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LoraM

Lora's Rants and Reviews

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Currently reading

Taking Up Space
Chelsea Kwakye, Patience Oyenike Ogunbiyi
One Word Kill (Impossible Times #1)
Mark Lawrence
Progress: 52%
Little Darlings
Melanie Golding
Walking to Aldebaran
Adrian Tchaikovsky
The Immortal City
Amy Kuivalainen
Dracopedia Field Guide: Dragons of the World from Amphipteridae through Wyvernae
William O'Connor
Limited Wish (Impossible Times #2)
Mark Lawrence
The Dark Sides of Empathy
Fritz Breithaupt, Andrew B B Hamilton
Pagan Portals - Gods and Goddesses of Wales
Halo Quin
Progress: 19%
Unfettered
Kevin Hearne, Michael J. Sullivan, Brandon Sanderson, Lev Grossman, Patrick Rothfuss, Daniel Abraham, Shawn Speakman, Jennifer Bosworth, Mark Lawrence, Blake Charlton, Peter V. Brett, Geno Salvatore, Robert V.S. Redick, Eldon Thompson, David Anthony Durham, Peter Orull
Progress: 10%

Highlighting this one

Taking Up Space - Chelsea Kwakye, Patience Oyenike Ogunbiyi

I just got this book from Netgalley. It's non-fiction, a guide for black women going to college in a white world.

 

I'm not black, but I wanted to read it to help me try to understand what it is like for people dealing with this kind of situation.

 

I'll never have the first hand experience, but I can try to understand.

The Illustrated Bestiary

The Illustrated Bestiary: Guidance and Rituals from 36 Inspiring Animals - Maia Toll

by Maia Toll

 

There's an immediate connection with spirituality in this book, even before the Introduction. It's very much a modern shamanism perspective and featuring popular animal totems or endangered species. The book is a companion for a deck of cards for animal spirit meditations.

 

The full color illustrations are very well done and probably translate well to the cards, which I don't have and couldn't actually find for sale anywhere, even the author's site.

 

Each animal has a section with general information about the animal followed by a ritual and reflection. The emphasis is on spirituality rather than science and gives the reader a reference for animal symbolism and possible meanings.

 

Quite honestly there isn't a great deal of substance, but despite that, I can see the cards working well as a meditation device and really the pictures in the book would do if the cards can't be found.

Llewellyn's Complete Book of Essential Oils

Llewellyn's Complete Book of Essential Oils - Sandra Kynes

by Sandra Kynes

 

After a substantial introduction telling about the author's personal history with essential oils, there is some well researched history of their use in various times and cultures. 

 

We are told how to differentiate pure from synthetic commercial oils and about their processes. One thing I really liked seeing was safety guidelines and specifically safety for children and pets.

 

Details are given about shelf life and how to choose and blend oils. Perfume notes are explained, which I haven't seen in other books on the subject.

 

It goes into basics in a clear and concise manner and then into 'remedies'. After aromatherapy and self-care, it gets a bit new age with chakras and magical uses.

 

There's an interesting balance of practical and woo. The profiles of individual oils are well-informed and would satisfy any academic. We finish off with conversions and two different glossaries. Over all a well-written and pretty thorough book on the subject.

Since I've got the sequel from Netgalley...

One Word Kill (Impossible Times #1) - Mark  Lawrence

I thought it might be worth reading the first book first. I think I got if free for being on the author's mailing list.

 

I've wanted to read Lawrence for a while. I've got his Broken Empire series on my A-list, bought while on sale, but too many Netgalley requests have kept me from starting it!

 

This is really good. I love an intelligent protagonist, even if he is 15. A light stretch on the D&D sequences for me because I've never played, but I've devoured the first third already and just started yesterday!

Splendor Solis

Splendor Solis - Stephen Skinner

by Dr. Stephen Skinner; Dr. Rafal T. Prinke; Georgiana Hedesan; Joscelyn Godwin

 

The Splendor Solis was a 16th century Alchemical text. This is a modern new translation with commentaries by academics. Dr. Stephen Skinner is familiar to me in relation to esoteric material, so I found this very interesting.

 

It's very much an academic work, so of most interest to people with an interest either in ancient Alchemy or in the history of esoteric texts. It is, as one reviewer said, basically a biography of the book, but I would add a fascinating analysis of hidden meanings in the 22 color plates that were originally hand drawn. My advance review copy didn't show these plates, but I found them online as the British Library has a photographed copy.

 

A bit dry at times, but a very interesting and informative book.

African Cowrie Shell Divination

African Cowrie Shells Divination: History, Theory, and Practice - Zolrak

by Zolrak

 

I have always loved cowrie shells, from when I was a child and my aunt brought one back for me from a trip to Hawaii. I never knew they could be used for divination!

 

This book was a strange mix. It's about African divination and has chapters on Orishas, Eshu, Yoruba, Santeria, etc., but in the introduction the author talks about God from an apparent Christian perspective. I found that a little odd, even though I know Voodoo and Christianity have combined in places like Haiti.

 

The second part of the book is about the actual method of divination with cowrie shells, about a third through the book. This gives instruction for prayers and preparation, followed by methods for reading with four cowrie shells, then the sixteen cowrie shells. These are given with lines in their native language and I have to admit, go on a bit for something with no translation.

 

The instructions for the actual reading methods are fairly straight forward. This would be a good book for someone studying the cultural influences behind these methods, but the necessity of steeping oneself in Yoruba or Santeria in preparation might not be to everyone's taste in practice.

 

There's an extensive glossary and overall I found it a very informative book.

Just Saying...

Come on Booklikes, this is getting silly!

 

The Flavors of Other Worlds

The Flavors of Other Worlds: 13 Science Fiction Tales from a Master Storyteller - Alan Dean Foster

by Alan Dean Foster

 

Another great collection of stories from Alan Dean Foster! This one is 13 stories all well into the science fiction genre. We have aliens taking over the planet through corporate buy outs, bootleg knowledge, alien assistants, and we even get to learn how to communicate with a cuttlefish.

 

Foster's writing is always good and his inventive plots are way above par. This collection has a nice variety of stories that are well up to his usual standard, exploring other worlds whether they are in space or under sea.

 

Highly recommended for any science fiction fan.

The Parisian

The Parisian - Isabella Hammad

by Isabella Hammad

 

I'm always a little put off when a story starts with a list of characters. It's not a play! While I can see that keeping the family groups straight is needed, a list is meaningless until I start getting into the story. So, I skipped past and started reading chapter one.

 

The protagonist is Palestinian and is on a ship to Marseille. The mixing of Middle Eastern and French culture becomes quickly apparent. I found the subject interesting and the main character sympathetic, but the writing style was tedious and I often found my attention wandering off.

 

Since I don't speak French or Arabic, a lot of the lines were over my head. I'm also not that familiar with the history involved and I didn't follow it as well as I needed to, to keep up.

 

Overall I think there were too many characters and not enough context to put the reader into the period.

Keto Kills

Just a post for all my new spam followers.

 

The way this website works is that by following me, you can see all my posts.

 

However, I haven't followed you back, so I don't see yours. None of my followers see yours. You're in a vacuum.

 

And since so many of you are making money by selling Keto plans, please be aware that a high fat diet is a strain on the heart. Yes, even 'good' fats. I wouldn't touch it with a barge pole.

 

Have a nice day.

Don Quixote

Don Quixote - Roberto González Echevarría, John Rutherford, Miguel de Cervantes Saavedra

by Miguel de Cervantes

 

This is one of those Classics that I've meant to read for a very long time. To my great joy, it immediately covered familiar parts of the story that I had seen in films, though not entirely in the same order, and the writing was engaging and kept me interested in the exploits that have made this story so well known. At first.

 

There was the odd chapter where the author broke the fourth wall and wittered on about details in a way that newer authors can't get away with today, but in context of classic literature, it didn't detract too much.

 

Naturally a book can cover more adventures than the well known encounters that have been popularised by film and common knowledge. This gave me new material to read as well as things unfolding differently than I might have expected. Unfortunately, it went on and on until it actually became tedious to read. I put it aside for a while and went back to it, determined through sheer stubbornness to finish this book even if I had to do it one chapter at a time.

 

I've lost track of how long it's been. Certainly over a year. But I refused to DNF because it's a favourite theme and has made for some good movies. It's long, it's disjointed, tedious in parts, and still one of the most wonderful Classics ever written.

The Hearth Witch's Kitchen Herbal

The Hearth Witch's Kitchen Herbal: Culinary Herbs for Magic, Beauty, and Health - Anna Franklin

by Anna Franklin

 

A very thorough book on kitchen herbs, if a bit dry. This one focuses on medicinal use of herbs you may already have in your kitchen, or could easily pick up at the supermarket.

 

It explains the difference between infusions and decoctions, tinctures and glycerites, etc.

 

It gives internal and external remedies and detailed information for making salves, balms, poltices and infused oils and there's a section on cosmetic use for hair rinses, facial scrubs, masks and toners.

 

An A-Z herbal is included as well as recipes for using each one, correspondences and magical virtues. History of each herb actually is very interesting. The book is well researched and very informative.

 

It finishes off with weights and measures converting metric to cups and includes a recipe index before the regular index. Overall a good reference book to keep handy if you're into natural medicine or kitchen witchery.

The Deathless

The Deathless - Peter Newman

by Peter Newman

 

House Sapphire, one of the ancient Deathless families is one of the seven timeless royal families, born and reborn into flawless bodies. When villages disappear and assassins strike, the family is riven by suspicion and grief.

 

This one took a little while to really get into because there are multiple main characters and a lot of world building to establish. A few info dumps can be forgiven. I thought the concept was really original, but after a while it started feeling contrived and my interest waned.

 

There's a lot of political intrigue, assassins and action that just slightly exceeds believability. I wondered how the elite families justified effectively stealing bodies from their own grandchildren!

 

The characters were a little confusing at first as there were a lot of them and they weren't different enough to make it clear to someone who was just dumped into this fantasy world with no prior knowledge. An okay Fantasy.

Draw 62 Animals and Make Them Cute

Draw 62 Animals and Make Them Cute - Heegyum Kim

by Heegyum Kim

 

This was a cute drawing book with very simple drawings of a wide variety of animals. The initial drawings of the animals are shown in 5-6 steps and those are fairly clear and easy to follow.

 

Each animal is followed by a 'make it cute' page and that's where it could have used a lot more instruction. The drawings were undeniably cute, but how to put the animals in different positions while keeping perspective wasn't addressed at all.

 

Probably best for someone with a natural artistic perspective eye, though someone just learning to draw could follow the basic designs easily enough.

The Great Wizards of Antiquity

The Great Wizards of Antiquity - Guy Ogilvy

by Guy Ogilvy

 

I have to admit I was expecting this to be more biographical about the known magicians in history, but it actually turned out to be even more interesting.

 

The first part covers the prehistoric culture of the Lion Man and tribal magic, then it moves on to the Orphic and Dionysian cults and the great figures of myth, which I found very interesting. A lot of history and basically anthropology comes into it, then it moves forward in history eventually coming to mathematicians and alchemists, some of whom are better known like Paracelsus, though I have to admit a little disappointment that John Dee and Nicholas Flamel got left out as these are two of the most relevant personages in the history of magic. But then another reviewer said there was a series, so maybe we'll eventually see even relatively modern magicians like Crowley, Austin Spare, Jaq D. Hawkins and Peter J. Carroll!

 

The writing style might seem dry to some, but those of us who enjoy mythology don't mind that. The personal experiences of the author also lent interest. Altogether a fascinating and well researched piece of work.

Remember the Future

Remember the Future (The Chronicles of the Harekaiian #9) - Shanna Lauffey

by Shanna Lauffey

 

One of the reasons I follow this series is because the episodes always bring something fresh and new. This ninth episode is definitely no exception.

 

I admit I'm very invested in the series. This episode introduced a few new characters and wrapped up a few loose ends, sometimes in emotionally devastating ways! Possible new directions for Akalya have been opened up and I'll be very interested in seeing where things go for the final episode. I hope it won't be a long wait!

 

As always, the writing kept me riveted and the characters all felt unique, even with differences between a pair of twins!

 

If you like time travel, mystery, adventure, seriously, you must read this series.