Spiritual Practices for the Brain- Review

Thank you NetGalley, Loyola Press and Anne Kertz Kernion for an ARC of this book, in exchange for an honest review. 

Spiritual Practices for the Brain: Caring for Mind, Body, and Soul is the book I have needed since 2020 started! As a long time fan of Saint John of the Cross and Saint Teresa of Avila, I recognize the value of spiritual and meditative practices. But as it goes in life, I often forget to use the tools and examples I have been given, forgetting is so easy. This book is a fantastic reminder, encourager and set of tools to bring me back to nurturing these all important habits that are salve to my soul.

The book is broken into chapters that focus on intentional steps to take to improve spiritual and physical health. She supports her views and suggestions with current research. As a professor, I always enjoy cited sources. She provides suggestions including focused breathing, gardening, practicing kindness, living in gratitude, exercise and even play as opportunities to improve our lives, mind, body and soul. 

I love the practical and friendly style of her writing. I love the quotes she included. Every chapter was so relatable and practical. Beginning the book with the information about the importance of taking a minute to breath is huge. Breath work has such a huge impact on our state of mind, whether we are in fight or flight or using our breath to bring us to the present moment- how we breath influences everything! Anne Kurtz Kernion demonstrated a wealth of knowledge in the topics she discussed, the research she cites and the wisdom she shares. 

This book is truly written for everyone. You do not need to belong to a specific faith group to find value in the practices outlined in this book. Given how chaotic 2020 has proven to be, I cannot help but think we all can benefit from tending our mental, spiritual and emotional health. I definitely recommend this one!

Rating: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️
Length: 144 pages

Book review: Best Foot Forward

Best Foot Forward (The Liberty Lawrence Series #1) by Bea Stevens was a fun read that has drama, mystery, humor and romance woven throughout the story. This is my first read from this author and find her writing style to be both engaging with an on point sense of humor. I always enjoy a good mystery and this one delivered. 

The main character, Libby, is young, she works hard, enjoys fashion she cannot afford and tends to overthink things. As the story progresses, Libby finds herself working to solve a mystery with her best friend Cassie. Detective James Harper is also working the case and the fact that he’s gorgeous doesn’t hurt. But Libby is not happy when the detective does not agree with her theory about the crime that has occurred. Will she ever convince him or does she have it all wrong? You will have to read it to find out. 

I enjoyed this fun book, and the ending left me excited about book two in the series.  I recommend this book to those who enjoy a good mystery and entertaining characters. Grab it now while it’s free!

Length: 299 –
Rating: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

Floriography – Book Review

I would like to thank NetGalley and Jessica Roux for an arc of this book in exchange for an honest review.

Floriography, An Illustrated Guide to Victorian Language of Flowers

This book is magic! I love all things Victorian, and this book is swoon-worthy. Because behaviors during the Victorian Era were widely scrutinized, any open display of emotions was limited and discouraged. So flowers were used as a secret form of communication, so romantic!

This book is a beautifully illustrated botanical encyclopedia that flower lovers will cherish. In this full-color collection of florals, each beautifully illustrated flower or herb includes its meaning, origin, and complimentary flowers to pair along with the meaning of the pairings.

A section dedicated to bouquets is also included. The bouquets are gorgeous illustrations and the details of which flowers are included and the meaning of the bouquet. While many flowers and bouquets communicated feelings of love and friendship, not all were intended to share positive emotions. There are florals and bouquets for warnings, bitter ends, and apologies.

Floriography would be a beautiful gift for the flower lover and the romantics in your life. It would make a lovely coffee table book for Victorian era lovers!

Pages: 224
My rating: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

photo credit: Andrews McMeel Publishing

Freebie Friday – Insta-Highlight Covers

Happy Friday Ya’ll! This weeks Friday freebie is an Autumn collection of highlight covers for Instagram! There are a total of six covers included. To download, click here and safe the zip attachment. Once you unzip you will find 6 individual images you can upload to Insta to get those fall feels going! If you have any question, just send a message, enjoy!

Magic Lessons- Book Review

A huge thank you to Edelweiss, Simon & Schuster, and Alice Hoffman for this ARC of Magic Lessons.

For all of us fans of Practical Magic and The Rules of Magic, we finally learn the story of the legend, Maria Owens, the woman who cursed love for all generations of Owens women.

Maria Owens was abandoned at birth and discovered by a wise woman, Hannah. Maria was raised by Hannah in the forest, enjoying her quiet childhood alongside her constant companion, her familiar, a crow names Cadin. As Maria grew, she became increasingly aware of her skills in the “unnamed arts” skills that could cause her trouble if the public knew about it. But Hannah kept Maria safe in their forest home, where her life was happy…. until it wasn’t. After tragic events left Maria running for her life, her travels led her eventually to 1600’s Salem, Massachusetts, not the place for a practitioner of the “unnamed arts.”

Despite Maria living a life committed to being a friend to countless women, helping them with their problems, all while being careful to adhere to what Hannah taught her, “do as you will, but harm no one,” she finds herself in an impossibly difficult situation. The unjust treatment she received from someone who should have cared more left her furious. In her anger, Maria unleashes a curse that would be felt for generations.

Magic Lessons is just so good. Alice Hoffman will surprise you and hold you captive, one page after the next. The ominous 1600s Salem witch hunt vibe is felt throughout. Hoffmans writing is spellbinding as she weaves the incredible story of the Owens matriarch, Maria. One of many quotes I love from this book:

Read as many books as you can. Always choose courage.
Never watch another woman burn. Know that love is the only answer.
~ Alice Hoffman

This prequel has left me wanting to read The Rules of Magic and Practical Magic again. If you are a fan of Alice Hoffman and the Owens family, then this is a must-read, and how brilliant to release this book in October!

This book will be released on October 6, 2020 and is available for pre-order on Amazon.

book & coffee bookmark- Friday freebie

Happy Friday! We have a new Friday Freebie for you. This week it’s a books & coffee bookmark. Simple click the image to open the image file, then right click to save!

This bookmark is 2″ x 7″ and 300 DPI so it will print a crisp image. You can print it on heavyweight paper, or regular printer paper and laminate. Enjoy!

Book & Coffee bookmark
Sept. 18 2020 Friday freebie

Sky Gazing – Book Review

Book Review

I received an advance reader copy of Sky Gazing: A Guide to the Moon, Sun, Planets, Stars, Eclipses, and Constellations to read in exchange for an honest review via Netgalley and Storey Publishers.

Meg Thacher did an impressive job with the organization of the book and the depth of information she provided! She excels at writing content that is understandable to the audience it’s intended (9-14 years old) and is also appealing to adults.

The book is organized into the following sections/chapters

  • the sky
  • the moon
  • the sun
  • the planets
  • the stars and constellations

Thatcher provides an overview of the topic within each chapter, providing eye-catching call outs for defining terms. She provides activity ideas like starting a sky journal and includes a list of supplies and what your sky journal should consist of. I especially appreciated the information regarding best times for sky gazing, calendars of full moons and eclipses, and even directions for using your hands and fingers as a cosmic protractor! We are keen to try her directions for making a red flashlight for night vision.
Thatcher gives excellent details around looking for constellations and the months to find them in the sky for seasonal sky gazing. As a visual learner, I found her visual depiction of a star’s life cycle extremely useful.

The Appendix is filled with essential charts and dates of eclipses, meteor showers, buying binoculars,etc. and a thorough glossary of terms.

As a homeschooling mom, I cannot say enough about this book. Besides the valuable information covered in this book’s text, she includes beautiful and relevant illustrations. My teenagers and my middle-school-aged son all loved reading this book. We plan to incorporate this book into our homeschool curriculum. If you enjoy using Unit Studies in your homeschool, you will find that this book will exceed a unit study. We plan to focus on the learning content over a semester and continue to refer to it monthly as we sky gaze! Oh, and I also love that the book has a hardcover, perfect for a resource book that will likely get a lot of use and even spend some time outside on clear nights, so having a sturdy cover is appreciated.

Skygazing will be released on October 13, 2020. It is a fantastic resource that belongs in every homeschool and school library. We will be referring to it often throughout our school year. 

15 Minutes of Flame- Book Review

Thank you, Kensington Books, and NetGalley for an advanced review copy of 15 Minutes of Flame.

I love a fun, cozy mystery, and that’s exactly what this book is, and it’s at just the right time as we approach autumn and Halloween. Stella, the owner of the Wick and Flame candle shop, is helping a local Girls Scouts troop raise funds by hosting a haunted house tour. They have just the right place for the festivities and do a great job of building hype around the event by sharing stories about the house being haunted. But their fun attempts to stir up haunted talk becomes a bit too realistic when Stella discovers a human skeleton, buried in the wall.

The discovery of the hundred-year-old skeleton leads to many questions, suspicions and folklore. There are several people who are interested in the skeleton including a couple of anthropologistS, a local historian and a librarian who believes the skeleton belongs to a distant relative. Each of them has an interest in solving the mystery of who was buried in the wall all those years ago and why? As Stella, Andy, (the local police), and a cast of characters come together as a team to search for answers, they find themselves in the midst of a present-day murder mystery. Which member of the team is killed and why? You’ll need to read it to discover the surprising truth behind all of the mystery.
I really enjoyed this book, the plot kept me guessing to the end. So many exciting plot twists and red herrings. Even as I approached the final chapters, I still was not sure who did it!
This is my first time reading a book Christin Brecher, and it is the third book in the Nantucket Candle Maker Mystery series. I did not feel like I needed to read the first two in the series to enjoy the third, but I plan to read the first two now because I enjoyed this one so much! Stella’s character is very modern and likable, she’s like a young, hip Miss Marple. I love that she owns a candle shop and funnels her creativity into making interesting scents and styles of candles. Candle making is a hobby I enjoy as well and I’ve included a basic candle making tutorial below!

15 Minutes of Flame was just recently published on August 25, so it is available for purchase and it’s the perfect book for fall!
Thank you Netgalley for the opportunity!

Candle Making Tutorial

I love making candles and the good news is, that all of the supplies needed are available at craft store. Here is the list of supplies:

  1. Candle wax ( I use soy wax)
  2. The container you want your candle in (I picked up the metal container for this one at Hobby lobby for $3.99 and used my 40% coupon making it $2.40)
  3. Wicks, glue dots and pencils
  4. Pouring pitcher
  5. Glass thermometer (Like a candy thermometer)
  6. Something to stir the hot wax
  7. Scent (if you want it scented) Hobby Lobby has a variety of scents for candle making.

Determine how much wax is needed

You will start by choosing the container you want to make your candle in and how many ounces it will hold. My container held 16 ounces. I found that 1.5 pounds of soy wax was needed to fill My 16oz container.

Prepare your candle container

To prepare your candle container you will adhere your wicks To the bottom. How many wicks you use is up to you. My container is wide so I chose to use three wicks. I was afraid one wick would end up burning only down the center. I always adhere my wicks to the bottom of the container so when I pour the hot wax, they stay put. I use glue dots on the bottom of each wick and press them firmly to the bottom of the container.

Next, I use pencils to hold the wicks in place. My wicks were extra long, so I wrapped the ends around my pencil. This is a great way to keep the wick standing up straight so it burns evenly. I could have trimmed the wicks first, but because I wasn’t sure how tall I would need them in the end, I waited.

It’s time to melt your wax

Now it is time to melt your wax. If you have a double boiler you can use that, just make sure your pot with the wax will be easy to pour from. I do not have a double boiler so I poured my wax into my pouring pitcher and set the pitcher in a pot of water to bring to a boil.

Carefully heat your wax and stir as it melts. You will need your thermometer. Allow the wax to reach 185°F before adding fragrance. This temperature is known as the “Goldilocks Zone.” It’s hot enough for the fragrance oil to fully bind and mix with the wax, but not so hot that any fragrance might be lost to the heat.

Add the candle fragrance

Once the wax hits 185°F, add the fragrance then remove the pitcher from the heat. Stir gently for about 2 minutes. This may seem like an easy step to skip, but mixing thoroughly is important for getting the best fragrance from your finished candle.

Pour your wax into the candle container

Allow your wax to cool to 135 degrees then slowly and carefully pour your wax into your prepared candle holder.

Allow your candle to cool and become solid – I always make sure that where I pour my candle is where I will leave it to cool, moving a container of hot wax isn’t a great idea. Once it is cool, you can remove the pencils and trim the wicks to about 1/4 inch above the candles surface and cover it.

Candle curing

Before burning, I do recommend allowing the candle to “cure”—optimally for 2 weeks and at least 4-5 days to get the best scent out of your candle.

Welcome to the Ginger Bibliophile

Hello and thanks for stopping by my small corner of the Internet. My name is Amelia and in short, I love to read, I always have, but I have not always had the time because, well – life. This year I retired from teaching, I’ve been a college professor for more than 25 years. It wasn’t an easy decision and I actually languished in the process of easing my way out, going from full time, to adjunct with an almost full time schedule, to only a class here and there to finally, exiting and closing the door. I suffered an identity crisis for a minute. It’s weird to be something for so long and then suddenly stop being it. I survived the crisis though because I picked up a book for pleasure, and just like that, all was right with the world. It has been as many years since I have truly read for pleasure. Sure, I’ve been able to sneak in a good book here and there, but ultimately, the halls of higher ed demand their pound of flesh and I generally paid my dues in research or text book writing and editing. It’s ok if that last sentenced about research and textbooks made you a little drowsy, it did me too. At some point in any academics life, even the “suggestions for future research” lose their appeal.

So, here I am, with time, sweet time, on my hands and I have filled every spare moment with reading for pleasure. I feel like I am about two decades behind on reading and I’m making up for it in spades now. Through various “bookstagram” and twitter accounts I became familiar with the acronym ARC – or “advanced reader copy” The world of book reviewing was suddenly on my radar and I am all about that life. So, I signed up with various platforms and started pleading requesting books to read in exchange for an honest review. Much to my delight there were publishers willing to answer my plea. And this is how I landed here- creating a blog to share my book reviews. I do want to clarify that not all of my book reviews will be for ARCs. I have 25 years of pleasure reading to catch up on, so there will be reviews of books you probably read 15 years ago 🤷‍♀️ But the ARCs I do review will include information about the author, publisher and when it will be available to purchase.

So, there ya have it, I’m pretty excited about this place and sharing lots of bookish things with you. I’ll probably share other stuff too because I have more free time now, so more time for hobbies. If you want to sign up to receive updates from my blog, feel free to drop that email address below.