Review – The Murder of Mary Russell

The Murder of Mary Russell
A Novel of Suspense Featuring Mary Russell and Sherlock Holmes

Author: Laurie R. King
Bantam Books
2016
ISN # 978-0-80417790-0

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I thought long and hard before deciding to review this book. I am a lifelong fan of the Sherlock Holmes books and movies, and thought I had gone to heaven when King’s Mary Russell series crossed my path. From the beginning of the advertising campaign, I was uncomfortable with the thought that there was a possibility of Mary Russell being killed off, and the series most likely ending. The book itself killed off something within myself, and my enjoyment with the continuity of characters (who and what they were). We see Mrs. Hudson as a motherly/grandmotherly type, who watches out for Russell and Holmes – someone that can be counted on.

The Murder of Mary Russell begins with Russell at home, alone. A car drives up – she thinks that it might be Patrick and Mrs. Hudson, coming back for something that Mrs. Hudson may have forgotten before going shopping. Instead, it is a stranger, a very bold stranger, with an Australian accent, asking about Mrs. Hudson.

Russell lets the stranger in, and offers him tea. The next thing we know, Mrs. Hudson is home from her shopping, staring down at blood on the floor, a knife sticking out of the mantel, and Russell absent.

What follows creates the backstory for Mrs. Hudson, from her parents history, through difficult times in London, to being “saved” by a very young Sherlock Holmes. It covers her time in Australia, her sister, and her son. And a boy that becomes like a son to her. It also creates a part of Sherlock Holmes personal backstory that we did not know.

Why is Samuel (Mrs. Hudson’s son) coming back into her life at this point? What is he looking for? And to what ends will he go to get what he wants?

The writing is superb, as always. The characters have breadth and depth, the scenes are believable, and the historical elements are strong and accurate. From a written standpoint, the book carries King’s well know quality and accuracy.  My problem – and it is a problem – is that the staid Mrs. Hudson is portrayed as an individual with many faces. Indeed, as a consummate actress. So – have all of her years as Holmes housekeeper been false? Is there an agenda here?

I was not happy with the promotion of this book, and was disappointed that King decided to create a backstory for an integral character to this series that went against everything she had been presented as being, both in the various Sherlock Holmes books, and in the various Sherlock Holmes movies. This is a good mystery, but I feel adds nothing to this series.

© April 2016 Bonnie Cehovet

Reproduction prohibited without written permission of the author.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Rview – Mystical Wisdom

Mystical Wisdom

Author: Gaye Guthrie
Artist: Josephine Wall
U.S. Games Systems, Inc.
2016
ISBN #978-1-57281-832-3

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Mystical Wisdom is comprised of 46 cards and a 64 page guide book. The cards are based on Archangels, Goddesses, Spirit Animals, Fairies, and Mystical Creatures. The cards are meant to deliver uplifting messages and gentle encouragement – to help one move past life’s challenges, and into a space filled with joy.

The cards and guidebook come in a sturdy, cardboard lift-top box, featuring a full color image of the Peacock card top of the box. The 64 page guidebook starts out with the thought that the cards offer guidance for the present and predictions for the future. We are told that we hold within us the power to change our lives, and the free will to choose our circumstances. Each card can carry different meanings. Reversed cards and cards that fallout when shuffling need to have more attention paid to the issue connected with the message of the card. It is advised to handle the cards with love and care.

Each card is presented with a black and white scan, the card title, the essence of the card, the card meaning, and a mantra. Card titles include the Archangel Gabriel, Animal Bond, Children, Competition, Good Fortune, Gratitude, Illusion, Legends, Memories, and New Beginnings.

From the book:

Moving Forward
Get Ready For Positive Change

 Situations and events of the past are clearing and making way for positive changes. Turn the negative experiences into a positive and more rewarding future. You have the resources and ability to move forward now. Take a leap of faith knowing that the angels will open doors for you and present a clearer and smoother road ahead. Don’t let fear or stagnation hold you back.

Mantra: I am ready to move forward with confidence.

At the back of the guidebook are instructions for doing one, three, and four card spreads, and the traditional Celtic Cross spread. There are also blank pages for taking notes.

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The cards are 3 ¾” by 5 ½”, with glossy, sturdy card stock. The card backs are lavender, with a white flower in each of the four corners. Gold imagery is centered on the card backs, which are reversible. The card faces show the image to the edge of the card (no border) making it easier to enter the card, if one chooses to. The card title and manta are placed at the bottom of the card, in a colored strip. The art style is fantasy, using muted colors.

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Vacation (Mantra: Take Time For Relaxation and Adventure) shows a young girl on a flying carpet.

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Archangel Gabriel (Mantra: Messenger of Creativity and Hope) shows the Archangel holding children, and surrounded by children.

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Archangel Raphael (Mantra: Provider of Healing for Mind, Body, and Spirit) shows a female figure facing the left hand side of the card.

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Choices (Mantra: Make the Best Choices) shows a female figure with a globe in her hand.

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Creative Wonderment (Mantra: Follow Your Passion) shows a young female figure, in a pink gown, ascending golden steps coming from a golden piano.

I find these cards to be easy to work with, and to cover a wide breadth of subject matter. What we as individuals find that we are faced with in life, we can find in these cards. The art is gentle and flowing, and I appreciate the lack of borders, which makes entering the card for meditation or journaling very easy. Doing readings with these cards is only the beginning of what they can be used for. Bring out your imagination, and find yourself supported in ways you never dreamed of!

© April 2016 Bonnie Cehovet
Repoduction prohibited without written permission of the author.

Review – The Nomadic Oracle

The Nomadic Oracle

Author: Jon Mallek
Mattang Book
2010/2014
ISBN #978-0-993140907

The Nomadic Oracle cover

 

“The Nomadic Oracle” consists of a deck of 56 cards, with a 465 page companion book. Originally published in 2010 by Ambient Studio, this review covers the 2014, updated version, from Mattang Book. The book morphed at the speed of light from 144 pages to the current 465 pages! Color mapping now has a chapter of its own, there is a double-page presentation of the Aspect Matrix (for easy cross-referencing between Families and Realms), along with sample readings. The Aspect card entries show interpretations from Fire to Consciousness as required by a 7 card reading (a specific reading created for this deck), making quick first impressions easier to achieve.

I want to take a moment here and share something from the Nomadic Oracle site that I find to be relevant. Mattang Book is “a collaborative exploration in consciousness, offering oracle readings and healing …”. A mattang is defined as a tool to help people show their children how to see beyond the horizon.

In his Author’s Note, Mallek advises the reader to approach the oracle as if it were a very good friend (which it is!). This friend will take things seriously, and never have an agenda of their own. He also explains his use of the term “left hand path to consciousness”. While in the West this may be seen as a dark path, Mallek defines it as “an expanding path to consciousness”, a “shaman’s path”. There is no intention to manipulate the power of intention except through the Higher Self. There is a big difference, and the reader needs to keep in mind the intended meaning of this phrase when working with this material. Expanding awareness releases the Higher Self at all levels of consciousness.

Mallek states that the Nomadic Oracle has a responsibility to try to illuminate the world as it is, as a first step to enlightenment.

Part 1 introduces the Nomadic Oracle, working with energy, the Aspect Matrix, the power to say no, multidimensional spreads, and the Healing Oracle. The Aspect Matrix consists of a matrix made up of 51 of the 56 cards in this deck. It is comprised of the Elements, the Senses, and the Aspects (the Families and Realms). Each Aspect card represents one of the five elements within its group. Together with the Senses, and the Elements and Spirits, there are ten groups.

Part 2 is all about using the oracle. The reader can approach this oracle is a casual manner, or in a very formal manner. I think that most readers use both techniques, depending on the circumstances. (Especially those who choose to do journey work or meditation.) My personal preference, whether reading causally or formally, has always tended toward structure – towards the use of specific spreads. Others will choose to read in other, less formal, ways. Mallek talks about making friends with the cards, formatting the question, and using a specific 7 card spread, with the cards defined as: the Context, the Here and Now (the “Om Point”), Practical Guidance, the Undercurrent, the Overview, the Receptive, and the Creative.

Mallek talks about the flow of the reading, and about background energies. He talks about converting the 7 card reading into an Information Angel, and drawing two extra cards: Portal (there is a path, but the way may be blocked), and the Drum (the door is open, the light is at the end of the tunnel). Portal and the Drum are seen as thresholds. Instructions are also given for a 5 card spread, and for Super Spreads.

Part 3 talks about building a relationship with the cards. And that it takes patience and time.

Part 4 talks about the cards and the commentaries. The Elements and Spirits are used to draw attention to particular energies. The five Elements and Spirits cards represent energies which originate outside of ourselves, and can be felt as incoming. The Senses which the Elements are paired with, represent energies with origins inside of the self, and which through their actions can be viewed as outgoing. The sequence of the cards from Fire, through Water, Earth and Air, to Consciousness allows the oracle to choose how to describe or predict the frequency of an incoming event.

Each card is presented with a black and white image, a short synopsis of the cards energy, how the card would be read in each of the positions in a 7 card spread, and commentary about the card. The Elements and Spirits cards have who they are companion to listed under the card image (for example, Fire has “Companion to Scenting Action, the Sense of Smell listed under its image). The Senses have the sense they represent (smell, taste, touch, sound, sight), as well as the Elements and Spirits they are twinned with. For example, Scenting Action lists “the Sense of Smell, twinned with the Elements & Spirits of Fire”. The Family of Emotions have the Element they are associated with listed under the card image. For example, Debt & Domination has “Fire in the Family of Emotions” listed under the card image. In the Realm of the Active Path, the Realm of Time, the Realm of Guidance, the Family of Protection, the Realm of Territories, the Realm of Abundance, and the Family of Transition, the associated element is listed under the card image. For example, Kundalini lists “Fire in the Realm of the Active Path”.  For the Infinite Self, the principle that is associated with each card is listed under each image. For example, Shakti lists “the Receptive Principle” under the image. The two Jesters have “the ‘not- card’” listed under their image.

Part 5 is a chapter that specifically deals with color mapping. Color mapping refers to the “bubble of perception” that allows us to sense the subtle energies of Fire, Water, Earth, Air, and Consciousness. These energies are color coded, and can be used to draw out the details in a 7 card spread.

Part 6 speaks of Inconclusions – the nomadic nature of the cards, and Rainbow Consciousness.

At the end of the book is a Appendix that lists influences, sources, and a bibliography.

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The cards themselves are 3¾” by 5½”, using a sturdy, non-glossy card stock. A plastic surface was avoided to ensure that the colors remain vivid. The cards were offset printed and die-cut in Malaysia. The card back shows a ¼” light colored border, surrounding the inner imagery (look for the faces!). Predominant colors are yellow, green, and purple, and they are reversible.

The card faces show a white background, with two thin borders. The image is centered on the card, with the card title, element, and realm centered below it. Some of my favorite cards include:

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Portal (Water in the Realm of Guidance):

“There is a path ahead, but the way appears to be blocked. The Universe is inviting you to seek out this threshold. Portal suggests that this could be more of a case of stepping out of one idiom and into another. If entry were impossible for you, there would be no path and Jester Portal would apply.”

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Healer (Water in the Realm of Abundance):

“Trust and detachment are implicit energies here. Healing, which may begin with a simple request or intention, rises and radiates throughout the entire organism. Commitment and patience might be called for but the outcome could bring genuine relief.”

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Intruder (Water in the Family of Protection):

“Protection of the mind and its emotions.”

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Protection (Consciousness in the Family of Protection):

“The accumulated security and protection of your energy body and your entire being”

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Stopping the World (Earth in the Realm of Time):

“Time to relax. It may be that, in your eagerness to find a solution, you have become out-of-phase with the energy of the situation.”

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Transition (Air in the Family of Transition):

“The winds of change are shifting and restless.”

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 Kundalini (Fire in the Realm of the Active Path):

“The hottest card in the oracle, Kundalini refers to your raw, exposed, and highly reactive life-force.”

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 Ritual Intention (Water in the Realm of the Active Path):

“A card to remind us that actions speak louder than words and that the world is full of good intentions. Make your actions deliberate.”

 I found these cards fun to work with – they teach in a very intricate but heart centered manner. I loved the artwork, as well as the focus on the elements. My feeling is that these cards could easily be used by individuals of all ages, from diverse backgrounds. Dip your feet in the water – see which direction your journey takes!

 © March 2016 Bonnie Cehovet
Reproduction prohibited without written permission of the author.

 

Review – Tell Me Your Story

Tell Me Your Story –
How Therapy Works to Awaken, Heal, and Set You Free

Author: Tuya Pearl
She Writes Press
2016
ISBN #978-1-63152-066-2

Tell Me Your Story

We all have a story – a multi-layered story that we need to tell, if only to ourselves. In “Tell Me Your Story”, Pearl, a psychotherapist, takes us into her office to experience the transformational process of her clients uncovering and owning their stories. We are allowed to view the process through the eyes of the client, as well as through the eyes of the therapist.

The therapeutic process is one that builds that connection between body, mind, and spirit, making the client whole again. The stories in this book take the reader through a therapy session from beginning to end, from the filling out of the input papers to greeting the client, to ending the session and telling the client goodbye. As Pearl moves the reader through the process, she humanizes it, bringing out the thoughts and emotions of both the therapist and the client.

We can all be caught up in our own story – the purpose of therapy is to heal us, and to set us free from the emotions that are holding us hostage. We learn to view our story from the perspective of all of the players, to see why the people in our life were who they were, and did what they did. We learn to forgive ourselves, and to forgive those that we have interacted with.

The commentary on the front cover is a story on its own, describing “Tell Me Your Story” as “A guide to overcome anxiety, depression, compulsions, addiction, fear, grief, obsessions, confusion, and self-doubt”.

We look at the origin of the dysfunctions in Pearl’s clients (and in her own life). We see where self-doubt comes in, and we see how we are impacted by our life experiences.

“Tell Me Your Story” is sprinkled with client stories, Pearl’s own story, and incisive bits of poetry written by Pearl. The reader is gifted with tips on how to deal with our emotions, such as grief needing to be grieved, how our ego keeps us locked in denial, and that to overcome addiction and get to a place of self-acceptance, we must be willing to feel, and to examine our shame. Another gift in this book is that of telling our own story. Through a series of carefully crafted questions we are led to reveal our innermost self.

This is not a book to just be read, commented on, and set up on a shelf. It is one that can be used as a resource, for ourselves and for others, whenever we need it.

© March 2016 Bonnie Cehovet
Reproduction prohibited without written consent of the author.

Review – The Hermes Playing Card Oracle

The Hermes Playing Card Oracle

Author: Robert M. Place
Artist: Robert M. Place
Hermes Publications
2015
ISBN #978-0-692-56238-3

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“The Hermes Playing Card Oracle” is a standard playing deck of 52 cards, with the addition of two Jokers. It comes with a small LWB that gives the meanings of the cards. The deck can be used for card games, or it can be laid out in the traditional pattern termed the Grand Tableau, and used for divination. Small symbols are placed on the cards which can be used for divinatory meaning.

The LWB (Little White Book) notes than in the late 18th century, we saw the first publication of oracle decks in which each card was illustrated with a symbol that was primarily used for divination, with a small image of the playing card associated with each symbol. One of the most popular of these decks was the Petit Lenormand, which was first published in Germany in 1847.

I love that Place has reversed the imagery, with the card resembling a standard playing card, with the inclusion of one small symbol. There is a very gentle, well put together look to these cards. The symbols are very simply drawn, and do not detract from the playing card aspect of the card in any manner. The symbols on the ace, 6,7,8,9,10 and the three royal cards of each suit are the same as in the Lenormand oracle. If the number 2,3,4 and 5 pips of each suit are removed, the deck can function as a standard Lenormand oracle deck.

Place notes that the cards can be used for any card game, but that if they are used for divination, they should be laid out in the Grand Tableau pattern (four rows of eight cards, laid left to right, from the top to the bottom row, with the remaining four cards constituting a fifth row, centered under the top four rows). If the Grand Tableau is to include the two jokers, the pattern is six rows of nine cards, laid out left to right, top to bottom.

The most important cards, according to Place, are the significators: the Ace of Spades, representing the subject of the reading, if she is a woman, and the Ace of Hearts, representing the subject of the reading, if he is a man. The Ace of Hearts may represent a love interest for a woman, while the Ace of Spades may represent a love interest for a man. The cards can be used in any layout recommend for the Lenormand cards.

The LWB give the meaning for each of the symbols in this deck. For example, the Moon on the 8 of Hearts can represent honor, intuition, and drams. The gentleman riding a horse on the 9 of Heart can represent a messenger, a visitor, or news.  The letter being carried by the bird on the 7 of Spades can represent a message, news, or a document. The candle on the 2 of Diamonds can represent peace, solitude, and meditation.

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The cards themselves are 2 ½” by 3 ½”, on glossy cardstock. The backs of the cards show a ½” white border, surrounding a blue and white background, with an image of Hermes in the center. The backs are reversible. The card faces show a white border surrounding the card image. The icon for the suit, along with the number (for the pips) or letter (for the court cards) is in the upper left hand and lowr right hand corner. The card faces are reversible.

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The Jokers are very nicely done, with one wearing, gray shoes, red leggings, a red cap, and a green tunic, with the other wearing red shoes, gray leggings, and a green tunic and cap. This Joker is also strumming an instrument.

I find this deck quite interesting, and I think that you will too!

© March 2016 Bonnie Cehovet
Reproduction prohibited without the written permission of the author.

 

Review: Lost Your Pet -Action Steps To Find Him

Lost Your Pet –
Action Steps To Find Him

Author: Carol J. Donaldson
Self-Published
2011
ASIN: B004SQTCGU

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The deepest relationship that we can have in life is the unconditional relationship that we have with our pets. It is heartbreaking to have a pet come up lost (I can personally attest to this, as one of my male cats recently went AWOL for two weeks!) We are blessed to live in an age where we have the resources of the Internet to help us find our lost pet.

“Lost Your Pet – Action Steps To Find Him” focuses on what to do if and when a pet becomes lost. The biggest thing is that we need to start doing something immediately – do not wait for one single second, hoping they will “show up”!

Donaldson discusses, in a step by step manner, the things that need to be done, including searching inside the house, outside of the house, canvassing the neighborhood, contacting local pet agencies, and working with the resources of the Internet.

She discusses flyers, and the information that needs to be on them (including a picture of the pet), as well as being proactive with chipping a pet (and remembering to contact the company that the pet is chipped through when a pet goes missing).

Topics covered include offering a reward, the most appropriate way to pick up a pet if you have received a call that someone has found your pet (meet in a public place, and never go alone!), and keeping your contact information updated.

The bottom line – never stop looking! Your pet is scared, and may not be able to make their own way home. It is up to you to do everything that you can to facilitate their return. This is a good book for all pet owners to have as a reference.

© February 2016 Bonnie Cehovet
Reproduction prohibited without written permission of the author.