Mike Gleason


Honoring the Sacred Earth by Rev. David P. Smith © 2010 Dreamz-Work ISBN: 978-0-9825531-9-0 Paperback 205 Pages $15.95 (U.S.)

This is a non-denominational spiritual development book written by a Druid priest. Rev. Smith provides some insightful quotations, some guided meditations, and some prayers to help the reader's attunement to the forces of the world in all their glory.

The major value of this work is its non-denominational approach. Unfortunately, the English language lacks a 'value neutral' word for the force behind the universe ' Creator, God, Deity, Divinity, and Creative Force all come with their own baggage and preconceptions attached and therefore Rev. Smith's choice to use 'God' will probably offend some readers. Try to move beyond that, however, and hear what is truly being said.

Naturally (considering the author's neo-Pagan, Druid orientation), he places a larger emphasis on seasonal observances than others might, but certain biases are to be expected on the part of each individual. As he tells the reader 'Take what you will from these pages and leave the rest.' And 'Do what feels right to you and what fits with your personal belief system.' Regardless what your personal religious orientation (if any) there is inspiration to be found in these pages.

Rev. Smith's inspirations are pleasingly diverse, from Chinese philosophy (Lau Tzu), to environmental (John Muir); from Western religion (The King James Bible) to Oriental religo0n (The Bagavad Gita); and the inspirational (The Ultimate Happiness Prescription by Deepak Chopra) to the practical (It's Easy Being Green by Chrissy Trask). Add in a few ideas from his Holiness the Dalai Lama and you have a rich cultural and environmental stew.

While this is an enjoyable, easy-to-read book, there is nothing particularly new or revelatory in it. Everything here has been said before in any number of self-help books published in the last half-century. Its utility lies in its compiling of numerous approaches into a single source. It is an excellent value for the price and, with its non-denominational approach; it should be usable by anyone looking for inspiration in their quest for Spiritual awakening.

Werewolf Smackdown by Mario Acevedo © 2010 EUS Books (a division of Harper Collins) ISBN 978-0-06-156718-6 Paperback 406 pages $14.99 (U.S.)

I really hate starting reviews part of the way into a series. As soon as I can scrape together some spare cash I intend to pick up the first four books in this series (Jailbait Zombie, The Undead Kama Sutra, X Rated Bloodsuckers, and The Nymphos of Rocky Flats).

How effective can a vampire detective be' I mean, after all, there's that whole 'daylight bad' thing. But there are ways around it if you are resourceful.

But back to the book ' why would a werewolf want to hire a vampire' It's not as if weres and bloodsuckers are BFF. In fact, there is a tacit agreement to stay out of each other's business. They also agree to keep the Great Secret (that the supernatural exists and that the denizens thereof walk among the masses of humanity), but that is a matter of self-preservation ' there are a lot more humans than others around.

There is an undercurrent of eroticism in this book. There is nothing too blatant, although some readers may find some scenes a little strong for their tastes. This is definitely an adult novel, and there are no apologizes for that.

It is well-written, draws together a variety of themes, and makes the images come clear. Felix Gomez, the vampire P.I. is a recently turned vampire (Iraq war scenario) and still has enough humanity that you can empathize with him as he suffers through what has to be a week from hell, in one of the most beautiful cities in the U.S. (Charleston). Attempts on his life, and impending war between werewolf clans, the loss of an ex-lover (and dryad) ' not the kind of week he had anticipated.

As the novel ends, Felix finds that his luck remains consistent ' lousy. You know he will make it through and tackle whatever else comes his way.


The Crystal of Light by Catherine Anne Collins © 2009 Wings ePress ISBN: 978-1597056526 Paperback 413 pages $18.95 (U.S.)

Ms. Collins starts this book with an unusual premise ' the land of fairie is endangered. No, that's not the unusual feature, the cause of the danger, however, is. Interracial battles are to be expected, after all goblins and fairies tend to disagree about most things. It's the other danger which no one has previously considered (to the best of my knowledge) ' inbreeding. When you have a relatively small and stable population, everyone tends to be related to at least some degree, and that is not a biologically good thing.

She shows a fine regard for the interplay of races, changing attitudes, and deceptions (for good and evil) which comprise a feudal way of life. There were a few plot twists which, upon their introduction, seemed almost pre-ordained (the relationship between the King and the Prophetess, for example), but this in no way diminishes their impact. The relationship, on the other hand, between the goblin king and the fairie king was not what I expected.

Although Ms. Collins follows no earth-based path personally, she has done her homework, and conveys an understanding of them. Obviously, her portrayal of life in the fairie realms is one of conflicts, much like life in the human world. The added burden of long live3s leads many to a reluctance to accept change. This is not a compelling, page turner of a novel. The scenarios, like life in fairie, takes time to develop, and are all the more believable because of the pacing.

While it is no Lord of the Rings (what is'), it is well-written (with only a few typos) and interesting. The second half is far more centered on action and benefits from the background developed in the first half. There are sub-plots a plenty, but no confusion results from this abundance. It is not a hodge-podge, but a well-crafted stew with plenty of savory bits to keep you from becoming complacent as you read.

A Witch's Lament by Catherine Anne Collins © 2009 Crescent Moon ISBN: 978-0-981848471 Paperback 268 pages $14.99 (U.S.)


Confession time ' I requested this book for purely selfish reasons ' I reside in the next town over from Salem and always like to see how that city is portrayed in novels. I like the fact that Ms. Collins made the effort to actually visit Salem and talk to local residents rather than simply relying on images and imagination.

Of course, this is a novel so imagination plays a big part in the story and the descriptions are not exact, but that makes it all the more enjoyable. Part of the fun (at least on the most superficial level) of reading about an area you know is trying to find the inspiration for the places and people portrayed.

I find a few simple errors early on in the book, one of which should have been caught (Phips was governor of Massachusetts Colony, not of Salem); another less likely to be caught ('Harm none, do as ye will. Be ever mindful of the Rule of Three'' could not date to the 17th century, as it wasn't written until the mid-20th century). Describing the practices of 17th century witches as 'the nature-based belief of Wicca' is also inappropriate. But, as I said in an earlier review, the purpose of a novel is to entertain, not educate.

Skye Temple has bought a house in Salem, Massachusetts. The house is reputedly haunted. A murder occurred there 30 years ago which increased the unease associated with the house. The murder victim's son, now a Salem police officer and a non-practicing (unaware) Witch is the one to discover his mother's skeleton and all of that is before things start to get interesting.

Is this story reality' ' Not by any means. Is it possible' It is more than possible. The particulars are fiction, but they have played out thousands of time and in myriad places. People allow themselves to be subverted by desires of power every day. People are killed for apparently senseless reasons all the time. Crimes are covered up and come to light through unexpected means.

This book is fun to read and could set things up for a sequel or two, if the author wants to pursue it.