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Doc: A Novel

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Mary Doria Russell delivers an engaging story of Doc Holliday's younger years. I've read Dreamers of the Day, her novel about the Cairo peace talks that followed WW1 and was interested to see her give these characters the same deft handling she gave Winston Churchill, T. E. Lawrence, and other historical folks.Not much in the way of popular reading has come out on the early lives of Doc, or Wyatt Earp and his brothers. Unless you want to find biographical materials and do some serious research, the novels and movies won't address that. While her digressions into the childhood experiences of some of the characters seem like an interruption and big fat rocks in the stream of her narrative, they don't detract from the novel overall and will help give readers who may not be as familiar a good idea of what the real people involved were like. My only quarrel is with a passage of "what if" speculation that wanders on for a few pages right in the middle of the story, only to fizzle out and left me scratching my head. I would highly recommend this novel not only for lovers of westerns, but anyone who enjoys a well-crafted story. I'd set aside a few uninterrupted afternoons to finish it, because you probably won't want to put it down.
The Book of Pleasure: The Psychology of Ecstasy

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Spare's detailing of his magical system is obstuse and difficult to slog through, like an unedited grimoire. You may want to refer to some of his interpreters, and there are many excellent books on his methods of sigil casting and other forms of magic. Of course, they don't have his illustrations. At the risk of sounding shallow, I had a digital copy of this work but it was just text. I bought this copy to have the pictures. Each picture that accompanies the text is a spell in and of itself. Worth it for scholars, but maybe not a great choice for beggining students.
The Jewel Trader of Pegu: A Novel

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I swooned, I wept, I am pierced to the heart by this novel of love and exotic lands. It took my breath, but let me stop enthusing to perhaps give some real reviewing.The plot is well metered and handled deftly, building towards its end with the inevitability of a roller-coaster. You see it coming, but crave the trail there. I can't say enough, and I admit to being more emotional than cerebral, because it tugged at my heart and my recent wounds, and made me feel my heart open again for these people.I would recommend this without any reservation. It's a beautiful book, and well worth the reading. It is a jewel as much as the pigeon-blood ruby Abraham purchases. As beautiful as any dark blood right out of the heart.
Anatomy Of A Rose: Exploring The Secret Life Of Flowers

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Who knew a walk through the garden could bring an embarassed flush to one's face? Russell's intruiging work brings botany to non-science types (like English majors) and makes the world of flowers accessible. But her wonderful style and keen observation make it worth reading. Humans have known what some flowers can resemble since well before Georgia O'Keefe came along, but I had no idea there was truly so much lust in the garden. Shocking!
Road to Nowhere

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I currently live in a town where we have a contentious Parish Council, and I've watched some fights similar to this play out. Happily, no one has been murdered, but I enjoyed how Robertson portrays the way the fur can fly. It was a page-turner and has great potential with some editing.There were some subplots that added nothing to the main storyline, and the pacing in places really bogged down. If it were tighter it would read much better. The ending also seemed too contrived, but it was still a laugh-out-loud moment. It was also rather heavy handed with the symbolism and foreshadowing, but that was not so bad as to be a distraction.
Peace

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Like any Gene Wolfe work, this isn't what it appears to be. I've found much of his work not only holds up to repeated readings, but practically demands it if you're going to get anything out of them. This was his first novel and, I gather, not a big hit at the time. While at first reading it seems to simply be the story of a midwestern man's life, upon closer inspection I've found it to be a deeply frightening book. I wonder what the next reading will reveal?
Cemetery Stories: Haunted Graveyards, Embalming Secrets, and the Life of a Corpse After Death

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If you're as morbidly inclined as I am, you'll enjoy this. I had enjoyed Ms. Ramsland's book on ghost hunting, so I snagged this when I saw it at the library and proceeded to be delighted and horrified by turns. I learned all about "corpse cheese," how not to embalm a body, exploding coffins, and the latest in cemetery swag. I've seen memorial web sites, but so far I haven't run across a video memorial AT someone's grave site. It just sounds like MySpace for the dead. But anyway, I would recommend this without reservation and just say I wish it had been longer.
The Haitian Vodou Handbook: Protocols for Riding with the Lwa

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I want to echo Lupa's review and say that this is a wonderful, hands-on introduction to Vodou as it's practiced in Haiti and in the Haitian diaspora. While I'm from New Orleans and some of the spellings and terms are different, I found it very accessible. Filan also addresses the issue of cultural appropriation right up front with the common-sense observation that you should approach any tradition with respect and honest curiousity. I would highly recommend this to anyone with an interest in Vodou.
Psychic Self-Defense: The Classic Instruction Manual for Protecting Yourself Against Paranormal Attack

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This is a very useful book. You should bear in mind the author's prejudices and time period when readng it and bear in mind she comes from the Western Mystery Tradition. There's a lot of Crowley-like dark muttering about Black Lodges and evil witchcraft, but if you can overlook some of her mysterious rambling about adepts and hidden knowledge too powerful for the common person to comprehend, you'll get a lot out of this work. When she gets around to giving practical advice, it's very useful. I would recommend this not only to occultists, but anyone interested in psychology and setting personal boundaries to avoid the sort of draining and domination she describes.
The Magic of Shapeshifting: An Astrology Book For Beginners

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Other reviewers have already pointed out that this book is full of misinformation, and that many of Ms. Greene's statements are not documented or backed up by research. I found that not only was the work comprised of many opinions and needless anthropomorphizing, some of it is outright dangerous.At one point she states that a shifter can't be killed in their animal form because bullets are on a different vibrational plane. She further suggests using wolf's bane (aconite), foxglove, and the supposedly mythical moonflower. Her description of moonflower is clearly the datura plant which is not at all mythical and is very poisonous. Wolf's bane will also kill you, and you shouldn't take foxglove unless your physician has prescribed digitalis. I'm afraid someone will take these suggestions seriously despite her warnings that they "may" be dangerous and that they will wind up dead.Anyone new to shapeshifting would do better to skip this book and look for the work of Lupa or Ted Andrews.
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