Wonderful books: The Janna Mysteries (2)

October 17, 2011 at 3:23 am (Favourite books) (, , , )

I reviewed books one to three of The Janna Mysteries by Felicity Pulman here

Here are books four and five, with the sixth to come soon…

Willows for Weeping

Book four in a magical six-book series

I love this series – it’s so magical and fun, with a good dose of mystery and a teenage protagonist who has to solve a crime (or two) as she continues her quest to find her father and avenge her mother’s death. At the end of book three Janna was surprised to find herself enjoying life in the abbey, where she had found friendship, learning and a sense of purpose as a healer. But her quest is more important to her than her own happiness, and so, having finally learnt to read and with some new clues to her father’s identity, she leaves the security of the abbey and heads out on the road to Winchestre with some pilgrims, determined to track down her dad. They’re a rag tag bunch, each having their own intriguing story, beliefs and motives, and Janna isn’t sure who she can trust (and she learns some hard lessons when she reads a few people the wrong way). There’s plenty of action – early on they stumble across a dead man carrying a message that could change the fortunes of the king, one of the pilgrims is murdered inside the circle of Stonehenge, and as Janna gets closer to the truth of the culprit, danger swirls ever nearer. As in all the Janna books, the heroine is smart, kind and fearless, yet she is also flawed, with a quick temper and a naivity that gets her into trouble but makes her all the more endearing. All the characters are interesting and multi-dimensional, making you feel deeply for them, and the historical figures and true events combined with the imagined lives of others creates a captivating story. As in previous instalments, the author manages to have all the mysteries solved by the end of each book, while also opening up new questions that leave you desperate to read the next one! I first read this book more than two years ago, and was devastated to learn that number five and six were indefinitely delayed. When it was announced recently that the final two in the series were about to be published, I read the first four books again in preparation, and they were just as enchanting and satisfying the second time around.

Sage for Sanctuary

The long-awaited fifth book in the Janna Mysteries series

There were a few years between this book and its predecessor, and many fans have been waiting anxiously to discover what Janna would do next, and whether her quest to find her father and avenge her mother’s death would be fulfilled. None should be disappointed, for this is another beautiful, intriguing story, and adds so much more to Janna’s character, her choices and her life. It opens in medieval Winchestre, where Janna is awaiting the return of her father, a wealthy and influential man whose identity she has just discovered, but who knows nothing of her existence, from Normandy. It looks like she will meet him soon – but within the first few pages Janna’s fortunes take a turn for the worse. Her purse, containing proof of her identity, her link to her father and all her money, is stolen, and she ends up having to work in a tavern just to survive. As the story unfolds there are many mysteries, and many dangers, that plucky young Janna must face. She becomes swept up in a royal scandal, the assassin who tried to kill her some time ago returns and tries again, and she finally meets her father – and her new family, who hate her with a passion that looks like it could lead to murder.

I was swept up in the action from the first page, and was excited that not only does Janna find her father in this book, she also realises which of the two men she has loved for so long is the one she truly wants – it would have been too cruel if we’d had to wait for the next book for that one! Janna’s decision is slowly and gently arrived at, and the process she goes through to realise the truth of her heart reveals a new maturity on her part. Of course there are many obstacles put in her way (and she may not be able to marry him anyway – a dilemma that is left for the next book), but she has decided at last. I was surprised to read one Amazon review that said her decision between Hugh and Godric was sudden and unexplained, for it was not at all. Janna does much soul searching, and learns much about herself and others, while also solving several crimes, continuing her herbal medicine work and becoming clearer about what she wants to do with her life. I loved this book as much as I loved the previous four, and can’t wait for the final instalment!

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Full moon blessings

October 13, 2011 at 2:32 am (Magic) (, , )

Wishing you love, magic and manifestation on this beautiful golden full moon night. The full moon is the high tide of power and energy in a lunar cycle, and is the perfect time for any kind of magic. Cast spells for completion, for things you want to achieve, and for anything that requires an extra boost of intensity, such as healing work, job hunting and love. You can also invoke mother goddesses such as Arianrhod, Isis, Selene, Diana, Lakshmi, Quan Yin, Demeter, Epona, Ishtar, Mama Quilla, Chang-O, Gaia, or simply the Great Goddess or Mother Earth, who all represent the full moon, motherhood, fertility, the earth and creation.

Harnessing the energy of the phases of the moon can add magic to your life and help bring a goal to fruition. These phases are determined by the moon’s position in relation to the earth and the sun, as it orbits our planet every 29.5 days. The moon has no light of its own – it’s illuminated by the light of the sun reflecting off its surface, and its phases are created by the amount of the illuminated side we can see. The full moon occurs when the moon is on the other side of the earth from the sun, with the earth in between. The whole of the side that is visible to us is reflecting back sunlight, so we see a round moon in all its shining, golden glory.

The full moon rises as the sun sets, which is why it’s so obvious and clearly seen, because it sails across the sky all night, contrasting with the velvety blackness, before setting around dawn, just as the sun is rising. The three days of the full moon – the day of, the day before and the day after – can be used to boost any intention or project. It represents achievement, culmination and abundance. The world is filled with energy and potential, so it’s a great time for healing and manifestation.

Midnight is the most powerful time for magical work, as the full moon is directly overhead. Stand beneath the golden orb and give thanks for what you’ve achieved so far, and breathe in the energy and power so you can harness it for self-expression and inner strength. Perform a Drawing Down the Moon ritual, bringing the energy of the moon, and the moon goddess, into your heart and soul. This is a great time to charge crystals and amulets with the moon’s energy, and cleanse your own physical and etheric bodies. Psychic abilities are also at their strongest, so practise any divination methods you are drawn to, looking within to find answers to your questions and clues to your future.

Lunar phases are printed in newspapers, moon diaries and websites like Sunrise Sunset, which is great because you can type your city in and get the exact times of moon and sun rise and set for your area. You can also determine the phase of the moon by its shape, as well as the time it rises, which occurs about 50 minutes later each day. It can be remembered by the old adage: “The new moon rises at sunrise, and the first quarter at noon. The full moon rises at sunset, and the last quarter at midnight.”

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