Not Dead Yet!

Hey, folks, I need book reviewers!

So Pagan Book Reviews is now a .net instead of a .com because in the craziness of grad school and the aftermath I accidentally let the domain name expire and some squatter nabbed it and wants too much money for it. So I figured if .net is good enough for Facing North, it’s good enough for me. And so Pagan Book reviews still lives!

When I started the site back in December of 2006, I was in a very different place in my life. I was commuting to work by bus, and so had ample time where all I really could do was read. And that lifestyle, to one degree or another continued for a few years, even into grad school. Over time, though, I let the reviews lapse, though I kept the site up as an archive.

Now that I’ve been full-time self-employed for a year, I’ve been able to get an idea of what I do and don’t have the time for. One thing I don’t have time for, sadly, is writing lots and lots of reviews; even my personal reading time isn’t what it used to be (though I’m trying to fix that). What this means is that I have a backlog of books that need to be read and reviewed, AND I want Pagan Book Reviews to continue being a good collection of reviews and ideas so that people know what’s out there. Plus reviews are invaluable to authors as feedback, so it’s a resource for us writers, too.

So here’s what I need:

–I need people to review books. I’ll mail you books, you email me back the review, and you get to keep the books to do with as you will. I’m also happy to take on reviews of other relevant books you’ve read even if they didn’t come from me; they just need to follow the format I use on the site. Yes, you can review books that have already been reviewed on the site. Yes, you can review books you’ve reviewed elsewhere. No, they don’t have to be specifically pagan, though you can check the categories on the left sidebar for an idea of what I’ve considered appropriate. No, you don’t get paid, but you do get free books and unless they’re advance readers’ copies you’re welcome to sell them once you’ve given me the review. There ARE links to Amazon’s affiliate program; it really doesn’t make very much, and I’ll probably end up spending more in shipping costs than I’ll get from Amazon. That’s okay; I want this site to keep going! Contact me at whishthound (at) gmail.com

–I need books to review! If you’re an author, a publisher, or other concerned party, give me a yell at whishthound (at) gmail.com. We also accept occasional issues of pagan magazines, as well as CDs, DVDs, and other relevant media.

–I need links! Specifically, I need links to other reviewers of pagan and related books. Even if it’s just an archive, it counts.

Finally, please pass this on! I hate that I let this site lapse for so long, and even if I’m just more of a behind the scenes figure in it, I want it to keep going as the resource it’s meant to be. Thanks 🙂

Advertisements

A Quick Bit of Housekeeping – Need Links!

So I finally went through and updated my blogroll–it was so out of date as to be embarrassing! Anyway, a request for you folks out there: I am looking for some new additions to the Other Reviewers section, so people have more places to find feedback on books they may be interested in. If you know of a pagan or occult related book review site that isn’t currently up there, please let me know! Even if it hasn’t been updated in years, that’s fine–feedback is feedback!

Thanks for your help!

Hiatus is Over!

So, it’s been the better part of two years since I put this blog on hiatus so I could focus more on my graduate school endeavors. I’m coming back to reviewing, though, so let’s just call it official!

Since I’m still in school, to be followed by full-time self-employment, my posting may not be quite as often as before school, but I need some things to read that aren’t all about my academic career, and I’ve missed writing these reviews quite a bit.

So expect more to read from me, and if you’re an author or publisher who’d like me to review something for you, just let me know!

Update on Hiatus

Hiya, folks. In case you haven’t noticed the note on the info about getting your book reviewed, I am on hiatus, and I haven’t updated in a few months. This is because graduate school is taking a LOT of time and effort, and right now that’s where my priority needs to be.

Once I’m ready to start reviewing again, I’ll post something here. In the meantime, feel free to peruse the archives to see what I’ve read in the past 🙂

Thanks!

–Lupa

Happy Three-Year Anniversary!

Okay, so I’m a wee bit late this year. But here it is–the three year anniversary post! Even though I’m on semi-hiatus (meaning I’m not really reviewing anything except what I happen to read along the way, and I’m not currently accepting review copies), the blog is still as active as I can make it. I’ve had this domain name for a year now, and I think I managed to get most of the links to it fixed, though old lupabitch.wordpress.com links should still go here. Here’s last year’s anniversary post, and the year before that. And here are this year’s stats, building on the stats from previous years:

–293 posts (not including this one), of which 290 are reviews or lists of reviews at other sites.
–92,414 views
–The best-ever day for views was last year’s anniversary post on Thursday, 18 December 2008, with 429 views.
–255 legitimate comments, some of which are my replies.
–100 categories, 99 of which are book-related
–PaganBookReviews.com is still the very first result on a Google search for “pagan book reviews”! However, it’s only #10 for “pagan books”.

The first review since my first anniversary post was The Goat Foot God by Diotima; the most recent post was Echoes of Alexandria by H. Jeremiah Lewis. Ironically enough, both of these are (or, until recently, were) published by Bibliotheca Alexandrina.

Even with the hellacious amount of reading I’ve had to do for school, which has cut down significantly on my fun reading time, I’ve still managed to get a good bit of reviewing done, and read some neat books. Here are some of the highlights of my year:

Bear Daughter by Judith Berman – one of the best novels I’ve read, and a must-read for any shamanic practitioner.
Lightbreaker by Mark Teppo – another good novel (two for two on the fic, now!) by a promising new author who’s going up on the must-reserve-next-book list with Jim Butcher and Patrick Rothfuss.
Drawing Down the Spirits by Kenaz Filan and Raven Kaldera – finally, an entire book dedicated to possession-based spirit work, particularly friendly (though not exclusively) to neopagans and other non-indigenous folk.
Christopaganism by Joyce and River Higginbotham – I’ve long maintained that eclectic/syncretic neopaganism can include Christianity as much as elements of any other religion, and this is a great guide for those who want to know how to do just that.
Darkwood by M.E. Breen – while I started this review blog to primarily review nonfic, I got a lot of good fiction this year. This YA fantasy novel is excellent, and I would recommend it to adults as well who want a well-written story in a fleshed-out world with good characterization.
Beyond 2012 by James Endredy – amid the huge pile of drek that’s accumulated around the 2012 hype, Endredy’s take is an excellent reality check about the real problems we face–environmental degradation, for example, instead of hostile lizard people and misplaced typhoons.
Ecotherapy edited by Linda Buzzell and Craig Chalquist – I love this book for so many reasons, personal, spiritual and professional. Even if you aren’t a professional therapist, this is an excellent read for working with the psyche as a part of a greater, interconnected whole (but without fluff and conjecture).
Make Merry in Step and Song by Bronwen Forbes – one of the reasons I really like this book is that it’s on a niche topic, Morris Dancing in theory and practice. Good research, well-applied.
Trance-Portation by Diana L. Paxson – a superb guide to trance work and altered states of consciousness which came in handy in some of my journeying work.
The Druidry Handbook by John Michael Greer – I’ve liked everything JMG has published, and this one stood out to me because it gave me a good understanding of some modern druidic practices, as well as their context. While it’s not my path, I’m keeping it on my reference shelf.
The Art of Shapeshifting by Ted Andrews – This is a really underappreciated book by the late Ted Andrews; if you ever wanted a thorough guide on shapeshifting as a form of magic and spirituality, this is it.
The Phillupic Hymns – An excellent variety of stories and poems ranging from the death of Antinous, to what happened to Sobek set up on a blind date.

As for my semi-hiatus, I’m going to see how things look late next summer, as I end my classwork and start into my practicum. My classes at grad school require a LOT of reading, which is why I had to cut down on the review copies. I do want to keep reviewing, though, and I will keep readers and publishers posted as to my status. I really appreciate everyone’s patience and support; please do feel free to contact me if you have any questions, or are just curious as to how I’m doing. Thank you 🙂

Pagan Book Reviews Going on Temporary Hiatus

*deeep breath*

So it’s been just about three years since I started this review blog–and it’s been awesome! I’ve gotten to read a lot of books that I normally might not have known about, and I’ve been able to share with others my thoughts and opinions (for whatever the individual deems them to be worth). In short, I’ve had a lot of fun with it.

Sadly, I have to put this blog on temporary hiatus. As you may be aware, I am currently working on a Master’s degree. This has, unsurprisingly, taken up increasing amounts of my time, particularly with all the reading required for my courses. This semester I need to be doing a lot of additional reading for my literature review for my thesis, the research and writing of which will occur next semester. This means that my time is incredibly tight, and unfortunately I find myself falling behind more and more with the review books I have on their own exclusive shelf.

So here’s my plan: these last books need to be reviewed, so I am going to recruit some folks to review most of them for me; I’ll be keeping on a few to finish up by the end of the year. All the reviews, including those by other people, will be posted here as I get them. I will not, however, be accepting new titles for review until further notice.

I am not going to keep on a cadre of reviewers to continue reviewing books for this blog largely because I don’t have the time to keep after people about getting reviews done, making sure books get where they need to be, editing the reviews, etc. I may, however, review the occasional relevant text I read as a part of my own personal enjoyment. My intent is to reassess my situation next summer once the bulk of my classwork–and, hopefully, my thesis–are done, and see whether I can pick this up again then. In the meantime, this site will be kept live, since I do ultimately want to get back to this once it’s feasible for me to do so.

Thank you for all the support, the comments, and the books over the past not-quite-three-years, and hopefully you’ll be hearing from me sooner rather than later!

Happy Two-Year Anniversary!

Well, looks like this review blog’s made it two whole years! Whoda thunk? In case you missed it, I registered the domain name PaganBookReviews.com and applied it to the blog (please do update your bookmarks accordingly!). I also ran a little maintenance here and there; there were a couple of widgets missing which I’ve now returned to the front page (most notably the Categories widget).

Here’s where it was a year ago, and here’s where it stands right now (numbers include stats from last year):

–208 posts (not including this one), of which 206 are reviews or lists of reviews at other sites; I cleaned out a few of the administrative posts and random things that didn’t really need to be there.
–57,398 views
–The best-ever day for views is still Monday, November 19, 2007, with the all-time record of 279 views. My goal for this coming year is to break that. Wanna help? ETA on 18 December, 2008: Ask and ye shall receive–as of 10am PST, I’ve gotten 320 views overall, and there are still a few hours to the day by way of WordPress! Muchas gracias! ETA Again: Final tally, 429 views!
–192 legitimate comments, some of which are my replies. I used to have a godsawful amount of spam, til I registered the new domain name, which reset the spam filter–so far I’ve still had 219 of them try to weasel their way in.
–70 categories, 69 of which are book-related
–PaganBookReviews.com is the very first result on a Google search for “pagan book reviews”, up from #4 last year
–My reviews are showing up in some interesting places–Google Books, links to various other blogs, and the occasional link on Wikipedia (check out the list of links for Patrick Harpur)–I may not be notable enough for the Wikipedia folks, but apparently my reviewing abilities are 😉

The first review since my first anniversary post was The Cave Painters by Gregory Curtis; the most recent post was for a new batch of Facing North reviews.

I haven’t been reading as much as I’d like; I quit the job that had me commuting three hours a day, spent the summer telecommuting, and started graduate school this fall (which means that most of my reading has been for my classes, something I’ll be addressing on my break!). However, there were some really great books that I’ve read in the second year of this blog:

Pagan Visions for a Sustainable Future by various – This is the kind of thing pagans need to be talking about. Not just spells. Not just gossip about who wore OMGRENGARB to the ritual. But actual issues that involve people’s personal spirituality and cosmology and how they affect everyday life and shape worldviews.
Spiritual Transformation Through BDSM by Sensuous Sadie – As a pagan who is also a kinky person, I really appreciated this in-depth look at the spirituality of kinks. Like the above book, it goes beyond the usual 101 material to provide some exceptionally good brain food.
Green Hermeticism by Wilson, Bamford and Townley – Alchemy and hermeticism from an ecocentric perspective, partly penned by none other than Peter Lamborn Wilson (aka Hakim Bey). While it’s primarily theory rather than practice, there is a wonderful practical section in the last chapter that I feel could have a lot of good potential.
Wicked Game by Jeri Smith-Ready – This year I signed on with Pocket Books to review some of their paranormal fiction (mainly romance novels, apparently). One of the first ones they sent me was this surprisingly good read that’s more on the urban fantasy end rather than romance. If you want some brain candy to balance out a good chunk of hefty nonfic, this is a good pick. Oh, and you should check out her totemic novel, Eyes of Crow, too (I have the sequel on my review pile).
A Field Guide to Modern Pagans in Hamilton, Ontario by Neil Jamieson Williams – I seem to have been particularly impressed by books in the past year that deal more with theory and social/etc. issues surrounding paganism as a set of religions and as a subculture, rather than the hands-on how-tos that are more common. This is a great niche-within-a-niche book, an academic-level sociological study of the pagan community in one particular city. Even if you aren’t a resident of Hamilton, Ontario, there are a lot of facts and figures in this slim volume that are worth pondering.
The Weiser Concise Guide to Herbal Magick by Judith Hawkins-Tillirson – Here’s something for those of you looking for the practical texts. While herbalism isn’t my forte, I was impressed by the author’s ability to write an incredibly versatile guide to this topic. Now we have something to recommend besides Cunningham (said with tongue firmly planted in cheek!).
Spirit Herbs by Amy “Moonlady” Martin Not long after the Weiser guide, I was given the chance to review this little gem. It’s got some great ideas for actual practices, especially if you want something more snazzy than the same old sage smudge. Couple this book with Hawkins-Tillirson’s work and you have a great combination for an aspiring herbal magician.
Drumming at the Edge of Magic by Mickey Hart – If you’re a drummer (or drum circle dancer) and you haven’t read this book–why haven’t you yet? By far one of the best books I’ve read ever, let alone just this year.
Drawing the Three of Coins by Terri PaajanenSpilled Candy is an awesome small press, and I’ve liked everything of theirs I’ve seen so far. This one-of-a-kind practical guide to opening and running a pagan shop is an absolute must-have, as it covers numerous details that mainstream start-your-bookstore texts won’t have that are specific to pagan and occult businesses.
The Long Descent by John Michael Greer – Yes, I know a lot of my favorite books this year have been green. This may be the best of the bunch, honestly. Even though most of it has nothing to do with paganism, per se, it’s definitely one of the premiere books on the peak oil issue. Additionally, Greer included this incredible chapter on spirituality post-peak oil that should be mandatory reading for any pagan who has had the idea of buying land out in the southwest and starting a pagan commune (prepare to have your fantasies shattered, and your realities well-supported).
Spiritual Tattoo by John A. Rush – As one of the ranks of inked folks, I thoroughly enjoyed this academic-level exploration of the history of tattooing and related scarification as a spiritual practice.
Runes for Transformation by Kaedrich Olsen – While I haven’t read runes in years, I loved this book–not the least reason of which being that Olsen does a remarkably good balancing act between traditional lore and solid research, and modern perspectives and experimentation. We need more books like this.
When God is Gone, Everything is Holy by Chet Raymo – Don’t let the Catholicism fool you–this is a superb book that raises a lot of questions on theology that will be as applicable to paganism as any denomination of Christianity.
Ecopsychology by various – Oh, hell, why not one more green text? Even if you aren’t a sustainability or psychology geek like me, the spiritual overtones in some of the essays (particularly the one on neoshamanism in therapeutic practice, and the one on magical thinking) should make this a good choice for the pagan reader.

There were plenty of other great books this year (as well as some real losers!), but those are ones that really stood out to me. That being said, I’m looking at my review shelf which is full to overflowing, plus all the books that I’ve bought from various places or have been given and haven’t read yet, and I’m betting that this coming year is going to be even better. (Seriously–I have a few publishers who have been sending me all kinds of stuff to read!) Thank you to everyone who has read the reviews, left comments, clicked on links, supported my own writing and publishing efforts, and otherwise helped me to feel even better about creating this blog in the first place. As they say on teh intarwebz, “Made of WIN and AWESOME”.

–Lupa

Happy One-Year Anniversary!

Well, here it is, the one year anniversary of Pagan Book Reviews! A year ago I started this blog partly as a way to have the fun of Bargain Bin Book Reviews, and partly as an archive for reviews of other books I’ve read. Since then, this blog:

–Has 143 posts, 138 of which are reviews, and 57 categories, only one of which is not review-related
–Has been viewed 20,360 times
–Had 279 views on its best-ever day, November 19, 2007, on which The Sacred Paw was the most-viewed entry at 50 views (not including people hitting the main site)
–Had 104 legitimate comments (some of which are my replies) and apparently been protected from 3,498 spam comments
–Is the fourth entry on the first page of Google search results for “pagan book reviews”

The very first review posted was Animal Magick by D.J. Conway. The most recent review posted was this month’s BBBR, Mystical Dogs by Jean Houston (which I didn’t crosspost to my usual places til today–so go look at it, it’s new!).

I honestly didn’t expect the blog to take off the way that it did, but I’m happy it did. I am a book geek (or bibliophile, if you want the fancy word), and with three hours of commuting a day, I get a lot of reading in. I’ve also been able to utilize a lot of the information I’d read. Here are just a few of the most personally influential books I’ve read (for the first time) in the past year:

Magical Ritual Methods by William G. Gray – taught me a LOT about the mechanics of magic, and confirmed some things I’d already been doing
The Spirit of Shamanism by Roger Walsh – this gave me some excellent food for thought (and practice) with regards to the psychological end of shamanic practice
Borrowed Power edited by Ziff and Rao – clarified some ideas on cultural appropriation, and introduced me to some new concepts, as well as inspired me to compile an anthology
The Sacred Paw by Shepard and Sanders – reminded me a lot of the sacredness of ritual and mindfulness of nature
The Way of the Animal Powers, Part 1 by Joseph Campbell – gave me some more material on Campbell’s mythological interpretation of paleolithic artifacts, which colors my personal spirituality quite a bit
Animals and Psychdelics by Giorgio Samorini – sparked some experimentation with legal mind-altering substances (including caffeine and alcohol, neither of which I partake in on a regular basis) and totem animals
The Earth Path by Starhawk – an excellent, mindblowing text on being conscious of our connection to nature, as well as our impact, from a spiritual-magical as well as practical perspective
The Oracle of the Bones – I’ve started using this system of bonecasting divination

Others that I also found quite interesting, though I didn’t integrate as much of their material into my practice as some others:

Dark Moon Rising by Raven Kaldera – BDSM sex magic, the ordeal path, and a nice variety of perspectives
Rites of Pleasure by Jennifer Hunter – a broader look at sex magic, and a lot of fun!
Gift of the Dreamtime by S. Kelley Harrell – one of the few first-hand shamanic testimonies I really liked, and a good illustration of shamanizing at work
Animal Messages by Susie Green – if I were to ever replace my Animal-Wise deck, this would be the one I’d use
The Haitian Vodou Handbook by Kenaz Filan – While I’m not an adherent of Voodoo/Vodou, it is a religion I’m interested in, and I really liked this text on it
The Witches’ Sabbats by Mike Nichols – this one contributed to my desire to celebrate regularly again
The Power of Animals by Brian Morris – a good in-depth study of one culture’s relationship to animals
The Oak King, the Holly King and the Unicorn by John Williamson – A fascinating exploration of the medieval Unicorn Tapestries and their symbolism

However, I highly recommend all my reviews 😉

So here’s to another year of reviews! Thank you for those who have sent me books to review, thank you to people to alerted me to great reads they’d read, and thank you to all the folks who have found these reviews helpful. It’s been my pleasure, and I intend to keep it up for a good long while!

–Lupa