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Review: Fairies, Pookas, and Changelings

61ddqw1iahl-_sx355_bo1204203200_Fairies, Pookas, and Changelings: A Complete Guide to the Wild and Wicked Enchanted Realm
by Varla Ventura
Paperback: 264 pages
Publisher: Weiser Books
ISBN-10: 1578636116
ISBN-13: 978-1578636112

Product description:

While it’s true that fairy folk love a good garden and take great pleasure in a tulip, there are dozens of beasties who fall under the fairy domain that are not quite as delightful as the quintessential flower fairy. This book is an exploration of the many things that go bump in the night near the fairy mound. Along with an exploration of folklore and historical literature, readers will delight in fairy tales that demonstrate everything from striking a bargain with a fairy to staving off changelings to laughing with the dwarves.

Included are fairy tales and myths from Wales, Scotland, Ireland, and Scandinavia plus classic stories by Thomas Crofton Croker, Joseph Jacobs, Clara Stroebe, the Brothers Grimm, Hans Christian Andersen, Yei Theodora Ozaki, and others on goblins, trolls, gnomes, pookas, changelings, banshees, and more!

Chapters include:

  • A Fear of Little Men: Elves, Trolls, Leprechauns, Tree Spirits, Brownies, Coblyns, Dwarves, Goblins, Bonga, Trolls and Other Fairy Folk of Glen, Forests and Hearth
  • The Hand That Rocks the Cradle: Changelings and Other Greedy Kidnappers of the Fairy Kingdom
  • I’m Not Drunk, It’s Just My Pooka: Tales of the Trickster Fairy and Its Wild Counterpart
  • Is That All There Is? Faries Who Give, or The Barter System
  • Whoops, There It Is: How to Enter the Fairy Kingdom (or How Not To)

If you think fairies are merely delicate beings who follow you about on gossamer wings, you are in for quite a shock: the kingdom of the fairy is one of vengeance, thievery, trickery, and wild creatures. Consider yourself warned!

SAM_0028My Thoughts:

I loved it. Fairies, Pookas, and Changelings is packed with folklore of the Fairyfolk. You might be reading about a pooka one minute or a troll statue under a bridge the next. Everything Varla covered was interesting and my only complaint was that I wanted more.

I won this book in a contest that Varla held and she has added a fan for life to her list. Along with Among the Mermaids and Banshees, Werewolves, Vampires and Other Creatures of the Night, Varla has added another must-have title for your esoteric home library.

5 out of 5 stars!

 
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Posted by on August 18, 2017 in Esoteric Book Reviews

 

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Review: The Castle in Cassiopeia

51jpctosuql-_sx331_bo1204203200_The Castle in Cassiopeia
by Mike Resnick
http://amzn.to/2uZF9R4
Series: DEAD ENDERS
Paperback: 285 pages
Publisher: Pyr (August 22, 2017)
ISBN-10: 1633882314
ISBN-13: 978-1633882317

My thoughts:
Space opera at it’s best. I enjoyed the previous books in the series The Fortress in Orion, and The Prison in Antares. I gave them 4 stars out of 5 and I’d give this book the same score.

SAM_0027As with the other books in the series, The Castle in Cassiopeia gets a little dialogue heavy and I hated the cover art but the book is excellent. It has an awesome pace and an entertaining story. If you can say anything about Resnick, you have to admit that he’s a great storyteller.

If you are new to the series, I think that you can jump straight into this book. Resnick sets up the story nicely. That being said, I think you’d get more out of it by starting with The Fortress in Orion.

It’s a fun summertime read. 4 stars out of 5.

Product description:
A crisis has arisen. On their first mission as a team, Pretorius and his Dead Enders kidnapped the real General Michkag and substituted a clone who had been raised and trained in the Democracy. But now they find that the clone likes being the most powerful man in the hundred-world Traanskei Coalititon—and having been raised on Earth, he knows how humans think and react.

This becomes a many-layered problem for Pretorius and what is left of his Dead Enders. As the only humans on a totally militarized alien world, they must first find where the best-guarded member of the enemy’s military – Michkag – is hiding and how many aliens, or regiments, or divisions, are guarding him, and then they must find a way past all his lines of defense to kill or capture him.


Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from Pyr. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255 : “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

 
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Posted by on August 15, 2017 in Book Reviews

 

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Review: Among the Mermaids

6109movm9vl-_sx355_bo1204203200_Among the Mermaids Facts, Myths, and Enchantments from the Sirens of the Sea
http://amzn.to/2v0HHjy
by Varla Ventura
Paperback: 256 pages
Publisher: Weiser Books
ISBN-10: 1578635454
ISBN-13: 978-1578635450
Barry’s score 5 out of 5 stars.

Product description:
From Homer’s Odyssey to Pirates of the Caribbean, Mermaids have fascinated popular culture for centuries.

Among the Mermaids is an enchanting collection of classic stories, facts, and tales of mermaids from around the world that will thrill every lover of this romanticized mythological creature.

Compiled by Book of the Bizarre author and Magical Creature devotee Varla Ventura, Among the Mermaids includes turn of the century tales of merfolk from Bret Harte, T. Crofton Croker, and W.B. Yeats, along with tantalizing trivia, facts, first-hand accounts, and speculations about mermaids in popular culture.

Some facts about the fluid and the fair from the book:

  • Many people believe today that early explorer sightings of mermaids were manatees. (Scurvy + many days away from your lady = a blubbery creature looking supple and bodacious.)
  • Blackbeard, the fierce and terrible pirate, was afraid of his crew being lured into a watery grave by mermaids, so he ordered his ships to avoid certain areas reputed to have a high number of mermaid sightings.
  • Since 2009, the town of Kiryat Yam, Israel has offered a prize of $1 million dollars to anyone who can prove the mermaid off their coast is real. The prize remains unclaimed.

My thoughts:
I was lucky enough to win a set of Varla Ventura’s work and I consider myself to be one of the luckiest men in the world. Ventura’s book Among the Mermaids is superb! I loved every minute of it.

As many of you know, I am a guy that looks at the back of the book first. Among the Mermaids has a nice recommended reading, Bibliography section, and other things for the mer-minded. This can come in handy for those who want to do their own mer-research.

The stories are quick and short, the clipart is delightful, and the book is a real pageturner. I went through the entire book pretty quickly only to return to reread some of my favorite parts.

All in all, I give Varla Ventura’s Among the Mermaids 5 stars out of 5 and I believe that it is a must-have for your home library.

Tell me, lady of the lake, do you sit bere in this unconventional fashion with gentlemen callers? The Mermaid of Druid Lake by Charles Weathers Bump

 

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Review: Nebula Awards Showcase 2017

61bbdvzoual-_sx331_bo1204203200_Nebula Awards Showcase 2017
by Julie E. Czerneda
http://amzn.to/2sw0iSB
Series: Nebula Awards Showcase
Paperback: 336 pages
Publisher: Pyr
ISBN-10: 1633882713
ISBN-13: 978-1633882713

Product description:
The Nebula Awards Showcase volumes have been published annually since 1966, reprinting the winning and nominated stories of the Nebula Awards, voted on by the members of the Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America (SFWA). This year’s editor, selected by SFWA’s anthology Committee (chaired by Mike Resnick), is Canadian science fiction and fantasy writer and editor Julie Czerneda. This year’s Nebula Award winners are Naomi Novik, Nnedi Okorafor, Sarah Pinsker, and Alyssa Wong, with Fran Wilde winning the Andre Norton Award for Young Adult Science Fiction and Fantasy Book. Also included in this volume are works by N. K. Jemisin and Ann Leckie.

My thoughts:
WIN_20170429_08_21_16_ProThe Nebula Awards Showcase is an excellent opportunity to read top-notch short stories, novellas, and poems in the Science fiction genre. I hopscotched through the book hitting the stories that interested me until, with the exception of the Novel excerpts, I finished the book.

I suppose that my favorite part would be the “From the Author” introductions that precede each story. It’s really cool to get a little background from the author. All in all, this is a nice collection of stories and I give Nebula Showcase 2017 5 stars out of 5.


Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from Pyr. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255 : “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

 
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Posted by on June 5, 2017 in Book Reviews

 

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Review: Fortune Telling by Tarot Cards

51-ffb9mrul-_sx322_bo1204203200_Fortune Telling by Tarot Cards: A Beginner’s Guide to Understanding the Tarot
by Sasha Fenton
http://amzn.to/2sqf8dy

Paperback: 224 pages
Publisher: Hampton Roads Publishing; Reissue edition (June 1, 2017)
ISBN-10: 1571747672
ISBN-13: 978-1571747679

Product description:
Lay your future out before you with tarot cards. Once you know how to interpret them, you can understand yourself and others better and be able to accurately predict what’s going to happen in the future.
This is an accessible and easy guide that teaches you how to use the tarot. Fenton’s guidelines combined with the reader’s intuition makes using the cards easy and fun. She provides the meaning of each card and suggestions for spreads that can be used for a variety of purposes―from focusing on the consequences of a particular situation to resolving a particular question to providing clarity on personal relationships. She also shows us how to link the cards together in a life narrative.

WIN_20170508_11_46_05_ProMy thoughts:
Really an excellent book. Fortune Telling by Tarot Cards covers the basics of Tarot in a simple and easy to understand way. When you are ready to set aside that little pamphlet that came with your set of Tarot cards, Fenton’s book is an excellent starting place. I really can’t put it any better than that — it’s a “must-have” for your Esoteric home library.

I give Fortune Telling by Tarot Cards: A Beginner’s Guide to Understanding the Tarot by Sasha Fenton 5 stars out 5.


Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from Hampton Roads Publishing. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255 : “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

 
 

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Review: Wicca, Plain & Simple

51q1zh2bshrl-_sy346_Wicca, Plain & Simple: The Only Book You’ll Ever Need
by Leanna Greenaway
Series: Plain & Simple
Paperback: 144 pages
Publisher: Hampton Roads Publishing
ISBN-10: 1571747710
ISBN-13: 978-1571747716

Product description:
Greenaway takes a contemporary approach to Wicca, also known as witchcraft, and shows you how to use it as a healing and positive force. Practice magic with tarot cards, agents, and pendulums; cast love, health, wealth, family happiness, and career spells; and discover which herbs are beneficial when conducting spells and rituals. Greenaway makes these life-affirming, ancient Wiccan traditions meaningful and accessible to us today by providing a basic understanding of the key elements of Wiccan practice, including:

  • Lunar magic
  • Initiation
  • Herbs and gardens
  • Pendulum power
  • Animal magic

Eminently practical, Wicca, Plain & Simple also includes over 25 spells for beginning practitioners that range from fertility spells and money spells, to love spells and much more.

My thoughts:
In all honesty, I liked Greenaway’s book “Practical Spellcraft: A First Course in Magic” (link) much better. While the two books do complement each other to a certain degree, I think that most readers will enjoy, and benefit from, Practical Magic.

On the plus side, I liked the artwork in Wicca, Plain & Simple. The book is easy to read and understand, it has a nice flow, and the Foreword by Judika Illes was excellent. On the downside, I didn’t like the lack of detail on the tools.

Picture 13A paragraph on tools like the Athame, Cauldron, and wand, was “plain and simple” not enough — not nearly enough. Believe it or not but there is more on Aloe Vera in the “Teas, Tonics, and Superstitions” section ( page 48 ) than there is on any of the above mentioned tools? Really?

I also didn’t agree with several opinions expressed in the book. One of which was, “It was only in the 16th century, when the witch hunts began, that these people and their knowledge were forced underground.” Try 15 century and earlier in some cases, the Malleus Maleficarum (The Witches’ Hammer) was written about 1486-1487’ish with the major Witch hunts starting about 1450. While the Inquisition targeted Gnostics, in 1326 the church authorized the investigation of witches. “Plain and simple”, the witch hunts began long before the 16th century.

That brings me to a problem that I have had with both of Greenaway’s books, a lack of documentation to support her opinions. I want to see some footnotes. That being said, I thought Wicca, Plain & Simple was okay and I give it a score of 3 stars out of 5.


Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from Hampton Roads Publishing. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255 : “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

 
 

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Review: I Ching

41hcwrkxrwlI Ching, Plain & Simple: The Only Book You’ll Ever Need
by Kim Farnell
Series: Plain & Simple
Paperback: 192 pages
Publisher: Hampton Roads Publishing
ISBN-10: 1571747796

Product description:

The I Ching, or Book of Changes, is a mix of Taoist and Confucianist philosophies that has evolved over many centuries and may be the oldest book in existence. Its main philosophy is that nothing is static and everything changes over time, so our task is to adjust to the ebb and flow of changing circumstances. The I Ching can help us:

  • Make decisions
  • Manage sensitive relationships
  • Tap into our creative insight and intuitive power

The I Ching can be extremely complex, filled with poetry and philosophy. In I Ching, Plain & Simple, Kim Farnell has made the divination system as modern, straightforward, and user-friendly as possible―pick it up and put it to use quickly and easily, without any fuss or confusion. It is the ultimate guide to the I Ching.

My thoughts:

Farnell’s I Ching, Plain & Simple is a part of the plain and simple series, which is an excellent introductory series, but I have to say that I hate the subtitle “The Only Book You’ll Ever Need.” That subtitle makes my soul cry.

Having said that, the book does an excellent job describing I Ching and walking you through some quick interpretations. I liked the clipart and the Fu Hsi illustration and found the illustrations of the hexagrams easy to understand. I guess you’d say — plain and simple.

Picture 13While the book lays out the basics, I don’t think that Farnell captured ( perhaps intentionally? ) the mystical vibe that I think the subject deserves. Where is the mystery, majesty, poetry?

While my question was to personal to share, I gave three pennies a quick casting and got Tui Joy “Express yourself and join others in a variety of  enterprises. Family will soon be good. You will have peace of mind.” It teared me up a little; I hope everyone has peace of mind.

I give I Ching, Plain & Simple: The Only Book You’ll Ever Need 4 stars out of 5. I do recommend it.


Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from Hampton Roads Publishing. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255 : “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

 

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Review: That Moment

that-moment-coverThat Moment
http://amzn.to/2oZHxWv
by C.C. Champagne

  • Paperback: 175 pages
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0986946710
  • ISBN-13: 978-0986946714

Product description:
That Moment is a must read! Already read worldwide as an Ebook at smashwords by over 35,000 readers with 87 (5star) reviews. Is it just luck we are in the right place at the right time? Do you believe there is a reason for most things that happen? Being in an unexpected situation, are you unaffected, or have you stood in awe wondering? Is there a moment when you realize that between the beauty or sometimes mayhem of life’s unusual occurrences, we are guided by a higher power for a reason unknown to us until THAT MOMENT!

My thoughts:

that-moment-media“That Moment” is a collection of 13 short stories that are real stories from the Author’s friends or family. You’ll find these stories to be inspirational and fuel for your spirit. I was moved by several of them.

While I read through this book pretty quickly, I am certain that I will return to it over and over again. “That Moment” is the sort of book that you will buy multiple copies of — one to keep and one to share. It’s a must-have for your home library. As you may have seen on Amazon, I scored this one 5 stars out of 5.

Life is a blessing, and each one of us is a unique individual whose path through life is guided. It is our decision as to what we do in that moment, which then determines how the events play out.

 
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Posted by on April 21, 2017 in Book Reviews

 

Review: A Little Book of Mystical Secrets

5154r2btkt2bl-_sy346_A Little Book of Mystical Secrets: Rumi, Shams of Tabriz, and the Path of Ecstasy
Paperback: 240 pages
Publisher: Hampton Roads Publishing (April 1, 2017)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1571747451
ISBN-13: 978-1571747457

Product description:
At long last, an accessible little book that focuses on the teachings of Rumi’s teacher and inspiration, Shams of Tabriz. Included in this slim, charming volume is a biographical sketch of the great Sufi teacher and mystic and a new translation of 500 of his core teachings that bring into fresh focus the meaning and mysteries of life and love.

There are many books on Rumi and many translations of his works and yet most readers are unaware of how Rumi became a mystic. Shams, an Arabic word that means the sun, was the catalyst that converted the rather resolute and ascetic Rumi, the cleric and teacher, into Rumi, the passionate disciple of the religion of love. He was the agent of the propulsive mystical energy that transformed Rumi the reticent into Rumi the ecstatic poet.

Rumi lovers, spiritual seekers, and devotees of the mystical path will meet this little book of wisdom and mystical secrets with enthusiasm.

I shall not place you in my heart
For you may get hurt by its wounds.
I won’t keep you in my eyes
For I may belittle you and
expose you to the ridicule of common men.
I will hide you inside my soul, not in my heart or in my eyes,
so that you may become one with my breath.

My thoughts:

I have to admit, after reading the first line in the Introduction, I set this book aside for several days. I really felt that the line “[…] probably the world’s most read poet, even in the United States” came of as condescending. Believe it or not Narguess Farzad, we are not the Islamophobes you believe us to be!

1490720195810At any rate, I returned to the book and I am glad that I did — it is excellent.  A Little Book of Mystical Secrets has an excellent Bibliography and glossary, something I always look for in a Nonfiction book.

As a person who majored in History, Religion, and Philosophy in college, this book managed to hit all of my interests.  Having said that, some people may not be interested in the History and want to jump straight into the sayings of Shams.

When you embrace the gardener, the garden becomes yours, and you may pick from every tree.

I give 5 stars out of 5 and recommend this one for your esoteric home library. It is a book that you will reread and that makes it a great bang for the buck .



Disclosure of Material Connection
: I received this book free from Hampton Roads Publishing. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255 : “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

 
 

Review: Hygge

51mut-4jzyl-_sy346_Hygge: 25 Secrets From The Danish Art of Happiness, Getting Cozy And Living Well
File Size: 1971 KB
Print Length: 58 pages
Simultaneous Device Usage: Unlimited
Publication Date: February 25, 2017
ASIN: B06XBNCTWV

Product description:

Denmark consistently ranks as the happiest country on the planet. Reason? One word (many emotions) – hygge.

Hygge is the fine art of creating comfort, intimacy and coziness to warm your soul. It is seeking pleasure from things that soothe the spirit.

Hygge is more a feeling than anything else. It is tucking into pots of delicious warm food with friends or cuddling up on a cushy sofa with a loved one. How about sitting by the fireplace with hot cup of cocoa and enjoying crisp mornings with your favorite book in hand? In its truest sense, hygge is comfort of the soul.

How does one feel and create hygge?
Hygge: 25 Secrets From The Danish Art of Happiness, Getting Cozy And Living Well tells you everything you need to create the perfect hygge. From little known native traditions to actionable expert tips to creative twists to existing ideas, the book is packed with everything warm and hygge.

Here’s a sneak peek at what you can look forward to:

  • What is hygge and how the Danes use it to stay happy all the time?
  • 8 Amazing tips for creating the perfect hygge home
  • Be the ultimate hygge host with our social hygge tips
  • 10 winter hygge tips that will help you enjoy uncomfortable winters like a boss
  • Plus bonus tip and lots of interesting and cozy hyyge ideas to stay happy, get cozy and live well – The Danish way

My thoughts:

I knew that the word existed and vaguely what it meant but I had no idea that it was a “thing” until I found this and other books on the subject.  I liked the introduction connecting the word hygge to the English word “hug”. I think that really sums up the hygge concept.

All to often, the word “warm” was used and it would remind me that the Danish lifestyle does not translate to my coastal Floridian lifestyle without some effort on my part. For example, setting up a warm beverage station might be better changed into a “cold” beverage station.

All in all, I enjoyed the ebook and I give it 4 1/2 stars out of 5.

 
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Posted by on April 3, 2017 in Book Reviews

 
 
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