Spotlight: Girl of Glass by Megan O'Russell

Title: Girl of Glass
Author: Megan O'Russell
Publication Date: December 6th, 2016
Publisher: Fiery Seas Publishing
Genre: Young Adult

Synopsis (from Author):
Two worlds...one glass wall...no turning back.
The human race has been divided. The chosen few live in the safety of the domes, watching through their glass walls as those left on the outside suffer and die. But desperation has brought invention, and new drugs have given the outsiders the strength to roam the poisoned night unafraid – but it comes at a price.

Seventeen-year-old Nola Kent has spent her life in the domes, being trained to protect her little piece of the world that has been chosen to survive. The mission of the domes is to preserve the human race, not to help the sick and starving. But when outsider Kieran Wynne begs for Nola’s help in saving an innocent life, she is drawn into a world of darkness and danger. The suffering on the other side of the glass is beyond anything Nola had imagined, and turning her back on the outside world to return to the safety of the domes may be more than she can stand. Even when her home is threatened by the very people Nola wants to help.

Megan O’Russell is the author of the young adult fantasy series The Tethering, and Nuttycracker Sweet, a Christmas novella. Megan’s short stories can also be found in several anthologies, including Athena’s Daughters 2, featuring women in speculative fiction.

Megan is a professional performer who has spent time on stages across the country and is the lyrist for Second Chances: The Thrift Shop Musical, which received it’s world premiere in 2015. When not on stage or behind a computer, Megan can usually be found playing her ukulele or climbing a mountain with her fantastic husband.


Cover Reveal: Seraphina's Initiation (Seraphina #2) by Sheena Hutchinson

Seraphina’s Initiation
Sheena Hutchinson
(Seraphina, #2)
Publication date: February 2017
Genres: New Adult, Paranormal, Romance
Seraphina Cross is unexpectedly thrown into this crazy, spiritual world of Angels versus Demons.
Never did she expect to meet Nate who was just a figment of her imagination. Now she finds herself moving in with him because of her innate responsibility to protect her loved ones from harm.
Finally beginning to feel at home in her new house and with her new relationship. Nate begins training Sera in all that she can do, surprising even himself at times.Just when she is starting to feel safe and powerful, Lucifer finds a new way to attack her at her most vulnerable.
When her dreams are no longer a gift, can Sera control the powers needed to defeat what’s coming before Lucifer fulfills his promise to her?

Author Bio:
Sheena is a born and raised New Yorker, even her writing can't seem to hide her hard sarcasm. She claims destiny has lead her back to her true passion for writing.
She constantly strives to be a positive role model and writes stories that empower and inspire. Sheena always roots for the underdog, believes in love at first sight, and that everyone should have their happily ever after.
While God is currently still writing her love story, she continues to put all her effort into her writing as she is constantly getting new inspiration.
For more info, updates, and fun facts visit her website at www.SheenaHutchinson.com



Review: The Magic of Trees by Tess Whitehurst

Title: The Magic of Trees
Author: Tess Whitehurst
Publication Date: January 8th, 2017
Publisher: Llewellyn Publications
Genre: Spirituality
Pages: 384
ISBN: 073874803X
Source: ARC from Publisher

Synopsis (from Publisher):
Connect with the deep wisdom and power of trees in order to create positive change in your body, mind, and spirit. Featuring detailed descriptions of the magical and energetic properties of more than one hundred trees, The Magic of Trees shows you how to work with them―physically and spiritually―through rituals, spells, and much more.

Trees are symbols of the interconnectedness of life and represent the interwoven web of everything on which magic draws power. This comprehensive guide helps you tap into that web and enrich your life in the spiritual energy it provides.

Tess Whitehurst is an intuitive counselor, energy worker, feng shui consultant, and speaker, and the author of Magical Housekeeping. She has appeared on the Bravo TV show Flipping Out and her writing has been featured in Writers Digest, Whole Life Times Magazine, and online at Lemondrop.com. 

First, I would just like to comment on what a lovely person Tess Whitehurst is. I had the pleasure of joining her New Moon Ritual on her Facebook page for this November new moon, and she just glows with light, joy, and love. I am honored to have the opportunity to be introduced to her work, and as this is my first (or really second) impression of her, I feel like I've been kissed with magic.

I've always found trees to be magical and necessary elements to life. If you saw my apartment, one of the first things you may notice is how much of it is embellished with different forms of the Tree of Life, or the World Tree. They are older than man, and are, in many ways, the essence of what set us apart from the other known planets. As a lover of nature and science enthusiast, there isn't a day that passes where I am not fascinated or curious about the brilliance of the raw world that surrounds us. There is an entire universe they dwell in beyond the state in which we interact with them from day to day through furniture, paper, medicines, and salads.

Whitehurst goes through a myriad of trees and describes each one from various perspectives of faith, culture, agriculture, medicine, and magical correspondence. The detail is very impressive, and Whitehurst clearly did her research. I love all the different aspects she pulls from to enrich every single one so carefully and delicately. In the back, you will find a useful Appendix that lists each tree that fits under different uses and intentions. Then you have each tree that fits beneath a particular element and planetary correspondences.

This is not a scientific encounter with the plants that give us breath, it delves into the spirituality and cultural uses that connect us with them. If you're looking for a comprehensive overview of different tree species, this is definitely not for you. As one who believes that "anything is possible unless proven impossible," I was able to read this book with an open mind. From an outsider, this might look like the Hippie's Bible, but there is a lot that can be learned from such a deep and intimate study. There are paths and cultures that have a reason for finding a connection with nature important, and that does not necessarily mean they are wrong simply because one may not understand. I, however, find my grounding in nature, as it is the one thing that stays consistent as the sun and moon.

I read a digital version of this book which, although wasn't the final draft, was a bit difficult to go through. It's possible that if there is a future ebook available, it will be more user friendly than my version. However, as this is more of a resource that can be used for reference, having a physical copy would likely suit best. I would prefer it!

Whitehurst's love and soul poured out in this book is beautiful and enlightening. For my own application, there was a lot I was able to take from it. It is very well organized and filled with endless amounts of information. If you study the metaphysical at all, this is a wonderful addition to your collection.


Spotlight: As Cold As Thorns by Isis Sousa

Title: As Cold As Thorns by Isis Sousa
Series: As Cold As Thorns #1
Author: Isis Sousa
Publication Date: November 28th, 2016
Publisher: Tragic Books
Genre: Paranormal/Fantasy, Gothic
Pages: 346
ISBN: 1533467692

Synopsis (from Goodreads):
The solace and contentment of Henrique’s simple life as a small-town tailor’s apprentice vanish when his ambitions turn him overnight into one of the most powerful and influential personalities in early-1800s Europe. His quick ascension to the upper echelons of the leading Iberian Empire reveals a man torn between the pure heart he once was, and the grim shade of what he has now become: a spirit obsessed with expensive material possessions and the urge to acquire the unattainable.

Henrique succumbs to the ever-growing desires and beguiling passions tormenting his mind, causing a rupture between reason and a desolate world of ice and snow where pain is the key to salvation.

Will he survive his encounter with the colossal emptiness and find the righteous path to lead him out of his agony?

I am an artist; illustrator and graphic designer who writes on my free time. But with all the imagination I have running lose, there came some stories… And there came some books!

I am born and grown up in Brazil, however I live in Mid-Norway with my beloved husband, in a tiny valley surrounded by mountains and with very few neighbours.

When I’m not doing artwork and illustration for clients, I’m doing woodcarving, painting ornaments, painting artworks for myself, and so on. Love Arts, History, Heavy Metal and Dark things.

Review: The Unbound Soul: A Spiritual Memoir for Personal Transformation by Richard L. Haight

Title: The Unbound Soul: A Spiritual Memoir of Personal Transformation
Author: Richard L. Haight
Publication Date: May 18, 2016
Publisher: Createspace
Genre: Religion & Spirituality 
Pages: 202
ISBN: 1533380463
Source: ARC from Author

Synopsis (from Publisher):
The true story of a young boy's mystical vision and his subsequent study of meditation, healing and martial arts in search of enlightenment. Tormented by visions mass-corruption and coming worldwide economic, social and ecological collapse, he presses ever onward in his search and eventually realizes the elusive truth of spiritual awakening. Through The Unbound Soul, Richard L. Haight reveals the understanding that will transform your life and he provides a unique meditation method and set of powerful awareness tools to assist you on your personal path towards practical spirituality in everyday life.

Richard L. Haight instructs martial, meditation and healing arts. He spent 15 years living in Japan training in the ancient martial arts ultimately receiving the menkyo-kaiden (certificate of total mastery), which is the equivalent of a 10th degree black belt in modern ranking. Throughout his life, Richard has had a series of profound visions that have ultimately guided him to the realization of the Oneness that the ancient spiritual teachers often spoke of. Through his new book The Unbound Soul, his meditation and martial arts seminar, Richard Haight is spreading a practical method of spiritual unfoldment that is free of all constraints. Richard Haight now lives and teaches in southern Oregon, U.S.A..

Richard has a free online course at his website www.richardhaight.net to help expedite the spiritual unfoldment process.

Richard L. Haight's The Unbound Soul is quite an interesting read for those who are curious about spirituality. Haight takes us through the journey of his own spirituality, beginning with a childhood many others may relate to. At a young age, he was told to believe who God was in an unbiblical light, but fortunately was encouraged by his parents to seek truth. Not long after, he began to experience spirituality in an unexpected form that aided him in his quest for answers. One instance in which he dreamed that Jesus told him to find his bones, as they are the core of his teaching. 

Be prepared to soak in information like a sponge, because there are many layers to Haight's writings. The further you delve into the book, the further you immerse yourself into the ideology that humanity and everything that surrounds it is one essence with what could be considered the "Presence." We are consciousness with infinite potential, but are ignorant of our identity within the context of universal dimension. He also states that it isn't that there are "spiritual" and "non-spiritual" people, the absolute is that we are all spiritual beings, but not all realize the level of spirituality within their being.

Some of the concepts and practices outlined throughout the book are, at times, difficult to follow. However, if you expand your reading to the resources on his website, you may gain better understanding and application. I would recommend at least giving the Observation Meditation and/or Dance of Self a try, as you may find them helpful in re-grounding yourself for the day. There are well detailed outlines in the book on how to perform these meditations.

Haight is also a coach in Shinkaido, which is a practice that works to achieve 4 primary goals (as stated at richardhaight.net):
  1. Martial Arts: dealing with fear and violence through relaxed movement and awareness.
  2. Dynamic Meditation: discovering what is innate yet beyond the mind, while realizing and resolving the barriers that have served to block that realization. 
  3. Autonomic Stretching: Creating a balance between strength, flexibility and relaxation while resetting nerve organs throughout the body, you will realize the most efficient, silent, aware body possible.
  4. Autonomic Therapy: Using reverse innervation and healing touch to resolve disharmony and disease.
I am very impressed that Haight struggled with a learning disorder growing up and was able to make so much progress as an adult to not only pen a book, but one with this much depth. It was definitely an interesting read. As with any book on spirituality, the only real way to take any of it literally is by applying it and seeing if it works for yourself. If it doesn't, that could mean it just isn't for you, but it doesn't hurt to try.


Review & GIVEAWAY: Piccadilly and the Waltzing Wind by Lisa Anne Novelline

Title: Piccadilly and the Waltzing Wind
Series: Piccadilly's Magical World #2
Author: Lisa Anne Novelline
Illustrator: Nicola Hwang
Publication Date: October 1, 2016
Publisher: Lisa Novelline
Genre: Children's Picture Book
Pages: 44
ISBN: 0983531145
Source: Hardcover from Author

Synopsis (from Goodreads):
In the award winning, Piccadilly and the Waltzing Wind (ages 4-8), the second installment in the "Piccadilly's Magical World" series, Piccadilly seeks to answer the question: “May one dance with the wind?” Readers are invited to soar with Piccadilly, friends, and the mischievous autumn breeze through an irresistible journey of what may be, and then spiral back to the extra special magic awaiting Piccadilly in her own backyard. About Piccadilly’s Magical World: The Piccadilly universe is one wherein children can imagine possibilities, experiment with ideas, and dream solutions as rich and diverse as they are. The first installment in this series is Piccadilly and the Fairy Polka.


Lisa Anne Novelline is a former mathematics teacher and problem-solving coach. She has written several children’s books including Piccadilly and the Fairy Polka and is currently working on a novel for young adults as well as authoring the blog HolidayAndHearth.com dedicated to helping families and friends rekindle or deepen their personal and collective connections to the seasons of nature. All of her projects are inspired by her profound commitment to the cultivation of critical-thinking and creativity. 

She holds a Master of Education degree in Teaching and Curriculum from Harvard University, a Bachelor of Science degree in Psychology from Northeastern University, and a Bachelor of Science degree in Mathematics from Lesley University. 

She is a mother of four and lives with her family in Massachusetts.

About the Illustrator:
Nicola Hwang is an Illustrator, Character Designer and Concept Artist who's loved working in everything from Animation series for television, to ebooks for kids, comics and games. She also has a talent for memorising cartoon dialogues, conversing with animals and talking about herself in the third person.

"Oh, bubbles! If only you'd last a bit longer, I could fill the sky, with rainbows!"
-Lisa Anne Novelline, Piccadilly and the Waltzing Wind

Another adventure in Piccadilly's magical world! I had been wishing and hoping for this day to come, and I am not disappointed! In this sequel to Piccadilly and the Fairy Polka, readers are allured through sparkling illustrations to an enchanting universe filled with curiosity and wonder.

Piccadilly's inquiring mind is drawing her to the autumn wind this time, as the colors of the dancing leaves fill the sky with jewel-toned rainbows. In the spirit we know and love, she decides her next adventure, "I want to dance with the wind!" And she sets out to discover how to make it happen. In the process, we meet a new furry friend who gives the impression that he's from another time, adding to the enchantment of the story.

As seen in the first book, Piccadilly receives support from her father and brother who encourage her eagerness to learn and explore. It depicts a lyrical beauty and movement within nature that sparks the reader's own curiosity, and simply makes you want to go outside! There is endless appeal to children and adult readers alike, as there is a special magic to the Piccadilly universe that reaches deep into the soul of the reader and awakens the child within.

I read this book at my Fall themed storytime last week, and I had a wonderful response from both parents and children. There were several compliments on the illustrations, especially! From an educational aspect, we were able to talk about what fall is in terms of what happens to the leaves and why they change colors. We also talked about how the weather changes (chilly and windy like in the book). It's also a great opportunity to talk about fall colors. As a craft, I made a tree on the wall and children traced their hands and wrote their names, then placed them as falling leaves on the tree. It gave us another opportunity to talk about colors and work on motor skills.

These books are some of my most favorite children's books I've ever come across. Lisa Anne Novelline is apparently very attuned to nature and the magic of the universe. As a fellow Quantum Physics enthusiast, I think she adds a special and unique flair to the children's literary world. I hope to continue seeing more from her, and I expect they will only become more magical with each adventure!

Here's your chance to win signed copies of BOTH Piccadilly books! 

GRAND PRIZE: Signed copies of Piccadilly and the Fairy Polka & Piccadilly and the Waltzing Wind

Second Prize: A copy of Piccadilly and the Waltzing Wind


Cover Reveal: The Romeo Catchers by Alys Arden

The Romeo Catchers
Alys Arden
(The Casquette Girls #2)
Published by: Skyscape
Publication date: May 23rd 2017
Genres: Paranormal, Young Adult
Tormented by the fate she condemned her mother to, and by the lies she’s forced to tell to cover it up, Adele scours Storm-ravaged New Orleans for the truth about her family’s magical past. But every turn leads her back to the one person she’s determined to forget: Niccolò Medici. Not even the multitude of enchanted locks on the attic door trapping Nicco within can break their connection.
Sensing Nicco calling to Adele, Isaac tries relentlessly to keep her from exploring paths too dark that would endanger them all. But a new threat is rising: the Medici’s presence has attracted something else to New Orleans…an older enemy, one that will bring Isaac’s haunted past to life, test the witches’ friendships, and jeopardize Adele and Isaac’s blossoming relationship.
In this spellbinding continuation of The Casquette Girls saga, Adele must draw on the past—from seventeenth-century Florence, a time bubbling with alchemy and fraternal betrayal—and sort history from fantasy if she is to have any chance of saving her mother, her coven, and her magic.
Sequel to:

Author Bio:
Alys Arden was raised by the street performers, tea leaf-readers, and glittering drag queens of the New Orleans French Quarter. She cut her teeth on the streets of New York and has worked all around the world since. She either talks too much or not at all. She obsessively documents things. Her hair ranges from eggplant to cotton-candy colored. One dreary day in London, she missed home and started writing The Casquette Girls.
Her debut novel garnered over one million reads online before it was acquired by Skyscape in a two book deal. Her second book is due out winter 2016.
Alys is represented by ICM. And she still plans to run away with the circus one star swept night.



Review: #BabyLove: My Social Life by Corine Dehghanpisheh

Title: #BabyLove: My Social Life
Author: Corine Dehghanpisheh
Publication Date: June 22nd, 2016
Publisher: My Art to Inspire
Genre: Children's Picture Book
Pages: 36
ISBN: 9780985193058
Source: ARC from Publisher

Synopsis (from Publisher):
"Click." "Tap." Tag and Post. An adored baby tells a modern tale about life in today's digital world. #BabyLove: My Social Life highlights the social phenomena of sharing daily activities using technology and social networks.

Corine Dehghanpisheh is a children’s book author and illustrator. Her inspirations for writing and illustrating come from everyday life.

She was a Mom's Choice Awards® Silver Recipient and a Next Generation Indie Author Finalist for her debut children's book Can We Play Again?, which was published in March 2012. Her inspiration for this book came from her work as a Licensed Creative Arts Therapist in NYC.

Corine published her second children’s book, Buddy’s Dream, in November 2013, and her third children's book, #BabyLove: My Social Life, in July 2015.

When Corine is not busy being creative, she is most likely having fun taking pictures of her family. Corine lives in Manhattan, NY with her husband and new baby. 

In this time-relevant children's book, Corine Dehghanpisheh unveils the infant's perspective in a digital world where phones are constantly out snapping photos and taking videos to capture memories and share them on social media. 

Although the theme of #BabyLove is pretty obvious, Dehghanpisheh keeps a fairly neutral platform through out the book. Her message is tastefully executed in a way that opens the reader's eyes to the extremity of social media and families, but also how it's an outlet to share with friends and families. I didn't get the impression that she was leaning in only one direction, but more-so was being informative within the broad spectrum.

I love the format of the book. The illustrations are simplistic and consistent. Almost to a point where you could discuss shapes with your child as a side activity while reading this book. She also integrated social media symbols and interactions such as different ways to "like" a video on Facebook, hashtags, comments, and statuses. At first, I didn't understand these symbols as they were underneath the image of the page, but after a couple pages of seeing it, I understood. How clever! 

I thought this was a well-written and highly relevant book that our culture can relate to. It documents the different emotions and activities often captured through a baby's day. It helps the reader keep in mind that although social media can be a great way to connect our friends and loved ones, it is good to keep in mind not to overdo it and miss out on extra cuddles!

As I live 3 states away from my nieces and nephews, it is the social media interaction I get with them that definitely makes me feel more connected. I know my siblings spend plenty of time loving on them, it's just ensuring that balance is present, and I believe that's the message Dehghanpisheh was trying to communicate.