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Friday, August 31, 2018

Santa Muerte - Tracey Rollin

Santa Muerte, Saint Death, has a heavy following in Mexico and her worship has moved into the US through both immigration from Mexico and tourism into Mexico. Her popularity has so grown that many people are now finding candles with her image in grocery stores, and not just specialty stores devoted to religious or spiritual items.

In order for the reader to have a clear image of La Santa Muerte, the first few chapters explain her origins in Mexico and with the Aztecs. Following the explanation of her origin, the author presents the Seven Colors used in her worships and what they mean. After this she suggests how to keep a ritual space along with the tools to use while working with Santa Muerte, including the Rosary and a Novena (prayer). The chapters that follow detail how to use each individual color, each containing suggestions for appropriate offerings for reach aspect,
along with focused Novenas, Prayers, and Spells.

I enjoyed this book quite a bit. It seems to mix traditional with more new age practices in a balanced manner. When she presents the Rosary, she first explains how Catholics traditionally pray the Rosary and then provides the prayers she uses specifically for Santa Muerte when using the Rosary. She provides many food, herb, and item offerings for readers to choose from, but also cautions against certain traditional suggestions for various safety concerns. This book has a good background for those who need to learn about her traditionally and wonderful additional resources for those who wish to begin worshipping or working with her.

Recommended Reading:
Devoted to Death: Santa Muerte, the Skeleton Saint - R. Andrew Chesnut
La Santa Muerte: Unearthing the Magic & Mysticism of Death - Tomas Prower

Monday, August 27, 2018

Miguel and the Grand Harmony - Matt de la Peña

This creative prelude told by The Grand Harmony itself follows Miguel of Disney's Coco throughout his daily life of chores and sneaking around to listen to music, which he is forbidden by family rules from hearing. The Grand Harmony takes special interest in Miguel, feeling his deep desire to indulge in music. Eventually The Grand Harmony finds a way to guide Miguel to an instrument that may just pave the way for him to enjoy his wish.

I absolutely adored the illustrations of Ana Ramirez with the folksy and whimsical style. I felt like it fit the narrator, The Grand Harmony, very well. A particular aspect of the narration I liked was the fact that the Grand Harmony, not only follows music, but "noise", as well. Fans of the movie will enjoy this interpretation of the
beginning of the movie Coco.

Source Material:
Coco the Movie

Friday, August 24, 2018

Jesus of Nazareth - Pope Benedict XVI

Joseph Aloisius Ratzinger was made Pope of the Roman Catholic Church in 2005 and chose the name Benedict XVI for his designation.

In this piece, the Pope shares his knowledge and personal experience with Jesus of Nazareth. He includes some of the most important episodes in Jesus' life, including His Baptism and the Sermon on the Mount. He also discusses the Disciples and the Parables in the Gospels and what we can learn from them. Perhaps the most interesting portion to me was his analysis of the Lord's Prayer.

I have read many biographies and analysis of the gospels in the past. I didn't feel this provided any knowledge I didn't already have, but I did enjoy his writing style. For those who would like to learn more about Jesus Christ and the Gospels, this is a good read.

Recommended Reads:
The Mystical Christ - Manly P. Hall
The Mystical Life of Jesus - H. Spencer Lewis

Monday, August 20, 2018

The Cherokee Nation and the Trail of Tears - Michael D. Green, Theda Perdue

While most people in the United States learn about the horrors of the Trail of Tears, many only learned the basic facts of thousands of Native Americans being forcibly relocated to unfamiliar territory and how thousands died along the way. Although many native peoples were moved during this terrible event, including the Chickasaw, Choctaw, Creek, and Seminole, this book focuses specifically on how this came about for the Aniyunwiya, Cherokee Nation, and how it effected them.

Because this is a relatively short book on the topic, this book does not have as many details as other books do; however, it is concise and stays on topic the entire time. It sticks to the facts and avoids emotional inserts. I felt this book was a good summary of the events surrounding the Trail of Tears and the event itself.

Friday, August 17, 2018

Seven Years of Highly Defective People - Scott Adams

In an office lacking logic and direction, Dilbert the engineer navigates his job the best he can. Alongside the work-avoidant Wally and the hot-headed Alice, they try to navigate office life, while avoiding the Pointy-Haired Boss.

Adams is no stranger to controversy. He uses his characters to make both social and political commentary on occasion. In this collection he gathers his own favorite strips, fan favorite strips, and even strips that received animosity. While I find Dilbert comic strips hilarious to begin with, the additional commentary from Adams makes them all the funnier. Perhaps the funniest strips are where people completely miss the point or assume he is talking about something when he's not.

I loved having this extra insight into Adams' own mind and the thoughts of his fans in this collection of comic strips.

More by the Author:
It's Not Funny If You Have to Explain It
The Dilbert Principle
Dilbert Gives You Business

Monday, August 13, 2018

Keturah and Lord Death - Martine Leavitt

When sixteen year old Keturah becomes lost in the woods after following a hart, she never would have thought her skills would save her life. When death comes upon her, she tells him a story of true love to stave off his cold grasp. So inspired by her story, he agrees to let her live one more day. If she can prove that true love exists he will let her live; if not, he will return for her.

Despite her desperation to find a husband before death returns for her, Keturah remains kind to those around her and true to herself. Familiary with other such folktales, I was unsurprised
by the final conclusion, but I loved the story itself.

More by the Author:
The Dollmage
Tom Finder
The Taker's Key

Related Reads:

A Knot in the Grain - Robin McKinley
Arabian Nights

Friday, August 10, 2018

Raising Girls - Steve Biddulph

Grounded with his degree in psychology and his experience as a guidance officer, Biddulph has been writing books on raising children since 1984, starting with The Secret of Happy Children. Like his book Raising Boys, Raising Girls focuses specifically on the challenges of that particular sex.

Part One discusses what he sees as the Five Stages of Girlhood: Birth to Two, Two to Five, Five to Ten, Ten to Fourteen, and Fourteen to Eighteen. Importantly, Biddulph notes that due to a girl's psychological and physical development, theses stages may vary from girl to girl. He does not only speak of these stages in abstract ways; he writes of specific examples and how parents can help their girls and young women navigate complicated situations, like how to handle arguments with friends and situations with significant others from a parenting role.

Part Two Hazardous topics and how to handle them. These
topics include: sexuality, meanness, body image, drugs, and use of the internet. Each of these chapters contains the newest information available concerning each topic and how to handle it. I noted that the chapter on sexuality included information for girls who are lesbians, which is often missing in such parenting books.

Part Three contains only two chapters, one for the relationship between a daughter and her mother and a daughter and her father.

When I read books aimed at raising girls and young women, I often find they are filled with stereotypes, but this one does not. I felt strongly that Biddulph addresses specific challenges girls face without falling into this trap. This book is filled with fantastic information that will help parents address current and future dilemmas. Biddulph puts emphasis on supporting girls and young women in a way that allows them to make good decisions and solutions for themselves. Although I've seen this same information in many books, I think the way it's presented is what makes this one my favorite.

More by the Author:
Raising Boys
10 Things Girls Need Most
The Secret of Happy Children

Recommended Reads:
NurtureShock - Po Bronson, Ashley Merryman
How to Talk So Kids Will Listen - Adele Faber, Elaine Mazlish

Monday, August 6, 2018

When the Root Children Wake Up - Audrey Wood, Ned Bittinger

This gorgeously illustrated book tells the story of the Root Children as they wake from their winter slumber and play throughout the year. The Root children are of varies skin tones, eye colors, and body shapes. They are covered in lively plants and wings.

Both children and parents will love this exciting romp through the year!

Recommended Reads:
Mother Earth and Her Children - Sibylle von Olfers

Friday, August 3, 2018

Our Magnificent Bastard Tongue - John McWhorter

Most people know the English language is a mixture of many different languages, but aren't so certain of where everything comes from. Why is the plural of mouse mice, while the plural of moose is moose? Why do we use "do" to preface our verbs, while other languages simply use the verb? Why are the conjugations of our verbs vary so wildly in comparison to other languages? Do words and phrases really shape our way of thinking? These and so many other questions are answered in this fantastic book.

I enjoyed ever chapter of this book. McWhorter made this complicated topic readable and even humorous at times. If you want to learn more about language, I recommend this and any of McWhorter's fantastic books.

More by the Author:
Talking Back, Talking Black
The Power of Babel
The Language Hoax