Book Review: “Joined” by Barbara Carter

On September 15th, Barbara Carter releases the next book in her memoir series, Joined – a memoir of marriage. Barbara sent me a copy of the book in February to read and review. February? I know. That was a lifetime ago. Who plans seven months ahead? More over, how can she wait seven months to release the book after it’s ready? I couldn’t. That’s why I’m horrible at pre-launch promotions. She must have the patience of some religion legend whose name I can’t recall.


Falling in love is easy.

Creating a life together is another story. . .

JOINED is a real-life read, a true confession, a compelling story of life’s many challenges and its few choices. It is the fifth in Barbara Carter’s memoir series, Barbara by the Bay (Mahone Bay, Nova Scotia).

It stands well on its own, not requiring the reader to have read any of the earlier books, although certainly knowing about her earlier life will enhance the experience of travelling with her into marriage and motherhood.

This is a story of the perseverance a woman needs while trying to make marriage work through a surprising barrage of adversity. Dealing with issues that could end their relationship.

My Review (written the day I finished the book on March 25th)

We all make mistakes in life. Some of us are addicted to making mistakes. Yet we can’t let past mistakes define who we are today. I’ve lived long enough to know the past is the past and if we dwell on it, we limit our future.

This philosophy I’ve developed over the years kept coming to mind while reading Joined – a memoir of marriage. I also kept reminding myself the early 80s was a different era. What we understood as normal and what we tolerated was different than today. I knew people who were living similar life styles as those in this memoir. Today, I don’t.

Joined is the story of young Barbara, who endured many ups and downs in life, some brought on by her own actions and some by others in her life, including the man she marries in this chapter of the memoir saga.

Readers will be met with thoughts like, “I remember doing that,” “I knew someone who did that,” and “I’d never put up with that.” Though I really can’t speak for the person I was in my 20s, so I may have tolerated it.

As Barbara navigates married life with a husband who drinks way too much, she’s faced with complicated pregnancies, health issues, financial woes and the continued conflicting philosophy of her mother. One night, looking to relive a little freedom she had in her pre-marriage, pre-mother days, she makes a huge mistake. Yet, she endures. Isn’t this what warriors do?

Learning through experience is how we get through life. Learning through the experiences of others, gives us a boost we wouldn’t otherwise have to get ahead.

This memoir will appeal to readers who enjoy reading the raw human experience, one in which a turbulent childhood turned into troubled teen years delivers a woman into marriage, motherhood and deciding if her future will be that like many other women with alcoholic husbands in rural Nova Scotia or something different, exciting and one that will satisfy her soul.

Author Barbara Carter

Barbara Carter: artist and author. Born in Nova Scotia, Canada, December 25, 1958. Married, with three grown children and three grandchildren. Healing from past wounds is the focus of her work. She shares her life experiences and lessons learned, to connect and hopefully help others with their healing journeys. This is her fifth memoir.

Connect with Barbara Carter

Where to buy the book

It is available for pre-order at Amazon. Release date is September 15th.

“Life should not be a journey to the grave with the intention of arriving safely in a pretty and well preserved body, but rather to skid in broadside in a cloud of smoke, thoroughly used up, totally worn out, and loudly proclaiming “Wow! What a Ride!”

~ Hunter S. Thompson, The Proud Highway: Saga of a Desperate Southern Gentleman, 1955-1967

Book Review: “The Druid Magic Handbook” by John Michael Greer

Book Description

The first and only Druidic book of spells, rituals, and practice. The Druid Magic Handbook is the first manual of magical practice in Druidry, one of the fastest growing branches of the Pagan movement. The book breaks new ground, teaching Druids how to practice ritual magic for practical and spiritual goals within their own tradition. What sets The Druid Magic Handbook apart is that it does not require the reader to use a particular pantheon or set of symbols. Although it presents one drawn from Welsh Druid tradition, it also shows the reader how to adapt rites and other practices to fit the deities and symbols most meaningful to them. This cutting edge system of ritual magic can be used by Druids, Pagans, Christians, and Thelemites alike!

The first manual of Druidic magical practice ever, replete with spell work and rituals.

John Michael Greer is a highly respected authority on all aspects of Paganism.

My Review

I had high hopes when I started this book. Hopes of what, I didn’t know. Would I learn actual magic? The history of magic? More about druids and their part in history? Would I learn the secrets of the druid world?

Nope. None of that. Okay, a little bit of history about magic. That’s it.

I learned about the deliberate disenchantment of the world in the early 1900s and a bit of speculative history about druids. I say speculative because according to Greer, no one knows the true history of the druids or the magic they used. So everything is a guess, a possibility and imagined.

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Book Review Coming Soon

Today, I finished reading The Druid Magic Handbook by John Michael Greer. Interesting. My review will be posted here by the end of the week.

Tomorrow, I start reading The East Coast Music Book of Fame – Top 50 by Bob Mersereau. It has a forward by Joel Plaskett. It was published by SSP Publications in Halifax, Nova Scotia, and I was sent a copy to review. When it was offered, I didn’t hesitate. I’ve been a music fan all my life, and I’ve met several of the people in this book, so I’m looking forward to reading it.

I’m trying to read more, but time is limited. I spend about 30 to 45 minutes reading each day.

Movie Review: “Mazes and Monsters”

Online Description

Despite their personality differences, Kate, Jay Jay, Daniel and Robbie are close college friends, bound together by their pleasure in playing a game called Mazes and Monsters. In order to keep it interesting, they decide to take the game from the board into a real-life setting. But soon the line between reality and fantasy becomes difficult to differentiate, and what started out as just a game soon becomes a nightmare.

My Review

Cheesy. It’s the first word that came to mind when I watched Mazes and Monsters. Others were: unrealistic, poor script, bad dialogue, silly. While Tom Hanks has developed into a great actor, he wasn’t as slick in 1982. But then maybe it was the script.

This movie was based on a novel of the same name by Rona Jaffe. She had jumped onto the cash cow that insinuated the roll-playing game Dungeons and Dragons, of which Mazes and Monsters was a substitute title for, would be responsible for people worshipping the devil. Her book and this movie spread lies and misinformation. It was obvious within the first ten minutes that this film was not about telling a good story. It was about sending a message. Since I hadn’t seen it before, I wanted to know if the stories I’d heard about it were true. They were. It was horrible propaganda.

Religious groups were the first to claim playing D&D would lead players to worship the devil and join satanic cults. Propaganda, such as this movie, were made to discourage people from playing it. In the United States, this era became the Satanic Panic of the 1980s. Here in Nova Scotia, I didn’t know how big this got in the States. I heard about religious groups there banning D&D, but we ignored it.

I started playing D&D in 1979 and played every Friday night for five years or more. We even had sleepovers, where two dozen people played all night. Incredibly, none of us went on to worship the devil, murder people or start a cult.

My parents ignored the hoopla as did the parents in my neighbourhood. All that matter was their kids were entertained and kept busy on Friday night at the Boys and Girls Club instead of running the streets and getting into trouble.

On a scale of 1 to 5 stars, I give this movie a one. The four main players did the best they could to work with a poor script. Robbie (Tom Hanks) was somewhat believable and as another viewer stated, this film was “more about a person’s decent into schizophrenia and mental illness” than an evil game. Robbie’s mother was an alcoholic, his parents fought all the time and his older brother had run away three years prior. JayJay’s mother was a loon in her own right, so when he started talking suicide, I traced that back to her, not the game. In reality, she was a cardboard character with no redeeming qualities.

The start is a little confusing because I was led to believe JayJay had returned home from being away at school, yet the next scene has him starting a new school year. Transitions were horrible. The ending was satisfying.

If you want a few good laughs and eye rolls, you can watch Mazes and Monsters on YouTube. That’s where I found it last weekend. Be prepared to suspend reality, or you’ll wonder how this film even made it to television.

Part II: Book Review: “A Sure Cure for Witchcraft” by Laura Best

This is Part II of my postings today. The first was Pagan Traditions, Witches and Beltane. It speaks about Walpurgisnacht, a day marked in A Sure Cure for Witchcraft.

“We become the thoughts we think each day,” said Alisz, one of the main characters in A Sure Cure for Witchcraft. “So think only happy thoughts…”

There is much to love about A Sure Cure for Witchcraft by Laura Best, but this line echoes what I have believed for many years. It walks along side, “Where you place your attention is where you place your energy.”

If one believed in magic, they’d understand how powerful our thoughts are. This is stressed in the novel and can be understood in real time by the power of the placebo. Given my attraction to magic and energy and my use of it in my fantasy novels, I was interested in seeing how these would play out in Best’s story.

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Part I: Pagan Traditions, Witches and Beltane

Today is a two-part day. I’ve never done this before, so let’s have a go at it. Below is the first post of the day. It will be followed three hours later (because three is a significant number) with Book Review: “A Sure Cure for Witchcraft” by Laura Best.

I’m posting the review for A Sure Cure for Witchcraft by Laura Best today because today is Walpurgisnacht, also known a Walpurgis Night and Burning of Witches. You’ll have to read the book to learn the significance.

While many sources claim information about this day, we truly don’t know when it started nor what it was all about. We have the impressions of what writers have provided over the centuries but as we know, everyone forms their own impression on an event depending on what they’ve read, people they’ve spoken to and what they’ve seen. Walpurgisnacht was so long ago, anyone who experienced the first inkling of the day is mere dust in the wind.

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Book Review: “The One We Forgot to Love” by Sandy Totten

The One We Forgot to Love by Sandy Totten was written from the perspective of a mother who watched one of her children suffer with a silent enemy. While this is a fictional story, like all writers, Totten injects real-life experiences into it.

The members of the family – Addie, Dexter, Seri and Ivy – tell their version of events, and all four perspectives intertwine to give readers an excellent view of the big picture. Readers are left knowing more than the characters of how relationships can suffer when communication breaks down.

After a few chapters, you might think you know the full scope of the problem, but Totten weaves in hints throughout to provide a different view of family members that will change your mind. The ending was a twist I hadn’t expected.

What else does it contain? Hockey. The family is a hockey family, and Dexter coaches his two daughters in the game of their life.

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Movie Review: Hillbilly Elegy

Hillbilly Elegy (2020; never seen before)

Starring: Glenn Close, Amy Adams, Gabriel Brasso

Elegy: a poem of serious reflection, typically a lament for the dead

This is a modern day story about rising above your raising to make a better life for yourself through the decisions you make. I’ve said this before, and the story emphasis this: there has never been a better time in history when someone can go from nothing to being financially stable. Living in North America has given everyone the opportunity to be a better person regardless of their start in life.

Obviously, it’s easier if each generation works towards that goal. My grandparents lived in poverty, but they worked hard, gave their kids what they could, then my parents took the opportunities presented to them (for my father, that was enlisting in the army to fight in the Second World War when he was 17; for my mother, that was leaving her family at 17 and travelling alone from Newfoundland to find work in Halifax).

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Movie Review: Captain Fantastic

Movie Description from an Online Source

Ben Cash (Viggo Mortensen), his wife Leslie and their six children live deep in the wilderness of Washington state. Isolated from society, Ben and Leslie devote their existence to raising their kids — educating them to think critically, training them to be physically fit and athletic, guiding them in the wild without technology and demonstrating the beauty of co-existing with nature. When Leslie dies suddenly, Ben must take his sheltered offspring into the outside world for the first time.

My Impression

I didn’t know what to expect when I watched the film Captain Fantastic (2016). I’d never heard of it, and I hadn’t seen the trailer. All I knew was the snippet given on Netflix, which stated a family living off-grid reconsiders their disconnection from society after an accident.

Or something like that. Given I plan to live off-grid one day, the film piqued my interest.

In the opening scenes, a father and his six children are exercising, hunting, training (for what, I never really found out unless it was the imagined attack if they happened upon a member of society) and living the life of a family who had abandoned society and all its luxuries.

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“Amanda in New Mexico – Ghosts in the Wind” by Darlene Foster

Amanda in New Mexico is an ideal book for children who are ready to read chapter books. It’s not too long or too complex that a mid-elementary student won’t be able to read it. My daughter would have been able to read this book by mid-way grade 2. Certainly, grade 3 students will be able to read it.

This is one of many books Canadian author Darlene Foster has written in the Amanda series. Foster has sent Amanda to several places on the globe, including England and Holland. In fact, there’s a sneak peak of Amanda in Holland – Missing in Action in the back of the paperback I read.

Amanda in New Mexico – Ghosts in the Wind has just enough spookiness to intrigue children but not scare them or give them nightmares. Foster leaves the ending open in the way she doesn’t confirm or deny the existence of ghosts, which I think is an excellent way to do it because . . . sometimes I believe in ghosts and sometimes I don’t.

Foster shares the New Mexican culture through food, history and language. Children will learn new words and about the Day of the Dead, an old Mexican tradition.

Day of the Dead

At the end of the story, Foster poses eight questions to readers, which teachers can use if the book is read in class.

I won’t answer any questions except the last one: Would you enjoy a class trip like the one Amanda and her classmates went on?

ANSWER: Yes! Without hesitation.

Amazon Review

Amanda in New Mexico – Ghosts in the Wind is a delightful story about Amanda, her friends, Cleo and Caleb, and seven of their classmates who travel for a class trip to New Mexico. While there, strange things happen, and Amanda isn’t so sure if she still doesn’t believes in ghosts after possibly seeing one…or two. The group explores local museums and historical locations, including a cemetery, and learn about local customs and sample traditional foods.

This book is suitable for children who are able to read chapter books. It’s a fast-paced adventure that may even keep the attention of reluctant readers.

Where Can You Buy the Book?

I picked up my paperback copy at Amazon.

Learn more about Amanda’s adventures and Darlene Foster by visiting her website: Darlene Foster.

General Update and Book Reviews

To say the first 2 1/2 months of 2022 have been extremely busy is an understatement. It’s a good busy, so I can’t complain. While I organise my week and spend my Sunday listening to Kris Kristofferson and the wisdom on life he shares in his many songs, I’m looking at the book reviews I’ve started and created notes for.

I’ll start posting this week. I wrote a few movie reviews, too, so I might get them up. My intentions are good but when I get busy, I lose track of a lot.

In other news, Allan Hudson of The Miramichi Reader reviewed Natural Selection. The review was posted January 24th. It’s available here: Natural Selection by Diane McGyver.

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Film Review: A Castle for Christmas

I’m way behind on my reviews. I have several book and film reviews half/mostly written, but I haven’t finished them. I’ll start publishing them soon. However, I thought I’d post this one because it’s a Christmas film.

A Castle for Christmas stars Brook Shields and Cary Elwes. It popped up in my suggestions, so I watched without learning more about it other than what was in the description. Sometimes, these are the best movies.


To escape a scandal, a bestselling author journeys to Scotland, where she falls in love with a castle – and faces off with the grumpy duke who owns it.

The description had a few key words that piqued my interest: author, Scotland, castle.

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Book Review: “Where There’s A Will” by Judy Penz Sheluk

My first Sheluk book won’t be my last

While I’ve been following Judy Penz Sheluk for some time, Where There’s a Will is the first book by her that I’ve read. My reason: limited reading time and the mound of books waiting for me to read.

Where There’s a Will is the third book in A Glass Dolphin Mystery, but it can be easily read as a stand-alone book, which I’ve done. I don’t feel I’ve missed a huge part of the story though I’m certain the story would have been more fulfilling if I had met the characters and witnessed their earlier struggles in books one and two.

Unlike the previous two books, which contained murder for the mystery, this one is an estate mystery. No murder, or at least no concrete murder is under investigation. To avoid spoilers, I’ll stick to a general review of the book.

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Book Review: “Graves for Drifters and Thieves” by Sophia Minetos


I’ve been part of Sophia Minetos’ launch team over the past few months, and I received a free copy of Graves for Drifters and Thieves to review.

Confession #1

Halston Harney is my favourite character. Nowadays, for whatever reason, when I read books written by others, I often don’t have a favourite character. It’s odd. Years ago, within a few chapters, I always found a favourite character. I’m not sure why I don’t anymore. I was pleasantly surprised when I found one in this book.

Confession #2

Westerns are one of my favourite genres. I grew up reading the old western novels my oldest brother had bought. I also read western comics, such as Jonah Hex, and watched western television shows (Bonanza, Gunsmoke, The Lone Ranger, Dr. Quinn) and movies (Young Guns and every John Wayne and Clint Eastwood western). I’m also writing two western novels.

This made it easy to slip into Graves for Drifters and Thieves.

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Book Review: “Emma” by F. W. Kenyon

Emma F. W. Kenyon 1955

I picked up Emma by F. W. Kenyon at a yard sale back in July. It’s the hard cover 1955 version. Right away, I was surprised at the willingness and ease Emma, the main character only 17 years old in 1780, living in England, gave herself to Captain John Willet-Payne who offered to free her 14-year-old cousin from the Navy, having been forced into it by a press gang. ‘Gave herself’ as in a sexual favour exchanged for a personal favour. Oddly, it seems this wasn’t Emma’s first sexual experience.

No surprise, her stint at Uppark at South Harting in Sussex under Sir Henry Fetherstonhaugh’s protection ended within a year, Emma having become impregnated and showing. Offered protection by Charles Grevill, she eventually falls in love with him as he tutors her into being a refined lady.

In this novel, a man offering protection was not merely him putting a roof over her head and protecting her innocence; it was more often the woman doing the chores and offering her bed whenever her protector needed satisfying.

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