October’s SONIC CHIHUAHUA

Folks, this past month at school has been BUSY to the point of migraines, but we’re on the happy downswing now, and I’m pleased to announce that this month’s issue of Sonic Chihuahua is finally ready to go! Yay!

Also, marvelous news: my work has been accepted into Zine Fest Houston’s next event in November! I hope you’ll come out and see me and my work in person. It’s my first time to this event and it will be fun to meet other zinesters and see their work! Click the link to get all the details.

I’ve decided to make a challenge, too: if we get to 100 paying subscribers a month, I’ll start publishing brand-new fiction in the zine just for its readers. (As Dr. Stone says, “Get excited!”)

Finally, if you want a copy of the October issue of SC, do let me know in the comments. (Subscribers, yours is going in the mail to you this week.)

Witchy Weekends: Review of WITCH PLEASE by Ann Aguirre

Witch Please by Ann Aguirre is an entertaining paranormal rom-com that nibbles at some important social issues without treading into heavy-handed territory.

Danica Waterhouse lives with her first cousin Clementine in a small midwestern town. They own a fix-it shop and perform technomancy, a form of magic that repairs broken gadgets, appliances, and electronics, for their fellow townspeople. The catch, though, is that they can’t let anyone know they’re using actual magic, because for one thing, they can’t let people know that witches (the actual magical kind who have metaphysical powers) are real, and for another, they don’t want to bring witch hunters onto themselves and their coven. (Or, as they like to call themselves, their “book club.”)

The challenge comes in when Danica meets Titus, a mundane (i.e. not a witch), and they have instant romantic chemistry. And since this book is firmly in the romance genre, working out whether they’ll end up together is most of the plot. But the journey through that plot is pretty fun.

I won’t lie, this book feels like a confection sometimes, and not just because Titus is a supremely talented baker. But Witch Please does begin to explore deeper issues, too, including real-life dangers and prejudices against pagans, bigotry rooted in fear, emotional manipulation within families, and the importance of ride-or-die friendships against the pull of one’s heart.

Other reviews online have made some valid points about some of this book’s features and quirks that are not satisfying for every reader, particularly Titus’ arguably underdeveloped bisexuality and the question of whether the varying gray shades of honesty within their relationship would work well in the real world.

The second book in this series focuses on Clem, and the foundation of her storyline is significantly developed, dovetailing quite nicely with Danica’s in this first book. I haven’t read the second one yet, but since I generally enjoyed Witch Please, at some point I’m sure I probably will.

What fun witchy books have you read? Or entertaining romances? Tell us in the comments!

Witchy Weekends: Review of Deborah Blake’s New Book

I encountered this book when Alethea Kontis recommended it on her #FriendlyFridays series, and since I’m fascinated by spellbooks as cultural artifacts, I checked it out. While it was published earlier this year, it took several weeks to arrive after the presumed release date due to the supply chain woes currently hampering the book industry (as well as most other industries right now). But it was definitely worth the wait; this is a fun one!

The Eclectic Witch’s Book of Shadows by Deborah Blake is part grimoire, part journal, part recipe collection, and part friendly encyclopedia. It is both practical and entertaining, with a wealth of competent knowledge that any practitioner from New Age to hobbyist to pagan can find real value in. It also contains ample space for the reader to add plenty of their own knowledge and experience to make this a truly personal book of shadows.

This cover art gives you a good idea of what the interior illustrations look like.

The sections included in this book include herbs, stones, candles, magical recipes, divination, gods and goddesses, invocations and quarter calls, spells, rituals, recipes, and correspondences. It doesn’t take itself too seriously and yet radiates respectful kindness of the faith practices (and to some extent psychology) of a healthy swath of the population.

This book contains charming and colorful illustrations by Mickie Mueller, the kind that give off a peaceful and cheerful vibe. This is not the sort of book conspicuous Goths like Azrael Abyss and Circe Nightshade (from SNL’s Goth Talk, ca. 1997-2000) would gravitate toward, but a useful and fun book that could be appreciated by a young or new practitioner and an experienced one and everyone in between — as well as those who, like me, find this genre of literature interesting for its peek into another worldview.

Witchy Earworm: INTO THE WOODS

Hello! We’re having a long weekend here, so my days are a little disorganized and I have a ton of work to do for school, and I’m therefore combining this (long) weekend’s Witchy Weekends post with today’s Monday Earworm. But you get two delightful items in one blog post, so that’s something, right?

Here are two of my favorite selections, sung primarily by The Witch, from the musical Into the Woods, written by Stephen Sondheim and James Lapine.

Fun fact: I have only a handful of musicals on the list of musicals I like. Into the Woods used to be my favorite, until Hamilton came along, and now that one is my favorite, but ITW is still definitely on the list.

The first song is the Witch’s Rap from the first act, and the second one is “Your Fault / Last Midnight” from the second act. I love them both for how beautifully they convey the complicated multiple facets of The Witch — not only in this play, but also in the rich pageant of literature and literary archetypes. (Maybe more on that later. We’ll see.)

A lot of amazing people have played The Witch in this musical. I’ve included here the original, Bernadette Peters, who is an icon and a legend to be sure. But Meryl Streep, Vanessa Williams, Hannah Waddingham, and countless others have rocked this character onstage (and perhaps also in film?). Who is your favorite? Tell us in the comments below, and feel free to link to a video of your favorite performance, too!

And the second one…

 

Monday Earworm: Ed Sheeran

I don’t even really know what to say about this video. It’s…just bizarre. And not in an entirely compelling way, either, but it’s the Hallowe’en season, so we’ll allow it.

I like the song a lot, though, because I love to dance. And it did successfully eject the Hamilton soundtrack out of my head after I watched that musical last week with my Creative Writing classes and could not otherwise dislodge Miranda’s abject genius.

This is definitely something different from that.

Witchy Weekends: Holiday Decor

Welcome to October and the return of Witchy Weekends! Thank you to everyone who voted in the poll last month to help me curate this year’s series. Turns out the votes were all over the place! So a seasonal smorgasbord it is…

This weekend I’m posting a book spine poem I created while I was decorating my house for Hallowe’en. So far only the library is done — okay, mostly done — but I will get to the outside of the house in the very near future; I just want the heavy rains to be finished for a while first. (I also have a mountain of papers to grade and report card comments to write this week, so…)

One of my favorite things about book spine poetry is that it illustrates the versatility and importance of punctuation. (Yes, I’m a grammar geek.) Similarly to grammar, punctuation is architecture: it gives our sentences structure. Book spine poems are just a bunch of seemingly unrelated or random words — until you add punctuation in there and create a story.

Enjoy!

The tale of Murasaki:
Cleopatra’s daughter,
witches of east end,
the lust lizard of Melancholy Cove,
tea,
Arabian nights.
Spoiler alert:
any rogue will do.
And for a bonus, here’s the rest of this year’s mantel.