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Bookviews Book Reviews

     

 10-15-2006
 

 

All Acts of Pleasure:
A Rowan Gant Investigation
by M. R. Sellars

 

This second book in the Miranda Trilogy never slows down and never gives in to being anything but first class mystery.

We are taken, in this book, deeper into the relationships between Rowan, his wife Felicity and the friends they have on the police force.  This book has much interplay between the characters, filling in some history, some background and laying the foundation for some real gut wrenching moments.

I want to say something here about “details”.  If you are a fan of mystery and detective novels like I am, you will notice that there is a good deal of details offered in this book.  Once upon a time all you needed was a good main character who could bully his way into solving most crimes.  Today, we are challenging modern mystery writing by insisting they offer us more than just a “chair, light and an all night grilling” that used to comprise most of the older mystery novels. 

Here Sellars presents us with some intriguing information that he builds his case on, and then educates the reader, giving the reader the background in order to understand what is going on and be amazed by the amount of time Sellars has put into this series.  From DNA research, to research on Voudon practices and magic that is NOT hearsay or gossip, to modern day police practices and a sneak peek into the shadowy world of BDS&M, Sellars presents us with facts, carefully researched and presented in an intelligent manner.  Sellars does not take the readers to be dummies and entertains us on an intellectual level.

Sellars also ties us emotionally to the main characters in this book.  All magics aside, Sellars gives us some very touching and emotionally charged dialogue between the characters, developing them further than most of the other mystery series out there.  You become attached to the Gant family, you feel their pain, and I can hear you suck in your breath and see you nod your head each time something happens to them.  You love the good cops, and I hear you hissing at the bad cops.   

Sellars is going beyond the cheap paperback detective stories, and is presenting us with some very realistic characters who could be you or me.  He gets the reader involved with them on many different levels.  And that, kids, is entertainment!

Sellers is going for a winner here with this trilogy.  I am not happy that I have to wait till next October for the ending, MR, but… you know I will!  A great presentation and one I think the readers will appreciate. boudica

 

The Llewellyn Tarot – Anna-Marie Fergusen

This is not the first deck by Anna-Marie Fergusen.  Previous to this she has “Legend: The Arthurian Tarot”.  Her artwork has graced the pages of books and has been exhibited in museums.

I must admit, her work is lovely and exquisite.  Very detailed, the figures are full, graceful and inspired.   Looking through this deck, it is well worth it for the artwork alone.

But a tarot deck is much more than just lovely art.  It needs to be functional and be able to illicit a response from both the client and the reader.

The book acknowledges Lewellyn Publishing’s Welsh heritage as the inspiration for the topic of the deck.  Llewellyn George, the founder of Llewellyn Publishing, was born in Wales, and was also a well known astrologer and theosophist.  So, the inspiration from the Welsh tales become the foundation for this deck.

Ms. Fergusen is a member of the Arthurian Society and the Pendragon Society, and was a good choice for the research and attribution of this deck.  Her background in these myths and legends lend to some good references and insightful attributions of the figures for this deck.

I needed to reference the book for some of the insights, as I was unsure where the author/artist was going with this.  As an example, while Peredur is perfect for the Fool card, Ceridwen I needed to reference, and her attribution of “Queen of the Witches” as told by the folklorist Elias Owen put that into better perspective for me.  The choice of “Taliesin” for Hierophant was interesting, softening the original Raider-Waite interpretations. 

Yes, there is the word – softening.  This deck softens many of the edges off the original interpretations of the Rider-Waite system.   Reading through the interpretations of many of the cards,  The Death card, which is usually images that make some folks cringe, here is Arawn, and truly represents the meaning of evolution, change or transformation.  While death is mentioned, the story that accompanies this card is more suggestive of the idea of change and evolution.

In the book, each of the Major Arcana cards has a story explaining the choice of the figure by retelling a shortened version of that figure.  A nice touch, as it clearly helps the reader identify the elements suggested in the imagery and how to read the card.

The cards do follow the Raider-Waite system, with 21 recognizable Major Arcana cards, four suits of ten cards  and four court cards.  While some of the names of the Major Arcana cards are changed, they are still easily recognizable.  The Court cards remain Page, Knight, Queen and King.

Again we return to the images on the cards.  Going through the deck, the traditional elements of the cards are held on to.  We have Swords, Wands, Cups and Pentacles.  We see familiar elements, like the Two of Cups reflects the traditional meaning of lovers, often considered a minor lovers card.  We even see some of the familiar imagery of the Raider-Waite deck.  The Four of Pentacles is almost a dead ringer, with the figure seated, his feet on one each, he holds one in his lap, and one is above his head.   Behind him is the images of a town/city.  The meanings are, again, much softer than the original meaning of the card, and one which I think allows for more of a personal interpretation.

We also see some greater changes in some of the images.  The Three of Pentacles is completely changed.  Instead of the familiar scene of a “sculpture at work in a monastery” we see a woman sitting in a field sewing.  A simpler design, but it still gets across the idea of skill or trade or one who is artistic. 

If you are like me, and not all that familiar with the Welsh legends and major figures, the Major Arcana will take a bit to read through, examine and find the meanings, but I believe after a small learning curve, you will find this material easy to work with and lovely to read and understand. 

I used this deck with a few clients, and they were not just impressed with the artwork but they also were fascinated with the stories and associations.  I think this deck will fit well into my working decks.

Llewellyn has a winner here, with a lovely deck, original content and an easy to use product.  I even love the golden patterned bag with the beaded accents that holds the deck.  This will make a lovely presentation to students or as gifts for your favorite tarot reader.  boudica

 

Llewellyn’s 2007 Moon Sign Book – A Gardening Almanac & Guide to Conscious Living

 

The Llewellyn Moon Sign book is well known for two things – an almanac for the magical gardener that assists you in planting for the right time of the month and year, and for the great articles that are included for your reading pleasure.

This year is no exception.  We are treated to the well known calendar of weekly notations on planting according to the astrological and moon cycles, with comments on the astrological signs, recommendations for plant maintenance and planting and for the notation area where you can keep personal records of what you planted and how your garden grows.  There is a complete instruction section that suggests how you may want to follow the layout and utilize to your maximum advantage.

There are also hunting and fishing dates, Moon Tables, a Retrograde Planet chart for this year, as well as a time zone map and conversion table, and an interesting page on “Key Agricultural Events During the Last 50 Years” that may give you some food for thought.

Then there are the articles.  We have some really great articles.  Of interest, an article entitled  “Raising
Poultry” by Tammy Sullivan that will give you a well rounded and brief look at how chickens are raised.
  Will give you some pause for thought if you are looking to add chickens to your home.

There is another article entitled “2007 Economic Forecast” by Dorothy J. Kovach that will give you much to ponder if you ever thought about investing in the stock markets.  Some good info and some good advices and some interesting astrological correlations.

There is so much more in this book.  Much of it is grown up discussion on real issues and while there are a few fluffy topics, there is more mature material in here than has been before.  A change for the better, I think, and a good reason to pick this book up and give it another look if you haven’t recently.  Much to ponder, some great ideas, and some progress into some pertinent and realistic topics. boudica

 

Llewellyn’s 2007 Sun Sign Book – Horoscopes for Everyone

 

The Llewellyn Sun Sign Book is an astrological guide.  The book is broken down into sign by sign, month by month, and goes over some influences that may affect what you are doing for that time period.

There is a general overview of the sign, what the major influences may hold for you, and then it is broken down into each month. 

I went over my own sign, and it appears that I may have an interesting year ahead, and I will go though the book and see what might be expected.

There are a few articles of interest in the back of the book, on fashion, world predictions, careers and cycles.  It made for some interesting reading and food for thought.

So, get your copy and see what next year may hold for you.  And give some contemplation to the influences and cycles on your life and how you can maximize them to your advantage. boudica

 

Witches Date  Book 2007 - Llewellyn Publishing

 

Again this year we are presented with the Week at a Glance Witches Date book for the busy witch.

Cover and interior art are again by Jennifer Hewitson, text by Elizabeth Barrett and various additions by some well known authors like Abby Willowroot and Ellen Dugan.

The book is decorated with a colorful and striking cover and bold pen and ink black and white illustrations within.  Each day is marked with astrological signs, colors and in some cases some words of wisdom or events of note.  Holidays are also noted.

Articles are always part of the attraction, and we are presented with a nice article on Hecate by K.D. Spitzer and my favorite “Tips for the Busy Witch” by Emely Flak.    Making Magical Inks by Lynn Smythe is also another informative and interesting article.

As always, there is an address section in the back so you can take down important information on the fly.  The book offers the basics for the neat and clean reference.  It is pocket size and fits on the desk neatly.  Handy tool to keep around.

A good overall presentation and one which I always find becomes part of my basic box of essentials. boudica

 

Portable Magic
by Donald Tyson

 

Mr. Tyson’s newest book covers the use of the Tarot as a magical tool.  While nothing new and this has been looked at by other authors, Mr. Tyson presents us with his own personal system of utilizing the Tarot as “the only tool you will need”.

The material covered is an outline of his system, some history on the Tarot and its basic structure.  He does a good job at laying out the basics for the beginner and it is good material.  He also covers correspondences, some deeper “Esoteric Cosmology of the Trumps” and then goes through the rest of the deck

There is a lot of “The Tree of Life” material here, given that he starts with Golden Dawn material.  You may find this interesting, you may find it a bit dry.

There are rituals, layouts, meanings of cards and more in this good overview of this magical system.

So, stick your favorite deck of tarot cards in your pocket along with this book on your next trip and never be without a useful tool and a guide to enable you to perform “magic on the fly” no matter where you travel. boudica

 

The Way of Four
by Deborah Lipp

I have to admit that I was expecting a lot from this book after reading "The Elements in Ritual."  And while this book is not being rated as highly as the first, it is still a needed reference.

This book talks about how to bring the Elements into your life on abasic level, holistically and completely.  Simply because the currentsociety tends to cut ourselves off from those same elements, this is a wonderful wake up call. 

While this book is not specifically Wiccan in nature, nor is it truly a Pagan book, it does touch on topics that are of interest in Wicca and Paganism.  There is only one (relatively short) chapter that deals with the Elements in Ritual, for that is covered thoroughly in the previous book.  But there are still needed reminders in this book on the Elements and a ritual and magick.  

Mostly this is a self-help book.  Contained in this book is several sections on finding out what your elemental makeup is and how to balance it.  For instance, there is a chapter of various tests to determine what kind of personality you have.  From there, you compare the results to a chart and that will tell you what kind of  elemental balance you have.  For instance, I scored 7 Air, 6 Earth, 6 Water and 2 Fire.  Which means that I'm deficient in Fire in my life and that I need to work to bring more Fire into my life.  

After that, it's suggestions on how to do that, not only in my day-to-day activities, but in my job, in my clothing,  even in the food I eat.  Each and every portion of the life is broken out and examined to show how to bring more of a particular element into it.  Not only that, but she also shows you what kind of elemental "personality" you are projecting by your actions and your normal everyday life.  

There is a section that deals with the decor of your home and what kind of elemental influences are around you in your home, room by room.  From the Kitchen to the Living Room to your Bedroom, there are suggestions on changing your Fire dominated Living Room into an Earth Ruled one, or even just redistributing the focus to make it more balanced. 

And these suggestions aren't just on the order of "go out and buy some candles and burn them" in order to bring more Fire to you.  No, these suggestions are far ranging as "go out and get some amber colored pillows, some musk scented oil and put that around your room".  These suggestions even go as far as to suggest that one get  beaded curtains which divide a room from another, and then explains why those curtains are necessary in the elemental makeup of your home.  

Regardless, this elemental balancing act is absolutely necessary.  Too many people are specialized or focused in one element or another, absolutely ignoring the rest in their lives.  But as the author points out we are made up of all four elements, and if you don't have Air, you suffocate, if you don't have Water, you dehydrate.  Without Fire, there is sickness and eventually unregulated body temperature and no energy, and finally if you don't have Earth, the body itself is gone.

She goes to great lengths to show that one must have all four elements in your life to have the forces at work that you want.  

Now for the bad news, what I didn't like.  The entire first chapter is a repeat of the first chapter of "The Elements of Ritual", almost word for word.  I understand that the chapter is necessary, and I also understand why it has to be in there, it irritated me to see the same information again.  

This is also not a book that is really and truly relevant to Wicca. It is a wonderful reference to work with the elements in daily life, but I think that it is limited to those who don't work with the Elements on a regular basis, which makes it of limited appeal to others.  The author also tends toward a dry delivery, authoritative, which many may take as being bombastic.  I don't find it that way, but many might.  

Still, I did learn many things, and I plan on reading this book again in more depth.  I'm giving this book 4 stars out of 5.  It is a good way to keep yourself balanced and on track with the Natural World.

Copyright:  "Copyright Daven http://davensjournal.com   All rights reserved.  Permission granted to reprint this review as long as the entire article and this copyright statement are kept intact.  Contact him at daven (at) davensjournal (dot) com"

 

Family Wicca
by Ashleen O’Gaea

 

This is a new and revised edition of the very popular book by this author.  I even had a friend comment to me that she had seen this new version and wanted to know if I had read it.

Well, I did.  While containing much of the older and basic material, there is much new.

The book approaches whole family practice, and the raising of a child in our belief system.  It discusses social, magical, political topics and more, giving us a grounding in our own basic principles so we can easily pass these along to our children.

There is a basic outline of modern Wicca and the family, Sabbats, specifics to raising children in the Craft, answering those questions that you didn’t think you could answer, rites of passage, Wheel of the year and more.

The first book was a very good and useful tool for the Wiccan family.  This updated version still finds practical advices, good overviews of the practice and Ms. Ogaea’s simple yet elegant writing style that makes this a good choice for anyone looking for a guidebook for bringing Wicca into a family practice.  boudica

 

Elemental Witch
by Tammy Sullivan

The practice of the Witch relies on sources of energy for the workings.  A good witch can draw upon the elemental energies for her use and knows the properties well and how to use them best.

Ms. Sullivan’s book examines closely the properties of each of the four elements and gives a good rounded education in their history, associations and applications.

The book is broken down into each element and then breaks it own further into the path of each element, the magics and then Deity associations.  There is lore, spells, recipes and herbal and stone associations.

What is nice about this book is that is does offer information on all four elements, and gives the beginning practitioner a well rounded education.  And while you may find you have a preference for one or two elements, this book will give you a good look at working with all four.

This is a nice book, easy to read and understand and provides the basics for anyone looking at the practice of witchcraft using the four elements as focus. boudica