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review 2017-10-13 02:57
Winterwode (The Wode #3)
Winterwode (The Wode) - J. Tullos Hennig

This series continues to impress. Just to be upfront - this series isn't a romance. Yes, there's a love story but the focus is really on Robyn and Marion's fight against the various forces that would see an end to their pagan way of life. Completing the trifecta is Gamelyn, Summer lord to Robyn's Winter. While Robyn's quest is pretty straightforward, the complications come from Gamelyn's inner turmoil and doubts and Marion's continued recovery from her ordeals in the previous book. They're both trying to find their footing, and Robyn's just trying to keep everyone together, after having lost them before. 

 

I did miss having narration, since the narrator for the first two books is so great. He had a way of reading the passive voice structure of some of the sections and sentences that still gave them energy. It took some time getting used to it, but once I did the story moved along flawlessly. 

 

This is a bridge book to the next trilogy of books in the series, but there's plenty here to keep my interested, and it does have a beginning, middle, end. It wouldn't stand on its own though, as you really do have to have read the first two books first, and while there's no cliffhanger per se, it's obviously a "to be continued" kind of ending. 

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review 2017-10-07 18:29
Billy Budd, Bartleby, and Other Stories, by Herman Melville
Billy Budd, Bartleby, and Other Stories (Penguin Classics Edition) - Peter M. Coviello,Herman Melville

Well that took me long enough! I've been desperate to read some horror, but these Melville stories have been hit and miss, his prose sometimes impenetrable. This is my second encounter with Melville (I read Moby Dick some years ago), and it's been a while. I was prompted to pick up this collection of his shorter works by recent references to both "Bartleby" and Billy Budd.

 

I began with "Bartleby, the Scrivener," which turned out to be my favorite. Melville is an excellent comic writer, and this portrait of a law office made me laugh out loud. Yet it's also incredibly poignant. The narrator is a lawyer who hires Bartleby as a scrivener (a copier); Bartleby joins three other employees, hilariously nicknamed Turkey, Nippers, and Ginger Nut. Bartleby goes about his copying, but when the lawyer asks him to read aloud his copy to proofread, he simply says he "prefers not to." From this point he "prefers" not to do all sorts of things, including leave when his boss attempts to fire him. The lawyer is non-confrontational and fancies himself a good man to the point where he actually changes the location of his office to avoid dealing with Bartleby (who is also found to be living there) further. Yet the problem of Bartleby persists.

 

Why does Bartleby "prefer not" to comply with requests made of him? Melville does not offer a black-and-white answer. The introduction likens Bartleby to a Wall Street occupier, someone who occupies spaces of capitalism without using them for that end, but the quote I found most insightful describes Bartleby as a man of preferences rather than assumptions. How much does our daily behavior and actions depend upon assumptions? As with other Melville works, a queer reading of the text is also possible: the relationship between the lawyer and Bartleby involves exchanges and behavior not dissimilar to those made in romantic partnerships.

 

The stories I liked next best were "The Encantadas, or Enchanted Isles" and "The Paradise of Bachelors and the Tartarus of Maids." The former is a series of sketches by a sailor who has been to the Galapagos Islands; some sketches are more engaging than others. The language in the first few is lovely as Melville describes the hostile, lonely island landscape. The latter is a pair of tales told by the same American narrator, first in London then New England--a lawyer's club and paper mill, respectively. These are apparently based on Melville's own travels. I preferred the second piece, which I read as feminist and potentially Marxist. There's some fantastic prose detailing the paper machine, the women, and their work. 

 

There are five other stories, but the last I'll mention is the novella, Billy Budd, which Melville was working on at the time of his death. It's become key evidence for those who feel Melville may have been bisexual or simply held progressive views on gender and sexuality. Billy Budd is a "Handsome Sailor" who is conscripted to serve on a British naval ship. Everyone likes him, as he's pretty and good-natured. But one (also good looking) sailor envies his beauty and goodness, and it leads to tragedy. The most interesting thing about this tale for me was the fact that this is a story often told about women, to illustrate their vanity, jealousies, and pettiness or cattiness. In this context, in a time after two serious mutinies and during hostilities between Britain and France, such personal jealousy results in catastrophe.

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review 2017-09-29 23:14
Gilgamesh: A New English Version
Gilgamesh: A New English Version - Stephen Mitchell,Anonymous

Almost 4800 years after his reign in the city of Uruk, Gilgamesh is still remembered not only in his native land but now around the world even though his native language is long forgotten.  In Stephen Mitchell’s English verse translation of Gilgamesh, the story of the demigod’s calming friendship with Enkidu and his quest to avoid his mortality.

 

The tale of Gilgamesh is not just about the king of Uruk, it is the tale of Enkidu and his civilizing by Shamhat, the friendship between Enkidu and Gilgamesh as well as their adventures, and finally the death of Enkidu that sends Gilgamesh in his vain search to stop death by asking the one man whom the gods made immortal.  Yet while several aspects of Gilgamesh are similar to later tales of Greek and Germanic origin, there are clear differences as well especially when it comes to Gilgamesh expressing his fear in the face of very dangers and ends with accepting his own mortality in the end.

 

Unfortunately, the story of Gilgamesh that we have is not as complete as it was 4000 years ago.  Several sections are fragmentary which Mitchell had to work around to make the book read well and keeping true to the narrative; in this he did a wonderful job.  Yet, in a book that has around 300 pages only 123 covers the epic itself which while not dishonest is surprising about how short the tale is and how much analysis Mitchell provides the reader before and notes after.

 

Gilgamesh: A New English Version is a fantastic book both in the tale of the heroic demigod king and the translation done by Stephen Mitchell.

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review 2017-09-29 13:13
I must watch this author
Sacred Stones of Ireland - Christine Zuc... Sacred Stones of Ireland - Christine Zucchelli

Another excellent read alongside the book on Irish Trees, books I must buy for my own library as they're useful travel guides to the unusual to be found in Ireland, stones that have been associated with myth and legend and unusual goings on abound in Ireland.

 

I do know that there were a few ogham stones removed from places (including my home place) by overzealous Victorians and brought to museums because the people of that place didn't value them enough or hadn't been educated on what was interesting about those stones, disconnecting them from the heritage they once had and the stories that some others may have had about them.

 

Unlike many similar books of the past the author is quite respectful of non-christian religions, both modern and ancient.

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review 2017-09-29 04:31
Splinterpoint by Regina St. Claire
Splinterpoint - Regina St. Claire

This book is C-wA_A-a-Z-YY!

Feels like Times Square, honestly :D 

 

~~~

The sheer amount of cultural references is mind-boggling.
Praetor Judy made it into this book :)

 

 

 

And I kept comparing Kol'daar to Cass (no actual mention of Supernatural, darn it!) - a bad-ass when he wants to be, but cute and adorable and kind and sometimes clueless. 

 

 

Metaaaaaahlll!!!



Yes, Ozzy made it, too! And the Dove! 



And, damn, talking about Mr. Crowley on that album!



Anyway, the story was heading for full 11 stars when things started going south around the last 20%, or after the Final Battle to be precise. Maybe during it's final half-hour, too. That's when the author quit crazy and spontaneous, turned on a drone and started explaining and over-explaining and then ex-plai-ning-to-death and then some just to drive the final nail in. 

After the report filing at the gingerbread castle I skimmed through the rest of the pages. The story got sappy and it dragged out for more than it had to. 

In the end I was left feeling a bit unbalanced. The badassery turned to sap, the unpredictable and unexplained turned into dissecting everything under a microscope. I really didn't care about the Song or Music Magic or how Nunzio's disability worked.

 

 

ALSO - The Burrito Incident. Someone specifically targeted Nunzio. Why? Never explained.

So, I am cutting 6.5 stars off for all the un- and over-explained instances and giving this book 4.5 stars.

 

Recommended :D

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