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

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.

Friday, December 23, 2016

Booknote: Trump: a Graphic Biography

Ted Rall, Trump: a Graphic Biography. New York: Seven Stories Press, 2016. ISBN: 978-1-60980-758-0.

Genre: graphic novels and comics
Subgenre: biography, politicians, celebrities, nonfiction
Format: paperback
Source: Berea branch of the Madison County (KY) Public Library

Before I go on, I will note that I read this before the 2016 election.

Ted Rall is also the author of Bernie (link to my review), a biography in graphic novel form about Bernie Sanders.  Rall does a really good with these small books; as I read this one, I found myself wishing he had one for Hillary Clinton too. I picked the Trump book pretty much because I liked the Bernie book. It was well worth it. The Trump book is an easy and accessible read that still packs a lot of substance. If you want to learn more about the man, and you want to do so in a colorful, entertaining way, this is the book for you.

The book begins with a brief history and background of the United States, just enough to give readers context of the last two decades or so. As I've blogged about before (just check any blog post in my series "Signs the Economy is Bad"), poverty has always been an issue in the U.S., but it became a "problem" when white middle class privileged people, who always felt untouchable, suddenly  began to lose their houses and livelihoods in the recent recession. We get to see the conditions that answer how Trump could rise as GOP nominee (and now President-elect of the United States).

After the opening, the book looks at Trump and his life from childhood to today. The book is arranged by thematic chapters looking at things like his business dealings, the women in his life, his reality show, his politics, so on. We get a pretty complete picture of the man with plenty of facts to support claims. The book does include a full set of notes so you can check sources.

From the book, we get a bit of complexity about the man. Yes, he is a big show man, loud and brash, but, at least according to those close to him, a friendly kind of guy who has also managed to stay on friendly terms with his ex-wives and, at least according to his children, a good father. Some may wonder about that contradiction. Rall does not really answer, letting readers decide. But, as nice as he can be at home, he has done some seriously shady deals (to put it mildly) and has shown himself as an authoritarian con man.

The book is an easy and accessible read. It's packed with information, but it is presented in a light way, so you get to learn and be a bit entertained. The art combines Rall's cartoons with some photos and a chart or two all to bring the story to life. I really enjoyed this one. Libraries will definitely need to put this in their collections. I know this  is one I would add to my personal collection. Even if you do not support Mr. Trump, this is a book worth reading, and I was glad it was available just in time for the 2016 elections. As a final note, if you enjoyed Bernie, odds are very good you will like this too.

5 out of 5 stars.

This book qualifies for the following 2016 Reading Challenges:

Tuesday, December 20, 2016

Holiday Post 2016: Gifts, strange things, and other shopping

I continue with  my series of holiday posts for 2016. Yesterday, I looked at "Traditions, Manners, and  other Miscellany." Today I get to look at some of the crazy things people give each other for holiday gifts and a few other strange things. I am always amused by some of the things suggested out there for gifts, so let's have a look. As usual, the snarky commentary is mine.

Gifts and presents

Where we see what crazy and curious stuff people think you ought to get for the holidays.

  • Looking for something a bit quirky or different? Boing Boing has a gift guide out for 2016. If you know someone who can afford to gift a $1775 fountain pen, please let me know. I certainly do not. And if you have $80K, you can buy that war buff in your life a Vietnam War era helicopter.
  • Lifehacker has a list of ideas for "people who have everything." The ideas are nice, now the form said ideas take maybe not so much.  A beginner's soldering kit? Really?
  • Want more ridiculous stuff? Here is your "2016 Hater's Guide to the Williams-Sonoma Catalog." The story may come from Adequate Man blog, but the stuff in that catalog can certainly make any  guy feel inadequate if you are not already secure in yourself. Because no house is complete without an antler entertaining collection and an $800 fake Christmas tree; I shit you not.
  • The Atlantic also has a list, which seems a bit more for the hipsters and other stereotypes, but hey, at least they break it down by budgets. Seriously, who the heck are some of these people?
  • Foodiggity has their gift guide for 2016. Come on, you know you want a  dinosaur bottle opener.
  • Do you have a drinking man in your life with seriously expensive tastes? The Man Crates blog has you covered with  things like a $40K Pedal Pub (because not only do you get a mobile bar, but you get your bar patrons to pedal it for mobility so you can say they get exercise) and packages of Scotch or Bourbon infused toothpicks (because common toothpicks are for plebeians). On a serious note, the book listed, Contraband Cocktails, is one that I actually read and is pretty good. I will have my review on that posted here soon.
  • For the women in your life, Mental Floss has a list too. So she can keep company with  the drinking man above, you can get her the $30 growler featured on this list.
  • Mental Floss has a list for the explorer (i.e. people who like being outdoors) in your life. Keep in mind  that explorers do not rough it anymore, which is why the list has things like a wireless waterproof portable speaker among other things. 
  • Want more for the explorer in your life? National Geographic has a gift list for map lovers and travelers. Some interesting things, though I am not sure I need or want a map tee shirt. Your mileage may vary.
  • Tea seems to be a popular and relatively safe gift. So is coffee. Naturally, you have to have the necessary accoutrements for it, and here is a list of a few ideas for both coffee and teat drinkers via Mental Floss.I guess if you want to turbocharge their tea, you can get them a kombucha brewing kit. 
  • Hosting a gathering or headed to one? Perhaps you'd like to bring in or gift a new board game to someone. The Morning News has some suggestions. I like board games because they bring back memories of simpler times. And as the article suggests, they may be a great solution to get people to interact without ruining the gathering with political talk. Board games "give you a framework in which to interact with others, but where the discussion revolves mostly around how you should maybe put your phone away for one goddamned second and pay attention when it’s not your turn, Uncle Chet." Personally, I would be delighted if someone gave me the Cat-o-poly board game as a gift (it's Monopoly, with cats, which would likely also make the Better Half very happy). Story about Cat-o-poly via Incredible Things.
  • Apparently some companies hand out gifts to their employees. I am not sure which companies are these, but if you happen to be boss at one and need some ideas on what to give the little people, here are some foodie ideas for gifts to give your employees. Story via Inc. Because there is no better way to tell your corporate drone you appreciate them than a $70 package of Omaha steaks or a bottle of honey for $112. 
  • Speaking of food gift ideas, if you have a bit of skill in the kitchen, maybe some homemade food gifts are a good idea for giving. Via Mental Floss.
  • Here is the Christmas stocking I am sure a few people want hanging in their homes. It's a stocking you can fill up with your favorite adult beverage. Because once Uncle Jim Bob starts yapping about Trump, you will want this handy, filled, and ready to go. Story via Incredible Things.
  • Heck, even the U.S. federal government has a holiday gift catalog. Read about it and find a link to it at Government Book Talk blog.
  • For folks who are pagan, or witches, or witchy in some way, here are some DIY ideas for your witchy friends. Some these things are nice enough I do not think you have to be witchy to enjoy. Via Recreational Witch.
  • Also for your pagan, witch, and other assorted friends who practice magic somehow and/or sling cards (as in divination cards), here are some gift ideas via Little Red Tarot. There are a few things for your queer pagan/witch/other too.

A few things that may be a little NSFW

The next few items may be erotica or they may just be a bit not so safe for work, so tread carefully if you are sensitive (or at work).

  • Adult coloring books seem the be the craze, and naturally this now includes a few that are very adult. Pornhub, the porn website, has its own erotic coloring book (though sadly it was sold out when I checked for this post). Story on the book via Elite Daily, which also has links to stories on other adult books.
  • It would be nice if someone gifted me a pack of these pocket notebooks for the holidays. Via Incredible Things. They are available on Amazon. 
  • Want to gift something really different? How about this ballsy door knocker? Via Dangerous Minds.
  • Going a little blasphemous  maybe? How about the Santa versus Jesus game? Story via BBC. Hat tip to Christian Nightmares.

Wrapping up the presents

And if you got a crappy gift. . . 

And finally, a little humor. Make sure your house is secure against fire. Do not leave candles unattended, and for the love of cripe, lock the door when you go out, or you may find yourself singing this:

Monday, December 19, 2016

Holiday Post 2016: Traditions, Manners, and Other Miscellany

The academic semester is over; it ended last Friday. Now I am on the final stretch until Christmas. This week before Christmas I am working through Thursday, December 22, and then I will get a break until a bit after New Year's Day. For the last couple of years or so, it has been a tradition here at The Itinerant Librarian to make a few posts for the holidays. I do these mostly to amuse myself and to give my four readers something for entertainment while I am off celebrating the holidays. So before we get started, let me take this opportunity to wish one and all, near and far, a safe and happy holiday season in whatever way, shape or form you choose to celebrate it or not. Paz y amor.

The Christmas tree is up at our house. We managed to put  it up last weekend. This year, our cat Autumn passed on, and after some mourning, a new cat joined our family: Clio the torbie (a tortie + tabby), who by now is about 2-years old. We got her in April, and the people at the shelter told us she was about year and half at the time. Anyhow, this is her first Christmas in a house, and her first Christmas tree. Lucky for us, she has not gone crazy climbing up the tree. She just nicely lies under it.

The coquito will get made this week. If you are interested, I wrote about that Puerto Rican Christmas tradition last year, including some tips on how to make it.

So let's get on with the stories and links about traditions, manners, and other miscellany:

If you enjoy holiday season trivia, the U.S. Census Bureau always has their Facts for Features series for holidays and observances. Here is their document for the 2016 holiday season.

Christmas cards and greetings

Many people love sending and receiving Christmas/holiday cards. We certainly do. You probably should have gotten them out by now, but I believe you still have today if you are running a bit late so they get there by Christmas. In our house, we also celebrate Three Kings Day, a.k.a. Epiphany, so if a card or two arrives a bit later, it is perfectly fine.

Decking the halls and adornments

Let's have a look at some of the things people do to decorate and make things more cheerful.

  • Some people go all out decorating their homes and putting up light displays. If you like looking at light displays, here are 14 Christmas light shows you can look at. Via Mental Floss.
  • Here are some holiday ornaments for book lovers via Book Riot. They also have a few other bookish holiday decorations
  • Want to put something different on your Christmas tree? How about some Anton LaVey tree decorations? Via Dangerous Minds.
  • Some people put a Nativity scene in their homes as part of their holiday decorations. Now anyone can put out the same old creche. This year, how about going with a hipster nativity? Yes, there is such a thing, and you can read about it at Dangerous Minds.
  • Here is how you make a simple but nice Christmas wreath out of candy. Via Dollar Store Crafts.
  • Now, you may think putting up a few lights and decorations  is not big deal. Turns out there are various risks and hazards in the task such as fall, cuts, and even choking. Via Mental Floss.

Shopping and money

Whether we like it or not, shopping is a big deal of the holidays' season. Some people enjoy it and have fun with it. Others find it to be a big source of stress. Yet others cannot afford to buy gifts for others. In the end, for what it is worth, keep in mind much of the season is supposed to be about peace and goodwill to others. So if what you have to offer is time, or treats you make, or just being there, go with that. Here are some links on shopping and money:

  • Some people suggest that you should start your holiday shopping early. This year, I got much of my holiday shopping done early because I bought things gradually and stowed them away for when I needed them. That way, I could avoid shopping out of panic or pressure but rather could take my time finding things and buying them as time and leisure allowed, often at a good price. Plus I could find a few things I might find during the holiday season. However, for some folks, there may be an advantage to shop at the last minute. Wise Bread offers nine reasons to shop at the last minute. One thing I see is the point about discounts. Overall, I am not sure I am totally convinced, but I will leave it to my readers to decide. Feel free to comment. Do you shop early, or do you leave it to the last minute? Why or why not? 
  • One of the sources of stress around the holidays are the unexpected expenses. You just when you thought you had everything planned out, something unexpected siphons money from your budget. Via Parenting Squad, here are some ways to deal with  those unexpected expenses. Some of it does boil down to being prepared. I like their idea of, if possible, putting a little money aside just for the little curve balls life has a way of throwing at you.
  • I am not honestly sure how many people actually practice holiday tipping. I mean tipping you may do for folks that provide you regular service over the year such  as your postal carrier or delivery person, your baby or pet sitter, and your hair stylist. I remember growing up, my parents did some of that with our local garbage collector (this was back when garbage collectors were municipal employees you got to know personally and not the corporate drones  you got now who just drive the mechanized truck and do not pick up anything extra) and some others that, again, they knew personally. In my case, I am not well enough to employ most of those people on a regular basis. A housekeeper? Bitch, please. But if you do, and you want  to tip but are not sure how much, here is a handy infographic with a guide of  what is  customary to  tip for certain regular services. Via Mental Floss. Again, question for the readers: anyone  out there tip any folks for regular services like housekeepers, sitters kids and/or pets, hair stylists, other service providers? Feel free to comment.
  • I do not know about you, but I am not a huge fan of holiday parties, especially office parties where one or two people who happen to love partying and gossiping guilt trip the rest of of the office into some potluck. However, if you must bring some treat, you are not the incarnation of Martha Stewart, and you do not want to break the bank, here are some suggestions for no-bake holiday treats. Via Wise Bread.

Other miscellaneous things

This is where I am putting everything else I found of interest, but I was not sure how to sort it out.

  • Perhaps you need to take little time for yourself, or you want to reflect a bit. If you want to start a journal, or you already have one, this season is a good time to write in that journal. Via CreateWriteNow, here are some journaling ideas for the holiday season. For some introverts, this may be specially helpful.
  • Are you having people over for the holidays? Did you clean the house? If you did, good for you. Whether you did or not, here are some last minute tips and ideas to get your house clean for guests. Via A Debt Free Mess Free Life
  • For those of you hosting folks, here are some simple kitchen hacks to help you out if you are cooking. Infographic via Mental Floss. I admit the gravy in the thermos thing did not occur to me, but I am sure some old hands out there knew that trick.
  • If you are hosting, you might offer chips and dips as part of the snacks. However, I might urge you to reconsider if you are tempted to serve the Pringles holiday flavors. Read about them at Foodiggity.
  • Need some music? Here are some vintage Christmas classics, via Mental Floss.
  • Want to do something different? How about a few Christmas horror films? Via BuzzyMag.
  • The holidays a bit too much? Do you feel overextended? Taking on too much? May you want to consider some ways to simplify your life during the holidays. Via Get Organized Wizard.
  • And as the year ends, you may want to consider doing a little end of year reflection. Here is an interesting suggestion via Zen Habits.
  • Finally, this season can be very rough on introverts like me. So, after you are done with dealing with people sucking the energy out of you, here are some ways for you to recharge. Via PopSugar.

And if you happen to have people over, and it turns out there are way too many of them, you can do what El Gran Combo de Puerto Rico does: once they get too obnoxious, "pa' fuera!" ("out you go!"):

Have a safe and happy holiday season. Stay tuned this week for other holiday posts including things about weird gifts and reading suggestions. Hope you will come back,

Friday, December 16, 2016

Booknote: Cold Mountain

Sean Michael Wilson,, Cold Mountain: the Legend of Han Shan and Shih Te, the Original Dharma Bums.  ISBN: 978-1-61180-179-8. Boston, MA: Shambhala, 2015. 

Genre: graphic  novels and comics
Subgenre: nonfiction, poetry, zen, buddhism
Format: trade paperback
Source: Berea branch of the Madison County (KY) Public Library

This graphic novel is a biography and poetry adaptation of the lives of Han Shan and Shih Te. They were two of China's greatest poets; they lived during the Tang Dynasty (618-906 C.E.). They were critical of authority and champions of social justice, living a simple life. You could call them eccentric, but they were certainly simple men filled with compassion and wisdom. But did they exist? We do know they left poems carved in rocks in Cold Mountain. Some of those poems are presented in this book.

The book combines scenes of the poets' lives with a selection of their poems. It is a light reading with some light humor. Yet for their apparent simplicity, some of the poems do have some depth. They offer us much to think and meditate about. The book is divided into three parts. The first two parts are scenes from the poets' lives. The third part is a closer look at some of their poems. All this comes to life thanks to the great art of Akiko Shimojima. The art really brings the poets to life, reflecting their humble, happy, and simple lives well.

Overall, this is a volume that I really enjoyed. Shambhala lately has been putting out some nice graphic novels, and this one is no exception. The story can be a bit fragmentary, that is likely reflective of the fact there are many things we do not know about these wise bums. But we do know their influence lived on, even read by Beat writers in the United States. This book now brings Han Shan and Shit Te to new audiences in a friendly and accessible way.

5 out of 5 stars.

This book qualifies for the following 2016 Reading Challenges:

Wednesday, December 14, 2016

Booknote: La Santa Muerte

Tomas Prower, La Santa Muerte: la exhumación de la magia y el misticismo de la muerte. Woodbury, MN: Llewellyn, 2016. ISBN: 978-0-7387-4974-7.

Genre: nonfiction
Subgenre: religion, spirituality, Spanish language
Format: e-book galley
Source: NetGalley

This is a Spanish language edition of a book previously published in English. The book is an  introduction to the cult and worship of La Santa Muerte (Holy Death), which  is very popular among Mexicans and Mexican-Americans. Santa Muerte's absolute impartiality is one of the appealing factors. The book provides history, background, and enough tools and information to get you started if you wish to be a devotee.

The book is organized as follows:

  • Parte I: La historia y la mitología. Part One describes the history of Santa Muerte and how she came to be seen as the patron deity for sinners, outcasts, drug cartel members, the downtrodden, and the LGBTQIA community among others.
  • Parte II: Herramientas del oficio. Part Two goes over the attributes of Santa Muerte such as appearances, colors, tools used in performing spells and works, and details of veneration.
  • Parte III: Hechizos. Part Three covers specific spells. It goes over ingredients and steps to perform various spells. The author provides some basic spells on topics such as money, love, healing, and even advice on a curse or two (but you should be cautious with these). 
  • The book also features an appendix listing places where you can find devotees in the United States, and  it also has a bibliography.

The book is geared for curious readers, like me, as well as readers who may be considering taking up this practice. If you are the latter reader, the book offer plenty to help you decide if this is for you and to get you started. The book does pack a lot of information. I read it straight through for review purposes, but this is a book to read a bit here and a bit there. In fact, the author even encourages readers to pause their reading and meditate or do other reflection exercises to help with growth and learning.

Overall, I  did find it to be an interesting book on a topic I knew little about before reading it. Though I am not rushing to become a devotee, if I felt the desire to do so, I feel this book can provide a good, solid start. For me, the first two parts were the most interesting. Do keep in mind the sections on tools like stones and crystals, colors, plants, so on can be a bit lengthy. That material is more for reference than just reading through. As for the Spanish translation, it is well written, and the book overall is easy to read. The author has a warm, conversational, sincere, and encouraging style of writing that makes it easy to engage with the material. As I said, were I to decide to make offerings to the Dark Lady, this book would provide a good start.

4 out of 5 stars. 

* * * * * 

This book qualifies for the following 2016 Reading Challenges:

Monday, December 12, 2016

Booknote: Usagi Yojimbo: Thieves and Spies

Stan Sakai, Usagi Yojimbo: Thieves and Spies. Milwaukie, OR: Dark Horse Books, 2016. ISBN: 978-1-50670-048-9.

Genre: graphic novels and comics
Subgenre: adventure, feudal Japan, anthropomorphic animals
Format: trade paperback
Source: Berea branch of the Madison County (KY) Public Library. 

This book, volume 30, collects issues 145-151 of the comic book series; these are presented as five stories in the volume. A nice thing about reading this is that you do not need much prior experience to pick up the volume and start reading.

Usagi is a ronin samurai. As a wanderer, he gets into all sorts of situations from helping out a bride to meeting a one-armed samurai. My favorite story was "The One-Armed Swordsman," which is about the samurai with one arm. It has a great ending that is very satisfying. In the series, wherever he goes, Usagi strives for justice and making things right.

The comic does have some light violence, but it overall it is good for most ages. I liked the simple art style that is still very evocative of feudal Japan. It also has some nice humor. Overall, I really liked this one, and I will seek out other volumes in the series.

4 out of 5 stars.

Book qualifies for these 2016 Reading Challenges:

Friday, December 09, 2016

Booknote: Harley Quinn, Volume 5

Amanda Conner, Jimmy Palmiotti,, Harley Quinn, Volume 5: The Joker's Last Laugh. Burbank, CA: DC Comics, 2016. ISBN: 9781401269289.

Genre: comics and graphic novels
Subgenre: superheroes, antiheroes, humor
Format: e-book galley
Source: NetGalley

When I started reading this, I was going to read a little bit before bedtime and read the rest over the  next day or two. It was so good I finished it in one night. This volume compiles issues 20-25 of the comic plus the comic "Harley Quinn: Be Careful What You Wish For." Conner and Palmiotti continue the excellent writing, and in terms of art, Harley looks as good as ever.

In this part of the series, Harley needs to break out her latest beau, Mason Macabre, out of jail before he gets killed inside the jail. When he gets transferred to Arkham Asylum, she not only has to deal with the prison, but she also has to confront her ex, The Joker. It was one bad breakup for  her, and it may be time to settle the score. In the bonus comic, Harley finds a very special bottle, with a real life genie in it, and fun ensues for as we know, you should beware what you wish for.

This comic continues to be great fun to read. It is fast paced, and before you know it, you'll have the whole volume read. The authors are good at combining action and humor with a sweet touch here and there. This series remains one of the very few from DC Comics worth reading these days. It's light and fun and colorful. It is entertaining in a way that few comics are anymore. I highly recommend it.

5 out of 5 stars.

Booknote: Yo no vengo a decir un discurso

Gabriel García Márquez, Yo No Vengo a Decir un Discurso. New York: Vintage Español, 2010.  ISBN: 978-0-307-74345-9.

Genre: nonfiction
Subgenre: public speaking, literary
Format: trade paperback
Source: Berea branch of the Madison County Public Library

This book is a collection of speeches by Gabriel García Márquez ranging fro 1944 to 2007. These texts were written by him and meant to be read to an audience, despite the fact that, by his own admission, he was terrified of public speaking. The speeches truly give us a glimpse of his life and beliefs. We start with his first public speech delivered at his high school graduation when he was seventeen years old. The book ends with a speech he delivers at the Academias de la Lengua and to the Spanish monarchs as he turned 80 years old. Through his speeches, we get a sense of his feelings, his passions, his values, the things he cared for.

The book contains 22 speeches. Some are brief; others are longer. They all offer us plenty to think about on a wide variety of topics. Some topics he covers in his speeches include:

  • how he started writing
  • poetry
  • the new millennium
  • Latin America
  • ecology and environmentalism
  • and he argues why journalism is the best job in the world
 He also includes speeches he delivered as tributes to friends. Makes me wish that someone like García Márquez would deliver my eulogy when my time comes; I'd rather if be him, but he has already passed on. Anyhow, these more personal speeches are filled with moving words and plenty of humor. His speech for his friend Alvaro Mutis basically had me laughing through most of it.

Overall, his speeches are works of art in terms of language. He can be blunt and direct, but he can also embellish and be evocative. Many  of his speeches feature rich and textured imagery, at times bringing in magical realism. If you have read his fiction, you will certainly enjoy and appreciate this book. If you are not familiar with this writer, this collection may entice you to go find some of his fiction as well.

At the end of the book, you can find a note from the editor briefly explaining how he worked closely with the author to put the book together. We learn that many of these speeches were untitled, usually only known by the event where they were delivered, and the author gave them titles for the book. On revisiting these speeches, the author said,

"Leyendo estos discursos redescubro cómo he ido cambiando y evolucionando como escritor" (138)

"Reading these speeches I rediscover how I have been changing and evolving as a writer" (translation  is mine)

This is definitely a book I would be happy to add to my personal collection.

5 out of 5 stars.

* * * * *

Additional reading notes (again, the English translations are mine):

The image of complacent intellectuals spending their life in congresses, conferences, so on:

"No es inverosímil: un intelectual complaciente podría nacer dentro de un congreso y seguir creciendo y madurándose en otros congresos sucesivos, sin más pausas que las necesarias para trasladarse del uno a otro, hasta morir de una buena vejez en su congreso final" (36).

"It is not bizarre: a complacent intellectual could be born inside a congress and keep on growing and maturing in other successive congresses, without any pauses other than the necessary ones to travel from one to the other, until dying of a good old age in his final congress"

The author describing his friend Mutis as teacher.  This is also what good librarians do, and what I aspire to:

"Los instiga a la poesía contra la voluntad de sus padres, los pervierte con libros secretos, los hipnotiza con su labia florida y los echa a rodar por el mundo, convencidos de que es posible ser poeta sin morir en el intento" (76). 

He urges them to poetry against their parents will, he perverts them with secret books, he hypnotizes them with  his florid tongue, and he sends them out into the world convinced that it is possible to be
a poet without dying in the attempt."

* * * * * 

This book qualifies for the following 2016 Reading Challenges:

Wednesday, December 07, 2016

Booknote: Wonder Women

Sam Maggs, Wonder Women: 25 innovators, inventors, and trailblazers who changed history. Philadelphia, PA: Quirk Books, 2016.  ISBN: 978-1-59474-925-4.

Genre: nonfiction
Subgenre: women and gender studies, history
Format: paperback
Source: Galley provided by publisher in exchange for an honest review

I wanted to like this book more, but the author's constant narrative interruptions, interjections, and invasive comments in the text just got too annoying. The best way to describe the experience is like going to watch a new movie with someone who has seen it already, and while the movie is playing, she won't shut up about it and let you watch it. What could have been a neat learning experience was more aggravating than anything else.

Now, if you can  get over the author's constant fangirl interruptions, you can find a lot to like in this book. The book contains the stories of 25 amazing women. These were women philosophers, inventors, scientists, medical doctors, adventurers, innovators, and spies. More importantly, odds are good you never heard of many of them. Why? They are usually left out of history books. Plus, as often  happens to women, men took the credit for things the women did and went on to fame and glory. The author is here to right wrongs and give these great women the credit due to them. Additionally the book is a good source of inspiration for young girls. When young girl says she wants to be a doctor or astronaut, and she needs inspiration, hand her this book.

The book is organized into five thematic chapters. Each chapter has five stories. In addition, each chapter also features short narratives, a paragraph or so each, of other women not to be missed. Each chapter then ends with  a short interview/Q&A with  a career woman today. The book also features a bibliography (or rather will feature one. The galley I got for review did not include the actual bibliography, so I cannot comment on what sources the author may have used).

I'd say one of the best things you can do for a young girl is to get her this book. Despite my initial reservations, I think it is a good source for inspiration and learning. It fills gaps in the history that have been ignored for too long. The book is good for middle school readers and up. It is definitely  recommended for public libraries for placement in their children and young adult collections. I am sure a few adults will enjoy it too.

3 out of 5 stars.

Friday, December 02, 2016

Reading About The Reading Life: December 2, 2016 edition

Welcome to another edition of "Reading about the reading life" here at The Itinerant Librarian. This is where I collect stories about reading and the reading life. Basically, these are items related to reading, maybe writing and literacy, that I find interesting and think my four readers might find interesting as well with a little commentary. As with other features I do on this blog, I do it when I have time or feel like it. Comments are always welcome (within reason).  

Once more, it  has been  a bit of a while since I have done one of these. We are down to one full week of classes and then finals week at the college, so I am making a little time before the holidays really hit. Please remember to come back for my traditional holiday posts series later this month. Meantime, let's have a look at the reading world this month.