RECENT REVIEWS & ENDORSEMENTS
- Beat the Rain
Nigel Jay Cooper
Five stars. A very interesting and intriguing story that keeps you wondering what is going to happen next. Makes you want to read to the end and think about your own life stories. ~ Rebecca, Amazon Customer Review
- Acts of Kindness from Your Armchair
Acts of Kindness From Your Armchair is a book written by Anita Neilson a former secondary school teacher who in 2009 was incapacitated by M.E. and Fibromyalgia.
She writes from the experience of her own medical condition, about how it is possible, even though isolated by being house bound, to do “acts of kindness, from my home, from my armchair.”
In a series of chapters she breaks down, how someone, even though severely debilitated by a medical diagnosis can “live a spiritual life and make a positive, meaningful contribution to the world.”
Most books on spiritual advancement are aimed at the able-bodied but this gentle book guides those who are, for whatever reason, in the home for most of their time.
She includes those who are suffering ill health or disability. People with responsibility as carers. Maybe retirees or parents caring for children, or even those working from home.
She clearly describes how to overcome doubt and self-reproach. How to feel better inwardly to then be able to radiate love and kindness outwardly.
A compassionate voice, Anita is a cheerleader for those who would love to contribute but feel excluded by their circumstances.
Mary English DSH CPHH MFHT
Astrology, Hypnotherapy & Homeopathy
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~ Mary English
- Romeo and Juliet in Palestine
An honest, thoughtful and modest account of working with students in Palestine. It's a great book and the closest I've read to the Palestine I know. ~ Sarah Champion, Labour MP for Rotherham
- When a Pagan Prays
"What a marvellous book this is: full of sayings, suggestions, & witty remarks which I've underlined to go back to, & add to my notebook of inspiring quotes. It's both a very personal look at prayer, and, one which draws from many religions & beliefs, not just the writer's Druid ones. While it was particularly fascinating to follow author Nimue Brown's journey from being a Pagan who does not pray, to one who does, this book has persuaded me of the value of prayer as a regular practice, regardless of faith or background.
From the "petition prayer" – or, as the author puts it, "Please God, give me a pony" - to questions such as, "Who are we praying to, and why, and what for?", to group prayer, writing our own prayers, and much more, this is a thorough, insightful, and at times amusing look at the topic of prayer.
Thoroughly recommended! My top choice as a Yule present to my book loving, Protestant sister." ~ Sheila North, Book It
- Pilgrimage on the Path of Love
Barbara Ann Briggs
This is an excellent first novel. It is well-written with a multi-layered plot all on the theme of love but in different ways. It is part travelogue and part story. ~ Barry Spivack, Oxford University graduate
- Pilgrimage on the Path of Love
Barbara Ann Briggs
" Whether you read this book or not, this is a journey everyone is going to have to take. Truthful, touching, vulnerable always to an impossible ideal, until that ideal undergoes its inevitable transformation and finds fulfillment. You can't imagine this story, it has to have been lived. Beautifully and honestly told."
~ HWB, Architect,UK
- Pilgrimage on the Path of Love
Barbara Ann Briggs
"I loved this book. Pilgrimage on the Path of Love is one of those rare novels that manages to combine great storytelling with genuine and profound spiritual insights and experiences in a completely natural way. The essence of the book is about the search for the truth of life, and for supreme love, both human and divine.
Written in autobiographical style, I found the prose so vivid and immediate, that I really entered into the experiences of the narrator, Shantila Martin, an American woman writer living in the UK. She visits India for the publication of her first book, and finds herself on an unexpected journey.
Her experiences of the vibrancy of Indian life in Delhi, and later in Manali and Ladakh, are vividly depicted, and descriptions of the scenery of the Himalayas are breathtaking, reminding me of the wonderful paintings of Nicholas Roerich. The writing is so alive that we feel every bump in the road, every intense discomfort of life in this extraordinary country, and all Shantila’s responses. We are also able to share in her experiences of its astonishing beauty and spirituality, and enjoy her many meetings with interesting and remarkable people.
There is real spiritual poetry in this book, in the descriptions of nature, and in Shantila’s profound experiences during her visits to Temples and Monasteries, often reverberating with the devotional chanting of Buddhist monks. The descriptions of the transcendental nature of her own meditation are beautiful, and one feels this must be the first hand experience of the author.
As the book gains momentum, all of her experiences together - painful, blissful and reflective, combine to help her unfold deeper and deeper layers of realisation of the true nature of love, and of the ultimate unity of all life. I feel it’s a strength of the book that the narrator is depicted as a woman with normal vulnerabilities, rather than as a superwoman. It shows that genuine desire for spiritual growth can transform all our lives to higher states of consciousness.
This book was a really inspiring read. It’s a heartfelt book - full of enjoyment of the beauty of life, and a celebration of the highest spiritual values of human consciousness and its relationship to the Divine. I missed it when I had finished it, and am looking forward to more from this author." ~ Sally Brighouse, UK
- Crystal Prescriptions volume 6
This book explored the use of crystals for karmic healing, soul reintegration, and ancestral clearing. Reading about alternative uses for crystals as opposed to the standard applications was a breath of fresh air. Each chapter contained an overview of what the crystals should be used for ie; karmic healing. This was helpful as it was explained in very straightforward ways that makes it easy for the reader to comprehend.
Each chapter contained a list of items needed to perform the rituals and step-by-step instructions on how to use the crystals was provided. I would have liked a description of the crystals used as opposed to simply naming them.
Overall I do think this book was groundbreaking as there is not enough discussion on how crystals can aid very deep spiritual work. ~ Tanja Flanjak, The Luminessence https://theluminessence.wordpress.com/2017/06/13/crystal-prescriptions-volume-6-by-judy-hall-review/
- Crystal Prescriptions volume 6
Judy Hall knows her stuff and I found this 6th volume of this series to be a concise, well written book providing everything you need to know about Crystals For Ancestral Clearing, Soul Retrieval, Spirit Release And Karmic Healing. From screening, protecting your space and keeping your cyrstals in tip-top condition, to karmic themes in the chakras and an A-Z Directory of how to choose the right stones for the right job, it's all here.
There are five parts to this Crystal Prescriptions Vol.6: Part one consists of "The basics", part two, is about "Karmic Healing". In part three Ms Hall explains "Soul Retrieval and Spirit Release", which is followed by "Ancestral Healing". In part five, the final part, we're provided with an "A-Z Directory of Crystals for Karmic Healing, Soul Reintegration and Ancestral Clearing".
Throughout the book there are also practical exercises and rituals described, providing the reader with a deeper understanding of how to bring this type of healing into your life and the benefits to expect from doing so.
The author also covers other aspects of protecting yourself and your space to keep yourself grounded and safe.
Overall: Ms Hall explains in great detail how it is possible to heal way back down the genealogical line and our own karmic past using crystals for healing, which can then be projected forward into the future to benefit new generations. I find author, Judy Hall, has a clear way of describing what can sometimes be complex information and although the tone of the book is both informative and instructive, it's written in her usual friendly, approachable style. A must have for crystal healers and practitioners looking to broaden their horizons.
~ Sassy Brit, Alternative-Read https://alternative-read.com/2017/05/30/review-crystal-prescriptions-crystals-for-ancestral-clearing-soul-retrieval-spirit-release-karmic-healing/
- Secret People, The
The Secret People was a well written and accessible book looking at the old wisdom that has been handed down for centuries from one country wise woman to the next. Melusine Draco drew from a wide variety of historical sources to trace the knowledge that would have been commonplace for our grandmothers or great grandmothers.
I really liked the mix of practical and esoteric information. The advice was no nonsense and the practical warnings regarding herblore helped me trust the author.
The Secret People should be appealing to a wide audience ranging from those interested in pagan rituals to people interested in incorporating some of the old ways back into their lives. The lively mix of history, modern anecdotes, and recipes makes this a fun and informative book!
~ Kimberly O'Hara Nunez (Educator) , NetGalley
- Mental Penguins
The two things that I loved about this book are the logical progression of the topics and concepts and the writing. The science is not dumbed down but at the same time it is made accessible to strangers to the field of neuroscience.
Ivelin Sardamov has put in a phenomenal amount of research. This is evident on reading through it. He has gone into the details of neuroscience and has explained the cause and effect of each of the contributing factors to this crisis. It boils down to this – we have reached a stage in human development, where our brains are no longer able to keep up with the sensory input bombarding them. This has caused a lot of changes in the way we learn and our mental outlook....
~ Kartik Narayanan, Digital Amrit https://digitalamrit.com/blog/2017/05/23/mental-penguins/
- Kill All Normies
First of all: Holy s""t. This is a book that I have been waiting to read for quiet some time now, but the level of insight and highly comprehensive discussion of what is going on in the cultural wars on the Web by Nagle exceeded my expectations. It reminded me of early works by Naomi Klein which combined the journalistic approach to the material at hand with detailed, but still accessible discussion of the theoretical aspect of the subject.
Nagle discusses the ongoing (or lost?) cultural war between Tumblr liberalism vs. 4-chan inspired alt-right while both of the terms comprises of highly heterogenous elements. Internet, once lauded as the free, “horizontal” space of a new kind of anarchical democracy (not long ago but around 2013 many of the liberal left still saw and hailed the new “democratic” terrain of the Internet) today has been dominated by the misogynistic, Nazi-sympathizing Man’s Rights activists.
Her historical account of what happened over the last 10 years is remarkable. Once a place of “progressive boosters” of the first-generation users of 4-chan, the transgressive and cynical culture of the website becomes a fecund terrain for rape and death threats, organized bullying that leads to suicides and depressions, complete annihilation of lives of regular teenagers and famous scientists alike.
The discussion of transgression for transgression’s sake is great. When one considers the inter-war and post-WWII origins of the proliferation of “transgressive” politics or what I call “Nietzschean left”, the turn of events become even more remarkable. A remnant of the transgressive left politics of 1960s, actually 1968, how transgression and cynicism is weaponized by the extreme-right vanguard (in the base, only a fierce anti-PC sentiment is prevalent) seems more contingent than it is a necessary trait of this line of thought. The turn of events looks like it resulted because of numerous failures of the Left.
Nagle argues that the pain, suffering and victimhood-affirming culture of Tumblr-liberalism is one of these reasons for the failure and I think she is right. “Kony 2012” videos among others comes to mind in this rush to collect “virtue points” in this scarcity of virtue market on the Web. Also, the intra-left purge and exclusion of the critics of this self-pleasing activities is another example (Nagle gives the example of Mark Fisher who sadly committed suicide this year).
One other aspect of the failures of the left in my opinion is how the Left overlooked the realm of Desire that is almost necessarily not satisfied in our contemporary societies. Nagle discusses the frustrated sexuality of the regular young male today and it is a legitimate discussion insofar that it makes up a portion of the frustrated young male who is not politicized until he is pushed towards the misogynistic underbelly of the Web which is again, not necessarily Nazi, but a couple of steps away from it at best. Desire, in this case, is also a desire for the commodity, of course, which also necessarily dissatisfies. When you have the means to buy a given commodity, it fails to restore a sense of satisfaction but rather perpetuates it even further. When you are not able to buy it, well, in an intuitive fashion, you are dissatisfied in a world of instant satisfaction, pornographic images and incessant advertisements. The left’s complete immersion and self-satisfaction with identity politics (LGBT and the alphabet goes on as Zizek was lambasted by critics from the Left when he criticized some of the aspects of the politics of gender in a recent article debate, you can Google it) leaves the room for this new brand of extreme right to tap into the frustration and insecurities of the young male.
The weird question to be asked is then how to answer such an effective version of “Gramscian” right who successfully waged a cultural war against the cultural Marxism? (this is an incredibly effectively misnomer as the war is waged on politically correct liberalism) Nagle doesn’t shy way from the question in an equally strong conclusion chapter. She claims that “trolling the troll” is not effective. One should definitively leave the trenches of privilege-checking, victimhood-loving trenches of identitarian politics for a start. Staunchly anti-xenophobic and also positively built left populism might be one of the answers. “Chocolate eating-vibrator waving” (in Nina Power’s immortal words), consumer-friendly feminism of Lena Dunham did not help Hillary much as one can see. Another question to be asked could be if a newly reinvigorated left aesthetics is possible along the lines of Guy Debord, Beatniks and others or the 1960s wave of transgressive left-wing aesthetics is completely compromised by the alt-Right. While the economic (what Nagle calls “materialist”) left has never been in a complete alliance with the anti-authoritarian aesthetics of the 1960s, it is a question that should be re-asked again. ~ Baglan Deniz, Reviewer at Koç University, Istanbul (NetGalley)
- Henry, Henry
Inventive. I love anything that manages to be experimental without being pretentious. This book pulls it off. ~ Jennifer Williams (librarian), GoodReads
- Catherine of Braganza
Thanks to Sarah-Beth Watkins’ Catherine of Braganza: Charles II’s Restoration Queen, we finally get a solid biography of the Portuguese princess turned queen of England.
As the title suggests, this biography mainly concentrates on Catherine’s years as queen consort to Charles II. However, Watkins does nicely provide a rare glimpse of Catherine’s life before her marriage and after the death of Charles II.
Whether it was the beginning, middle, or ending of Catherine’s story, a reoccurring theme is the difficulties of being a princess and a queen. Through good storytelling, this biography gives information about what real life is like for royal women. They constantly get judged publicly, have obligations to follow, and have to pick and choose their battles carefully. Watkins gives the valuable insight: “A princess, and often a queen, must do as she was told”.
A common hardship being married to a king is often his affairs. Catherine goes down in English history as a tragic queen who had to deal with a husband who womanized a lot. Far too often, though, I read books and blogs that describe Catherine being “desperately in love” with her unfaithful husband. Watkins doesn’t jump to that conclusion. Instead, she gives us stories in which show the tension and tenderness between Catherine and Charles. We also get more details of what Catherine did away from the royal court and Charles.
Catherine of Braganza: Charles II’s Restoration Queen is a valuable read. The more you get to know this queen, the more you agree with the observation of Minette, Charles II’s sister, about Catherine: “It is impossible not to love her.”
~ Sarah Patten, Herstoryline.com
- Kill All Normies
I was expecting to be interested in this, but I didn't expect to be so impressed by it. Angela Nagle writes so even-handedly and with such a fair critical eye about recent iterations of disruptive political groupings on both the right and left. On the right is the now-notorious alt-right, divided between the 'alt-light', typified by meme-making/gleefully antagonistic trolling/use of 4chan-derived argot, and the more genuinely fascistic tendencies often masked by the headline-grabbing behaviour of alt-light figures such as Milo Yiannopoulos. On the left is what Nagle sometimes refers to as 'Tumblr-liberalism', the extremely performative culture of calling-out, victimhood and competitive identity politics that seems driven by (and here I will quote Nagle quoting the late Mark Fisher, as it couldn't be paraphrased any more perfectly) 'a priest’s desire to excommunicate and condemn, an academic-pedant’s desire to be the first to be seen to spot a mistake, and a hipster’s desire to be one of the in-crowd'.
Nagle draws a line through history from the 'culture wars' of the 1960s to those of today, arguing that the transgressive, countercultural spirit historically embodied by the anti-establishment left has been sublimated much more effectively by the modern right. She also undertakes an in-depth (though concise) review of the many, many factions of what is often sweepingly referred to as the alt-right, from 'chan culture' to the alternately pathetic and terrifying 'manosphere'. Not only is this pretty fascinating in itself, it also brings to light the serious theoretical and academic roots of certain strands of this movement – something often ignored by liberal pundits who concentrate instead on clutching their pearls at the outrageous antics of high-profile figures like Milo and Alex Jones. The idea of a handful of demagogues and professional trolls riling up people who essentially don't understand politics has been a common theme (deployed with varying levels of sensitivity) in analysis of the Trump and Brexit victories; Nagle's study shows this to be dangerously reductive.
Kill All Normies is an accessible but unpatronising study, perfectly balancing academic critique, political commentary and assured, intelligent, non-embarrassing writing about the internet and its unique subcultures. It is so refreshing to read something like this, that comes at the topic from a left-leaning perspective but refuses to toe the line with regards to the frustrating, ever-shifting rules of engagement that now seem to define online discourse. The version I read had some typos and needed a bit of tightening up from an editorial perspective, but it was a review copy. And that is genuinely my only criticism. Somehow Nagle also manages to write a conclusion that tears everyone a new arsehole AND ends on a contemplative note.
I thought I knew quite a bit about this topic already, but I learned so much from this book, particularly about the historical context of these movements. Thoroughly and enthusiastically recommended to anyone with an interest in the current political climate as it manifests in online culture. ~ Blair Rose Hartley, GoodReads
- Kill All Normies
Just so there’s no mucking about, let me say up front that it is a rare and fleeting pleasure to read Angela Nagle. She is delightfully well read, distills the nonsense of the world calmly and directly, never loses her dispassionate center, and doesn’t descend into pop culture citations. She is effortlessly authoritative. Would there were more like her.
In Kill All Normies, things online have gone unaccountably negative. The internet was supposed to be a giant uplifting community party. Instead, it is a morass of trolls, alt-right, and out and out hatred, from racists to neonazis to feminazis. Even the arts have turned negative, and to criticize them as such just makes you outmoded – and subject to vicious threats. “The whole online sensibility is more in the spirit of foul-mouthed comment-thread trolls than it is of bible study, more Fight Club than family values, more in line with the Marquis de Sade than Edmund Burke. “
Her criticism of her own generation stings. They “come from an utterly intellectual shut-down world of Tumblr and trigger warnings, and the purging of dissent in which they have only learned to recite jargon.” They couldn’t even debate the hollow showman Milo Yiannopoulos; they could only prevent him speaking.
We are approaching anarchy. The right is at least as fractured and disorganized as the left. There is no longer any typical or classical right; every individual colors it their own way. So despite Republicans’ control of all the levels of government, they continue to fight amongst themselves and make no headway in their agenda. Because they can’t even agree on the agenda. Nagle takes an entire chapter to deconstruct the character Milo Yiannopoulos, who embodies all the contradictions in one neat package. The feeling you’re left with is that barriers to entry need to at least exist. Today, the internet offers equal time and space to every flavor of hate and ignorance going.
Nagle doesn’t go far enough. Unsaid is that all of her characters have one thing in common: a tiny bit of power. It is easier to wield negative power than positive power, so they armchair jockey hatred, and laugh at their own cruelty. It is ignorant and outrageous, and that is the whole point. It is a deadly combination of too much time and too little future. The other thing unsaid is that it is infinitesimal. Almost none of the characters has real fame, much less popularity or value. They are their own audience, insignificant in the scheme of things. The occasional Milo is a shooting star than soon fades to black.
I look forward to Nagle leveraging her talents into a deeper examination of a heavier issue. This is a terrific intro. ~ David Wineberg, NetGalley
- Zen for Druids
Joanna van der Hoeven
Van der Hoeven’s Zen for Druids is her second book focuses on combining the nature spiritualism of Druidry with the teachings and tenets of Buddhism. She makes a note that the reader should have read the previous Zen Druidry before reading this one. I would disagree, and say that a familiarity with either Druidry or Zen is sufficient. I have passing knowledge of Zen, and a strong knowledge of Druidry, and had no difficulty in understanding and integrating the text material.
There are five different parts, with various subheadings. Each subheading has questions for the reader to consider, and some have exercises. The first covers the basic precepts of Zen Buddhism. The second looks at the pagan Wheel of the Year, tying one aspect of the Eightfold Path to each of the eight High Days (Solstices, Equinoxes, and the four Celtic Fire Festivals of Samhain, Involved, Beltane, and Lughnasadh). The third and fourth parts focus on meditation and mindfulness practices, and how Zen aspects of these can tie to Druidry. The fifth, and last, looks to fully integrating all of these teaching into a whole practise.
I found this book fascinating. van der Hoeven explained the Zen teachings in such a way that I understood them better than any other books on the subject I've read this far, making it seem more obtainable a goal than its ever seemed before. I may take the Wheel of the Year challenge, adapting as needed to my circumstances. I've been wanting to rekindle my Druid practise, and integrate it with my Rokkatru beliefs.
~ J. Aislynn d'Merricksson, NetGaley
- Awakening Child
Heather Grace MacKenzie
This women is an amazing writer and absolutely wonderful at guided meditations. I really believe that this could make a difference in my child and have every intention of using these meditations daily. I think every parent who wants more for their kids than to just survive, should read this book. I know I want to raise children who are confident, centered, emotionally stable, and all around great adults. ~ Terra McGee, NetGalley
- Pagan Portals - The Crane Bag
Joanna van der Hoeven
The Crane Bag, Joanna van der Hoeven’s forthcoming book*, offers an introduction to the ritual tools and practices found in the Druid tradition. It achieves this briefly, simply and with a light touch – as books in the Pagan Portals series are designed to do. Yet it much more than a tick box guide. It provides context and meaning, showing the modern evolution of the Druid tradition itself.
I found The Crane Bag a very useful contribution to its topic and highly recommend it.
~ James Nicholl, https://contemplativeinquiry.wordpress.com/2017/06/07/book-review-the-crane-bag/
- Crystal Prescriptions volume 6
Useful and helpful techniques to assist in the path to your soul course. A practical guide for use of crystals and crystal practitioners. ~ Margaret Holmes, NetGalley