Moon Bath by Dakota Hills and Sierra Brashear

Rating: 4 out of 5.
Shielded (Shielded, #1) by KayLynn Flanders

This luxurious guide invites you to immerse yourselves in the healing powers of nature. Here are 16 transformative bath and shower rituals aligned with the lunar cycles and the natural rhythms of the cosmos. Organized by moon cycle—New Moon, Waxing Moon, Full Moon, and Waning Moon—each ritual includes a bath recipe featuring healing natural ingredients, plus affirmations, meditations, and journaling prompts to promote reflection and self-discovery. Presented in an enchanting package with lush, nature-inspired photography throughout and brimming with Ayurvedic wisdom and plant-based medicine, MOON BATH is a lovely companion for modern mystics, wellness enthusiasts, and anyone who wants to wash away the stresses of daily life.

This book, more of a reference guide, delivers exactly what it promises in the description. There are 16 bathing rituals that align with phases of the moon and seasons, so ideally, you would do one about every 3 weeks. Each one is a “recipe” of sorts, with ingredients and steps to follow (including some herb-steeping/tea-making). The ritual’s ingredients and suggestions about water temperature correspond to the season, so each one feels fitting for when it should be completed. There are digestible bits of text throughout the book that offer explanations and meaning behind each step; it reminds the reader to channel intention as they complete the bath and the accompanying breathing/meditation/mindfulness activity. There were also little side-pieces about historical use of certain items, which I appreciated.

I believe this book will only be available as a hard copy, which it definitely deserves because the photos and text are absolutely beautiful. The tactile feeling of heavy pages and lush imagery will help to set the tone as you read about the ways in which bathing can rejuvenate your body, mind, and soul. This book will definitely be a perfect gift (whether it’s for you or someone else) for those looking to step up their self-care, find serenity, or reconnect with that feeling of something more. Highly recommend!

Happy reading,

The Year of the Witching by Alexis Henderson

Rating: 4 out of 5.
Shielded (Shielded, #1) by KayLynn Flanders

In the lands of Bethel, where the Prophet’s word is law, Immanuelle Moore’s very existence is blasphemy. Her mother’s union with an outsider of a different race cast her once-proud family into disgrace, so Immanuelle does her best to worship the Father, follow Holy Protocol, and lead a life of submission, devotion, and absolute conformity, like all the other women in the settlement.

But a mishap lures her into the forbidden Darkwood surrounding Bethel, where the first prophet once chased and killed four powerful witches. Their spirits are still lurking there, and they bestow a gift on Immanuelle: the journal of her dead mother, who Immanuelle is shocked to learn once sought sanctuary in the wood.

Fascinated by the secrets in the diary, Immanuelle finds herself struggling to understand how her mother could have consorted with the witches. But when she begins to learn grim truths about the Church and its history, she realizes the true threat to Bethel is its own darkness. And she starts to understand that if Bethel is to change, it must begin with her.

Continue reading “The Year of the Witching by Alexis Henderson”

Shielded by KayLynn Flanders

Rating: 4.5 out of 5.
Shielded (Shielded, #1) by KayLynn Flanders

The kingdom of Hálendi is in trouble. It’s losing the war at its borders, and rumors of a new, deadlier threat on the horizon have surfaced. Princess Jennesara knows her skills on the battlefield would make her an asset and wants to help, but her father has other plans.

As the second-born heir to the throne, Jenna lacks the firstborn’s–her brother’s–magical abilities, so the king promises her hand in marriage to the prince of neighboring Turia in exchange for resources Hálendi needs. Jenna must leave behind everything she has ever known if she is to give her people a chance at peace.

Only, on the journey to reach her betrothed and new home, the royal caravan is ambushed, and Jenna realizes the rumors were wrong–the new threat is worse than anyone imagined. Now Jenna must decide if revealing a dangerous secret is worth the cost before it’s too late–for her and for her entire kingdom.

Pre-order it on Amazon or learn more on Goodreads.

Continue reading “Shielded by KayLynn Flanders”

Mayhem by Estelle Laure

Rating: 3 out of 5.
Shielded (Shielded, #1) by KayLynn Flanders

It’s 1987 and unfortunately it’s not all Madonna and cherry lip balm. Mayhem Brayburn has always known there was something off about her and her mother, Roxy. Maybe it has to do with Roxy’s constant physical pain, or maybe with Mayhem’s own irresistible pull to water. Either way, she knows they aren’t like everyone else. But when May’s stepfather finally goes too far, Roxy and Mayhem flee to Santa Maria, California, the coastal beach town that holds the answers to all of Mayhem’s questions about who her mother is, her estranged family, and the mysteries of her own self. There she meets the kids who live with her aunt, and it opens the door to the magic that runs through the female lineage in her family, the very magic Mayhem is next in line to inherit and which will change her life for good. But when she gets wrapped up in the search for the man who has been kidnapping girls from the beach, her life takes another dangerous turn and she is forced to face the price of vigilante justice and to ask herself whether revenge is worth the cost.

Hey all, another ARC review for my little challenge to reach an 80% reviewed ratio on NetGalley.

Mayhem is a book about the struggles and heroics and magic of the Brayburn family, who, for generations, have been tasked with protecting their city by a mysterious curse/magical water (it never really gets explained beyond this). Mayhem, our protagonist, and her mother, Roxy, have finally left Roxy’s abusive husband after years of marriage and returned to Roxy’s childhood home in Santa Maria. There, Mayhem begins uncovering the truth behind her biological father’s death and the strange force that drove her mother to leave all of those years ago.

Mayhem talks of magic and deep family roots, but the atmosphere that Laure created felt flat to me. I can’t really describe it in any other way–it’s almost as if this world was a 2D painting that Laure was trying to convey as a sculpture. I feel extremely harsh putting it this way, but I can’t tell you that it was something that it’s not. The characters also felt a bit static to me. They were archetypes of the usual YA personalities, and though there was some attempt at character development, it was pretty shallow and didn’t feel organic.

I should address the fact that this book includes some serious topics, namely rape, murder, domestic violence, and drug addiction/abuse. I really appreciate the way Laure handled these topics, and from her foreword, I know that this book was her way of addressing her personal relationship with them. While these topics did drive some aspects of the story, they weren’t particularly descriptive so it would be manageable for a more mature young adult audience.

This review is going to stay pretty short since I really don’t have much to say. Unfortunately, this is another book that fell a little flat for me. I think the concept itself was strong and exciting, but Laure didn’t execute it to its full potential. All in all, I’m not sure I would recommend this. It was kind of all over the place in terms of themes, dialogue, setting, and pacing. The storyline didn’t flow super well and was also pretty anticlimactic. It was entertaining, at best. The cover is also pretty.

Happy reading (but maybe not this book)