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Showing posts from September, 2017

Silmarillion Blues : Quenta Silmarillion : VIII. Of the Darkening of Valinor

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For a time Melkor avoids those hunting him, still empowered with the ability to change shape or pass unseen.  Meanwhile, Ungoliant, a creature of whom her origins are wondered at by even the Eldar, made her home within Avathar, taking on the form of a giant spider, and consuming any Light that fell within her grasp and spinning it out into shadowy webs.  Ungoliant is the progenitor of the Spiders we meet throughout The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings, Shelob and her ilk, dark creatures in spider form that are burned by blessed Light.  Melkor seeks her out, taking on his guise of a Dark Lord he bore in Utumno, a form in which he remains, and strikes a deal.  "Do as I bid; and if thou hunger still when all is done, then I will give thee whatsoever thy lust may demand."

Under a cloak of darkness woven by Ungoliant, Melkor strikes at Valinor in the midst of a celebration of thanks giving and forgiveness.  Fëanor comes in simple presentation, and reconciles with Fingolfin before…

[Book Review] Sweet Revenge

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Sweet Revenge: Passive-Aggressive Desserts for Your Exes & Enemies / Heather Kim

Sometimes I'll pick a book up just for it's title or it's cover.  If it's a cookbook we're talking about with the promise of gratuitous puns, well, I'm pretty sold.

The book delivers on promised tone and puns both, fun, snarky, and well explained.  The recipes veer into the unexpected, with the inclusion of various snack foods such as Doritos and Hot Cheetos as part of the flavor, texture, or highlight of sweet treats.  But even if you're conservative when it comes to flavor combinations, there's plenty for you here, and a number of recipes you can make a more traditional version of by simply sidestepping the inclusion of the salty munchie in question.

A fun addition to your cookbook collection, and if you're in a library one I think that will definitely circulate on amusement value alone.

Advanced Reader Copy copy courtesy of Capstone via Netgalley; differences may …

Silmarillion Blues : Quenta Silmarillion : VII. Of the Silmarils and the Unrest of the Noldor

During this time Fëanor creates his Masterwork, the Silmarils, in which he captures the light of the Trees.  Varda imbued the rings "so that thereafter no mortal flesh, nor hands unclean, nor anything of evil might touch them," (which leaves me wondering how the Silmarils and the quasi-mortal half-Elves would interact) and Mandows foretold that the very fates of Middle Earth lay within them.
I'm going to assume no one here is surprised that Melkor wants them for himself?  I actually find Melkor's desire and frustration regarding the Silmarils backing for his claims about teaching Fëanor being little more than lies.  He could make many great and terrible things, but these lay beyond his power.  That being said, there's nothing to say how much knowledge from Melkor made its way indirectly to Fëanor.  What cannot be denied, however, is how skilled and insidious were Melkor's lies.  He spoke to them of favoritism, of ambition, and glory.  And, it cannot be denied…

[Book Review] Rat Queens Volume 4 : High Fantasies

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Rat Queens, Volume 4 : High Fantasies / Kurtis J. Wiebe & Owen Gieni

Previously Reviewed:
Rat Queens Deluxe Hardcover Volume 1 (contains Volumes 1 & 2)Rat Queens Volume 3: Demons This is undoubtedly the Rat Queens I've come to love, but there's a lot missing and I don't know where it went.  It's not just the missing story between the end of Volume 3 and the beginning of Volume 4 that's jarring and confusing, no matter how happy I am to see Hannah back in the heart of things.  Even with an overarching plotline, Volume 4 reads like a series of vignettes rather than  cohesive story.  There are pieces missing, and some of those pieces belong to the very heart of the story.
Don't get me wrong, I laughed at walking in on Hannah's dad with the ghost of her mom, the adventure that boiled down to a dick joke by a bored magical frog/pufferfish/thing, and I love pretty much everything Braga.  But I know these unruly, riotous women can do more than make me laugh…

Silmarillion Blues : Quenta Silmarillion : VI. Of Fëanor and the Unchaining of Melkor

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All good things must come to an end.

Things start out quite nicely, with Melkor locked away, the Eldar gathering and enjoying a time of peace.  We even have a love story.

Spoiler: it all ends horribly.

As soon as I read that Míriel could only stand to bear a single child and that Finwë wanted more my first thought was "Well, this is going to end poorly."

Tolkien enjoys his epic love stories, ill fated or destined for greatness.  And so we have the marriage of Finwë and Míriel, deeply in love and from whom comes perhaps the greats of the Noldar artisans, Fëanor.  Birth is never easy, something that we often forget when it happens behind the closed doors of hospital rooms.  Women undergo intense physiological and psychological changes during pregnancy and at the end of it they suddenly have another life they are responsible for.  Actually, one of the biggest fears I have regarding spawning is that with my baseline neurochemical imbalances (and other factors) I have a deep seat…

[Book Review] A Canticle for Leibowitz

A Canticle for Leibowitz / Walter M. Miller, Jr.

The back of my copy in hand lists an excerpt from The New York Times review, "Angry, eloquent... a terrific story."  I can't disagree with that.  A Canticle for Leibowitz is bleak assessment of humanity in a continual cycle of self-destruction and struggle for survival, with strong themes on information literacy, morality, and anti-intellectualism.

I think I would have been far happier reading it... maybe last year.  However, it is definitely worth reading and I'm glad I got to it.

Discussion Fodder:
This book in many ways is about cycles and patterns.  What cycles and patterns did you notice (themes, civilization, narrative, etc)?Does the Church as an archivist change the preservation and passing on of knowledge, and how does that manifest?  What are the differences between Science as a secular or as a religious practice?wWhat do you think of the permutations of society and cultures present?  What about taboos and supe…

Silmarillion Blues : Quenta Silmarillion : V. Of Eldamar and the Princes of the Eldalië

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This week, a picture says a thousand words.


The divisions between the Elves partially came down to luck, which I have various grumbly feelings about.  That those who were too far away to hear Ulmo's summons are a sub-classification in terms of Elven standing and lore is a bit snobbish.  Especially since the Valar could have reunited the groups much earlier than they did.

That being said, residing in Valinor and among the Valar wrought changes on the Quendi, so there is reason behind the division between the different groups.  And, while I generally bitch about the Valar failing their duties, even those doing some of them, Ulmo actually does seem to take care of the Elves, including forming an island for the Teleri and their love of the sea.  The Valar variously had their favorites, those inline with their own inclinations.  After all, they are only fallible, so such a human favoritism is almost to be expected.  But to their favorites they impart knowledge, wisdom, and skills, enri…

September Read: Dhalgren

Somehow Samuel R. Delany managed to stay under my radar for most of my life.  Reading about him and his works, I feel like the fact that I have yet to read any thing by him is absurd.
In Bellona, reality has come unglued, and a mad civilization takes root A young half–Native American known as the Kid has hitchhiked from Mexico to the midwestern city Bellona—only something is wrong there . . . In Bellona, the shattered city, a nameless cataclysm has left reality unhinged. Into this desperate metropolis steps the Kid, his fist wrapped in razor-sharp knives, to write, to love, to wound. So begins Dhalgren , Samuel R. Delany’s masterwork, which in 1975 opened a new door for what science fiction could mean. A labyrinth of a novel, it raises questions about race, sexuality, identity, and art, but gives no easy answers, in a city that reshapes itself with each step you take. This sounds exactly like a book I will love, and hopefully that proves true for the September Virtual Specula…

Silmarillion Blues : Quenta Silmarillion : IV. Of Thingol and Melian

Considering the significance of the moment covered by this chapter and Tolkien's treatment of epic love stories, this chapter stands out as shockingly short.  Elwë (referred to in the chapter title as Thingol), an was one of the elves to visit Valinor then come back to their people to offer the choice of haven in the Light of the Trees.

And then he comes across the Maia Melian, and that whole plan of residing in Valinor goes out the window.  We've met the Maia before, the name Gandalf probably rings a bell.  Melian brought song to the twilight of Middle Earth.

Beyond inspiring Elwë to abandon the life he convinced what would become a whole subset of his own race to follow, they are the first couple in a lineage of epic love stories that transcend race.  Melian births Lúthien Tinúviel, of Elven song and lore and her marriage to Beren.  The line continues through to Elrond, and then to Arwen who marries Aragon in her own repeat of the trials of Lúthien and Beren.

On the other ha…

[Book Review] The Brightest Fell

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The Brightest Fell (October Daye #11) / Seanan McGuire

Previously reviewed:
Once Broken Faith
Most of Toby's stories drop you into the action and feed you necessary bits of exposition as they barrel along.

This book takes the time to introduce you to the world setting, and in that marks a note of gravity and weight that has been absent at the start of the stories, but has always lain lurking.  In that, the novel starts off feeling like we've reached a new step, gone past some point of no return in both Toby's life and in Faerie itself.  Fitting, since ina the author's own words, Toby is starting to pay off debts created five or six books ago.

We know something is coming, hints have been dropped and there's the looming matter of Toby's debts to the Luideag.  Matters which were both brought starkly to light in Once Broken Faith when Luideag mentions it would take too long to replace Toby, and then later when she saves Tybalt's life.  But much of that is for a …