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Friday, January 26, 2018

Healing with Herbs and Rituals: A Mexican Tradition - Eliseo Torres

This book contains revised versions of two of the authors earlier works: Folk Healer and Green Medicine.

Part One contains basic information on Curanderismo, how it works, what ailments it treats, and a brief look at the rituals involved. It also has a chapter on three of the most well-known practitioners in history: Don Pedrito Jaramillo, NiƱo Fidencio, and Teresita. Two following chapter explain how modern curanderos practice and how it is fused with modern medicine in some places. The final chapter contains references for further reading.

Part Two contains very basic information on how to actually use remedies found in curanderismo. It tells the reader where to find herbs, how to prepare them, precautions, and an index of herbs to use. It's good for reference, but without measurements and more detailed information, I'd advise against using anything without further research.

For basic information and understanding of curanderismo this is a good place to start, but not of use if a reader wants to practice.

Original Releases:
Folk Healer
Green Medicine

More works by the Author:
Curandero: A Life in Mexican Folk Healing

Monday, January 22, 2018

The Interior Castle; Mansions - Saint Teresa of Avila

As detailed in the preface, in an effort to assist her fellow Carmelite Sisters in reaching the same revelation in God as herself, Saint Teresa of Avila wrote of The Interior Castle of the soul and the Mansions found within it.

Of the First Mansion she explains in chapter one that each soul contains God if one is willing to seek Him, despite the marring of sin. Self-awareness is the key to finding Him.

In the Second Mansion speaks of the war between human souls and the devil on the path to unity with God.

For the Third Mansion she advises her sisters to always be aware of themselves and the mercy of God.

In the Fourth Mansion she advises that in prayers one should be mindful to love more than using the mind to think.

Being in union with God is explained in the Fifth Chapter and she advises that to best experience this one must only mind the gifts God has given oneself. She also advises that if one cannot stay in prayer and meditation that it is because God is working through ones person.

The Sixth Mansion is the longest chapter and speaks extensively of the various kinds of visionary experiences one will receive when in communion with God.

The Seventh Mansion, the final one, is her personal experience in being in the presence of God. She also speaks of the experiences of Martha and Mary in God's presence.

I had to take breaks between each Mansion to make sure I was digesting and comprehending what Saint Teresa was saying. Although short, the writing is heavy and requires a basic understanding of Catholic theology. The Mansions are beautiful and dense. As I read I recalled times where I felt myself in God's presence. Highly recommended for anybody who wants to experience God's presence personally!

Recommended Reads:
The Cloud of Unknowing - Anonymous
Revelations of Divine Love - Julian of Norwich

Friday, January 19, 2018

The Buried Giant - Kazuo Ishiguro

Axl and Beatrice, two elderly Britons, decide it's finally time to seek out their son who had disappeared years ago. Along the misty landscape the man and his princess, as he calls her, encounter many strange events. A Saxon warrior, an orphan boy, and a knight join them on the trek to actuality, their own hazy pasts just as mysterious.

Eventually they reach the source of the country's forgetfulness. With their combined skills and determination they must find a way to bring an end to this danger to bring back the country back to its normal state and restore their memories, no matter how painful they may be.

As always, Ishiguro brings true to life emotion in his fairy tale novel. I found myself recalling events in my own life as the characters tried to recall past failures and pains. And when they finally come to the surface, their deep pangs echoed in my soul. Yet another masterpiece from this author!

More by the Author:
Never Let Me Go
The Remains of the Day
An Artist of the Floating World

Monday, January 15, 2018

Princesses Behaving Badly - Linda Rodriguez McRobbie

From a young age children are bombarded by the tales of fantasy princesses from books, plays, and movies. From time to time we'll hear real stories about ones like Princess Diana, but even those are normally tailored to emphasize positive traits.

What about real princesses? Perhaps the kind that don't live up to our shining expectations? Learn about the fearsome Adhilde, a princess who traded her royal trapping for a swashbuckling adventurous life of a pirate. There's the fascinating tale of Roxolana,
a woman who went from sex slave to sultana. Hear the tale of Princess
Caraboo, the woman who fooled all of England. These and many more amazing women from all around the world in multiple time periods are here for the curious reader to admire and abhor. The history buff, the feminist, and the just plain curious will all find their appetites satiated by these real world tales.

Friday, January 12, 2018

108 Names of Hanuman - Vijaya Kumar

Like many beloved deities Hanuman, the monkey god in Hinduism, is known by many different names by his followers. This book collects the 108 names of Hanuman in a simple and accessible format. Each entry is numbered for convenience with a romanized version of the name, followed by the sanskrit version directly beneath, below that is the meaning of his name, and finally a short entry of how this name came to be with the inclusion of a brief story of how it came to be.
When visiting a friend in Utah many years ago, we decided to visit the Radha Krishna Temple. It was beautiful both inside and out and I was inspired by the calm I felt while on the grounds. While inside the temple, the dioramas that contained Hanuman caught my interest and I decided to learn a bit more about him. This book was a simple way to get a bit more familiar with this deity while I read more in-depth material.

Monday, January 8, 2018

Shadowmancer - G.P. Taylor

Dissatisfied with serving God, Vicar Obadiah Demurral is determined to become a God with the help of an ancient relic in his possession and the power of evil. Unfortunately for him a servant of the light named Raphah is on the trail of this stolen sacred object and intends to put it back in its place.

But even this strong soldier of God may not be strong enough against a man who has lost all sanity and is willing to give his very soul for power. As it would happen two children, Kate and Thomas, somehow get caught up in the crossfire. They will learn the power of love, God, and the good of people's hearts that can overcome even the darkest evil.

Taylor wrote this allegorical Christian tale in hopes of countering the popular His Dark Materials series by Philip Pullman, which contains an atheist point of view. I made it about half-way through the first time I attempted to read this novel and just barely made it to the end this time. While the two main characters, Kate and Thomas, have interesting backgrounds they aren't told in an interesting way. There are several events with the clear purpose of teaching values, like kindness, forgiveness, and the dangers of discrimination, which are wonderful for the audience of young adults. But the sequence of events feels clumsily cobbled together and prevents a cohesive narrative from forming. The conclusion is powerful, however, with both Kate and Thomas learning of the true power they each have through God.

I would not recommend this for more seasoned readers, as the allegory transparent and obvious. But for younger readers or those who enjoy an easy Christian allegorical read, this is a decent read.

Books in the Series:
The Shadowmancer Returns: The Curse of Salamander Street

Friday, January 5, 2018

Scarlet - Marissa Meyer

Cinder, the cyborg fugitive, must escape prison if she hopes to stay alive. Her newfound powers may make it a bit easier to escape and hide, but it still won't be easy with both residents of earth and luna looking for her.

Meanwhile on the earth's surface, a young woman named Scarlet fears for her grandmother's life. When her grandmother disappeared without a word, Scarlet knew she must have been kidnapped, but neither the police nor the private investigator believe her. Of course it doesn't help that they both have a reputation for being "crazy".

Scarlet would begin the search herself if she had any leads. Enter Wolf, a man who says he can help her find her grandmother. With what little money she has left, Scarlet decides to take the stranger up on his offer to save her grandmother and in the process unravel secrets of her own childhood.

At the beginning I was turned off by the main character, Scarlet. Her rage, while understandable, made her somewhat unsympathetic, but as I got further into the book I realized she is just a no-nonsense kind of person. As I expected a romance between Scarlet and Wolf appeared but was not developed.

Cinder's portion was filled with action and tragedy, but also with some unexpected humor with the new addition to her party.

The continuing development of the larger plot line is what made this novel enjoyable for me. I'm interested to see what comes in the next book.

Books in the Series:
Cinder (Book 1)
Cress (Book 3)

Similar Reads:
The Stepsister Scheme - Jim C. Hines
Beauty and the Clockwork Beast - Nancy Campbell Allen

Monday, January 1, 2018

The Universe Within - Neil Shubin

Shubin weaves a fantastic story of how our bodies are made of the same star stuff as the universe. Examinations of fossils and the elements in our bodies are just some of the proofs he uses to tell the story of life. By alternating between the outside world and our inner bodies this book is relatable and easily readable by large audience.

I will simply say, I enjoyed this fascinating examination of both the inner and outer universe.

More by the Author:
Your Inner Fish

In The Universe Within, with his trademark clarity and exuberance, Shubin takes an even more expansive approach to the question of why we look the way we do. Starting once again with fossils, he turns his gaze skyward, showing us how the entirety of the universe’s fourteen-billion-year history can be seen in our bodies. As he moves from our very molecular composition (a result of stellar events at the origin of our solar system) through the workings of our eyes, Shubin makes clear how the evolution of the cosmos has profoundly marked our own bodies.