Spirits in Stone

“Spirits in Stone: The Secrets of Megalithic America (Decoding the Ancient Cultural Stone Landscapes of the Northeast)” by Glenn Kreisberg was quite an eye-opening read. Honestly, I read it thinking I would learn there was some giant Stonehenge like structure just down the road from me. Let me go ahead spoil it for you, there isn’t. However, I did learn there is a surprising amount of fascinating stone artifacts all over the northeast, and that there is an inherent bias in the archaeological community as to their importance and the need to study and preserve them.

Fortunately, Kreisberg and the New England Antiquities Research Association finds these sites, studies them, and works with others to get them protected. In the process, they’ve learned there is more to these stones than just their age. “Spirits in Stone” shares their reports from many of these locations. I’m not going to lie, it can be rather dry reading but I still enjoyed it and feel it’s an important book.

To learn more, visit here.

Fat Man Blues

Review by James Garside

Would you sell your soul to the Devil? At what price? How about if you knew you were dying and didn’t have long to live? It’s not like the dead have anything left to lose. But if the Devil’s so interested in your immortal soul that he’s willing to offer you anything in return then maybe, just maybe, someone’s getting fucked on the deal.

Hobo John is a terminally-ill English guy, with a troubled past, whose bucket list is all about the blues. He’s a blues aficionado on a journey across Mississippi to see what is considered by many to be the birth place of the blues. Delta Blues came from the Mississippi Delta and is one of the earliest styles of blues music.

On a drunken night in Clarksdale Hobo John enters into a Faustian pact with a devilish character, called Fat Man, who makes him an offer that he can’t refuse. In exchange for his life, which is at its end anyway, he must cross over to the afterlife of the Mississippi Delta to record blues artists both famous and unknown from the 1930s.

It’s a real ‘devil at the crossroads’ moment but, unlike Vegas, what happens at the crossroads doesn’t stay there. To begin with Hobo John has a blast hanging out with the souls of dead musicians but working for Fat Man is dirty business, with untold consequences, and there’s always a price to be paid.

There’s much more to the story, including twists and turns that I don’t want to spoil here, but the plot isn’t really the point. It’s all about the music. You don’t have to be a blues fan to enjoy the story but you’ll sure as hell learn a lot about the blues along the way.

Robert Johnson fans will especially get a kick out of it as they catch references to songs like “Crossroad Blues,” “Me and the Devil Blues,” and “Hellhound on My Trail.” Legend has it that in the Deep South in the 1930s Robert Johnson met the Devil at the crossroads and sold his soul to become the greatest Delta Blues artist that ever lived.

The author may spit at me for saying this but, at least structurally, the book has much in common with Sophie’s World by Jostein Gaarder. In that book the story is used as a way to give you a history of philosophy whereas here a similar conceit is used to give you a taste of the blues. Just enough to wet your whistle — like drinking whisky straight from the bottle.

Richard Wall writes like a motherfucker. I mean that in a good way. He’s clearly passionate about the blues and has a deep knowledge of music history and blues lore. I’d love for the novel to be released as a dramatised audiobook with an accompanying soundtrack featuring Delta Blues songs hand-picked by the author.

Fat Man Blues is a wild ride. It’s violent and bloody in parts but the writing is tight and visceral and remains faithful to, and worthy of, the music that inspired it.

You can buy the book here ( or here in the U.S.) and check out his other work at richardwall.org

About James Garside:
James Garside is an independent journalist and writer. You can find him at his website jamesgarside.net and chat with him on Twitter.

Finger Prints and Phantoms

It’s hard to reinvent the wheel when it comes to “true tales of the paranormal”. And I’m not here to tell you that “Finger Prints and Phantoms: True Tales of Law Enforcement Encounters with the Paranormal and Strange” by Paul Rimmasch does that. However, I’m happy to tell you all the wonderful that it is.

“Finger Prints and Phantoms” has loads, 26 to be exact, of assorted stories of a paranormal theme. Rimmasch, a crime scene investigator by day, has a real knack for storytelling. It seems like he’d be a good guy to join for a beer. Now although his book doesn’t reinvent the wheel, Rimmasch’s background, and access to the police, does allow him to give the reader a unique perspective on the day to day life and workings of a police officer. And THAT was just as interesting, if not even more, than the stories contained within.

If you enjoy tales of the paranormal, and would like a bit of insight into police life, I would recommend checking out “Finger Prints and Phantoms” by Paul Rimmasch.

You can learn more about it here.

Find Your Goddess

Skye Alexander, author of “Find Your Goddess: How to Manifest the Power and Wisdom of the Ancient Goddesses in Your Everyday Life”, unsurprisingly wants you to find and work with a goddess or two. In her latest book she doesn’t spend loads of time convincing you of this, instead she lets the goddesses themselves do the talking and the teaching.

“Find Your Goddess” offers a diverse selection of profiles for approximately 75 goddesses. Each entry gives a brief overview of the history and mythology and her virtues. Then Alexander discusses how you can manifest their power. With a variety of female deities ranging from Persephone to Mama Quilla you’re bound to find at least one, if not many goddesses that resonate with you. “Find Your Goddess” is a great jumping off point to find goddesses you want to research, but it also is great for those just looking to explore a wider variety of female deities.

Learn more here.

Due to some confusion over shipping I ended up with two copies of this little gem, so I’ll be giving one away to you! We’re doing the Rafflecopter thing again! Contest is open October 15, 2018 until 11:59 P.M. Eastern Saturday, October 20, 2018. Must be 16 years or older to enter. Open internationally. Not sponsored by any social media service including Facebook.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

The Teenage Slasher Movie Book

I don’t know if you’ll find this surprising or not, but I do not watch horror movies. I just can’t handle it, they stick with me way too long. That said, I love reading about horror movies. I go online and read plot summaries, analysis, and reviews for tons of horror movies. Weird, right? I just feel the genre has a lot to offer. That’s why I agreed to read and review the 2nd revised and expanded edition of “The Teenage Slasher Movie Book” by J.A. Kerswell. I will admit that I don’t normally look into the slasher subgenre, but just like the rest of the horror genre, the author showed me there are surprises to be found there.

Have you heard of the gory, Italian, thrillers known as giallos? I hadn’t, but it turns out they played a huge role in the eventual teenage slasher film. I had no idea that many popular slasher movies came from Canada! Sure, now it seems all movies come from Canada, but the late 70’s, I had no clue. Also, I didn’t realize that Britain had previewed and censored all videos being released in the country. This delayed the release of many slasher movies in the country.

Kerswell does an excellent job condensing the history and works of the genre into a fast paced read. He succeeds in striking the balance of treating the subject matter seriously while acknowledging how silly it can all be.

With Kerswell’s authoritative writing and a dizzying amount of full color photos from films and movie posters, I can safely say “The Teenage Slasher Movie Book” is a great resource for anyone interested in horror films.

You can learn more here.

Zen Bunnies!

Who doesn’t love cute bunnies? Seriously, does anyone ever think, I have no interest in adorable bunnies? Since one of my favorite things to do online is look at cute animals, when I was offered a chance to check out “Zen Bunnies: Meditations for the Wise Minds of Bunny Lovers” I was all in. Talk about truth in advertising, it is a whole book of photos of little bunnies paired with assorted Buddhist and mindfulness type quotes. The author credit on the cover is “Gautama Buddha and the editors of Mango Publishing”.

Is this a scholarly work for practitioners of Buddhism? No. But is it the perfect gift for any occasion? Absolutely. The combination of cute bunnies and thoughtful quotes make it an excellent gift for just about anyone, for any reason. Perhaps even for yourself to enjoy.

To learn more about “Zen Bunnies”, visit here.

Good news! Mango Publishing was nice enough to provide a copy of “Zen Bunnies” to give away to one lucky reader! I’m using my usual Rafflecopter option, so see how to enter below. Contest ends Saturday, Sept. 29th at 11:59 PM eastern. No social media platforms are sponsoring this contest.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Oops He Did It Again!

It may seem weird to use a Britney Spear’s song title for a book review about Zen Buddhism. However, we’re talking about Brad Warner’s latest book “It Came from Beyond Zen! More Practical Advice from Dogen, Japan’s Greatest Zen Master”. Warner is well known for dropping some popular cultural throughout his books. (Full disclosure, I doubt he’s a Britney fan.)

As for truth in advertising, the title fits the reality. Again, Warner goes through the teachings of Dogen and breaks it down so us non-Japanese speaking, non-Chinese speaking, non-practicing Buddhists can understand the frequent twists and turns that Zen writings can take. First Warner translates the texts into a layman’s translation, then follows that with some information about other English translations and explains his personal interpretations on what each writing means. Therefore, Warner is one of my favorite writers when it comes to Zen Buddhism. He works hard so it’s accessible for everyone.

I know it’s a short review, but what more can I say? Researched, thought provoking writings presented in an accessible, fun manner.

Learn more about “It Came from Beyond Zen!” here.

Tarot Made Simple

Prepare yourselves for what you are about to see! There are loads of books on the subject of tarot and how to do tarot readings, but I think I may have come across one of the best for beginners or people with horrible memories (like me). Let me introduce you to “Tarot Made Simple” by Liz Dean.

“Tarot Made Simple” has this fantastic split page design that allows you to choose your tarot spread, leave that page open to follow along, but also lets you look up individual card meanings without losing the page the spread is on! Watch this short video of the book in action!

What more is there to say? I think it’s a great resource, particularly with its unique format.

You can learn more here.

The Green Burial Guidebook

Not to be morbid, but we’re all going to die. We generally learn this at a young age, which gives you (hopefully) plenty of time to ponder that fact. For as long as I can remember I told people that when I died to donate any parts of my body that could help others, cremate me, and toss the ashes in the garbage because they don’t really matter. I found the idea of my body being around in an urn, or with a headstone somewhere, to be kind of a burden on those left behind. Why bother? I’ll be dead so who cares what happens?

Then, thanks to the internet I started seeing articles about having your ashes put in a seed pod to grow a tree. Suddenly there seemed like there was a way for my body to still be useful! Of course that was the stuff of essentially internet legend, right?

This all brings us to the fascinating book “The Green Burial Guidebook: Everything You Need to Plan an Affordable, Environmentally Friendly Burial” by Elizabeth Fournier. What an amazing resource! I got to learn about the impact our deaths have on the environment. Embalming, caskets, even cremation all have different impacts on the environment. Fournier expertly explains all these differences and how you can choose to lessen the environmental impact of your burial. Better still, she takes you step by step through the funeral process. Different types of funerals, various laws to consider, figuring out what to be buried in, cremations, and more are clearly outlined. Once you’re loaded with all this information and feel ready to act on your new knowledge, Fournier offers a bunch of resources.

“The Green Burial Guidebook” is a helpful book to read to just to learn about the after death process of legally burying someone and honoring the deceased wishes. Essentially if you, or anyone you know, is planning on dying one day, you should read this book.

You can learn more here.

Lunar Nomad Oracle

If you follow me on social media and/or have been a long-time reader you know I have a big tarot/oracle deck addiction. To me there really isn’t such a thing as a bad deck, but after a while you start to seek out things that stand apart from the crowd and I have found something truly unique in “The Lunar Nomad Oracle” by Shaheen Miro.

It’s rare to find an oracle deck with so much intense thought put into its construction. “The Lunar Nomad Oracle” starts on the skeleton of the Lenormand deck, a 36-card deck of symbols that most likely evolved from a card game towards the end of the 18th century. Miro’s deck is expanded to 43 cards but holds firm to its Lenormand beginnings. The art for the deck and the design were both done by Miro, which I feel lends a grounding cohesiveness to the dream-like nature of the oracle. Miro indicates that there are three levels of symbolism in each card: archetypal, general, and personal. Personally, I feel that checks out.

All this work is to help you get in touch with your “Lunar” self, which I would sum up as your creative, magical self. Will it work for you? If it doesn’t, it certainly isn’t for Miro’s lack of trying. “The Lunar Nomad Oracle” truly stands apart from its peers.

Learn more here.