Books, Other People's Books

End of March ebook roundup

Purchased from Amazon:

The Hero and the Crown, by Robin McKinley. This was a Kindle daily deal, and while I don’t normally buy ebooks from Amazon, for $2.99 I’ll make an exception. This is of course one of my all-time favorites of McKinley’s, and I was happy to get an ebook copy.

Purchased from Kobo:

Miniatures: The Very Short Fiction of John Scalzi, by, well, John Scalzi. Nabbed this because I know I already like Scalzi’s work, and because at least a couple of pieces in this have been adapted into episodes of Love, Death, and Robots. Also, it was on sale for $2.99 as well, at least as of the time of purchase! (I checked: as of this writing, it’s back up to $5.99, which doesn’t suck as a price either but is not quite as awesome as $2.99.)

Mrs. Martin’s Incomparable Adventure, by Courtney Milan. Grabbed this after I saw her talking about it on Twitter as her tale of elderly lesbians burning down London and I am ON BOARD. (To all reports, it is delightful.)

Captain Horatio Hornblower, by C.S. Forester. Book Club decided we’d proceed to reading the next Hornblower (by publishing order, anyway). Turned out the only way I could get A Ship of the Line was in this omnibus edition that includes Beat to Quarters, A Ship of the Line, and Flying Colors.

Total for the year: 26

Faerie Blood

Trying to get back on the horse

Faerie Blood Second Edition Cover

Y’all will have noticed I have done bugger all with any writing projects for a while. Believe me, I’ve noticed this too. My creativity fell right back into a pit when I got laid off from the Day Job this past September, and I’ve had a bitch of a time trying to haul it back out.

But tonight, I returned to try to edit more of the third edition of Faerie Blood. Edits on Chapter 13 are now complete. Found a bunch more semi-colons and exclamation marks I wanted to remove, and also found one short paragraph that was in fact a bit of a mess and made it past me AND Dara AND all the beta readers. The paragraph as currently stands reads:

“Dazzled by the Sidhe,” Jude replied, “Their most famous human victim,” while she scanned the output flashing by in my command window.

Note the weird placement of commas, which made me go o.O. The revised version of this will read:

“Dazzled by the Sidhe,” Jude replied, while she scanned the output flashing by in my command window. “Their most famous human victim.”

Any and all cheerings on to continue this endeavor would be welcome. Right now I’m struggling HARD to find the wherewithal to do anything writing related. But I’m to a point that I feel like if my unemployment status goes on a while, I’ll need to do more writing to make me less unhappy about the unemployment. Trying to set up a positive feedback loop here.

Bilingual Silmarillion Reread

Bilingual Silmarillion Reread, Part 4

So far in the Bilingual Silmarillion Reread, I’ve made it up through Chapter 2 of the Quenta Silmarillion. (See the last post, Part 3.) The Valar have established the world and built the Lamps to light it, only to have them torn down by Melkor. Yavanna’s upped the lighting game by creating the Two Trees, while Tulkas has driven off Melkor for the time being. Meanwhile, Aulë’s made some Dwarves, only to have Ilúvatar make him put them to sleep until after the actual planned-for Children of Ilúvatar show up.

Which would be in Chapter 3, which I’ll talk about now!

Chapter 3

This being the chapter where the Elves show up, I’m rather partial to it. But it does raise a lot of questions.

  1. For a pack of demigods so anxious to meet the Children of Ilúvatar, they sure do a lot of minding their own business rather than actually looking for them. Yavanna, Oromë, and Ulmo seem to be the only ones who give half a fuck about keeping an eye on Middle-Earth in person.
  2. So did Ilúvatar just drop a ready-made elf population at Cuiviénen, then? How many?
  3. How long did it take for them to start figuring out how to make little elves?
  4. How long was it between their awakening and when Oromë finally found them?

I’ve known for a while now that the whole concept of time is pretty haphazard in the earliest, pre-Sun/pre-Moon days of Middle-Earth. So the timespans we’re dealing with here still aren’t very clear at all.

That said: I really like the passage in this chapter about Varda making the stars. And how it’s described as the greatest work since the making of Arda itself, just to underscore exactly how important Varda is to the mythos here.

This is also the chapter that gives us the first sign of the Balrogs, and the making of the Orcs. Which led Dara to raise a question: if Elves have fates as laid out in the Music, does this mean some Elves were fated to give rise to the Orcs? Do Orcs have fates?

But back on the concept of how fast time does or does not flow at this point, Oromë must surely be able to ride really fast. How long does it take him to high-tail it back to Valinor with the word about the Elves? (“WE GOT MOVIE ELF SIGN!”) Does he get impatient with how long it takes to move a whole host of Elves across Middle-Earth to Valinor? And how many Elves are we talking at this point?

Language Notes

“Cuiviénen”, the name of the place where the Elves awaken, totally looks French to me.

I find it good practice to periodically try reading a sentence in the French translation aloud. And, as with the prior multi-lingual reads I’ve done, reading the French right after reading the equivalent passage in English does help my reading comprehension.

In this chapter, I started paying more attention to the differences in semi-colon usage between the original and the translation. Dara actually discovered that it’s just a thing that semi-colons are used way less often in French, which would explain why the translator did some rearranging of sentences to account for removing them.

Varda is called Tintallë the Kindler in English. In French, this becomes “Celle Qui Donne La Lumière Aux Étoiles”, or She Who Gives The Light to the Stars.

Relatedly, I like the word “étincelante”, which means “shining”, used in the description of Menelmacar’s belt.

This is a phrase that stood out for me in the French: “… car ils ne connaisaient encore aucune autre créature douée de la parole ou du chant.” Meaning, “… for as of yet they had met no other living things that spoke or sang.” Which is of course in the part where it’s described how the Elves named themselves the Quendi, “those who speak with voices”.

There’s an interesting connotation difference with the Ring of Doom, where the Valar meet to hold their counsels, being called Le Cercle du Destin in French. “Doom” is being used here in the sense of “fate”, I think. But it’s still quite the connotation in Tolkien, given how The Lord of the Rings features Mount Doom so prominently.

The same sort of connotational difference shows up when Mandos issues his take on the whole idea of letting the Eldar come to Valinor. In the English, he says “So it is doomed.” Again, ‘doom’ in the sense of ‘destiny’ or ‘fate’. But in French, the line given is “Malheur à nous”.

And that’s definitely a darker connotation. When I look up “malheur” in my dictionary of choice, it defines the word as meaning “adversity” or “misfortune”. In short, at least in the French, Mandos is being a lot more blatant in how bringing the Eldar to Valinor is going to fuck them all up.

Last linguistic note: the term for the Avari (the “Unwilling”) in French is “Révoltés”. Yet another interesting connotational nuance, as this word means “rebels”. A rather stronger term, I daresay, than just “the people who are unwilling to do the thing”.

Additional Notes

I do so like Varda making the Valacirca as a particular fuck-you to Melkor. 😀

Angband is mentioned here (and Sauron!), and I remember that name as the game that was an offshoot of Moria. Which was in turn a cousin of Nethack.

And now, what new proper nouns do we have that end in -ë?

  1. Tintallë
  2. Alcarinquë
  3. Elemmírë
  4. Soronúmê
  5. Helcaraxë (oh hey yeah the Grinding Ice!)
  6. Ingwë
  7. Finwë
  8. Elwë
  9. Olwë
  10. Lenwë (a father of Denethor but NOT the same Denethor that shows up in Gondor much later)

Since it’s really short, let’s also cover Chapter 4, shall we?

Chapter 4

Before this re-read, I’d forgotten that this chapter is in fact so short.

The idea of Elwë being struck dumb and still for years at the sight of Melian does not strike me as the stuff of great romance. Maybe the two of them communed telepathically? Regardless, they’re the parents of Lúthien, so it’s all good!

Next post: more about the elves and the journey to Valinor!

Movies

Movie review: Captain Marvel

Captain Marvel

Captain Marvel

My household went to see Captain Marvel this past Thursday night. We’re not normally an opening-weekend movie-viewing type of household, but this time I wanted to make an exception. And I was deeply delighted that we did.

Because, spoiler-free picoreview: CAROL DANVERS IS MAGNIFICENT AND I MUST SEE THIS MOVIE AGAIN.

Behind the cut you will find ALL THE SPOILERS. If you haven’t seen the movie yet, and care about spoilers, come back and read this later.

Coming over from Facebook or Twitter? If so, please be mindful about what replies you may give me on those sites.

If you’re reading this either directly on angelahighland.com OR on my Dreamwidth account, spoilers in the comments are fair game.

Now with all the caveats out of the way, let’s talk Captain Marvel. 😀

Continue Reading

Music

Geeking out about fiddle rosin, Part 1

This is a super-late post, as I’ve been lagging a lot on blogging. But I want to clear out my Drafts folder in WordPress, so here we go!

If you follow me on Facebook, you already saw me geeking out about this, this past late December/early January. But for the rest of you, here’s a post all about how I’ve been able to test various kinds of fiddle rosin I got from Dara as a holiday present.

My fiddle teacher, Lisa Ornstein, had suggested that I get better rosin to improve my sound. Up till that point, I’d been using the rosin I got with the instrument: a block of d’Addario Natural Light.

She recommended Salchow, so I put that on my wishlist–both the Light and the Dark kinds, as I didn’t know which one I wanted. But for 2018’s Solstice/Yule/Christmas/fill-in-your-favorite-winter-holiday-here, my belovedest Dara got me five different kinds of rosin. What she got me included:

Pyramid of Rosin

Pyramid of Rosin

  • Salchow Light
  • Salchow Dark
  • Jade L’Opera
  • Pirastro Goldflex
  • Pirastro Schwarz

This, for the record, is a whole helluva lot of rosin. Lisa was deeply amused when I told her about this, too. Essentially, I have a lifetime’s supply of rosin here. But Dara maintained (and I agree with her) that it was appropriate to get a whole bunch of types to try out, so I could make an informed decision on which ones I liked best.

I did some preliminary tests when I got all of these, throughout the first couple weeks of January. So far I prefer the Jade, with a side helping of the Pirastro Schwarz. The Jade gives my instrument a nice clear bright sound, while the Pirastro Schwarz adds a bit more depth and nuance that I appreciate.

However, I learned that since multiple rosins on a bow at once can have different effects on your sound, I didn’t really properly test the Salchows and the Pirastro Goldflex. With the cloth I’m using to clean my strings, I can take care of this problem. If I very gently stroke it along my bow hairs, this helps eliminate prior rosin residue.

So now, for anybody who might find me when they’re looking up what sort of rosin to get, I’ll do a few more posts about my experiments with this stuff. (Particularly since I want to give the Salchows and the Pirastro Goldflex a better shake.) I’ll talk about all five types of rosin, cleaning the bow before switching to each. And I’ll record a sample of how I sound with each as well, to see if I can detect any differences.

This should be fun. Stand by for more to come!

Books, Other People's Books

Because apparently I needed retail therapy ebook roundup

I’ve been slurping up a high number of ebooks lately, so here’s a quick roundup about that.

Picked up from Amazon:

Beat to Quarters, by C.S. Forester, which is one of the Horatio Hornblower novels. We decided to read some Hornblower in book club, since gfish has headed off to hang out on a tall ship for a few weeks, and it seemed thematically appropriate.

Grabbed this from Amazon because I couldn’t find an equivalent version on Kobo. This Hornblower novel in particular is the first one in publication order, but the sixth in chronological order.

Pre-ordered from Kobo:

Avatar: The Rise of Kyoshi, by F.C. Yee and Michael Dante DiMartino. This is an Avatar: The Last Airbender tie-in novel, part 1 of a duology delving into the life story of Avatar Kyoshi, the Avatar just before Aang’s immediate predecessor, Roku. Kyoshi has important cultural impact still present by Aang’s day, and I will greatly enjoy reading about her.

Picked up from Kobo:

The Heiress Effect, The Countess Conspiracy, and The Suffragette Scandal, by Courtney Milan. Books 2-4 of her Brothers Sinister series. Nabbed these partly because I already knew I like Milan’s work a lot, and partly because of the eruption of the CopyPasteCris scandal. Wanted to buy a few of Milan’s titles I didn’t already have, to show her my support.

(Note: since I purchased these, I have actually finally read Book 1 of this series, The Duchess War. Recommended for fans of historical romance who appreciate camera time spent on issues outside the ton and new ways to underscore the restrictive gender roles of the era.)

A Hope Divided, by Alyssa Cole. Historical romance, book 2 of her Loyal League series. Grabbing this because Cole’s shot onto my radar as a romance author I want to regularly follow, now that I’ve read several things of hers.

Bellewether, by Susanna Kearsley. This is her latest release and I do love me some Kearsley, so yay! Bonus points for some French Canadian action in this one.

Alice Payne Arrives, by Kate Heartfield. This is a Tor.com novella and it sounded like great fun, with a time-traveling rogue type as the heroine. Book 1 of a series.

Terminal Alliance, by Jim C. Hines. Book 1 of his Janitors of the Post-Apocalypse series. Grabbing this one finally as it’s at mass-market prices in ebook form, now that book 2 is out.

“Deriving Life”, by Elizabeth Bear. SF. This is a Tor.com short story, which you can read for free on their site. But I nabbed my own copy as I felt this piece was achingly beautiful.

The Priory of the Orange Tree, by Samantha Shannon. Fantasy. Nabbing this on general “because epic fantasy written by women” grounds, but also because I love this cover and I love the title. Read enough of the sample to go “yep I want to know more about what’s going on in this world”, too.

And last but not least:

Thornbound, by Stephanie Burgis. Book 2 of her Harwood Spellbook series, which is essentially fantasy romance. Caught my attention with the worldbuilding idea of an alternate Earth where Boudicca drove the Romans out of Britain–and the nation that grew out of that, Angland, is one ruled by the Boudiccate, full of women politicians. Men, meanwhile, serve as mages, and gender power dynamics are essentially flipped. I’m ON BOARD. I’ve already read Spellswept, the prequel novella for this series, and am looking forward to diving into the two novels.

Total for the year: 22.