Why Witchcraft is Best Left to the Professionals… in Fiction

Witchcraft is definitely more fun in books!

Witchcraft is definitely more fun in books!

Tomorrow we usher in my old childhood favorite holiday and preceding 30 spookiest days of the year: October/Halloween. In honor of the impending creepiness, I thought I would take a trip down memory lane to the one, I repeat, ONE time I tried to cast a love spell on someone back in college, and the wackiness that ensued (and by wacky I mean unpleasant and ironically bad).

I’m a big fan of cautionary tales.  Some of life’s greatest lessons I have learned without having to live through them, but by watching others of my acquaintance do so and by storing the happy (or all too often unhappy) consequences away in the old memory banks for future reference. Now, unfortunately for me (but not for you), this lesson I’m writing about was learned the hard way.

So back in college, maybe around the time I saw that classic of modern cinema called The Craft, I had a huge crush on this guy in one of my English classes – we’ll call him Mr. X. Looking back I can’t even fathom why I liked this guy except that he seemed witty in class, was tall, and my college was 70% female, so cute, single boys were about as easy to get as a snitch on a quidditch field.

So I pined for him for almost an entire semester but he never spoke to me and he seemed to be oblivious to my existence. It was the final week of the semester and I felt it was time to take drastic measures. Enter the witchcraft!  OK, now no, I did not have a spellbook, or even a spell, but I’d seen every episode of Betwitched and Charmed and I really felt like I could make something happen if I put my all into it. So I bought a candle (the student bookstore was selling wiccan candles – how convenient!), but I don’t remember which color, they all claimed to have different meanings though. I wrote my intention on a piece of paper(“Please make Mr. X like me!”), lit my candle, and I suppose “meditated” on it is a good choice of words.  I did this for some time, maybe half an hour, til my wish was good and cooked, then I burnt my slip of paper and crossed my fingers.

Well readers, let me tell you, it worked, and it worked way too easily.  It could have passed as sheer coincidence if Mr. X had not merely immediately started speaking to me of his own accord the very next day in class, but by the end of the same week, he had asked me out on a date. Whoever (or whatever) was the recipient of my paper wish was certainly not messing around.

However, I was naïve and not really believing in any serious witchcraft and/or The Rule of Three, I happily accepted this mysteriously inspired date, when I should have stayed home and washed my hair. The date was not what I expected. Here are a few reasons why:

1)      After 3 months of being completely ignored by this guy, he suddenly thought I was the prettiest, most hilarious, and most charming girl in the world. Twenty minutes into the date he even told me “jokingly” that he loved me because I knew what Captain Kirk’s middle name was (which is admittedly some good trivia to know, but still).

2)      Then, over the course of the evening (movie and coffee at café I think) he tried at least three times to take me back to his apartment. You like that book?  He’s got it at his apartment. You need a phone?  He’s got a phone at his apartment (imagine that!). You have a headache?  He’s got aspirin at his apartment too! He’d say anything to try and lure me back there.  This was a first date – so not my style – so I kept refusing.

3)      So of COURSE, after the café, when he was supposed to be on the freeway taking me home, he took me to his apartment. I cannot stress how upset I was.

“Where are we going,” I asked in dismay. “I want to go home.”

“Oh I just need to pick something up at my place first,” he smiled, lead-footing it over to his apartment. [Note to the young single ladies – never let a first date pick you up!  It’s always good to have a getaway car at your disposal, especially if your date has been coerced by supernatural forces to ask you out. (!)]

So back to the car. I attempted to wait in the car for him to get whatever it was he claimed he needed, which in retrospect could have been cable ties and duct tape.  However no need to fear what he could have gotten alone, as he was not alone, because he did in fact beg, beg, beg me to come inside and see is place. Fearing that he was never going to take me home without seeing his damned place, I went in.  I went in, in fact, and stood near the door clutching my purse the entire time. He tried to make me a drink – tried to get me to sit – tried to get me to admire his roommates snake (?), but I just hovered by the door until he gave up and took me home. Upon arrival at my Mom’s house, I tried to scurry inside and wave goodbye – I even got the screen door closed when he said, “Wait – no goodnight kiss??”

Now, have I recounted anything so far in my behavior that seemed like a signal for romance?  I should think not.  So I think I opened the door and gave him a half-hug and told him goodnight(way too nice in retrospect). Either the guy had a serious lack of understanding of social cues, or we can blame the hocus pocus, because he then began to phone-stalk me for a couple weeks. When I finally mustered up the courage to call him and give him the old “it’s not you it’s me” and “let’s be friends,” he snarled “F— being friends,” at me through the phone, and hung up, never to be heard from again. Thank God.

So the moral of the story is, if the object of your affection does not know you exist, you may feel free to go up and say a cordial “Hello,” but for heaven’s sake do not light any candles and burn any paper wishes as you may be soundly slapped with some unsavory paranormal results, in triplicate.

Let’s leave the witchcraft to the fabulous literary professionals, where we can close the cover and take a break when things get dicey.

My three favorite series of wizards and witches are:

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Harry Dresden: a wizard with quite a chivalrous streak — unlike my date!

1)   The Harry Potter books by J.K. Rowling

2)   The Dresden Files by Jim Butcher

3)   And as I’ve mentioned before, the Downside Ghosts series by Stacia Kane.

And for those of you keeping track, I am now 68% through with Fifty Shades of Grey, so stay tuned for my scathing review in the coming weeks…

Now, Time for a Coffee,

Maddy

Health and Beauty Bytes

Happy Autumn, everyone!
Now I realize the word beauty is in the title here, so men, before you click away, stay tuned, this first tip is for everyone…

DIY: World’s cheapest, non-bacteria-laden face exfoliant…

No need to buy a fancy scrubber when you can DIY!

No need to buy a fancy scrubber when you can DIY!

For those who don’t get these things hammered into their heads by 6 beauty magazines a month, like I do, exfoliation is basically any kind of scrubbing of one’s skin. Now my research tells me (see bit about the 6 magazines a month) that the best kind of exfoliation for your face is one of these fancy battery powered scrubby brushes (i.e. Clairsonic, Olay, etc.) and the accompanying fancy(read as: pricey) exfoliating gel.  I did this for about a year and my skin did look much improved – smoother, better toned.  HOWEVER, my new routine of 8+ months has the exact, same effect at a fraction of the cost liquid face soap, with a sprinkling of baking soda.  Ta da! It’s something so low-tech it will drop your WPM by at least 5.

That’s right, take your favorite basic non-medicated face wash (I use Purpose), and buy one of the plastic bottles of baking soda with the click-top lid, and sprinkle some baking soda in your hand (mix with the face soap), wash your face as usual (circular motions work best), and you have a great facial exfoliator you can use once a day and look as fresh and bump-free as someone who sadly paid $150 for their set-up. Everyone has baking soda at home (right?) so you can try this for free any time you want.  If you like it – let me know!

Now on to a decidedly girlier topic… One of my 3 addictions in life (besides books, the other addiction is pens, don’t get too excited!) – I’m talking about nail polish.

Manicure Selfies: OPI Shatter tests…

OPI shatter and it’s various spin-offs have been out for a few years now.  I got a white Avon version 2 or 3 years ago and I wasn’t super impressed and didn’t try others at the time, but have since figured out that the versions with sparkle (not glitter, but fine sparkle) are much prettier than the flat colors.  They also make your manicure last at least a week and tend to camouflage the polish wear at the end of your nails that just can’t be helped unless you have minions that do all your chores for you (and type for you as well).

Gold Shatter over red polish.

Gold Shatter over red polish.

I tried 2 color combos recently.  First — OPI Gold Shatter over OPI Innie Minnie Mighty Bow which is a pink-leaning red. I LOVED this – it was super-festive, very Christmas holidays or Chinese New Year – fun, happy, and lucky all rolled into one.  Only one coat of gold shatter is needed, and 2 coats of the red.

Magenta Shatter over pink polish.

Magenta Shatter over pink polish.

Same basic method but in different colors… Next I tried plum/magenta OPI Nicki Minaj Super Bass Shatter over OPI Chic from Ears to Tail which is a soft bubble-gum pink. This wasn’t as amazing to me at the gold/red combo, but still fun.  The sparkle in the Super Bass is much more subtle than the gold was. I used 2 coats of the pink and 1 of the shatter. I may try this over black around Halloween, who knows?  Oh!  And I always recommend using a basecoat and a speed dry clear coat to make your mani last it’s longest.

Well whether you give a hoot about beauty tips or not, I hope you have a fabulous week ahead, and keep reading! BTW, I’m half way through 50 Shades now.  I’m not very impressed so far, I’d heard there were issues with the writing style (mediocre) and I think that’s correct.  If I had a dollar for every time the heroine has said “Oh my” so far I’d have a very posh lunch out indeed!

Time for a coffee,

Maddy

So Many Books, So little Time…

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For my inaugural blog post here, I’m going to address a serious problem that fellow book-nerds everywhere may find to be at times, an almost crippling task – choosing what to read next. It’s like your next literary heroin fix, or what I imagine to be so, from what I have read in books (i.e., see Stacia Kane’s Downside Ghosts series – Chess Putnam being the only chronic drug user I would not flee from in a dark alley). In fact I’m due soon for my next dose of Chess and Terrible (her knee-cap breaking boyfriend with a heart of gold), so much so I may be starting to get a little itchy and twitchy myself.

As I type this, I have an Outlook note posted on my desktop that has about 150 books on it in my reading cue, and many of these are the 1st installment of a series, so you can just imagine how many more books that’ll be in reality.  Years ago I used to buy and keep all my books – sort of a visual catalog of everything I had packed into my brain – the notches on my literary bedpost, as it were.  However the square footage of my “cozy” home being such that it is, that’s just not practical these days.  Subsequently I am a HUGE fan of my local Public Library.

My reading list is broken up into 3 sections; firstly, books I want to read that are not yet at the library.  Every few months I check through that list again and one will show up, like a bibliophilic treasure hunt. Secondly, I have a list of books that are actually at the library. And thirdly, I have the list of all the new books I haven’t yet searched for at the library.  I also have about 12 reviews in my inbox right now of books that have 4+ star ratings that I haven’t even moved over to my lists yet (sigh).

These days, apart from reading classics and classic spin-offs (such as A Jane Austen Daydream, by Scott D. Southard – a must for Jane Austen fans!), I’m reading a lot of paranormal YA, and paranormal romance.  I only subscribe to the Vampire Book Club for fun paranormal fiction recommendations because they have yet to steer me wrong, and I clearly am not in need of any additional daily recommendations in my inbox or on my lists (yipes). You can see what I’m reading on Goodreads. I’m currently reading three books – one of which is Fifty Shades of Grey, which I swore I wouldn’t read, but, I did hear that at the end of the trilogy there’s a bit of a Cinderella twist to the whole thing which helps me to cringe less, AND, I wanted to know why all the fans are opposed to this Charlie Hunnam chap as Christian Grey. He can’t possibly be as far off as Tom Hanks playing Robert Langdon (I’m still gagging), or Tom Cruise as Lestat (however, although completely physically wrong, he did do a great job, I have to admit). I will let you know my review when I finish.  I am at 24% and hands have already been tied once (ahem).

So what will I be reading next? It will either be Balthazar by Claudia Gray (‘tis almost Halloween season, after all), or Chasing Magic by Stacia Kane. How will I decide? It’s still a crapshoot, but after Fifty Shades I have a feeling I’ll need to dip into the YA pool again to cleanse my psyche a bit, if you know what I mean. 

So where do you get recommendations from? What have you read recently that was so gripping that you had to re-read or immediately get the next installment?  Let me know in a comment below, I’d love to know!

Time for coffee… Maddy