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review 2018-07-31 18:16
The Roman Way: How to Grow Old - Ancient Wisdom for the Second Half of Life by Marcus Tullius Cicero
How to Grow Old: Ancient Wisdom for the Second Half of Life - Marcus Tullius Cicero,Philip Freeman

 


Cicero was full of shit.

Though I did some Classics in the 80s, I barely read any Cicero. (This was out of personal indolence, not the fault of my courses...) He is one of the people from the Graeco-Roman world I really would like to read a bit more of than I did back then - probably in translation on a long National Express coach journey, or something. The impression I retain of Cicero is attractive: someone vain, voluble, companionable, and - crucially - warm; somewhat larger than life, volcanic by temperament, capable of being quite formidable. I think he was like some figures in the performing arts up and down my lifetime, certain directors - I can't even name names right now - rather than politicians I can think of who are active now. I'm sure I've met something of him in a number of people. I dare say the bar still accommodates people with his talents and personality and virtues - I have just known very few people who work there.

 

If you're into stuff like this, you can read the full review.

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review 2018-01-02 13:40
Children of Wisdom trilogy (Stephanie Erickson)
The Children of Wisdom Trilogy - Stephanie Erickson

Well that's about four hours of my life I won't get back, but since it was four hours spent on a plane, they were counted as lost anyway. This 3-chaptered novel (because that's what it is - the cliffhangers at the ends of parts 1 & 2 are even more egregious than is usual in a fantasy series) is set within a cosmology that includes elements of Greek mythology (notably the 3 Fates) merged with a version of Christianity, heavily filtered through American pop culture. God is a remote bureaucrat along the lines of "Heaven Can Wait" (or "Here Comes Mr. Jordan"), whence we also get the plot point of the too-early death. This God runs what appears to be a sort of human-processing shop, in an area of the heavens behind a third gate between those of Heaven and Hell. Purgatory, which we would expect to be that third gate, is disused (to say it's "in limbo" would just confuse everybody... ) and instead rather illogically housed within Hell, chiefly for the narrative convenience of allowing the principal characters to have Hellish adventures on their way to and from the Halloween castle shackled dungeon.

I don't mind cosmological fantasy, but this one is really not all that well thought through, and that makes the final trial and fate of the ultimate (human) villain a bit risible to me, I'm afraid. You will not convince this atheist that complete extinction, which is what she is doomed to, is worse than an infinity of the tortures of Hell, which would presumably be her "normal" fate. This is all the more uncomfortable when juxtaposed against her actual sin, which is going to extremes to preserve life in a suffering child who should be humanely allowed to die.

This was (I believe) a free Kindle offering, and I sometimes wonder with these things whether I should, instead of criticism, apply the much more generous standards of fan-fiction non-criticism, since it's essentially "gift literature."  But I do wish this author's kind, non-critical editors had explained to her that "opaque" does not mean "transparent". Worse, the error appears in both the first and the final book, so it was allowed to slide even after the first part was published.

Two stars as opposed to one, merely because, although the control of tone was iffy, the spelling and grammar were generally correct, and despite the occasional howler like "opaque", the only major objection I had to the diction was careless repetition of the same descriptive word within the same passage without any rhetorical justification.

You get what you pay for.

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review 2017-10-14 00:00
Braiding Sweetgrass: Indigenous Wisdom, Scientific Knowledge and the Teachings of Plants
Braiding Sweetgrass: Indigenous Wisdom, Scientific Knowledge and the Teachings of Plants - Robin Wall Kimmerer Loved this book. Loved the combination of cultural history and beliefs, personal experience and science. Loved the compassion and insight of the storytelling. Loved the descriptions of plantlife in all the places she'd lived and loved. Loved the ideas, and proposed solutions. Need to read again soon.
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review 2017-07-28 15:46
Crystal Magic: Mineral Wisdom for Pagans & Wiccans (Paperback) by Sandra Kynes
Crystal Magic: Mineral Wisdom for Pagans & Wiccans - Sandra Kynes

I have been interested in Crystals and stones for years. I have several books on crystals btu one can never have too many books or stop learning about something that interests them. This is without a doubt one of the most in depth books I have read on Crystals. It does more then show you a picture of the crystal and give you a 1 paragraph history and uses of the crystal. The book actually teaches you how to choose your crystals, how to care for them, and most importantly how to use them.

 

This is definitely not one of those books you read once and put away. This is a reference book and while using your crystals you will want to pull this book out again and again. The book is very well written in easy to understand terminology so everyone will benefit from this book whether you are a beginner or have been working with crystals for many years.

 

I received this book from the Author or Publisher via Netgalley.com to read and review.

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review 2017-07-12 10:22
Crystal Magic
Crystal Magic: Mineral Wisdom for Pagans & Wiccans - Sandra Kynes

by Sandra Kynes

 

This is a Llewellyn book, definitely targeted at Pagans and Wiccans and about using crystals in magic to enhance magical ritual with the use of crystals.

 

Unlike a lot of books of this kind, it has a wealth of practical information that would be of interest to anyone interested in gemstones or any mineral that might be used in jewellery. There is some history of the use of gemstones in medicine as well as cosmetics and information about their constituents, followed by a science chapter that I found very interesting indeed. This included information about how crystals help to support life and how crystals are formed and reformed in nature. Also about crystal structures and non-mineral crystals like Amber, jet and petrified wood. The information about optical properties of stones was especially fascinating.

 

There are many pictures in black and white, but of such good resolution that they work in a book where color might have been expected.

 

Chapter 3 is about Selecting and Preparing Stones. This one hit my 'new age' meter and I questioned some of the advice, particularly about putting salt water on stones. For many that will do no harm, but opals, especially Ethiopian opals, would lose their color, at least for several weeks.

 

Chapter 4 on using crystals in magic, however, mostly impressed me. There was some good advice for charging crystals and color correspondences given that actually matched up with older information about associations. I liked the explanation of crystal grids, though I've heard of this idea before.

 

There were two things I thought needed a warning. One was that you should never stare directly at a candle flame during a divination as it can harm the eyes. I can see the method of watching the flame through a clear stone working okay if the stone was big enough, but I did feel some caution should have been given about keeping the flame completely behind the stone at all times.

 

The other thing was about using oils. Oil an opal and it will lose its color forever. Other than that, the part about herbs and oils was very interesting as was the mention of the significance of birthstones, though it seemed to skirt around some of the disagreement about which stones belong to each month.

 

Much of the book is a compendium of stones, giving information about more that a hundred varieties of minerals. It was strong on history and description, but didn't give hardness index.

 

Appendix A deals with magical properties of stones, while Appendix B lists associated deities. I'm not knowledgeable enough to judge the accuracy of either of these, but found the information interesting and the extensive bibliography suggests that the author did a lot of research.

 

Over all this was a very good book on the subject with its strengths being on history, science and thoroughness. I may well get a hard copy to keep on my reference shelf.

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