Alzheimer’s, so when I noticed this little blossom peering up at me, it brought the condition back to my mind, and reminded me that I hadn’t yet read a book loaded up on my Kindle. Maybe it had been too soon when I bought it, Mum passed away at Christmas last year, but sitting in the Dr’s waiting room with Dad the other day I clicked on the book and opened it.

Coping-with-Alzheimer's-Forget-me-not- The-Last-Krystallos

© Lisa Shambrook

Instead of bringing tears, which it does too, it brought a smile to my face, many smiles. Finding a kindred spirit can do that. I relate strongly with the author S. R. Karfelt. Her candid humour, outright frankness, and sincerity shone through in her words. Our situations regarding Dementia are different, we’ve been through very different circumstances, but the familiarity of her anecdotes and narrative rang so true.

Alzheimer’s is the thief of time, stealing memories and lives with no compunction at all…and it is on the rise. More and more people are being diagnosed and figures show that 850,000 people lived with dementia in the UK in 2015 and it’s set to rise at a rate that will mean over 1 million in 2025 and 2 million in 2051. I’ve blogged about Prevention and Awareness before, and there are things we can do, changes to our lives, diets, and routines that can help, but this post isn’t about prevention or cure, it’s about living with the disease.


© Lisa Shambrook

Please remember that living with Alzheimer’s affects a whole plethora of people for every one person diagnosed. Whole families and communities have to come together to care. When someone in your family has dementia, you can’t walk away, you can’t hide, you can’t bury it. The condition sneaks up and robs you of your loved one, but unlike other diseases that leave you to grieve after you lose your cherished family member, dementia leaves the shell of the person with you. I can’t describe the pain that that instils.

In her book, Nobody Told Me: Love in the Time of DementiaS. R. Karfelt has been through all of this and eloquently puts her experiences on paper. For anyone facing dementia within their family, this is a book that will show you that you’re not alone. You’ll know you are part of a growing number of people dealing with this disease and staring it right in the face with defiance – and humour you have to laugh, and you’ll cry too. Lots.

So many stories in this book tickled me, made me smile, and made me belly laugh, because I’ve been there. You have to attack Alzheimer’s with humour, wit, and love, they give you the strength to carry on.


© Lisa Shambrook

When Mum complained of the noisy street party going on in her back yard, outside her house, we had to humour her, because my parents lived in the middle of a field, not a sound anywhere. When she thought I was her mother, I held her close and rocked her. When she was convinced Dad was a doctor, I told her she’d better take her medication with no complaints. When she thought Dad was a stranger who had kidnapped her and was holding her hostage, I talked her through it, tried to allay her fear, and help her calm down.

Can you imagine believing you’re only fourteen, and then finding out you’re married and he’s an old man? Imagine looking in the mirror expecting to see your twenty-five-year-old-self gazing back and instead seeing a seventy-year-old with a very different face? Imagine nurses/carers visiting every day when you don’t think anything is wrong with you at all.


© Lisa Shambrook

Imagine forgetting how to walk, or how to lift your food from the plate to your mouth with a fork. How would you feel if you couldn’t remember the beginning of the movie you started watching an hour ago? How would you feel when your grandchildren walk in and smile at you, but are complete strangers because you believe you’re twenty, and there are still eight years before you give birth to their mother yet?

Think about being in hospital or a home and not having a clue how you got there, or why, or for how long, or who took you there, or where you are, or why you’re there, or how long you’ll be there, and there’s nothing wrong with you, where are you, how did you get there, there’s nothing wrong, who took you there, when can you go home, as there’s nothing wrong… Where am I?

This is life with Alzheimer’s. It hurts – not only the patient, but the family, and carers, and friends… Alzheimer’s hurts everyone it comes into contact with.

So, if you’re dealing with, living with, coping with Alzheimer’s please know that you’re not alone. Please laugh as much as you cry. I’ve told my children that if I ever get this disease they are to treat me like normal, but play to it, allow me to stay in the time that I believe I am in, humour me, give me adventures, if I don’t know where I am – make it up!

Coping-with-Alzheimer's-leaf- The-Last-Krystallos

© Lisa Shambrook

People will tell you how to cope with this condition when you’re caring for a loved one who doesn’t know who you are, but as long as you are compassionate and loving, you’re doing the right thing. Take time out. Laugh, I cannot say this enough, not at the person sometimes not even with the person, they won’t understand and you don’t want to hurt or alienate them even further, but you need to deal with the mess it makes of your life too, and once you’re out of the immediate situation talk through the absurdity Alzheimer’s proffers you and laugh at it. Irreverence can see you through it all.

Tears will fall, that’s a guarantee, but don’t ever think you’re alone.

The Alzheimer’s Society is an amazing resource who will help you through this minefield, as will those who’ve been there already. Stay strong.


You can buy
Nobody Told Me: Love in the Time of Dementia
by S. R. Karfelt on Amazon UK Kindle Hardbackand Paperback.
Amazon US Kindle, Hardback,
and Paperback, and from your local Amazon and other online bookstores.
Please visit her website for further information and links.


Read and Review – How to Save an Author

If you read and love books you will appreciate the
time, energy, love, and passion that goes into writing a book.
This is how you can pay it back and forward…

read-and-review-the-last-krystallos How to Thank an Author

Add to that list angst, frustration, low financial reward, and you’ve got what it means to be an author. There’s plenty of love and passion, days of writing with your muse whispering in your ear and the true wonder of watching a story, an adventure, open up beneath your fingertips, but there are days and weeks when your muse goes AWOL, when your fingers bleed (figuratively), and you hate everything you write. Novel writing is not easy, but it is extremely rewarding.


Raven says “Review…” © Lisa Shambrook

Writing a review can make all the difference. Reviews not only tell the author that their book has been purchased, read and enjoyed, but it tells others what they can expect, what there is to love about the book, and lots more. On top of that online reviews add to the visibility of a book (and an author). It is said, that once a book receives over 25 reviews on Amazon, Amazon will add your book to its ‘also bought’ and ‘you might like’ lists – thereby increasing your visibility. Once you receive over 50 reviews it is thought that Amazon will highlight, spotlight and include your book in newsletters. Of course, Amazon’s algorithm and marketing strategies change all the time, but the more reviews a book receives the more it helps the author.


Books I’ve written and contributed to © Lisa Shambrook

It can take from between 6 months and 2 years (or more) to write a book, and the process is tough.  We write the first draft in which we hammer out words and we hope it’s a story that makes some kind of sense. Then we’ll go over said first draft revising and rewriting, in an attempt to find that sense we thought we had first time around. Then will come several further drafts of revising, reading, correcting, cutting huge chunks and adding others, and much more.

We will cry, we will laugh, we will love, and we will think all is lost.

We then do another round or two of revising and editing. Then our beloved beta readers will get the draft, the one that makes sense, to read through. They will return it with corrections, notes, errors they’ve found, and plot holes they’ve discovered, and they’ll tell you what they loved. The author will then bite their tongue, ‘til it probably bleeds, and try desperately not to take the critique personally while they, again, think, all is lost.

When they’ve picked themselves up, they will resume revisions, edits, line edits, and more until they send it to their editor, who will pick more holes that no one else noticed, and return it for further work. In the end the writer will, hopefully, have a polished manuscript ready for publication. It doesn’t matter if you’re being traditionally published or independently published at this point, we’ve been through the same things and now we will await cover art and formatting, or do it ourselves, and finally publish.


Independent and Traditionally Published books – we all need reviews © Lisa Shambrook

It’s not over at that point either. Most authors market their own books, even those published by the Big Five. Those of us without outside help will market, advertise and publicise, even though authors are in general, introverts! And then we wait…

An eBook generally costs about the same as a cup of coffee, or a hot chocolate, yet it takes two minutes to make a coffee and about two years to write a book…Books are great value!

When sales come through we celebrate, even the pennies that come in are welcome and embraced!


The difference between a book and a hot chocolate © Lisa Shambrook

This is where you, the reader, come in. If you buy the book, and you read it, and you love it, then the best way you can thank us for those months of hard work is to write a review. Let the world know that the book is out there, that you loved it, and why you loved it.

You don’t have to write much, literally, just a sentence or two is worth everything to an author. Just award your stars and say “I loved it!” That works. Or you can write a paragraph or an essay, it’s up to you!

Of course, we want truthful reviews, and we’re big girls and boys, we can handle that our book might not be your thing, feel free to say so, as long as you’re honest and not rude. Don’t be nasty about a book you didn’t like, not every book will suit every reader. And try to judge the book and not the author. On the other hand, we love it if you spread the word when you found a book delightful, or rewarding, or helpful, or fun, or inspirational… Tell everyone.


I always leave reviews for the wonderful things I find on Etsy © Lisa Shambrook

You can leave reviews anywhere these days. Most people when planning to travel will check out Trip Advisor, a very valuable site for companies within the industry. It exists to help. Many will search reviews for technology, cars, movies, etc. We are a society who wants to know what we’re buying and if it’s worth it. I also sell on Etsy with Amaranth Alchemy, and reviews of my products help others to see what quality they are getting. I always check the reviews on Etsy and Ebay before buying anything. Books are the same.


Amaranth Alchemy Etsy © Lisa Shambrook

You can leave a review on Amazon, Goodreads, on Facebook, Twitter, your Blog, anywhere you wish. We share our opinions on politics, TV, and everything else on social media, why not tell people about that book you just read and loved?

I’ve just finished reading Stacy Bennett’s Quest of the Dreamwalker and have left a review on both Amazon and Goodreads. I have been completely enchanted by it and adore the writing. If that’s all I wrote the review would be worthwhile, however, I wrote more than that because I was completely bewtiched! Here’s my Review…

And I have to ask, if you’ve read and loved my books and you haven’t reviewed them, please do… You’ll make me very happy and will help me to further my writing career! ❤

Share your last favourite book with us here…
Why did you love it so much?

The Hope Within Novels and Review Quotes Lisa Shambrook

The Hope Within Novels and Review Quotes © Lisa Shambrook


The Slow Regard of Silent Things – My Love for Extraordinary Stories

Rarely does a book move me to the point that I truly don’t want it to end,
but this one touched me deeply.

The Slow Regard of Silent Things - My Love of Extraordinary Stories and Review - The Last Krystallos

This is a book that has divided its audience – much like Marmite – you will either love it or hate it, and it appears there is no middle ground. Patrick Rothfuss is a highly regarded fantasy author and his Kingkiller Chronicles ‘The Name of the Wind’ and ‘The Wise Man’s Fear’ are much loved, and his third book hugely anticipated. In between, he’s written ‘The Slow Regard of Silent Things’ and he was very nervous to release it.

auri-the-slow-regard-of-silent-things-patrick-rothfuss-the-last-krystallos-reviewIf you want a book with a story, with a beginning, middle and end – this is not the book for you. If you want to learn Auri’s back story, or any story, this is not where you’ll find it. But if you want a book that will make you feel, that will entrance you, that will make your emotions tingle with love, sadness, fear, anger, delight, beauty and so much more – this is your book.

This is a snippet of Auri’s life, just a few days, and you won’t learn where she comes from, or why, or how, or anything, except you’ll get a glimpse into the most evocative world, a world that doesn’t make sense, but makes all the sense in the world.

The book’s back blurb reads: ‘Deep below the University, there is a dark place. Few people know of it: a broken web of ancient passageways and abandoned rooms. A young woman lives there, tucked among the sprawling tunnels of the Underthing, snug in the heart of this forgotten place.’

auri-illustration-the-slow-regard-of-silent-things-patrick-rothfuss-the-last-krystallos-reviewThis story covers only a few days and leads you, twisting and turning, through Auri’s world. It is not a story, like I said, there really is no beginning or end, it just is.

Rothfuss warns readers right at the start not to read the book without reading ‘In The Name of The Wind’ and ‘The Wise Man’s Fear’, and explains that it’s unlike other books, so reader’s already know they are about to dip into something strange and surreal. Contrary to the author’s request, I have not yet read his prior books, but I will, because his writing has bewitched and enthralled me, and I want more.

Rothfuss writes both a foreward and an endnote to be sure that readers are aware of what this book contains – maybe some people need to understand that books are not always written for the mass market. Read what you love, this book is not trying to fool you under any guise. It is a thing of beauty, but that thing might not be your thing…though, it is mine!

I have seen this book slammed to pieces online, and quite simply if it’s not your thing that’s cool, but then as Rothfuss rightly points out in his endnote ‘This is a book for all the slightly broken people out there’ and if that’s not you, then move along – there are plenty of books written for you. This book was written for people like me. I have heard Auri described as whimsical and that her quirks are detrimental to mental health issues, believe me her pain is very present in this book and does not dull whatever she’s been through to find herself within the underthing.


To love this book, like I did, you need empathy and you have to understand what it means to be full of ‘broken glass and burrs’… You have to know that an everyday item just might be ‘full of love and answers, so full she felt them spilling out at just the briefest touch.’ and you have to believe in wonder and moonlight. This is me, if it’s not you, try another book and let me relish mine.


I felt my way through this book, and my emotions travelled Auri’s path with her. I recognised myself and related to her tendencies and to her joy and her pain.

oerfect-leaf-treasures-snippet-the-slow-regard-of-silent-things-patrick-rothfuss-the-last-krystallos-reviewMy own shelves are homage to my treasures, from scattered acorn cups to lost crystals, and missing buttons to ancient bottles of scent that can’t yet be parted with. So like Auri…

I feel the world about me, when it’s off kilter, so am I.

This vignette – Rothfuss’ words – is to me a moment, a delving into my own mind, a tale that encapsulates my own psyche and something that tells me that I’m not alone. It’s a testament to the beauty that lives within my soul and rises above the mundane.

This book put butterflies in my stomach, waves of anger in my head, falling tears on my cheek, and enveloped me in a blanket joy that hugged my heart.

This pretty much sums up this tale for me…sheer beauty for those who love the unusual and surreal.


Copper Bookmark from Earth Balance Craft on Etsy

I have lost myself and found myself within Auri’s tale.

If you’ve read it, I’d love to know your opinion?


You can find my review here…but it’s pretty much a smaller version of this post!

Do you love quirky, original stories, or ones with beginnings, middles and ends?

What do you think of books that polarise their readers?

Have you read another love or hate book, which one and what did you think?