Monday, May 16, 2022

Book Review: Your Guide to Not Getting Murdered in a Quaint English Village

Maureen Johnson (author) and Jay Cooper (illustrator), Your Guide to Not Getting Murdered in a Quaint English Village. Berkeley, CA: Ten Speed Press, 2021. ISBN: 9781984859624.
Genre: humor
Subgenre: British mysteries, Anglophile
Format: e-book galley
Source: NetGalley

I picked this up because I like a good British mystery here or there. In addition, I've been binge watching Midsomer Murders now and then, which is a series about a police detective solving murders in the quaint English villages of Midsomer County. So this book was right up the alley. 
The book opens with a note to the gentle reader. Then it looks at the two major locations: the village and the manor. Within the locations, the author guides us through places, people, and event in both locations. To reinforce the guidance, you get a quiz at the end of each section. Your odds of passing the quizzes are slim. Remember, these villages really are murder central. You should have stayed in the city. 
The entries are brief, so this book is more like a glossary than a full guide. However, its entries capture the essence of a quaint English village. The book plays well on the cozy village mystery tropes and stereotypes. If you are fan of the genre, you will recognize the various elements and smile a bit. 
For me, this was a light, fun, and amusing read. It does not have much substance, but it has good humor. The art, reminiscent of works like Masterpiece Theater, suits the text well. The book can be a good selection for public libraries, just shelve it next to the cozy British mysteries. 

Overall I liked this one. 
3 out of 5 stars. 
 Book qualifies for the following 2020 Reading Challenge: 


Friday, May 13, 2022

Deck Review: Tarot De La Nuit

Carole Anne Eschenazi and Alexandra V. Bach, Tarot De La Nuit. Woodbury, MN: Llewellyn Worldwide, 2018. (Link to publisher)

Genre: Tarot decks.
Subgenre: dark, faery, fairy tales
Format: 79 card deck (78 cards + one extra) and a small guidebook in small box
Source: I own this one

I used this deck for the first time in December 2021. Set includes a small companion. As usual with Lo
Knight of Pentacles 

Scarabeo, the small book's text is in six languages: English, Italian, Spanish, French, Portuguese, and Russian. The English content is about 55 pages. The book includes the following: 

  • How this deck was created. A short artist statement.
  • Why a Tarot De La Nuit? Short description of the deck. 
  • Welcome to the Kingdom of De La Nuit. Describes concept of the deck and card entries. Each card entry features card title, personal message of card, divinatory meaning, and keywords. 
  • Major Arcana.
  • Minor Arcana.
  • Bonus card: L'Ange De La Nuit. This deck has an extra card, and this paragraph provides its divinatory meaning. You can choose to leave the card in the deck or remove it prior to using the deck. I left it in the deck when I used it. 
  • How to use this deck. This note include includes some suggestions for an initial ritual and some tips on using the deck. 
  • 1-card readings. Some prompts for one card readings. 
  • The Night Spread. A 7-card spread specifically designed for the deck. As of this post, I have not tried it. When I do, I will post it to my cartomancy blog, Alchemical Thoughts.


The book overall is relatively easy to read. The card interpretations are written from the point of view of a card's character. They are written in first person, which adds a bit of a personal touch. Interpretations focus on the themes of night and the world of faery. While the deck falls, mostly, withing the Rider Waite Smith (RWS) structure, I still recommend reading the book to really appreciate the concepts and dark beauty of this deck. I did enjoy reading the interpretations in the book and adding what works for me to my own readings. 

The deck has 79 cards: the 78 standard cards and the extra unnumbered 79th card: Angel of the Night. This is a seriously beautiful dark deck that immerses you into the dark faery world. As the author writes, this deck shows "a world where dark femininity reigns, where solitude is strength, where faery is close at hand, where melancholy brings enlightenment, and where dreams are real" (5). I say this deck achieves that and more. 

Yes, this is a very feminine deck; that's a lot of the energy you feel in using it. Most of the cards are female figures. There are a few males throughout such as The Emperor-IV and the Kings. The deck has a strong dream quality to it. This could be a good deck to use at night and/or for dream work. The art style, to use the author's words, is gothic, baroque, mystical, and mysterious. It has a strong romantic element. 

The artist pays careful attention to detail in this deck. Deck features a lot of rich detail and a profound depth. You can lose yourself looking at these cards. Imagery can be very sensual as well, seductive, but it is not an erotic deck per se. Colors are bright and very rich. Figures are very expressive, moving at times. Art certainly works well for intuitive readers. As the author writes, "Each card represents a very specific character that conveys a message. You don't need to know anything about tarot to understand this message" (7). True as that may be, I would say it does help if you know at least a bit of Tarot. Also, I'd add reading the small book can enhance the card reading experience. However, if you are one of those intuitives who jump right in without texts, then yes, you should be able to work with the cards well. 

I really like the art on this one. It is one of the most sensuous and deep decks I've used so far. This is a deck that has made me think and ponder. It puts my intuition and imagination to work with its rich and deep dark imagery. While you can use it year round, I'd recommend this deck for the dark time of the year, especially winter. I found it worked great for me in December. 

The cards measure about 4 3/4 inches by 2 3/4 inches. Art is borderless. Cards are identified by a banner with card name at bottom of the card. Card back is reversible. The cards have a bit of a glossy finish. 

Overall, an excellent deck that I am glad to have in my collection. It is one I would gladly recommend for folks seeking dark decks. This deck is also good for folks looking for a more feminine deck. 

5 out of 5 stars.

Wednesday, May 11, 2022

Book Review: Deadpool Samurai, Volume 1

Sanshiro Kasama (author) and Hikaru Uesugi (artist), Deadpool Samurai, Volume 1. San Franciso, CA: VIZ Media, 2022. ISBN: 9781974725311.
Genre: manga
Subgenre: superheroes, Marvel Comics, humor
Format: e-book galley
Source: NetGalley 

Deadpool makes it into manga, and it was a fun ride to read. I picked this up in part because I like Deadpool comics and in part because it is manga. I am glad I read it. 
Deadpool makes it to Japan, and he is soon drafted to be part of a new team Japan: Samurai Squad, along with Sakura Spider, a young woman with powers like Spider-Man. Soon they get into various adventures as Loki appears to create various problems in his quest for world conquest. 
Deadpool's humor is spot on in this series. His fourth wall breaks are great, and he aims his humor at everyone up to and including his publishers-- Marvel and Shonen Jump.  Reading these asides just adds to the fun. The manga overall has a pretty fast pace with plenty of action. The story has silly moments, but it is also entertaining and amusing. The manga art is very good as well. 

I ended up reading this in one sitting because it was great fun to read. I could not put it down. In a time when so many comics want to be dark, moody, edgy (as if), it is refreshing to read a manga that is light, fun, and just plain entertaining. We need more manga like this. 

This is a great selection for libraries with comics and manga collections. If you already collect Deadpool comics, this is a must have as well. I'd buy it for my library, and it is one I would buy for my personal library. 

5 out of 5 stars. 

Book qualifies for the following 2022 Reading Challenge: 

Monday, May 09, 2022

Book Review: Tarot Priestess

Leeza Robertson, Tarot Priestess: Using the Cards to Heal, Grow, & Serve. Woodbury, MN: Llewellyn Worldwide, 2022. ISBN: 9780738765334.
Genre: Tarot, divination
Subgenre: feminism, women, womxn, divine feminine
Format: e-book galley
Source: NetGalley

I picked this book up as I often do: out of curiosity. In my cartomancy journey I try to read as I can on the topic. For me, this book had a lot of positives. It had a negative or two, but the positives have the most weight. 
This is mainly a book for women who practice Tarot, want to learn Tarot, or perhaps they wish to deepen their magical practice and craft using Tarot (or rather "womxn," which is the term the author uses). If you identify as such, this book can be a great option for you. 

The book is arranged as follows: 
  •  Introduction. This gives an overview of the Priestess Path and the Fool's Role. It also introduces the book's overall structure based on Path, Purpose, and Temple. 
  • Chapters One, Two, and Three are the Gateway chapters. Here you study the Major Arcana.
  • Chapters Four, Five, Six, and Seven are the Temple chapters. Here you study the Minor Arcana cards 1-10 in each suit.
  • Chapter Eight is The Stages of the Priestess. Here you study the court cards and see them as levels in the Priestess journey. 
  • Conclusion. 
  • Recommended Reading. A small list on the concept of goddess and the divine feminine for further study and reading. The list offers 12 books.

This is a book to do some serious in-depth Tarot and divine feminine study. I read through it to write the review, but this is a book to take your time and do the exercises and rituals a bit at a time. You do feel you'll gain growth if you take the process a step at a time. The main concept of the book is what the author calls the tarot priestess path, a way to answer the goddesses' call, and deepen your practice so you can live as a daughter of the goddess (2). If nothing else, this book provides a good opportunity to learn about Tarot and the Divine Feminine. 

A strength of the book is in the devotional exercises throughout the book. There is a variety of exercises. Some are rituals. Other exercises may be doing a particular Tarot spread or other card reading. Exercises also include journaling and altar work. There is plenty to do here, and the author provides exercises that are relatively easy to do. These are tasks that feel doable and do not require much equipment beyond some basics. As the author recommends, you may want to have multiple Tarot decks for various tasks. 

The book also offers a lot of structure, so if you are like me, structure is good. The exercises build upon each other. So start at the beginning and work your way up. The book is written in an easy and nurturing tone, which is another strength. 

Overall, this is a good book, especially for womxn. Learning is incremental, and the exercises offer depth. It is a book for reflection and deep study. It may be geared a bit more for beginners or for those who are coming back into a craft after an absence, but Tarot practitioners at any level can gain benefit from the lessons. This is a book to keep handy. 

The book may also be a good selection for libraries with Tarot, pagan, and/or esoterica collections. This is one I would buy for our library if the local pagans requested it. I ended up really liking it.

4 out of 5 stars. 

* * * * * 
Additional reading notes: 
What makes a Tarot priestess in brief: 
For if you have been using the tarot for spiritual practice or even incorporating it into some form of daily devotion and ritual, you are a tarot priestess" (3). 
The book's structure: 
"Tarot Priestess is structured to give you a framework to connect your tarot practice back to the goddess and recommit your feet to the priestess path. The chapters walk you through three priestess gateways and four goddess temples, and it also introduces you to the four stages of the initiation process" (5). 
What the Gateways are: 
"In many respects, the gateways are just this: steps in a larger living ceremony that starting with yourself and ending with the world. The gateways also help you creating deep, meaningful practice for yourself so you can be the example to others. After all, isn't that how you found the path, watching some other Priestess do what comes naturally to her?" (16).
On looking at the Wheel of Fortune: 
"The Hermit's lamp will ultimately lead you to the wheel of fate. You may also know it as the Wheel of Fortune, but a priestess knows that all circumstances are fortunate and that luck is merely a matter of perspective. Which is why the goddess teaches us to look upon the Wheel instead as the inevitable turning of time, the change of seasons and the cycles we go through as a collective species. This broader understanding of the Wheel will change how you view the external world. As you will see, it is something that is playing its part, not something that can bend to your will or intend your personal harm. The Wheel reconnects you to the natural order; the cosmic rhythms of the world in which you live, dance, breathe and worship. Everything is as it should be, all the time, without fail. As the Wheel turns and things change, so too does your experience" (40). 

* * * * * 

This book qualifies for the following 2022 Reading Challenge:


Friday, May 06, 2022

Short book review: Garfield Fat Cat 3-Pack, Volume 22

Jim Davis, Garfield Fat Cat 3-Pack, Volume 22. New York: Ballantine Books, 2020. ISBN: 9780593156384.
Genre: graphic novels and comics
Subgenre: humor, children and young adult
Format: trade paperback omnibus edition
Source: Berea branch, Madison County (KY) Public Library
This volume collects the books Garfield Feeds His Face: his 64th Book, Garfield Eats and Runs: his 65th Book, and Garfield: Nutty as a Fruitcake: his 66th Book. These larger volumes are always good and amusing reads. The strips are in color. Among the highlights here are Garfield watching television-- I am always amused to see what kind of TV shows he finds-- and Jon shows off his frequent shopper status at the local pizza parlor. Another highlight is Jon attempting to do online shopping. I think a few folks out there who do online shopping may relate. Overall another nice collection of light and entertaining humor.I liked it. For public libraries, these volumes make a pretty good value for your Garfield and comics collections.

3 out of 5 stars.