Witchy Goals for 2019

My relationship with witchcraft is always growing and evolving, so this year I want to set some concrete goals. This will especially help me when it comes to coming up with new content to share with you all! Here is what I hope to focus on and accomplish in 2019:

Practice divination skills

Specifically, I would like to learn to use my recently-acquired crystal pendulum and also learn to read tea leaves.

Read more witchy books and other content

I would like to catch up on some classics like Spiral Dance by Starhawk and read Cunningham’s Encyclopedia of Wicca in the Kitchen that is sitting on my nightstand, but mostly I want to read new works by modern, millennial witches. Their focus on budget witchcraft and urban witchcraft will generally be much more applicable in my own life. As mentioned in my gift guide post, I think a great place to start would be Inner Witch by Gabriela Herstik. I have also started listening to witchy podcasts such as The Witch Wave by Pam Grossman.

Up my gardening game

When spring comes back around, I want to make more use of my herb garden. I want to try grow sage again, add some flowering plants, and keep my current herbs strong and healthy. Not only will I use what I grow for spells and cooking, but I want to make gifts of sage bundles or herb-infused cooking oils for friends and family.

Be active in the community

Although I identify as solitary, talking and sharing with others helps be refine my craft. I have started mentoring a new witch I met in an online community. I would also like to be more interactive on social media, and talk witch-things with my real world friends who are into witchcraft as well. Somehow a bunch of us arrived at witchcraft separately and it never really comes up, especially now that we all live far apart.

Photo of teacup with text that reads "Ready for 2019!"

What witchy goals do you have for the new year? Share with me in the comments!

Diverse Reads of 2018

I started this tradition with one of my first blog posts, highlighting my favorite diverse books that I read in the past year, inspired by the #WeNeedDiverseBooks campaign. In 2018, I set the ambitious goal of having 33% of all the books I read represent diverse perspectives. At a grand total of 63 books, 31 of which I categorize as diverse which is 49%, I well surpassed my goal!

For the sake of definitions, diverse here means books that feature religious, racial, differently-abled, gender, or sexual-orientation minorities as major, multi-faceted characters and/or were were written by authors of color. To see some of my highlights from the first half of the year, check out my 2018 Diverse Reads Mid-Year Check-In. Below are some of my favorites from the second half of the year.

[Please note, each book’s title contains and affiliate link to that novel’s listing on Indiebound. If you make a purchase through that link, a portion of the proceeds will support Chapters and Charms.]

A Blade So Black by L.L. McKinney – A loose Alice in Wonderland retelling imbued with black girl magic. Alice is a human girl who loves cosplay and Sailor Moon. She also regularly travels to Wonderland to fight evil creatures called Nightmares that spring up out of negative human emotions, plenty of which are going around with the latest police killing of a teenage girl. Can Alice continue to lead this double life without her mother worrying she has met the same fate?

Amberlough by Lara Elena Donelly – In an alternate world very similar to Europe of the early 20th century, the worlds of espionage, organized crime, and cabaret entertainment are deliciously intertwined. Cyril is a spy, while his lover smuggles drugs and other goods when he’s not performing burlesque on stage. But although the two men are on opposite sides of the law, they are both in danger from the rising fascist party known as the Ospies.

The Eterna Solution by Leanna Renee Hieber – The satisfying final installment of the Eterna Files series. The American Eterna supernatural team return from fighting evil abroad, bringing with them their British counterparts to address sinister forces in New York City and Washington, D.C. Clara’s seizures seem to be under control by this point, but I remember book one being the first fantasy novel I’d ever read with an epileptic protagonist.

Fledgling by Octavia Butler – I’d been meaning to check out this author for a while and figured her vampire novel was the perfect place to start. It’s an interesting exploration of racism through the relationship between vampires and humans as well as a more outright look at how others would view the first black vampire. Content warning for pedophilia – sex scenes between a vampire with a prepubescent body and adult characters.

Flying Lessons & Other Stories edited by Ellen Oh – An anthology of short stories produced by the We Need Diverse Books campaign. This would be a great introduction to a diverse range of authors, especially for kids middle grade and up.

The Ghost Bride by Yangsze Choo – Taking place in British-ruled Malaysia, then called Malaya, this is the story of Li Lan, the daughter of a noble family fallen on hard times. Her father briefly considers making her a ghost bride, marrying her off to the dead son of a wealthy family to whom he owes some debt, but decides the practice is too antiquated and inauspicious and does not follow through. The dead son, however, will not move on so easily. He haunts Li Lan until she is accidentally plunged into the spirit world, where she unravels mysteries surrounding their two families as she fights to find her way back.

I am Not Your Perfect Mexican Daughter by Erika L. Sánchez – Julia doesn’t fit in in her family. She dreams of college in New York City and growing up to be a writer. Her parents are undocumented immigrants from Mexico. Her sister Olga is a model daughter, always at work or school or home, spending quality time with their parents, never yearning for more. When Olga dies suddenly, Julia, already struggling with undiagnosed anxiety, finds her world turned totally upside down.

Persepolis: The Story of a Childhood by Marjane Satrapi – A memoir in graphic novel form about growing up in Iran during the Islamic revolution. Satrapi juxtaposes little moments of childhood and teenage years against the transformations and violence that rattle Iran in this approachable and informational work.

So You Want to Talk About Race by Ijeoma Oluo – A book-length essay about navigating the conversations about race that are happening all over America. Oluo address a wide variety of issues from microaggressions, to the model minority myth, to the school to prison pipeline, to why it’s so obnoxious when strangers touch black people’s hair.

Trail of Lightning by Rebecca Roanhorse – On a post-apocalyptic Navajo reservation, Maggie makes a living as a monster hunter, bringing down the creatures of myth and legend that have come to life since the climate-change-induced flood that wiped out America as we know it. Read my full review here.

Goals for 2019

Now, with some established new authors I like but without the fervor of first starting out on this challenge, I will set next year’s goal at 40% diverse books. However, I would especially like to make more of an effort to read books by authors from outside the United States and other English-speaking Western countries, especially works in translation.

Know any books that could help me meet my goals? I would love to hear your recommendations in the comments!

Book Review: La Belle Sauvage By Philip Pullman

I grew up with The Golden Compass and the rest of the His Dark Materials series, epic tales of good and evil where part of each person’s soul lives outside them as an animal familiar called a daemon. Author Philip Pullman dived back into that universe for the Book of Dust series, the first installment of which, La Belle Sauvage, came out in 2017. Continue reading “Book Review: La Belle Sauvage By Philip Pullman”

Wiccan Holidays: Yule

We’ve almost come full circle in the Wheel of the Year—just a couple more to go! Yule is celebrated on or around December 21. It comes from an ancient Germanic festival, the traditions of which have been incorporated into Christmas and other winter holidays.

Continue reading “Wiccan Holidays: Yule”

Frost Demons Are the New Vampires

Who knew winter could be so sexy? And this is coming from someone who hates the cold. I’m calling it now: frost demons are the new vampires and soon they will be cropping up everywhere. At least, if the success of The Winternight Trilogy and Spinning Silver are any indication, I expect more and more writers to hop on the bandwagon. Continue reading “Frost Demons Are the New Vampires”

What to Get a Witch for the Holidays

Got a wonderful witch in your life but no idea what to gift them for the holidays? I’ve assembled a handy gift guide for the magically-gifted. I can’t promise that every witch wants every one of these things, but generally they go over pretty well. When buying magical items, it is best to purchase from a small business, preferably run by other witches, for the best energy. Continue reading “What to Get a Witch for the Holidays”

Fairy Tale Retellings: Beauty and the Beast

Up next on my series of fairy tale retelling round ups, we have new takes on a tale as old as time, that of the Beauty and the Beast. In each story, a young woman goes to live with a powerful but beastly man, and comes in time to see the humanity beneath his rough exterior. Continue reading “Fairy Tale Retellings: Beauty and the Beast”

Book Review: Trail of Lightning by Rebecca Roanhorse

I discovered Rebecca Roanhorse on Twitter through her advocacy in conversations about diverse books, and was very excited to finally read her first full-length novel, Trail of Lightning, which came out this summer. Roanhorse has won a Nebula and Hugo award for short story “Welcome to your Authentic Indian Experience.” Trail of Lightning tells the story of a Navajo monster-hunter in post-apocalyptic America who must come to terms with her own past and blood lust before she can save her world. It is the first in a series called The Sixth World. Continue reading “Book Review: Trail of Lightning by Rebecca Roanhorse”