The Green Witch’s Garden


Arin Murphy-Hiscock is one of the most reliable witchy authors. Her books, like The Green Witch and Spellcrafting, are always insightful and while designed for beginners, provide information I find myself continually referring to. I’ve been planning to grow a few of my own herbs. I wouldn’t say I have a green thumb by any means, but this book has been so helpful in researching how I want to plant, care for, and use my garden. ⁣

This book was just published this past Tuesday from Adams Media and is beautifully produced with illustrations and information organized in a way that makes the book very navigable. ⁣

Beginning a garden sounds nice, but the thought of it was so intimidating. The first question I asked myself was “What did I want to grow?” So I made my list of herbs I use a lot or wanted to get to know more. This book was helpful in making sure I’ve thought this out properly? What are the soil and water needs? So I even live in an area that’s suitable for the herb? What do I want it to look like? How am I going to use the garden in my practice?

This book covers a lot more than simply gardening. Finding a book about how to begin a garden isn’t too hard, there are tons of those out there. But in this era where so many people are gravitating to other practices and forms of witchcraft, it’s not that easy to find a book on how to grow a magical garden. This book details many aspects of gardening to plant profiles that detail the mundane and culinary uses of herbs and how to grow them, but also how they can be used in your craft.

Cultures before us centered around nature, their lives beat to the drum of the year, much wisdom came from the world around them. I feel we’ve lost some of that. I recently read Braiding Sweetgrass by Robin Wall Kimmerer who really helped me see just how much we can learn from plants. I wanted to start a garden to grow closer to nature and a way to detach from today’s plugged-in society. This book has paved the path that I can proceed down confidently.

Bitter But Necessary Truths

I’ve been reading tons of witchy books. While there are some exceptions, I felt I was reading the same book time and time again. Or maybe it didn’t get to the good stuff until halfway through once it’s covered the basics. 

I received an advanced copy of The Witch’s Path by Thorn Mooney from the publisher, Llewelyn. I gave the author a follow on social media. Her posts smacked of ‘ If you’re just reading about witchcraft, are you even a witch?’ This of course made me clutch my pearls and spit on the ground. But maybe she had a point? After watching more of her videos, it was clear that Thorn had an academic background and was no joke when it came to magical practices. 

I began her book a bit dismissive. ‘Let’s see what Miss Thorn has to say.’ Boy, was it the book I needed! This book is not just for beginners and not just for experienced practitioners, it’s for any path you may be on. Where do we get our information and where does it come from? She speaks of the “armchair witch” who has themselves surrounded with books, but just reading from them and not actually taking anything into practice is an issue. We may have an altar full of nice and interesting things, but does that mean we’re in tune and actually know what we’re doing. Those sparkly things that we see on social media and maybe things we have because the aesthetic is nice isn’t necessary.

I attended an online ritual, which was like a guided mediation. After other people were talking about how it was such a spiritually uplifting experience and how they saw a sparrow and even a dragon. Did we just sit through the same thing? Mind you, I’m not sitting there with the mind of a skeptic waiting for something to be proven to me, but yearning for a similar experience. Was I doing something wrong? If I’m not able to connect in the way these other people do, am I even meant to be on this path? Thorn speaks to this by saying, “No longer do I believe that every person standing in the ritual space with their eyes closed, looking intense and breathing dramatically is every time having some transformative experience. Some are, yes, but most are doing what we’re all doing: trying. And that’s not nothing.”

This book really spoke to me on a number of my doubts or personal insecurities, helping me understand where those may be coming from and how to overcome them. A big takeaway was that sure I can read and research all I want, but if I’m not actually getting a little out of my comfort zone and taking action, what am I doing? I’m not going to grow that way. The advice may be a little bitter to swallow, but Thorn has a point. 

The book is written with activities at the end of each chapter to help you implement some of the things that were just discussed based on your comfort level. These she ingeniously refers to as the cornerstones of most practices: Air, the element of beginnings; Water for those looking to go deeper; Fire for those looking for easy ways to incorporate Witchcraft into their personal lives; and Earth for those who are maybe dealing with burnout. She even later calls me out for just reading the challenges and thinking I’ll go back to them if I want to later on. For the full experience, actually do the journal prompt that the author placed in the book and often even left space for on the page for your response. It’s there for a reason, not engaging is how I found myself feeling this burnout to begin with. 

After reading this book, I have a profound respect for Thorn and what she offers and challenges of our community. I’ve learned a lot about myself through this book. I feel it’s a book I’ll revisit periodically just to touch-in and ensure I’m still practicing how I hope to be practicing. 

Stepping Out of the Broom Closet

Llewelyn was kind enough to send me a copy of Deborah Blake’s The Eclectic Witch’s Book of Shadows. This book is not my usual genre I talk about here, but lately I’ve been reading tons of witchy books. With Halloween (and Samhain) just around the corner, what better time to come out of the broom closet. 

For those beginning to practice witchcraft, it’s a whole lot of information. If you’re like me and raised in a Christian family, there’s a lot to process and catching up to do. There are a few authors you’re bound to run across. Deborah Blake is one of them. I actually caught glimpses of this book in its infancy as I was a follower of Mickie Mueller on social media and whose gorgeous illustrations burst from the page. 

A Book of Shadows is something a beginner witch is going to hear a lot about. Not going to lie, what came to my mind when I first started was the skin-bound, eyeball-bearing book of the Sanderson sisters from Hocus Pocus. A Book of Shadows is simply a book where you collect all of the information you find helpful while on your path. It’s such a fun and rewarding way to learn something. 

In this book, Deborah Blake shares information that is shared from her group Blue Moon Circle she started in 2004. This book covers a wide array of topics- staples of what should be in any Book of Shadows. Witches call upon many allies for their work from herbs, stones, candles, rituals, and spells all of that and more is covered in this book. 

Having an introduction to these topics in a book isn’t all that rare. Having it from such notable members of the community, that’s got some clout to it. But what really sets this book apart are the illustrations and the space within its pages to add your own information. To use its topics as launching point to discover your own information and record it here, that is what makes this book so phenomenal. 

It is a book that I recommend to anyone who is curious or just starting out on your witchy path. While it’s an ‘introduction’ to a variety of topics, I feel that does this book a disservice. It shares some potent information. It’s not simply a tease, but an inspiration to go deeper. With Deborah Blake and Mickie Mueller, you’re in good hands. 

My Bookmarks Are Featured as Part of Forbes Valentine’s Day Gift Guide

Sometimes you get lucky. The stars align and you catch a break. There are a few times in life when things seem to fall in place. Finding a job that seems tailor made for me. Being featured on the American Dirt episode of Oprah’s Book Club on AppleTV+. Starting this blog. This has always been a pursuit of nothing more than happiness doing what I love.

I posted a picture of my Bookshelf Bookmark in a Facebook group and it took off! Getting over a 1,000 likes within a few hours. In the process, it caught the eye of Lois Alter Mark, a travel writer for Forbes who included them in their Valentine’s Day Gift Guide. By the end of the night these bookmarks that I created out of my joy of reading and creating things that other readers might like went from something I was able to sell to a few friends to a hot commodity in the book community.

I am beyond humbled and find myself still pinching my arm questioning reality. Starting this blog, my “bookstagram” account, or Facebook page has never been about getting massive amounts of followers or scoring big endorsement deals. Both of those would be great, don’t get me wrong! It’s always been about putting things that I love out there.

I’m lucky that publishers send me books for social media spotlights and reviews. I get the amazing opportunity to create an awesome photo that I hope does the book justice and be apart of welcoming a new book into the world. That’s it! That’s what it’s all about. Thank you for being a part of this journey with me and I’m looking forward to creating new items and embarking on new experiences.

Oh, the places you’ll go!

Dr. Seuess

Addie LaRue is Astonishing Lyrical and a Must Read

Last month I read an astonishing 16 books! This month I started October by reading a very highly anticipated book from V.E. Schwab, The Invisible Life of Addie LaRue. Immediately enamored by her prose and the poetic cadence of her writing, I knew this was a book I wanted to slow down and savor. Circe by Madeline Miller became one of my favorite books because of how beautiful the writing was and a captivating story. Circe is rivaled by Addie. 

In 1714, Addie LaRue, desperate to not enter a life of marital servitude, called upon a god, any god that would answer. Not heading the advice she’s always been given to “never pray to the gods that answer after dark.” 

Addie is forced to live as long as she wants but is cursed by being forgotten by anyone she meets the moment they look away. She cannot speak her name, write, or make any other impression on the world around her. 

She can go without food (she will not wither). She can go without heat (the cold will not kill her). But a life without art, without wonder, without beautiful things – she would go mad. She has gone mad. What she needs are stories. . . . Books, she had found, are a way to live a thousand lives – or to find strength in a very long one.

The Invisible Life of Addie LaRue, Chapter VI

This story switches back and forth in time until 2014 when she meets a man who utters three words she thought she’d never hear again. “I remember you.”

This book is historical fiction, a love story, with a touch of fantasy. I adored Addie LaRue and I think you will too. Please, go to your local indie bookstore and buy a copy of this lyrical novel. It’s perfect for these upcoming fall nights. 

A huge thank you to my friends at Tor Books for sending me a copy of this beautiful novel!

When These Mountains Burn by David Joy Deserves an Oscar

I listened to the audiobook of When These Mountains Burn, which was narrated by my favorite narrator, MacLeod Andrews

Everyone has authors they can depend on for a certain kind of story. I can read Nora Roberts if I’m feeling like a romance novel, Stephen King if I want something that’s going to frighten me, and Greg Iles if I want to enjoy a great Southern story. I can always depend on David Joy’s writing to be a dark, gritty, visceral story that takes place in the armpit of the South.

I discovered his writing with The Line That Held Us and since then have collected all of his books. With his newest novel, All The Mountains Burn, we follow Raymond as he goes to unimaginable measures to help his drug-addicted son who seems to be too far gone already. The book opens to him coming home to find he’s been robbed of everything that wasn’t nailed down by his son who surely pawned it all for the little bit of money that would give him.

I loved this book! I have managed to live my life with little exposure to addiction. One of the things I enjoy about reading is it gives me a lens to view other paths of life that I can’t relate to. David Joy’s amazing writing capability is so vivid that it felt as if I was sitting right next to these characters as they went to desperate measures chasing their highs and as they injected the substances into their veins. (Trigger Warning for anyone who has a hard time reading about drug abuse or usage.) If I have to catch my breath after reading a scene, that’s some damn good writing. Those scenes alone warrant a five-star review from me. Whatever the Oscar equivalent award for writing is, give it to David Joy.

If you like Greg Iles, Ace Atkins, John Hart, or Michael Farris Smith and have not read David Joy, please get this book. I follow David Joy on social media and he seems to recluse in the woods, fishing, hunting, and creating masterpieces that will disturb you and take you to the underbelly of the South where the vile and broken fester.

DON’T TURN AROUND, More Like DON’T PUT DOWN

I was so pleased when HarperCollins reached out to ask if I’d be interested in reading Jessica Barry’s new novel, Don’t Turn Around. First, I’m thrilled that publishers are able to send books again- as a reviewer, quarantine has brought a whole new level of appreciation of publishing houses. Second, her debut novel, Freefall was a phenomenal read. 

I could not put this book down. For those that read No Exit by Taylor Adams, remember that gripping edge-of-your-seat feeling you got when reading that book? Don’t Turn Around is right up there with it. 

The style of Don’t Turn Around, while fast-paced and captivating, is a bit different than books out there. There’s no build up of backstory, the novel opens with Cait, a struggling writer and  a driver with Sisters of Service, an organization that that helps when in sensitive situations while promising anonymity, picking up her client, a wife of a Texan politician who pales in the light of her husband’s stardom, Rebecca. These two strangers are destined to Albuquerque, but this journey is one that will face a myriad of challenges as they learn they have more than the will to survive in common. 

The narrative switches their route to Albuquerque, flashing back to both Cait’s and Rebecca’s life of how they ended up where we see them now. I’m personally not always a fan of that style, it can be confusing, but here it creates a sense of mystery and is very alluring. 

I read the book without reading too much of the description and I think it made the reading experience even better. So I’m not going to mention a lot of the plot here, because I think this is just one of those books that I want to shove in your hands and implore you to just read it and come talk to me when you’re done. 

If You’re From a Small Town, You Have to Read THE OPERATOR

The Operator by Gretchen Berg takes place in Wooster, Ohio in the early 1950s. It follows the story of Vivian Dalton, an operator who has a tendency to listen in on conversations as she connects them. When she overhears something that will change her world, there’s no turning back. 

The town I call home wouldn’t be the town it is today if it weren’t for a telecommunications company that was founded here. A lot of the history I know about the town I learned from someone who used to work as the operator at the company. (Full disclosure: she swore she never listened in on conversations.) The photo featured on this post is taken at my local museum where the original switchboards are on display. 

The dynamic of the Ohio town was so relatable and that made this book very enjoyable. I read it aloud with my partner and soon we found ourselves making references to the book, like when Ben emphasized that he “knew people.” 

The characters in this book were so real to me and I typically always had someone I had in mind who reminded me of someone from my rural Arkansas town. This is definitely a book where you grab a cup of coffee and get cozy for a wholesome read. This is a story about a small-town family, the secrets they can harbor, the depths some people go to find out the truth, and the wide-spreading gossip of a small town.

A huge thank you to William Morrow for sending me a copy of this book. I would recommend this book if you enjoyed The Help or authors like Elizabeth Strout or Anne Tyler. 

Featured on Oprah’s Book Club American Dirt Episode

Several months ago now, I read American Dirt by Jeanine Cummins that opened my eyes to the struggles some people face to come to America. Seeing the news about immigrants being denied asylum or held in camps was frustrating and I felt powerless. I also felt detached, their walk of life was so different than my own that I simply couldn’t relate. American Dirt opened my eyes and made the situation so much more visceral. As soon as Oprah picked it I was so excited! ⠀

What I didn’t see happening was the backlash this book would receive. I wondered if people read the same harrowing story I did, because if so, it was nothing but compassionate and inspiring.

Someone with Oprah’s team called me to ask more questions on how I felt about the book and I’m beyond honored to share that around the 4:44 timestamp of her latest Oprah’s Bookclub episode on AppleTV+, you’ll hear me recommending this book to others. It’s a hot two seconds of glory, but it’s more than I ever dreamed possible.

The book review and “bookstagram” community has lead to so many opportunities and enjoyment for me. I’m continuously humbled by opportunities like this or someone commenting letting me know they appreciate my reviews which lead them to read the book themselves. I love connecting to other readers that share this love of reading, so thank you!

American Dirt is the Wake Up Call We Need

5 stars that sparks a much needed conversation!

“On this side too, there are dreams.” This powerful sentiment really illustrated what American Dirt  by Jeanine Cummins is about. This is one of the most powerful stories I’ve read in a while. It’s about something that a lot of us as Americans really can’t relate to, yet some of us harbor some really strong assumptions about. 

Immigration and wall-building has been a hot topic for a while now. But when it comes down to it, we have no clue what some people suffer, what they have to endure and overcome to get here. 

American Dirt tells the story of Lydia and her son Luca. Their entire family has gathered to celebrate a quinceañera with laughter and good food. The story opens with this celebration turning to tragedy when the cartel arrives and murders the entire family, except for Lydia and Luca who managed to remain undetected in the bathroom. 

The level of loss and grief is hard to imagine. Being able to function and realize the grave sense of danger Lydia and her son are in is unfathomable, but Lydia jumps into action. She gathers up all she can and heads off, desperately clawing her way to the only hope of safety, el Norte

This book is a wake up call, it’s a call to action that can’t be ignored. This book follows the daunting and miraculous journey to America. It’s not without great risk and overcoming the greatest obstacles and sacrifices they have ever imagined. 

I am so glad that this book was chosen as Oprah’s Book Club selection. Oprah has a track record of selecting books that demand our attention and she’s couldn’t have selected a better book for right now. Please, go to your local bookstore, go to LibroFM and get the audiobook, anything you have to do to get your hands on this book. Stephen King “[defied] anyone to read the first seven pages of this book and not finish it.” If Oprah’s endorsement wasn’t enough, surely Stephen King’s can get your attention. 

I want to thank Flatiron Books and LibroFM for providing me an advanced copy of American Dirt. I’ve been looking forward to it’s publication day so I can sing its praises to everyone!