Friday, March 31, 2017

Deck Review: The Steampunk Tarot (Moore and Fell edition)

Barbara Moore (author) and Aly Fell (illustrator), The Steampunk Tarot. Woodbury, MN: Llewellyn Publications, 2012. ISBN: 978-0-7387-2638-0.

WorldCat record for the book here.
Photos of the cards and more information via Aeclectic.

Genre: card deck and book set
Subgenre: Tarot, steampunk, divination, spirituality
Format: 78-cards set with softcover book
Source: I bought this one. 

I will start by reviewing the book. The Steampunk Tarot Manual is the 294-pages book that is part of the kit that includes the Steampunk Tarot deck featuring art by Aly Fell. Barbara Moore wrote the manual. For fans of the steampunk aesthetic, this is an excellent deck to add to their collections and even give a bit of a divination touch to their aesthetic, costumes, cosplay, so on. For Tarot readers, this is a solid, reliable deck in the Rider Waite Smith (RWS) style with more than a few twists of its own. The book is a substantial text that provides a good guide to the deck. Though the book is geared to the deck, I found that much of it can be applicable if you use another RWS style deck.

The book is arranged as follows:

  • A brief  introduction that includes some information on  steampunk for those who may be new to it. It also tells how the deck came to be, and how the rest of the book is organized.
  • A chapter on Tarot basics. This is the mandatory section in these deck manuals that gives you the basics on how to read Tarot. It goes over the structure of a Tarot deck, how it can be used, how to do a reading, and various tips and advice. For Tarot beginners, this is a good section to read and use.  As a beginner myself, I found the information interesting and useful, and I know I will be consulting the book often as I use the deck. Advanced readers may likely skip this chapter, or most of the book, but I would say for them this section could be a nice refresher. 
  • A chapter on the Major Arcana. 
  • A chapter on the Minor Arcana. 
  • A chapter on the Court Cards. I am not a huge fan of arranging these cards in the chapter by type (i.e. all the pages, all the knights, etc.). I would have preferred them by suit (all the Wands, all the Swords, so on). It is a minor thing that I can live with, but as a book reader, it was noticeable. 
  • A chapter on spreads. It includes how to do a basic one-card and a three-cards spread. It also features three steampunk themed spreads, including one with moveable parts. The chapter also includes a sample reading using one of the spreads. 
  • A final farewell note. 
The set truly integrates steampunk and Tarot. This is not just overlaying steampunk over Tarot. Between the writing and the gorgeous illustrations, we get a new Tarot experience within steampunk. Much like a tinkerer takes various parts to create a new machine, the author and the illustrator took the parts of Tarot and created a tool for creativity, reflection, divination, or any other use you can imagine.

As in other books of hers, Moore maintains an easy to read and accessible narrative style. I've found certain warmth when I read one of her books.

In terms of card meanings, each  card gets a page or two of text. The text includes a small poem or quote to set the card's theme, a core meaning, and then the text exploring the card's images, symbols, and meaning. The core meanings serve as a quick memory aid to help you interpret the cards. If you have  used RWS Tarot, then most meanings may be familiar. In fact, according to the manual, most of the core meanings come from Moore's book Tarot for Beginners (link to my review of that book). However there are some slight tweaks and even some small changes from traditional meanings to better fit the steampunk theme. Note that some of the card pages include additional reading tips; not all cards have this feature in the book. She often includes these to add information for when you get a particular card along with other specific cards in a reading. According to Moore, the reading tips do this:

"They are helpful hints to help enhance your readings, expand your understanding, see relationships between the cards, or provide more traditional 'fortuntelling' meanings for the cards" (11).


As always, feel free to interpret the cards as your intuition guides you. If you choose to use the book, I think you'll get a lot out of it. As I mentioned, the book is geared to the deck, but it is well written and in a general way that you could apply it to almost any other RWS style deck. Overall, as companion books go, this is a solid and useful book. The book, which is fully illustrated, gets 5 out of 5 stars from me.

The cards measure about 5 and 1/2 inches by 2 and 3/4 inches. They are a bit smaller than the Gilded Tarot deck I usually use daily. The card stock is a bit on the thin side, kind of like your average playing cards. The cards do bend pretty easily, so if you do riffle shuffling, it should be easy to do, but keep in mind the cards will likely get a bit bent if you riffle shuffle them consistently. I tend to use gentler ways of shuffling, so I hope they will last me a good while with some care. In terms of card materials, I'd give it a 3 out of 5 stars.

The best part of the cards, and the big reason to acquire this deck, is Aly Fell's art. The artist truly captures steampunk and Tarot: the Victoriana, the gears and machines, the fashions, characters, so on. This is a deck that is truly a pleasure to look over. The art is definitely excellent, a 5 out of 5 stars on that. The card back features a steampunk gears theme with Tarot suit elements; it is nice, but it is not reversible. That may be an issue for some folks who do reversals. It is not for me since I do not do reversals at this point  in my Tarot journey, and to be honest, I do not think it is a big deal even if I did.

As of this post, I have been using for a couple of months now, and I can read with it fairly  well. As a deck should it offers plenty visually to stimulate intuition and memory. It does fall within RWS, so if you already use that, this will work for you. If you are a steampunk enthusiast who also happens to do Tarot, then this deck is for you. My only issue is the size of the cards, which is a bit small. The cards have great art, and they deserve bigger cards to  appreciate it better. On the other hand, this is a good size for easy shuffling and handling of the cards. I will leave  it to readers to decide.

Overall, this is a good package. Best I know, the cards are not available separately, which I know can be an issue for folks who just want the cards without having to buy yet another starter book or perhaps for those folks who may want a second copy of the deck. However, you do get a very good book in the set. For beginners, this is certainly a  good set to start studying Tarot. The package retails for $28.95,  but  I am sure you can find a deal in the big online retailer everyone loves to hate but uses anyhow; you might even get it cheaper if you buy it used.

In the end, I am glad to have it, and I am happy using it.

So, when I look at the whole deal, I am giving it a 5 out of 5 stars.


Friday, March 24, 2017

Signs the economy is bad: March 24, 2017 edition

Welcome to another edition of "Signs the Economy is Bad" here at The Itinerant Librarian. This is the semi-regular (as in when I have time and/or feel like doing it) feature where I scour the Internet in search of the oh so subtle hints that the economy is bad. Sure, pundits may say things are getting better, but what do they know? And to show not all is bad, once in a while we look at how good the uber rich have it.



 There are a lot of signs the economy is bad this week, so let's just get on with it.

  • Fixing potholes is hard, and it can be expensive. It is probably why so many roads in  the United States are falling apart. Omaha, Nebraska has a solution. Instead of fixing roads, they are just letting them go back to being gravel roads. Story via The New York Times.
  •  We have a some signs the economy is bad from the world of guns and those who love them:
    • Yes, there are liberal gun owners, and they would prefer not to buy their guns and ammo from "shops run by trigger-happy, extreme right-wing folks who sell target sheets shaped like Hillary Clinton and stickers that read 'Muslim Free Zone.'” Perfectly understandable, and it sounds like a new business opportunity for some enterprising gun seller who is not an extremist and happy to sell to liberals who are gun enthusiasts. Story via Boing Boing.
    • Still, many gun sellers and retailers are having the blues. Their industry along with  them spent all that time stirring fear that Obama was going to take their guns away. That never happened, and they even got their wish when the Pendejo In Chief won. So, why are they sad? Well, turns out the hysteria over guns going away is no longer there, and sales are down. Because fear and paranoia always  make for good gun sales. Oh well. Story via Mother Jones
    • How good was the business of fear and guns when Obama was in office? Well, it is estimated that Americans happily bought $17 billion dollars worth of ammunition during the Obama presidency. But with the Pendejo In Chief reassuring Americans their guns are safe, those happy days for the gun industry may be gone for a while. Story via The Washington Post.

As I often point out, not everyone does poorly in the bad economy. Let's have a look at how the uber rich are doing, and who may be doing well in the bad economy:

Booknote: Harley Quinn and her Gang of Harleys

Jimmy Palmiotti, et.al., Harley Quinn and her Gang of Harleys. Burbank, CA: DC Comics, 2017. ISBN: 9781401267858.

With folks like Conner, Palmiotti, and Tieri at the helm, this series continues to be great and amusing. This volume gives the spotlight to Harley's gang, who are all happy to battle villains and save the innocent. . . for a price. Harley decides to test the gang's skills by faking her own kidnapping. However, when a rival from Harley's past makes the kidnapping all too real, the gang must rise to rescue her.

This is a fun comic from start to finish. The action starts pretty much from the first page, and it does not let go. Though the pace slows down a bit late in the comic when they give details of the villain's origins, the story overall is good entertainment.  You get a nice blend of adventure, humor, and some silly hijinks. The art continues to be great. It is a pleasure to read this book with gorgeous art. As I have mentioned before, in a time when most of DC Comics titles have taken a turn for dark, oppressive, emo, and depressing themes, this series is a breath of fresh air. It is light; it is fun to read, and I actually look forward to reading it. I really enjoyed this series, and I do recommend it highly.

5 out of 5 stars.

This title qualifies for the following 2017 Reading Challenges:



Wednesday, March 22, 2017

Booknote: March: Book Three

John Lewis, et.al., March: Book Three. Marietta, GA: Top Shelf Productions, 2016. ISBN: 978-1-60309-402-3.

Genre: graphic novels and comics
Subgenre: history, biography, United States
Format: trade paperback
Source: Berea branch of the Madison County (KY) Public Library

This is the last volume of John Lewis' autobiographical trilogy of the Civil Rights Era. This trilogy indeed shows that you can use graphic novels to tell great and important stories. Naturally, you should read these books at any time; for me, this was a perfect way to wrap up Black History Month.

The volume's story takes us from the 1963 church bombing in Alabama to the passing of the 1965 Voting Rights Act. Many people worked hard in those years, and many were beaten and killed by White American racists, but in the end those seeking progress prevailed, at least for the moment. Because if the 2016 elections in the United States remind us of anything it is how easily Americans forget their history and how easily their inherent racism and bigotry can rise back to the surface. That makes John Lewis' trilogy very needed reading for our times.

This is a powerful and very moving graphic novel. It does not back away from presenting violence from racists upon activists, so it can make for a painful read at times. Not as painful as the pains Lewis and others suffered to make sure this nation lived up to its promises.

It is a volume that may also anger you at times because of the many political games. Lyndon B. Johnson was not exactly a civil rights crusader. He often resisted, made life difficult for the movement, and often only acted when shamed, pressured, or put against a corner so to speak:

"Johnson was backed into a corner, but he wasn't afraid of using hardball politics to fight his way out" (119).

And then there is also this:

"We later learned that President Johnson's men were using FBI wiretaps on the MFPD office, as well as Dr. King's and Bayard Rustin's hotel rooms-- to do anything in their power to influence the outcome" (119).

People got beaten and killed while he and his party worried over precious southern votes, which would lose anyhow when racists saw how the tides were turning. You not only get a riveting and very moving story; you also get a solid history lesson as well.

The story grabs you, and you just have to keep on reading. The art is great and very evocative of the times. I cannot heap enough praise on  this volume and the series. I definitely recommend this, and it is one that will definitely go in my personal collection.

5 out of 5 stars.

This book qualifies for the following 2017 Reading Challenges:



Friday, March 17, 2017

Signs the Economy is Bad: March 17, 2017 edition

Welcome to another edition of "Signs the Economy is Bad" here at The Itinerant Librarian. This is the semi-regular (as in when I have time and/or feel like doing it) feature where I scour the Internet in search of the oh so subtle hints that the economy is bad. Sure, pundits may say things are getting better, but what do they know? And to show not all is bad, once in a while we look at how good the uber rich have it.  



The big news this week is that El Pendejo In Chief just presented his budged proposal, and  it is pretty much a slash-and-burn on pretty much anything that is not the military and homeland security. So naturally, we need to take a look at that part of the bad economy. Let us take a look at a small sampling of who does poorly in this scheme and who does well because at the end of the day, it is a matter of following the money.

Doing poorly from the Pendejo In Chief's and Party of Stupid's budget: 
  • Rural areas. Rural areas voted overwhelmingly for El Pendejo in Chief and the Party of Stupid. In Kentucky, the state went for the GOP, especially in the eastern coal regions that stood to lose the most. Things like clean water, air, assistance with Internet access and broadband, small business loans, and so on are getting the ax. And that is in addition to cuts to health services and the Affordable Care Act. In the end, they voted, and they got what they asked for. Story via The Daily Yonder.  
  • Programs that assist the poor and needy, like Meals on Wheels. The WH budget director said this week that Meals on Wheels is just not achieving results, and the compassionate thing is to cut off funding for the program. I guess those starving seniors should get off their couches, get a damn job, and buy their own damn food instead of waiting for free food delivery. If they want food delivered, they can pay for Domino's like everyone else. If you want to get technical, what he is cutting are the sources of funding for things like Meals on Wheels. So, while some hardcore Republican may pipe up to whine "hey, he is not cutting that because it is a state program, not federal", guess where the state or states get the money to run things like Meals on Wheels. Grants from the federal government (for example, Meals on Wheels often gets money from the federal Community Development Block Grant), i.e. federal money. So yea, he is cutting the funding, but nice try at deflection. Story via Democracy Now!
  • The Appalachian Region, which ironically voted overwhelmingly for El Pendejo In Chief and the Party of Stupid. Among the losers is the Appalachian Regional Commission.  Story via The Rural Blog
  • The homeless, and there will likely be more homeless too. Read more about it from the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities.

 Doing well from the Pendejo In Chief's and Party of Stupid's budget: 

  • Anything related to military spending and "defending the homeland." However, this can vary. Spending for actual military stuff is mostly good. Some of that homeland stuff, depends on what it is. Things like disaster planning are getting cut. Story via AlterNet.
  • Nuclear weapons and those involved in their production, etc. The budget draft proposes an extra billion dollars for production of nuclear weapons in the United States. Story via The Center for Public Integrity. 

 Other signs the economy is bad this week: 


Now, let's have a look at how good the uber rich have it and  who is doing well in the bad economy: 

  • American banks did really well in 2016. In fact, they made even more than they were making  before the financial recession hit. Story via The Week.  
  • The new CEO of Yahoo! stands to make more money than the outgoing CEO Marissa Mayer. Now some feminists are already arguing about inequity because the new guy is a man who is getting paid more for what may be an easier job; I mean, Mayer already fucked up the company and left it in ruins.  Ms. Mayer basically oversaw the downfall of Yahoo! including being there when their massive hacks happened and the company was being bought and cannibalized by Verizon, so I have no sympathy for the lady who is getting her golden parachute anyhow. According to the article, "After nearly five years of leading Yahoo, Mayer is stepping down with a $23 million severance package, according to a proxy statement the company filed on Monday. With $69 million worth of unexercised stock options awarded to her and $97 million of Yahoo stock she already owns, Mayer is expected to have a net worth increase of about $189 million, according to Fortune." Sounds more like a First World Problem. I would love a job where I get fired for fucking up a company and still walk away a multimillionaire. Story via The Christian Science Monitor.  
  • A bit of a mixed situation for higher education administrators. Their salaries are going up, but they are losing some of their other perks. Story via Inside Higher Education.  
  • Apparently if you vape, the devices can explode, and if you want to sue, there are plenty of lawyers who will be happy to take your case. Story via VICE

And finally, in the economic overkill story of the week: using a multi-million dollars PATRIOT missile to shoot down a 200 dollars drone. Genius. Story via Popular Mechanics

 

Booknote: Contraband Cocktails

Paul Dickson, Contraband Cocktails: how America drank when it wasn't supposed to. Brooklyn, NY: Melville House, 2015. ISBN: 978-1-61219-458-5.

Genre: nonfiction
Subgenre: pop culture, history, recipes, cocktails and bar culture
Format: hardcover
Source: Berea branch of the Madison County (KY) Library Public Library

The book is a combination of history and trivia with cocktail recipes. The books looks at the drinking culture that flourished during the American Prohibition. Let's be honest, Prohibition is up in the top of the list of stupid things Americans have voted for (but at least they eventually had the sense to repeal it). All that Prohibition did was driving drinking culture underground, and it helped organized crime rise and be profitable. Heck, as the book documents, even the law enforcers and legislators promoting Prohibition kept on drinking; so much for those Christian temperance morals. A fascinating part of the book is documenting the hypocrisy and corruption of government officials, agents, cops, so on because in the end everybody just wanted a drink (even if they were either stupid enough or cynical enough to fall for the temperance lines).

The book is an easy read loaded with many interesting facts and stories. The book is organized into ten chapters; the last chapter is a collection of recipes from the Prohibition era. The author does indicate that not all recipes are for replication; he may have included them for historical value, but you probably should not drink them. Do not worry; he provides plenty of recipes too that you can drink today and even a non-alcoholic drink or two. In addition, the book includes a "Glossary of Volstead English." Another effect of Prohibition was the addition of a lot of new words and slang into American English; many of these words are still in use today.

I really enjoyed this book. If you enjoy U.S. history, this is a good book for you. Trivia fans will enjoy it as well. For example, I learned about other businesses related to booze that also flourished during Prohibition. Not many histories of Prohibition discuss that. Plus, if you are a cocktail enthusiast, there are many recipes here to try out. The book makes a good selection for public libraries. Academic libraries with  an interest in popular culture may want to consider it.

4 out of 5 stars.

* * * * *

Additional reading notes:

21st century revival speakeasies are glamorized versions of Prohibition reality where cocktail makers had to really be ingenious to take seriously raw alcohol and polish it to make into a drink that was actually drinkable. Yet Prohibition also did give rise to a cocktail culture and its trappings. And that interest in the trappings lives on today:

"Meanwhile, the same urge that has given the twenty-first century speakeasy has also given us a revival of interest in shakers, hip flasks, and the hardware trappings of Prohibition" (x). 

More on that:

"Along with what some have termed the Cocktail Age came a certain style complete with sleek chrome cocktail shakers snazzy portable bars, Art Deco-styled bar tools, and streamlined cocktail carts" (27). 





Friday, March 10, 2017

Booknote: Ghost Stories of an Antiquary

M.R. James, et.al., Ghost Stories of an Antiquary, Volume 1. London: SelfMadeHero, 2016.  ISBN: 9781910593189.

Genre: graphic novels and comics
Subgenre: horror, suspense, literary classics
Format: trade paperback
Source: Berea branch  of the Madison County Public Library.

This edition is a graphic novel adaptation of four ghost stories by M.R. James. If you like your horror with  more suspense and atmosphere and less to no gore, this may be a collection for you. I will add that if you have not read M.R. James' works before that then this book could be a good entry point.

The volume contains the following tales:

  • "Canon Alberic's Scrap-Book."
  • "Lost Hearts." 
  • "The Mezzotint."
  • "The Ash-Tree." 
The book also includes an introduction by horror master and author Ramsey Campbell.

These are easy to read story that right away  draw you in. The works are good at creating an unsettling feeling and are strong on the suspense. The horror lies in that unease and tension. The art serves to bring the author's vision to life, and it works well. Each story has a different artist.

I really liked this one. It's a book that makes me want to seek other stories by M.R. James.

4 out of 5 stars.

Booknote: Where are all the librarians of color?

(Crossposted from The Gypsy Librarian)

Rebecca Hankins and  Miguel Juarez, Where are all the librarians of color?: the experiences of people of color in academia. Sacramento, CA: Library Juice Press, 2015. 978-1-936117-83-3. 

Genre: nonfiction
Subgenre: LIS, minority studies, academia
Format: trade paperback
Source: My library (Hutchins Library, Berea College)

This may be one of those books that more librarians should read, especially non-POC librarians. For me, I had some mixed feelings as I read it. In part, much of what I read is stuff that I have experienced; some of it is part of my life experience. Also, after a while, the book can get a bit repetitive on things like arguing for recruiting more minorities and why that is good for the profession. Now, I agree with those ideas, although I am very skeptical of encouraging people to apply for work in a field with  an over-saturated job market. Just run an online search or two to find plenty of tales of woe from unemployed and underemployed librarians. And no, telling people to just "look for alternative career paths" is not exactly a great solution or comfort. So with those concerns, I kept reading the book.

If anything, the best parts are the individual stories of those who made it and are gainfully working in the profession. Also, the parts on mentoring and networking at small, local levels were good. There was not enough of that. However, there were many mentions of ALA programs which,  while they may be good, often boil down to "pay to play" (you have to be a member to gain access, and there is no mention of the significant expenses nor the fact many people of color, or just plain many people, might  not have good enough finances to afford said access) and being the right age. As I discovered from personal experience, being too old even if  you are a newly minted MLS can limit some of your options.

The book is organized as follows:

  • A short preface by Loriene Roy.
  • An introduction by the editors. 
  • Three sections on  the following topics: 
    • "Setting the stage for diversity in the profession." 
    • "How diversity benefits the profession." 
    • "Personal diversity stories." 
  • The book has a total of 13 essays.
 The book does provide a good start on an important topic: the experiences of librarians of color in academia. It can be lonely for us in academia, so at least through this book we get reassurance that we are not alone. For librarians of color who keep up, much of the material is likely familiar ground. For everyone else, especially academic administrators, the book may be an important read. It is not a book to read cover to cover as it can be pretty dry as much LIS literature can be. If you read a bit here and a bit there, and maybe talk about it with others, you may get more out of it.

I liked it, but I think I liked the idea more than the execution. LIS school libraries may want to acquire this one. I would also say that colleges and universities with strong interests in minorities and their condition, such as HBCUs and Hispanic-serving institutions among others, need to have this. It was part of why I ordered it for our library, the history of our college. Other campuses interested in diversity may want to consider it.

3 out of 5 stars.

* * * * * 

Some additional reading notes:

On  the "pay to play:"

"Such involvement is voluntary and both membership and association work are usually dependent upon the individual paying personal due and creating a plan of involvement-- from attending meetings and conferences to serving on committees and/or election to various offices" (viii). 

No mention of the  often prohibitive cost of membership (and let's not even go into meetings and conference costs, and woe unto you if your employer lacks the funds and/or willingness to send you anywhere). Two, also not mentioned, is that for many on a tenure track line, being involved is often required, so it is not always "voluntary."

The isolation, which is something I can relate to:

"As libraries remain predominantly staffed and structured by the majority White culture, the few librarians of color often find themselves feeling marginalized and without access to a supportive group of similarly diverse-minded colleagues to whom they can relate and confide. This in turn can also affect their own advancement in the profession, as professionals are generally better equipped to grow and succeed when they have such collegial group environments and networks at their disposal" (32).

A quote I liked that I think more libraries should mind:

"Running an effective library goes beyond just doing a 'good thing' for a particular minority group; in other words, doing the best work with all of the staff involved is, at a fundamental level, an ethical, inclusive organizational practice to which libraries should aspire" (34).


* * * * * 

Book qualifies for the following 2017 Reading Challenges:


Friday, March 03, 2017

The Best Books I Read in 2016: An Appendix to my Reading List for 2016

This little post, which is an appendix to my 2016 Reading List, has generated some interested before. I started this small tradition in 2014 and did it again in 2015, so I figure it is worth continuing in 2016. The idea is for me to look back and see what great things I read in 2016. I read a  lot, and I rate what I read on a 1 to 5 stars rating with 5 stars being the best. A 5-stars book to me is the best of the best, one that I want as many people as possible to read, and  it is a book that I would personally own. I  read a lot of great books, but I rarely want to add them to my personal collection. So this list includes the 5-stars books I read for 2016. So feel free to check them out, and if you read any of them, feel free to comment and let me know what you think. If I managed to get the review done in 2016, I will include the link in the book title.

Graphic novels and comics

This is a format that I favor when it comes to reading. A lot of good stuff is published these days as graphic novels proving you can do a lot of cool things with  this format. As I have noted before, I  get a good number of graphic novels and comics via NetGalley, and a few via Edelweiss.

  • Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: The Ultimate Collection, Volume 3. This collection is the TMNT before Nickelodeon turned them into cutesy kid cartoons. As I wrote in my review, this is an excellent compilation of the authors early work. 
  • Drowned City. A tale of Hurricane Katrina and New Orleans. If you want to understand what really happened, this book is certainly a good start. 
  • I  continue to enjoy the Palmiotti et.al., run on Harley Quinn. This year I read volume 3, volume 4, and volume 5. Volume 5 is the last one before DC did yet another retcon on their comics (the Rebirth thing they got going as of this writing). This means there is a new "volume 1" of Harley Quinn. Though they kept the same author, I am skeptical as I tend to be every time comics publishers feel the need to hit that reset button yet one more time for the sake of trying to increase sales. We shall see. Meanwhile, I did enjoy the offerings so far. Harley Quinn series is one of the few series that DC had running that was not some dark, oppressive, and often overdone tale. This series is always light, fun, and humorous. 
  • Ted Rall had a couple of very good graphic novel biographies of politicians who ran for office in 2016. I managed to the read Bernie and Trump graphic biographies, which are very good if you wish to learn more about those men in an accessible way. I wish  he had one for Hillary Clinton too. 
  • Another excellent biography graphic novel was John Lequizamo's Ghetto Klown
  • I learned a bit more about Buddhism and a 13th century Japanese Buddhist master in Nichiren
  • You can read this one year round, but I think Valentine's Day would be a good time to read this. The book is The Complete Love Hurts. This is certainly one I would love to add to my collection down the road. 
  • Deadpool had a movie last year, and naturally there was renewed interest in the comics. Since I do not rush to watch movies in theaters, I had to wait, so while I waited I read Deadpool: The Complete Collection, Volume 1
  • Another excellent graphic novel biography I read in 2016 was 21: the Story of Roberto Clemente. Not only was it a great book, but so much of it evoked memories of me growing up in Puerto Rico. 
  • And finally for graphic novels, a little dharma with Cold Mountain.

Nonfiction

After graphic novels, nonfiction is the category I tend to favor the most. 2016 was good, but not as good as previous years for me in terms of solid 5-stars books (a lot of 4-stars, which are still good, but not for this post).

  • 2016 was the year I got serious about studying Tarot (and oracle cards), so naturally I read a few books on the topic last year. A good one I can recommend that I also own is Jessa Crispin's The Creative Tarot
  • Via NetGalley I  discovered what I think is a very good general reference book on Tarot. The book is Llewellyn's Complete Book of Tarot.
  • I took a trip to Asia and met some interesting people in Benjamin Law's Gaysia.
  • Finally, I got in a bit of Gabriel García Márquez this year, and I read a collection of his speeches. The book, which is in Spanish, is Yo No Vengo a Decir un Discurso. You have to love the title, which in English means "I am not here to give a speech." Ironically, by his own admission, the author was terrified of public speaking. 






Booknote: The Complete 'Masters of the Poster'

Stanley Appelbaum, The Complete 'Masters of the Poster': all 256 color plates from les Maîtres de l'affiche. New York: Dover, 2016. ISBN: 9780486263090.

Genre: nonfiction
Subgenre: art, art catalog
Format: e-book galley
Source: NetGalley

The Masters of the Poster was a prestigious art publication that collected 256 color plates of turn of the 19th century posters. People basically got the publication back then via subscription; subscribers received four posters via mail every month. The book is a reprint of a 1990 edition; the posters came out between 1895 and 1900. The posters range in  content from art to advertising. This Dover edition brings these rare posters in their original numbering sequence to a broader generation.

The book features a list of plates with  details about the posters. This is then followed by the art plates reproduced in color. The book also provides literal translations of the text in the posters into English for the posters that were printed into languages other than English. Overall though the notes are pretty minimal.

In the end, the book is a nice and pleasant collection to look over. It is also a glimpse into the 19th century and an art form that is rare now. Libraries with art collections may be interested in this one.

3 out of 5 stars.