Wednesday, July 15, 2015

Samhain: Rituals, Recipes & Lore

Samhain: Rituals, Recipes & Lore for Halloween 
(Llewellyn's Sabbat Essentials) by Diana Rajchel    

  • Series: Llewellyn's Sabbat Essentials (Book 6)
  • Paperback: 264 pages
  • Publisher: Llewellyn Publications (September 8, 2015)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0738742163
  • ISBN-13: 978-0738742168

Llewellyn's Sabbat Essentials series explores the old and new ways of celebrating the seasonal rites that are the cornerstones in the witch's year.

A well-rounded introduction to Samhain, this attractive book features rituals, recipes, lore, and correspondences. It includes hands-on information for modern celebrations, spells and divination, recipes and crafts, invocations and prayers, and more!

Samhain—also known as Halloween—is the final spoke in the wheel of the year. At this time, the harvest has finished and the veil between the worlds is at its thinnest. This guide shows you how to practice the serious work of divination and honoring the dead along with the more light-hearted activities of Halloween.

The book starts off talking about the wheel of the year, and then goes into, what I find most interesting, the history of Samhain. It talks about traditions throughout many different regions of the world; which are not limited to, but include: Ireland, Scotland, England, Canada and the United States. I am a big history lover, so this was a joy to read. I knew some of the traditions and lore, but not all of them. So interesting!

Then of course the book goes into how Samhain is celebrated now, touching base with the different religions. The tone keeping from making any one religion feeling awkward or left out. Although changed to adapt modern times, it is nice to see that not all from the past has been lost.

There are plenty of recipes in the book to try, and rituals to perform whether alone, or with others. This was my first book that I have read which centers around just one holiday. This is a unique series of books, and I love the covers. At first I was hesitant because I didn't think that Samhain could fill up an entire book its self, but I was wrong.

If you are a Pagan, and follow a Pagan path, I would recommend this book to you. For others, probably not, unless you are interested in the history of Pagan traditions. It's a good reference book to have on your bookshelf. 

Although this book was given as a copy to review by NetGalley, my review is written with honesty and without any ties to the author herself. I did not receive any monetary gain from doing so.

Sunday, July 12, 2015

Elizabeth I and Her Circle

Elizabeth I and Her Circle 
by Susan Doran
  • Hardcover: 416 pages
  • Publisher: Oxford University Press; 1 edition (June 1, 2015)   
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0199574952
  • ISBN-13: 978-0199574957

This is the story of Elizabeth I's inner circle and the crucial human relationships which lay at the heart of her personal and political life. Using a wide range of original sources - including private letters, portraits, verse, drama, and state papers - Susan Doran provides a vivid and often dramatic account of political life in Elizabethan England and the queen at its center, offering a deeper insight into Elizabeth's emotional and political conduct - and challenging many of the popular myths that have grown up around her. 

It is a story replete with fascinating questions. What was the true nature of Elizabeth's relationship with her father, Henry VIII, especially after his execution of her mother? How close was she to her half-brother Edward VI - and were relations with her half-sister Mary really as poisonous as is popularly assumed? And what of her relationship with her Stewart cousins, most famously with Mary Queen of Scots, executed on Elizabeth's orders in 1587, but also with Mary's son James VI of Scotland, later to succeed Elizabeth as her chosen successor?

Elizabeth's relations with her family were crucial, but just as crucial were her relations with her courtiers and her councillors. Here again, the story raises a host of fascinating questions. Was the queen really sexually jealous of her maids of honour? Did physically attractive male favourites dominate her court? What does her long and intimate relationship with the Earl of Leicester reveal about her character, personality, and attitude to marriage? What can the fall of Essex tell us about Elizabeth's political management in the final years of her reign? And what was the true nature of her personal and political relationship with influential and long-serving councillors such as the Cecils and Sir Francis Walsingham? And how did courtiers and councillors deal with their demanding royal mistress?

This book is a must read for anyone who wants to learn more about Elizabeth I, daughter to Henry VIII and Anne Boleyn.

It's a rather quick paced read, and ends at 416 pages. It's well researched, and the author has made it as easy to get through as slicing a piece of cake, IF you are academically driven. That is very unusual to say, because most books that include sources in the passages take a bit of dedication to muddle through, and even then, you may have to read through it again to catch everything. This one is actually written in a way that makes it flow nicely, and it kept me quite interested from the get go.

It isn't in chronological order, but it is divided into sections and the bibliography is beautifully done. It's a collection of political portraits, going into interesting details about her relationships with those she chose to surround herself with, and those she didn't. I have read several books about Elizabeth, so I was surprised to learn a few things that I didn't already know. Bravo for the author!

For being a woman, and not the son that her father so much wanted her to be, she knew enough to surround herself with very clever advisers. She may not have done everything right, but she had heart, and didn't back down from anyone. Her father would have been proud.

Like history? Non - fiction? Add this to your list. I am certain that you won't regret it.

Although this book was given as a copy to review by NetGalley, my review is written with honesty and without any ties to the author herself. I did not receive any monetary gain from doing so.