Review of The Psychic and Spiritual Awareness Manual.

 

This book is a comprehensive guide to psychic and spiritual awareness.  It offers an in depth explanation into this subject, so if you are just beginning on this path you will find this book offers you so much.  It isn’t only for the beginner though, if you have been on this path for a while there is still plenty of content for you to get your teeth into.  The book can offer a fresh approach to areas where you may find you have become blocked upon your path.  There really is something for everyone in this book.

At the end of each chapter there are exercises for you to do, giving you the opportunity to practice what you have learnt.  This gives the book a very hands on feel, allowing the reader to develop their skills as they go through the book.  This is a very useful tool, especially if one does not have the means to engage with spiritual teachers or groups.

The book is set out in such a way that it allows the reader to get right to the heart of the subject that is being discussed.  The author uses clear and concise language, not at all patronising, which I always think is a plus.

 

A very helpful guide for anyone who wishes to learn about this subject.

5 stars *****

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Review of The Feathered Bone.

 

*WARNING, THIS BOOK DEALS WITH SEXUAL ABUSE AND DOMESTIC VIOLENCE. ANYONE WHO WILL BE TRIGGERED BY SUCH CONTENT MAY NOT WANT TO READ ON*

The Feathered Bone is a novel by author, Julie Cantrell.  The story starts off in a rather gentle manner, although the undercurrent of “something big” about to happen is never far from the surface.  The story centres around Amanda Salassi, the mother of sixth grade student Ellie and the chaperone of Sarah Broussard.

Ellie and Sarah’s sixth grade class are on a field trip to New Orleans and the first couple of chapters deal mainly with this part of the story.  There are a lot of references made to slavery and being held against your will and this is where I got the sense that the “something big” would feature heavily.  The story is set in rural Louisiana, in a town called Livingston Parish which is fondly referred to as LP.  The first couple of chapters see the action taking place in New Orleans, pre Katrina, and despite the shady characters that are mentioned, one in particular being pivotal to the events that happen, there is a feeling of innocence about the action that takes place in these opening chapters, the characters – the mothers and their children and their teacher – have an air of innocence about them that makes what’s to come all the more harder to take.

Once Sarah disappears the action seems to intensify, gone is the sleepy town feel about this story, replaced by the murky, criminal underworld that taints everything and everyone.  Amanda blames herself for Sarah’s disappearance, she was the chaperone after all.  Beth and Preacher, Sarah’s parents and very good friends of Amanda’s are frantic but they don’t openly blame Amanda, or Ellie, for that matter.

This story is not so much fast paced, but it is big on action.  During the five years that Sarah Broussard is missing the book deals with the sexual abuse she is forced to suffer, the thought process that she goes through, documented in a series of journals she writes.  It also deals with Domestic Violence, depression, Hurricane Katrina and the aftermath of that, teenage depression and suicide, betrayal, grief and the long road to recovery.  The book deals with Amanda and Sarah’s faith in God, stressing how this faith is instrumental in seeing them through the worst five years of their lives.

The book is highly emotive and will leave yo with some very powerful and disturbing images.  One review I have read described it as graphic but I don’t agree, there are no graphic scenes in this book, the author tells the story through Amanda and Sarah’s eyes and it is often what is not said that conjures up the images relating to the story that I found I was left with.  I am not going to lie to you, this book is heart-wrenching  on so many levels and from so many points of view.  It seems that every page in this book is drenched in pain and suffering.  But amongst the pain and heartbreak there always felt, to me anyway, that hope was never far away.  Granted, it was a long time coming and some of what Amanda had to go through was so very painful, but hope remained on the horizon.  For Sarah, hope was all she was left with.  Her situation is so awful but her faith kept her hope alive and that is what got her through the dark times she was forced to endure.

The book is heartbreaking.  It is so full of pain and suffering, the characters are engulfed by an air of despondency that you can almost feel it yourself.  What Amanda and Sarah go through is quite simply unimaginable and as the reader you go through the gamut of emotions with them.  But hope is forever making its presence felt, even at the darkest of times, the feeling of hope is there and you cling to that hope, just like the characters in the book do.

I never lost hope that Sarah would be found.  I never lost hope that Amanda would wake up to her abusive husband.  Those two points really drive the story forward.  About halfway through we are hit with a massive plot twist that literally floors you.  I kept hoping it would be a dream, a cliched plot twist I know, but I am an eternal optimist.  What happens is so awful you are literally forced to feel the emotions Amanda feels, and this hits you hard because you probably don’t see it coming.

A very powerful and heart-wrenching story that you just want to continue reading.  The author deals with the contentious issues beautifully, and I believe that is because she doesn’t get too graphic in her detailing of these situations.  This book will definitely make you stop and think.  This book will definitely leave you emotionally drained, mostly because you become so invested in the story that you feel the pain and grief and suffering along with the characters.

I highly recommended this book.  A five star read  *****

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Pagan Portals: Moon Magic by Rachel Patterson.

This lovely book is ideal for anyone wanting to focus on working with the moon.  It is jam-packed with ideas for rituals, meditations and other moon related activities.  Each chapter has enough information for the novice through to the more experienced practitioner and the author suggests adding your own spin on everything too.

The book only has 112 pages, but it has no need to be on the lengthy side as what it contains is more than enough for anyone to get serious about working with the moon.  The chapters cover Esbats, the phases of the moon, seasonal aspects, the Celtic Tree Calendar, moon deities and much, much more.  The instructions are clear and concise, and, as already mentioned, there is plenty of scope for you to add your own twist to any of the suggestions included.

I was really impressed at the sheer volume of information contained in this book, quite often the material is repetitive in something this short, but that wasn’t the case here.

Well worth a read for anyone interested in this subject.

Highly Recommended.

5 stars *****

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My Soul Is Wherever You Are.

The title of this book suggests a romantic read.  The reality of this book is a murder/mystery.  It’s a very short read but boy, the author packs so much adventure and intrigue into the book that you don’t really feel cheated by it not being longer.

The story moves back and forth between the end of World War 2, to 1963 and to Easter 2011.  It can be a little confusing at times but I found re-reading the opening lines or the end of the previous chapter brought me back up to speed without any difficulty.  the story centres around certain individuals in the tale and leads up to the revelation of the killer of Moresco, his death is what starts the story off.

It has been translated into English and sometimes this interrupts the flow of the narrative, this is what has happened here.  don’t get me wrong, you can easily understand the story but I feel it has lost some of its natural flow in the translation.  All in all a pleasant short read.

3 stars ***

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Review of Voices Of The Sacred Feminine.

  

This book consists of many different stories, points of view and interviews that the editor has conducted on her radio show, Voices of the Sacred Feminine. The book brings us tales of struggles throughout the world, the struggles that women face everyday. These voices share their knowledge and wisdom on how they are trying to make a difference in this world. There are so many different points of view, too many to list here, you are sure to find something that resonates within you.
The book looks beyond God, the Christian God, and instead explores the role of the Goddess. There is a wealth of mythological stories, as well as tales of finding oneself and overcoming periods of struggle.
The book is quite lengthy, 409 pages, and is broken down into four parts. You won’t get through this in one go, but the book isn’t designed for that. For me, I felt it was the type of book one would dip into when searching for inspiration, and there is plenty of that in this book.
I enjoyed this book and recommend it to anyone who is looking for something beyond the usual self help offering.
5 stars *****

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Review of My Townie Heart.

My Townie Heart is set in Massachusetts in the 1970’s.  It centres around Laura DiStefano and her life within the family she loves but seems to want to escape.  We first meet Laura as she is coming back home after flunking University.  She feels ashamed and feels she has let her dream go to waste.  As the book gets going we learn that Laura’s sister Jane was sexually assaulted and raped as a child by a local boy, Tommy.  This attack has a huge bearing on the family and their future and Laura makes references to it throughout the book.

Upon her return home she finds a job at a local Greek cafe and finds herself a boyfriend, Kevin.  She misses her old life, the one she had carved out for herself at University, her friends – especially Gail – and she views her job at the cafe and her involvement with Kevin as temporary.  She has no desire to settle into a life in Springfield but is doing very little about escaping that life.

Laura and Jane have a close relationship, although as a survivor of such an attack Jane is portrayed as brash and a sort of misfit.  I’m not sure if that is the way I would want to see a rape survivor portrayed, as a misfit – maybe small town mentality is to blame? – but the feisty character trait and glimpses of self destructive behaviour certainly ring true.  Jane is pregnant but at first she is hiding it from her parents, or so she believes.  The relationship both girls have with their parents is strained at best, but once Jane gives birth that all changes.  They seem to become more like a family again, something that has been missing ever since Jane was attacked when she was five years old.

Laura’s relationship with Kevin is complicated, by her behaviour and thoughts.  He clearly loves her but she shies away from her feelings towards him at first.  On one of her visits back to the University to visit Gail, the friend she made whilst there, she comes face to face with the boy who broke her heart at Uni and this leads her to recklessly fall into bed with a local drug dealer.  She regrets this action but decides to keep it to herself, not wanting to come clean to Kevin about her behaviour.

Eventually Kevin finds out about her one night stand and they split up.  The break up affects her more than she cares to admit  but as usual she buries her feelings and tries to act like nothing is wrong.  After a few months she bumps into Kevin and they agree to talk, but he can’t see her right then as his mother is in the hospital and he needs to help out at home.  He agrees to collect her from work the next day and Laura finds that she is really looking forward to it.  The next day Tommy, who has been back in town a while, comes into the cafe.  Jane is also at the cafe with Tabitha, her baby, and her friend Kimmy.  Tommy and his friend cause a scene and Ari, the cafe owner, asks them to leave.  Ari is pushed to the ground and then Tommy sees Jane.  A strange sort of conversation is started up between the two of them, but Jane is insulting Tommy.  He then says something about Tabitha and Jane seems to flip, she stabs him in the chest and Laura is convinced she’s killed him.  Laura faints and when she comes round the police have arrived, along with Kevin.  Tommy isn’t dead but Laura feels different.  Panic sets in after this latest incident and she eventually becomes agoraphobic.  She sinks into a depression and won’t leave the house at all.  One night she argues with Jane, who has been out drinking, and Jane tells her to leave.  Without thinking Laura goes to pack a few things and leaves, heading for New Mexico, where one of Gail’s friend’s lives.

It is in New Mexico where she sorts herself out; going back to school to get the right qualifications to become a lawyer and starting to live the kind of life she wants.  She keeps in touch with Kevin, although he is angry with her at first for just taking off.  The story ends with Kevin’s alcoholic father dying and Kevin deciding to join her in New Mexico.

There were aspects of this book I loved and aspects I hated.  I hated the drug use Laura, Jane and Laura’s friends were so hooked on.  But that drug use is an integral part of the story so I totally understand why it is there.  I hated how Jane was portrayed as a misfit just because she was a victim of rape.  I have put that down to the small town mentality and the era, I’m not sure if that is what the author intended.  I loved Jane.  Having gone through what she did – although not at the same age as her – I could understand what she felt.  I loved how the effect of the attack was shown from the family’s point of view.  I loved how Sonya, (Gail’s friend), felt it necessary to share her own rape story and not let herself be defined as a victim, or be ashamed of herself.  I wanted to throttle Laura when she wouldn’t open up to Kevin about her feelings towards the future.

I think this is a powerful story and not just because of the attack on Jane.  I think Laura is typical of many people her age, especially when it comes to knowing what they want to do with their future.  That was true back in the 70’s and it is still true today.  The story was very much about Laura exploring her options, wrestling with her own demons and feeling responsible for what had happened to Jane.  Some of the content is a little graphic and at times the story is very dark, but it is a brilliant read and I highly recommend it.

5 stars *****

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Review of Karma, Deception And A Pair Of Red Ferraris.

Karma, Deception And A Pair Of Red Ferraris was an enjoyable read right from the beginning.  Elaine, the protagonist tells her story of her quest fro true love.  The book follows her on her quest to find her soul mate, and she’s already been married three times!

Elaine is successful, she doesn’t need a man in her life to take care of her.  She doesn’t need a man in her life to define her.  She wants a man in her life to enjoy spending time with.  But as she has found out the hard way it isn’t always as easy as meeting someone and hitting it off.

The main bulk of the book deals with Elaine’s relationship with Jake, an OBGYN.  Jake seems perfect for Elaine and she embarks on the relationship with high hopes that he is the much desired “one”.  Her psychic tells her that she is about to embark on a wonderful relationship and Elaine firmly believes this must be with Jake.  Jake has issues.  He has also been involved with a few women and has a complicated relationship with his ex, whom he still sees from time to time.  He hasn’t gotten over his dad wife either.

Throughout the book we get to share the ups and downs of Elaine’s life, especially the downs.  Her beloved dog, Graeble, is diagnosed with cancer.  At first the vet is able to treat her and Elaine appreciates and values the time she gets to spend with Graeble.  But just as her relationship with Jake is becoming a little more established Graeble’s cancer returns and there is nothing to do be done for.  Elaine decides to go with the most humane option and takes her beloved dog to the vet to have her put to sleep.  Quite clearly she needs someone to talk to but Jake is absent, spending time with his adult kids instead.  This is when Elaine begins to realise that he is never going to be all she wants him to be.

They eventually go their separate ways and Elaine slips into a depression caused by the break-up and the grief of losing Graeble.  Her life feels hollow and she almost ends it at one point.  Thankfully her doctor prescribes anti-depressants and HRT – Elaine is hitting the menopause – and she is able to slowly lift herself out of her depression.  She becomes a volunteer for a homeless charity and begins to appreciate her life once more, even without Jake in it.  She finally bumps into him again and is shocked to learn that he has an aggressive form of cancer.  She offers to be a companion to him until the end.

This book contains an awful lot of emotional stuff and you may need a box of tissues when you read it.  It was a love story but not the whole hearts and flowers, which was unexpected.  Elaine goes through a huge personal transformation and it is really emotional for her.

Very well written.  Thought provoking.  Often emotional.  Witty.  I loved it.

5 stars *****

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Center of Gravity, a review.

Before I begin, oh my word, you MUST go out and buy this book.

What a read!

The story is told from a couple of points of view, mainly Ava Carson and her step-son, Jack Carson.  Occasionally there is another point of view in the book, namely Mitchell Carson’s and lawyer, Graham Thomas.  The story starts with Jack, an eight year old boy who wishes more than anything that he was a superhero.  He gets into a lot of scrapes, often ending with him having to attend the emergency room.  It is on one of these occasions where we are introduced to Ava.  Ava comes across as kind and sweet, the impression is that she has a perfect life and if you don’t really read the blurb then you can be forgiven for thinking that this sweet lady has it all.

However, her husband, Mitchell Carson is so jealous of her popularity and it soon becomes apparent that he is quite controlling.  Pretty soon Ava’s world is turned upside down by Mitchell’s callous and controlling behaviour and she goes from having the perfect life to having everything ripped away from her.  After having a few issues Mitchell decides that he should move out for a while and one day tricks Ava into thinking he wants to spend time with Jack, who Ava has adopted, and his baby brother, Sam.  Mitchell does not take the boys back when he is supposed to and everything spirals out of control for Ava from that point on.  Mitchell hires a top lawyer and then rings around other lawyers preventing them from helping Ava.  There is a glimmer of hope though in the form of Graham Thomas, a lawyer who is trying to rebuild his reputation after a drug scandal saw him suspended from practicing for a time.  Between the them Ava and Graham manage to rustle up a defence, but not before Mitchell manages to restrict Ava’s access to the kids to one hour per week and lies his way to getting a restraining order against his wife.

This book deals with the issue of domestic abuse and there may be many triggers in it for anyone who has been a victim of this kind of abuse, or knows someone who has been.  It is quite shocking to read about Mitchell’s manipulation and how he goes all out to get the boys off Ava for good.  The book also delves into how divorce and abuse affect children and some readers may find this quite harrowing.

That said, I was hooked right from the beginning of this book.  I just could not put it down and read it in one sitting.  There were times in the book that I was sad, then I would find myself become so angry on Ava’s behalf.  I hated Mitchell and really hoped he would meet a nasty ending, although how things turn out for him left me feeling satisfied that he would feel tormented.

This book is a gripping tale of how abusive people manipulate others into believing their truth and how their victims are left helpless and often feel like they have no one to turn to.  I felt Laura McNeill dealt with these issues really well, as well as giving us the view point of a child who is also suffering at the hands of such a manipulator.  Throughout the pain and suffering you do get a hint of hope and you find yourself clinging to that hope, just as Ava does, as the story progresses. Dealing with such topics can often be difficult to get right but I feel the author has got the blend just right.

You MUST buy this book, it is sad, disturbing, beautiful and happy and it WILL move you, I promise.

Highly recommended!  ***** 5 stars.

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Review Of One More Day

When I first started reading this book I had no idea what was happening.  It felt very disjointed and confusing. It started out like a load of jumbled up musings that made no sense to me at all.  I considered giving up with the book but figured I would give it one more chapter before making a final decision.  I am very glad that I did stick it out because once I got to chapter three the story finally began to make sense to me.  My interest was piqued and although the story is a little on the chaotic side it actually works.

The story is about Giacomo and Michaela and is set in Italy and America.  They commute on the same train each morning and one morning they catch each other’s eye.  This sets the pattern for the next few months until one morning Michaela suggests they meet up.  Giacomo has never been able to commit to any woman before but he loves women and is interested and intrigued by the beautiful Michaela.  When they meet up Giacomo is disappointed to learn that Michaela has not asked him to join her because she wants to arrange a date, but because she is about to move to America to live and work there.

Without really trying to make a real connection with Michaela, Giacomo finds that his life just is not the same without her on the commute each morning.  He decides to go and spend a couple of weeks in America, to find her  – after his best friend Sylvia finds out where Michaela is working.  A series of mishaps at the airport mean that his phone is rendered useless and so he has no way of contacting Michaela to warn her that he is about to arrive in New York.  Again, Sylvia comes to his rescue and Giacomo sets off to Michaela’s workplace.  Before he sees her he worries that she will think he is a stalker, but she is happy to see him.  She agrees to meet him after work and gives him her journals from when she was commuting back in Italy.  In the journals she has written about him and he is happy to learn that she is as intrigued about him as he is about her.  Over the next couple of weeks they have a relationship, knowing that it will have an expiry date – something they both agreed to.

The idea of the relationship with an expiry date seemed a little cold, but the author made sure there was plenty of romance for the two characters.  Michaela is a lovely character, Giacomo on the other hand comes across as quite shallow.  He has, however, met his match in Michaela and he can’t get over her once he returns to his normal life.  I did think that the story was going to end in a disappointing way, but I am happy to say it ended rather lovely.

Some reviews have scoffed at this story for being too far-fetched, but in my opinion it is fiction and the ideas the author explores are quite romantic.  The story is written from Giacomo’s point of view which may explain why I found him shallow – a man’s point of view.  It was well written and after I had gotten a handle on the confusing plot I did enjoy the book.

Recommended for anyone who loves a romantic adventure.

4 stars ****

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Review of Traditional Witchcraft Series

The review I am writing is for the complete series of the Traditional Witchcraft books.  These books can be read as stand alone books – they do kind of fit together but are not essential to read in order.  If you are interested in witchcraft and paganism these books offer you information on the basics, not so much as a “how to”,  but more of  a “lifestyle” type of book.

The first book – Traditional Witchcraft for Urban Living – gives you a good, broad look at all aspects of pagan life.  It really focuses on living as a pagan in the city.  I did love this because most books of this genre focus mostly on being at one with nature and assuming we all have instant access to nature.  This is not the case for many of us and most of these books are lacking in life in the city as a pagan.  The author, Melusine Draco, does a fabulous job of bringing the craft to city dwellers and the book is geared towards people who live in the city.  There are plenty of tips, exercises, and practical advice which is given as good, old-fashioned common sense.

The second book – Traditional Witchcraft for the Seashore – is just as beautifully written as the first book.  Again, it is very descriptive book.  There are a lot of facts and information on tides and cloud descriptions.  The book is aimed at those wanting to harness the energies of the sea for their craft.

The third book – Traditional Witchcraft for Fields and Hedgerows – is again aimed at people who are wishing to learn the basics of this tradition.  There is quite a bit of interesting information about trees and their properties and  a lot of very interesting information relating to Wild Herb Lore.  The author talks about what is happening within nature month by month and I felt this was a really useful tool to include, especially for city dwellers.  As with the first two books the author is very informative and writes beautifully.

The fourth book – Traditional Witchcraft for the Woods and Forests – is aimed at those with a broader understanding of the craft.  Although, that said, it could easily be read by a beginner as there is nothing really complicated in there.  This book again discusses trees and takes the reader on a magical journey through meditations.

Book five – Traditional Witchcraft and the Pagan Revival – is again aimed at those who already have some knowledge, but as with the fourth book I see no reason why any beginner to the craft could not easily read and understand this book.  This book concentrates on the craft throughout history.  In it, the author focuses on our ancestors and the gods they would have worshiped, detailing historical facts that have been documented elsewhere.  I have to say, this for was a very interesting read and I thoroughly enjoyed it from start to finish.  If you have no idea about Britain’s history and belief system pre- Christianity then this book is very informative and will definitely help you to understand your ancestors better.

Book six – Traditional Witchcraft and the Path to the Mysteries – felt like the author had taken lots of bits from her previous work and put it into this book.  If you had not read any of the previous books in this series then this would not be a problem.  For those who have read the other books you are going to find a lot of what is said in this book quite repetitive.  It is aimed at the advanced seeker but I felt it was patronising to those who have been around the craft for a long time.  Whilst that is just my viewpoint I do think the book is worth a read for someone who is looking for something more than the usual beginner books.  It does make a nice leap from beginner to the next level but I don’t feel it is as advanced as we are led to believe.  As a standalone book I would rate this highly, especially for anyone who is not as long in the tooth as those of us who have been practicing for many years.  The author has some great ideas and tips, as with all of the books in this series.

All in all I would purchase these books for family and/or friends who are interested in this way of life, although book 6 would only be bought for those who are less experienced.  Very informative books and well worth the read.

5 stars overall. *****

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