Monday, January 16, 2017

Reading Library Books in 2017

I always try to do a library related reading challenge. I do it in part because I am a librarian, and I have a soft spot for library related things. In addition, a significant amount of books I read come from libraries-- my local public library, my workplace library, or interlibrary loan.  So it feels natural to do this kind of challenge. A detail that seems to be  an issue is the stability of these challenges. The one I am signing up now has changed names at least twice, and yet I have managed to follow them along. We'll see how it goes this year. I am doing the following library reading challenge this year:

Library Love Challenge 2017. (link to sign up page at Bea's Book Nook)
Library Love Challenge (sign up at Angel's Guilty Pleasures



Based on  what I have completed before, I am going to start at the following level:

Thrifty Reader: Read and review 24 books. 

If I read more, I will upgrade. I will add books to the reading list as I pick them up to read. I will link to the reviews when I post them to the blog.





List of books read for this challenge:


  1. Becky Libourel Diamond, The Thousand Dollar Dinner.



Be nice if someone reads to me in 2017

I first tried the Audiobooks Challenge in 2016, and I completed it successfully. I found that I do enjoy when someone reads me the text once in a while. For audiobooks, I tend to prefer nonfiction and light reading since I am often listening to the book while I am doing other things blogging. My only concern with  this challenge is finding books to read. My local public library is my source for audiobooks, but their selection is a bit limited. I am hoping that I can use their Overdrive system to get a new (or at least new to me) selections to complete this challenge.

Here is the sign up page where you can see details and sign up if you are interested.




As I did last year, I am committing initially to the following level:

Newbie (I'll give a try): 1 to 5 books read and reviewed. 

I listened to five books last year. I think I will be able to upgrade, but  it is dependent on what books in audio I can get my hands on. We'll see.

I will be adding books to the list as I pick them up and read them. I will link the reviews as I post the reviews.

List of books read for this challenge:







Reading a bit about food and foodie culture in 2017

I did the Foodies Read reading challenge for the first time in 2016. It was a challenge that I enjoyed, and I found myself reading some interesting books. So I am doing  it again this year. As of this post, I already finished one book, and I will be posting the review for that soon.

Here is the sign up link (you may have to scroll a bit on  their page to see it) for details. The sign up time is closed, but you can enter late (like I am) by linking your reviews as you read them in the monthly link ups. I am linking below the January link up. You can keep up when other link ups go up by rss reader (how I do it):




I managed to read 5 books last year, so I am going to take a chance and commit initially to the following level:

Pastry Chef: 4 to 8 books read and reviewed. 


I will add books to my  reading list as I pick up and read them. I will add the links to the reviews as I get them posted.

Bon Appetit.

List of books read for this challenge:

  1. Becky Libourel Diamond, The Thousand Dollar Dinner

 

Climbing up Mount TBR in 2017

The Mount TBR Reading Challenge is one that I enjoy, but it is not one I have always completed successfully. I managed to make it in 2015, but I fell short last year. So, I am packing my climbing gear and I am taking another stab at it; I just can't quit this challenge. I have plenty of books of my own in my TBR (to be read) pile that I need to try to clear out a bit. So without further ado, here we go.

Some of the rules, according to their website:

  • Challenge runs from January 1 to December 31, 2017.
  • Books must be owned by you prior to January 1, 2017. No library books. (I read a lot of library books, which is what at times distracts me from this challenge, so I will make an effort to pay a bit more attention). 
If you want to sign up (you can do so until November 1st, 2017), here is the link for the sign up page:




Once again, I will attempt to complete the following mountain:

Pike's Peak: Read and review 12 books from the TBR pile. 

As always, if I read more, I will attempt to upgrade to the next mountain. I will add books to my list as I pick them up and read them. I will link the reviews on the list once I post them.

Books read for this challenge:







Once again, working to keep my Netgalley/Edelweiss reads under control

I have been doing the Netgalley/Edelweiss Reading Challenge since 2014. I find it a good way to keep me motivated to make sure I read the things I request and get approved for in those services. So, I am jumping once more. As I have mentioned before, I am keeping my commitments on the low side given the bad circumstances of 2016, which I am sure may extend into 2017. I will upgrade as I see necessary, but I am staying cautious. I noticed this year we have a new host. Falling For YA had the torch, and this  year it  has been passed to Bookish Things and More.

So, here we go. Some of the details:

  • Challenge runs January 1, 2017 to December 31, 2017. 
  • As long as it comes from Netgalley or Edelweiss, it counts. 
  • There is a hashtag, which I hope I will remember to use, but possible I will forget once or twice. Anyhow, the hashtag is #NGEW2017. 

If you wish to sign up or want to learn  more, here is the link to the sign up page:



I am committing to the following challenge level: 

Bronze = 10 books read and reviewed.  

We will see how it goes. As I usually do, I will be adding the books to the list as I read them.

List of books read for this challenge: 

Friday, January 13, 2017

Reading graphic novels, maybe some manga too, in 2017

I have been selecting and deciding which reading challenges I will attempt in 2017. I will be posting the challenges I have chosen over the next few days, and I will create a challenges page for 2017 that will reside on the blog's right sidebar with a list and links to all the challenge posts.

Once again, I am doing the Graphic Novels and Manga Reading Challenge. The challenge is on its 10th anniversary. I have done it three times (2014, 2015, and 2016), and I am glad to try it out again for 2017 on their 10th year. This is a challenge I enjoy because graphic novels and manga are one of my favorite reading genres. As I mentioned in my end of year reading report for 2016, the lousy latter part of the year affected my reading quite a bit, and it slowed me down. I ended up reading less. While I did manage to complete this challenge last year, I am going to be cautious this year. So I am going to start out with a low commitment level. If I manage to finish that in a timely fashion, I will upgrade the commitment level.

You can find the details to the challenge and sign up at this page. Some details:

  • Challenge runs from January 1, 2017 to December 31, 2017. 
  • "What counts: graphic novels, collected trade editions, manga, comic strip collections, comic books or combinations of text and bubbles all in the same book. In print or digital. Anything else you feel is suitable. My personal criteria is if it has either frames OR speech bubbles it counts. I'm not going to be the comic police but if you are unsure, ask me in the comments any given month."

I am going to start out low and commit to the following:

Modern Age: read and review 12 books during the year (that's only 1 book a month)


I will add the titles to the list as I read them. Once I have reviewed them, I will add the link to the review. Reading a graphic novel or manga a month is not the hard part. For me, getting the reviews up on time is often the real challenge. We will see how it goes. As I mentioned, if I manage to finish the initial commitment in a timely fashion, I will upgrade.




List of books read for this challenge:

  1.  




My Reading List for 2016

(This is cross-posted from my blog The Gypsy Librarian).

Welcome to my 2016 Reading List where I take a look at my year in reading. I feel that I started strong, but then the latter part of the year my reading just slowed down. The lousy election season in the United States certainly did not help my reading mood in the later part of the year. Also new this year is my study of Tarot and oracle cards. I am teaching myself how to read Tarot as a hobby and mainly as a meditation and reflection tool. I have found this new interest to be a calming element. In terms of work, I am entering my fifth year working at Berea College, and overall, it is going well.

Blogging here at The Gypsy Librarian has slowed down. While I still read LIS literature here and there, I am not reading as much as before. In addition, I find that I honestly could not care less about a lot of the drama in the library field, which means I am not inclined to blog about it. But if something comes up that may be of interest, I will post about it here. As I mentioned in last year's report, I am at peace with blogging less here. I've got other more interesting things going.

Blogging at The Itinerant Librarian has gone along nicely. That blog is growing into a good book review blog. I review both new and older selections I get from various sources. If you think you have a book I may want to read and review, check out my book review statement. I read a lot, and I read a variety of things, but I do not read everything, which is why I created the review statement. Reading and reviewing books is one of the best parts of being a librarian and reader. As I mentioned in last year's reading report, getting to know a few authors and editors is also a nice part of being a book blogger.

So, without further fuss, here is the list of books I read in 2016. As always, an asterisk (*) after a title indicates a book I reread:

January:

  • Jane Lyle, Tarot Deck: Explore the Power of Tarot (book and deck kit).
  • Troy Little, Hunter S. Thompson's Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas
  • Russell Brettholtz, Side-Kicked.
  • Rob Williams, Star Wars Rebellion, Volume 2: The Akahista Gamble
  • Don Brown, Drowned City: Hurricane Katrina and New Orleans.
  • Paul M. Barrett, Glock: The Rise of America's Gun.
  • Lewis Black, Me of Little Faith (audiobook edition)*
February:

  • Amanda Conner and Jimmy Palmiotti, Harley Quinn Volume 3: Kiss Kiss Bang Stab
  • Greg Rucka, Shattered Empire (Star Wars graphic novel)
  • Jen Campbell, The Bookshop Book
  • Natasha Knight, Given to the Savage
  • John Leguizamo, Ghetto Klown
  • Elizabeth Warren, A Fighting Chance (audiobook)
  • Margie Lapanja, Food Men Love
  • Julio Patán, Cocteles con historia
  • Donnie Cates, The Ghost Fleet, Volume 1: Deadhead
  • Ted Rall, Bernie
  • Kevin B. Eastman and Peter A. Laird, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: The Ultimate Collection, Volume 3

March:

  • Jim Berg, The Jumbo Duct Tape Book
  • Daniel Lipkowitz, LEGO Star Wars in 100 Scenes
  • Sarah Bowen, Divided Spirits
  • Harlan Ellison, Night and the Enemy
  • Sean Ryan, New Suicide Squad, Volume 2: Monsters
  • Tom King, Grayson, Volume 2: We all Die at Dawn
  • Rob Williams, Martian Manhunter, Volume 1: The Epiphany
  • Masahiko Murakami, Nichiren
  • Christopher Hansard, The Tibetan Art of Positive Thinking.
  • Kim W. Andersson, The Complete Love Hurts
  • Jerry Scott, Zits Unzipped
  • Charles Soule, Lando
  • Staci Mendoza, Reading and Understanding the Mysteries of the Tarot.
  • Robert Kirkman, Battle Pope, Volume 3: Pillow Talk
  • Jerry Scott, My Bad: a Zits Treasury.
  • Robert Kirkman, Battle Pope, Volume 4: Wrath of God

April:

  • Isabella Alston, Tarot Cards
  • Jessa Crispin, The Creative Tarot
  • Josh Mack, The Hobo Handbook
  • James Swallow, The Blood Angels Omnibus, Volume 1.
  • Richard Matheson, Hell House
  • Dick Lehr, Black Mass
  • Scott Snyder, Batman, Volume 8: Superheavy
  • Bathroom Readers' Institute, Uncle John's Factastic Bathroom Reader

May:

  • Louis Jordan, Llewellyn's Complete Book of Tarot
  • Patrick Gleason, Robin: Son of Batman, Volume 1.  
  • Brian Azzarello, Batman: Europa
  • Josephine Ellershaw, Easy Tarot (book and deck kit).
  • Scott Adams, When Did Ignorance Become a Point of View (Dilbert).
  • Jeff Jensen, Green River Killer
  • Donny Cates, The Ghost Fleet, Volume 2: Over the Top
  • Jason Aaron, Vader Down
  • Daniel Way, Deadpool by Daniel Way: The Complete Collection, Volume 1
  • Wilfred Santiago, 21: the Story of Roberto Clemente

June:

  • Thich Nhat Hahn, Silence
  • Sarah Cooper, 100 Tricks to Appear Smart in Meetings
  • Ellen DeGeneres, Seriously...I'm Kidding (audiobook).
  • Erik Burnham, Ghostbusters International

July:

  • Nicholas Pileggi, Casino.  
  • Adrian Tomine, Scenes from an Impending Marriage
  • David Wilkie, Coffee with Jesus
  • Corinna Sara Bechko, Aliens/Vampirella.  
  • David Wilkie, A Second Shot of Coffee with Jesus
  • Tom King, Grayson, Volume 3: Nemesis
  • Benjamin Law, Gaysia
  • Rachel Kramer Bussel, ed., Dirty Dates
  • Barbara Moore, Tarot for Beginners
  • Amanda Conner and  Jimmy Palmiotti, Harley Quinn, Volume 4: A Call to Arms
  • Sarah A. Chrisman, True Ladies and Proper Gentlemen

August:

  • Stephanie McMillan, The Beginning of the American Fall
  • Gustavo Duarte, Monsters! and Other Stories
  • Miguel Ruiz, Jr., The Mastery of Self
  • Carol Peachee, The Birth of Bourbon
  • Suzanne Corbie, Tarot Workshop: an Introductory Guide to Tarot (audiobook).
  • Gabriel García Márquez, Yo No Vengo a Decir un Discurso
  • Sean Michael Wilson, Cold Mountain: The Legend of Han Shan and Shih Te.
  • Bill Maher, New Rules (audiobook edition)*

September:

  • Winifred Gallagher, How the Post Office Created America.
  • Stacey DeMarco, The Halloween Oracle (deck and book kit). 
  • Emelyn Rude, Tastes Like Chicken
  • Denys Leary, Why We Suck (audiobook edition)*

October: 

  • G.B. Trudeau, Yuge! 30 Years of Doonesbury on  Trump
  • Editors of Rock Point, Cats in Sweaters.  
  • Tomas Prower, La Santa Muerte
  • Amanda Conner and  Jimmy Palmiotti, Harley Quinn, Volume 5: The Joker's Last Laugh.
  • Carole Cable, Cable on Academe.*


November:

  • Alex Mar, Witches of America
  • Joseph D. Pistone, The Way of the Wiseguy
  • Sam Maggs, Wonder Women
  • Mira Grant, Rolling in the Deep.
  • Stan Sakai, Usagi Yojimbo, Volume 30: Thieves and Spies
  • M.R. James, et.al., Ghost Stories of an Antiquary, Volume 1
  • Paul Dixon, Contraband Cocktails


December:

  • Barbara Moore and Aly Fell (illustrator), The Steampunk Tarot (deck and book kit).

Here are the numbers:


For 2016, I read a total of 92 books, including 4 re-reads.

Number of books read in 2015: 123, including 2 re-reads (the 2015 list).
Number of books read in 2014: 152, including 2 re-reads (the 2014 list).
Number of books read in 2013: 173, including 2 re-reads (the 2013 list).
Number of books read in 2012: 117, with 6 re-reads (the 2012 list).
Number of books read in 2011: 119, with 3 re-reads (the 2011 list). 
Number of books read in 2010:  119, with 6 rereads (the 2010 list).
Number of books read in 2009: 98, with 5 rereads. I believe this is the first time I started to actively track rereads. (the 2009 list).
Number of books read in 2008: 111 (the 2008 list).
Number of books read in 2007: 85 (the 2007 list).
Number of books read in 2006: 106 (the 2006 list).
Number of books read in 2005: 73
Commentary, other numbers, and additional thoughts:

  • I knew even without doing the final tally that I read fewer books this year. As I mention, the latter part of the year was just rough overall. On the positive, I do feel that I got to read some really good books this year, and I will do a post later highlighting the best books I read in 2016. 
  • The re-reads I did for one of my reading challenges. You can view my Reading Challenges for 2016 page to see how things turned out. In a nutshell, I completed 10 out 12 reading challenges I set out to do. As of this post, I am in the process of selecting what reading challenges I will attempt in 2017. Given how bad the latter part of 2016 was and  that I am not expecting 2017 to be any better in a lot of ways, I am probably going to keep the goals on the low side to be safe. 
  • Best month: March with 16 books. 
  • Worst month: December with 1 book. 
  • 61 books in print. The majority of what I read is in print, which reflects my preference to read in print.
  • 25 e-books. Majority of these I read via NetGalley. One of them came from my local public library's Overdrive offerings.
  • 6 audiobooks. These I  read mainly for the Audiobooks Reading Challenge I did last year. Not sure if I will repeat this challenge given the quality and selection of audiobooks in my local public library leaves a lot to be desired. They are good in other areas, but the audiobook collection has been neglected, and it shows in old out of date titles with minimal appeal. 
  • 6 fiction books read. Most of these were for the Horror Reading Challenge I did. This was a challenge I enjoyed, and I may repeat it again this year. I did rediscover that I do like the horror genre. Graphic novels and manga are not included in this number regardless of them being fiction or not.
  • 46 nonfiction titles. Again, this shows that I prefer to read nonfiction. This number does not include graphic novels and manga, though I did read some of those that could be classified as nonfiction such as graphic biographies. Tarot books are included in the category of nonfiction for me. 
  • 46 graphic novels. These could be fiction or nonfiction. I did not read any mangas this year, though I have bought a few new series. Maybe I can get to some of them in 2017. 
  • I read 53 books from my local public library, which at this time is the Berea branch of the Madison County (KY) Public Library. Most of my popular type reading comes from the public library for me. 
  • I read 2 books from my library, Hutchins Library, Berea College. 
  • No interlibrary loans (ILL) this year. It was not for lack of things I would have wanted to do ILL for, but more that I was busy enough with what I had to read already. 
  • I read 13 books that I own. 
  • Other numbers I find of interest: 
    • Erotica and/or sex writing: 3
    • LIS: 0. I had a few in my office I had checked out, but I did not get around to them. To be honest, I did not feel much of a loss. These days I am very selective about any LIS books I may pick up for reading. I still do read articles and keep up with what is left of the librarian blogosphere, so I feel at peace in this regard. We will see if I pick up anything in LIS in 2017. 
    • Tarot and/or oracle cards and/or divination: 9. As I mentioned, I began to study Tarot (and oracle cards to a lesser extent) seriously in 2016. As a result, I have been reading in this topic. When I get a deck that comes with a substantial companion book, I read the book, and I review both the book and the deck. In addition, I will be reviewing any individual decks I get to use and any standalone Tarot books. One of the best ones I read this year on this was Jessa Crispin's The Creative Tarot (link to my review). In addition, I was able to add these books to the tally of the Self-Help Junkie Reading Challenge I did in 2016. 
    • Pagan/Other beliefs/inspirational: 4. In this category I put stuff that deals with spirituality broadly. Though Tarot and paganism do not have to go together, they often do, so naturally as I read about Tarot I got curious about some pagan traditions. So among other things I read a book on witchcraft and witches in  the United States and another on La Santa Muerte. I also read some other inspirational books including a couple of graphic novels featuring Jesus in a coffee shop. I often label myself as a heathen, but it  does not mean I am a pagan per se, well, at least as far as I know. In this regard, I am more of a curious explorer, but I am finding a bit of a soft spot for some pagan paths. We'll see what kind of books on this I pick up in 2017. As a final comment, a couple of the books in this category also qualified for the Self-Help Junkie challenge.
    • Books I was offered for review (not from NetGalley or Edelweiss): 2. This has slowed down a bit for me. In part, this was due to the lousy year, which affected my reading mood, which meant there were books I did not get to in the most timely fashion. I have a few more left, and I hope to get to them in 2017.
    • Books in Spanish: 2. I was happy to see that this year I managed to read something, anything, in Spanish. For me, reading in Spanish keeps my in touch with my heritage.

Looking ahead, as of this post, I am currently reading the following:

  • Mark Kurlansky, Paper: Paging Through History.
  • P.C. Cast and Kristin Cast, Marked (House of Night, Book One).
  • C.S. Goto, Blood Ravens: the Dawn of War Omnibus (Warhammer 40,000).

Also, for 2017, I have already read two books, which I will be reviewing on the blog soon:

  • Becky Diamond, The Thousand Dollar Dinner
  • Inazo Nitobe, et.al., Bushido: The Soul of the Samurai (graphic novel adaptation).

Finally, here are some other folks who looked at their year's end reading:


Thank you for reading and stopping by. I hope you come back and check out my list of best books read in 2016, which I hope to publish soon.

Happy reading in 2017.

Friday, January 06, 2017

Holiday Post 2016: What the heck happened? Holy Shit edition

Few will disagree that 2016 was one hell of a shit year in various ways. Many of us are glad it is over, though I am not holding much hope for 2017 given the results of the clusterfuck elections in the United States. Still, today is Three Kings Day in many parts of Latin America, including Puerto Rico, and for a few more days my Puerto Rican brethren are celebrating the octavas and octavitas, so I am not quite ready to end the holiday season.  For now, I would like to end the 12 Days of Christmas with the last of my holiday posts for 2016 and take a look at what the hell happened in 2016. For me, this is not just looking back. It's a way to bury 2016 and move on to 2017.

News

Let's look at some of the news for 2016.







  • USA Today offers a look at 2016 in photos
  • The Advocate has their year in review, featuring "everything that mattered, from odious Religious Freedom Restoration Acts, to queers marching in New York's St. Patrick's Day Parade, to the end of the ban on trans military service, to the massacre in Orlando — and much more."
  • The Atlantic wants to remind us that 2016 was not all shit with a set of hopeful images. There are some really neat photos here. 
  • The Root looks at media diversity stories of 2016
  • In the end, I would say the best review of 2016 is The Rude Pundit's haiku review of the year where his readers and him look at the past year in haiku. (Opening post, part one, and part two).

Pop culture and entertainment



Let us forget about the bad news and look a bit at pop culture and entertainment.  

Some stuff about libraries

As I have mentioned, I am a librarian, so I have to highlight a story or two. 


Fuckery


  • 2016 had a lot of fuckery that I would rather forget, but have to mention at least one. So here is a list of the worst anti-science nonsense of 2016. The stupid was strong in 2016. Story via Grist.
I do not want to leave folks with gloom and doom, so here is a guy's video of all he learned in 2016. Perhaps we can make a resolution to be like him and learn a new thing or two in 2017. Read a new book or two. Learn a new language. Pick up a new hobby. Find a bit of bliss and go onward in 2017.

Paz y amor.



Wednesday, January 04, 2017

Holiday Post: Books and Reading.

Welcome to 2017 here at The Itinerant Librarian. We continue with the 12 Days of Christmas, and  here is my holiday post on books and reading.  I know many folks take a few moments at this time of the year to look back at what they read in 2016; I will be posting my own 2016 reading report later this  month. I also know those folks may be looking for reading ideas for 2017, and that is where this post comes in. I hope some of these links are helpful to folks. I will add my comments here and there. If I have read something featured in any of these lists that I think is worth recommending I will. As always, comments are welcomed.






Some of the big lists

This is a sampling of the usual suspects. You know, the big shot lists that almost everyone looks at.


Other Lists

These are other lists I have found that may be of interest. They are not quite from the big shots.


Books to help you understand things

2016 as I mentioned was a seriously fucked up year. So of course we are getting lists to help you understand just what the hell happened. Here is a sampling of that.

  • The media has gotten a lot of flak for their lousy coverage of events in 2016, especially the U.S. election. And they deserve all the criticism they get; they dropped the ball on that. Still, understanding the media is important, so here is a reading list for understanding the media from Book Riot.
  • Signature offers a list of 7 books to understand the incoming Trump administration.This is a bit different of a list. It is not really books about Trump. Only real book about him or with his name is his own Art of the Deal. It is more books on topics that will be affected by the man. I can offer you two books I have read that may help you understand Trump better and are not on this list. One is Ted Rall's Trump: a Graphic Biography (link to my review), and the other is Yuge! 30 Years of Doonesbury on Trump (link to my review). Believe me, Doonesbury has been warning us about Trump for years.

A bit of diversity

From international reads to ethnic groups to LGBT, here are some books to help you diversify your reading.This is not comprehensive; it is just a sampling of things that came in my feed reader. If you have other lists related to diversity you want to add, feel free to link them in the comments for me to check out.


Some graphic novels and comics

Graphic novels and comics are one of my favorite reading formats, so naturally I have to offer some suggestions.


 Some adult fare

And finally, here is a bit for folks who like erotica and sex writing. If you are not one of those folks, you can skip this last link.

  • Violet Blue offers her list to help you kink your Kindle (or other e-reader, or in some cases you can get them in print). I will warn her site can be NSFW. From this list, I do have the Circlet Treasure of Erotic Wonderland on my TBR, and I will review it after I read it.

Friday, December 30, 2016

Deck Review: The Halloween Oracle

Stacey DeMarco (author) and Jimmy Manton (illustrator), The Halloween Oracle. Victoria, Australia: Blue Angel Publishing, 2014. ISBN: 978-1-922161-32-1. (Link to information on Aeclectic.net).

Genre: nonfiction and inspirational
Subgenre: oracle cards, divination, Halloween

I've wanted to write a review of this deck and its companion book for a while now. During the month of October 2016, I used it on Fridays and on some extra days for the "31 Days Tarot Challenge." This is me using the deck on the second day of the challenge. I was very happy with the results and readings I got with the deck. It may be called The Halloween Oracle, but this is a deck you can use year round. This is specially true for folks like me who believe every day, except Christmas maybe, should be Halloween. I will probably bring it out throughout the year as needed.

The deck comes in a relatively solid, small box (about 6 1/4 inches by 5 inches). The box contains the 36-cards deck and the 80-pages companion guidebook. The box can be used to store the deck and book, which is important to me since I do not keep a supply of pouch bags around for decks. I wish more publishers did this instead of packaging their deck sets in useless, padded big boxes that take up space and can't really be reused. Rant aside, let's see what we get in the set.

The cards are about 5 1/4 inches by 3 3/4 inches The deck includes 36 cards with a broad variety of themes on the cards. Cards are not too thick, but they still have good card stock; the cards also have a light glossy coating. These are not cards for riffle shuffling, but overall with care they should last a good long time.

Jimmy Manton did the artwork on the cards, and he did excellent work. In the spirit of Halloween, this deck features cards that go from playful to haunting. This is a deck that has darkness, but I would not consider it a "dark" deck. As I said, if you are fan of Halloween, this is a deck for you. The images are in realistic style paintings that are rich in detail and provide a lot of depth. For folks who read cards intuitively, the images are strong and evocative. I do not consider myself to be the most intuitive person, and I could read these cards well enough with minimal use of the book. Still, if you need a little help, each card has a label and a few keywords or phrase to help you along. This is the a deck where the images invite  you to stare a bit and reflect. I mostly read cards for myself as a tool for meditation and reflection, so I found the cards useful for that. I am sure that if you read for others, they will work well. Perhaps you can use them to supplement a dark-themed deck. During October 2016, I used this deck along with the Vampire Tarot of the Eternal Night deck, and it went well. Experts out there can try other deck combinations.

Stacey DeMarco created the concept and writes the companion book. The cards concepts and text on the cards are spot on. The book is small and simple, but it gives you just enough guidance to get you going. The book is arranged as follows:

  • A short introduction on Halloween, the scariest night of the year, and its traditions. DeMarco adds a bit of interesting perspective: living in Australia, it is not really Halloween season as it is here in the United States. However, the holiday is gaining popularity down there, so she celebrates it a bit with her children along with Beltaine, a spring celebration given it is spring in the land down under when it is fall here. 
  • Next we get a few pages on "How to use this deck." This includes tips for single card draws, and it features two card spreads: a three-card draw and a Jack O'Lantern spread with six cards. In addition, there is a section on dedicating your deck to get it ready for use. This is just a suggestion. Feel free to use any ritual you wish to in order to dedicate or purify your cards or none at all. If you choose to follow her suggested ritual, it does seem pretty easy to do. 
  • The card meanings. Each card gets its own entry. Entries vary in length from a single page to two pages. Each entry includes the card's title, its keywords, a small poem, and the entry itself. Entry text gives a bit on the significance of the card's symbols and the last paragraph gives a meaning, i.e. tells you if you get this card in a reading, this is what it can be. 

Overall, the companion book is a pretty light book, but I found some of the details on traditions and history of Halloween interesting. The meanings provided were relevant and on point. However, as I mentioned, if you are one of those readers who just ignores the book, you'll do fine. If on the other hand, you need a little help or just want to read a bit more, the book provides a good head start.

In the end, for me this is now a favorite deck. I highly recommend it for card readers and collectors. You can use it on its own or to supplement a Tarot deck. Overall, this is an excellent work, and I am glad I added it to my collection. I look forward to using it for years to come.

5 out of 5 stars.