Showing posts from 2017

[Book Review] Bitch Planet (Volume 2)

Bitch Planet (Volume 2) / Kelly Sue DeConnick & Valentine De Landro

Also reviewed:
Bitch Planet, Volume 1 Look, I'm going to be honest,  if you've read Volume 1 you should already be interested in reading Volume 2 (that or you're offended by it's strong feminist agenda and therefore have no interest at all).  If you haven't read Volume 1, why are you looking for a review and not reading Volume 1?

Volume 2 continues the story that started in Volume 1, while also expanding on the histories that led to the current regime and imprisonments.  Not all of the women are imprisoned for simply spurious crimes.  Some of their pasts tie directly into the present.  And things on Auxiliary Compliance Outpost #2 are coming to a very explosive head.

Strongly recommend.

Advanced Reader Copy copy courtesy of Image Comics; differences may exist between uncorrected galley text and the final edition.

[Book Review] Wired

Wired (Buchanan/FBI #1) / Julie Garwood

FBI Agent Liam Scott knows there's a security leak, and he's sure it's from inside the agency.  Enter the gorgeous and too smart to be believed Allison Trent, a brilliant programmer who takes refuge from her manipulative family in code.  Scott learns enough about Trent to know that she is in a class of her own when it comes to coding and hacking skills, and believes that they need someone from the outside to find the leak.  Trent is a little less enthusiastic, she knows she can do it, but regardless of intent she's done quite a bit of illegal hacking that could get her into serious trouble.  Even if that hacking has resulted in the return of millions of dollars and the apprehension of scammers by the FBI and other agencies.  But there's more to the crimes she faces down than just lines of code, and things start hitting close to home, while Scott and Trent struggle with keeping things if not professional, at least casual betwe…

5 in 15 - All Tied Up

So, my second 5 in 15 Reader's Advisory video I went a little scandelous... and even with an attempt to restrain the word play, I had way too much fun with the puns.  Video recorded in February, and released on June 15th.  I'm both proud of and incredibly self-conscious about this one because I went with a touchy subject.

Please excuse my over-enunciation of acronyms, I figured it was better to over- rather than under-enunciate.  I also butcher the pronunciation of at least one author's name.  :/

I probably should also invest in a slightly better microphone...
All Tied Up: Alternatives to 50 Shades of Grey

Script Slide 1 Welcome to this Massachusetts Library System 5-in-15: Member Edition!
Slide 2 Hello, my name is Tegan.  I'm a librarian, reviewer, and technology consultant, and am most often found these days at the Monson Free Library.

I'm always in the middle of far too many books, but to name two, I'm reading Signal to Noise by Silvia Moreno-Garcia and list…

Lord of the Rings : The Return of the Read - Appendix E. Writing and Spelling

This section... is not very useful for me, except when linked to specific examples.  Translating a word I've only ever read to something I say is often a painful and awkward process.  I add vowels, consonants, and sometimes even whole syllable... and there's no guarantee I'm even saying the parts of the word in the right order.  I'm assuming this is all tied into my dyslexia, and sadly most of this chapter becomes little more than a jumble to me as it focuses on letter sounds and combinations.

However, I cannot help but respect the work Tolkien put into the languages and scripts of his world.

Some pieces here are taken out of the history of writing and printing in our world, such as "double" consonants, something anyone who studies ancient manuscripts will ultimately experience.  These would have their own letters, so a long/double consonant would be it's own piece instead of using the same letter twice.  Of course, predating this, we see it in script, whe…

Lord of the Rings : The Return of the Read - Appendix D. Calendars

Look, just a little bit more of this and we'll be on to narrative again.  I promise.  We have Bilbo's Last Song scheduled for 7/16, and then my partner in crime and I go on to... *gulp* The Silmarillion.  I have read it before, so I know what I'm getting into and I'm looking forward to tackling it with analysis in mind.

In the mean time, we have Calendars... which is not completely trivial since Tolkien uses and refers to multiple different calendars throughout the story.  I personally appreciate the "every month has the same number of days" with holidays filling in the gaps.  The fact that Tolkien included different cultural calendars is also significant, especially with largely segregated cultures that have their own relationships with the world, time, and even lifespans.  From a comprehensive world building stand point, it would probably be stranger if the elves, men, hobbits, and dwarves all had the same calendar, but often in fiction that's exactly w…

Lord of the Rings : The Return of the Read - Appendix C. Family Trees

Here's a bit for you visual folks out there who'd like to know a bit more about Hobbit family trees.  An enjoyable bit is the genealogies are presented as written by hobbits, rather than by Tolkien himself, though this is not exactly unusual for him.  Not much to say about this besides I find it far more useful than a written list of "begats."

[Book Review] The Quantum Thief

The Quantum Thief (Jean le Flambeur #1) / Hannu Rajaniemi

At it's core, The Quantum Thief is a heist story, but within its post-human setting the object of the heist is nothing so simple as something like the Hope Diamond or a Casino vault.  Instead we journey through theft and reclaiming of time and memory.

All-in-all, it makes for a blistering smart and layered hard sci-fi adventure.

This book had a little less specific discussion questions for me to draw out, but it was a fantastic and fascinating read.  Should I actually sit down with other people who've read it, there's definitely a lot to knock about, but the questions and discussion prompts themselves are harder for me to quantify.

Discussion Fodder:
Let's talk about the Prisoner's Dilemma.  What is it, and in what ways is it used in this story?  What do you think of the Dilemma Prison?What are the different ways humanity and cultures manifest in the story?  How are they shaped by technology (or vice versa)?A…

[Book Review] Believe Me

Believe Me : a memoir of love, death, and jazz chickens / Eddie Izzard

Eddie Izzard's comedy is like a cultural language in itself.  You can identify people by their jokes and quips. 

"Cake or death?" 

"I was on the moon, with Steve!" 

"Obviously, Hitler never played Risk as a child." 

Et al.  There's a joy in discovering another fan and playing with the shared joy of Izzard's humor, and I've adored him since I discovered him and his embodiment of genderfuck while in my early teens.

Believe Me is like a conversation with Izzard.  The voice is so unmistakable that reading the book one cannot but help hear Izzard narrating in one's head.  The memoir is poignant and touching, with a deft seasoning of Izzard's humor, and a careful handling of painful and difficult subjects.

I also highly recommend the audiobook, read by Izzard, and enriched with "live footnotes" as Izzard makes on-the-fly additions to the text and existing foo…

LibraryReads List - June 2017

So, I couldn't mention this before, but the list is out so I'm in the clear!

My (edited down) review for Down Among the Sticks and Bones by Seanan McGuire was featured in the June 2017 LibraryReads list!  (And there's a pretty print out of it all here).

My full review can be read here.

Lord of the Rings : The Return of the Read - Appendix B. The Tale of Years (Chronology of the Westlands)

You're not going to get a whole lot from me here, because this whole section is basically a summary of Middle Earth history.  Appendix B is largely made up of a timeline with some summary paragraphs.  But you know what?  It's fantastic for me in terms of getting a grip on the major points of Middle Earth history and when they fall.  History has never been my strong suit.  I love the narrative passages, but in terms of time scale and actual image of history, I can't structure it from the narrative text alone.

Most relevant to The Lord of the Rings are "The Great Years", starting some 8 years after Bilbo's farewell feast, and gives a timeline broken down by month instead of simply years of notable events.  This goes into "The Chief Days from the Fall of Barad-Dur to the end of the Third Age" and "Later events Concerning the Members of the Fellowship of the Ring," giving us an extended epilogue.  The Later Years were good to our hobbits and t…

Disability on the Shelf - MLA 2017

I had the opportunity to present at the 2017 Mass Library Association with two other librarians, looking at disability representation in library collections and libraries themselves.  I originally put out a call for co-panelists mid-206 looking for others interested in the same topic to the statewide mailing list and got very little response.   Fortunately, the two that replied were fantastic and I took their areas of interest and experience, combined them with my own, and was able to construct a proposal to submit.
Disability on the Shelf: Going beyond Large Print
When providing library services how often do we think about accessibility beyond the physical?  When looking at our collections with an eye to diversity do we remember disability?  Let's explore the challenges and opportunities in finding positive representation, and take a look at tropes and stereotypes, controversy over lauded titles, ableism in the library, and helping patrons of all ages and abilities find characters …

[Book Review] User

User / Devin Grayson, John Bolton (ill), and Sean Phillips (ill)

User is the queer coming-of-age on the Internet story I didn't know I was looking for (but really should have been).

I grew up discovering the Internet as it grew from a specialist resource and message board hub into the complex sprawling hodge-podge it is now.  Not that Internet is not still growing and changing, but it's become something a bit more ubiquitous rather than something that's limited special interest or hobby.  There's still a divide in how people view friendships and relationships developed in person and online, but those relationships do occur and can be incredibly meaningful as are the worlds we create with each other.

User is a story about all of that and more.It's about finding refuge in shared fantasy and friendship, as told by a young woman who discovers text-based online fantasy gaming.  The story is heartfelt and raw, dealing with difficult subjects frankly.  I highly recommend.

Lord of the Rings : The Return of the Read - Appendix A: III. Durin's Folk

And on to the dwarves!

Dwarves, beyond Gimli, are almost an afterthought in The Lord of the Rings trilogy.  Maybe it's a balance to their primary role in The Hobbit, and by extension, the role they've played in the destruction of the One Ring.  For whatever reason, perhaps because they're less "pretty" or ethereal than the elves, dwarves are often the red-headed stepchildren of LotR fandom and mainstream lore.  Not to say they don't have their fans, but even when they are they key members of the cast they barely have personalities as we see in The Hobbit.

So, we get some filling in the lines here of dwarven history and lore.  Some of it we're already familiar with, about the delving deep in search of mithril and finding the Balrog.  This section repeatedly cites The Hobbit while expanding the story beyond that known (or shared) by Thorin Oakenshield.

I have to assume that Thorin was not aware of the Great Ring his father held.  His obsession on family tre…

[Book Review] The Core of the Sun

The Core of the Sun / Johanna Sinisalo

The Core of the Sun is a must-read for fans of The Handmaid's Tale, set in an alternate historical present Finland 'eusistocracy' that revolves around public health and social stability, and where women are bred for beauty and subservience. Women who meet the beauty and subservience standards are allowed to breed and known as ‘eloi’ or ‘femiwoman’ while women outside their beauty standards or who display intelligence are sterilized and labled ‘morlocks.’ The narrator passes as an eloi and has an addiction to capsaicin, an illegal substance under the ‘eusistocracy.’

This was a re-read for me, it seemed timely for a number of reasons, but with The Handmaid's Tale being so highlighted lately I liked the contrast of this title and had a previous interest of including it as a book club read.  The fact that I ended up with two Finnish authors in a row wasn't intentional, but let's go with it (this one for April and The Quantum …

Lord of the Rings : The Return of the Read - Appendix A: II. The House of Eorl

The House of Eorl gives us the history of the "Eorlings" or the Rohirrim, and their longstanding connections with Gondor.  The horse lords claim kinship with the people of Gondor, but have a more migratory lifestyle with finally settling in a permanent homeland after being awarded territory for helping Gondor against it's enemies.  The name "Rohan" comes from Gondor, and "Rohirrim" meaning horse lords.

We also learn the history of Shadowfax's lineage, a horse that threw Eorl's father and later called to account by Eorl himself and named Felarof.  Horses of that line were called mearas, who would bear only the King of the Mark or his sons and none other, until Shadowfax.  It helps put a little more in context why perhaps there was upset to exploit in Theoden about Gandalf riding off with Shadowfax.

The refuge known as Helm's Deep earned it's name for King Helm Hammerhand, a King of some renown and some fighting skill.  It was there that…

[Book Review] The Saint

The Saint (The Original Sinners: The White Years #1) / Tiffany Reisz

Readers of The Original Sinners series will already know Nora Sutherlin, and her relationships with Soren and Kingsley. In The Saint, Nora has left everyone behind to be alone with her grief after her mother dies. But she is unexpectedly joined by the handsome Nico, with whom as pillow she shares the story of how she first came to meet Soren, Kingsley, and the world of BDSM as 15-year-old Eleanor.

Soren comes into Eleanor's life as the new priest at her mother's church, and quickly becomes the center of her fantasies, and then becomes bound to him in a private agreement after he rescues her from a father who pushes his daughter to steal cars to pay off his debts. Their relationship is drawn out, Soren trying to stay his distance until Eleanor reaches adulthood before she's fully introduced into the world of BDSM, and then waiting further before 'consummation' of their relationship due to the emoti…

Lord of the Rings : The Return of the Read - Appendix A: I. The Númenorean Kings (v) Here Follows a Part of the Tale of Aragorn and Arwen

Everything in the appendices ties directly to the saga of the Ring, that goes without saying and Tolkien held the history and language to higher importance that the story itself.  But to me, this section is particularly tied to The Lord of the Rings.  Maybe it's because it's not just backmatter, but specifically the the backstory for two living characters that have a full arc within the saga?

The section is illuminating in several areas, actual age and expectations of Duindain stand out, with Aragorn being born to a 58-year-old man and to a woman considered young for motherhood among their people.  Long life-spans tend to correspond with a longer immaturity/childhood, so regardless of expectations and adult behavior, it makes sense that expected reproduction occurs decades later in life than it would for regular folk.  Aragorn's blind fostering by Elrond also explains much, including some of the peculiarities of their relationship and Aragorn's general lack of royal as…

Lord of the Rings : The Return of the Read - Appendix A: I. The Númenorean Kings (iv) Gondor and the Heirs of Anárion

To me this section could come with the following alternate titles:

Power, Hubris, and the Inevitable DeclineThe Good Old Days Weren't Necessarily All That Great TL;DR: Bloodlines falter, they go crazy for ships (which is great, except we also know they're not supposed to sail in a certain direction, and we know where this is going to go), and the Great Kings of Old aren't really all that great.
Gondor most clearly falters with Atanar Alcarin, who liked his wealth and power, but really couldn't be bothered to maintain it (and neither could his sons).  Among his various failings we can list laxity towards Mordor.  Then we go forward to Narmacil who decides actually being King is just too much hard work and names Minalcar Regent of Gondor.
Then we get a little bit of racism mixed in, since the son of a Regent married a bride from the Northmen, and the Dunedain fear the degradation of their long-lived and majestic race.  Unsurprisingly, when their child Eldacar, who proves …

[Book Review] This Alien Shore

This Alien Shore / C. S. Friedman

So this made it onto the Virtual Speculation reading list based on curiosity and recommendations of this novel as a key piece of SF literature.  I expected a Space Opera with some of the normal dissection/discussions of society that one often finds in rich speculative fiction.  What I did not expect was to find a book that respectfully not only included non-neurotypical characters, but actively embraced neurodiversity.  Overall an excellent piece of speculative fiction.

Discussion Fodder:
In this story, what is alien?  What makes it alien?How do the different societies embrace or reject neurodiversity?  What do you think of the handling of neurodiversity by the author?  What is done right/wrong?How do the Hausman societies contrast with that of Earth, be it Earth of today or the Earth of the novel?What points does the story make about hacking and security?  How do they hold up as the book has aged?  How does malware differ (or not differ) in this advan…

Lord of the Rings : The Return of the Read - Appendix A: I. The Númenorean Kings (iii) Eriador, Arnor, and the Heirs of Isildur

Remember that list of names we just read... now we get to read about them!  This week we'll gander at the Northern Line, next week the Southern Line.

The narrative here splits between a speaking tone, as if someone is relating this history to us (including use semi-personal references) and more prosaic recitation of history.

It starts out rather similar to the decline of most Kingdoms.  Several generations (if they're lucky) of strong union and continuance, then the inevitable decay as quarrelsome siblings split kingdom.  Though, eight generations spans a few hundred years easily in modern lifetimes, let alone the extended lives of the Western men, so they definitely had a good run.

From there we get into the back matter of our saga, from the corruption of the Barrowdowns to the wandering state of the Dunedain.  We're also gifted with some of the future beyond The Return of the King, as we learn that the Shire becomes off limits to the Big People and that good relations co…

Lord of the Rings : The Return of the Read - Appendix A: I. The Númenorean Kings (ii) The Realms in Exile

I'm going to be honest, I can't tell you a whole bunch about this appendix.  We have two family trees, the Northern Line/ Heirs of Isildur and the Southern Line/Heirs of Anarion.  The take us through to the "present" with minor elaboration.  I'm utter shit at names, and even worse at dates, so I can't be sure of recognizing more than a few names that we've encountered within the saga so far, be it as characters or as names in lore.  It does make note of the disruption of the royal line and the emergence of Stewards, but this is a listing not a narrative.

This will probably become more useful as a reference as we go forward into the other appendices (and other Middle Earth history books).  But otherwise, we'll just call this a light week!

Lord of the Rings : The Return of the Read - Appendix A: I. The Númenorean Kings (i) Númenor

The next ~2 months of posts will vary greatly in content and length, corresponding with the variety of the actual sections.  I'm going to strongly recommend that folks check out my partner-in-crime on this project for much better analysis of the various nuances of the appendicies, starting with this week's.  What we're dealing by and large here is the back matter, the supporting documentation for the saga.  To be honest, whenever I survey the body of his Middle Earth writing or delve within, I rather suspect Tolkien of monomania.

We've actually read much of Appendix A:I.i. already, through the lays and verses shared throughout.  Here we also read the seeds of the saga we have just completed, the coming of the Eldar and Edain to Middle Earth.  Or as we more commonly know them, the Elves and the peoples of Men.  The marriage of Arwen and Aragorn is more than a romantic conclusion to a story arc, but a cyclical one as well.  It does stand out to me that Arwen's great-…

[Book Review] Geekerella

Geekerella / Ashley Poston

A modern-day geeky fairy tale, mashing up the classic tale of Cinderella with the world of Science Fiction fandom.  On one side we have Elle, a life-long fan of Starfield, the Star Trek-esq TV show she grew up watching with her father.  On the other side is Darien, teen heart-throb slated to play the leading role of Federation Prince Carmindor in the pending series reboot, closet nerd and written off as little more than brainless eye candy by the fandom.  In between the two lie conniving step-family, a job on the Magic Pumpkin food truck, the internet, and the deep seated passion of fandom.

This book is absolutely adorable.  I sat down and read it in a day.  A must-read for fans of Rainbow Rowell's Fangirl or Jen Wilde's Queens of Geek.

Advanced Reader Copy copy courtesy of Quirk Books; differences may exist between uncorrected galley text and the final edition.

[Book Review] Down Among the Sticks and Bones

Down Among the Sticks and Bones (Wayward Children #2) / Seanan McGuire

Previously Reviewed
Every Heart a Doorway

In Every Heart a Doorway we meet Jack and Jill, two sisters bound together yet alienated.  Both exiled from their realm and their different masters, both seeking to return home.  But for all of their core participation in the events of that novella, it was not their story nor even a story of any specific realm.  Down Among the Sticks and Bones lets us peek at what shaped the Jack and Jill we meet in Every Heart a Doorway, and lays bare the motivations for their actions within.

The story starts with a couple having children for the wrong reasons.  Falling in love with the idea of having children, of parenting, but being unable to discern the difference between a dream and reality.
"It can be easy, in the end, to forget that children are people, and that people will do what people will do, the consequences be damned." It's a story about love, hate, and the thin l…

Lord of the Rings : The Return of the Read - Book 6, Chapter 9

While the journey is not done yet, we have other books we plan to explore and the Appendices yet to read, I want to take a moment to note that we're at the last chapter of this part of the journey.  After this we'll be moving on to Bilbo's Last Song and then tackling the Silmarillion.

This final chapter is more than just an ending to The Return of the King and the Lord of the Rings trilogy.  It stands as the conclusion of a saga, tying up threads started outside Lord of the Ring with the finishing of Bilbo's book, the ending of the feud with Lobelia, and other events.  The Shire, like England, prevails, though I feel a good bit of it's recovery is due to Samwise (and Galadriel's gift).

While Merry, Pippin, and Sam all fit back well into society, they had their tethers.  Frodo was always something of an outsider, and now with the changes brought on by the Ring and the trauma he bore, he is left somewhat afloat.  We don't actually know what wounds Merry and P…

[Book Review] Etched in Bone

Etched in Bone / Anne Bishop

Previously Reviewed:
Vision in SilverMarked in Flesh Etched in Bone marks the fifth installment of Anne Bishop's novels of the Others and picks up right where Marked in Flesh left off... and I like where it goes for the most part.

The book seemed to focus more on the inter-species politics than the first four... and by that I mean actual attempts at politic and civil resolutions (instead of just eating the offenders).  We have the humans who want to work with the Others to ensure their own survival, the Others who have come to care for their human pack (and some of the technologies they've never bothered to master on their own), the humans who court extinction, and the Others who are only just starting to pay attention to the events going on in the world at large.

One thing I can say for Bishop is that she knows how to write characters that you love to hate, especially manipulative, self-important, abusive men.  There are times when civilization doe…

Lord of the Rings : The Return of the Read - Book 6, Chapter 8

The Sundering of the Shire stood out more than anything else in this trilogy when I read it as a kid.  Something about the hobbits rising up and taking back the Shire made it one of my favorite parts.

There should be little surprise at the actors in the play here.  Lotho Sackville-Baggins, Bill Ferny, Saruman, and Wormtongue.  These players clearly know their roles and trade, managing to effect change without provoking revolt.  At least until the war-weary hobbits return and encounter the absurd totalitarian state fallen over the Shire.  Not that absurdity indicates a lack of danger or threat, merely that the transformation of the sheltered Shire and the rule it suffers under truly stand as examples of shocking absurdity.  Our company brazenly stomps through the road blocks by dint of their expectations of their home, their unfamiliarity with the changes, and their transformative experiences.  The ruling powers fail to effect authority over them as they rely on fear and respect, neith…

Lord of the Rings : The Return of the Read - Book 6, Chapter 7

If there is any single chapter that pulls on Tolkien's experiences serving, this one stands out the most to me.  Tolkien could have gone the route we see Jackson choose in the film, with a clean return back home and even if they are dramatically changed from who they were, the seeds of how their lives will grow going forward plain to see.  He could have gone even more traditional happily ever after, and I think one of the strongest points of this story is the handling of coming home.
"There is no real going back.  Though I may come to the Shire, it will not seem the same; for I shall not be the same.  I am wounded with knife, sting, and tooth, and a long burden.  Where shall I find rest?" I don't know enough about Tolkien's personal experiences serving, but he's at least speaking from close, if not personal experience, when he writes about coming home from war.  The hobbits have gone through changes and injury that will never fully heal.

But it's not ju…

[Book Review] The Thing About Love

The Thing About Love / Julie James

Six years ago, Jessica Harlow and John Shepherd got off on the wrong foot... repeatedly.  What he considered encouragement and motivation she took as insulting and demeaning.  Then she might have come across a bit more vindictive than intended, and it all got even more tangled up from there.  But Agent Harlow has come home to Chicago after a failed marriage and been assigned to work with the newly single Agent Shepherd on an undercover mission before he leaves to join the Hostage Rescue Team.  Working together brings old grievances to light, and gives a chance for explanations and mending.

Of course, once they no longer exist in states of perpetual irritation with each other their not-so-latent attraction rears its head.  Things proceed about as expected (clothes on the floor and the two of them even sometimes on the bed).  Only, John's leaving, which may have assuaged the initial concerns about co-worker romance... but what if they could be some…

Lord of the Rings : The Return of the Read - Book 6, Chapter 6

The time has come for the Fellowship to disband and our adventurers return to hearth and home.  The shadow smited, Gondor stands in glory with Aragorn and Arwen on the throne and the White Tree growing once again.

Perhaps for the first time Arwen's choice is explicitly stated here.  She has made Luthien's choice, the elf-maid who chose mortality to be with her mortal love.  Interestingly enough her im/mortality, perhaps due to her role as a half-elf, functions almost like a ticket.  With the gift of a token she gives her place on the boats to the Grey Havens to Frodo in exchange for his actions and sacrifice.  Perhaps life itself is the only way to properly repay Frodo for bearing his burden.

The exchange between Gimli and Eomer regarding the beauty of Galadriel and Arwen is possibly one of my favorite moments.  It stands as an aside that Tolkien had no need to include, but it suits so well in light of hope and friendship across the pages here.  It also reminds me of some of t…

[Book Review] Signal to Noise

Signal to Noise / Silvia Moreno-Garcia

Signal to Noise is an all-to-realistic piece of magical realism.  It took me quite awhile to actually get to starting this book, languishing on my to-read list for over a year.  So I made a deliberate choice to include it as a book club pick and read it, hence it's place as my February read.

While the book gives a coming-of-age magical realism front, the story eschews many of the all-to-common patterns.  Moreno-Garcia's prose possesses a rich lyricism that fits well in a story so filled with music.  The story has its bright spots, but much of it is harsh and scrabbling, a story of friends struggling to overcome the hands they were dealt, a story of consequences, and a story of resentment.  For all of that, the story is beautifully told, but one that I personally felt reluctant to read at times, a result of seeking extra escapism in reading than normal as of late.

From Wikipedia: "Signal-to-noise ratio is a measure used in science and …

Lord of the Rings : The Return of the Read - Book 6, Chapter 5

Of course, whilst everyone it out on their various daring adventures, there are those who are left behind.  And with their leaders dead, their heirs wounded, and their heroes far away facing a terrible enemy.

I really can't help knocking Eowyn as a romance figure.  It annoys me because both in various interpretations and in the source text it always seems to take away from her as a person of power.  Not that powerful women can't be romance figures, but in how she's handled always seems to reduce her.  I suppose the bright light in their romance is that Faramir sees and respects her, "For you are a lady high and valiant and have yourself won renown that shall not be forgotten."  Yet she is considered "tamed" and that just doesn't sit right with me.  She shouldn't need to be tamed, even if Gondor is now at peace.

To me the bonding of Eowyn and Faramir is less of a romance, at least in the traditional sense, but rather a bonding over shared trauma …

[Book Review] Silence Fallen

Silence Fallen(Mercy Thompson #10) / Patricia Briggs

Previously reviewed:
Fire Touched In which Mercy, through no fault of her own, gets in a whole heap of complications... and largely on her own gets back out, whilst everyone else runs around in a panic because they know things are likely end well for anyone (except maybe Mercy).

Vampires really like politics and power games.  Which means when Wulfe tells Iacapo Bonarata, the Master of Italy and the vampire that banished Marsilia to the US, that Mercy Thompson is the most powerful person in the Tri-City's area there are all sorts of games afoot.
Also, Iacoapo maybe should know better than to take anything Wulfe says at face value.  Because really, it's Wulfe.

So Mercy's out seeing if vampires and werewolves can get white hair from stress as she says "no, thank you" to captivity, while at home the troops rally... requiring Marsilia and Adam to work together as they travel to Europe to extract their coyote.  Shena…

[Book Review] Magic for Nothing

Magic for Nothing(InCryptid #6) / Seanan McGuire

Previously reviewed Chaos Choreography (InCryptid #5) TL;DR review: go read this book, it's loads of fun.
Read on for actual details.
At the end of Chaos Choreography, Verity Price fought off a summoned snake god on live television as a competitor on the reality TV show Dance or Die (turned out this special season was taking that title a bit too literally).  And if that wasn't enough to blow the Price family cover... once Verity realizes the fight was broadcast live and her disguise is ruined, she tells the Covenant of St. George to stay the hell out of North America.
So now the Covenant is gearing up for war against the Price family, and looking to purge as many 'monsters' living in North America as possible while they're at it.  Oh joy.

The youngest of the Price children, Antimony isn't the one to make waves or seek out trouble (she leaves that to her older siblings).  She hasn't had to really step up.  But …

Lord of the Rings : The Return of the Read - Book 6, Chapter 4

In which some shit has gone down.  Also, Eagles have a comeback tour.

With the destruction of the Ring, Sauron's power breaks... and the counter power falls on our allies.  I note that it does not say Sauron is gone, just that he is defeated at this moment.  But Gandalf knows the power of careful oration, and of leaving the actual combat to the leaders of the armies, so he and Gwaihir the Windlord seek out two hobbits on the slopes of an erupting volcano.

You know what?  I have no shame in admitting Frodo and Samwise facing their own mortality makes me tear up.

The biggest sign that the war is over, that they are safe and recovering, is the return of laughter.  Reunions with friends, returning of treasures, and reminiscing are all tied up, but that they can experience joy again is something long missing.

They are all changed, deeply and in ways that are both visible and invisible.  The growth of Merry and Pippin is comical, but they are truly nothing like the hobbits they were whe…

Lord of the Rings : The Return of the Read - Book 6, Chapter 3

This chapter is a lot like wading through depression.  You know you need to keep going, and if you can badger yourself enough, you might just manage to keep going.  Friends may try and help, but it's not something you can necessarily share the burden of.  Food and drink are necessary, and maybe even desired, but joy is rarely derived from it.  Left unsaid is that they can shed gear because they are unlikely to survive long enough to need it again.

And of course, we get Sam's iconic line, "I can't carry it for you, but I can carry you."

A question I suppose for the hypothetical pondering jumps out at me... I wonder if the similarity between "Gorgoroth" and "Golgotha" is deliberate?

The agency that has offered gentle aid and protection to this quest again extends its hand.  Sauron's eye is held by the conflict at the gates, and both Frodo and Samwise feel the urging that the time to move is now.

In previous readings I seem to have missed som…