24 Following

Skinny Dipping Into Books

I like the rain. I want to have a spring bookworming rain party full out with wellies—but not those Hunter Boots; absolutely not—, with yummy airy things like puffed pastries, meringues, mini fluffy cheese cakes, mousse dessert, macaroon, biscuits, crepe, and Earl Grey tea, definitely Earl Grey tea.  and Tillandsia. We'd have lots of "air plants". Lots! And We'd read, but not anything structured. We'd bring books, trade books, read out-loud, pass books around between sentences and paragraphs. We'd leave with books we hadn't discovered.


I like books like I like my Jazz; euphoric, dangerous, occasionally a bit manic, sorrowful, bleak, raging, mood-incongruent, mournful, unforgivingly ragged, symbolic in a quiet way, warm apple pie for the soul. Give me a Plath style. Yōko Ogawa, M. Roach,

Criteria: Not rated on likability of characters. Not objective. I like Moxie Soda; chances are you don't.

time spent in that before bed reading slot:

5-until blurry eye 4-Later than I intended, but I still kept to my extended, extended reading time 3-I really should have been to bed an hour ago  2-customary 30 minutes. 1-book. side table. eyes closed.

How are common themes handled?

5-With an aesthetic that repurposes everyday themes into something fresh. Think of Hole Celebrity Skin covered by Cat Power  4-there is a comfortable air of familiarly.
3-Deja Vu 2. No deviation from its mates  1. Devastatingly trite, redundant, and stale.

Where would you keep it post-reading?

5-Next to my bed.  4-it's the center piece of my favorite bookshelf 3. On my other favorite bookshelf, but it's a bit dusty over their 2-Great cheap bookends 1-It never made it out of the box marked 'moving'.

Emotional response-

5- Where is my teddy bear? Emotional-hangover 4- If I wasn't so emotionally stunted I'd cry.
3. Did James Cameron co-wrote this? Artfully contrived. 
2- calculative emotional manipulation. This was literally written by James Cameron.1- I…feel…..nothing.

Mechanics (plot structure, voice, presentation, word choice, sentence structure, characters, writing style, pacing, and consistency):

5-Chanel 4-Prada 3-J-Crew 2-Gap 1-Old Navy

Currently reading

The Complete Stories
Flannery O'Connor
I am No One You Know
Joyce Carol Oates
Unclean Jobs for Women and Girls
Alissa Nutting, Alissa Nutting

Trite and uninspiring mess.

Jackaby - William Ritter

Abandoned. I have never read a book that so grossly borrowed from other sources. This book reads like a combination of Supernatural, with its absurd and quirky content, coupled with an extreme reliance on Sherlock (BBC). The supernatural elements are not as advertised, and come as close to scary as Ghost Hunters. It is thoroughly and devastatingly derivative, and any references to Sherlock are quite insulting. The supernatural portions are laughable and childlike in construction and delivery. The only measure of its significance is a fluid, and almost always flourishing prose and writing style, however this is not enough to maintain my interest.

no rating

Borderline Personality Disorder: The Latest Assessment and Treatment Strategies - Melanie Dean

I am pretty indifferent to this workbook. It presents an abridged, simplified, and frankly far from thorough framework of BPD. Assessment strategies and treatment plans are explored, but briskly and in a very cookie-cutter format.

Case studies are presented, but they reflect an adlibs, haphazard attempt at conceptualizing behaviors exhibited by BPD rather than sufficient exploration of the disorder. They were obviously the work of fiction, which decreases their effectiveness as well as the overall appeal of the book.
In the end this was a poorly rendered Cliffnotes version of material previously available that satisfied the need for assessment and treatment planning. Given that the format was barely an outline there wasn't much space to fully, and thoroughly present material. For example, areas exploring DBT were rather rough, and attempts to squeeze large bulks of information into such a narrow manual neglected a rather complex approach to therapy. Many of the treatments, especially DBT, are so detailed that they are not easily standardized into brief paragraph form.

This information is presented in less than 70 pages, making it laughable that it would carry the sub-title "The Latest Assessment and Treatment Strategies". This book would fit nicely alongside larger research material.

easy, brisk psych read

The Sociopath at the Breakfast Table: Recognizing and Dealing With Antisocial and Manipulative People - Jane McGregor,  Tim McGregor

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Right away, within the first page the authors notes that this won't be another book heavily invested in examining mental illness from the viewpoint of the DSM-V. This is a refreshing change, because most of these books are not person centered. Also valuable was the way it approached the subject. It was written in an ease not akin to a self-help book, nor a academic resource.

Unfortunately it seems that the bulk of studies around this group are done in areas of physical restriction, such as hospitals and jails, limiting our ability to fully canvas the amount of people afflicted by 'antisocial personality disorder'. This doesn't suggest a deficit in this work, because the authors' utilized what was available, but it is something to keep in mind.

You probably know someone who fits the category of sociopath, or at the very least know an individual who functions on his/her ability to manipulate beyond the degree that is socially expected and ethical. It isn't just their ability to manipulate, these individuals are hypnotic in their charming personalities allowing them to exact the full brunt of their chaotic patterns of social intercourse. Emotional abuse and aggression take there toll on individuals living, working, or socializing with 'sociopaths'. The sociopath's secret? their behaviors often mimic those commonly found in the general population—this presents its own diagnostic challenges, which are addressed in the book—, such as betrayal, outburst, disruptions in social intercourse, and lying. The difference, well that is easy… these individuals are on super-drive.

A nice chapter summary positioned at the front of the book informs the reader of the focus of each chapter. Case stories are offered throughout, which further the readers understanding of this complex topic.

It is framed through the lens of the impact of abuse and neglect, often functioning in a covert manner, on 'victims of sociopaths'. This presents an interesting angle of a topic that has received scant attention. The result is a more personable account of the disorder, with a primary focus on focusing on the human experience, rather than assaulting the reader with clinical information.  

However, there are consequences to embracing this point of view. Escaping from the traditional paradigm used to examine many mental health disorders has its positive aspects, but it also presents some challenges. Readers may lack a basic understanding of this disorder, and the authors' conscious efforts to avoid a heavy clinical perspective may present some difficulties in fully conceptualizing the topic. However, this isn't suggesting that this book negates current research or is founded on personal opinion. The backbone of this book is still very much research based.

Also, this approach does tend to offer only brief moments where the psychopath is examined from his/her perspective. This is only a thinly relevant complaint, as the blurb excludes this subtopic as a focus of extensive examination.

Wafting onto the pages of a text book near you

Past Scents: Historical Perspectives on Smell - Jonathan Reinarz

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“Odors have a power of persuasion stronger than that of words, appearances, emotions, or will. The persuasive power of an odor cannot be fended off, it enters into us like breath into our lungs, it fills us up, imbues us totally. There is no remedy for it.”
― Patrick Süskind, Perfume: The Story of a Murderer

Scrape out the humor of a Roach book, and you still get something that is approachable. This isn't one of those books. It reads more like a reference book. This isn't a terrible thing, and anyone in the mood for a densely packed explosion of all things focused on smell will be quite comfortable with this read and ultimately thoroughly satisfied.

According to the author, wearing perfume on clothes or objects was initially used as a way of decreasing the stench of disease. While perfume was an obvious strategy to mask the smell of rotten flesh and all things delicious, it was also thought to alter 'tainted air', the presumed source of diseases such as the plague.

The majority of people living in the western hemisphere no longer wear cologne to cover up the stench of improper hygiene, nor to conceal the stench of disease, but to extenuate parts of their personality. There is no bigger litmus test of a person's character than what he/she willfully decides to smell like. As the author points out, fragrance is a language in and of itself. Take my favorite fragrance, Mechant Loup…

"A masculine fragrance, as deep as the forest, with a hazelnut core... To dress city-dwellers with woody notes. Bertrand Duchaufour’s abstract portrait of the hazelnut tree. Méchant Loup (Big Bad Wolf) is alive with forest scents: dry leaves, smoke and woods. But in the air is a whiff of fairytales, bittersweet liquorice and an addictive praline note that softens our view of Mr Wolf. Is he just a rogueish charmer or the shadow behind the trees? Now, who’s afraid of the Big Bad Wolf?"

totally awesome dude, right? This is a typical narrative of a fragrance, and the author mentions that we often connect smells to familiar scents, and the memories associated with those smells. Food is often included as a point of comparison.

Fragrances are a means of expressing who we are, who we want to be perceived as, our social class, and in many instances our eagerness for sexual encounters—unless of course you chose to wear camphor, a scent once spritzed to treat painful erections. This is why I have such a terrible time with the olfactory overload of the CK and Giorgio Armani—not because of Camphor, though I think the smell has the same effect—fragrance houses; I know I just won't like you.  While this pure hatred for these two mainstream houses may be mine along (doubtful), the author does point to memory driven reactions to scents, and how those reactions can manipulate the ways we experience people, as well as situations.
Smells can also demonstrate social standing. While modern houses are separated into mainstream and niche, and therefore may lend a hand in deciphering a person's economic status, in the past it had a deeper meaning connected to self-identity. The early 1900s brought with it a swarm of immigration. While people of various cultures burst onto the streets of large urban cities, these same individual drifted further and further away from a key facet of their former selves, smell. Culturally specific ways of cooking were often casualties of immigration and with them smells associated with traditional meals. There is evidence that these same smells were sometimes easily identifiable on immigrants and were used as stereotypes to marginalize the immigrant population, specifically Jews.

This book will saturate the reader in a comprehensive study of the scarcely researched area of smell.  The book takes us on a long stretch from ancient times to the modern era. The author deftly explores the cultural context of certain smells, as well as how periods of time shift medical and cosmetic trends. One example is the shift of a popular 1500s medical treatment used to treat constipation and other ailments to that of a fragrance splashed on the wrists of royalty. Eau de Cologne was said to have traveled along with Henry II's bride and was first named Eau de La Reine. It then swung up to Cologne and was re-branded Eau de Cologne…. and boom, a hugely successful luxury trade was created, until, you know France slapped on thatluxury tax.

The author does an wonderful job of helping the reader understand the historical milestones of fragrances. He explores, in quite a lot of detail, the source of the particular fragrance and its utility. Lets take lavender. This easily identifiable scent has solidified a foundation most notably in aromatherapy. Gattefosse is widely considered the father of aromatherapy. His initial instinct to consider lavender as a method to relieve pain developed into more than 50 years of studies focusing on the medical relevance of lavender.

While the bulk of this book is heavy and deeply embedded in scholarly research, it does offer something worthwhile for simply curious folks. However, I would be remiss not to recommend, unless you are writing a paper or very preoccupied with the subject of fragrances, that you order a copy via your local library. It is a big boy, with a girth that is going to require an intellectual focus, a strained back, too much coffee, and the florescent lights of a college library. Ultimately, while it is a great offering, this casual reader with a casual interest in fragrances will get his olfactory experience at the local Sephora.

The Fault in Our Stars - John Green


So yah, the plot is rather basic....

Our primary character, Hazel, has cancer. This affliction has become part of her blood and sinew, tethering her in place. She spends her days being generally apathetic and reclusive. This is completely understandable, she has endured an insurmountable amount of health challenges, and when you get right down to it she is just really fucking angry. I think we often forget the power of being angry during difficult life circumstances. Sterilized and boiled down, anger has an element of rejection, and is the antithesis of submission. There is a reason that anger is second in the stages of grief (or third…. or whatever it's been a long time since psych 101). Even though she defines herself as a grenade, that doesn't define her. What she does have is an ample amount of personal integrity, strength, and resilience, with Augustus just sorta augmenting it. Along with this charmingly adorable fellow is An Imperial Affliction, a book that offers Hazel strength and guidance. Her humor! love it! so very cynical.

Then you have Augustus. His cancer has been in remission for years, and the chance of it returning is pretty darn slim. With the likelihood of sustained cancer-freeness comes a boat load, and often annoying degree of confidence. He has the sly ease of Logan Lerman with a whole adam brody look. He is scripted as this mature, deeply intellectual individual, and this definitely gets in the way. Regardless of his faults, I sorta have a man-crush.

Hazel is portrayed as relatable and Augustus as a sage. We didn't need a Harry Potter, nor did we need a Dumbledore life-coach.

Like any typical Lifetime, mid-noon soap opera cast with the same characters, Hazel thrives off of Augustus' energy, and Augustus swarms in as the adopted King Savior. The plot trudges along at this predictable, but still pretty lovely gait until we encounter those all too typical indicators of Green's work.

Enter all things metaphoric, and forced attempts to be thought provoking. This is the part in most of his work where people say, in a tiresome tone, "Come the fuck on, Green". I would agree with these folk, however, from sitting on the T to working directly with this population, I have observed that teenagers do consider these philosophical questions about life, albeit from the perspective of youth. Yah, they aren't collectively becoming the next Plato, and their comments aren't going to find their way into a dusty book. I do acknowledge that it is all too flowery and concise, and in all honesty I don't think anyone talks like this:

“I’m in love with you, and I know that love is just a shout into the void, and that oblivion is inevitable, and that we’re all doomed and that there will come a day when all our labor has been returned to dust, and I know the sun will swallow the only earth we’ll ever have, and I am in love with you.”

Like anyone. regardless of age. no one. It's all to Romeo and Juliet. There is something there, though, right? Scalpel out all that fancy imagery and it's easy to relate.

An Imperial Affliction not only frames their relationship, it also rustles up in Hazel, with a lot of hand holding from Augustus, an acceptance to live in the present. It even brings them to Germany, where they track down the perpetually drunk author of An Imperial Affliction. Again, this portion of the book is overwhelmed with complex notions of the world and existence, but it works, because at the core of Green's attempts to show off, there is somethings we all can identify with; hope.

As we follow them back to America, Hazel forgoes, for the most part, her reliance on the  over-wrought An Imperial Affliction, or at the very least stops deriving hope exclusively from its pages. Their trip to Germany is significant and is a catalyst for rejecting the reliance of a book for inspiration, and instead finding strength from within. You can't find the answers in a book dear Hazel, and that is rather jarring and scary.

Hazel and Augustus, on the firm ground of their real lives and beyond an arms reach of Rote grutze, attempt to further integrate their experiences abroad, particularly how one significant night under snowy flower peddles has gelled their relationship—this is one freaking beautiful scene! Hazel understands that her fevered attempts to reject shifts in her world-view are now just pieces of fiction fathomed up in her attempts to avoid happiness and the sorrow and hardships of vulnerability, and all that nasty human stuff. I think she starts to figure out that, while she regarded herself as a grenade and was comfortable with the prospect of exploding alone with no causalities, no one else around her adopted the same philosophy. She accepts all this, the whole bundle, from letting go of An Imperial Affliction to filling that gap with people around her, and unintentionally accepting the consequences. It really echoes Augustus' view of illness "its a metaphor, see: you put the killing thing right between your teeth but you don't give it the power to do its killing.”

The sum of its parts edge close to the cookie cutter, contrived way childhood diseases are often portrayed in contemporary literature.
Yes, I have concerns about the degree TFIOS romanticizes, and therefore trivializes cancer and other terminal diseases, but prefer it to the the alternative of making it a comedic affair, and "Red Band Society-ing" the subject matter. I would rather reduce all the fluffy, philosophical stuff down to the quotidian and have that as the lens of understanding Hazel and Augustus, than reject the notion that sickness is some pretty horrible shit.

While it may, at first, seem that the book is eager to portray terminal cancer as some sort of learning experience, at the end it solidifies itself as something so much simpler; cancer just makes you vulnerable as shit, just like most shitty life challenges.

We also see a shift from the notion that terminal illnesses, whether in remission or not, doesn't necessarily mean all this other stuff, like love, is more difficult. Somehow the book scrapes away the idea that these experiences are related to Hazel and Augustus' illnesses, and generalizes it in a way that is very familiar and has a high degree of relatability.

I can clap at the way it deviates from the traditional  examination of terminal illnesses, while also accepting that the writing style dilutes TFIOS' full potential.

Get to know this book a little bit…..

“I pointed at the little kids goading each other to jump from rib cage to shoulder and Gus answered just loud enough for me to hear over the din, 'Last time, I imagined myself as the kid. This time, the skeleton.”

“Oh, I wouldn’t mind Hazel Grace. It would be a privilege to my heart broken by you.”

“My thoughts are stars I cannot fathom into constellations.”

 “Gus, my love, I cannot tell you how thankful I am for our little infinity. I wouldn’t trade it for the world. You gave me a forever within the numbered days, and I’m grateful.”

"I want more numbers that I'm likely to get, and God, I want more numbers for Augustus Waters than he got. But, Gus, my love, I can not tell you thankful I am for our little infinity. I wouldn't trade it for the world. You gave me a forever within the numbered days, and I'm grateful."

“And then I crawled into his unmade bed, wrapping myself in his comforter like a cocoon, surrounding myself with his smell. I took out my cannula so I could smell better, breathing him and out, the scent fading even as I lay there, my chest burning until I couldn't distinguish among the pains.”

“You don’t get to choose if you get hurt in this world,
old man, but you do have some say in who hurts you. I like my choices.”

If this is the best of YA im out....

Buzz Books 2014: Young Adult - Publishers Lunch

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I love a good tease, and Buzz Books never ceases to offer the most amazing teases of the season. I haven't, until now, ventured into the YA version of any pre-released review publication. YA has suffered under the infectious clutches of Hunger Games, and its numerous cousins that can't stop producing babies. Unfortunately, from the bulk of the excerpts, maybe they should keep having babies.

The book offers up the same consistent format. We have a summary, which i followed by a few chapters of the book. Its reliability is one of its essential charms, and I really can't go into a reading season without sampling the buzzed about books. Very few of these books even sparked an interest, and even when I attempted to view them through the eyes of someone younger, I still failed to see the appeal.

Ben Tripp's The Accidental Highwayman doesn't only have a title that makes me all anxious and knotted inside, but it sparks with individuality. It has a rather clean and crisp writing style, and the cover is just fabulous. It is simple, but keenly aware of its simplicity, and intentionally shy. I enjoyed this over the rest of the bunch that just seemed simple, shrunken down versions of novels, from the minds of writers very young in their careers.

Meg Wolitzer, Belzhar is another one that is worth checking out. Compared to its counterparts, this novel appear to be written in a more expansive, less constrictive style. It is, as the category suggests, intended for the younger side of YA, but from what I read it could easily be accessible and enjoyed by an older population; probably not above early teenagers.

Amy Zhang's Falling into Place is going to get some buzz. The summary throws out names like Jay Asher and Lauren Oliver and with that type of heavy backing the book will get attention even if it isn't truly earned. There is something very intentionally neat about the style of writing, and it is quite inviting. The very brief introduction doesn't seem to push the whole 'life lesson' agenda that is cranked out in the YA genre, especially when dealing with darker areas of life like death. This book in particular has a meatiness about it that will find its way in that gray stretch of land where both teenagers and adults will enjoy it.

minus one star because it was just so boring…

Painfully mundane look at the past

21st Century Dodos: A Collection of Endangered Objects (and Other Stuff) - Steve Stack



.5 because all things that exist should get a little nod

The premise of this book was intriguing. It suggested a look at things that remain on the bottom of that cardboard box in your garage, basement, or safety deposit box because you are silly enough to think that Michael Jackson's Thriller will be worth something someday—it probably will, so smart move, because I tossed mine a decade ago.

A list, basically, but in paragraph form that looks at things we are suppose to have forgotten, but really haven't because they are so vital to defining a given generation, say Polaroids and audio cassettes, and thus the experience is just a reminder and not "YES! the 'iron token' I totally forgot about it".

It was the listless, endless drone of halfhearted, sorry little paragraphs that are dreadfully reminiscent of those conversations you had/have with your semi-sober grandfather that started with … "In my day…".

There is this inherent friction between the items referenced in the book because the bracket segmenting the decades covered within it are so widespread. Rather than a distinct look at the 40s, the 50s, the 60s, etc, this book just sorta splays them on the floor in a haphazard manner.

And then it just gets silliness all over the place. In the 'Readers' Dodos' they have isolated and sterilized the grandpa '… in my day'.

"cadbury's creme eggs- the old school ones that were larger and more chocolately and not so sickly sweet. I'm sure the yolks were brighter and if you took them from the fridge, a sheen of sweat would bloom on their crisp chocolately shells."
The problem here isn't with what is focused on, though that is not as finely tuned as it could have been, but with the formation and lack of ambition. This reads more like monochromatic stories shared at Springfield Retirement Castle; though this is probably underestimating Grampa Simpson. The lack of photos, the strange and flimsy organization and sequence of objects discussed, lay flat on the page and reading it is quite garish.

Yes I remember mix tapes, vas, cap guns, blackboards, audio cassettes , polaroid cameras, printer paper with holes, dial up modems, compact discs, walkman, projectionists , candy cigarettes,  the Concorde, typewriters, etc, but do I really want to revisit them through such painfully dull display glass?


The Psychology of Dexter (Psychology of Popular Culture) - Bella DePaulo, Bella DePaulo PhD

It is no quiet rumor that I loved Dexter; up until the last two seasons.


This book, primarily a reference guide, plummets the common viewer into the deeper realms of Dexter. Written by experts, this book is a nice complementary piece for a show that has gained a large following.


From an examination of personality traits, to the way a psychopath is 'created' this book has it all.


It has a very in depth look at how the individuals around him fed his behaviors, but also how people unintentionally expanded on and promoted his 'Dark Passenger'. The book also included ways that Dexter's relationship fit snug into his 'lifestyle'. 


I highly recommend it, and since the show is on re-runs maybe this deeper psychological understanding will heighten the experience of watching it. It is very likely this could make a wonderfully unique psychology paper.

connecting with nature

Earth Power: Techniques of Natural Magic (Llewellyn's Practical Magick) - Bill Fugate, Greg Guler, Scott Cunningham

Straight from an expert in Wicca

Power of the Witch: The Earth, the Moon, and the Magical Path to Enlightenment - 'Laurie Cabot',  'Tom Cowan'

A broom is a serious thing, both historically, and magically.

The Witch's Broom: The Craft, Lore & Magick of Broomsticks - Deborah Blake


“A Witch's work is mind work and utilizes powerful metaphors, allegories, and images that unlock the powers of the mind.” ― Laurie Cabot, Power of the Witch

Please note, my wording may be whimsical at times, and totally and unintentionally 'wrong'. I don't know much about Wicca as a religion and don't mean any disrespect. Because of its historical background, and the way it is continuously misrepresented in today's world, I eagerly await commentary! So slash my review to pieces, if not only to educate me, but also the readers of this review.

I went into this book thinking two things.

1. Witches! how freaking cool. And maybe from a historical standpoint!! SCORE!!!

2…. and this was more so an insight that built up over time while I read the book. I wondered if all this negativity around brooms was just another way to marginalize women. If you think about it, particularly at its earliest use and function, women generally did all the household cleaning, so what better way of affording them more constriction and restriction than to put a negative connotation on the word broom, and then to subscribe some rather faulty logic to support it?

I researched quite a bit, in my inquisitive youth, about Wicca. I thought it would be an interesting way of looking at religion from a perspective outside the current climate of hate that overwhelms Christianity. Given this brief, and scant knowledge of Wicca, I knew some things, as in the origin of the 'witches fly' myth (but not the why), and the use of brooms as cleaning, both physically and spiritually. I knew that it can be used to cleanse a sacred space and for protection.

As a side-note brooms aren't always used for magic, but the author has thoughts on how to make the common act of cleaning a bit more spiritual. There are ways of using a broom for common, physical use as well as magic ones. For instance, the author speaks to actually cleaning your living space. Don't own a broom (YET!) no problem. She isn't deterred by modern cleaning items, such as a vacuums, and opens her mind and body in a way resembling how she would use a broom as a magical/spiritual item.

It explored the various ways brooms have been brought into history, particularly in the form of deities and other 'magical people'/or religious figures centuries old. The real lovely part here is that we get a core understanding of these figureheads.

The myth of flying….

There is really no physical way to fly on a broom (Surprise), however, there was 'flying ointment', a mixture of all things oily, and, among other things, the wickedly delicious hemlock. I jest, it was in fact deadly. The interesting part here is that it 'gave the feeling of flying'; the use most resembles the way acid manifests itself. This issue, one that perked my attention from the start, is explored further on in the book.

As we exit to the more mystical, less tactile experiences and notions about the broom, we head into its function as a magical tool. Along with the cleaning I mentioned early, the broom is often used for spells, including protection. One example is to use salt, sprinkled with a high level of concealment, behind 'dark/negative people' as they exit your humble abode. Fetch your broom and sweep those negative vibes away. This is one of the many examples that someone who doesn't subscribe totally to Wiccan can use a broom in a magic like way. I could see this as both a reject and adjustment of your relationship to self and others, meaning letting things go, as well as a way of pushing other peoples' issues out that door.

There are, as one would expect with an item so steeped in negative feelings and fables, many stories and lore. For instance, step over a broom and become a mother before a wife. Given my observation that husbands are more a hardship than a benefit, I laughed at the ways this would be such a terribly thing. Seriously though, these little historical tidbits aren't all that negative, and while they were a way of criticizing and viewing witches in times past, they are sorta laughable from a contemporary orientation. You can see, historically, how this judged and placed blame on women for unintentional pregnancies.

Creating your own broom, as one should expect, is very empowering. If you lack the physical materials for making a broom, make due with whatever you have on hand. If you need to buy most of the items, that is acceptable, but I am sure you can spruce it up with something from around your home or neighborhood. Various substances are cited, their magical purpose, and the basic physical properties of each, such as strength and longevity. This section concerns itself primarily with wood.

You should properly anoint your creation (pretty much sealing the deal and creating a mental and magical space for its use), even if purchased. Various common substances are explored, and not only types of wood. This section will help you gain knowledge of 'prepping' your broom.

Later on we find out about the best frame of mind, and the ways your intentions are both physical and mental, and provide a space when starting and finalizing your new creation; a clumsy way of saying your can mentally infuse your intentions for the broom by thought.

This book goes step-by-step through the process of making a broom. This section is keenly and carefully written, and is probably rather essential for crafting home-made brooms, but also in embellishing ones that you may buy from a store.

Care, from not loaning your broom, to the physical upkeep is broached too. Storing your broom is also important, and has implications for its use, either the primary objective, or simply while it is not being used for spells. For instance, the book will help in discovering the best location for a specific spell, such as the entry way into your living space.

Your broom is now complete, or maybe you have an existing one. So what's next? The author goes into the critical area of spells, spanning love to all things related to protection. On of my favorites is connecting to birds by placing your broom outside in a special place. As the author notes, use your broom as a way of supporting birds' ecosystem, either through food (the placement of an item like peanut butter on top of the broom) or in providing nesting materials. This is, of course, a spiritual experience. I could really imagine this being a very cool and enjoyable experience, and a good alternative to throwing out wooden brooms.

Look, I could ramble on and on, and that is basically the magic of this book. A newbie to the history of the broom, my knowledge was quite basic, so this was a perfect way of getting more information; and boy did I get a lot. I could see this aiding anyone, especially a newbie to Wicca, as much as I could see someone experienced in the religion getting a clearer understanding of the use and history of this really interesting item.

This was a seriously interesting read, and one that I found highly beneficial. I took a star because the format of the book provided to me, an ebook, doesn't work well with this book. this is a book best explored in paper form, and I highly recommend considering going to your local INDEPENDENT store and finding a copy. It is also worth noting that, given its massive girth in terms of information, I skimmed here sorta like a reference book. I have given it a more intense review, and each time I gather up more yummy information. I could imagine anyone, regardless of his/her reason for buying it, going back to read it.

I can't recommend this book more!!! Serious awesomeness here!

this shit be gross

Haunted - Chuck Palahniuk

A book by Palahniuk that goes beyond his typical focus on philosophical rants, an obsession with the 'meaning of existence', deconstruction of  luxuries and money, and discussions on technology.

A group of people are locked into a building, but they did so willingly at first. This is a great collection of short stories, that can also be read as a large collection without the loss of continuity. Each character is explored to great depths, and you learn their back stories as well as their experiences in this new 'home'.

As things go beyond a game, behind a little exposure therapy to Gilligan's Island, it becomes an all out war to live and survive. There are murders, cooked cats, and utterly grossness from page to page. This is Saw meets Hostel, minus the bad acting.

The brilliance of this novel is the the way it toys with the genre of bloodbath horror, but tinkers back and forth, caressing this grey area. This is probably its best attribute. In avoiding the trite horror-fest that plagues many of its kin, this book is even more startling.

But these are essentially all shorts, compiled together. The past of each of these characters is already horrifying, as seen in the guy who sits on a pool drain to masturbate, only to get turned inside out. If you take his stories, and his experiences in the 'home', you already have a dangerously disturbing book, but coupled with the others it's beyond disturbing.

What is most terrifying is that many of the back stories seem relatively realistic, and while I wouldn't sit on a drainage filter in a pool while walking the dog, I'm sure it's happened to some poor sap.

Chuck departs from his roots, while leaving echos of his typical subject matter, and this departure is both welcomed, and disturbingly awesome.

funny... but scaried shitless as a child

More Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark - Alvin Schwartz, Stephen Gammell

As a cubscout this was a clear and obvious choice to scare the shit out of us. We stayed in an old building used by sailors in the early 1900s. The troop master read this too us. we crawled into our sleeping bags, on top of what was considered a 1960s bunk bed. All chills. Now that I look back I can say for certain that I still remember some of these. If I recall one had to do with an old woman's lost foot/hand? it's been so long, but I will admit  that this cozy little book is still in my possession. 


The Raven and Other Poems and Tales by Edgar Allan Poe - Edgar Allan Poe, Daniel Alan Green

A classic that is a must read for a foundation in the wonderful world of October lit.

drinks up

The Essential Bar Book: An A-to-Z Guide to Spirits, Cocktails, and Wine, with 115 Recipes for the World's Great Drinks - Jennifer Fiedler

An essential books on drinking and impressing people at parties..... or just being that annoying jeopardy guy who is spilling his martini while screaming out "Who is Jerry Thomas".

From ingredient, to preparations, to slamming down arguments over what to serve in what glass (though I may need a first-hand test on a few of these) this little ebook will serve MOST of your needs.

So.... lets try this out.

A takes you to Absinthe....

the history... the flavors... all assortments of things you need and absolutely must have to take advantage of Absinthe..... and then my favorite, and yours too, the recipes.

The best part of this reference book is that it is all encompassing. Ingredients are explored extensively, justifying their particular necessity. These explanations also serve to help you fully take advantage of your home bar without spending a bundle. You now know exactly what is essential, and what will enhance your drinking experience.

BEST of all, stop looking like an idiot ordering a drink you heard off of Queer Eye for the straight Guy and then stumbling and looking down at your bar napkin when the bartender asks you what kind of scotch you want, or what age you prefer, etc. This book includes an extensive, over the top exploration on all things technical, including an overview of bar vocabulary. You will still look like a fool if you saw that episode of Family Guy where Brian orders a Stinger and a beer-back.... every.single.time.

Speaking of terminology.... It serves all purposes.

This book is first date pickup galore.... you: "look at those legs".... her: "HOW DARE YOU!!" you: "oh no no.. I meant the drip on the inside of your wine... I'm Ryan by the way"

Please note, the ARC on netgalley is an absolute disaster. You have to go through it, slowly because chapter selection is not activated, to really see what this baby has in it. For instance, I went to the table of contents. Looked up Whiskey. Struggled to find it in the ARC, and discovered that "Irish Whiskey" and "whiskey" contained ample information, but were separated by j-v. The downside to this is you have to go back and forth to get a full picture of the liquor in question, an issue, presumably that a hard copy will resolve. It also varied on the types of liquor I frequent, for example Powers.

There seems to be a large focus on beers here, too. This is all fine and good, but generally speaking the information pertaining to beer is rather pedestrian, and will be included on any typical bar menu. I'd rather see it focus extensively on liquors, but I guess it's a bar book.

A-Z drinking handbooks are a dime a dozen and I'll really have to hold this fellow before I can make an absolute judgement call. My Boston Handbook has served me well so the competition will be a battle.

a shrugger

Worst. Person. Ever. - Douglas Coupland

It is remarkably rare that I work myself begrudgingly through a book and stick with it. The only reason I put myself through this torture was, firstly because it is an ARC and I felt a bit of an obligation, and secondly, I just felt, page after page that it couldn't be this bad. this painful. In the end this was a skimmer.

cool cover, though.(the one that didn't make it to goodreads... with the guy all outlined and deadish on the cover).



netgalley arc