Thursday, 22 September 2022

Shout-Out: The Undertaking of Hart and Mercy by Megan Bannen

"A uniquely charming mixture of whimsy and the macabre that completely won me over. If you ever wished for an adult romance that felt like Howl's Moving Castle, THIS IS THAT BOOK."
—Helen Hoang, author of The Kiss Quotient

Hart is a marshal, tasked with patrolling the strange and magical wilds of Tanria. It’s an unforgiving job, and Hart’s got nothing but time to ponder his loneliness.

Mercy never has a moment to herself. She’s been single-handedly keeping Birdsall & Son Undertakers afloat in defiance of sullen jerks like Hart, who seems to have a gift for showing up right when her patience is thinnest.

After yet another exasperating run-in with Mercy, Hart finds himself penning a letter addressed simply to “A Friend”. Much to his surprise, an anonymous letter comes back in return, and a tentative friendship is born.

If only Hart knew he’s been baring his soul to the person who infuriates him most—Mercy. As the dangers from Tanria grow closer, so do the unlikely correspondents. But can their blossoming romance survive the fated discovery that their pen pals are their worst nightmares—each other?

Tuesday, 16 August 2022

Blog Vacation

I'll be taking a month or so off for a blog vacation. I've got a few time consuming projects I've been working on and want to focus on those exclusively for a bit. I will be back with new content mid-September.

Friday, 12 August 2022

Shout-Out: Sanctuary by Andi C. Buchanan

Morgan’s home is a sanctuary for ghosts.


The once-grand, now dilapidated old house they live in has become a refuge for their found family—Morgan's partner Araminta, an artist with excellent dress sense; Theo, a ten-year-old with an excess of energy; quiet telekinesthetic pensioner Denny—as well as the ghosts who live alongside them. All people who once needed sanctuary for their queer, neurodivergent selves.

Now they offer that safety to the dead as well as the living.

When a collection of ghosts trapped in old bottles are delivered to their door, something from the past is unleashed. A man who once collected ghosts - a man who should have died centuries before - suddenly has the house under his control. Morgan must trust their own abilities, and their hard-won sense of self, to save their home, their family, and the woman they love.

Tuesday, 9 August 2022

Not a Review: From Age to Age by Edward Foley

This isn't a proper review because I only had time to read select chapters of interest.

When I did my degree in medieval studies I learned about languages, manuscripts, church architecture, drama, literature and philosophy. It shocks me now that not one professor suggested learning about Catholicism and how the church's liturgy affected architecture, etc. The first inkling I had that I'd missed something massively important was during my graduation mass (the first time I attended mass), and so many things suddenly clicked. Recently I've been trying to plug that gap in my knowledge and came across From Age to Age: How Christians Have Celebrated the Eucharist.

The book has an introduction followed by 7 chapters: 
1. Emerging Christianity: The First Century
2. The Domestic Church: 100-313
3. The Rise of the Roman Church: 313-750
4. Frankish Domination: 750-1073
5. The Prelude to Reform: 1073-1517
6. Revolt, Reform and Rigidity: 1517-1903
7. The Return to Change: 1903 and Beyond
The book concludes with a glossary and bibliography.

Within each chapter the author subdivides the information into categories for architecture, music, books, and vessels for administering the Eucharist.

The book explained terms I've seen for years without properly understanding them (for specific books and liturgical vessels in particular), as well as giving some indications as to how the space in a church was used over time (the development of the choir, the slow exclusion of the congregation from singing/participating).

If you don't know the difference between a missal and a breviary, or what a pyx is, this is an easy to read primer that covers the whole of Catholicism. It doesn't go into a lot of detail, but it gives a good foundation.

Sunday, 31 July 2022

Books Received in July 2022

Many thanks to Angry Robot for sending me an advance copy of:

Antimatter Blues by Edward Ashton - This is the follow-up to Mickey7, which I really enjoyed. I'm curious to see where the series goes.

Edward Ashton's Antimatter Blues is the thrilling follow up to Mickey7 in which an expendable heads out to explore new terrain for human habitation.


Summer has come to Niflheim. The lichens are growing, the six-winged bat-things are chirping, and much to his own surprise, Mickey Barnes is still alive—that last part thanks almost entirely to the fact that Commander Marshall believes that the colony’s creeper neighbors are holding an antimatter bomb, and that Mickey is the only one who’s keeping them from using it. Mickey’s just another colonist now. Instead of cleaning out the reactor core, he spends his time these days cleaning out the rabbit hutches. It’s not a bad life.

It’s not going to last.

It may be sunny now, but winter is coming. The antimatter that fuels the colony is running low, and Marshall wants his bomb back. If Mickey agrees to retrieve it, he’ll be giving up the only thing that’s kept his head off of the chopping block. If he refuses, he might doom the entire colony. Meanwhile, the creepers have their own worries, and they’re not going to surrender the bomb without getting something in return. Once again, Mickey finds the fate of two species resting in his hands. If something goes wrong this time, though, he won’t be coming back.

Out March 14, 2023

Friday, 29 July 2022

Shout-Out: Sons of Darkness by Gourav Mohanty

SOME BALLADS ARE INKED IN BLOOD.

Bled dry by violent confrontations with the Magadhan Empire, the Mathuran Republic simmers on the brink of oblivion. The Republic’s Leaders, Krishna and Satyabhama, have put their plans in motion within and beyond its blood-soaked borders, to protect it from annihilation. But they will soon discover that neither gold nor alliances last forever.

They are, however, not the only players in this game.

Mati, Pirate-Princess of Kalinga, must mend her ways if she is to be a good wife. But old habits die hard, especially when one habitually uses murder to settle scores. Karna, the gifted son of a lowborn charioteer, hopes to bury his brutal past, but finds that life is not generous in offering second chances. The crippled hero-turned-torturer Shakuni struggles in the maze of daggers, that is politics, leaving little time for him to plot the revenge he craves.

Alongside a cast of sinister queens, naive kings, pious assassins and predatory priests, these dubious heroes will converge where the Son of Darkness is prophesied to rise and break the World, even as forgotten Gods prepare to play their hand.

Tuesday, 19 July 2022

Book Review: The Fabric of Civilization: How Textiles Made the World by Virginia Postrel

The book consists of seven chapters with a preface and afterward. Each chapter deals with a particular part of fabric production: Fiber, Thread, Cloth, Dye, Traders, Consumers, and Innovators. Each chapter starts in ancient times and ends in modern ones, showing how things have changed over time.

Fabric is one of those things that is so ubiquitous and important for life, and yet is also so ordinary and cheap nowadays that we simply forget about it. The book emphasizes that for most of human history fabric was at the forefront of thought. The amount of time and effort that’s gone into clothing and cloth for other purposes (sails, table coverings, curtains, blankets, etc.) is astronomical.

The book begins with the idea that modern people look at ancient art dealing with women and see a spindle and think, ah, this is a domestic scene. But we forget that the spindle as a means of turning fibres into thread was the start of production, necessary for the home, yes, but also an important industry. Millions of women over the course of history have spun thread and made cloth, whether of flax, cotton, wool, or silk. It was constant work because cloth is always needed. The book also shows how spinning thread was undervalued, partly because it was women’s work, but also because the higher the cost of thread, the higher the cost of cloth. We do the same thing today, keeping the final cost of clothing low so the rich can buy a lot of it, even if that means exploiting the workers who sew the cloth into clothing.

My interests are in ancient and medieval history so I didn’t expect the modern sections to interest me, but they were also fascinating. Learning about how cotton plants were cross bread and a fluke mutation created the cotton plants bred today was neat.

This is an excellent book dealing with a topic that affects everyone, but to which we give entirely too little thought.