31 Day Blog Challenge- Day 4: My Earliest Magical Memory

I’m participating in the 31 Day Blog Challenge. I was inspired to participate in this challenge by my friend – handmade gemstone jewelry designer Mixed Elementals. Check out her beautiful pieces here.

If you would like to participate in this challenge, check out the 31 day prompts at the bottom of this blog and don’t forget to tag it using the hashtag #31dayblogchallenge.

Check out my previous posts in this challenge by clicking on the ‘Miscellaneous’ Tab on the homepage of this blog.

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My earliest magical memory was visiting a new age shop called ‘Odyssey Books & Resource Centre.’ It was a local shop that my Mom had frequented looking for Astrology & health books. When I was around 8 she took me to the shop for the very first time and I have been visiting it ever since.

It was at that time that the first Harry Potter film was released and I was a huge fan! Going to ‘Odyssey’ was like stepping into Diagon Alley. The shop itself is in a Germanic inspired courtyard which is also home to a dance studio, an icecream shop, a German restaurant, a dress shop, and fur shop, & so much more. There is a purple and gold celestial banner outside and you can smell floral musky incense wafting outside into the parking lot. It’s the store’s signature scent that has sunk into the pages of its books and attaches itself to your clothing, intoxicating everyone who comes in.  Here’s a picture of it down below.

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Stepping inside made me feel like I was in the world of Harry Potter. The walls were lined with tall bookshelves packed full of all sorts of obscure titles that would feed any new ager’s soul. Every square inch of this store had something to see and touch. Crystals, incense, candles, jewelry, trinkets, odds & ends, wands, statues…….all that was missing was Mr. Ollivander himself. Over the years many customers have complained that the store is cluttered, but I feel it adds to the authentic aesthetic it has going on. There’s so much to see that you can only tackle one section at one time.

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During my first visit to this shop I purchased a white stuffed bunny wearing a celestial garb and pointed hat. I named him Merlin and I had him for years. He was a much complimented fixture in my starry themed bedroom. I remember leaving the store after my visit feeling awe inspired and a bit more magical.

Although there have been a number of new age shops that have opened in the area, including one I briefly worked at, Odyssey has always been my favourite and go to for crystals and books. Last year they celebrated their 20th anniversary and I am hopeful that they will be around for another 20!

I never get tired of visiting this shop. There is always an excitement that precedes my visit and an even more excited feeling that succeeds it when I leave with my little purple bag full of all sorts of goodies. Their items have helped me along in my spiritual journey, and if it wasn’t for their books and crystals, I am not sure what and where I would be?

I have been shopping at the Odyssey for 17 years, and what a magical 17 years it has been.

Blessed Be!

 

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My Best Reads of 2017

2017 was the year of books for me! I was able to read and review 26 books (I’m both a little surprised and proud of this). I didn’t want to rank the books best to worst, so I rated them based on their categories. Without further ado, here we go!

Best Fiction 

  1. The Rules of Magic by Alice Hoffman

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The Rules of Magic revisits the Owens clan- not Sally and Gillian this time, rather the eccentric aunts- Fran & Jet. The story follows the aunts and their brother Vincent as teenagers who discover their magical lineage and all the perilous adventures they have as a result. The 1960s backdrop of the novel creates a kaleidoscope of magic that twists and turns as the story unfolds. It’s less hippy star-child, and more awakened thrill seeking. Growing up in a strict household, when Franny turns 17, she receives an invitation to spend the summer with her eccentric aunt in Massachusetts (in that glorious white house we remember from Practical Magic). The three head off and are initiated into magic-by making black soap at the full moon, collecting herbs for their neighbours woes, and scrying a black mirror that shows the future. Once again the home served as a sanctuary and respite from the children’s overbearing mother who forbade magic and falling in love. One day, their spunky cousin April comes for a visit who tells them all about their ancestor- Maria Owens- who was responsible for the Owens “love curse.” As we saw with Practical Magic the Owens tend to play a dangerous game of love vs fate. Franny is cautious, Jet is passionate, and Vincent is reckless. The story takes us from their magical awakening in Massachusetts, to their adult life running an Apothecary in NYC, and to their first meeting with Sally and Gillian. Along the way we find ourselves becoming entangled in their love affairs, grieving at funerals, and soothsaying what appears to be their fated futures. It’s hard not to become emotionally involved with these characters whose innocence, determination, and risk taking, tugs at your heart strings- at times making you cry and smile.

Readers and fans of the Owens story know, that death is a frequent visitor for the Owens and The Rules of Magic are no exception. Tempting fate and risking love are the common themes throughout this story- but we see so clearly how it is loss, heartbreak, and destiny that weaves the most powerful spell of all. Alice Hoffman’s most successful achievement with both Practical Magic and The Rules of Magic is that she makes us realize that magic is not about waving a wand or dancing naked under the full moon (partially clothed will suffice), rather magic is an inherent gift we each possess- we either live our lives defeated-surrendering complete control to kismet, or we actively co-create our realities through adding a heavy dose of love to everything that comes our way. Magic is what you make of it, and as we have learned from the Owens the only rule of magic, is that magic is boundless- we create our own rules through the choices we make. A pinch of salt, some lavender, and a black cat doesn’t hurt either.

 

2. The Stargazer’s Embassy by Eleanor Lerman

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The Stargazer’s Embassy is unlike any alien novel written before. Thought provoking and addictive, this is a must read and should be on everyone’s e-reader and book shelf. Judging by the title, what appears to be a quirky cosmic sci-fi novel is actually a rich metaphysical novel that ponders some important existential questions. What really happens after death? What are aliens’ intentions? Can we ever truly escape our past?

The story follows a woman named Julia who finds herself part of an alien conspiracy and wants no part of it. She’s a house-cleaner who is trying to move on from her new-agey childhood and mommy issues. All she has is a tattoo, and a place called The Stargazer’s Embassy, where people come and go, like life itself. We find her at various points in her life struggling with this issue, and trying to make a life for herself. Along the way we are introduced to some interesting characters who find themselves implicated in the very same alien problems she’s trying to escape from.

Julia’s defiance of involving herself in this haunting issue is what makes this a stand out novel. We don’t see Julia enthusiastically throwing herself into the unknown. We see a truly scared, annoyed, and assertive character who becomes the anti-hero. There is a will she or won’t she anticipation that hooks the reader and offers a certain emotional and psychological realism. There are plenty of alien encounters in the novel to satisfy traditional science fiction lovers, but it takes it a step further by offering a multitude of spiritual questions. It is because of this, that The Stargazer’s Embassy becomes an exploration of the meaning of life.

Suffering from emotional abandonment issues, the aliens become a metaphor for Julia’s strange childhood. In essence, she herself is an alien- trying to create a life for herself that she’s never known. Losing her mother with many unanswered questions, Julia hopes her encounters with the aliens, or “things” as she likes to call them, will provide her with the answers she needs. The aliens themselves are not exactly sure what they’re looking for and this in turn becomes a mirror for Julia and other “experiencers” encounters. If we all had the chance to travel throughout the cosmos like the aliens- would any of our questions be answered, or would we be even more confused? Julia spends most of her life searching for answers, but it is the very place she is running away from that provides her with the comfort she seeks- The Stargazer’s Embassy. The aliens have just as many questions as Julia and her friends do, but appreciating life for the journey it is, is all that counts in the end. Everything has a beginning and an end, so rather than spend lifetimes dissecting what it all means, it is important to treasure every waking moment, because it is those moments that stitch the fabric of our lives. There are two things we must do in our lifetime, be born and die. Everything in between is alien compared to the certainty of those two things.

I appreciated the humour associated with the aliens and their un-friendly demeanors. Once again they did not come across as stereotypical menacing superior beings, but relatable drifters who seemed genuinely lost. The story was perfectly paced and the first person narrative was a great way to keep the reader invested in Julia’s journey.

In essence, each of us have our own Stargazer’s Embassy- a place, either imagined or real where we are able to go to find comfort and peace- knowing that the answers we seek, are in fact seeking us. The Stargazer’s Embassy is a place where people- human and inhuman come and go, like life itself.

*A big thank you to Sarah Miniaci at Smith Publicity Inc. for being kind enough to send me a paperback copy to review. You’re friendly correspondence and enthusiasm for this book has me looking forward to reviewing other Smith Publicity Inc. books!

 

3. The Goblins of Bellwater by Molly Ringle

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The Goblins of Bellwater was one of the most unique stories I have ever read. I applaud the author for choosing to write a book about a supernatural creature that does not get featured in literature very much. The storyline was captivating and kept me hooked from the beginning until the end. Its dark magic crept into each of the characters lives, making this an eerie tale of forest fae, temptations, and sacrifice. There was a certain realism to the story and characters that makes me wonder if there aren’t goblins hiding in every forest around the world? I loved how the it took place in Washington state which is a lovely break from the traditional supernatural locations of London and New York. There was enough romance to satisfy supernatural romance lovers and enough of a background story of who the goblins were, that mythology readers would appreciate. Incorporating other mystical creatures aside from the Goblins was a lovely added touch- along with the nod to environmental protectionism. There are times when the story becomes a little vulgar which is needed in order to demonstrate the effects of the Goblin magic, but it seemed a little predictable and I would have liked to have seen a darker effect on the humans as opposed to eroticism. Overall this book was original, uncomfortable, and addictive. I know that fans of supernatural and fantasy genres will adore it and it will perhaps start a goblin trend in other books to come. I do hope there is a sequel and for some reason I can’t help but think that Bellwater is not quite done with the Goblins.

 

Best New Age/How To’s

1.  Womb Awakening: Initiatory Wisdom From The Creatrix of All Life by Azra Bertrand & Seren Bertrand

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An exploration of the divine feminine, an intricate look at the hidden feminine/womb symbology throughout cultures, times, and places, and the explanation of the womb as a spiritual gateway- this book was groundbreaking on a number of levels. As someone who has recently become very interested in the divine feminine, I have been on the hunt for a book like Womb Awakening for quite some time. This book will shock you, awaken you, and inspire you to open yourself up to feminine consciousness. Feminine consciousness is described in the book as a metaphor for cosmic creation. When we begin to honour the feminine and all that is encompasses such as mothering, nurturing, creativity, intimacy, and intuition, we can not only heal ourselves- but we have the opportunity to the heal humanity because the feminine boils down to LOVE. Since we all came from the Great Mother of the universe, we are all starseeds encoded with the feminine- we each have the power to create and to destroy.

The book went in a few different directions and proposed that the ills of the world can be attributed to the disconnection to the feminine- a soul loss. It’s not about being a woman or a man- feminine goes beyond that as we each have both within us. This book explores why there is a need to embrace the feminine cosmology again after thousands of years of patriarchy.

Rather than chapters, this book contains Spirals- which are sections of the book that explore the mysteries of the feminine deeper than what a chapter could. The spirals themselves will be explained later in the book as the original chakra system- a feminine spiral path that energy flows mirroring a cosmic portal. This supports one of the main tenets of womb consciousness which is that flow with life is the feminine mystery. There is a deep discussion of the Womb of God which explains womb consciousness. I would have preferred if that was at the beginning of the book prior to the long discussion of womb symbology. Throughout the book Womb Oracles were a creative way to eloquently express and digest the chapter it followed, and were channeled by the authors who journeyed deep into the feminine. This gave a great visual. A plethora of tips on how to connect to womb consciousness such as breathing techniques and posture poses were extremely helpful and reader friendly.

This book went places other books on the divine feminine did not. There were discussions on the cerebellum, the spiritual meanings of conception, gestation, and how the four elements are connected to birth, which was ingenious. The lunar consciousness discussion was unique, and I would have loved more information on that because there aren’t any books that have explored that from the angle of Womb Consciousness. The trickster archetype to explain the loss of the feminine was original along with the sacred feminine medicine wheel.

If I could sum up what Womb Consciousness is, this is what I would say:

-Womb is a place of sacred union- where we lose the “I’ and become one with source

-Womb as a stargate, a reservoir of cosmic knowledge

-Alchemical abilities of the womb- becoming a sacred form of chemistry

-Womb is an archive of trauma and deep emotions

I have never read a book that had so much passion and love poured into its pages. You can really tell the authors have been affected greatly by womb consciousness and have evolved and opened up to the feminine. This is an encyclopedic source while at the same time a love letter and sensory exploration of the feminine that is compelling and inspiring. Womb Awakening is and will be a sacred encyclopedia for generations to come! The book itself is a womb that the reader will journey into, and every page will become a source of light.

 

2. Crystal Magic by Sandra Kynes

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A must read for anyone who uses and or is interested in crystals- whether you are a lapidary or witch- you will find this book to be both grimoire and text book. Crystal Magic is one of the best books I have read about crystals. Most books on this topic simply name crystals and their properties but this book took it a step further. The first part of the book is about the History and Science of crystals which is absolutely needed if you are going to be working with them. It is fascinating learning about crystals and gemstones in antiquity whether it was in astrology, divination, or medicinal uses. Learning about crystals from a scientific perspective such as their mineral compositions, their crystalline structures, and their formations provides a wealth of information about crystals that help you understand their magical properties even more. This section was not overly scientific, so if you are not a sciencey person, you have nothing to fear about this part of this book. This was extremely useful as we can sometimes forget that at the end of the day, crystals come from the earth. Tips on how to spot fake stones was also very helpful as we want to ensure that we are not simply relying on the placebo effect and that we aren’t supporting fraudulent distributors. I thought the chapter on crystals grids that are based on the crystalline structures of the crystals to be ingenious as I have never come across information about that before. The Compendium of Stones was one of the best I have seen as it also included the history of stones as many books opt not to include that in their descriptions. Two reference guides are also included at the back of the book that list the magical correspondences for the crystals such as ruling deities and planets. Once again this was very helpful. Whether you are a beginner or more advanced crystal practitioner, this book creates a solid foundation in understanding crystals from their historical and geological perspectives. Understanding crystals, gems, and minerals history and compositions creates a deeper and richer appreciation for these marvelous rocks.

 

3. The Body Heals Itself by Emily A. Francis

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The Body Heals Itself looks at muscle memory from a metaphysical perspective. This book has a Louise Hay ring to it because she built her career on her books about the emotional body. This book takes it a step further by focusing in on our muscles- which is something Louise Hay did not.

A discussion on the biology of muscles was included to help readers understand their functions. From there, muscles as storehouses for memories was included using both biological and spiritual examples. The author’s main point was that when muscles are massaged and stretched- emotions are released. She gave examples of clients she worked with who were able to discuss and heal old wounds when their muscles were massaged and activated which helped to prove her point. Chakras and meridians were also described, which is pretty standard for these types of books.

By the far the most interesting and important part of the book was learning the emotional component of each muscle group which is directly linked to their functions. Stretching techniques were included, along with recommended crystals, and essential oils. The main thesis of the body healing itself comes through when by the end of the book we are reminded that muscles remember when they are healthy as does the body. Our body stores emotions in order for us to go within and release them. Healing can only occur when the body is an active participant.

Overall a fascinating read that will ultimately offer a deeper appreciation of something we take for granted- our muscles.

 

Most Unusual

1. The Cairo Pulse by B.B Kindred

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This book was a metaphysical exploration of the collective consciousness, magnetism, memory recall, and the limits of the human experience. The main character Gabriel, an architect, begins to tap into the reservoir we call the collective consciousness due to an enigmatic character named Cairo. Think of it as a database where old memories, suppressed feelings and thoughts get archived. I couldn’t help but notice that the use of architecture throughout the story was reminiscent of a classical technique known as the Art of Memory. This technique required the individual to create a mental picture of a building with rooms. Usually this building was one which was familiar to the individual. Different objects would be envisioned in each room, leading the individual through the building of their mind. This technique was used ultimately for memory recall. I wonder if the author intentionally or unintentionally incorporated this technique into the story? Regardless, it serves as a genius metaphor for memory retrieval. The human mind is like a building with thousands of rooms that contain compartmentalized experiences. Deep spiritual practices such as meditation or for the purpose of this book- magnetic pulses, can assist with breaking into these rooms to collect what was believed to be lost. The story makes a point that it’s not simply about remembering what once was- rather it’s a full mind, body, soul experience that shatters the five senses into heightened awareness, and creates a spiritual awakening whereby one realizes that nothing is ever truly lost- but simply unconscious. If time is an illusion, than what once was, is what is now. Artificial memories become the norm such as memorizing useless information, and forgetting what happened merely minutes ago, while natural memories become stored into a hermetic reservoir. The human mind can be both logical and illogical at times, and The Cairo Pulse explores this idea- pushing the boundaries of what we believe to be the human potential.

The story is overly descriptive and wordy, but I appreciate this complexity as simplicity would have been a disservice to this mind boggling journey. The Cairo Pulse will challenge you to dig deep within yourself in order to align to your highest potential. If The Cairo Pulse is deemed a sci-fi novel, than I am very excited for this genre to explore the spirituality of science.

 

Disappointing Reads

  1. Healing From Within by Ryuho Okawa

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Healing from Within was a bland attempt at explaining the mind body connection. It’s a difficult topic to tackle considering the forerunner of this topic is none other than Louise Hay whose underlying metaphysical causes of disease has captured the hearts and minds of many. My biggest contention with this book was the discussions of the mind body connection in general. Nothing new was introduced here, nothing that the readers of this book wouldn’t already know, for instance we all know stress causes disease. But Mr. Okawa’s advice of spending money to manage one’s health is contradictory to his other messages of not allowing work and our busy lives to consume us. How can one spend money on managing their health if that requires slaving away at work to earn that very money that is one answer to combating their stress? The book took a turn when evil spirits were introduced as a culprit to disease. I appreciate Mr. Okawa’s religious and cultural background, but to imply that evil spirits seek out those with eating disorders is a little ridiculous, even for those of us who are more metaphysically inclined. If an analogy was made between evil spirits and state of mind, then perhaps this book could have gone in a different direction, where a comparison of different socio-cultural viewpoints of disease could have been introduced. Unlike Louise Hay who looked to our actual state of minds and feelings as the harbingers of disease, I was disappointed that Mr. Okawa did not focus more on the mind itself. His explanation is that the when the mind is suffering from depression or other ailments, this draws negative spirits to the individual, inciting disease. There seems to be a disconnect with his thesis of the mind body connection and what his book actually discussed. I am sure many people will appreciate this perspective, but I just wish he took everything a little further. I enjoyed his brief sections on Death and the Disabled, but it did not go anywhere. Infusing this book with more focus on the mind and our emotions as opposed to demons would save this work from turning into a weak, boring, and at times ridiculous exploration of healing.

 

2. Sigil Witchery by Laura Tempest Zakroff

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Sigil Witchery explores sigil magick all the way from the past such as heiroglyphics, up to the modern day present with graffitti. This book is different in that it does not show you how to make a traditional sigil using a kabbalah numbers grid. It would have been helpful to show how to make a traditional sigil rather than simply mention it and move on. The instructions on how to make a sigil were based on modern magick and witchy sovereignty. A discussion on why certain symbols were sacred to certain peoples were mentioned in many chapters which was a prelude to finding one’s own symbolic significance.

Personally, I wished a more methodical approach to sigil witchery was the focus of this book, as opposed to just making your own sigil without any specific system. There was a recurring theme of playing around with shapes and designs that does require a certain level of artistry in my opinion. Not only does this turn away a large audience, but for those looking for a more ritualistic and traditional approach to sigil magick, this book would not be satisfactory.

My advice to the author would be to devote some time to explaining traditional sigil magick in order to lay the proper foundation for readers.

 

That’s all folks! I will see you and my book reviews in 2018.

If you would like me to review your books, please send me a message and I would be more than happy to feature them here on my blog.

Keep reading!

An Interview with Molly Ringle Author of The Goblins of Bellwater

I am honoured to be a part of the Launch Events for The Goblins of Bellwater by Molly Ringle. Please see an interview with Molly about her enchanting book down below. This was one of my favourite reads so far this year and I cannot recommend it enough!

Q & A With Molly Ringle
The Goblins of Bellwater

How closely did you follow Christina Rossetti’s poem “Goblin Market” as a basis for the story?
I call this a book “inspired by” Rossetti’s poem rather than saying it’s “based upon” it, because I did veer from the poem a significant amount. I first read the poem a few years ago, and it intrigued me deeply. It’s evocative and strange, and, like a fairy tale, has many symbols and events that could be interpreted as having several different meanings. My assignment to myself was to use it as a jumping-off point for a modern paranormal novel, which would then go its own way as the plot required. What I kept from the
poem was the basic surface framework: we have a pair of sisters, grown but on the young side, one of whom becomes enchanted by eating goblin fruit in the forest and begins wasting away as a result, alarming the other sister into seeking a way to save her. Since Rossetti’s poem ends with a fast-forward to the women being “wives” and telling their children about their adventures, and since I wanted to write a paranormal romance anyway, I gave my modern sister characters a pair of men to get involved
with, in a double love story with eerie angles that I think match the eeriness of the original poem. Mind you, another interpretation of the poem is that the two women aren’t really sisters but lovers, which would be a different route to take and which I think would be lovely to see too!

For those of us who haven’t been there, what is Puget Sound like and why did you choose it as a setting for a retold fairy tale?
Puget Sound is a vast area of Pacific seawater, meandering into countless inlets and coves in skinny, deep fjords left behind by glaciers. Seattle and Tacoma and Olympia lie on its shores, on some of its largest bays, but it also has many wilder and more rural shores, especially on the western side where it backs up against a huge national forest on the Olympic Peninsula. That’s the region where my grandparents bought a vacation cabin decades ago, and where my family has been going for many vacations ever
since. I can safely say it’s one of my favorite places on Earth. In order to agree, you have to enjoy a cool, rainy climate and all the thick moss and ferns and mushrooms and huge evergreens such a climate produces, and I happen to love those things. Fairy tales, at least those from Northern Europe, almost all involve a deep dark forest. That’s where the faeries, witches, werewolves, vampires, elves, and all the other interesting beings live. Everyone knows that. I haven’t spent much time in the forests of Europe (alas! I will someday), but I reckoned our Pacific Northwest deep dark forests were more than adequate for housing supernatural creatures. My grandmother used to tell us that the mossy ruins of big tree trunks in the Puget Sound forests were the homes of Teeny-tinies, whom I always took to be faeries. So I set the story there, at the edge of the Sound, where saltwater meets woods and where the Teeny-tinies live.

What is the significance of the four elements (Earth, Air, Fire, Water) in this story?
The four elements are common fixtures in many ancient cultures, and have remained popular into the modern day. One of my favorite TV shows is Avatar: the Last Airbender, which uses the four-element framework brilliantly in its world-building. In reading up on faery lore for this book, I found that scholars often classify types of fae under the four elements, and since that appealed to me, I did the same. As one of the characters in The Goblins of Bellwater muses, there’s something human and emotionally real
about looking at nature that way, even if we technically know, thanks to science, that nature contains far more than four elements. And in my novel, the only way to break the goblin spells involves respecting and trusting each of the four elements, even when they’re at their most daunting.

Why do you think fairy tale and other myth and legend re-tellings are so popular right now?
I think they’ve always been popular! Maybe it’s a case of selection bias, because I personally have always been into ghost stories, fairy tales, and other supernatural lore, but it seems to me that human culture has never stopped telling such stories. As scholars of fairy tales will tell you, reading and writing about fantasy and the paranormal may look like escapism from reality, and sometimes I tell myself that’s what
I’m doing, but in truth these stories end up giving us all the useful lessons about real life that any good stories do: empathy, courage, love, respect for nature and community, and the importance of thinking fancifully and creatively.

What are the goblins like in this book?
In keeping with both the “Goblin Market” poem and the bulk of faery lore, they are mischievous and villainous. They laugh a lot, but they are decidedly laughing at you, not with you. They steal, and in particular they lust after gold. Like other fae, they enjoy making deals with humans, but humans would be wise not to enter into such deals, as the obligation tends to be heavier than it sounds at the outset. These goblins go further than merely them, too; they assault and sometimes steal away humans and turn
them into fellow goblins, and at other times enchant them into wandering unhappily in the woods until they waste away and die. Although the goblins are sometimes amusing in their level of witty rudeness, they are nearly all amoral and highly dangerous to get involved with. Only a scant few of them, who were once humans, manage to retain any human empathy. However, not all of the fae in my book are this cruel—the goblins are the worst of the lot! Others are willing to be quite helpful to humans as long
as they are respected in return.

What kind of magic system does this book involve?
In this book, my main characters are ordinary humans who can’t do any magic, but they become involved in the dealings of the fae realm, which is a bit like another dimension. It can be entered or glimpsed by summoning the fae (which includes goblins), who might or might not answer you. But you’re luckier on the whole if they don’t, because many of them are treacherous, and the realm itself is a wilderness containing many uncanny dangers. From the point of view of the human characters, the magical rules and the cultural norms of the fae are nonsensical, almost inexplicable, but since some of
these people have fallen under curses, they have to step in among those dangers and work with the rules as best as they can anyway.

What do you find most challenging in writing a novel?
At first, it’s usually getting to know the characters. I tend to start with a general idea of who they are, but then when I begin writing, I realize there’s too much I still don’t know about these people and therefore they aren’t coming across as real yet. It slows me down in the early stages while I take breaks to write notes in which I interview them and figure them out. I also have a perennial problem with writing antagonists. They have to do fairly awful things (being antagonists and all), but I still want them to feel like real people (or other beings), and therefore I have to get into their heads and figure out why they would feel justified in doing such a thing. It’s not a comfortable place for my mind to go. I suppose that’s why I gravitate more toward romance and lightheartedness: I much prefer spending time with those who love and laugh.

What are the easiest parts of writing a novel for you?
No part of the process is exactly easy. But sometimes lines will occur to me seemingly out of nowhere when I’m writing, and they’re perfect for the moment; or I’ll find my characters talking to each other in my head when I’m not writing. And I love those moments, because for them to have come to life in my imagination like that, it means I must have done sufficient groundwork in figuring out the world and the
characters. So although the groundwork is the hard part, it pays off and leads to easier parts later!

How did the writing of this novel, a fairly short stand-alone paranormal, compare to the writing of the Persephone trilogy?
It was far simpler! The Persephone’s Orchard trilogy had dual timelines, for one thing: the ancient world in Greece, and the reincarnations of those people in the modern day. For another thing, it had far more characters, both in original and reincarnated versions. And for any series, you need to have plot arcs that stretch over the whole series as well as smaller ones that get wrapped up within each volume; and you have to keep the whole thing internally consistent in terms of mood and themes and character personalities. It turned out exhausting enough that I didn’t want to write another series again anytime soon. So I picked The Goblins of Bellwater as my follow-up project: small cast, straightforward plot, and simple timeline. Most of the action takes place within about six weeks, in this small town, which is indeed a contrast to the millennia of world-spanning events covered in the trilogy!

Would you want to live in any of the fictional magical worlds you’ve created?
Strange though it might sound, I’d love to visit the Underworld as I wrote it in Persephone’s Orchard and its sequels. I made it much less scary, for the most part, than it is in traditional Greek mythology; and besides that, I love caves and glowing things, and definitely would be interested in a ride on a ghost horse as long as an immortal was keeping me safe during it. As for the fae realm we see in The Goblins of Bellwater, I’d like to catch glimpses of it, and of the fae themselves, but I wouldn’t want to actually enter
the realm. Too perilous!

What are you writing next?
One of the genres I love, and haven’t written enough of myself, is male/male love stories, so I’ve been working on a couple of those. One is contemporary, no magic or supernatural stuff, and it’s undergoing the feedback-and-revision stage right now. Another will involve a fae realm like that of The Goblins of Bellwater, only in a new location in the world, a fictional setting I’m creating. I stoll have to figure out how
this place works and what its magic system is like, in addition to getting to know the characters, but I’m excited about the idea and it has definitely taken root in my brain.

What are the most magical places you’ve been to in real life?
Puget Sound and its surrounding forests and mountains—which is why I chose the area for the enchanted lands in The Goblins of Bellwater. Also some of the forests and meadows in the Willamette Valley in Oregon, where I grew up. Oregon and Washington are both overflowing with natural beauty and I’m spoiled to have spent most of my life here. In addition, some places in Great Britain have felt quite magical to me, such as Tomnahurich (Hill of the Fairies) in Inverness, Scotland; or Old Town Edinburgh with its many close alleys and dark medieval buildings and brick-paved streets; or Westminster Abbey, not only because of its beauty and its many graves of astoundingly famous historical figures, but because when I first visited it as a 19-year-old, I’d never been in any building anywhere near that old before (having grown up in the Pacific Northwest), and it blew my mind.

July 2017 Potpourri- The Escapism Blend

pot·pour·ri
ˌpōpəˈrē/
noun
  1. a mixture and or collection of miscellaneous and diverse items.

Theme: Escapism

Book: The Sacred Power of Your Name by Ted Andrews

Song: Realiti by Grimes

Crystals: Mookite a.k.a Australian Jasper, Blue Lace Agate

Film: Doctor Strange

Fashion: Culotte Jumpsuit

Biggest Lesson Learned: Gratitude

Biggest Regret: Real Estate

Proudest Moment: Surrendering

Goal for August: Bravery

 

 

 

 

 

Crystal Prescriptions Volume 6 by Judy Hall- REVIEW

This book explored the use of crystals for karmic healing, soul reintegration, and ancestral clearing. Reading about alternative uses for crystals as opposed to the standard applications was a breath of fresh air. Each chapter contained an overview of what the crystals should be used for ie; karmic healing. This was helpful as it was explained in very straightforward ways that makes it easy for the reader to comprehend. Each chapter contained a list of items needed to perform the rituals and step-by-step instructions on how to use the crystals was provided. I would have liked a description of the crystals used as opposed to simply naming them. There was not enough information about the crystal properties and why certain crystals were preferred over others. This may be due to the fact that this book is not for beginners and those who are new to crystals, but it still would have been helpful to at least list the properties of the crystals- as I do believe some of them are harder to find. I also think there should have been more warnings and precautions mentioned throughout the book as anytime you delve deep within yourself for healing, there is always the risk of fracturing your psyche or shattering your emotional body.

Overall I do think this book was groundbreaking as there is not enough discussion on how crystals can aid very deep spiritual work.

Crazy Little Spring Called Love- REVIEW

This anthology contained eight short stories centered around spring time love. Each story was whimsical, quirky, and romantic. Some stories were weaker than others, and some were highly developed enough to become their own stand alone books. Spring time is always a time of magic as flora bloom and fauna procreate. This served as the backdrop for all of the short stories. Whether it was a pagan love story, or a mermaid tale, or Greek gods falling in love- spring romance was definitely in the air. I appreciate Seton Hill University for helping to put this anthology together which featured some great writers and helped to showcase their emerging talents. As a lover of fantasy fiction, this book was a light and easy read that satisfied my mystical book thirst. This is the perfect book to enjoy on a lovely Spring day in the garden amongst the flowers and bees. There was just enough romance to satisfy romantic novel lovers and plenty of magic for fantasy connoisseurs. The stories were not too long and not too short and had many cliffhangers which I hope means a second volume is in the works! The season of Spring always serves as a reminder that anything is possible…….especially when love and magic are involved!

The Cairo Pulse by B. B. Kindred- REVIEW

This book was a metaphysical exploration of the collective consciousness, magnetism, memory recall, and the limits of the human experience. The main character Gabriel, an architect, begins to tap into the reservoir we call the collective consciousness due to an enigmatic character named Cairo. Think of it as a database where old memories, suppressed feelings and thoughts get archived. I couldn’t help but notice that the use of architecture throughout the story was reminiscent of a classical technique known as the Art of Memory. This technique required the individual to create a mental picture of a building with rooms. Usually this building was one which was familiar to the individual. Different objects would be envisioned in each room, leading the individual through the building of their mind. This technique was used ultimately for memory recall. I wonder if the author intentionally or unintentionally incorporated this technique into the story? Regardless, it serves as a genius metaphor for memory retrieval. The human mind is like a building with thousands of rooms that contain compartmentalized experiences. Deep spiritual practices such as meditation or for the purpose of this book- magnetic pulses, can assist with breaking into these rooms to collect what was believed to be lost. The story makes a point that it’s not simply about remembering what once was- rather it’s a full mind, body, soul experience that shatters the five senses into heightened awareness, and creates a spiritual awakening whereby one realizes that nothing is ever truly lost- but simply unconscious. If time is an illusion, than what once was, is what is now. Artificial memories become the norm such as memorizing useless information, and forgetting what happened merely minutes ago, while natural memories become stored into a hermetic reservoir. The human mind can be both logical and illogical at times, and The Cairo Pulse explores this idea- pushing the boundaries of what we believe to be the human potential.

The story is overly descriptive and wordy, but I appreciate this complexity as simplicity would have been a disservice to this mind boggling journey. The Cairo Pulse will challenge you to dig deep within yourself in order to align to your highest potential. If The Cairo Pulse is deemed a sci-fi novel, than I am very excited for this genre to explore the spirituality of science.

Prophecy Awakened by Tamar Sloane

I requested to review this book from NetGalley as I was intrigued by the synopsis and cover. The story follows a reclusive teenager named Eden who feels a strong deep connection to a boy named Noah who also feels the same strong mutual attraction. Judging by the first 20 chapters, I thought this was going to be a story about soul-mates and fate, but it turned on me when it became yet another teen werewolf romance novel. I felt the title and synopsis were deceiving because they did not even hint at a supernatural creature romance, which is clever marketing on the publisher’s behalf, as the market is saturated with this genre. To be honest, if I had known this was going to be a werewolf romance, I would not have asked to review it as I do not like or have any interest in reading those types of novels. I do appreciate how descriptive the author was in describing the attraction between the two main characters, it pulls you in, reminding the reader of their first love, when you couldn’t stop thinking about your crush. With that being said, I do think that it was slow paced, and the first person perspectives seemed a little outrageous at times, but for a teen romance novel, I can respect this style of writing. Considering it was a predictable storyline, I do think the author had a missed opportunity to perhaps go in a different direction. There was no indication in the first 15 chapters that this was going to be about werewolves, so I think she could have introduced some other supernatural concepts that might have surprised the reader in a more delightful and creative way. I do have to say that the story picked up towards the end and had an interesting way of drawing the reader in.

If you are a reader who enjoys the supernatural teen ya genre, than I do recommend The Prophecy, but if you’re like me, looking for something a little deeper and thought provoking, then I would pass on this book.

Books I Can’t Wait to Read!!!

I am a huge bookworm, and I have read a lot of books lately. There are so many more that I cannot wait to read, and since they are mystical fiction, I thought I would share them here with you!

The Fortuneteller by Gwendolyn Womack- June 6, 2017

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Semele Cavnow appraises antiquities for an exclusive Manhattan auction house, deciphering ancient texts—and when she discovers a manuscript written in the time of Cleopatra, she knows it will be the find of her career. Its author tells the story of a priceless tarot deck, now lost to history, but as Semele delves further, she realizes the manuscript is more than it seems. Both a memoir and a prophecy, it appears to be the work of a powerful seer, describing devastating wars and natural disasters in detail thousands of years before they occurred.

The more she reads, the more the manuscript begins to affect Semele’s life. But what happened to the tarot deck? As the mystery of her connection to its story deepens, Semele can’t shake the feeling that she’s being followed. Only one person can help her make sense of it all: her client, Theo Bossard. Yet Theo is arrogant and elusive, concealing secrets of his own, and there’s more to Semele’s desire to speak with him than she would like to admit. Can Semele even trust him?

The auction date is swiftly approaching, and someone wants to interfere—someone who knows the cards exist, and that the Bossard manuscript is tied to her. Semele realizes it’s up to her to stop them: the manuscript holds the key to a two-thousand-year-old secret, a secret someone will do anything to possess.

 

The Bear & The Nightingale by Katherine Arden

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At the edge of the Russian wilderness, winter lasts most of the year and the snowdrifts grow taller than houses. But Vasilisa doesn’t mind—she spends the winter nights huddled around the embers of a fire with her beloved siblings, listening to her nurse’s fairy tales. Above all, she loves the chilling story of Frost, the blue-eyed winter demon, who appears in the frigid night to claim unwary souls. Wise Russians fear him, her nurse says, and honor the spirits of house and yard and forest that protect their homes from evil.

After Vasilisa’s mother dies, her father goes to Moscow and brings home a new wife. Fiercely devout, city-bred, Vasilisa’s new stepmother forbids her family from honoring the household spirits. The family acquiesces, but Vasilisa is frightened, sensing that more hinges upon their rituals than anyone knows.

And indeed, crops begin to fail, evil creatures of the forest creep nearer, and misfortune stalks the village. All the while, Vasilisa’s stepmother grows ever harsher in her determination to groom her rebellious stepdaughter for either marriage or confinement in a convent.

As danger circles, Vasilisa must defy even the people she loves and call on dangerous gifts she has long concealed—this, in order to protect her family from a threat that seems to have stepped from her nurse’s most frightening tales.

 

Wicked Like A Wildfire by Lana Popovic

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Fans of Holly Black and Leigh Bardugo will be bewitched by Lana Popovic’s debut YA fantasy novel about a bargain that binds the fates—and hearts—of twin sisters to a force larger than life.

All the women in Iris and Malina’s family have the unique magical ability or “gleam” to manipulate beauty. Iris sees flowers as fractals and turns her kaleidoscope visions into glasswork, while Malina interprets moods as music. But their mother has strict rules to keep their gifts a secret, even in their secluded sea-side town. Iris and Malina are not allowed to share their magic with anyone, and above all, they are forbidden from falling in love.

But when their mother is mysteriously attacked, the sisters will have to unearth the truth behind the quiet lives their mother has built for them. They will discover a wicked curse that haunts their family line—but will they find that the very magic that bonds them together is destined to tear them apart forever?

Wicked Like a Wildfire is the first in a two-book series. Readers will be rapt with anticipation for the sequel.

 

Congress of Secrets by Stephanie Burgis

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In 1814, the Congress of Vienna has just begun. Diplomats battle over a new map of Europe, actors vie for a chance at glory, and aristocrats and royals from across the continent come together to celebrate the downfall of Napoleon…among them Lady Caroline Wyndham, a wealthy English widow. But Caroline has a secret: she was born Karolina Vogl, daughter of a radical Viennese printer. When her father was arrested by the secret police, Caroline’s childhood was stolen from her by dark alchemy.

Under a new name and nationality, she returns to Vienna determined to save her father even if she has to resort to the same alchemy that nearly broke her before. But she isn’t expecting to meet her father’s old apprentice, Michael Steinhüller, now a charming con man in the middle of his riskiest scheme ever.

The sinister forces that shattered Caroline’s childhood still rule Vienna behind a glittering façade of balls and salons, Michael’s plan is fraught with danger, and both of their disguises are more fragile than they realize. What price will they pay to the darkness if either of them is to survive?

 

Masks and Shadows by Stephanie Burgis

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The year is 1779, and Carlo Morelli, the most renowned castrato singer in Europe, has been invited as an honored guest to Eszterháza Palace. With Carlo in Prince Nikolaus Esterházy’s carriage, ride a Prussian spy and one of the most notorious alchemists in the Habsburg Empire. Already at Eszterháza is Charlotte von Steinbeck, the very proper sister of Prince Nikolaus’s mistress. Charlotte has retreated to the countryside to mourn her husband’s death. Now, she must overcome the ingrained rules of her society in order to uncover the dangerous secrets lurking within the palace’s golden walls. Music, magic, and blackmail mingle in a plot to assassinate the Habsburg Emperor and Empress–a plot that can only be stopped if Carlo and Charlotte can see through the masks worn by everyone they meet.