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.

Description

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

Disclaimer

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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Sometimes You Really Can’t Go Back

This was supposed to be a review of Sword of Shannara by Terry Brooks, but I can’t do it. Back in the mid-80s, reading this novel as an impressionable young teen who loved the fantasy world and wanted to be a writer, I devoured it. Loved it. But times change. Minds grow, develop and adapt to their surroundings. What had enthralled me then, doesn’t today. Let me explain.

A Yard Sale Find

Wanting to relive that feeling I initially felt, when I saw the July 12, 1983 Mass Market version of The Sword of Shannara at a yard sale for 50 cents, I snatched it up. My hardcopy had been out of sight and mind for almost 17 years, when my youngest moved into my office and my office was packed away in boxes and stored in various closets.

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Book Review: Storm of Divine Light by Ernesto San Giacomo

Revisiting the past is a deadly game of false mentors and betrayed apprentices.

Storm of Divine LightHis Mage-Sense had reached out to him like a psychic serpent coiling around his mind and slithering into his subconscious.

I had not gone but a few lines and this sentence coiled its way into my mind. It gave me pause for thought and I wondered, what path have I set my feet upon? More than 300 pages later, I found the path to be one of adventure, mystery and magic; all trails I enjoy.

In Storm of Divine Light, book 1 in The Tales of Tyrennia series, Ernesto San Giacomo weaves a story around a man with a past, a dark past, a past he’d sooner forget. Yet, perhaps Blackmond Moonshadow – oops! I mean Dagorat inwardly wants to find closure for this past life so he can imagine a future, possibly one with a family. While the depth’s of Dagorat’s powers are not fully explored in book one, I feel we will see more of them in the coming books.

His companion, Cyril the Wise, provides guidance and, at times, entertainment with his wisdom and crush on the finest cook in Mentiria, a Halfling named Lilly, who works at Sword and Anvil Tavern.

Together Dagorat and Cyril are called upon to solve a great theft, one that might destroy their world if the stolen goods fall into the wrong hands—and you know, it falls into the wrong hands. They set out to capture the thieves and along the way, Dagorat discovers much more than he bargained for and is forced to confront his dark past or return to it.

Unlike many fantasy stories, I didn’t have to struggle with strange names that make me roll my eyes, wishing the writer would have chosen Bill or George, anything but Sueelliea. While hard-to-pronounce, obviously-made-up-names were popular in the 80s, writers have since realised readers hate them.

Presentation: I bought the paperback. It was well-constructed and well-designed. The text was excellent for these tired, old eyes. Hats off to the designer who chose the layout, line spacing and font size. I loved it.

To learn more about Ernesto and his books, visit his San Giacomo’s Corner – A Place to Connect with Readers.

Storm of Divine Light is available in eBook or paperback at Amazon.

Enjoy.

 

Book Review: Cammie Takes Flight by Laura Best

The full moon reaches its fingers through the tree branches and grabs at the furniture in my bedroom.

Cammie Takes Flight by Laura BestIn my opinion, this is the best line written by Laura Best in Cammie Takes Flight. There are many good lines in the book, but this one instantly created an image that made me pause.

We were introduced to young Cammie Deveau of Tanner, Nova Scotia, in Flying with a Broken Wing. She was living with her Aunt Millie then and at the end of that story, we learn her world was about to expand greatly.

The opening of Cammie Takes Flight puts us in the Halifax School for the Blind, where Cammie is adjusting to life in the big city, making new friends and trying to make sense of the actions of her father, Ed, and her Aunt Millie. Her ultimate goal turns out to be finding her mother, who had abandoned her at birth and who supposedly lives in Halifax.

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Book Review: Passing it on Before Passing On by H. L. Foster, M.Ed.

Passing it on Before Passing On

by H. L. Foster, M.Ed.

Rating: 4 Stars

Before I Begin

Let me tell you where I stand before I review this book. I come from a family with a long history of alcoholism. I grew up with a father who couldn’t control his drinking, and I’ve seen aunts, uncles and siblings go down that hard road. I am not an alcoholic; I see things from the other perspective. While I’m not addicted to alcohol, I feel I have developed characteristics stemming from being conceived under the influence and living within the shadow of an alcoholic.

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