Wednesday, March 14, 2018


Tarot Fundamentals, Giordano Berti, Tali Goodwin, Sasha Graham, Marcus Katz, Mark McElroy, Riccardo Minetti, Barbara Moore, Lo Scarabeo, Torino, Italy, 2015, 640pp, $39.95.
Tarot Fundamentals

Wow. This is a beautiful hard-cover book that any beginning tarot student will love. A variety of decks are used to illustrate the meanings, so no matter what deck you use, you’re likely to find yours represented.
        When I first received it for review, I leafed through and was thrilled that each card is presented with detailed information in one place, which means no flipping through the book to find what you want. You’ll find: Picture of the card (from various decks); Keywords giving insight into the meaning; Description, explaining the symbols; Lesson with insight into how the card can teach you more about yourself, how you relate to others and how you look at the world; Interpretations, both upright and reversed; Physical Persona – what a person represented by this card might look like and what occupation they might hold; Alternate names (different decks can use different names); Archetypes; and much more!
        The sections are easy to use, and the ribbon bookmark helps keep your place. You’ll learn about both arcana and how to read tarot. I must say, the section on readings is very good, giving several spreads and teaching how to read for yourself.
        I like the section on “Techniques”, which gets into more depth when reading tarot. What kinds of readings are there? (Hint: intuitive, symbolic) What do you do about negative cards? What does it mean to “balance” a reading? Some intermediate readers I know need to read this section.
        If you’re interested in the history of tarot, you’ll find that section fascinating.
        This is a great book for beginners, and a good review for those more experienced.
        Are there any minuses? Yes, as there are with any book. I noticed that some of the cards depicted didn’t match the description, which can be a bit confusing, especially to people not familiar with the cards. I also found quite a lot of typos. I would recommend some serious proof-reading for future editions or any further books in a series.
        Bottom line: is it worth $39.95, and will you learn from it? Definitely!
- Ken Lee


The Art and Science of Hand Reading – Classical Methods for Self-Discovery through Palmistry, Ellen Goldberg and Dorian Bergen, Destiny Books, Rochester, VT, 2016, 532pp, $35.00.
The Art and Science of Hand Reading: Classical Methods for Self-Discovery through Palmistry

The Art and Science of Hand Reading is better than any palmistry course I’ve ever taken and any book on the subject I’ve read. It teaches how to look at the entire hand and combine what you see: What is the texture of the skin? Is the hand flexible or stiff? Is there hair on the hands? What about the fingernails—are they cracked and brittle; ridged or smooth? Are there spots under the nails? Are the fingers evenly spaced, twisted, bent? What does the length of the fingers indicate? What do the fingerprints have to say?
        Oh, yes! This is an incredible book. The amount of information is staggering, and there’s enough detail to answer any questions you might have. Drawings and photos make it so easy to understand what the text explains. Most palmistry books have drawings; few have such great photos. What I found particularly helpful were drawings beside photos of hand prints, showing exactly what the authors were talking about. To see the drawing was nice, but to see it reflected in the hand print explained it so much better.
        I’ve been confused about the mounts, which are the pads of flesh that rise up from the palm. I’d look at my hand and say, “Okay, so how do I judge my mounts?” Not to worry with The Art and Science of Hand Reading. Chapter 4 goes into great detail and includes lots of photos. The following chapters each cover a mount.
        When we get to the lines, there is more than just the technical “this is the Life Line”. Goldberg and Bergen write about Karmic Debt, quality of the Life Line, factors that help determine life span, and more. Do you know, for example, that “defects” in the Life Line “refer either to illnesses or periods of difficulty”? Has a defect in your Life Line been repaired? Yes, lines can change. How will that affect you? There is this much detail on every mount, line, fingernail—every part of the hand.
        Do you know that there are more than just Head, Heart, and Life lines on your hands? The Line of Intuition will indicate how intuitive and imaginative you are. Many books go into great detail about Lines of Affection (is a person attracted to family life?) and Children Lines (how many will you have?). Goldberg and Bergen explain that, though “all markings in the hand have been found to be reliable” these lines “are not very reliable”. They are included with warnings if you’re going to mention them in a palm reading for someone. I was once told I would have four children; I have none.
        Goldberg and Bergen explain how to compare right hand and left hand; how to determine timing of events in a person’s life. They explain how to determine a hand’s element: Earth, Air, Fire or Water. They also include the “bracelets” on the wrist, which “provide information about the condition of the organs located in the abdominal cavity.”
        Do you want to read palms? By the end of The Art and Science of Hand Reading you should be ready. In the book’s Conclusion: Putting It All Together, the authors include an incredibly helpful sample work sheet and explain how to conduct a palm reading for another person.
        I would advise using The Art and Science of Hand Reading the same way Goldberg and Bergen recommend reading a palm: “…go slowly and look at each separate part.”
       One last note. Like most books, the authors tell us a bit about themselves. They also include a section titled The Hands of the Authors and How They Work Together, which truly shows how looking at the palms of two different people can tell us how they work together to enhance their work. How many authors are so willing to put themselves out there?         
      I recommend The Art and Science of Hand Reading for those who want to learn to read hands for others, for those who want to learn more about themselves, and for those curious about the subject. It’s a captivating book and you won’t be able to put it down!
- Terri Murray

Wednesday, March 7, 2018


The Power of Auras, Susan Shumsky, New Page Books, Pompton Plains, NJ, 2014, 288pp, $16.99.

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The subtitle of the book is Tap into Your Energy Field for Clarity, Peace of Mind, and Well-Being. We all know about auras, the energy fields that surround us. Some people can see the colors, and special cameras can photograph them. The question is, how can we utilize that energy?
        Dr. Shumsky uses “everyday language” to explain, which is wonderful. She explains what the aura is, and goes into detail on pranic energies, subtle body anatomy and the human energy field. The explanations help as you get into section two, where you can experience your own energy field. Yes, you can learn to see auras.
        Have you ever felt someone was like an “energy vampire”, sucking your energy? Dr. Shumsky teaches techniques to protect ourselves as well as to help heal the “psychic vampire”. Sometimes it isn’t the living who tap into our energy fields; earth-bound spirits and beings on the astral plane can negatively affect us, and there are techniques and prayers to help them as well.
        One section that helped me personally was Healing Your Mental Body. Dr. Shumsky starts the chapter by asking, “Is your mind your worst enemy?” and I can answer “Yes!” Our thoughts become reality. What do you want to manifest? Fear? Anger? Success? Joy? I found the list of Negative Thoughts and their Positive Correlates in this chapter especially helpful. For example, Agitation correlates to Serenity; Grief correlates to Comfort; Loss correlates to Wholeness; Depression correlates to Inspiration. Using Dr. Shumsky’s Universal Thought-Form, Pattern, and Belief-Structure Healing, I’ve found it easier to get back on a positive path.
        There’s so much packed into this book! I’d love to tell you every bit of it, but I think you’ll benefit more from reading and using it yourself. Use the sounds, colors, prayers, etc. to help you do just what the book says: Tap into Your Energy Field for Clarity, Peace of Mind, and Well-Being!
- Theo Singer


Strange West Virginia Monsters, Michael Newton, Schiffer Publishing, Ltd., Atglen, PA, 2015, 192pp, $16.99.
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West Virginia ranks 41st out of 50 states in size, and 38th in human population, which relates to an average of 77.1 people per square mile. Yet the state seems to rank much higher in its population of strange creatures. 
        Michael Newton does a fine job of cataloguing creatures heard, seen, captured or killed in the Appalachian Mountain state. Some tales date from before West Virginia became a state, and many are more recent, which gives cryptid-searchers hope if they’re brave enough to investigate. If you do visit, please share your stories and photos.
     Newton conveniently divides the book into nine chapters: large cats either “extinct” or foreign to North America; reptiles; werewolves, devil dogs and dogmen; flying cryptids; “white things” – believe it or not, creatures known as “Sheepsquatch”; swimming objects (including the occasional piranha), giant humanoids; hairy bipeds (Sasquatch walks on two legs, Sheepsquatch on four); and miscellaneous unnamed, unidentified creatures, or possible extraterrestrials.
     Sheepsquatch aside, what are you likely to find in West Virginia? A “large striped cat” (tiger?) was seen in Cass Scenic Railroad State Park in 1977. In 1983, Marion County fishermen reported seeing a monster “at least 20 feet long…[with] a serpent-like head and a mouth lined with razor-sharp teeth…” Primate-like (Bigfoot?) creatures were seen as late as 2013.
       In 2004, two young hunters saw “…a large [estimated at least seven feet tall] black-furred animal … [that had] a long bushy tail and pointed snout similar to a wolf … it had a foul odor … [it] stood up on its hind legs like a man … [and] walked…”
      I enjoyed reading about West Virginia’s strange monsters. Some stories were unnerving, to say the least, but what I found most unsettling is how the state’s Division of Natural Resources (DNR) can deny the existence of some of the creatures even after numerous reports and (what I’d consider) reasonable proof. In 1936, for example, even after a Smithsonian staffer confirmed that prints found in Pocahontas County had been left by a cougar, the DNR insisted there were no cougars in the state. Evidence of these “extinct” cougars surfaced as late as 2008.
       Yes, there are hoaxes, but they seem few and far between. Newton lists so many cases that, even if half were hoaxes, there are still far too many to discount. One example of a hoax: the 1933, two fishermen claimed to have been attacked by a three-foot-long octopus. Detectives later announced that two men had stolen a barrel of fish from a local grocery store and provided the octopus to one of the fishermen for his prank. Three unexplained octopi were found in the Blackwater River in 1946 and another was found near Grafton in 1954; neither incident proved to be a hoax.
    Strange West Virginia Monsters is incredibly informative and entertaining. Adults will love it, and if you have young ones who don’t like to read, hand them this book and they’ll will be entertained for hours.
- Addy Clarke


The Haunted House Diaries – The True Story of a Quiet Connecticut Town in the Center of a Paranormal Mystery, William J. Hall, New Page Books, Pompton Plains, NJ, 2015, 256pp, $16.99.
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Imagine living in “Spirit Central” for decades. Not appealing? The Haunted House Diaries tells the story of a family that has lived in what has been dubbed “The House at the Center of a Parallel Crossroads” for generations. Fortunately, resident Donna Fillie kept a diary of the happenings, and William J. Hall documented not only the diary but observations of professional investigators.
        Before I begin the review, I’d like to add part of Hall’s disclaimer. The house in the book is real, but it is a private residence and NOT open to the public. Hall acts as liaison for the family, so you can contact him with any questions or comments.
        Now with that out of the way… This is a true story, unbelievable as it sounds. Hall spent 25 years as a performing magician, so he knows an illusion when he sees one; and he attests to the authenticity of the photos and events in the book.
        The farmhouse in question was built in 1790, and over the years it has been a farmhouse, a general store, and a family home, and the same family has lived there generation after generation. The author of the diary is Donna Fillie, who was born in the 1950s. As she grew up, she saw and heard “a wide array of nighttime apparitions” and considered them normal. The family never talked about spirits talking, chanting or singing hymns with outsiders, concerned about what others would think. They treated moving furniture, slamming doors and apparitions as normal.
        Donna began keeping her diary in the 1960s in an attempt to “keep track of what is actually happening.” Among other things, she wrote about loud noises, missing jewelry that turned up again later in a different place, voices, bent silverware, the furnace coming on in the middle of summer, past-life memories of various family members, and babies watching things the adults couldn’t see. Nothing seems to want to harm the family; in fact, whatever is there seems to want to protect and help.
        Hall includes photos showing great-grand-mother’s reflection in a mirror, a cabinet that moved when no one was around, an image reflected in a window, and more. Video and audio are also available at
        Because neighbors in the area have also reported strange occurrences, there is a theory that the entire site might be a portal to another dimension. The fact that it is in the vicinity of an alleged secret military base might explain some of the cryptids and weird events, including missing time.
        Much as the thought of spirits roaming the house day and night is disconcerting, the family does not feel there is any danger, so as I read the book I wasn’t afraid for the family’s welfare. There were only a couple of incidents that were a bit unnerving.
        Hall visited the house with Paul and Ben Eno, paranormal investigators; astrophysicist Marc Dantonio, and paranormal researcher Shane Sirois. Each offered his thoughts, and it was interesting to get each one’s point of view on certain phenomena.  
        One thing I found refreshing was Shane’s comment on white light leaving a darkened area on a painting: “It is a phenomenon that I have not experienced before.” So many “investigators” would try to make something up. It showed how professional the team was that Shane would say this.
        The Haunted House Diaries is a fascinating read. Once you get past the idea of people living in “Spooky Central” all their lives, you’ll thoroughly enjoy your visit.
- Shawna Caine


Trips to the Edge, Diane Wing, Modern History Press, Ann Arbor, MI, 2015, $2.99 (ebook), $8.99 (paperback)

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Trips to the Edge: Tales of the Unexpected is an anthology of four short stories. Though brief, the volume packs a bit of a punch when it comes to twists and turns. Wing seems to have a gift of taking the reader down a path and then suddenly veering to the left or right. The final destination makes perfect sense and leaves you wondering why you didn’t quite see it coming.
        Since this is a volume of short stories, it would be hard to review without giving too much away. Instead, I’ll say that there’s just the right amount of myth, mystery, and misdirection to pique the interest. This book should appeal to any fans of The Twilight Zone or One Step Beyond or any of the many anthology shows that have graced the airwaves over the past half century, as the endings all had that weird little twist that kept any happy ending from being too happy. The moral lessons are there, although sometimes it doesn’t seem that the right party learned the right lesson, but that doesn’t take away from the satisfaction of the story’s resolution.
        Like any of the stories brought to mind by the series mentioned above, the stories in Trips to the Edge are of the sort that would make you have second thoughts about taking that less traveled road or eating at that too exclusive restaurant. If this is a taste of what to expect, I’d definitely be interested in reading more by Wing.
        Make sure you have a night light on if you read it before you go to sleep. Pleasant dreams!
- Jan Byrne


The World’s Most Haunted Hospitals, Richard Estep, 2016, The Career Press, Wayne, NJ, 256pp, $16.99.

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Estep addresses the first question I had when I picked up the book: How do you determine which are the most haunted hospitals? Estep defines them as “…the hospitals that are currently still standing and are still under investigation…[and have] fascinating historical ghost stories…” Works for me!
        As a paramedic and clinical educator, Estep has spent a lot of time in hospitals, so his interest in paranormal investigation led him to look into so-called haunted hospitals. He knows well that these locations are filled with emotion: love, hate, fear, anger, excitement, relief, heartbreak, depression, anxiety… So many people die in hospitals that there are bound to be spirits. Estep notes that many hospitals are now researching NDEs (Near Death Experiences). That’s a start.
        Many of the hospitals in the book started life as psychiatric hospitals (or lunatic asylums, as they were called), where horrific experiments were conducted to find cures for madness. The screams of patients being “treated” can still be heard. The “treatments” were frequently painful and conducted without anesthesia. Imagine being lobotomized by having a pointed metal tool shoved into your brain via your eye socket and hit repeatedly with a hammer. When you read the historical information Estep provides, you can understand why the sites are haunted.
        The hospitals span the globe: USA, Philippines, UK, Italy, Canada, and more. Estep interviewed groups and individuals who had investigated the sites and got some incredible experiences. I like that he refers to specific photos or videos the reader can find on the web. I watched Haunting: Australia’s visit to Aradale Mental Hospital last night. Spoooooky! Catch it here: I’d already seen the Ghost Adventures investigation of Poveglia Island in Venice, Italy, which was unnerving.
        Interestingly, Linda Vista Community Hospital in Los Angeles (Chapter 6) has been featured in several TV series and movies. There was a good external shot of it in an episode of Buffy the Vampire Slayer, making me wonder if cast and/or crew had any weird experiences while filming.
        The only complaint I have about The World’s Most Haunted Hospitals is that it’s too short! I wanted more! I hope there’ll be more editions as Estep interviews more investigators. It’s an interesting, informative and entertaining book that any wannabe ghost hunter will enjoy. Be sure to check the websites Estep recommends for even more ghostly goodies.
- Karen Howard