Thursday, April 1, 2021

New World Witchery: A Trove of North American Folk Magic by Cory Thomas Hutcheson


New World Witchery: A Trove of North American Folk Magic by Cory Thomas Hutcheson

Publisher: Llewellyn Publications

Publication date: April 8th, 2021

My rating: 5 out of 5 stars

The link above is an affiliate link. If you make a purchase through it, I will receive a small amount of the sale, at no cost to you. It helps me make a little money to support my book reviewing hobby. Thank you! 

Publisher's description: 

Featuring nearly 500 samples of folklore, including stories, artifacts, rituals, and beliefs, New World Witchery is one of the most comprehensive collections of witchcraft and folk magic ever written. This treasure trove of witchery is designed to help you integrate folk traditions into your life and deepen your understanding of magic.

Folklore expert Cory Thomas Hutcheson guides you to the crossroads of folk magic, where you'll learn about different practices and try them for yourself. Explore chapters on magical heritage, divination, flying, familiars, magical protection, spirit communication, and more. This in-depth, accessible book also provides brief profiles of significant folk magicians, healers, and seers, so you can both meet the practitioners and experience their craft.

My review:

I received a free copy of the ebook from Netgalley in exchange for my review. All opinions shared are 100% my own.

The world of witchy books resides heavily in the pantheons and lore of the eastern half of this globe. I can’t recall another book I have seen that even made much mention of western folklore and folk magic. Of course, the author admits, this book misses the western mark a bit too, as it focuses on the stories and tales passed down on the North American continent so it isn’t even the entire “new world”.  At 480 pages, that’s okay! Someone should definitely take up the gauntlet and give South American folklore focus as well. 

I’ve always loved folk tales and stories and this book is a veritable treasure trove. It’s definitely a book worth having as a physical copy. I particularly liked the herbal healing stories. While there are some rituals and remedies to lace the past and present together, those aren’t really what the book is about. There is definitely fodder there for a second book to go into far greater detail on some of the information shared there. Dr. Hutcheson is a folklorist and an academic - an interesting combination - and I learned a lot. If I lived closer to Pennsylvania, I would love to take one of his college courses. In the meantime, I do enjoy listening to his podcast, New World Witchery, and recommend it. 

This book is jam-packed with stories and information and still doesn’t dive deeply into any one story due to just how rich and colorful the story of North American folklore is. (The book would be 1200 pages long if it did!) There are definitely places where I was left wanting more information. Thankfully, there are recommended reading sections for every chapter with some words on what to expect to find from each recommendation, not just a strict bibliography (though there is a sizable bibliography too). 

This book is not a quick read. There’s just too much to digest. It is as much a reference book as it is a storybook. While there are rituals and spells throughout that relate to the folklore shared, it’s not really a ritual or spell book so I don’t recommend getting it for that purpose. If you are interested in North American folklore and spirituality and the melting pot that helped shape it, then this book belongs on your bookshelf. 

Fun stuff:

New World Witchery podcast

About the author:

Cory Thomas Hutcheson is the cohost of the popular podcast New World Witchery. He has a doctorate in American Studies with specializations in folklore, religion, and ethnicity from Penn State. He is a contributor to the Oxford Handbook of American Folklore and Folklife Studies and American Myths, Legends, &Tall Tales, and he has written for popular occult publications, including Witches & Pagans. Visit him online at

Saturday, March 20, 2021

Cheat Sheets for Life by Ayesha Ratnayake

Cheat Sheets for Life: Over 750 hacks for health, happiness and success by Ayesha Ratnayake

Publication date: February 1st, 2021

My rating: 4 out of 5 stars

The link above is an affiliate link. If you make a purchase through it, I will receive a small amount of the sale, at no cost to you. It helps me make a little money to support my book reviewing hobby. Thank you! 

Publisher's description:
Learn life-changing insights from hundreds of bestsellers – by reading just one book.

As a busy CEO, Ayesha hated her lengthy commutes – until she turned them into her own mobile library. Soon, she was completing over 70 audiobooks each year on happiness, health, productivity, and success – while stuck in traffic. She began capturing and categorizing the most valuable research from her readings for rapid reference. In doing so, she realized that it was possible to derive a handbook for life, based on the expertise of hundreds of researchers. So, she set about doing just that.

The output is Cheat Sheets for Life – a concise handbook of science-backed advice on 17 dimensions of life, from health to money to leadership to relationships.

In Cheat Sheets for Life, you’ll learn:

— How playing the classic game “Tetris” can protect your mood

— The superfood that is “the most important dietary predictor of lifespan”

— Why you don’t need to have 8 glasses of water a day – and what to do instead

— The simple technique you can use to double your weight loss

— How to increase your chances of finding a partner by 25-46%

— The one factor that can predict your relationship satisfaction 10 years from now

— Why using all your vacation days boosts your chance of getting a raise

— Why you should keep a cute baby’s photo in your wallet

— How to decide whether to quit your job

— And 740+ more valuable insights!

Cheat Sheets for Life aims to be the last book you’ll ever need to pick up to improve your life. Using time-tested research, it strives to give even the busiest individual a foolproof guide to leading an optimized life.

My review:

I received this ebook from the author in exchange for a review. All opinions shared are 100% my own.

Okay… if you love lists and love learning new things, you will LOVE this book. It’s like an entire book of those super clickable Pinterest pins with 10 Ways to Be Better at this or 32 Ways to Be Better at that. It’s like the author has read and indexed ALL of those into bite-size lists of awesome. And the best part? She links to all the articles she got her information from in the back of the book. So, you can read a list of things to help you improve an area of your life and stop there. Or, if something really interests you, can you dive into the article behind the bullet point and learn more. One minor frustration is that the resource pages aren’t linked to the individual lists in the Kindle book. It would have been really helpful to use the Kindle feature of hyperlinking locations within a book to make popping back and forth from the list in the main text to the resource pages in the appendix.

The book is available as a paperback, which would be easier to read if you were just interested in flipping to a particular section and reading and referencing there. If you want to be able to easily access the bibliography for deep diving, the Kindle version read in your Cloud Reader is really nice since you can easily open the links. Why not buy both? Both are good.

It’s not a book to read cover to cover, but it is full of a wealth of information all at your fingertips or mouse click. I personally love lists and a good X Tips Pinterest pin so I enjoyed this book and appreciated the effort the author has put in to create it.  

Fun stuff:

Website for the book with additional resources like a free habit planner: 

About the author:

A Sri Lankan born in Fiji, Ayesha S. Ratnayake (MBA, Chartered Marketer) has 10+ years of experience in marketing and management. She has served as CEO, Director, and Shareholder of a technology firm where she led the development of an enterprise software product. She has also served as Co-founder and Director of a marketing communications agency. Ayesha is a startup mentor and a mental health advocate.

Thursday, March 18, 2021

Foster Cats... just because

I don't have a review this week (yet - the week isn't over though) but it has been a while since I shared pet photos!  So enjoy some foster kitten cuteness!  These two, Adrienne & Marinette, will be available for adoption soon from CritterhouseKC.  

Friday, March 12, 2021

Falling into Magic (Destiny Falls Mystery & Magic #1) by Elizabeth Pantley


Falling into Magic (Destiny Falls Mystery & Magic #1) by Elizabeth Pantley 

Publisher: Kindle Direct Publishing

Publication date: November 15th, 2020

My rating: 4 out of 5 stars

The link above is an affiliate link. If you make a purchase through it, I will receive a small amount of the sale, at no cost to you. It helps me make a little money to support my book reviewing hobby. Thank you! 

Publisher's description: 

When Hayden was a child, she lost her cat. Adults told her the cat ran away, but she knew the truth. The mirror had taken her. She knew because the mirror had given her a glimpse of an alternate world and had nearly pulled her in, so she was certain the cat had suffered that fate.

Twenty years later Hayden discovers the secret of the mirror when she is thrust into it. She learns of a world she never knew existed, and a family she never knew she had. But danger brought her here, and it followed her. Now, Hayden is on a mission to remove the threat, so that she can begin her magical, meaningful new life in this enchanted world.

About the author:

Elizabeth Pantley is the internationally bestselling author of The No-Cry Sleep Solution and twelve other books for parents, published in over twenty languages.

She simultaneously writes the well-loved Destiny Falls Mystery & Magic book series.

Elizabeth lives in the Pacific Northwest and is the mother of four and Nana to one. Visit her at

My review:

I received a copy of this ebook from the author in exchange for my review. All opinions shared are 100% my own.

Magic and talking cats. Um… yes?! Do you even know me? The book also has an overall “long-lost princess” vibe to it. I love a good fairytale and, on that front, this book definitely delivers. The story is told primarily from Hayden’s perspective, though the reader is occasionally taken to the cave of a witch where we hear the voice of the unknown bad guy of this fairytale. Overall, the story follows along pretty classic lines, but it has enough fun quirky extras (like aforementioned talking cats) to leave a lot of fun paths forward after this solid world-building first effort. There are a LOT of interesting plot threads still waiting to be pulled. The first book did lean more heavily on world-building instead of the mystery aspect of the plot.

A couple of things I didn’t love: I am not a fan of love-triangles and there’s some strong foreshadowing to the presence of one in future books of the series. And the very occasional breaking of the fourth wall is jarring. Either do it or don't do it. The smattering here and there of the reader "you" was irksome and broke my reading flow.

Overall, I would recommend the book to anyone who loves a cozy mystery with talking animals and magical elements. The magic isn’t explored as much in this installment of the new series, but the potential is there for it… and, you know, talking cats who help save the day! 

Fun stuff:

Book two of the series, The Disappearance of Emily, releases on March 15, 2021. 

Sunday, February 28, 2021

Self-Improvement Book Goal 2021

Yea, yea, yea. Self-improvement books - self-help, if you will - get a bad rap. Everyone seems to be writing them but are they actually effective? I don't know about the rest of the world, but, for me, they certainly have been. One of my favorite quotes is "It's all in the striving.".  I think we should be constantly working on becoming better people and learning, learning, learning. I strongly believe that we should never stop learning. That is a major driving force behind why I read so much. So, in addition to the Build Your Library Hygge reading challenge for 2021, I'm also setting my own personal goal to read 15 self-help books. Let me know your favorites and they might make my list! 

Completed 5 out of 15 books as of 28 Feb 2021.

1) The Miracle Morning: The Not-So-Obvious Secret Guaranteed to Transform Your Life: Before 8AM by Hal Elrond

This is the second time I read this book and I read it as part of my online personal development book club on Facebook, called Lifting Vibrations. I've had a miracle morning habit for almost two years now and it really has been life-altering in a very positive way. 

2) What the Most Successful People Do Before Breakfast: A Short Guide to Making Over Your Mornings--and Life by Laura Vanderkam

I listened to the audiobook. It's a quick listen. I'm not sure I really got anything from this I didn't already know or do. 

3) You Are a Badass at Making Money: Master the Mindset of Wealth by Jen Sincero

I listened to the audiobook and also skimmed through the hardback from the library so I could write down some of the affirmations. The author is super entertaining and inspiring (she narrated the audiobook).  It definitely helped me move past some old stories I told myself about money and the law of attraction. It is fairly "woo-woo" on the law of attraction, but there are some really good mindset shifts in here if you can't get past the woo-woo. 

4) Braving the Wilderness: The Quest for True Belonging and the Courage to Stand Alone by BrenĂ© Brown

I listened to the audiobook but I want to go back and read it in print now too. WOW! Just wow... some super powerful stuff in here and I want to be able to read it for more absorption - a lay person's lectio divina reading, if you will. This was the first BrenĂ© Brown book I have ever read, but now I want to read them all! (I'm already onto Dare to Lead with my book club). 

5) Eat That Frog!: 21 Great Ways to Stop Procrastinating and Get More Done in Less Time by Brian Tracy

This book was life-altering! So many fantastic strategies for prioritizing your tasks and Getting. Things. Done! A definite must-read even if you aren't a self-help book fan. Not every tip is going to be useful to every person but there isn't definitely something in here for everyone. It's pretty short but PACKED with actionable, useful advice. 

*The links above are affiliate links. If you make a purchase through them, I will receive a small amount of the sale, at no cost to you. It helps me make a little money to support my book reviewing hobby. Thank you! 

Friday, February 19, 2021

Super Cute Cozy Mystery Giveaway!

About the Book - Kitchen Witch Wars and the Chopped Up Chef

“How would you like to be a TV star?” That’s the question going out across the netherworld airwaves, and every type of spooky creature who fancies themselves a chef is responding. It’s also the question proposed to fledging witch Christelle Seabright after successfully cooking up a deluge of unearthly recipes for a unique funeral catering job. Christelle suddenly finds herself the host of Kitchen Witch Wars, the frightfully hot new paranormal cooking contest show. $100,000 is on the line. But there’s a problem. One of the first-season contestants is found chopped up as if an ingredient in their own dish. Christelle and the other judges must now use all their cryptic resources, including Christelle’s still-unperfected magical abilities, to flesh out the murderer in order to save the show. Which of the ghoulish contestants is responsible? Does the mysterious apparition that keeps trying to contact Christelle have any connection? Pull up a kitchen stool and sink your eyeteeth into Heather Pherris’s new cadaverous whodunit. But watch yourself. In the race to become the first Kitchen Witch Wars winner, murder is an ingredient no chef seems afraid to use. Grab Kitchen Wars and the Chopped up Chef for only $.99! The entire series is also available in Kindle Unlimited! Amazon
Grab I Witch You a Merry Christmas for FREE!

Enter to win! 10 ebook copies of Kitchen Witch Wars and the Chopped Up Chef (10 winners). One winner gets the ebook, a parrot apron, and a chef hat! Enter below. Must be 18+ International for the ebooks, Continental USA.  

Sunday, January 17, 2021

Build Your Library 2021 Reading Challenge

I homeschool my kids. We've always used a combination of many different curricula - picking and choosing what best fits the kids' goals each year. We started using the Charlotte Mason-based curriculum Build Your Library this year and wish we'd known about it all along! Lots of fantastic literature. This is the 2021 reading challenge put together by creators of the Build Your Library curriculum. The theme is Hygge. 

"Hygge is a Danish word that describes a lifestyle placing emphasis on coziness and happy living. Hygge can be anything from eating your favorite meal with the people you love to wrapping yourself up in a warm blanket and reading by candlelight. In 2021, embrace the hygge lifestyle by reading books that evoke feelings of warmth and comfort with the people you hold dear." 

I'll be using this post to keep track of my reading for this challenge. 

Completed 9 out of 41 books as of 12 March 2021.

✅  A book with your favorite color on the cover
       Practical Magic by Alice Hoffman 

❑  A story that takes place under the sea

❑  A story set in a country you want to visit 

❑  A story written in verse

❑  A story set in a library

❑  A story inspired by mythology

❑  A fairy tale retold

❑  A book written by an Indigenous author

❑  A genre you never pick up (ex: mystery, romance, fantasy…)

✅  A book about a game
        We Ride Upon Sticks by Quan Barry

✅  A sequel you have been meaning to pick up
       the witch doesn't burn in this one by amanda lovelace

❑  A book with a household pet in the story

❑  A book in translation

❑  A book by a favorite author

✅  A book by an author you have never read from before
       Falling into Magic by Elizabeth Pantley

❑  A book you think will be a new favorite

❑  A book that was released the year you were born

❑  A book about food

❑  A book with a house on the cover

❑  A book that makes you feel nostalgic

✅  A new release you are excited about
      Instructions for Dancing by Nicola Yoon

❑  A book recommended by a friend

❑  A book that a family member loves

❑  A biography or memoir

❑  A classic

❑  A book published in your lifetime that you think should be considered a classic

✅ A book that won an award
      Between Wild and Ruin by Jennifer G. Edelson 

❑  A book about an issue that is important to you

❑  A book written by a person of color

✅  A short story collection
Black Cat Crossing: A Collection of 11 Cozy Mysteries to Celebrate Halloween

❑  A book that was adapted into a movie or television show

❑  A book about music

❑  A book with LGBTQIA+ representation

❑  A play

❑  A book written by a local author

✅ A non-fiction book about a topic you want to learn more about
      Little House in the Suburbs 
by Deanna Caswell and Daisy Siskins

❑  A book about girls in STEM

❑  A book set in your favorite vacation destination (ex: beach, camping, amusement park…)

✅ A book with an animal on the cover
      Queer Icons and Their Cats by Alison Nastasi

❑  A book with a cover that makes you feel cozy

❑  Your favorite book

New World Witchery: A Trove of North American Folk Magic by Cory Thomas Hutcheson

  New World Witchery: A Trove of North American Folk Magic by Cory Thomas Hutcheson Publisher: Llewellyn Publications Publication date: Apri...