Book roundup because I haven’t done one in a bit

Picked up for my Nook by way of Pottermore:

  • All seven of the Harry Potter books, and yeah I don’t think I need to tell any of you who wrote those. Now this means I can actually read Book 7 on my Nook and won’t have to worry about a big ol’ hardback being difficult to carry around! The interesting thing here was buying the books directly from Pottermore, yet the experience was very seamless–I was able to click a button and have the books shunted over into my Nook library right on bn.com. Clearly a lot of behind the scenes tech work was done here. Well done, dev and QA teams responsible for making that work well!

Also picked up recently from bn.com:

  • Dead Politician Society, by Robin Spano. This is a mystery, and was a Free Fridays offering. Moderately well-reviewed on Goodreads, so I went ahead and yoinked it down.
  • Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell, by Susanna Clarke. Bought because it was so well received in general, because it was pretty nicely priced, and because bn.com was running a promotion wherein if you buy a couple of books off a specific list, you got a $5 gift card, woo.
  • Master and Commander, by Patrick O’Brian. Because the Aubrey-Maturin books are finally on the Nook WOO! And because of the aforementioned promotion. :D

And, yoinked from Carina Press:

  • Gate to Kandrith, by Nicole Luiken. Bought because this slants more towards “fantasy with romantic elements”, rather than “romance in a fantasy setting”, which is Relevant to My Interests!
  • Inheritance of Shadows, by Janis Susan May. Because Gothic mystery FTW!

42 for the year!

And now: language geeking with De Temps Antan lyrics!

So, De Temps Antan, right? One of the cluster of fine Quebecois bands I’ve been a-swoon over this entire year, in no small part due to the excellent vocals and bouzouki of M. Éric Beaudry. These boys have a very handy PDF of lyrics posted on their site for their first album. There is not, however, an equivalent PDF for their second, current album, Les habits de papier!

Of the songs on this album, three have muscled their way onto my Francophone Favorites playlist: “La turlutte du rotoculteur”, “Pétipétan”, and “Grand amuseur de filles”. The first has no lyrics as it is a double firebomb of turlutte + bouzouki, fiddle, and harmonica action. <3 I found lyrics for the second, for which I am extremely grateful, given that the chorus is a machine-gun spray of syllables and I had to see them transcribed to begin to try to sing it!

You would know, however, that the one where M. Beaudry sings delicious lead, "Grand amuseur de filles", is the one I can't actually find any lyrics for at all! *^_^*;;

So, I told myself, here's a brilliant idea--let's see if I can listen hard to these lyrics and see if I can identify ANY WORDS IN THEM WHATSOEVER. And since I've gotten involved with other local fans of Quebecois music and we have our little Chanson et langue group going, we're seeing if we can transcribe the lyrics ourselves!

I played with this some today with the help of userinfovixyish and userinfoeeyorerin, who reported to me that the third verse was basically talking about the singer trying to cheer up his sad, sick friend by hauling him off to a strip club, quote, “as you do”. Erin then informed me, and I quote, “I feel this entire song needs to be punctuated with eyebrow waggles, ‘as you do’, or ‘that’s what he said!'” (Which appears to be a very apt description of most of the songs that have gotten onto my aforementioned Francophone Favorites playlist. I keep getting all of the bounciest, stomping-est songs onto this list and then I find out what they mean and I’m all O RLY? >:D )

And I’m amusing myself mightily with the help of Dejah of the Chanson et langue group, who has way more French than I do, though she’s flailing almost as hard as I am on the latter verses of the song.

Here are a random sampling of phrases I was rather stunned I actually heard correctly, based on comparing with Dejah’s much better transcription of at least the initial verses:

  • Chanter la chanson de ma jolie maĆ®tresse (sing the song of my pretty mistress)
  • Deux ou trois amants (two or three lovers) (see previous commentary re: O RLY? >:D )
  • Allons-y donc, allons aux cabaret! (let’s get to the cabaret!)

And I got several scattered other bits of phrases, like “faut la quitter” and “avec un jeune garçon”, and I haven’t yet confirmed but am pretty sure of having heard “je ne fais que pleurer” and “la fleur de la maisson”. Man, trying to transcribe words in a language you barely know is HARD and FUN and Dejah is right–doing this with music is way more entertaining than out of a textbook!

Alan Doyle! May 22nd! The Tractor Tavern in Seattle! BE THERE!

And speaking of things that will involve so much awesome they will violate all laws of space and time, the most belovedest of my beloved B’ys, The Doyle Himself, is about to launch his solo tour for his forthcoming album. First stop?

RIGHT HERE IN SEATTLE, BABY! At the Tractor Tavern! :D

Be advised that tickets go on presale TOMORROW AT 10AM for greatbigsea.com members! If you’re in my usual social circles you’ve already seen me squealing about this all over the Net today, and you may have been been emailed to check on your level of interest in this show! userinfosolarbird will be buying tickets on my behalf tomorrow at 10am sharp, since it conflicts with my morning standup meeting at work. If you haven’t already checked in with me and you want in on this ticket purchase, let me know NOW!

If you’re going to be at the show anyway, please let me know as well because I’d love to look for known faces, and because showing our support for Alan in as big a group as possible will ROCK!

Great Atlantic Canadian Adventure is GO!

Dara and I started serious work on booking this last night, and discovered to our chagrin that the fares for cross-country Canada trains are prohibitively expensive! So our Trainventure is going to have significantly fewer trains than expected.

But that’s OKAY. Because this entire trip is going to brimming over with so much awesome that we may have to break some laws of physics to cram all of the awesome into two and a half weeks! Hey, I’ve got a supervillain for a spouse, if anybody can break laws of physics, it’ll be my beloved userinfosolarbird!

First up–Toronto, from roughly the 24th through the 26th of July! Agenda: enjoy the hospitality of userinfocow, the very best bovine in the eastern provinces! Meet up with Susan, the most awesome Le Vent du Nord fan that ever awesomed, because we owe that woman a proper thanks for the wedding champagne! And there may even be a house concert featuring Dara at Chez Cow!

Next–Montreal, from roughly the 27th through the 30th of July! Agenda: meet userinfoframlingem and userinfoscrunchions! Convene the Independent Panel of Montreal Bagel Judges! Locate and raid the best possible music store to get me yet more Quebecois trad for my ever-growing collection, and bonus points if I can find anywhere that’ll sell me any album I’m missing with Éric Beaudry on it. :D Locate a bookstore and see if I’m brave enough to bring home some French SF/F! And, if at all possible, find and boing to any appropriate nearby source of podorythmie! (I note, O Internets, that there are TANTALIZINGLY OPEN HOLES in the tour schedules of Le Vent du Nord AND Les Charbonniers de l’Enfer AND De Temps Antan AND La Bottine Souriante and you had better believe that if ANY of them drop shows into this time frame, I am ALL OVER THEM.)

Next–Moncton, from July 30th through August 1st! Agenda: enjoy the company of userinfobrightbeak, and perhaps there will be another house concert! Pauline is flinging us a million awesome Moncton-area things we may be doing as well!

And last but not least–St. John’s, from August 1st through August 6th! Agenda: meet userinfolethendy and any other local GBS fan crowd peeps! Absorb the general ambience and look for inspiration for Book 3 of the Kendis and Christopher books! Attend this which will, assuming that the booking of things goes well, is in extremely easy walking distance of this place where we want to stay!

And the crowning, shining glory of this entire Adventure: go to THIS because ZOMG GREAT BIG SEA IN NEWFOUNDLAND YES B’Y! Dara and I had previously been sure it would not be possible to top the magnificent awesomeness of our beloved B’ys at the Olympics in Vancouver. Our beloved B’ys on their home turf, with a Newfoundland crowd, is very likely the ONLY POSSIBLE WAY TO DO IT. You thought I got good altitude on La Danse Verticale for Le Vent? This concert’s Movement will not only be Vertical, it may well reach ORBIT.

Bookings of planes and trains and places to stay begins TONIGHT. Any of you in these places, Internets, who want to meet up with Dara and me–let us know! We look forward to seeing you all!

The Legend of Korra!

If you love you some Avatar: The Last Airbender, and you’ve been waiting like the Murkworks for the arrival of The Legend of Korra, then you need to go RIGHT NOW to the show’s official site. They’ve posted the first two episodes as watchable right there on the site! (Note: I don’t know if it’ll work for viewers outside the US–somebody give it a try and see?)

It’s the middle of the thumbnails at the bottom of the main page, the one marked “The Legend of Korra” and running 46 minutes and change. :D The first two episodes are both in the one video!

Dara and Paul and I watched them last night, and oh, they were joyous. I love all the characters right out of the gate, both all the new characters and the one (much older now) familiar character who makes a brief appearance at the beginning. The updated technology adds a lovely new twist to the setting. Korra herself is great, great fun. And her polar beardog is adorable. :D

Go! Watch! And thank the nice folks at korranation.com for making the episodes available for the Internets to see!

ETA: userinfoframlingem reports that clicking on the link I gave above is redirecting her to the Korra Nation Facebook page, so it looks like this is only working for viewers in the US. Augh!

Session and general music geekery!

I have made some happy discoveries, and the first of them is this: I am not entirely hopeless learning things by ear. I kinda knew this already–I do, after all, I have a history of playing along with Great Big Sea, or Elvis, or now also Le Vent, and just picking out melody lines on whatever flute I’m playing. I’ve also found out in the last couple of sessions that I can also pick out a melody line on a tune if it’s a slow one.

For example, I haven’t looked at the sheet music for either “Foggy Dew” or “Arran Boat Song”, and yet I’ve managed to more or less stumble my way through both of those at recent sessions. They’re slow, and not terribly complex, and so hey, I was actually able to manage them!

Faster jigs and reels though are still beyond me. This may be a matter of just not having a big enough musical vocabulary yet to be able to reproduce what I’m hearing as soon as I hear it–or, rather, a big enough musical vocabulary to do it with my fingers on the flute. I can whistle along almost instantly, or even dum-da-deedle if I’m feeling like trying to be Quebecois-ish about it. But I haven’t made that connection in my brain yet between “I hear this” and “I can reproduce it on my instrument”.

The core skill’s got to be there, though. I can do it with slower tunes. In theory, surely therefore I can learn to do it with faster ones!

In the meantime, Éric Beaudry, in his capacity of “one of the lead singers of La Bottine Souriante”, has now joined Le Vent du Nord in flinging me songs that are demanding I play them NOW NOW NOW NOW NOW. In particular, “Au rang d’aimer” on the new La Bottine album has pretty much parked itself in front of me and looked cute and expectant and unwavering, like Cync’s dog Kosha used to do in Kentucky!

So I went OKAY FINE, since this IS a song of one of the Beaudrys we’re talking about here, and first actually picked out the melody line on my piccolo–see previous commentary re: I can TOTALLY do this “by ear” thing, if it’s a slow enough song, and “Au rang d’aimer” is! This let me figure out though that this thing is totally in D mixolydian. The tonic of the melody line is D, but C is natural rather than sharp.

Thanks to throwing the song through a chord app I have on my iPhone, I was also able to figure out that there’s an awful lot of F in these chords, another marker of it being in D mix. Note: the chord app is pretty nifty; it takes recorded tracks in your iTunes library and flings you what chords it thinks are being played in it. From the songs I’ve flung through it so far, it does a fair to middlin’ job. Which is actually very, very good for my purposes, because it leaves enough wiggle room for me to exercise my ear some and figure out where it screwed up, and what the chords I actually want in there are.

Related to this same song, one of the lines in it that totally makes me swoon is “Je serai toujours ton serviteur”, which means “I will always be your servant”. I appear to have just enough of an ear now that I can tell when I totally screw up the pronunciation of “serviteur”–I keep wanting to say “servateur”! And I can’t tell if this is because I am an Anglophone, or if I’m an Anglophone from Kentucky who is totally drawling her infant French.

Dara says it would be hysterical if, in my efforts to learn to sing Quebecois French lyrics, I wound up sounding Cajun.

2012 Book Log #10: Hellbent, by Cherie Priest

Hellbent (Cheshire Red Reports, #2)

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

“Cozily domestic” is not usually a phrase I would think to associate with the living situation of a vampire. It is a measure of Cherie Priest’s ability as an author to engage me so strongly that I not only was intrigued by her take on a vampire heroine, but was actively charmed by seeing the growing household that Raylene Pendle has pulled around herself as of the beginning of Book 2 of The Chesire Red Reports, Hellbent.

This installment of the series continues one of the big things I liked a lot about Book 1, Bloodshot: i.e., taking a bunch of urban fantasy tropes and… well, it’s cliched of me to say “subverting them”, but really, it’s true. You don’t find too many vampires–in urban fantasy proper, at least; if you venture over into paranormal romance, it’s a different story–that are neurotic, or needy, or who do in fact gather a whole household of dependents around them without really actively meaning to. Raylene’s a refreshing contrast to the vampires I’m so used to seeing, the ones who are all-powerful heads of Clans or Houses or whatever, especially the males who are the all-too-frequent, oh-so-sexy-and-mysterious love interests for associated heroines. Raylene’s not remote or mysterious, and this makes her far sexier a character to me than any one of dozens of alpha male vampire heroes.

And oh. My. God. Mad, mad love is ongoing for Adrian, the most badass drag queen who ever dragged. That he exists in the pages of an urban fantasy at all just makes me happy. Gender fluidity for the major, major win.

Now, that said, let’s talk plot. I wasn’t quite as taken with the plot of this one as I was the previous, just because the A and B plots didn’t mesh quite as well as I would have hoped. But that said, there’s intriguing followup on the status of Adrian’s lost vampire sister. And there’s an intriguing and somewhat scary character who shows up, the disturbed mage Elizabeth, who seems to be a way for Priest to explore dealing with a character who has both a) significant magical power and b) significant mental illness. Elizabeth is a bit of a cipher, but the scenes where Raylene reaches out to her in unwilling sympathy are among my favorite in the book. Elizabeth’s mental illness is not downplayed, or magically cured, and I have to give high marks for both of those.

Overall, there were also a bit more moments where Raylene went past ‘cozily domestic’ and a bit too far into ‘twee’–adopting a kitten? Not really necessary, we get that Raylene’s a lot more of a softy than she lets on! (And I say this as someone in general favor of kittens.) I’m also not really sure I buy Elizabeth’s status at the end.

But on the other hand, I did overall quite like this book anyway. And I’m hoping that Priest will get a shot at more of them, given that as per her blog, she was only originally contracted to do two of them. For this one, I’ll give four stars!

2011 Book Log #47: Deadline, by Mira Grant

Deadline (Newsflesh Trilogy #2)

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Oh man, Deadline. This was hands down one of the best books I read in 2011, and I was beyond delighted to see that it was every bit as gripping as book 1 of the Newsflesh Trilogy, Feed.

What can I say about this book that doesn’t involve massive, massive spoilers? Well, first and foremost, if you haven’t read this book yet, you should. Actually, if you haven’t read Feed, you should go back and read that first, and then come and read this one. Because Mira Grant/Seanan McGuire’s worldbuilding continues to astound, and so does her command of pacing and suspense, and book 3 is due out in a couple more months.

Where Feed was a political thriller that happened to contain zombies, Deadline is more of a medical thriller–and in this book, we begin to get a rather clearer and consequently more chilling picture of where exactly those zombies came from. Plus, the protagonist of this book, Shaun Mason, is so thoroughly wrecked by the dire ending of the previous book that I spent just about every page aching for the poor guy. And yet he keeps going, broken as he is, even though the extent of this breaking inevitably has consequences for himself and those he cares about. I ached for him, and I cheered for him, and goddamn, I hope that boy finds some peace.

It would have been very, very difficult to top the sledgehammer punch to the gut that was the ending of Feed, but Deadline does manage to come close. Both my partner and I went OMG OMG OMG at the big reveal at the end of this book. And we’re both eagerly awaiting the third. Five stars.

And now, a multinational book roundup!

Purchased in print at the Chapters in Vancouver, on my and Dara’s Grand Four-Day Weekend of Marriage and Music:

  • The Rose Garden, by Susanna Kearsley. Historical/romance. And because she’s Susanna Kearsley!
  • River Thieves, by Michael Crummey. Grabbed this because it’s fiction set in Newfoundland, and because The Doyle Himself tweeted about it. We’ll see if it’s good!

Also purchased in print, once I got back from Canada, from my local B&N:

  • Discount Armageddon, by Seanan McGuire. Because, well, userinfoseanan_mcguire is in general awesome. Looking forward to starting this new series, along with getting caught up on the Toby Daye books!

And, picked up as ebooks:

  • The Rose Garden, again by Susanna Kearsley. Yes, I bought it twice. Because the paperback is large and I’ll be better able to read the ebook on my commute, and also, B&N had it on sale for 2.99!
  • Crucible of Gold, by Naomi Novik. Because TEMERAIRE.

Up to 30 for the year.