Tag: fiction

Review: Hand of Fate, by Dotti Enderle

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Hand of Fate: The Fortune Tellers Club, Book 4, Dotti Enderle
Llewellyn Worldwide, 0738703907, 144 pp., 2004

The adventures of the Fortune Teller’s Club continue in this fourth installment of the series for middle (junior high school) girls aged 8-12. Anne, Gena, and Juniper once again find their gifts being called into play.

Anne has her plans all set. She is going to Cheer Camp, where she is going to be the first seventh-grader to win Cheerleader of the Year. She can visualize the trophy perfectly. Then a freak accident throws those plans into wild disarray.

Once again the girls step outside the boundaries of traditional divination. They create a new divination tool – a Hand of Fate. This consists of a latex glove, filled with birdseed, and marked with coloured lines, each one of which is labelled. Using it is simple. Ask a question, flip a coin up and onto the hand. Where it lands gives you your answer. Unconventional? Sure, but like most of these creations, this one opens new doorways.

This series isn’t about Pagans, nor is it about magick. It is about youngsters taking control of their lives and not succumbing to peer pressure. It is about young ladies learning to trust their instincts, while still using common sense. The plot lines aren’t deep and mysterious. They are, however, filled with inspiration for young folks. They show it is possible to be “different” yet still live a normal life.

The writing style is crisp, and the stories move along nicely, both within the individual books and within the series as a whole. Each story sees the girls developing a bit more, They are still teenage girls, however. They still have problems with classmates, and crushes on boys. However, these are girls who have an extra component in their lives.

As in the other books in this series (The Lost Girl, Playing with Fire, The Magic Shades, and Secret of Lost Arrow) the girls experiment with more than one form of divination. They use a séance to answer Anne’s questions about why she was prevented from going to Cheer Camp. The answers don’t really seem to answer her questions at the time.

None of the girls has been trained in the mechanics of a séance. In fact, they haven’t been trained in any of the divinatory arts they use. They simply make it up as they go along (that’s the secret to being a good diviner, anyhow). They know what they have heard, and seen in movies, but they are willing to experiment, and that is what works for them.

There are plenty of unexpected twists and turns in this book. It will hold the interest of the young reader for sure. What secret does Anne discover while trying to get her horoscope done on the internet? How is she connected to a young woman who died? The answers are here, even if they are unexpected.

This is a fun book for the pre- and early-teen group. You don’t need to have read the previous books to enjoy it, but you will probably want to pick them up after reading this one.

And you will probably look forward to the next one in the series (Mirror, Mirror). At $4.99 each they are inexpensive, short enough to be read in a day or so, and contain some good ideas.

They are not great literature, but they are fun to read.

Review: The Magic Shades, by Dotti Enderle

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The Magic Shades: The Fortune Tellers Club, Book 3, by Dotti Enderle
Llewellyn Worldwide, 0738703419, 135 pp. (+ preview), 2003

In this third instalment of the Fortune Tellers Club series, juvenile misadventures continue. The girls are still dealing with their “arch enemies” Beth and Nicole (or as the Club calls them “the Snotty Twins”), who continue to torment them because of their interest in divination.

This time around Gena buys a pair of sunglasses (“the most hideous creation ever invented”, a cording to Juniper) at a discount store, which apparently allow her to foresee future events. She can see the future. Unfortunately, she lacks the experience and maturity to understand what she is seeing. She has a tendency to misinterpret what she sees and to over-react to what she believes the images mean.

On top of that, her father (a widower for most of her life) is turning traitor – he is starting to show an interest in another woman – HOW DARE HE?! And how dare another woman try to take away her father? She must have put him under some kind of spell.

And then the unimaginable happens. Her father is revealed as all to human and Rachel (the new woman on the scene) is revealed to be a loving, caring person, with a surprise or two up her sleeve.

There are more books to come in this series and, while it is most definitely not a classic series, neither is a “See Spot run” series. They are inexpensive enough to be a good, spur-of-the-moment gift for the pre- or early-teen in you life who is looking for some fun reading. I definitely recommend them.

Playing with Fire, by Dotti Enderle

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Playing With Fire: The Fortune Tellers Club, Book 2, by Dotti Enderle Llewellyn Worldwide, 0738703400, 140 pp (+ preview), 2003The adventures of the Fortune Tellers Club continue. School has started up again, so there is less time to agonize over the typical teen problems. Of course now there is homework to worry about - and boys.Anne finds herself falling for the new boy at school, Eric. He is the new quarterback on the middle school football team and she is on the cheer squad. Of course, every other girl on the cheer squad has their eyes on him as well. Read More

Review: The Lost Girl, by Dotti Enderle

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The Lost Girl: The Fortune Tellers Club, Book 1, by Dotti Enderle
Llewellyn Worldwide, 0738702536, 125 pp. (+ preview), 2002

This is a series intended for the middle school crowd. It is light in tone and although some parts might be considered “spooky” there is nothing terribly frightening or threatening.

Three young girls (Juniper [whose mother reads tea leaves], Gena, and Anne) each use their growing, individual talents to help each other in their times of difficulty. It is reminiscent, in a lower key way, of the “Witches Night Out” series by Silver RavenWolf.

As with any group of young folks, there is the popular one (Anne), the quiet one (Gena) and the “odd” one (Juniper). This leads to the various kids taking the lead in various circumstances.

The books are easy to read, not at all preachy, and fun. They illustrate a variety of divination techniques from the very simple (the Magic 8 Ball) to the more traditional (Tarot, scrying, and tea leaves).

This first book deals with every parent’s worst nightmare – a young child missing. The three members of the Fortune Tellers Club don’t start out to find the youngster (Laurie Simmons). Instead they are looking for Gena’s lost retainer.

Juniper, being the “experienced” one of the group, feels the call to help locate Laurie. When none of her usual methods (scrying and Tarot) work, she resorts to trying new methods – in this case, psychometry. She becomes so focused on finding Laurie that she dreams of her.

Add to the psychic confusion the turmoil and angst which is so much a part of the pre- and early-teen years (especially during the summer when there are more hours to agonize over such) and you have a story which any youngster can identify with.

Review: The Book of Wizardry, by Cornelius Rumstuckle

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The Book of Wizardry: The Apprentice’s Guide to the Secrets of the Wizards’ Guild, by Cornelius Rumstuckle
Llewellyn Worldwide, 0738701653, 325 pp., 2003

This book presents it self somewhat confusingly. On the back of the book the category indicates it as fiction, yet inside it describes itself as ‘positively not fiction’. It might be more accurate to say it’s a bit of both. As it is, the book is comprised of two parts, the first deals mostly with magickal theory and simple exercises (mostly non-fiction), the second a game (fiction, though it repeatedly claims not to be).

The first part includes twenty-two short sections on magickal topics with practical exercises describing how to make simple tools and use them with simple techniques – and as an added bonus, he manages to do this without including any religious elements that usually pervade introductory books of this sort. The practical exercises given are generally quite good, and will prove useful to the budding trainee wizard.

However, Rumstuckle’s advice regarding ritual tools is somewhat shaky. He sensibly substitutes a feathered wand for a knife or dagger – rather dangerous weapons in the hands of a minor. Yet his advice regarding making a wand out of cardboard that I find most bizarre – if you’re going to go to the trouble of having ritual tools, make them of substantial quality – eight year old or not, use a real stick. I’m not sure how serious anyone would feel waving around a cardboard roll.

The exercises given for charging and purifying aren’t bad, but there is a ridiculous sense of dependence on the tools, indeed he states that any elemental ritual cannot be done without them – in my experience, I have not found this to be the case.

The second part of the book is written in a ‘choose your own adventure’ style game where you use the practical advice and lessons taught in the previous twenty-one chapters to arrive at a coded message, instructing you to mail and request further lessons.

While the practical section is quite good, I’m not impressed with the fabricated history surrounding the lessons and the author – the exercises can stand alone without it. Indeed, much of the information contained within resonates with popular occult theory, and tables of correspondence are taken from such sources as Eliphas Levi and actual recognized occult authors. I understand that falsifying is supposed to add to the mystique and it’s supposed to be a clever marketing tool cashing in on the Harry Potter craze, but it takes away from the true validity and practicality of the book, which is a shame.

It’s not a terrible introduction to the basics of the magickal arts for the group its aimed at, but it’s not the best it could have been either. ‘Rumstuckle’s’ falsification of history and lineage and his insistence on its importance makes this book simply sound phoney – had the information been presented in a more honest manner it might have been more suitable for recommendation, as it is, I’m sorry to say I don’t find it to be so.

Review: From the Ashes, by Meghan Brunner

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From the Ashes, by Meghan Brunner
First Books, 0759681708, 544 pages (+ glossary and character listing), 2002

Although I’m not a Ren Faire goer myself, being chronically cash-strapped, this book rang very true for me. The differences between a week-long Pagan gathering and a Ren Faire are not that great. I felt, immediately, like I knew these characters.

There were minor typographical errors (missing words, some irregular spacing, and such) but nothing major enough to detract from my enjoyment of Meghan’s crisp and vivid writing style.

By the time I was a quarter of the way through the book I had one major regret – that I only had another 390 pages to go. I already knew that I was going to want more (which is why I am glad to see that this is only the start of a series).

The characters are very vivid and have rapidly become like members of my extended family. I will miss them while I wait for the next instalment in this wonderful series of books.

This is not a children’s fantasy book. It is set firmly in the real world and deals with real-life issues such as sexuality, jealousy, power trips and more. It is not blatantly sexual, but it does not shy away from the topic either.

Although it has Pagan/magickal themes running through it, it is a book, and a series, which should be thoroughly enjoyed by a wide cross section of readers. One does not need a working knowledge of Paganism or magick to understand it. More mundane readers will simply enjoy the stories of personal interaction and growth which a major part of this wonderful book.

The development of characters and plot-lines is very smooth and vivid, and makes the images come alive. I have seldom read a book where I developed an understanding and empathy for the characters as quickly as I did with these people.

Ryna and Phoenix are meant for each other, but neither is sure the other shares those feelings. In the manner of all lovers, they stumble through the opening phases of what each hopes will be a life-long commitment. They brave dangers for each other, often from a single enemy shared though the centuries. They find happiness, share the fear of loss, and find themselves part of a family which offers love and support unconditionally – something Phoenix has looked for all her life. Along the way, as often happens with lovers, they spread their happiness through their circle of friends and acquaintances unconsciously.

Not to give away secrets or spoil anything, I must say that the “initiation” ceremony near the end of the book is profoundly moving, and I wish I could have taken part in it myself.

If you want a fun read, something to take your mind off day-to-day mundania, the price of this book is money well spent. On top of that, the book is available in a variety of formats (Electronic – ISBN 0-7596-8169-4; Rocket – ISBN 0-7596-8172-4; Softcover ISBN 0-7596-8170-8; and Hardcover ISBN 0-7596-8171-6). So, choose how you want the book, then go to www.1stbooks.com and order your copy today.

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