Tuesday 29 December 2020

Video: The Impostor

Came across this hilarious video by Tom Ska last week. He's rated it 12+ for mild gore and strobing lights.
It's about the robot uprising in the future.

Tuesday 15 December 2020

History Book Review: Paris, 1200 by John Baldwin

Pros: a lot of detailed information, a good amount of images

Cons: would have liked more information regarding festivities

The book focuses on the events in and around Paris around the year 1200. Since there aren’t a lot of documents detailing that specific year, the author pulls information from the decades before and afterwards. After the prologue there are 6 chapters and an epilogue. The chapters are: The City and its Bourgeoisie; The face of Pierre the Chanter and Philip Augustus and the Hidden Visages of Women; King Philip and his Government; The Church, Clergy and Religious Life; The Schools; and Delight and Pain.

I found the first two chapters a little boring, being very detailed explanations of the various important nobles and churchmen of the day. I did enjoy the section on women, though due to a paucity of source material it’s less about actual women and more about sculptures depicting allegorical women (like Ecclesia and Synagoga). The government chapter was hit and miss with regards to my personal interest though if you’re researching bureaucracy in the middle ages, it’s an excellent chapter. The later chapters were very interesting for me, particularly the sections on how mass was performed and the seating arrangement in the choir at Notre-Dame de Paris. For most of the book the author fudged the year, bringing in information from as early as the 1180s and ending around 1215, with the fourth Laterin council. I was a little disappointed that the author stuck to the single year when talking about holidays and festivals, as the city was under papal interdict for most of the year and so wasn’t allowed to celebrate Easter, weddings or other major festivities. Christmas celebrations got a minor explanation but again, I’d have liked more.

There’s a handful of black and white images, including some nice panels from a Bible Moralisée made around that time, and some stained glass and sculpture photographs.

Paris is a fascinating city and it’s cool reading a book dedicated to a single year in it. There’s a wealth of minor details regarding life at the time (like the debate over whether prostitutes should be allowed to donate a window in the cathedral), and at the end of the book I felt like I had a fair grasp on what life was like there.

If you like the middle ages and want more detailed information about city life, universities, and government, it’s a good book.

Tuesday 8 December 2020

Video: Lord of the Rings theme song with lights

I saw this video on youtube and had to share it. The Lord of the Rings theme is a wonderful piece of music, and the light effects (making it look like the game Rock Band) is fun. The pianist is Patrik Pietschmann, who has a lot of other theme songs on their channel.


Tuesday 1 December 2020

Books received in October and November 2020

Many thanks again to the publishers who sent me book the last few months.

Across the Green Grass Fields by Seanan McGuire - I've enjoyed the other books in the Wayward Children series, so I'm anticipating loving this. While they are interconnected stories, many of them can be read as standalones, and as novellas they're quick reads when you're pressed for time. Out January 12, 2021.

A young girl discovers a portal to a land filled with centaurs and unicorns in Seanan McGuire's Across the Green Grass Fields, a standalone tale in the Hugo and Nebula Award-wining Wayward Children series.

“Welcome to the Hooflands. We’re happy to have you, even if you being here means something’s coming.”

Regan loves, and is loved, though her school-friend situation has become complicated, of late.

When she suddenly finds herself thrust through a doorway that asks her to "Be Sure" before swallowing her whole, Regan must learn to live in a world filled with centaurs, kelpies, and other magical equines—a world that expects its human visitors to step up and be heroes.

But after embracing her time with the herd, Regan discovers that not all forms of heroism are equal, and not all quests are as they seem…

The Conductors by Nicole Glover - I've read this and it is fantastic. It reminded me of Delia's Shadow by Jaime Lee Moyer, which I loved. The characters were fun. I loved seeing a married couple working together and the community of friends they rely on. Out in March 2021.

A compelling debut by a new voice in fantasy fiction, The Conductors features the magic and mystery of Jim Butcher’s Dresden Files series written with the sensibility and historical setting of Octavia Butler’s Kindred. Meet Hetty Rhodes, a magic-user and former conductor on the Underground Railroad who now solves crimes in post–Civil War Philadelphia.

As a conductor on the Underground Railroad, Hetty Rhodes helped usher dozens of people north with her wits and magic. Now that the Civil War is over, Hetty and her husband, Benjy, have settled in Philadelphia, solving murders and mysteries that the white authorities won’t touch. When they find one of their friends slain in an alley, Hetty and Benjy bury the body and set off to find answers. But the secrets and intricate lies of the elites of Black Philadelphia only serve to dredge up more questions. To solve this mystery, they will have to face ugly truths all around them, including the ones about each other.

Honeycomb by Joanne M. Harris - I was sent an Advance Reader Copy (ARC), which is an unfinished version of the book. So some of the images are still pencil drawings. I'm surprised that in addition to full page illustrations there are also several half page ones that wrap around the text. It's going to be a beautiful book. I love fairy tales and should enjoy the collection. This comes out in May, 2021.

The beauty of stories; you never know where they will take you. Full of dreams and nightmares, Honeycomb is an entrancing mosaic novel of original fairy tales from bestselling author Joanne M. Harris and legendary artist Charles Vess in a collaboration that’s been years in the making. The toymaker who wants to create the perfect wife; the princess whose heart is won by words, not actions; the tiny dog whose confidence far outweighs his size; and the sinister Lacewing King who rules over the Silken Folk. These are just a few of the weird and wonderful creatures who populate Joanne Harris’s first collection of fairy tales.

Dark, gripping, and brilliantly imaginative, these magical tales will soon have you in their thrall in a uniquely illustrative edition.

The tales are beautifully illustrated by renowned illustrator Charles Vess (StardustSandmanThe Books of Earthsea).