Saturday, June 27, 2020

Creative Visualization: Use the Power of Your Imagination to Create What You Want in Your Life

Just before the pandemic hit, the library got a brand new copy of Shakti Gawain's Creative Visualization: Use the Power of Your Imagination to Create What You Want in Your Life.  I snagged it because visualization is the final part of the meditation method Emily Fletcher shared in Stress Less, Accomplish More; visualization is the part of the method that I feel the most lost with, so I thought a book on it would be worth reading.  I did start it back in like April, but I kind of lost interest; I restarted reading it about a week ago, and finished it yesterday.

Creative Visualization gives you the basics of how to use creative visualization within your life (basically, by changing the way you talk to yourself and believing that the universe is plentiful for everyone, you can start to manifest your desires in your own life).  Gawain then gives you a whole bunch of tools to help you bring creative visualization into your life (through using writing, creating vision boards/treasure maps, using mantras to help you change your negative self talk, etc). 

I found the book a bit tough to get through though.  It's not the type of book that you can easily read from cover to cover in one sitting.  For me, it was like I could only read so much of it before having to go off and do something else (almost like I needed time to really consider what was being said). I did like that she gives you so many different tools to try; you can easily choose one or two that sound interesting to you, and ignore anything you don't like the sounds of.  

Saturday, June 13, 2020

Overlord: The Undead King

After finishing Iraq Under Siege, I wanted to read some fiction.  So I chose to read Overlord: The Undead King by Kugane Maruyama, a Japanese Light Novel (translated) that a friend lent me sometime ago. 

In Overlord, Momonga is one of the last players of a virtual world that is being shut down.  He stays in the game until the last minute, wanting to enjoy all that his guild had built during the game's heyday.  But when the servers shut down, Momonga finds himself still his character in what looks like the game world.  The NPCs who were always silent are now talking and have the backstories and personalities the guild members wrote for them (including the last minute change Momonga made for Albedo, which he feels incredibly guilty of).  Now Momonga needs to figure out where they are and whether or not he can trust all of the NPCs; he must now be the Overlord in truth!

I found Overlord a bit slow going in the beginning, even though it was necessary to set up the game world of Yggdrasil before everything became real.  But once the servers went down and the NPCs came alive, the book became super fun! I loved Momonga's attempts to appear outwardly calm and collected for everyone while internally he was freaking out.  I also loved that Maruyama included an intermission part way through the story that showed what the main NPCs were thinking of Momonga.  The end fight was also incredibly fun, where Momonga is trying to be super cautious but discovers that whatever world this is, he's so much more powerful than everyone.  It's a very fun story, and I'd love to read more!

Thursday, June 11, 2020

Iraq Under Siege: the Deadly Impact of Sanctions and War

Continuing with my reading of books people have lent me, this time I chose Iraq Under Siege: The Deadly Impact of Sanctions and War, edited by Anthony Arnove. My brother lent this to me quite some time ago, and I admit I had a hard time psyching myself up to read it because I knew it would be pretty heavy.

Iraq Under Siege is a collection of essays from people protesting the lengthy sanctions that were imposed on Iraq by the UN Security Council after the invasion of Kuwait in 1990.  Initially the sanctions were going to be lifted after Iraqi forces withdrew from the area, but the sanctions ended up in place until after the Invasion of Iraq in 2003.  Many of the authors visited Iraq during that time (this is the first edition of the book, so prior to 2000 when it was published) and saw firsthand the devastation the sanctions and wars had wrought on the civilian population and infrastructure of Iraq.

While a very interesting and alarming read, I did find the book to be a bit repetitive by the end.  The same statistics and sources were used by many of the authors. 

Saturday, June 6, 2020

Life in a Thundering Bay: Voices from Thunder Bay's Past

My dad lent Life in a Thundering Bay to me a few months ago.  It's a collection of stories by people who lived in Thunder Bay over a century ago.  Right when he gave it to me, I flipped through it and found JC Banks mentioned; I'd read about Banks' experience in the Great Storm of 1893 at work, so it was really neat to see him mentioned (and to actually already know about him!)

This book is a collection of seven stories, one epic poem, and an article about the names of places around Thunder Bay.  The stories are from the earliest days of the then twin cities of Fort William and Port Arthur; the editors chose stories they found particularly intriguing.

The first story is an account by Catherine Moodie Vickers of going to see Kakabeka Falls (from a letter she wrote to her mother).  At that time it was an overnight canoe trip (whereas today you can jump in a car and be there in about 20 minutes from Thunder Bay).

The second story was Fred M. DelaFosse's account of his adventuring days as a remittance man (he was relying on money sent from home to support him).  He set out from England with a friend, who quickly decided this wasn't the life for him, and so remained in Fort William and Port Arthur on his own for a year or two.  He has many adventures in the lumber camps and working on a survey team.  This story sort of reminded me of Bertie from Wodehouse's Jeeves series (if Bertie decided to go off on his own adventuring), esp the last bit "I had started in with an overweening pride of my nationality and in the belief that an Englishman was the superior of any creature on earth. I had discovered...that even in the outer ranges of civilization, there was being reared a race of men who could hold their own in the company of Englishmen or anyone else. I returned home a chastened individual" (42); that last bit about being chastened reminds me of the story in Carry On, Jeeves when Bertie had to survive on his own in a hotel without Jeeves; he learned something of what it must be like to be on your own without a servant.

From there we get a short account about the Northern Hotel by Captain Walpole Roland.  Then there was an excerpt byW.S. Piper about his search for the "Lost Mother Lode" silver mine.  This story was from the book The Eagle of Thunder Cape, which originally captured the editors' interest in these stories.  I wasn't a huge fan of this one (I felt like Piper and his friend, Edward were really just using people - they were solely focused on seeing what help those people could give them for finding the silver mine).  But then about halfway through, Chief Eagle, an Ojibway chief, visits with them in their tent and tells them some fascinating Ojibway stories about their beliefs and the Dog Lake/Thunder Bay area.  I also had no idea about the Dog Lake effigy before reading this story!

Next is a short tale from Eugenie Robin about McKay (the same man that Mount McKay is named after) and his partner Fraser bringing an Ojibway girl to Loch Lomand where she's hoping to find her betrothed.  Then there's the story about Silver Islet, and what William B. Frue did so they could mine it.  I knew some details of this story, but reading it as a whole, it's quite remarkable!  And that brings us to the final story, which is "The Great Storm" by J.C. Banks, which tells of his ordeal through the storm of 1893.

The epic poem"The Legend of Thunder - How Thunder Bay Obtained Its Name" by H.R.A. Pocock was included in a book by Captain Roland (Algoma West); it tells the legend of how how Thunder Bay got its name.  I was so surprised that there was an epic poem written about Thunder Bay!  It was quite a unique read. :)

The final article in this book was Mary J.L. Black's "Place Names in the Vicinity of Fort William."  This was super interesting!  As the editors say, it was a daunting task for her to have tracked down the meanings of some of these Ojibway words!

While the volume as a whole is quite fascinating, as with any anthology-style book, you will like some authors more than others. I also need to mention the odd formatting Tania L. Saj and Elle Andra-Warner chose; some passages were randomly bolded in the text, while others were left in normal typeset, but then bolded and set on their own page elsewhere.

A passage bolded in text.

Passage in the text.

That same passage on its own page.

It was quite distracting when it happened, especially the random bolded sections in the text.

Other than that, I did enjoy reading this book.  And now I know a little more of the history of the area. :)

Thursday, June 4, 2020

Jane Foster Valkyrie: The Sacred and the Profane

The same friend who lent me Invisible Woman: Partners in Crime also lent me Jane Foster Valkyrie: The Sacred and the Profane.  I was quite excited to read this one because I'm a huge fan of the Jane Foster as Thor, Goddess of Thunder run that Marvel ran a few years ago.

After the War of the Realms leaves all of the Valkyrie dead, Jane Foster agrees to take on their mantle and become the last living Valkyrie.  But she is cautioned: being Valkyrie is not the same as being a hero, it's a job.

Aided by Undrjarn the All-Weapon (the remains of the War Thor's hammer), Jane Foster needs to learn just what it is to be Valkyrie.

I liked this story.  Jane is once again trying to balance her heroic duties with her mortal life.  She doesn't want to give up the normalcy of her mortality, so she hasn't told anyone that she is Valkyrie.  But that also comes with a price; she's late to her performance review at the hospital, and, as a result, demoted to morgue assistant.  Her new position is accompanied with less pay, so now she's avoiding her landlord, too.

She also keeps thinking like a superhero, thanks to having wielded both Thor's hammer and later the War Thor's hammer in the War of the Realms (which I unfortunately haven't read).  But being a Valkyrie is different.  Heimdall is the first to help her, telling her she has the eyes of the Valkyrie (which also shows her how close everyone's death is).  She also needs to learn how to trust the part of her that is Valkyrie (but she shies away from it because she's afraid it is changing her).

I loved Mister Horse.  Mister Horse was Brynhilde's winged horse, who was under control of Bullseye (he obtained Brynhilde's sword).  Once the sword was shattered by Jane (another fun moment - the sword was powerful, but only because Jane was seeing it as important - letting it and Brynhilde go allowed her to defeat it), Mister Horse just sort of stuck around with her, helping her ferry Heimdall to his chosen afterlife.

My one complaint was this story got a little monotonous.  Issue two had Jane learning to be a Valkyrie, then that was kind of repeated (though, to be fair, a bit different) in issue 5.  That being said though, I thought this story sets up beautifully for the next arc, which I can't wait to read! :)

Invisible Woman: Partners in Crime

A friend of mine lent me Invisible Woman: Partners in Crime awhile ago and I sort of forgot I had it.  But I saw it on my shelf today and decided to finally give it a read.

Partners in Crime is a fun spy-story with Invisible Woman.  Ten years ago, Invisible Woman worked part-time as a spy for SHIELD, partnered with Aidan Tintreach.  Fast forward to the present and she's brought into the CIA.  It seems that Agent Tintreach has gone missing, and his last message was "Stormy," the name he used to call Sue Storm Richards when they worked together.  While the CIA cautions Sue not to go looking for him because her actions may negatively affect a hostage situation happening in the same part of the world, Sue disagrees; if Aidan needs her help, she's determined to help him!

Aided by Nick Fury and Black Widow, Sue travels the globe for her ex-partner, learning he as she goes that he may not be the man she knew.

This is a super fun story!  I loved how Sue was able to use her powers for espionage, and also her rule of killing no one (plus the rationale for that at the end).  I hope Marvel tells more stories like this with Sue! :)

Tuesday, June 2, 2020

Carry On, Jeeves

After finishing A Child of Elvish, I really needed a different sort of read.  So I decided to tackle another P.G. Wodehouse book that my brother lent me (quite some time ago...).  This time it was Carry On, Jeeves, a short story collection that details the adventures of Bertram Wooster and his valet, Jeeves, as they try to help Bertie's friends get out of all sorts of problems.  The solutions are often provided by Jeeves, and usually end up working in a hilarious and round-about way.

I had a bit of a hard time getting into Carry On, Jeeves, in part because it was a short story collection; it felt like, at least for the first few stories, I was just starting to get into the story, then it was over.  It also didn't help that I wasn't really familiar with the characters; I think this would be a better read once you've read some of the Jeeves novels.  But once I got a few stories in, I loved the characters of Bertie and Jeeves (they make an excellent pair) and am quite looking forward to one day reading one of the novels.  :)

I made the mistake of reading my brother's review of Carry On, Jeeves, before writing this; he pretty much says it all, so I recommend reading that if you want to know a little more!