Book Review – King’s Dragon

Perhaps it might’ve been because I haven’t delved into a new fictional universe in quite a while. Reading King’s Dragon by Kate Elliot, felt very much a pleasant breath of fresh air. Published in 1997, this book is the first of a seven book novel series called Crown of Stars. I first heard of this on r/Fantasy Subreddit, when I searched for a fictional epic high fantasy that incorporates some Mesoamerican history and myth. However this series is actually heavily inspired on European history with some minor Eurasia and Mesoamerican elements. As a mainly Hispanic medieval history geek, I still was intrigue on reading this series, and more so given that’s fully completed!

Right form the beginning we learn about the importance of magic and religion in this fictional world, and how it shapes it. In this book we get to follow two characters named Liath and Alain. Both of which have their own distinct character arcs. As the first novel of a seven novel series, world building is significant. However going back to our main characters in the story, the character development process is also significant in this story, by the time this book ends, both our our protagonists are completely different people that from the story started. Going back to the world building aspect of this book, we get to read the history of this fictional universe, and the current state of the world where politics play a major role in the story.

I read a lot of history books, and I’m quite well versed in European history, albeit Hispanic mainly. Thus said, I definitely see the inspiration medieval Europe had on the author when writing this book. The religion in very much Christianity. It’s not like in The Lord of the Rings where Christianity is beautifully incorporated in the world in a somewhat hidden manner, in here it’s much more “in your face”. Let’s just say, I can easily tell that the author read a lot of medieval primary sources.

I really enjoyed this first book in the Crown of Stars, and I’m excited to see where book two takes us.

Book Review – Dot Journaling: A Practical Guide

Dot Journaling – A Practical Guide: How to Start and Keep the Planner, To-Do List, and Diary That’ll Actually Help You Get Your Life Together is a fantastic informative book for anyone interested on getting into the journaling world. While the book is focused on the “Dot/Bullet Journaling” approach, it doesn’t necessarily mean that everyone has to follow a certain convention when stepping into the journaling world. Journaling is one of those topics where I can get myself lost for hours watching people’s journaling setups and processing on Youtube. Though I haven’t mentioned it on blog, but I do a lot of journaling, whether being simple “To Do Lists”, “Goals”, Daily/Weekly/Yearly calendaring, diaries, book reviews, etc. I have been doing journaling for years, and quite understand some of the benefits it brings. I’m a firm believer that incorporating some sort of Journaling workflow into your everyday routine can help anyone tremendously.

The author walks you many excellent examples on how you can corporate a Journaling routine. The concept of “Dot Journaling” aka “Bullet Journaling” can be somewhat of debatable process. One thing that the author emphases is that their is no right or wrong way to do things, it’s all to you to define how to do things, while does describe some brilliant examples on ways to use Dot Journaling. One amusing thing about reading this book, was being described the notion of “spreads” in Dot Journaling. Which coming from a technical background, they’re practically identical to sprints in Agile! Of which such process I already incorporate into my personal projects.

Whether via helping improve your mental health, reach your goals, increase your productivity, or simply be a better organized individual. Journaling can help you, and I think this is an excellent book that can motivate and inspire you.

Yennefer Sideshow Premium Format Statue

Yennefer Sideshow Premium Format

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Yennefer Sideshow Premium Format

Yennefer is the first statue I’ve purchased from the Sideshow Premium Format Witcher line. I already own the original Yennefer, and DLC Alternate outfit Yennefer Prime 1 Studio Statues, so this is my third statue of this particular character, however it is the first one created by Sideshow Collectibles.

Theirs a staggering difference between both statue companies when it comes to their respective statue lines. First, Prime 1 Studio is known to oversize their 1/4 scale statues. This is not the exception, the Sideshow Yennefer is significant smaller than both of my Jennifer Prime 1 Studio studios. While the Sideshow statue is not tiny by any means, for the those picky collectors that prefer exact sizing across different statue lines, displaying the Sideshow Yennefer statue along other Prime 1 Studios Witcher statues won’t scale perfectly.

One thing that Sideshow has to be given massive credit is that they haven’t significantly raised their prices. Just about all of their Premium Format statues are in the $400-700 range. In contrast, now it seems take every Prime 1 Studio Museum Masterline statue starts at least $1,000!

To me, this statue tells a better story than any of the P1 Yennefers’. While the P1, are simple museum type poses, this statue Yennefer appears to be flowing in the air, and casting a magic spell. I love the translucent resin sculpt on both arms. On the other hand (no pun intended), the level of detail is not the same as P1. P1 completely blasts Sideshow out of the water, the head sculpt on the this statue, while it’s nice. It’s simply not as detailed or beautiful as P1. Though it’s not important to me, but it’s worth mentioning, this statue does not have a bonus or exclusive version. Everyone gets the same statue.

Overall, I’m quite happy with this statue. I wasn’t expecting it to be P1 quality like, but was not discouraged of this, as I find this statue to be very well done. It’s safe to assume that I’ll be buying the Eredin and Geralt Sideshow Premium Format statues next.

Seven Myths of the Crusades

I have somewhat of a firm knowledge of the history of the crusades, where I can easily laugh at some of the myths about the Crusades that spews out of people’s mouth. Though in some cases, that laughter may translate to absolute disgust because of the blatant disinformation. I can understand having biases, after I’m the first to admit my bias in favor of the Latin world. However I can’t stand any sort of slander. The Crusades is one of topics that is slandered to death.

This book is written by 10 different well established history academics, all of which provide extremely well research and good objective points of view’s debunking the different myths covered.The following are the seven popular myths that are thoroughly explained in this book:


  1. The First Crusade: Provoked Offensive or Overdue Defense?
  2. Mad Men on Crusade: Religion Madness and the Origins of The First Crusade
  3. The Crusades and Medieval Anti-Judaism: Cause or Consequence
  4. The Quest for Gain: Were the First Crusaders Proto-Colonists?
  5. Myths of Innocence: The Making of the Children’s Crusade
  6. Templars and Masons: An Origin Myth
  7. Islam and the Crusades: A Nine Hundred-Year-Long Grievance?

Each chapter starts with a quote of someone fueling the example of a popular crusading myth. I’m not joking when I refer to these as being laughable. The authors do provide some backgrounds of those individuals spewing negative crusading rhetoric. Some of these includes, Hollywood movies and TV shows, Western Politicians, and shocking (not really) university academics. The latter was amusing to me, since after I did a quick Google search of some of these academics regurgitating crusade (and Christian) disinformation, all mostly were Western scholars whose university programs happened to be sponsored by the Saudi government! But I digress.

In my opinion, this is the perfect introductory book for anyone that is mildly interested on learning about the crusades. It gives a good foundation on explanation what the crusades were, but more important what they weren’t.

As someone who has studied the Spanish “Black Legend”, the popular negative crusade myths aren’t any different. Even as such both are well intertwined! So I wasn’t surprised that the inspiration for this book came from the book Seven Myths of the Spanish Conquest.

2023 New Year’s Resolution

Pandemic is finally over (at least the fascist restrictions), so it’s time to set some New Year’s Resolutions. As always, in no particular order:

PlayStation 5

Two years later, I finally managed to purchase brand new PlayStation 5. As a casual gamer, I love immersing myself into video game worlds. These past few years most my gaming has been primarily been handheld on the Nintendo Switch. The only PS4 console gaming that I’ve done has been 100% focused only on GTA 5, Skyrim, and The Witcher 3. I’ve definitely spent over 1,000 hours on just these three games only. So one of my biggest motivations on getting a PS5, was to finally give myself an excuse to branch out off those three games.

I purchased a brand new 55 inch LG 4K/HDR TV that is 120 GHz capable earlier in the year, so as far as having a TV, I was already more than ready to make the Next-Gen Console jump.

I follow Wario64 on Twitter, which is a fantastic account that posts video game deals. So when I saw that Best Buy was finally getting PS5 consoles for Black Friday, I immediately jumped on it (I refused to give any scumbag scalper on Ebay or OfferUP any money). I decided to go big on my Nex-Gen Console experience, so I purchased a 2TB WD – BLACK SN850 2TB Internal SSD PCIe Gen 4 x4 Officially Licensed for PS5 drive with so I don’t have to worry about running out of disk space (Black Friday special $220.00). The expansion drive install was absolutely painless.

Since I was already in the Black Friday spirit, I also purchased a Black and Camo DualSense controller, and some additional PS5 Games that were on sale for fairly cheap (including my third copy of GTA 5!). I must say, I absolutely love the new DualSense controller, it’s very comfortable the rumble feedback is the best of any controller I’ve used.

Next-Gen Experience
For the first game to start my Next-Gen Console experience, I debated between Horizon Forbidden West and Ghost of Tsushima Director’s Cut. I opted start with Horizon Forbidden West, given that I played Horizon Zero Dawn on the PS4 already and thoroughly enjoyed the game. Needless to say, I’m over 20 hours into the game, and it has been somewhat of a let down. While the Horizon Forbidden West world and gameplay is stunning and gorgeous, the story itself has been somewhat boring. Thus said, I can’t to start playing new games on my shiny new PlayStation 5 console.

Book Review – 1212 Las Navas

1212 Las Navas is a historical novel based on the events around The Battle of Las Navas of Tolosa. I read this book immediately after finishing Las Navas de Tolosa: 1212 la batalla que decidió la Reconquista. This meant, the historical facts were fresh in my mind while reading this book, which I felt this added to even a more full immersive experience while reading this book. Thus said, you don’t have know the integrate details of the historical events. The author does an excellent job describing the setting, without being a horrible info dump. Speaking of the author, this is a very beautifully written book. It is so beautifully written that, I don’t think I’ve ever read a book with so many poetic descriptions of the sun!

The story is equally presented from the point of view of the three fictional Crusaders and Moors (although some may have been true historical people). With the different characters having their own unique story arcs that culminates in the Battle of Las Navas de Tolosa. This is such a well crafted story, that almost all the time I was reading this book, I constantly had the thought of this story being adapted into a movie directed by Mel Gibson! This is how good this story is.

New Uplift Standing Desk


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When I think of the tech purchases that have drastically changed my life in a positive way, the Amazon Kindle, and the Apple AirPods immediately come to my mind. However my new Uplift sit stand desk has completely blown everything out of the water.

I’ve been wanting a sit stand desk for years. So now that I work remote fulltime, it was a “no brainer” for me to invest in a proper quality desk, instead of a cheap IKEA desk, I’ve been using these last two years. As far as sit stand desk brands is concerned, it seemed that Uplift Desk was the brand that appeared with the most praise, so I opted to go with them. I think the main reason why people seem to love Uplift Desk is because of their high level of customizable options. It’s absolutely awesome! For my desk configuration I chose the following:

With the following extras:

Aside from the wealth of customizable options, the quality of the desk and its parts is extremely high quality. Not once, that I perceived a piece as being flimsy, and cheaply made, quite the opposite. As soon as I started opening the packages and started building the desk, I immediately noticed the high quality of their products. It’s diffidently not IKEA!

Assembly was overall a fairly easy process all together. It was very intimidating at first, given the large number of different parts it required, at least for my configuration. But the instructions were really easy to follow. The assembly was a 1,000 times easier than when I built my Moducase!

Shortly after finishing building the desk, I realized I wasn’t really happy using my original laptop stand, so I quickly jumped on Uplifts Desk’s website and ordered their laptop mount and it’s corresponding Crestview Single Monitor Arm. Fast-forward four days later, I installed the monitor arm and laptop mount, and my setup finally looked the way I wanted it! The only different customization that I’ve added was the addition of LED strip lights on the back of the desk to give it that extra eye-candy look. The desk setup, exceeded my expectations, it’s been a couple of weeks since I’ve been using it daily and I honestly can’t look back. It’s been one of the best decisions I could’ve done, not only has it improved my productivity, it’s definitely helped my posture and physical health (as cliché as it sounds). The entire productivity improvements a sit stand brings to be will have an entire blog post dedicated to it.

Final thoughts:

Cost, at just over $1,600 for the complete setup. I can genuinely say it’s totally worth it. Not only do I feel more productive working on my new desk, I feel that it also improved into my well being by standing through out the day while working.

I’ve mentioned about Uplift Desk’s extremely fast free shipping. I have to mention that during my purchase, FedEx lost one package. I contacted Uplift Desk support, and they were able to ship out the replacement part on the say day. Not only do they have good customer service, but they definitely stand behind their products as the desk comes with a 15 year warranty!

I’m extremely happy with my new desk setup.

Book Review – Las Navas de Tolosa

Las Navas de Tolosa: 1212 la batalla que decidió la Reconquista (The Battle that decided the Reconquest) is the best book that anyone can read regarding the massive crusade that is known to history as The Battle of Las Navas de Tolosa.

Although it seems small in scope, a book being solely about a single battle. The vast amount of information in this book is awesome. The amount of work the author did to write book is incredible. To fully understand the battle, the author goes into great detail of the political landscape of the Iberia Peninsula, on both Christian and Muslim sides. He goes into great detail how the military campaign was organized from a strategical approach. We get to learn about crusading and jihad ideology, and finally we learn about the tactics that was used in the battlefield.

This is a purely scholarly focused book, also with a heavily anthropology focus. The author literally describes the march of both armies to the battle with clear precision. He literally gives us the actual GPS coordinates, with clear details describing the environment! Perhaps the only drawback of this book is that it doesn’t include maps. Having already done an excellent job researching and describing the journey and battle, I feel that with the addition of maps, would have taking this already incredible book to an even higher standard.

Book Review – The Templars and the Shroud of Christ

The Templars and the Shroud of Christ: A Priceless Relic in the Dawn of the Christian Era and the Men Who Swore to Protect It, is the second book written by Barbara Frale that I’ve read. The first being The Templars: The Secret History Revealed. One of the leading scholars and expert in Templar history, the author does an excellent job writing about Templar and crusader history from a purely neutral academic standpoint.

This book can be divided into three sections. First is a general history of The Knights Templar, the second is history and importance of relics in Christianity, and lastly the history of the Shroud of Christ or Shroud of Turin as it’s widely known.

I already have a good firm knowledge on Templar history, so the first section of this book was a mere refresher. I did however, learned a lot starting from the second section of this book. For example, I’ve seen the Madylion of Edessa image a lot throughout eastern Christianity, but I never knew its history, or what was its name. This was something that I learned by reading this book. In addition to this important relic, we read about other important relics, and most importantly the significance of the relics and iconography in Christianity. The third and final section of this book, deals with obscure history of the Shroud of Christ, and how it landed in the Western Europe.