by Melanie Marquis
I liked that the series introduction acknowledges the differences in the northern and southern hemispheres and how they fit into the wheel of the year. There's some really good comments about various beliefs in entities that made me expect good things from the book.
This book is well researched, but a little dry and academic. Sometimes it feels like a list of historical information bytes. Before I read the author's history in the back, I had no sense of her having any personal experience or connection to ritual.
She seems unaware that traditions like Morris dancing are still widely practiced in England and much of the information was very much from an American perspective, especially the 'denominations' of Paganism that might practice Beltane. What I found most 'off' in this section was the explanation of Eclectic Witchcraft, which the author seems to connect specifically with sex magick. In my experience, sex magick is more often practiced by magicians and Eclectic Wicca is just a name for those who borrow rituals and traditions from a variety of sources.
There's a section on festivals, but none of the really well-known ones like Starwood seem to have been included.
This seems to be directed mainly at beginners. There are a few simple rituals, which are pretty elementary, and there is a section on recipes and crafts. No traditional Honey Cakes, but the 'Sun cakes', which are basically orange cookies, sound nice. There are instructions for wand and crown decorating that many may find useful.
There's a section called Prayers and Invocations which provides some rituals of celebration, but they put too much emphasis on deity for my personal taste. Also given are Correspondences for Beltane, which is basically a collection of lists.
Further reading is also suggested, which included material from Ron Hutton which I would certainly recommend.
by Samuel S. Marquis
The introduction to this got me excited because a lot of historical information was consulted by the author that shows Blackbeard very differently than pop culture has painted him and among the sources was David Cordingly, who wrote one of the best non-fiction books about pirates I've ever read.
Having established that the author did his research, this is presented as Historical Fiction so I was prepared to settle back and enjoy a good pirate story, but secure in the knowledge that it was based on facts as far as they are known. The one problem was that a lot of those facts were shoehorned in and made the flow of the story a little awkward.
Still, Blackbeard comes over as a mostly sympathetic character. The early chapters read more like a history book than historical fiction, but I did get caught up in the story a few chapters in. The events and chance meetings that led Edward Thache to turn from honest naval service to piracy are put into context in a way that demonstrates that he had little choice, as so many characters from history have found themselves on the wrong side of the law through circumstances of their times.
I enjoyed getting a look inside the sequence of events that actually happened and how Thache morphed into the pirate Blackbeard and obtained the Queen Anne's Revenge. With historical fiction about real people, you already know how it ends. It's reading about the sequence of events that lead up to what history tells us that makes it interesting and I came out of this feeling real sympathy for Blackbeard and his reasons for turning pirate, not least of all because he preferred taking his prizes without hurting anyone when he could.
Abandoned & Protected: The Marquis' Tenacious Wife is a phenomenal historical romance by Bree Wolf. Ms. Wolf has once again impressed me with her story-telling abilities. Abandoned & Protected is a well-written book furnished with a stellar cast of characters. Five-year-old Henrietta is in the home when her abusive father murders her mother and then himself. Connor is the future Marquis of Rodridge and the new chief of clan Brunwood and meets Henrietta on his way to London to claim his father's titles. Connor and Henrietta's story is packed with everything a historical romance should have, drama, action, humor, steamy sex and suspense. I loved this book from cover to cover and look forward to my next book by Bree Wolf. Abandoned & Protected is book 4 of the Love's Second Chance Series but can be read as a standalone. This is a complete book, not a cliff-hanger.