May has been an odd month. I ended one of my day job contracts this month to have more time for writing, reading, podcasting, and publishing then promptly took a week of vacation to spend with my bonus daughter while she was visiting us in California. My son and his partner were supposed to join us but Covid intervened there and we’ll have to get them out for a different trip. There’s something magical about touristing in your own town and I highly recommended it — especially in these uncertain travel times. I’ll share more about our travels in the newsletter (hit up the side bar or scroll down to the bottom to sign up for that).
I still managed to get some reading done. Here we go.
Flower Essences from the Witches’ Garden by Nicholas Pearson — this was a read for the podcast and it is a serious tome. I went in knowing jack about flower essences beyond some “memory of water” stuff from What the Bleep Do We Know? (interesting but not recommended and now debunked movie). Approaching flower essences from a witchcraft sense made so much more sense to me in that you are working with the plant spirit. It is also a more sustainable way to work with plants as you can make essence without harvesting and if you do harvest, you need so little compared to making something like essential oil. If you are a plant witch type person — highly recommend.
The Bones Fall in a Spiral by Mortellus — podcast read but definitely one I would have picked up. Mortellus is becoming, if they aren’t already, the expert on pagan death and dying. This book does have some funerary information though pick up their Do I Have to Wear Black? for a more in-depth look at that. Bones is more about working with the dead and the artifacts of death in magic, a gentle person’s primer for respectful necromancy, if you will.
Mi Cocina by Rick Martínez — Oh yes, I do read cookbooks like a novel. This is a gorgeous celebration of all the regions of Mexico and its cuisine. Plus, Rick is a delight and I envy you the joy of discovery if you aren’t already a viewer of his Food52 youtube series (Sweet Heat and Mi Cocina for the book launch). There are so many recipes in this book that I can’t wait to make.
A Country of Ghosts by Margaret Killjoy — I don’t know how to talk about this book without fangirling. I first came across Margaret’s podcast Live Like the World Is Dying about community preparedness, then discovered her writing and music. A Country of Ghosts is Margaret’s contribution to Utopian fiction and it’s a novel of war. The country of Hron (‘ghost’ in the language of the book) is a collective of cities and villages that function together but on the principles of anarchy — each village or town having its own autonomy. There is a didactic element—this is what lived anarchy could be—but it is the backdrop to the story of a journalist from an empiralist nation who is sent to cover the empire’s army and finds himself captured by and then fighting with the anarchists. I could write more but suffice to say this is one of those books that left me both weeping and hopeful.
Beneath Memory by AJ Scudiere — beta read for a friend. This is book 11 in the NightShade Forensic Files series. Some mysteries are solved, some are spun out to future books. Since this is not yet available (though preorders are up), I won’t go into too much detail. You can start this series with Under Dark Skies.
Love Handles by Gretchen Galway — May’s read for my fun book club. This book was set in Oakland so I loved the Bay Area aspect. Not one I would have picked up myself but it was a breezy read with a few plot twists to keep it interesting. This is book one in a series.
New World Witchery’s ‘zine Red — not a book but a fun read about magic revolving around the color red and what it can symbolize.
The Bestseller Code by Jodie Archer & Matthew L. Jockers — I’m only two chapters into this. My writers book club is reading this. The premise is using AI to score bestsellers based on things they have in common with other bestsellers. I’ll fill in more next month when we finish it, but what I’ve learned so far is that John Grisham and Danielle Steele are bestsellers because they don’t stray from their formulas. Is this useful information on this end of the pool? No idea, but I’m always curious.
Amongst Our Weapons by Ben Aaronovitch — not the first time Ben has showed up on one of these lists. I’ve dropped many a series that got stale or predictable. The Rivers of London series hasn’t even come close. If you recognize the title from a Monty Python sketch you will be on the right track for this case for London’s magical detectives. Of course I recommend this but I also suggest going back to The Rivers of London/Midnight Riot (U.S. title) to get the full glamour. And yes, when I’m brave enough, I’ll ask Ben to be on the show.