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Friday, January 29, 2016

Wild Feminine - Tami Lynn Kent

Women are taught a variety of ways to relate to their body. Some are taught to revile it, others are taught to indulge it, and some are taught it is just a vessel for their consciousness. The way a woman feels toward her body can also be influenced by her own personal experiences in life, such as menstruation, pregnancy, sexual encounters, miscarriage, and birth.

Kent, a holistic women's healthcare provider, gives women the tools they need to reconnect and stay connected with their body to improve their lives with both physical exercises and mental meditations. By providing personal examples of herself, friends, and clients, she invites women to relate using events in their own lives. Kent challenges readers to rethink how they feel about their bodies and encourages them to try to break the old way of thinking.

Since I've been tracking my cycle with the help of Fertility Awareness Method (FAM) since I was 17, I'm familiar with how my reproductive organs and hormones effect my every day life in a natural way on a personal level. This isn't just a personal experience, but biological fact that it does so. A person's attitude toward her body definitely influences how she feels, as well, according to many psychological texts.

This book takes it a step farther and states that there is an additional spiritual element to it. The book, unfortunately, repeats many of the common pseudoscience falsities, like Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS) being caused by bad attitudes toward the feminine or breast cancer being caused by denying ones truth. While the encouragement, personal experiences, and exercises found within the pages are useful for personal growth, I'm not sure that it outweighs the damage of perpetuating known myths. I'd caution readers to read this in conjunction with more biologically based books to balance it out.

Similar Reads:
Women's Bodies, Women's Wisdom - Christiane Northrup
Her Blood is Gold - Lara Owen
Red Moon - Miranda Gray

Recommended Reading:
Taking Charge of Your Fertility - Toni Weschler
Warrior Goddess Training - HeatherAsh Amara
Women Who Run with the Wolves - Clarissa Pinkola Est├ęs

Friday, January 22, 2016

The Stepsister Scheme - Jim C. Hines

Her stepmother and stepsisters interference at her wedding is only the beginning of Danielle's (Cinderella) woes as she embarks into marriage. Instead of enjoying a happily ever after with her prince, she finds herself right in the middle of a war between the human world and fairy land when her husband disappears.

Two powerful allies come to Danielle's aid: Talia, sleeping beauty, the expert weapons master and Snow White with her magic mirror. Combined with Danielle's telepathic ability with animals, they make a formidable team as they search for her missing husband. As they get closer to her husband they discover they are in way over their heads with new enemies coming at them and old foes resurfacing.

If Danielle can manage to survive trickery, magic, and the regular danger of death, she may be able to save her prince and even her entire kingdom.

It's not often an author will decide to go for the grittier original versions of fairy tales, so it was interesting to be reminded of Danielle's sisters cutting their feet, Talia's rape, and Snow White's stepmother being punished. For added fun he used a lot of the traditional fairy tale tropes, like the troll under the bridge and the two door riddle. I liked the reimagining of the mirror magic and the dwarfs.

This should have been a fun read, but I wasn't drawn into the story like I normally am while reading. None of the characters were particularly engaging nor were the dangers they get into. I'm continuing to the next novel in the series, since The Little Mermaid is one of my favorite fairy tales, hoping that it's better.

Books in the Series:
The Mermaid's Madness
Red Hood's Revenge
The Snow Queens's Shadow

Friday, January 15, 2016

The Feminine Face of God - Sherry Ruth Anderson, Patricia Hopkins

The majority of religions we are familiar with today are led by men, which means the point of view we read and listen to by religious leaders is largely from men. Although there are women priests, priestesses, medicine women, and nuns we don't often hear from them in the mainstream. So what does religion and spirituality look like from the point of view of women?

Anderson and Hopkins interview women from various faiths, including Christianity, Judaism, Hinduism, Chumash (Native American), and individual spiritualities to reveal the personal journeys and experiences of women when it comes to God.

What does the divine look like to women? Women often describe their beliefs and practices as being in a garden or blooming, which isn't surprising when many of the faiths these women were born into use allusions to nature to describe God. But what else does it look like?

What have women experienced in childhood that built their faith? Since many women describe their experiences as being in a garden, it's not surprising that one of the common threads between many women is the appreciation and experiences of nature, including climbing trees, digging in the ground, and much more.

How does leaving home, whether that's a nuclear family or a religious institution, effect women's faith? Did leaving challenge or deepen their faith?

There are a striking number of religions and practices all over the world. The authors offers just a few of the Ten Thousand Gates available to experience God through the eyes of women.

In Tools for the Sacred Garden (2 parts), women offer their journeys to finding the practices that keep them in step with their path,...

How do intimate relationships, like husbands and children, effect women's spiritual lives? Is it possible to be intimate with both the physical and the spiritual realms? The answers are insightful and thought-provoking.

What of our ancestors and relatives? How do they support us and how do they hold us back?

Being in the Sacred Garden is a desire of people from many walks of faith. With the experiences revealed in this book perhaps more women will find themselves within its bounds.

Firstly, I felt misled by the title of this book. Instead of reading about Goddess or female deities, I discovered what I was actually reading was better described by the subtitle: The Unfolding of the Sacred in Women. Reading about other women's experiences with the divine is fascinating to me. While I found many things that resonated with my own experiences, I found many more that did not. Learning about the experiences of others opens me up to other points of view, which is something I value.

Overall, I enjoyed the narrative of the authors. The introductions before each topic and explanations between the interviews provided bridges between varied experiences and gave extra insight. I did, however, disagree with her conclusion that leaving home is so different for women than men. Perhaps if she had interviewed women living in generational homes it would have been supported, but the examples she provided did not back this up.

For readers who are looking for insight into the personal experiences of other women this is a valuable resource that can provide understanding and opportunities for personal growth through previously unknown paths.

Recommended Reads:
Warrior Goddess Training - HeatherAsh Amara

Friday, January 8, 2016

Witches of East End - Melissa de la Cruz

Joanna and her two daughters, Freya and Ingrid, live in North Hampton, out on the tip of Long Island. After they were forced to abandon magic by the counsel, they now live their own regular lives as humans: Joanna as a nanny for a little boy, Freya as a bartender, and Ingrid as a librarian. As the years pass without word from the other side, they grow weary of the normal human life. After one of them partakes in a small spell for rebellion, it's hard to stop. But there are consequences to their breaking rules. Soon strange events start happening all around the world and they have to do something to stop it.

My first hint that this was going to stray into Norse mythology was the obvious name Freya, which indicates her specialty in love potions. There's a bit about Loki and Baldr that remains, as well as a bit about Skadi and Njord, but the rest of it doesn't hold together. To me it seems like she would have been better off just creating her own myths to go with her novels.

The love triangle was poorly done. Her relationship with her fiancee is just so bland I kept thinking: "I don't get it. Why is she with this guy?" Then there were a lot of terrible sex scenes with the other guy to accompany that. The reveal was simple, though all of the loose ends did come together.

I liked all three of the main characters. Joanna for her loyalty and caring, Freya for her innovation and love, and Ingrid for her intelligence and thoughtfulness.

In the end, I think all I can say about this book is that it wasn't for me.

Books in the Series:
Serpent's Kiss

Friday, January 1, 2016

The Uncanny Reader

After listening to an interview with the editor Marjorie Sandor on Coast to Coast AM I just had to pick up this collection of Uncanny stories. With stories from as early as the 1700s up to 2000s and spanning all across the globe, I was not disappointed by the offerings in this anthology.

I got to read old favorites by authors. I was able to once again listen to the strange "Music of Erich Zann" by H.P. Lovecraft. I followed alongside Egaeus as he fretted over her lovely bride-to-be "Berenice". And immersed myself in "Paranoia" by the talented hand of Shirley Jackson.

And I also got to meet new (to me) authors. I gagged as Yoko Ogawa described a neighbor with her unusual vegetables called "Old Mrs. J". I feared for my life as Chris Adrian detailed the intervention of "The Black Square" in people's lives.

And I began doubting reality as "Stone Animals" took over a family's life in Kelly Link's story. These are only six of the thirty-one stories found in this volume.

There were a few selections that I had to look up after reading to make sure I had understood the story correctly due to the writing style. Even so I can't name one story in this collection that I disliked. Many of these were also translated, which meant I was able to read many works, which I wouldn't have otherwise been able to enjoy. Each one charmed me and left a distinct impression on me, which is part of the reason why it took me so long to finish this.

Any fan of this genre should happily add this to their bookshelf or at the very least visit the strange worlds these authors paint for their readers.