Review: Secret of the Sevens

Secret of the Sevens Secret of the Sevens by Lynn Lindquist
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Everyone at a boarding school for underprivileged kids knows about the Society of Seven, an urban legend. The original members of this group built the school for the elite students. They killed off the school’s founder and burned to death in the fire they lit to hide the evidence. Or, at least that’s what they’ve heard. He tries to take his mind off of his impending homelessness after graduation, by accepting an invitation to join the Sevens group. His expectations of fun are destroyed after he’s already neck deep in conspiracies. Now he must keep his secrets to stay alive.

Interesting enough to keep me reading. It’s fast paced and the suspense was very well written, but I wasn't a huge fan of the sexist tendencies the protagonist exhibited. It overshadowed the storyline and didn't move the plot, so I found it unnecessary.

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Review: The Lore of the Forest

The Lore of the Forest The Lore of the Forest by Alexander Porteous
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Searching for solid information about this book was a little difficult, as it's listed under multiple publication dates and titles. To set the record straight, it's original publication was in 1928 by Scottish author Alexander Porteous. You may also find it under the titles, "The Forest in Folklore and Mythology" (2001) and "Forest Folklore, Mythology and Romance" (2006).

For enthusiasts and scholars interested in the origins of folklore, this lovely compendium of history's most mystical tales emerge from the depths of the forest. The stories surround the lore of trees and the importance they've held to cultures of the past. Trees have often been viewed with reverence, fear, and mystery while upholding various roles within the spirituality of people.

This isn't an exegesis of myth, it is a comprehensive collection. The stories are short and disconnected, some more rounded than others. Also, keep in mind this title was written in the 1920s; it's delivered in old-English and directed toward a European-American audience. At times it may seem dry, but I did not pick this book up for any other reason than curiosity, so I enjoyed every moment of it.

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Review: Lunar Abundance: Cultivating Joy, Peace, and Purpose Using the Phases of the Moon

Lunar Abundance: Cultivating Joy, Peace, and Purpose Using the Phases of the Moon Lunar Abundance: Cultivating Joy, Peace, and Purpose Using the Phases of the Moon by Ezzie Spencer
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Lunar Abundance was a title one of my book clubs was interested in going through together. Over the last cycle we have used the moon to become more conscious with our living. The book is formatted as more of a workbook, with questions to answer and journal about your experience. It's laden with gorgeous images and illustrations that I could easily frame and hang on the wall.

Lunar Abundance isn't a metaphysical book. I suppose it could be seen among such titles, but I would label it as self-help. It offers a recipe for using the visual marker of the moon to create attainable goals through Yin (resting) and Yang (action).

The printables found on the website were a nice bonus and helped simplify what was discussed in the book. I also loved that each chapter had a summary at the end.

The reason I give it three stars is I feel the book was much longer than necessary. For myself and the women in my book club, most of us have very busy schedules, and as I was reading I kept thinking "this could've been said in less words." It also had a lot of technical errors that made me cringe. Wordiness, unnecessary "fluff," an overabundance of punctuation, and repetitive terms. There should've been a lot more editing before hitting the shelves.

Love the imagery, the workbook portions are fairly simple, but reading through the text was a struggle.

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Review: The Illustrated Herbiary by Maia Toll

Title: The Illustrated Herbiary
Author: Maia Toll
Publication Date: July 7th, 2015
Publisher: Storey Publishing, LLC
Genre: Non-Fiction
Pages: 176
ISBN: 1612129684
Source: ARC from Publisher

Synopsis (from Publisher):
Rosemary is for remembrance; sage is for wisdom. The symbolism of plants — whether in the ancient Greek doctrine of signatures or the Victorian secret language of flowers — has fascinated us for centuries. Contemporary herbalist Maia Toll adds her distinctive spin to this tradition with profiles of the mysterious personalities of 36 herbs, fruits, and flowers. Combining a passion for plants with imagery reminiscent of tarot, enticing text offers reflections and rituals to tap into each plant’s power for healing, self-reflection, and everyday guidance. Smaller versions of the illustrations are featured on 36 cards to help guide your thoughts and meditations.

Maia Toll spent a life-changing year apprenticed to a traditional medicine woman in Ireland. She mentors spiritual wellness seekers, practitioners, and teachers through her online program, The Medicine Keepers Collective, and is the founder and owner of Herbiary, a natural products store with locations in Asheville, North Carolina, and Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.

Maia has taught Botanical Medicine at West Chester University and at the Amazon Center for Environmental Education and Research in the Peruvian jungle. She lectures at hospitals, universities, and herbal conferences and runs her own Deep Magic Retreat in the North Carolina mountains during the witchy twilight of autumn. She blogs to an international following at maiatoll.com and lives in Asheville, North Carolina.

I have Celiac Disease. When I was attending the PLA (Public Library Association) Conference in Philly back in March, I got sick off of cross contaminated food. For the first two days I was there I was miserable with a migraine, sleeplessness, stomach problems, inflamed lymph nodes, and fatigue. One day, when I was meeting up with some conference friends at Reading Market for lunch, I stumbled upon the Herbiary.
I’m generally drawn to any place that looks like it was plucked fresh from a wildwood, so I went to see what I may find. I told the girls at the counter I was needing something for lymphatic health, and they lead me to a burdock and red root compound. I also decided to purchase some Moon Drops to help me sleep, and off I went.
Within 10 hours of taking the compound I finally felt better and slept through the entire night. I was able to enjoy the rest of the conference without issue! I decided to look this “Herbiary” up and was ecstatic to find this book was releasing...but not until August!
Back up a little. Herbalism is something I’ve taken an interest in over the last year or so. My family doctor is a Naturopathic Doctor, and I’ve always favored natural pathways to health. I knew how to use plants once they got to me, but cultivating the plants themselves is something I’ve never done before. So, I moved into a house and started a garden and learned to wildcraft. Because of this, Maia Toll’s approach to building a relationship with the plants came through to me in a language I wanted to understand better. That’s why I preordered the book back in April and anxiously awaited its launch (and attended the online watch party!).
The Illustrated Herbiary is one of the most gorgeous books I have ever owned. Kate O’Hara’s artwork is lavish and inspiring. I fell in love with it the moment I saw it online, but when I had it in my hands the metallics brought it all to life.
Each section has a beautifully illustrated interpretation of a plant, followed by Maia Toll’s commentary on the importance of that plant. After we are introduced, Toll provides a ritual and reflection to know our plant better. A ritual may be a meditation or a recipe, and the reflection will give us a focus.
In the back cover of the book, all those illustrations are provided as oracle cards for easier meditation. I love this aspect of the book. In the last several pages, you will find images or them laid out, and advice on how to use them.

If you are looking for a textbook on herbs, this probably isn’t what you’re looking for. If you’re looking for a practice to connect more with your herbs, then I highly recommend it.

Review: Mary Hades

Mary Hades Mary Hades by Sarah Dalton
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

After being physically and mentally scarred from a fire, Mary’s parents arrange for a holiday at a village in New Yorkshire to help her recover. She’s drawn to a local fairground worker who has a dark secret. She needs to uncover the murky history that has taken over Nettleby and stop the unusual deaths with the help of her dead best friend, and a gay goth couple.

Some parts were slow-moving, but overall a very good, eerie ghost story. Mary’s friend added a tone of humor amidst an otherwise dark narrative and I enjoyed her character. There was a light dusting of romance, but the ending was disappointing. The writing style was satisfying, fast paced and compelling overall.

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Review: Buzz Books 2015: Spring/Summer

Buzz Books 2015: Spring/Summer Buzz Books 2015: Spring/Summer by Publishers Lunch
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Consists of a variety of pre-pub excerpts from approximately 40 adult titles. These previews inform you on what’s coming out in future months.

Great for previewing new fiction and nonfiction books. Really enjoyable. My only complaint is that I wish the author would have included links to more of the books.

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Review: Dreamwalker

Dreamwalker Dreamwalker by Rhys Bowen
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Addy, a typical California surfer girl is sent to a boarding school in Wales after her mother dies.The strange thing about the school is that it’s no ordinary boarding school. One hallways doesn’t lead to another, instead, it leads to a new universe. She’s always had vivid dreams, which now makes her the enemy of the powerful ruler of Gallia.

It’s aimed at preteens so with that in mind, it makes for a good book for them. Great characters and imagination, but the editing and pacing was off. The start was slow to get into, but as the book progressed, it became more interesting.

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Review: Shadow Scale

Shadow Scale Shadow Scale by Rachel Hartman
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Seraphina, a part girl, part dragon, is reluctantly pulled into the politics in her world. When war breaks out between humans and dragons, she has to travel and find others like her to defeat the dragons. As she gathers her crew, she is pursued by humans who want to stop her. But there is also another terrifying being; another half dragon that can get into people’s minds and take them over. So far, she has kept her mind safe, but that means she’s also held back her gift. Does she cling to safety or embrace a new destiny?

As much as I LOVED Seraphina, the sequel was very long and difficult to get through. The story line was very repetitive and characters could have been more established. I wish the author would have put more focus on the dragon civil war and not so much of the traveling. Seraphina’s personality was slightly irritating and made it not so fun to read. The thing I did like though were the diverse characters.

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