Book Review – El Conquistador

El Conquistador (The Conqueror) is a novel based on James I of Aragon. James I of Aragon is undoubtedly one my favorite Hispanic Crusader Kings. Not only is he one of the most colorful Hispanic Kings in all history, but also a very important figure in the entire medieval world. His reign was the longest of any king, all of military conquest stood up till the present time, and he is the first monarch to write an autobiography. The Book of Deeds of James I of Aragon (see my Book Review – The Book of Deeds of James I of Aragon).

This novel can be seen as a more fully comprehensive version of The Book of Deeds. Just about everything of Jame’s life is absolutely spectacular. From when he was conceived, the choosing of his name, to all of his crusades that he waged. To my surprise, this book starts and goes really in depth on the reign of James’ father, Pedro II of Aragon “The Catholic”. Pedro II is another very important crusader king in Spanish history, so even reading about him, we get to see another very colorful monarch (for lack of better words).

In this book we get to fully immerse ourselves on James upcoming as a child king under the Knights Templar. His consolidation on the Aragonese throne, to then waging massive military crusades against the Kingdom of Mallorca, Valencia, and Murcia. As well as his endless love affairs.

The 12th and 13th centuries are by far my favorite era in Hispanic history. Without being fully ridiculously romanticized, by reading this book we get to feel what it was to live during this amazing, and brutal history in time. Everything from political intrigue, Kings and Queens, Princesses, knights, troubadours, chivalry, heroic deeds, heroes and villains, romance, and epic battles. Quite frankly the only thing missing here is the magic element, which at this point we can even view this era as an epic high fantasy world!

This is such a good book. The character list, while its fairly long, not once did I felt lost on who is who. To me what I’ll remember most about this novel are not Jame’s epic battles and triumphs, but rather of his political failures. In particular his decision to relinquish his overlordship of what is now almost 1/3 of France, and the obvious long-term affects of that decision. As well as his failure to annex the Kingdom of Navarra after it was bequeath to him.

Book Review – La Corona de Aragón

La Corona de Aragón: Manipulación, mito e historia (The Crown of Aragon: Manipulation, myth and history). I’ve read a few books from José Luis Corral and watched quite a few of his lectures on YouTube, and I can confidently say that he is arguably one of the best modern historians on The Crown of Aragon.

Unlike The Crown of Castile, in comparison to The Crown of Aragon I feel that my knowledge on the later is weaker. Hence, I decided to pickup this book and start learning more of its history. While, I’m not a complete beginner on the history The Crown of Aragon whatsoever (in fact I think my knowledge is fairly high to advanced!), I wanted to learn its history more in-depth.

This is an interesting book. The book itself, is relatively short given the long and complex history of The Crown of Aragon is. The goal of the author wasn’t to give a full detailed chronological history of the political entity known to history as The Crown of Aragon (over 600 years). But rather to give a general and factual understanding of its history. The factual reason on some of events that shaped it, and real outcomes of it. The author’s goal here is to informed the readers of the true history. This is extremely important since knowing the actual history gives the readers, how history in the modern era can be completely distorted from the facts and used as a propaganda outlet for political gain. Most notably the current Catalonian separatist movement in Spain, which is fueled by a falsified history of distorted facts.

This is a really good book, the only drawback is that it’s relatively short.

Book Review – The Resolution for Men

The Resolution for Men is an attempt to set a guide for Men to follow. Originally based by from the film Courageous (which I haven’t seen), written by multiple authors, including the film’s producers. This is a really good book for man searching for guidance on how to be a good husband, boyfriend, father, brother, son, and overall a good member in society, centralizing as Christ as the figure to follow and want to serve for. I came across this book while searching for books on Leadership. So, I wasn’t aware of its heavily Christian theme, which was a pleasant welcome to me. Since not only was this a good practical book to read, it also served as a good devotional read.

While certainly there were some topics that I somewhat disagreed on (like some of the content regarding child discipline to name just one of a few), for the most part the topics covered by this book are really well outlined. The book is divided into 15 chapters, where at the end theirs a short exercise plan/questions that we can implement to try to follow some of the guidelines outline in the chapter.

Taking the religious side of things off. This book does make some excellent points on what it means to be a man of responsibility and integrity, and having a strong leadership role in a family.

Book Review – Speak With No Fear

I have a fascinating relationship with Public Speaking. While, I don’t consider myself to have some sort of phobia or even dread it. I’m perfectly fine on being able to do work related presentations, as well as be a talking focal point in a family gathering, to make some few examples. Yet, for some reason people seem to recommend to me that I should take Public Speaking courses. I’ve had a college counselor, a youth counselor, and two former bosses all suggest that I should take some sort of Public Speaking course! Me being me at the time, and not truly seeing it as necessity at the time, I didn’t bothered because I didn’t see I had problem. Now, given that I’ve embarked in a life changing endeavor, I’ve decided to finally look into improving my public speaking.

Speak With No Fear: Go from a nervous, nauseated, and sweaty speaker to an excited, energized, and passionate presenter, is designed to help you become a better public speaker. The author is a Public Speaker professional, and has set a formula on how to achieve great public speaking using 7 different strategies:

  1. Uncover & Clean the Wound
  2. Imagine the Worst
  3. You Be You
  4. Speak to One
  5. It’s Not About You
  6. Channel The Power
  7. Be in the moment

After reading this book, the seven strategies will look fairly straightforward (some somewhat of a common sense). The author includes numerous stories and analogies (some of which are somewhat funny). I wouldn’t really classify this book as a “do this and do that” type of manual, rather it is an outline to follow. It’s important to understand the concept of each strategy and how it applies to public speaking.

While you’re not going to become an expert public speaker after reading this book, I think it’s a good introduction on getting there.

Book Review – The 5 Love Languages Singles Edition

The 5 Love Languages Singles Edition by Gary Chapman is no doubt on par with The Silmarillion in terms of impactfulness on my life. Reading this book felt almost like living my entire life in an blink-in-the-eye.
This book covers some many important topics, many whom unfortunately I’ve learned the hard way throughout my life. I wasn’t even halfway reading this book and I already had over 10 pages of notes! By time I finished the entire book I had over 22. This is an absolute MUST read for singles, plain and simple. The author has release different variations of the concept of The 5 Love Languages. The core audience for this book are singles, technically the concepts cover in this book can easily be applied to people who are dating or those who are not dating. The author also goes into detail on how this same practice can also be done in non-romantic love relationships like with your family, friends, and coworkers.

What are the 5 Love Languages? The premise of this book are what are called The 5 Love Languages, these are:

  • Words of Affirmation
  • Gifts
  • Acts of Service
  • Quality Time
  • Physical Touch

Us as humans have different ways to express and to receive emotional love. The author’s formula here is that we all need to fully understand these five important concepts so we’re able to learn to “Speak” (metaphorically) love. Using the language analogy, we also need to know the different dialetcs of the Love Langue’s in order to successfully speak the respective love language.

One important thing that needs to be mentioned is that the author is clearly a devout Christian, which he does incorporate positive Christian teachings as when trying to explain certain solutions. It obviously didn’t bothered me, but it’s worth mentioning.

Much of inspiration on reading this book was coming off a recent breakup. Though it was painful, reading this book made me realize how incredibly unfit I was to be in a successful thriving relationship, since wasn’t capable on correctly speak certain love languages in other to express my emotions to others. Their multiple instances, where tears came down eyes while reading this book. Thus said, I’m glad the events came out this way, otherwise I would’ve never learned (or learned later on when, it will be more difficult experience) how to speak The 5 Love Languages, as it helped me how to express my love to my family and friends, in a matter that they know how much I love them.

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 from 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 first book. By the time this book ends, both our our protagonists are completely different people, from when the story started. As far as the world building aspect of this book, we get to read a lot about 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 had 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: