silverflight8: stacked old books (books)
So I extensively read and re-read much of Martha Wells' Books of the Raksura over the past few weeks.

I read the second and third books of the Raksura - The Serpent Seas and the Siren Depths. They were tons of fun and I couldn't put them down though I wish she'd titled them somewhat differently. I can't remember which comes first or both titles!

The Raksura are a species of shape-shifters who can fly. Moon is a Raksura orphaned and trying to integrate into various groundling societies (mostly unsuccessfully). That's a terrible summary but the books are about him discovering the rest of the Raksura and his travels/adventures with them.

The fourth book comes out April 2016 and I'm so impatient. I want it, and I want it now!

About Raksura )

Then James Bond - several of them now. I read Moonraker and then On Her Majesty's Secret Service. (I have never seen the films, though I regret not buying the nail polish collection OPI put out for Skyfall. I have my priorities!) They have their weaknesses, but as good solid action/adventure novels they deliver, and I am emotionally invested in James Bond the character by this point. I keep going to the library and checking out every Bond book there is - which isn't very many. This library system is big on having duplicates and not on having variety - wrong way round, in my opinion. But anyway!

Moonraker is about the rocket the British government is building, which is being made with the assistance of Hugo Drax, a public war hero and now wealthy businessman. M feels something isn't right when the owner of the club Blades tells him that Drax cheats, and sends Bond to first see if he's cheating (yes - and then Bond dupes Drax into losing an enormous sum of money) and then posts him at the Moonraker to see what's going on. This is leading up to a test-firing of the rocket, so there is a great deal of tension and attention being paid - especially after there is a murder at the site.

Moonraker )

Then On Her Majesty's Secret Service! Bond is sent on the trail of Blofeld again, one of the major figures behind the creation of SPECTRE and one of Bond's greatest enemies. He is put on the tail of Blofeld when Blofeld puts a request through the College of Arms - he wants legitimacy, and wants it badly enough to leave somewhat of a trail. On the pretext of being one of the College of Arms' researchers, Bond goes off to Switzerland to investigate Blofeld, who appears to be running a very secretive clinic of some kind on top of the mountains, within a ski resort.

On Her Majesty's Secret Service )

Also I watched Pride and Prejudice (1995), season 1 of Sherlock plus the first two episodes of season 2, AND the first three episodes of Agent Carter season 2. More to follow! (All of them were great, in case you were wondering. In many different ways.)
silverflight8: text icon: "Go ahead! Panic! Do it now and avoid the June rush!" (Panic!)
Saw it this Sunday - everything is spoilers under the cut. Also, thank you to everybody in the usual fannish/Internet spaces I hang out in - I managed to go in pretty much entirely unspoiled. Courtesy is not dead!

For anyone who has not watched yet - there is no extra post-credits scene. (Dude next to us: "There's no extra scene! I've seen this movie three times!)

Reactions )
silverflight8: bee on rose  (Default)
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Dec. 15th, 2015 11:30 pm
silverflight8: text icon: "Go ahead! Panic! Do it now and avoid the June rush!" (Panic!)
The holds on Martha Wells' Siren Depths and Serpent Sea have finally arrived MUAHAHAHAHA goodbye my friends I'll be back eventually
silverflight8: watercolour wash with white paper stars (stars in the sky)
macro shot of my music, titled 'FELIX MENDELSSOHN BARTHOLDY - Lobgesang - Hymn of Praise, op. 52, Symphony Cantata' and orchestration written in German - Soli SST, Chorale SSAATB, 2 flutes 2 oboes etc

Had a concert Saturday, performing Mendelssohn's Lobgesang. We were paired with another choir (larger than us), and an excellent symphony orchestra. Altogether I would guess there were at least two hundred people on stage - rather cozy and quite warm on stage, but the sound was absolutely tremendous and tremendously exciting to sing in. And Mendelssohn is a very rewarding sort of composer to sing in large choruses with, especially in a piece like this: a "hymn of praise", written to commemorate the western invention of printing - I think on one of the major anniversaries of it?

We were conducted by the conductor of the symphony orchestra (the choirs share a conductor, so there were just two conductors running around). The conductor was sort of funny and acerbic with it, the kind that really tries to get a lot out of you. I'm not sure what he's like when it's all being put together, but he kept exhorting us to get out of the music and watch the conductor. (One of the most common refrains of conductors I've known).

The parts got a bit jogged around by our choral conductor. He asked the alto 2s to help the tenors when they had to sing by themselves to open a movement, and in some parts asked the entire soprano section to sing alto to lend more power to the middle section - this, at least, is very rare. The last movement in rehearsal we basically didn't have a soprano line; those were being worked on by the other choir, who would cover for us there.

I like this rendition on youtube. There are more if you search "Mendelssohn Lobgesang" though I only have timestamps for this particular one.



Lots and lots of talk about the piece, including time-stamps for specific parts )
silverflight8: watercolour wash with white paper stars (stars in the sky)
Now reading Magicians of Caprona and finally getting into it. It always takes me a bit to get used to new characters - I hate it when sequels/series have new protagonists!

I have listened to this version of The Water is Wide a lot (a lot.) You know, when you suddenly listen to a song and then you must play it over and over and over again? For days? I love it so much. All of their voices and interpretations, but especially, I think, the middle singer. The lyrics probably help. And then the trio all together. I am undone.



It is almost impossible to find anything about the singers online; I can't tell if I'm finding the same people, and also I want to know if they did another collaboration.
silverflight8: stacked old books (books)
So in the past few days I've read three Agatha Christie novels (and have downloaded from the library about...let me count...fifteen of her novels?) Oh my god I love them. I had a fairly long dry spell of reading no new books and then all of a sudden I read almost one a day.

GREAT HONKING SPOILERS UNDER CUTS.

I read Cards on the Table first.
Cards on the Table )

Then Death on the Nile:
Death on the Nile )

Then The Hollow:
The Hollow )

I gotta stop because I like being surprised by mystery novels (I never do try too hard to solve them, I glance over the diagrams). So now I am putting a ban on the rest of the Christie novels sitting in my calibre library.

I ALSO just devoured Charmed Life and The Lives of Christopher Chant and that's why the Christie reviews are so short, I have to talk about these right now too.

Both novels )
More to come about DWJ I hope.
silverflight8: lion rampant on shield. See <user name=houses> (house of bit)
Today a dead stinkbug fell out of the washing machine as I was unloading it. I definitely screamed and flailed. This has never happened before and I dearly hope NEVER WILL AGAIN

I am telling you all this to spread the pain around and also to let you know to beware of washing machines. But you knew that already.

When you see this post, feel encouraged to post something in your journal. Short or long, trivial or profound, it doesn't matter, just something. And if you like, you can pass on the token by copying this notice at the bottom of your post. (Seen most recnetly on eustacia_vye's journal but also via dhampyresa and wordsofastory).
silverflight8: stacked old books (books)
I read The Sand-Reckoner the other day (the one by Gillian Bradshaw, not the one by Archimedes) and now I have all these feelings about Archimedes and Syracuse and Hieron.

The novel's about Archimedes as he returns from his studies at Alexandria - it begins with him coming home to a city on the verge of war, his father dying, and a sick sense that coming home will mean he must close off the part of him that lives and breathes mathematics, and do work he hates to support his family. Archimedes comes to the attention of Hieron, the king of Syracuse, as an outstanding and remarkable engineer - outstanding because he can devise new, original, and effective machines that work well from the very outset, because he can derive the basic principles from mathematics. With Archimedes is Marcus, his Italian slave, who looks after his absent-minded master despite conflicting loyalties. Marcus denies being Roman - the affiliation is dangerous - and Archimedes is too * and doesn't think it useful to press.

Like Island of Ghosts, which is about troops of Sarmatians - having been sent west as part of their treaty with Rome - settling into Roman Britain, this book is similarly more internal and character-driven. Which isn't to say there isn't external conflict; the book is set during the first Punic Wars (paging [livejournal.com profile] dhampyresa - though it's not really about Rome or Carthage so IDK if you're interested?) and Syracuse is caught between the two. Hieron is trying to avoid having to fight either or both of them at once, but needs siege engines to prevent either from eating his city. But he recognizes that Archimedes is brilliant - and also not an engineer by choice, merely to support his family; he knows Archimedes loved Alexandria and the Museum and Library there, and wrestles with how or if he can keep Archimedes in the service of his beloved city.

More discussion with spoilers )

Generally very recommended! I love Bradshaw's writing, the characters are all great and well-drawn (with human, sympathetic motivations), and is set in Classical antiquity if that's a selling point, though it doesn't rely on you knowing anything about it.
silverflight8: stacked old books (books)
I woke up to schadenfreude the other morning, and by schadenfreude I mean the voting results out of the Hugos. HA!

===========

I finished the last book of The Secrets of the Immortal Nicholas Flamel and I have to make a post about it because the ending. Actually the whole thing made me feel like it was partly a retcon and I hate retcons. (See my objections to the Mistborn book - that third book was practically a giant retcon of the entire series, especially the last scene.)

This is the first actual review I've done in a long time I think. Though I am not synopsising this book, that will stall me out. I recommend the Wikipedia article! It is somewhat spoilery though.

One sentence summary: modern-day twins discover they are subjects of a prophecy, Nicholas Flamel and other immortals battle for control of them and their destiny.

Now: ALL THE SPOILERS )

I have even more things to say but I really need to just post this for now. STAY TUNED. Also, this is not meant to mean I disliked the books; on the contrary I'm still thinking about them (and feeling vaguely empty; I keep thinking that I'll read/listen to the next chapter and then realizing I finished the book...a couple days ago).
silverflight8: stacked old books (books)
There just aren't enough hours in the day :(

I read Linda Sue Park's A Single Shard the other day, all at once without quite meaning to. I read it a long time ago so it was a return to something I half remembered.

The story is about Tree-ear, a young orphan in 12th century Korea. He lives under the bridge with his friend Crane-man in Ch'ulp'o, a village on the seaside famous for its pottery and its celadon glaze. Tree-ear is fascinated by pottery and dreams of doing it himself one day. One day he accidentally breaks one of the master potters in the village's pots, and in trying to pay back his debt becomes an assistant to him.

This is such a jewel of a book, small and succinct but nevertheless beautifully balanced and clear. It's just such a satisfying and kind book. It is a children's book, so it's short, but the characters are well drawn and the conflict relatable, sympathetic.

It is also a Newbery book that does not have an animal dying in it! I'm sorry, Where the Red Fern Grows scarred me on that medal.

==

I was on a long train ride a couple weeks ago and since I can't read on moving vehicles I tried an audiobook - I downloaded Michael Scott's The Magician, book two of his The Secrets of the Immortal Nicholas Flamel series. It was actually pretty good! The book isn't exactly the best written thing ever - and it's definitely not written with the idea of turning it into an audiobook in mind, which doesn't help! - but it's compelling and I listened with enjoyment. The narrator put on accents and did a good job of differentiating characters and giving the voices emotion and feeling; one of the reasons I probably think the book isn't that well done is because the narrator gives the dialogue emotion, which Scott has to write in afterwards, so it only feels redundant because the narrator has gotten there first. Of course it takes a lot longer and I'm better at absorbing text by reading than by listening, but it's good to listen to when doing other activities.

I've half-listened, half read the third book. The one thing I can't take is the narrator voicing female characters' screaming. It sounds so ridiculous!

Also, I've forgotten how much I love kitchen-sink fantasy. You know, the kind where all the different myths and pantheons coexist (often in urban areas!) I love seeing how authors put them all together, who has relationships with whom, how the varying levels of power all add up. And how they interpret varying myths. This series also has a lot of historical figures show up - we've already met Joan of Arc and the Count of St Germain for example. (And they're married, which initially made me squint but well, they're both immortal.)

I tried listening to another book, The Painted Girls, which is a lot darker. It starts with the woman pleading with her landlord to not throw her and her daughters out onto the streets - this is, what, 19th century France? predictably the cover has Degas on the cover as it is about dancing - and I got about thirty seconds in and had to stop, delete the file, and give up on that story. I can read it but I definitely can't listen to it.

well

Aug. 8th, 2015 12:24 am
silverflight8: bee on rose  (Default)
Still haven't watched the entirety of the debate but from the 20 mins so far that I've seen, May is doing really, really well. Out of all of them, can hold her own despite the tiny number of seats the Greens are holding. I'm impressed. Clear, knew what she was saying, cut through the bickering. And there was a lot of bickering.


Also, 100,000 people in a country with a population of THIRTY MILLION PEOPLE is not, in fact, a number you want to hinge campaign promises on. No, not all 30 million have minimum wage jobs, but come on. Not a strong point.

puzzles

Aug. 1st, 2015 02:13 pm
silverflight8: bee on rose  (Default)
I keep getting sucked in by jigsaw puzzles. I don't have floorspace for them so I have an app and it's totally engrossing. I'll open it intending to play for a few minutes and then suddenly I look up and my phone is overheating and running out of battery (lighting up the screen costs a lot of energy) and also way too much time has just passed. It's just so soothing. And kind of addicting. I'm very good at matching colours - this green is not quite as green as that green - and also, you know, it's nice to have a game where you can just brute-force your way through if you're stuck. Which you are if you assemble a puzzle with clear blue skies.

Ant-Man!

Jul. 20th, 2015 07:10 pm
silverflight8: text icon: "Go ahead! Panic! Do it now and avoid the June rush!" (Panic!)
I saw Antman the other day!

*Whew, I'm glad there was humour. It's such a cracky premise that I'd have been disappointed if they went for Serious Film.

Spoilers )
silverflight8: Barcode with silverflight8 on top and userid underneath (_support)
So a few things:

1. I'm running an exchange with jadelennox, called Lost Library (h/t to morbane who named it!) and which is for writing excerpts of works mentioned in canon, but never made. Think Averil's Atonement, that sort of thing. If you think that'd be up your alley, nominations are open! Here's the link: http://invisible-ficathon.dreamwidth.org/9228.html

2. I went to the symphony yesterday to hear Mussorgsky and it was really good! We sat near the double bass and there were like seven of them and oh boy, you can hear them good from there. I think they would make great backings for sepulchral sounds (though I think they form the backbone for most orchestral things.) I really like programmatic symphonies - where the music paints a picture - and this one was excellent. The music for the gate of Kiev is such a great way to end it! The one part I thought was weird was the one where the troubadour is serenading his beloved - some of that sounded downright creepy. There was also a Liszt concerto and I discovered that in fact I don't hate all concertos, I just really dislike Rachmaninoff. Liszt's concerto was extremely virtuostic (no surprise there!) and lively and the interaction with the symphony was really great - sometimes you get concertos where the orchestra really has to back off to let the piano play and so it's less satisfying. There was also Berlioz's Corsair, which was such a fun romp. At this point, where Berlioz goes, I'll follow...

The other thing that happened at the symphony is that a girl down a few seats fainted sometime during the piece. During the unofficial intermission so the piano could be brought out, her boyfriend (?) half-carried her out D:

I also went last week to see Verdi's Requiem which was in one word FABULOUS. It was incredibly operatic, actually, and the tenor especially did a lot of gesturing with both arms (although personally I wondered at his diction. Maybe it was because of my seat, which was almost over the orchestra on the balcony, so the sound was directed away, but a lot of his consonants were inaudible.) Also, for a requiem, it was very - irreverent? It ended with "Libera me"! Not even a single amen anywhere! The mezzo and soprano were really good, and the parts (in the sequence, I think) where they sang together they actually sounded good - sometimes you get weird friction when the vibrato interacts. And the dies irae was stunning. After its introduction at the beginning of the sequence, it was immediately recognizable when it popped up. Even without knowing it's a dies irae, you know it's heralding the apocalypse!

I wonder if there are musical settings of dies irae that preserve the meter of the poem? I guess that wouldn't leave much rhythmic freedom, but when you read it you can see how it would really bowl along. "Mors stupebit et natura/Cum resurget creatura,/Judicanti responsura." Something like the rhythmic speed of Carmina Burana.

3. I finally got over myself and re-read The Silver on the Tree (I re-read the other four much earlier, but I was putting off the last because it's the last! and then there would be no more!) and ahhhhhh. I'm not going to go into what I love about the book (I love everything, and you know the Mari Llywd is terrifying) but instead I am going to say that the part with John Rowlands SPOILERS )
silverflight8: watercolour wash with white paper stars (stars in the sky)
I caught the cherry blossoms!
click to enlarge )
silverflight8: Different shades of blue flowing on a white background like waves (Fractal)
I saw Bluebeard's Castle and Erwartung (a double-bill opera) last last week. This was going to be my catch-up post, but I think just talking about the operas is going to be quite long. I also saw Age of Ultron two weeks ago and still haven't written about it.

Bluebeard's Castle )

After the intermission I saw Erwartung, which is by Schoenberg.

Now Erwartung )

Tonally, in subject and focus and everything, they were a complete 180 from the Barber of Seville, which I watched just a few weeks before that, which I loved to pieces. Of course, since I had two tickets for each opera, I managed to take the friend who likes Wagner to Barber of Seville, and the newbie to opera to Bluebeard's Castle/Erwartung *facepalm*
silverflight8: stacked old books (books)
Somehow I have internet. The technicians aren't even scheduled to be in till Friday, I wonder if it's something to do with having just disconnected only two weeks ago. Anyway, download speed is 1/3 of what it should be but I HAVE INTERNET. Of course it's the weekend so I don't even have time-sensitive email to answer, but hey.

Before the internet reconnected I finished three books in one day (it was a slow day and some of them were half-finished).

I finally took the plunge and started reading A Princess of Mars from the beginning instead of confusedly stumbling about because I'd only read it in very disjointed chunks. See, sometimes having books on your phone for when you have five minutes to spare is a good thing, and sometimes it's a I-don't-know-what-happened thing.

Thoughts )

I'm not sure if I want to read the next book; it was a fairly fun romp, but I don't really feel any attachment to any of the characters. Though, I do love books that take place on our solar system's planets where they're habitable, current astronomy be damned (or unknown at the time)--even things like Bradbury's Venus and rain story for all that it's horrifying (are there any Bradbury stories where children are nice/good?), I think it's so cool. I just wish I liked the characters more--felt for them more.
silverflight8: watercolour wash with white paper stars (stars in the sky)
There are lots of amazing things in life, and one is being alone listening to music you chairdance to. :D
silverflight8: Different shades of blue flowing on a white background like waves (Fractal)
I reread Over Sea, Under Stone and actually really enjoyed it. I liked Will a lot better when I was a kid (Will has magic powers, Jane Barney and Simon don't) but the story is satisfying in a way I don't know how to describe. I really like the Drews, I think. And anyway, how could anyone not love a nice grail quest? I then read the Greenwitch really quickly--kind of a friction between the Drews and Will, understandable perhaps from Simon's point of view--and then the Grey King. Do you know what part I remembered, out of the whole book? The part where Bran (after explaining Welsh pronunciation) says that Will can't complain, English is full of things like dough and through and thorough. Caradog Prichard was scary; I don't remember him being so scary. It's his unpredictability and eagerness to resort to violence. I don't think he would have that much compunction about shooting humans either.

I know The Silver on the Tree's ending so this shouldn't be a surprise, but there really is a lot of fairly causal mind-wiping. There's the part in the Dark is Rising (when the rector and Paul are frightened out of their minds by the Dark howling outside), then the thing in the Greenwitch. The ending of SotT isn't comparable to the levels of AWFUL ENDING as say The Last Battle--a book I have never re-read because every time I think about it, I get angry--but the mindwipe thing. I hate that trope. It's so casual too. Will and the Old Ones are on the side of the light but Rowlands is right too--they may be "good" but it takes a long view and believes the ends justify most means.

--

I spent altogether too long yesterday and this morning trying to fix the problem of calibre hanging forever trying to get a list of books from my phone. Basically, it was trying to scan every item on my phone--and I have a lot of photos. As well as god knows what files that the various apps produce. It would take 15 minutes to scan through before I could do anything like transfer files. What fixed it in the end was I configured the settings so that calibre only scanned one single folder: the SD card Books folder. Not even the internal storage Books folder (that still made the job hang, for some reason). I'm so relieved. It now takes less than a second to scan through. VICTORY!

I also started finally assigning genres. I decided to use a hierarchical because I want to be able to pull up all the speculative fiction works or specifically high fantasy, which I nested into fantasy and then spec fic. And I gave in and created a Classic top-level category, which is only one layer deep (by language/country)--actually now that I think about it, it's mostly by language except for the English things, which are split British Isles-Canada-USA. Look, I split them up more because I read mostly English-language stuff, all right? (Also, I just can't sort too finely. It would be endless.)

email )

In other news, the insanity around the Hugos, which I am not even following but is going past my fannish view anyway, is making me cranky. Then there's the ongoing ??? with DA and EC. Aggh, things I don't want to know about the publishing/writing end! But as to the Hugos, no longer going to pick a book up because it has a Hugo.

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