My household watched the first episode of The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power tonight. Spoiler-free picoreview: I liked it!
Fair warning to my fellow Tolkien nerds, particularly if you know anything about The Silmarillion: yes, it is absolutely taking liberties with the way events played out from the First Age leading into the Second, particularly in regards to Galadriel.
However, it’s taking liberties in ways that so far I don’t actually mind. It’s helped that I very deliberately set my expectations here to “very pretty, very expensive Tolkien fanfic”, to give myself permission to not be bugged by any discrepancies between this story and what Tolkien actually wrote.
It also helps a lot for me to keep in mind the quote out of Tolkien’s own letters, about how his vision for Middle-Earth was as a mythic milieu with room for stories by other creators. The key word here being myth.
If you know anything about Greek mythology, you’ll know that that entire mythos contradicts itself all over the place. And with that in the back of my brain to establish precedent, I’m pretty at peace with the idea of other Middle-Earth stories contradicting Tolkien’s canon… as long as they hold true to the spirit of what Tolkien wrote, and do not actively break the world.
So far, as of episode 1, they do not appear to have done so. So far, so good. We’ll see how this holds up as we proceed through season 1!
Y’all have probably noticed that the vast majority of my blogging activity lately has been all about the Skyrim. Still though I do periodically try to remember that I need to beat down my email queue, and also get caught up on things like “which new ebooks do I need to make sure and pull into Calibre?”
So here’s a roundup of ebook activity over the last several months, since today is a “beat down the email queue” kind of day.
Acquired from Project Gutenberg:
Carmilla, by Joseph Sheridan Le Fanu. Nabbed this because they did a readthrough of it on Tor.com’s recurring Reading the Weird column, and I felt it was high time I checked this out.
Pre-ordered from Kobo:
A Half-Built Garden, by Ruthanna Emrys. SF. Combo of first contact/climate catastrophe type novel. (And as I write this, pretty sure this book is actually about to drop.)
Nona the Ninth, by Tamsyn Muir. Book 3 of her Locked Tomb series, because of fucking course I’m buying this book, after the awesomeness of Gideon the Ninth and Harrow the Ninth.
The Book Eaters, by Sunyi Dean. Ordered this because of this preview posted to Tor.com, which seized me by the highly original idea of a secret lineage who survives by literally eating books.
Station Eternity, by Mur Lafferty. SF/Mystery, book 1 of the forthcoming Midsolar Murders series. Queued this up because I very much enjoyed a couple other Lafferty titles, Six Wakes and The Shambling Guide to New York City.
And acquired from Kobo:
For the Wolf, by Hannah Whitten. Fairy-tale-adjacent YA.
A Curious Beginning, by Deanna Raybourn. Mystery. First book of her Veronica Speedwell series.
Wrath Goddess Sing, by Maya Deane. Fantasy. Nabbed this because it’s a trans retelling of the Trojan War, reimagining Achilles as a trans woman. I am here for this.
A Lady for a Duke, by Alexis Hall. Historical romance. Nabbed this because the heroine is a trans woman and I am real interested to see how this plays out in a historical romance context.
The Calyx Charm, by May Peterson. Book 3 of her Sacred Dark series. And yet another one I’m grabbing because trans heroine. In this specific case, I love that cover, the heroine has amazing hair. <3
The Jane Austen Project, by Kathleen A. Flynn. SF. Nabbed this as it’s a combo of SF/Time Travel, a love story, and heavy emphasis on Jane Austen! Hoping this will be as engaging as it sounds.
The Kaiju Preservation Society, by John Scalzi. SF. Nabbed for general “because Scalzi has a very consistent history of entertaining the hell out of me”, and also, kaiju!
Just Like Home, by Sarah Gailey. Horror. Nabbed because Gailey also has a consistent history of entertaining the hell out of me.
Nabbed from Kobo and Amazon explicitly on the strength of various reviews by James Nicoll:
The Tale of Princess Fatima, Warrior Woman, translated by Melanie Magidow. Kinda adore that cover.
The Stardust Thief, by Chelsea Abdullah. Fantasy. Inspired by Arabian Nights.
January Fifteenth, by Rachel Swirsky. SF. Nabbed because I like the concept of exploring what a UBI in the United States might actually look like in terms of effects on a selection of citizens.
Rediscovery: Science Fiction by Women (1958-1963) and Rediscovery 2: Science Fiction by Women (1953-1957), edited by Gideon Marcus. I’m not normally an anthology reader, but I really liked the concept of these ones, revisiting stories written by women in the earlier years of the SF/F genre.
The Red Palace, by June Hur. Mystery. Nabbed this because it’s a period mystery not set anywhere in Europe. It’s in Korea. Highly interested to check this out.
The Language of Roses, by Heather Rose Jones. This appears to be a queer/aromantic retelling of Beauty and the Beast, and that’s certainly unusual enough to make me want to check it out.
Eric John Stark: Outlaw of Mars, by Leigh Brackett. Got this on the grounds that Brackett is known for having been a writer on The Empire Strikes Back, and I wanted to check out some of her other work. This title is actually two of her books in one release. Not a fan of the cover, but there wasn’t a better one to be had!
Previous pre-order from Kobo that showed up:
The Daughter of Doctor Moreau, by Silvia Moreno-Garcia.
Acquired from Amazon:
Legends and Lattes, by Travis Baldree. Grabbed this because I heard a lot of buzz about it earlier this year, putting it into the general area of “cozy fantasy”. I really love the idea of a big butch orc running a coffee shop. <3
The Flamingo’s Fated Mate, by Elva Birch. Nabbed this because I heard about it via C.E. Murphy’s newsletter, and it sounds hilarious, as a sendup of shifter romances. :D
Song of the Forever Rains and Dance of the Burning Sea, by E.J. Mellow. Grabbed these because they were talked up on Smart Bitches. Intrigued by the prospect of a series about a group of siblings raised to be incredibly powerful magic users.
Beneath Devil’s Bridge and The Patient’s Secret, by Loreth Anne White. Nabbed for when I’m in the mood for thrillers.
At the Quiet Edge, by Victoria Helen Stone. Also nabbed for when I’m in the mood for thrillers.
Pre-ordered from Amazon:
Symphony for a Deadly Throne, by E.J. Mellow. Book 3 to go with the two books above.
Another overdue ebook roundup post. Here are titles I’ve picked up over the last few months.
Acquired from Kobo:
Star Trek: Discovery: Wonderlands, by Una McCormack. Grabbed this one as it fills in a gap at the beginning of Season 3, covering the events of the year Michael Burnham spends waiting for her ship to catch up with her.
The Demon Equilibrium, by Cathy Pegau. Paranormal/historical romance, also queer. Picked this up on the strength of this review on Smart Bitches, also on the strength of Pegau being a fellow Carina author!
Olive Bright, Pigeoneer, by Stephanie Graves. Mystery, set in Britain in WWII. Nabbed this because I saw the review for Book 2 on Criminal Element, and that sounded interesting enough that I looked at their review of Book 1 as well, which I then purchased.
The Radium Girls, by Kate Moore. Non-fiction. Picked this up because it went on sale in ebook form for a little bit, and because I’d heard it talked up on Smart Bitches podcasts. Account of what happened with young women working in radium dial factories in World War I.
A Psalm for the Wild-Built, by Becky Chambers. SF. Nabbed this as this is the first book in a new series from her, and I’ve really liked her strong character-driven SF so far. And her titles. <3
A Snake Falls to Earth, by Darcie Little Badger. Fantasy YA. Got this out of interest in SF/F from indigenous authors; Darcie Little Badger is Apache.
Hild, by Nicola Griffith. Historical fantasy. Nabbed this because I’ve been interested in reading it for a while, and was reminded I still needed to buy a copy.
The House of Shattered Wings, by Aliette de Bodard. Another thing I’d been interested in reading for a while, and which finally popped off the queue to be bought.
Scales and Sensibility, by Stephanie Burgis. Fantasy/fantasy romance, I think. Book 1 of her Regency Dragons series. Nabbed this just because I do love the Regency era + magic or fantasy elements.
Lady August, by Becky Michaels. Historical romance, Book 1 of her Linfield Hall series. Got this one because Book 2 of the series showed up in this Cover Awe post by Smart Bitches, and I was impressed enough by that cover to look up more about the series. Saw that A Rake Like You was actually Book 2, so I went and got Book 1 to read. (And I gotta say, I like this trend of illustrated covers on romance novels lately.)
Certain Dark Things, by Silvia Moreno-Garcia. Because as I note below, Mexican Gothic was huge fun, swinging out to find more of this author’s work now.
Battle of the Linguist Mages, by Scotto Moore. SF. Grabbed this pretty much on the grounds of any SF involving linguistic nerdery sounds like SF I need to be reading!
The Pages of the Mind, by Jeffe Kennedy. Fantasy romance. Nabbed this because another thing I’ve been meaning to read for a while, and because I really like the imagery on the cover. Picked this up for free by redeeming points on my Kobo account!
Pre-orders that showed up from Kobo:
The Thousand Eyes, by A.K. Larkwood. Book 2 of her Serpent Gates series. I really liked Book 1, The Unspoken Name!
Pre-order placed with Kobo:
The Daughter of Doctor Moreau, by Silvia Moreno-Garcia. Nabbed this because holy shit Mexican Gothic was fun, and because Kobo’s recommendation algorithm actually correctly deduced that another book by her is Highly Relevant to My Interests. This book is due to drop in July!
Now that the house net is back up and stable again, and I’m on a three-day weekend where I don’t have to worry about things being on fire at the day job, I have the time to dig back through my inbox and get caught up on tallying my ebook purchases!
This post will cover the tail end of 2021’s purchases and also lay down the initial ones for 2022.
Purchased from Kobo in 2021:
A Marvellous Light, by Freya Marske. Book 1 of The Last Binding. Fantasy set in Edwardian England, with a side of M/M romance. Nabbed because of seeing positive buzz for it on Tor.com
Comfort Me With Apples, by Catherynne M. Valente. Nabbed this because I’ve read and enjoyed quite a bit of her work, and the idea of her doing a gaslit-wife kind of thriller is intriguing.
The Wolf and the Woodsman, by Ava Reid. Fantasy. Nabbed this because it was on sale at the time, for $1.99. Also, because fantasy influenced by Hungarian mythology sounded potentially fun and different.
Murder on Black Swan Lane, by Andrea Penrose. Mystery. Book 1 of Wrexford & Sloane. Nabbed this because I’d originally seen buzz about it on Smart Bitches as a period British-set mystery, a genre I generally enjoy. Tried to check it out from the library but never started reading it before the checkout ran out, so I just went ahead and bought it.
State of Terror, by Louise Penny and Hillary Rodham Clinton. (Yes, that Hillary Clinton.) Thriller. Nabbed this because I like Louise Penny’s writing and was legit curious about how a thriller Hillary Clinton is involved with would turn out. Started reading it as a library book, but the library checkout ran out, so I just bought the thing so I could finish it.
The Scholars of Night, by John M. Ford. Another thriller, a newer edition of this book as a bunch of Ford’s backlist has been re-published since his death. Dara started reading this one in print and liked it, so this was another one I checked out first from the library and then just decided to go ahead and buy.
Home: Habitat, Range, Niche, Territory, by Martha Wells. SF. This is a short story about Murderbot! Bought because Murderbot. <3
Sisters of the Vast Black, by Lina Rather. SF. Our Lady of Endless Worlds #1. Nabbed this because I kept hearing good things about it, so finally picked it up.
Akata Witch, by Nnedi Okorafor. Fantasy. Book 1 of her Nsibidi Scripts series, and YA. Nabbed this because it was on sale for $2.99 at the time, and also because I want to read more SF/F out of the African diaspora. And, it has a gorgeous cover.
Sisters in Arms, by Kaia Alderson. Historical fiction. Another book I initially started reading as a library checkout, but the checkout ran out, so I just bought it. This is a story about a regiment of Black women serving during WWII and I’m here for that!
Last Night at the Telegraph Club, by Malinda Lo. Historical fiction/romance, and specifically queer, F/F romance between two young women, set during the Red Scare in San Francisco’s Chinatown. Very interested to see how this’ll read. I quite liked this author’s book Huntress, too.
Purchased from Kobo in 2022:
West End Earl, by Bethany Bennett. Historical romance. Book 2 of Misfits of Mayfair. Nabbed this because it got talked up on Smart Bitches for having a gorgeous cover and really, I agree. I love the use of yellow on the cover art, which makes it bright and cheerful, and that’s a thing I really need in my life right now! And, the summary seemed fun, as did the sample I read on Kobo’s site.
Purchased from Amazon in 2022:
Vessel of Starfire and The Last Witch Queen, by Allison Carr Waechter. YA Fantasy. Books 1 and 2 of the Outlaws of Interra trilogy. Nabbed these because the first one’s cover was called out on Smart Bitches on a Cover Awe post, and I agreed it was lovely! Plus I wanted to pick these up for F/F romance goodness. And I bought both of them because they were nice and cheap!
Dangerous Ground and Crash Site, by Fiona Carver. Thriller. Books 1 and 2 of the Fiona Carver series. Nabbed these again because of a Smart Bitches Cover Awe post, and because the individual titles of the series were not expensive.
The Raven Spell, by Luanne G. Smith. Fantasy, Book 1 of Conspiracy of Magic. Nabbed this because I saw an ad for it, and because it sounds like fun, particularly with a hook about a hero who’s had his memory rattled around by an attack and needs help from the heroine to find out who targeted him.
Took a backhoe to my gigantic email backlog yesterday, and that included dealing with receipts from assorted ebook purchases and getting those files incorporated into my Calibre library! Here now are those books, rounded up.
Acquired from Kobo:
Aetherbound, by E.K. Johnston. SF/YA. Got this one mostly because I really liked the cover design, and when i read a sample, I found it engaging enough that I’d like to see where the story goes. I like the central story concept of a traveling generation ship where the crew is successive generations of the same family, and the heroine being a young daughter of this family who wants out.
Iron Widow, by Xiran Jay Zhao. SF/YA. This seems a mix of Chinese mythos, bunches of anime of the “mecha powered by pilots” type, and Pacific Rim. The heroine is a young woman in a culture where females serve as the “concubine/pilots” for male pilots of mecha, and are frequently killed by the strain of the psychic link these pairings require. Only our heroine, a so-called “iron widow”, is capable of turning that psychic link around and taking out her male copilots instead. I’m here for it.
Hands of the Emperor and Stargazy Pie, by Victoria Goddard. Fantasy. Bought both of these on the strength of this article on Tor.com, which speaks very glowingly of this author’s work. And from what I see here, there’s a lot of Anna bait in her stories.
The Anatomist’s Wife, by Anna Lee Huber. Mystery. Got this one when I saw it come up as on sale via one of Smart Bitches Trashy Books’ sale posts.
We Shall Sing a Song Into the Deep, by Andrew Kelly Stewart. SF. This is post-apocalyptic so I’m not sure how much of a headspace I’m going to have to read this any time soon, but that said, I’m intrigued by the idea of the crew of the last nuclear submarine on the planet turning into a religious sect bent on firing their last missile to trigger the Second Coming. And the protagonist is a young girl kidnapped and raised into the crew as one of their Choristers, only nobody realizes she’s female.
When Two Feathers Fell From the Sky, by Margaret Verble. This seems to be a magic-realism type story, or what I’d be calling historical urban fantasy if it was getting sold under the SF/F bracket of stories. But it’s getting marketed as general fiction, so…? Period piece with a Native American heroine at a carnival.
Piranesi, by Susanna Clarke. Grabbed this on the strength of this being the next book by the author of Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell. I have already read it; I got it as a library checkout, and then decided I wanted to own my own copy. It’s not nearly as long as its predecessor, and it’s not terribly heavy on action–but it is rich on imagery and theme and characters. Very glad I read it.
Pre-orders that showed up:
Grave Reservations, by Cherie Priest
Noor, by Nnedi Okorafor
You Feel It Just Below the Ribs, by Jeffrey Cranor and Janina Matthewson
Trying to avoid having the neck of the instrument resting in the crotch of my hand, and instead supporting it about halfway along my thumb, to improve the reach of my fingers
Double stops, all open string pairs, in the lower-upper-both pattern
Double stops, all open string pairs, in the upper-lower-both pattern
Whistling a tune phrase to get into my head where I want the slurs to fall, so that I can then specifically tell myself where to put the slurs when I’m actually playing the instrument
Tunes practiced: Feller from Fortune
Main interesting discovery for me in this practice ties back to a thing I discussed with Lisa on my last official lesson, when we played around with La fée des dents and discussed what it does to the tune stylistically, if you start on a down bow vs. an up bow.
I tried the same thing in this practice with the tune Feller from Fortune, focusing on the A part and seeing what it felt like to start on a down bow vs. an up bow. Here, as with La fée des dents, I was intrigued to find that starting on an up bow “felt” easier. More natural. I’m still working on trying to articulate why I get that feeling.
There are several interesting questions to consider here:
If there are certain note patterns that are just objectively easier to play more smoothly if you bow them in a certain direction.
What tune you’re playing, and what other ornamentations you want to do on it, I guess? Because if you’re doing slurs in certain places, how does that play into your bow direction choices?
Is it a purely subjective thing where musician A might find a certain way of playing easier than musician B?
What actually sounds better for the tune? How does it sound if you play it one way vs. another way?
In “Anna remembers she really needs to practice the instrument” news, here’s today’s fiddle practice report!
Time practiced: 10 minutes
Scales practiced: One octave G, one octave D, one octave A, two octave G, two octave A
Arpeggios practiced: One octave G, two octave G
Other techniques practiced:
Double stops, lower string, upper string, both strings, all three string pairs
Double stops, upper string, lower string, both strings, all three string pairs
Left hand rehearsal on B part of La fée des dents
Being mindful of left hand finger curve
Being mindful of elbow position to facilitate finger curve
Tunes practiced: La fée des dents, A part and B part
I haven’t tried to play André Brunet’s lovely La fée des dents in a while, so it was a pleasure to revisit it today.
This is one of the tunes that you definitely want to play in a nice flowing kind of way. Figuring out where to put some slurs seems like my primary tool for encouraging that… though I also need to keep in mind that there are questions here of just how smoothly I change fingerings and change bow direction, too.
But that said I did begin to identify some spots in both the A part and the B part where I could add some of that sense of flow, for lack of a better word. By which I mean, some spots where I could put in a few short slurs.
Mostly though I wanted to review the tune and remind myself of the fingerings necessary for it. And I’ll look forward to working with this one some more!
Decided to switch it up a bit today and jump over to one of my favorite Andre Brunet tunes, Ciel d’automne. Mostly I played with reviewing the A part, because it’d been a while since I last touched this tune.
But I also wanted to experiment with placing slurs in it, to build on what I’ve been learning playing around with Blarney Pilgrim and Feller from Fortune. Ciel d’automne is a very strong example of what I mean when I talk about needing to master how to make a tune just flow, this thing is gorgeous and it needs to have that liquid feel to it.
I didn’t work out slur patterns for all of the A part yet, but I did get a good way into that section of the tune for that!
I also have aspirations of figuring out where double stops could go in this thing. I tried a couple of places, but that didn’t work very well. I think I need to listen to the recording I have of the tune some more and see if I can figure out how Andre did it!