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Showing posts from May, 2016

Lord of the Rings : Fellowship of the Read - Book 2, Chapter 8

The fellowship leaves Lorien with personal knowledge gained and group consultation given.  In Gandalf's absence, leadership falls to Aragorn, even if his leadership is neither to Boromir's or his own liking.  I get the strong impression that Aragorn does not wish to bear the mantle of leadership,  adding into his gratitude for the boats and a direction of travel that does not require a decision yet on his part.

The role of the Ring and that of Frodo as the Ring-bearer have weight that's beginning to show.  Clearly Boromir finds the temptation to use the ring against Sauron a compelling one, saying "folly to throw away," before catching himself.  The direction of the Fellowship lies in if they seek alliance or to steal directly into Mordor, and at every encounter the threat by the mere presence of the Ring grows.

The elves are quite generous in sending the Fellowship off.  Lembas, fair cloaks, boats, and even rope.  They also provide the gift of song, with Galadri…

Lord of the Rings : Fellowship of the Read - Book 2, Chapter 7

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Lothlorien may feel like being within a song, but the elves here do not exhibit the same joyful and playful musical inclinations of their brethren in Rivendell.  The whole of Caras Galadhon is great and very fey.  The Lady Galadriel knows more than news brought by courier and word of mouth, and Lord Celeborn could be a diplomat with the care and recognition he takes to acknowledge each of their guests.

The elves here know exactly what it means for Gandalf to have fallen, as they also know the threat of a Balrog.  The danger and loss causes Celeborn to speak without thought, blaming the dwarfs for their delving and rash action on part of the Fellowship.  Galadriel, in her near omniscience, calls Celeborn on his words and wins the adoration of Gimli.  The wisdom of Galadriel goes beyond reading the unspoken thoughts and cautioning against speaking from fear or anger.  Saruman's leadership of the White Council is contrary to her efforts, and as she reflects, things may have progresse…

Reflections on RAUNCON

For those of the geeky persuasion, no, it's not a gaming con you've never heard of.  Rather it's an annual event hosted by the Darien Library for the past few years called "Reader's Advisory Un-Conference," and I finally had an opportunity to attend.

The format is a number of short sessions where we trade ideas and concepts regarding topics within RA.  I made it to Outreach & Embedded RA, Social Media & RA, and RA on Library Websites.  I look forward to the notes from the sessions I couldn't attend, particularly How to Recommend Books You Haven't Read (among other things, I read very little from the mystery genre) and Displays & Merchandising.  I think the latter one had a wacky idea involving a "book fortune teller" using an Arduino, a simple program, a spread sheet, and a receipt printer.

A few things that really stood out to me were some awesome suggestions to make more of social media platforms beyond "come to our progra…

Lord of the Rings : Fellowship of the Read - Book 2, Chapter 6

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The mourning of Gandalf's loss is both theatrical and minimalist.  Theatrical for lines such as:
"Farewell, Gandalf!"  he cried.  Did I not say to you: if you pass the doors of Moria, beware?  Alas that I spoke true!" Or even Gimli shaking his fist at the mountain.  Minamilist since at this point that's about the extent of their expression.

In many ways, this chapter is a setting piece.  The grandeur of this dwarven homeland, the ethereal beauty of Lothlorien.  Even the details of the river supersede any grief.  The emotions we do get are relief and wonder at the discovery of the mithril mail (as to the rarity of mithril - the dwarf has never beheld it), love of the land, and wariness at the fair and strange elven forest.

I find it interesting that in Gondor fear and uncertainty of the elves has started growing.  That Boromir espouses the belief that "few come out who once go in; and of that few none have escaped unscathed," indicates that this isn…

[Book Review] Shadowshaper

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Shadowshaper / Daniel Jose Older Sierra Santiago planned an easy summer of making art and hanging out with her friends. But then a corpse crashes the first party of the season. Her stroke-ridden grandfather starts apologizing over and over. And when the murals in her neighborhood begin to weep real tears… Well, something more sinister than the usual Brooklyn ruckus is going on.

With the help of a fellow artist named Robbie, Sierra discovers shadowshaping, a thrilling magic that infuses ancestral spirits into paintings, music, and stories. But someone is killing the shadowshapers one by one — and the killer believes Sierra is hiding their greatest secret. Now she must unravel her family’s past, take down the killer in the present, and save the future of shadowshaping for generations to come.

Full of a joyful, defiant spirit and writing as luscious as a Brooklyn summer night, Shadowshaper introduces a heroine and magic unlike anything else in fantasy fiction, and marks the YA debut of…

[Book Review] Chaos Choreography

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Chaos Choreography (InCryptid #5) / Seanan McGuire
Seanan McGuire is one of those authors that whenever I come across a book in a new series I wonder why I haven't been reading this series for years.  Chaos Choreography was my introduction to the InCryptid series, and now I need to go read the first four books.  Not to understand the story that I read, it was definitely self-contained and explanatory enough that it stands up wonderfully on it's own, but because it was absolutely delightful and I want to read more.
Verity Price is back on the West Coast and getting back into the swing of the family business: cryptozoology. She’s rescuing cryptids from bad situations, protecting them from monster-hunters, and generally risking life and limb for the greater good, with her ex-Covenant partner/husband, Dominic, by her side. Her ballroom dance career is behind her…or so she thinks.

When Verity gets the call from the producers of Dance or Die, the reality show she almost won several y…

[Book Review] Heroine Complex

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Heroine Complex / Sarah Kuhn (Powell's Books)

Aveda Jupiter is San Francisco's most adored superheroine; protecting the city from demon incursions and looking damn file while doing so.  Evie Tanaka on the other hand is perfectly happy where she is, supporting her childhood best friend and generally remaining out of the spotlight.  It's a bit of a crap job at times, with demon blood staining pricey costumes, Aveda's diva tantrums, and the joys of attempting to raise her rebellious little sister, but it's stable and Evie is good at what she does.  Then after an injury takes Aveda off her feet for several weeks, Evie is thrust into the public eye while masquerading as her boss.  From there, things start getting complicated.

This book opens with a fight scene against blood-thirsty demon cupcakes.  Score one for the book.

The story itself is light and fun, with more romance than I expected.  Pretty early on I was rooting for Evie to hit "fuck it" with the deman…

Lord of the Rings : Fellowship of the Read - Book 2, Chapter 5

Clearly things are not going to go well in this chapter.  Our party was chased into the mountain by a tentacled monster and ended up finding the tomb of Balin.  And that tomb happens to be surrounded by corpses of slain dwarves.  From the written record left behind we learn that the Balin and his folk fell within five years of establishing themselves within Moria.  The Watcher in the Water grabbed for Frodo and then when it failed in the capture proceeded to tear down the entrance, and the text indicates further danger and doom ahead.

But now Gandalf knows where they are, and they have the book to take with them.  Yet the doom doom of drum beats reaches them, shaking the walls.

Hobbits surprise the men with their fierceness in the ensuing battle, with even gentle Sam taking down an orc on his own.  Frodo also proves to be a hobbit of surprises after he survives a felling blow from a orc chieftain, courtesy of Bilbo's mithril armor.

What is not said in the story here, but can be fo…

[Book Review] I Hate Fairyland Volume 1: Madly Ever After

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I Hate Fairyland Volume 1: Madly Ever After / Skottie Young (Powell's Books)

I Hate Fairyland is a piece of demented madcap genius.

Imagine the rage of Spider Jerusalem in the body of a six-year old girl on a maddening quest through fairyland for some 30 years... complete with magic mushrooms and added immortality (but minus the bowel disruptor).

As a young girl, Gert may have wistfully desired a visit to fairyland as she played with her toys, but that dream quickly turned to a nightmare as the ground literally opened beneath her and she was bodily thrown into a magical realm.  Terrified rather than delighted, the confused Gert was told getting home was a simple matter, she just needed to complete a little quest to find a key.  Nearly 30 years later, Gert is unchanged in body, seemingly no closer to finding the key to escape, and long past the end of her patience with anything to do with Fairyland.

And it turns out, enough wholesale slaughter will drive the Queen of Fairyland to s…

Link Smorgasbord, April 2016

Website Seeks to Make Government Data Easier to Sift Through
Always awesome, and the site in question can be found here: http://datausa.io/

Sincerity is the Watchword
On horror stories and what makes them compelling.

Americanizing Words and Witches
Super interesting, and I'm definitely wanting to read this book even if I tend to eschew horror.

Blizzard Erases Gaming History By Axing a Fan-Made 'World of Warcraft' Server
A commentary on the impermanent and changing natures of MMOs.

Encryption bill would force companies to surrender user data
More security theater.  Because weakening protection never goes wrong...

How music streaming service exclusives make pirating tempting again
Irony: the Hulu banner ad at the top of that page.  But access is an issue.  I know that if there's an album that my only option is to buy as a download from a walled-garden account, I will not buy it.  I'd rather give the artist money directly and pirate than deal with walled-garden access.  Al…

[Book Review] Rat Queens Volume 3: Demons

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Rat Queens Volume 3: Demons / Kurtis J. Wiebe, Roc Upchrurch (ill), and Stjepan Sejic (ill) (Powell's Books)

On to continuing adventures of the Rat Queens!  If you want my review of Volumes 1 & 2 (or specifically, the Deluxe Hardcover edition that contained both Volumes 1 & 2) it's here.

Well, the good news is the Rat Queens have saved the world from ending, with some general leveling up in knowledge and power along the way.  The bad news is those gains have a cost, and life keeps throwing complications their way.

Rat Queens: Demons is by and large Hannah's story.  The story still has humor, warmth, and sass, but this volume is not a happy one.  There are moments of delight, like finding that Violet has some beardbirds of her own from Orc Dave (honestly, everything involving their relationship just is awesome to me), or what I will refer to as "the Candy Dragon Encounter."  But Hannah has her literal and figurative demons, and this journey home takes her to…

[Book Review] 24/7 (The Sub's Club)

24/7 (The Subs Club #4) / J. A. Rock

Disclaimer: This is a review of an erotic novella about people who get off on what some readers may consider rather horrible things being done to them in consensual situations.

The books in this series portrays kink in a manner that you are not likely to have encountered in popular erotic romance (Fifty Shades of Grey, Bared to You, etc). Depending on your general stance, you'll end up either shocked or thrilled at the kink play within. 

The Subs Club series follows a group of four men still mourning the loss of their friend due to carelessness during an edge-play scene at a BDSM club over a year ago. These are the stories of them reconciling their loss, developing relationships, growth, and hot and heavy sexy times.
Previously reviewed:The Subs Club and Pain Slut, Manties in a Twist
Out of the four friends who founded the Sub's Club, Gould feels the loss of Hal the most deeply and personally, and the one who does the most to hide it.  It…

Lord of the Rings : Fellowship of the Read - Book 2, Chapter 4

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Rock, meet hard place.
"To go back is to admit defeat, and face worse defeat to come.  If we go back now, then the Ring must remain there: we shall not be able to set out again.  Then sooner or later Rivendell will be besieged, and after a brief and bitter time it will be destroyed." Only way in fact is one that neither Gandalf nor Aragorn want to attempt.  Going around the long way would take too much time and has too much risk while they have the Ring.  Once their path is revealed, no one particularly cares to enter the Mines of Moria, with Boromir near refusing, but Aragorn knows of some threat to Gandalf in particular.  Out of the entire party only Gimili has a vested interest in exploring Moria, and it's not a mission of much hope.  The detour itself is less than safe, some 15 to 20 miles while wargs are about.  We are treated to a rare ostentatious display of magic by Gandalf, who tends towards generally subtle applications of magic and deception.

Before now we…