Back on Track

New reviews coming soon! I'll be importing my work from the past two years, but in the meantime,
I'm reclaiming my small place on the web.

Wednesday, December 17, 2003

Fiction Review

A Man Called Stan
by Jay Henning
ISBN-10: 0595274145
Review by Heather Froeschl

If you are a woman, wishing to know the hows and whys of men; if you are a man searching for yourself or wanting a little camaraderie; if you are a soul in human form trying to remember why you are here, A Man Called Stan is a must read. Who is Stan? He is a man, sometimes raucous, sometimes pitiful, but always very real. This book is a look into the stages of his life.

What are the most important stages of a man's life? When he meets his future wife? When she walks down the aisle to him? When he drinks himself into hangover after hangover? The moment he learns what sex is about? The moment he realizes that sex isn't enough? The moment his child is born? The realization that he has become an old fart? All of those, and more, are shared with the reader. All the while, we are wondering just who this guy is, and so is he.

The author has shown us an example of man. For women, it may be an enlightening experience. For men, it may be a confirmation that they are not alone. More than this, the author gives us the wisdom of a life guide. There are lessons to be learned here. Through it all though, there is humor and interest and a story that we want to read.

Stan may be fictional, but his life events are all too real. You will laugh out loud, get angry with his indignation and feel for his sorrow. This book will have you reading through a weekend and waking up Monday morning with a new outlook on life. Or, maybe you'll just smile at the good time you've had.

Non-Fiction/Spirituality Review

Teen Witch: Wicca for a New Generation
by Silver Ravenwolf
ISBN-10: 1567187250
Review by Heather Froeschl

What does it mean to be a Witch? Is it wearing wicked clothes or being outrageously "out there"? Does it mean doing something that you know your parents forbid? If it means that to you, then you are not a Witch, nor even close. Wiccan laws contain nothing about what clothing you wear and most certainly don't encourage negative behavior. Wicca is a religion that is shared by many. Many more than you might think. They are ordinary looking people who live ordinary lives. Your neighbor, teacher or best friend might be Wiccan and you wouldn't even know it.

If you are intrigued by the mystique of Witchcraft, you should get all of the information you can. Where do you turn? The internet? While there may be some reliable sources on the web, there are also a lot of false ones. Your girlfriend? Well she might have some good books to share with you, or she might be on the wrong path as well. Mentor witches simply do not advertise in the local paper and chances are your parents would not allow you to become best friends with a 35 year old Witch down the street.

Silver RavenWolf, author of Teen Witch, is a Wiccan Priestess and Director of the International Wiccan/Pagan Press Alliance. She is also the mother of four young Witches. She is one of the most well known Wiccans in the United States today. Teen Witch is a beginners guide to Wicca. It will tell you everything you need to get started, beginning with what Wicca is and isn't. There have always been secrets about Witchcraft that Wiccans keep from the general public. Lots of times, people just don't understand and it may be best to keep secrets, well, secret. But Silver shares them with you. This way you'll be able to understand this path and see if you wish to choose it. If you decide that you do, then there are chapters on various forms of Ritual and all of the different methods of Magick. Later on there are chapters of spells, aimed at teens but ones that would be helpful for any Witch to use.

Silver uses stories of experiences to help the reader to understand exactly what she is talking about. In no way is she telling you what to think and do, but she is giving the reader the information to make informed decisions and demonstrating the numerous options of the Craft. Her stories reflect an understanding of teens and her honest ability to reach out and be the mentor they might be searching for. In an introduction just for parents, Silver shows that she understands the confusion a lot of parents might have when their teen is interested in Wicca, and allays any fears that might arise.

Teen Witch is an abundance of information and guidance from a most reliable and trustworthy source. It is a work that shines a positive light on the image of Wicca, and explains the law of "Harm None" to perfection. It's about time a comprehensive guide is available to counter the false information that may get passed around. Whether you are a teen looking for a decent bit of information on the Craft or a parent, guardian or aunt of a teen interested in Wicca, you would do well to own a copy of this wonderful book.

Saturday, December 13, 2003

Poetry Review

The Black Ball
by Harambee Grey-Sun
ISBN-10: 0773434518
Review by Heather Froeschl

Take time to savor the poetry of this title. It is meant to be taken in, tasted and understood. Poetry is an art that so few can master and still remain contemporary. The Black Ball is an example of a job well done in this art form.

The lives of college students are revealed in this story told through poem. College life apparently isn't what it used to be, and the young are no longer as young as they were. The book chronicles four years of interactions, learnings, and life, of several students. Within the pages are revenge and life lessons, hatred and understanding.

This is not light reading; it is a memorable experience.

"This's all about face. Have I stepped too far out of place, undertaken a venture that promises ill?"

Not so. Harambee Grey-Sun has begun the process of becoming a respected poet.

Tuesday, December 9, 2003

Children's Book Review

The Road to Weird
by Peggy Tibbetts
ISBN-10: 1869942590
Review by Heather Froeschl

A two-story collection for those who like a touch of the abnormal, "The Road to Weird", is a gem among pebbles. Peggy Tibbetts has captured youth and created a couple of memorable tales that will be enjoyed by older readers and their parents alike, IF the kids will share their copy!

In the first story, Carly has moved to a new home, an old log cabin, complete with its very own ghost. Carly finds a hidden trap door in her closet, and discovers a clue to what might be making her door slam, her room cold and footsteps to be heard in the night. Her teenaged sister thinks Carly is pulling pranks and Carly is determined to clear her name. Will her parents believe her? Will she find friends in this rural community? This mystery and ghost story will have the reader turning pages to find out exactly what is up with Carly's ghost.

The second story is maybe a little weirder, but an awesome adventure in itself. Harpo Marx awakens to find herself in a hospital bed. She isn't quite sure who the folks around her are, nor why she would be called Harpo Marx, but figures her parents must have a good sense of humor or are just a tad wacky. As her memory clears she begins to see things in her mind, things like accidents happening and the cause of her hospital roommate's head injury at a construction site. Apparently, falling on the balance beam during gymnastics can cause more than a bump or concussion: it can cause psychic phenomena! Harpo is the victim of teasing, headaches and a major problem with gymnastic team tryouts. Doctor's orders aside, her visions become the cause of adventure, instead of much needed rest. Is there a higher purpose to her newfound ability? Will Harpo's life ever get back to normal? Readers of all ages will love this story. It's easy to get sucked into the trials and tribulations of intrusive teachers, rumor spreading and life saving weirdness.

Ms. Tibbetts is a talented storyteller. "The Road to Weird" will surely bring her great admiration, as kids everywhere will spread the word about her wonderfully weird collection. Peggy, thanks for bringing a bit of the strange into an enjoyable read!

Wednesday, December 3, 2003

Non-Fiction/Spirituality Review

Witch's Coven: Finding or Forming Your Own Circle
by Edain McCoy
ISBN-10: 0738703885
Review by Heather Froeschl

Being Wiccan can be a lonely prospect. Truth be told, the burning days are still not over. No, people are no longer burned at the stake; however, they are ostracized by ignorant minds that do not understand. So, finding a group to study Wicca with can be a very difficult thing. "The Witch's Coven" by Edain McCoy, offers guidance and a friendly tone of understanding.

Edain explains the purpose of meeting in covens, or groups. She takes a look at the different kinds of covens that are out there today and helps the reader to make a knowledgeable decision on choosing a path. She explains the inner workings of spiritual circles and what to expect of them, and also, what they might expect from you. Here you will find some guidance on creating your own coven, or ways to seek out an existing one.

Most of us aren't willing to wear a pin that says, "Are you a good witch?" in seeking out other Wiccans. So how can one find others of like mind? Edain suggests placing veiled newspaper ads and using the internet, among other things. There are groups out there, everywhere, and the right one is waiting for you.

What goes on in a coven? Why not remain a solitary? Edain explains a bit about the Wheel of the Year and of Life, rituals and celebrations. There are Healing Rituals and Group Magick to explore. Always, Edain is impartial and giving in her sharing of information. This book is to help you learn about covens and make up your own mind. If you are simply curious about witches, you will come away with greater understanding. If you are seeking a coven, you will be glad to have this information to help you find the perfect match.

Making the decision to join a coven can be an important part of your spiritual path, or it may not be for you. Making an informed decision is always the best thing to do. Edain McCoy is a practicing witch. Who better to answer your questions?

Tuesday, December 2, 2003

Non-Fiction/Spirituality Review

Yule: A Celebration of Light and Warmth
by Dorothy Morrison
ISBN-10: 1567184960
Review by Heather Froeschl

As Winter approaches every year, so too does the magic of Yuletide days. Children are filled with anticipation and wonder. All over the world people are celebrating and embracing their beliefs. More often than not, these celebrations involve candlelight in some way, and family gatherings.

What else do the traditions of the world have in common? Where do these traditions come from? Dorothy Morrison explains it all so clearly and with great warmth and respect for diversity, in "Yule - A Celebration..." Here, you will find answers to questions heard in households every December: "Why does Santa use reindeer to pull his sleigh?" or "Where do candy canes come from?" Do you know the origins of the Yule Log? Do you know why the Chanukah Menorah and the Kwanza Kinara hold eight candles?

The Winter Solstice - Yule - has been celebrated for four thousand years! It is a time of renewal and rejoicing, and it is a time to celebrate light overcoming the darkness. There are many historical lessons to be learned here and Ms. Morrison has created a well researched, thorough guide to the significance of the "holidays". Included, is a most wonderful calendar for the month of December in which every day is a festival or celebration around the world, and how you can incorporate these traditions in your life.

Enjoyable are the chapters on trivia, omens and superstitions. Inspiring are the chapters on preparing for the season, gifting, feasting and festing, with recipes and craft ideas. Most inviting are the chapters on creating personal traditions. The world is truly a wonderful mixture of beliefs and customs and no matter where of who you are, this guide to Yule is a treasured gift of celebrations.

Non-Fiction/Spirituality Review

Gifts of the Spirit
by Cate Cavanagh
ISBN-10: 1592868762
Review by Heather Froeschl

What is Spirituality? Does it mean one is religious? Does it mean that a person believes only in spirits? No and no. As a spiritualist, I have been asked the definition of spirituality and at times I have been hard pressed to give understanding to the questioner. I know what I believe in, what truths have revealed themselves to me, but I cannot begin to, nor would I presume to tell you where to find your truths. In "Gifts of the Spirit", the author shares how she has followed her own spiritual path, what she has learned along the way, and how she has come to be a Spiritualist.

Without preaching or proselytizing, Cate Cavanagh shares her own exploration of Buddhism, Native American beliefs, Wicca and Spiritualism. She gives the reader a glimpse into these belief systems, like a spoonful of icing in anticipation of a birthday cake. It is up to the reader to further their own studies. She reveals some painful lessons that she has learned and the good that came from the process. In this way, the reader connects and understands and hopefully comes away having a bit of knowledge that will undoubtedly make their life better.

Going deeper into what the gifts of the spirit are exactly, Cate explains the power of our souls, the value of our spirit guides and the tools that are available to those who embrace them. We have powers within us that are just in need of a remembrance to utilize them. Cate shows you how to be open to them and other gifts as well. She offers methods of spiritual cleansing, personal growth, and guidance for those who seek their own truths.

If you've ever wondered if there really is a witch just down the road, (don't be surprised, because there likely is) this book will give you insight into who that person may really be. Nothing to be frightened of, indeed, you should be in awe and filled with admiration. Chances are that she holds some of these same beliefs and morals as your own. If you've ever wanted advice from a spiritualist, but have been afraid to ask, open this book and be thankful the spirits moved Cate to write it all down for you.