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Monday, April 28, 2014

Women Who Run With Wolves - Clarissa Pinkola Estés, Ph.D.

Estes collects folklore and religious tales from all around the world and retells them in her own words. With unparalleled creativity she interprets old stories to bring healing and understanding to women of all ages with her Jungian training.

When analyzed by Estes, familiar stories like The Ugly Duckling take on new meaning by exploring the difficulties of finding a place to belong and people where one feels included. While many are not familiar with the original story of Vasilisa the Brave/Wise, they will remember many of the motifs in other childhood stories about magical items and the girl setting out on her own. What may seem like a simple journey from home, fighting against the witch, and returning again becomes an adventure in discovering the journey of life. And the story of the Red Shoes becomes a way to learn how we feel and how to avoid and fight against traps, cages, and poison/toxicity. Many more stories and insights await those who read this amazing book.

It's difficult to articulate how I feel about this book. Estes reinterprations provide insight and tools for women to use for self-improvement and cultivating growth in others; however, many of them are reinterpretations that dismiss their original religious or cultural context. I also noticed that she has a tendency to insert tidbits from other religions or cultures with the intention of providing support to her point, except that without further explanation many of these bits seem out of place. Even worse is the fact that some of these tidbits are incorrect or at least new age interpretations that misrepresent the original deities and creatures. For example, she interprets Hel, the Norse Goddess of Death, as being the Goddess of rebirth. She also mentions Banshees and carriages, which in traditional Irish folklore have no connection.

I feel that this book is an excellent tool for women to help understand themselves and others because of its reinterpretations and insight; although, I would caution readers to be wary of taking her retellings and interpretations as true to their original meanings.

Recommended Reads:
Roles of the Northern Goddess - Dr Hilda Ellis Davidson
Goddesses and the Divine Feminine: A Western Religious History - Rosemary Ruether
The Hero with a Thousand Faces - Joseph Campbell

Friday, April 25, 2014

Finding the Deep River - Abby Seixas

Maybe you feel disconnected from your life. Or maybe you feel overwhelmed with daily tasks. Or maybe you are understimulated with the daily drudge. Seixas provides the reader with a way to reconnect to the source, God, or (as she calls it) Deep River.

If your day seems like an endless to do you list, where you get nothing done it's time to take stock. The list you should really be concerned about is a victory list, which includes things like: Finishing a load of laundry, getting the kids out the door to school, and making a meal. All of these seemingly mundane tasks prove how much you accomplish in a day.

Are you so busy that you find yourself in a funk? You need a "time-in", where you take just a few minutes or even a few hours to do that one thing you want to do. Carry a sketchbook or a journal with you for when you need to return to center. Bring your mp3 player and some headphones to listen to a song or white noise.

With her friendly tone Seixas invites women to rediscover their love of life. By including examples from her own life and that of her clients, she brings reality to this helpful book. Rediscover your passion and get acquainted with what life can really be with this wonderful guide.

Recommended Reads:
The Artist's Way - Julia Cameron
The Four Agreements - Don Miguel Ruiz
Women Who Run with the Wolves - Clarissa Pinkola Estes

Monday, April 21, 2014

Noise - Bart Kosko

Everybody hates noise. Whispers, tapping, loud music, sirens, and anything we find unpleasant at the moment becomes noise to our minds.

Statutes and laws are being put in place all around the United States to protect us from the increasingly invasive noise from all around us. While much of the damage done to the mind and ears is by outside forces, many people actually cause themselves irreparable harm by listening to loud music and media.

Have you ever wondered what "white noise" looks like? With graphics, Kosko explains that white noise actually comes in a variety of "colors". Many of us use "noise-cancelling" devices like headphones, but how does it actually work? This book provides answers to these and many other questions you never knew you had about sound.

While I enjoyed reading this book, I wouldn't recommend it to most people due to its technical nature. A basic understanding of mathematics, sound wave, and statistics is necessary to have a real understanding of the material.

Recommended Reads:
Musicophilia: Tales of Music and the Brain - Oliver Sacks
This Is Your Brain on Music: The Science of a Human Obsession - Daniel J. Levitin

Friday, April 18, 2014

The Threat - David M. Jacobs, Ph.D.

Jacobs isn't just a professor at Tempe University; he's also a leading researcher in UFO phenomena. With 700 hypnotic-regression interviews and a Roper survey of 6,000 people many of which are alien abductees, Jacobs compiles data to reveal the hidden agenda of the alien invaders.

Often abductees claim to only have been abducted in recent memory, but as they delve deeper into their past they begin to notice patterns of missing time, disappearing in plain site, and even family members or friends experiencing similar events. He discovered that abductions seem to be passed down from one generation to the next, as children tell their parents about their own abduction experiences unprompted. He's found physical evidence of breeding programs, chipping, and even hybrids living among us.

While some people who experience abductions claim that the aliens are here to help, the majority of abductees Jacobs has interviewed have experienced both mentally and physically scarring events. Jacobs thinks he knows what these visitors are up to, and he doesn't think it's any good.

I've read many books and watched many specials about alien abductions and UFO phenomena. While much of the information was review for me, I enjoyed the clarity of thought, the inclusion of quotes from abductees, and the well-organized chapters. This is an informative read for anybody who is interested in the darker side of aliens.

Monday, April 14, 2014

Snakeroot - Andrea Cremer

The guardians, werewolves, have been vanquished and now live in a pack in the woods. Even with their disappearance, a war is still brewing.

Left without a pack and on the run, Logan has reached his limit. He wants to reclaim his birthright, and the only way for him to do that is to get in contact with Bosque Mar. With the help of a few outcasts, he manages to summon and bend the now spirit-bound Ren, a former werewolf, to his aid. With no choice, Ren is forced to help Logan in his plot to destroy the searchers, but the longer he stays in spirit form, the more apt he becomes at living. Perhaps Ren can save his friends from destruction.

In this newest addition, Cremer begins tying together the prequel with the original series Nightshade.

I was wholly unsatisfied with this novel. Cremer chooses minor characters from the previous series as main characters and fails to make any of them interesting. Bosque Mar as a villain revived brings a distinct lack of urgency to the plot. The swapping point of view doesn't provide any suspense because many of the chapters are a mere 3 pages long. I will not be continuing this series.

Original Series:

Recommended Reads:
Shiver - Maggie Stiefvater
The Iron Thorn - Caitlin Kittredge

Friday, April 11, 2014

The Firm - John Grisham

The newly graduated Mitch McDeere is on the hunt for a job as a lawyer. When he gets a request from a firm in the middle of Memphis, Tennessee he only goes there as a courtesy. He's already received plenty of generous offers from many other firms. But when he hears what this firm has to offer he sees no other option than to join them. They'll pay back his student loans, buy him a car, get him a house, and provide many other weighty forms of compensation.

Everything is going well, until his wife quickly grows weary of his workaholic habits. And Mitch himself begins to notice some odd things going on in the office. When he's approached by a member of the FBI, he's given a choice: Help them take down the firm or burn with the rest.

With mystery, espionage, betrayal, and danger I thought this book would be more interesting than it was. I felt like I was waiting for a climax that never came and at the conclusion I could only think "That's it?". Just not my cup-of-tea, I guess.

Monday, April 7, 2014

The Hellbound Heart - Clive Barker

Frank Cotton is addicted to pleasure of any kind. When he is offered a puzzle box with the promise of pleasures beyond his imagination, he can't resist. With the puzzle box solved, the cenobites take Frank away for

Frank's mysterious disappearance leaves his house in the hands of his brother, who moves in with his wife. Julia isn't happy being a housewife, and she is growing weary of her husband's affections. Frank's whispers spur her to commit abominable crimes in order to revive Frank. But will he return fulfill the passions she craves?

This terrifying novel challenges the notions of pleasure and explores the limits of hedonism.

Recommended Viewing:

Friday, April 4, 2014

The Magic Nesting Doll - Jacqueline K. Ogburn

When grandmother passes away, she leaves Katya a magic nesting doll to protect her when she's gone. Be careful, her grandmother warns, only use it in great need as it will only work three times.

When Katya discovers the prince is deathly ill, she's determined to heal him. But when she attempts to offer her help, the Vazier sends her away to her death three times. Each time a new animal comes to her aid from the nesting doll. When she finally reaches the prince she has used up all of the magic. Maybe there's a magic inside Katya herself that will revive the prince.

This story is loosely based on Vasilisa the Brave mixed with Sleeping Beauty. Vibrant and detailed illustrations will delight both children and parents alike. Katya's devotion to her goal and faith in the magic doll are wonderful lesson for children.

Recommended Reads:
Bony-Legs - Joanna Cole
A Knot in the Grain and Other Stories - Robin McKinley