Tuesday, May 10, 2016

The Importance of Food and Drink in Fiction (A Very Pretentious Title)

This whole piece got started by an idle discussion between my husband and I about food in the Lord of the Rings. After that, I just started noticing all of the references to food, food preparation and meals in the books I was reading. It's not an exhaustive survey, just what I've noticed recently and some examples I remember reading in the past.

The Importance of Food and Drink in Fiction

Food and drink. The two are integral to every society I can think of or have read about in real life or in fiction. From a meeting in a coffee shop to a lavish feast being served up in front of the main characters, it can range from an elaborate background setting to something far more integral to the plot, or the characters.

The familiarity or strangeness of the foods being served or made by the characters can act as a barometer to the intended familiarity or strangeness of the worlds that the books are set in. A few examples might be the foods that the hobbits eat in J.R.R. Tolkien's The Lord of the Rings (apples, beer, bacon and mushrooms for example), meant to represent our own Europe in a distant past, or perhaps the foods from Pern (Klah, wherry, packtail, redfruit, tubers), the world created by Anne McCaffrey, an alien planet. Some authors have taken a middle ground, where some of the foods are our own, but perhaps some of the seasonings or drinks are unfamiliar – the direction taken by Elizabeth Moon in the Paksenarrion's World books (cheese, onions, stews, but also sib and asar).

Done well, the use of food in a novel can be a way of involving the reader's senses into the story through their own experiences and memories. To use one of Mercedes Lackey's books as an example, in Magic's Price there is a scene where the main character is enjoying a piece of bread fresh out of the oven with butter melting into it. Who doesn't know the taste and smell of that? Or the smell of a large pot of soup on the stove?

Some books use food and drink to illustrate elements of the characters personalities, as Mercedes Lackey did in The Fire Rose. Rosalind Hawkins' preference for unladylike sandwiches went along with her other unladylike interests in reading, history and languages, as well as her desire for a university education. Another Mercedes Lackey novel, By The Sword opens with the main character, Kerowyn, supervising the preparations for her brother's marriage feast. Really, her place should have been out participating in the feast itself though. However, for various reasons she's in the kitchen, which suggests in hind-sight that she's something of an outsider at the Keep – which is proven throughout the book. Then, going back to Tolkien and The Hobbit for another example, you have Beorn, the skin-changer, who could also take on the form of a great bear. He lived, according to Gandalf, mostly on cream and honey, which you might say reflected his other form as a bear.

Outside of restaurant scenes, how meal and food preparation is presented to us as the audience can also say a lot about the worlds the characters are inhabiting. If we only see perfectly done, finished meals presented to the characters, it suggests to me one of two things. Either they are upper-class with servants to do all the work, or else the world is a high-tech one a la Star Trek with its replicators to do most of the day-to-day cooking. It's not only how the foods are presented, but also the ingredients used, however – venison, hare, rabbit, onions etc all say to me “good, solid, homey food”. On the other hand, eels and other exotic dishes are more likely to suggest that the meals are designed to be impressive, and often expensive.

Eating and drinking is also very much a social thing to do. Especially when it comes to historical fiction and fantasy, though it's still very prevalent in more modern settings. How often do you see the characters agreeing to meet up for a drink? These days it would be a coffee and a muffin. In historical fiction it's more likely to be wine or scotch (for men) and tea and biscuits for women. One of the biggest set-pieces as well is the great feast, with all of it's attendant preparations and rituals. This is one that you see most often in the historical fiction and fantasy realms – either from the preparation side as in By The Sword, or from the perspective of one of the diners – think of some of the feasts in Diana Gabaldon's books for example.

Continuing with a further look into the third book of Diana Gabaldon's Outlander series, nearly every time characters are meeting socially there is food involved: Ginger biscuits in one of the 1960's scenes. Sherry or port for the men in the 18th century scenes – or, hare pie or a savory in the same time period in Scotland. Diana Gabaldon is an author who isn't going to shy away from the kitchen and food preparations in her books, and it adds so much richness to her writings.

Broadening out, food, or the lack of may well be a plot-point in and of itself. In J.R.R. Tolkien's The Hobbit, the prevalence or scarcity of food is one of the keys to the characters' emotional states. The less food they have, the more irritable and angry they get – and several times, they run out of food entirely, or believe they are about to, adding more tension to the story. Similarly in the early books of the Change series by S. M. Stirling (Dies The Fire and The Protector's War) we see the lengths that the characters will or will not go to to get food due to the sudden scarcity thanks to the Change, and the meals are certainly more than a background setting. Another example of the lengths that characters will go to in order to get food is in Suzanne Collins Hunger Games trilogy where teenagers are willing to increase their chances at being drawn for Tribute in order to get food for themselves and their families. Not to mention what they're willing to consider food!

Similarly, we see the cycle of the year shown through the foods and quantities of foods available as the seasons change in S. M. Stirling's books, and more subtly in the Outlander books. From seasonal feasts to scarcity, it's all there and it has an effect on the characters lives and actions. I know that after reading the early Change books, I have a greater appreciation for the humble backyard vegetable garden and it's potential.

A Feast Of Ice And Fire: The Official Game Of Thrones Companion CookbookAnd now, there's an interesting twist on the food in novels/TV-series that's growing: the novel-themed cookbook. I only know of a few so far, but they're definitely interesting. The first one I saw came out around 2012, for the Game of Thrones TV series, called A Feast Of Ice And Fire: The Official Game Of Thrones Companion Cookbook. It has it's own unique twist, in that the authors took known medieval recipes and modernized them. The Hunger Games has also inspired a few cookbooks, although I'm not sure just how inspiring some of what the characters are known to have been eating was.

The Outlander Kitchen CookbookThe one that I want to read and test the most though is the Outlander Kitchen cookbook. Due out this summer, it looks like a good one, based on the blog of the same name. Diana Gabaldon has included many a dish both humble and extravagant, old and modern through her series of books, and the author of the Outlander Kitchen started a blog inspired by the recipes, which has since turned into a book. However, as far as I can tell, the blog is still being updated as well, and what's more, all of the recipes I've seen there look absolutely delicious!

Wednesday, May 4, 2016

Tolkien's Annotated Map of Middle-Earth

I've seen a couple of articles this morning about the map of Middle-Earth that J.R.R. Tolkien annotated, including this one over at IO9. It's definitely neat, but I really hope that someday soon there will be a large-scale print version (preferably with notes) made available to those of us who can't go to see the original.

The largest size image I've found so far online is this one. It's good, but I can't read any of the annotations in the image. Part of that, I will admit is because the writing is a challenge in itself. However, many of the notations are quite faint and small - even when zoomed in on the image.

The Tolkien Society article on the topic.
The Bodleian Library article on their acquisition of the map.

The Tolkien Collection, 2016 Version

Back in 2011, Anassa gave me the idea to take out my Tolkien books and stack them up on the table. Made for a rather impressive pile too. The table then seated four. Now, it takes one side of a snooker table to display the collection. The last few years have been good ones for the Tolkien collector, with new books (not to mention new edition of his books) being released every year.

I did another list in 2013, which was the first time I used the snooker table to hold it, and now it's time for a new one.

To get the whole thing in one frame, I had to back away so far that none of the titles can be read easily in the photo. In general though, there's the entirety of the History of Middle-Earth series stacked to the far left of the photo followed by the newer books of Tolkien's poetry. Above those we have the audio books, two Hobbit Blu-rays, Mr. Bliss, the Art of The Hobbit and The Art of the Lord of the Rings (two absolutely gorgeous books). Next to that is most of the mass-market sized Tolkien books and then the Black boxed set and the white set (still in it's shrink-wrap). Just to one side of the middle of the stack are my Verlyn Flieger books on Tolkien, the Lord of the Rings movies, some art books, and the final item in the display is the J.R.R. Tolkien Companion and Guide two book set.

The books:
  1. The Lord of the Rings by J.R.R. Tolkien
    One volume edition, illustrated by Alan Lee. (Middle of the bottom row)
  2. The Lord of the Rings by J.R.R. Tolkien
    One volume, movie cover edition. (Horizontally in the middle of the stack beside the Alan Lee illustrated Lord of the Rings)
  3. The Lord of the Rings 50th Anniversary Box Set by J.R.R. Tolkien
    The white box set including the Lord of the Rings Readers Companion by Wayne G. Hammond and Christina Scull. Still in the shrink wrap.
  4. The Lord of the Rings box set by J.R.R. Tolkien
    The black box set. (above the white set)
  5. The Lord of the Rings
    The BBC Radio Play edition adapted by Brian Sibley. Each of the major characters is done by a different actor, including Ian Holm (Frodo), Peter Woodthorpe (Gollum) and Michael Horden (Gandalf). (About the only thing not pictured. I realized too late that it's upstairs)
  6. The Fellowship of the Ring by J.R.R. Tolkien
  7. The Two Towers by J.R.R. Tolkien
  8. The Return of the King by J.R.R. Tolkien
  9. The Return of the King by J.R.R. Tolkien
  10. The Annotated Hobbit by J.R.R. Tolkien. Annotated by Douglas A. Anderson
    Lovely design with two columns: one for the text and the other for notes, including excerpts from letters, possible inspirations etc. I'm a bit ashamed to admit I have yet to fully read this edition, but it's so full of information that it really is a must have.
  11. The Hobbit by J.R.R. Tolkien
    Illustrated by Alan Lee
  12. The Hobbit by J.R.R. Tolkien
    Mass market edition.
  13. The Hobbit Graphic Novel
  14. Roverandom by J.R.R. Tolkien
    Black edition.
  15. Roverandom by J.R.R. Tolkien
    Illustrated Hardcover edition, with the illustrations being by J.R.R. Tolkien too. Library discard.
  16. The Hobbit by J.R.R. Tolkien
    Hardcover, with illustrations from the Rankin-Bass animated movie. The first edition of The Hobbit that I ever read. A bit awkwardly sized, but has a lot of sentimental value.
  17. The Hobbit
    BBC Radio Play edition
  18. The Silmarillion by J.R.R. Tolkien
    Hardcover, illustrated by Ted Naismith
  19. The Silmarillion by J.R.R. Tolkien
  20. The Silmarillion by J.R.R. Tolkien
    Library discard hardcover
  21. Sir Gawain and the Green Knight, Pearl, Sir Orfeo translated by J.R.R. Tolkien
    My favourite translation of Sir Gawain and the Green Knight - Tolkien seems to have kept the meter and rhyme scheme very well.
  22. Tales from The Perilous Realm b J.R.R. Tolkien
    Made up of Leaf by Niggle, The Adventures of Tom Bombadil, Farmer Giles of Ham and Smith of Wootton Major. Illustrated by Alan Lee
  23. On Fairy Stories by J.R.R. Tolkien
    Edited by Verlyn Flieger and Douglas A. Anderson. Included commentary and notes
  24. The Adventures of Tom Bombadil edited by Christina Scull and Wayne G. Hammond. Illustrated by Pauline Baynes
  25. Tree and Leaf by J.R.R. Tolkien
  26. Farmer Giles of Ham by J.R.R. Tolkien
    Edited by Wayne G. Hammond and Christina Scull.
  27. The Tolkien Reader by J.R.R. Tolkien
  28. The Children of Hurin by J.R.R. Tolkien
    Edited by Christopher Tolkien
  29. The Children of Hurin by J.R.R. Tolkien
    Audiobook read by Christopher Lee.
  30. Sigurd and Gudrun by J.R.R. Tolkien
    Edited by Christopher Tolkien
  31.  The Fall of Arthur by J.R.R. Tolkien
    Edited by Christopher Tolkien 
  32. Beowulf by J.R.R. Tolkien
    Edited by Christopher Tolkien.
  33. The Story of Kullervo by J.R.R. Tolkien
    Edited by Christopher Tolkien
  34. Tales from the Perilous Realm
    BBC Radio Play edition.
  35. Mr. Bliss by J.R.R. Tolkien
    Lovely slip-cased facsimile edition.
  36. The Father Christmas Letters by J.R.R. Tolkien
  37. Smith of Wootton Major by J.R.R. Tolkien
    Edited by Verlyn Flieger
  38. Finn and Hengist by J.R.R. Tolkien
  39. The Ancrene Wisse edited by J.R.R. Tolkien
    One expensive book! In some form of Middle English, I think with some latin mixed in. I can't read it at all. Early English Text Society edition.
  40. Bilbo's Last Song by J.R.R. Tolkien
    Illustrated by Pauline Baynes
  41. The Monsters and the Critics and Other Essays by J.R.R. Tolkien
  42. The Unfinished Tales by J.R.R. Tolkien. Edited by Christopher Tolkien
    Same cover style as the Black box set of the Lord of the Rings.
  43. The Unfinished Tales by J.R.R. Tolkien. Edited by Christopher Tolkien
  44. The Book of Lost Tales One by J.R.R. Tolkien. Edited by Christopher Tolkien
  45. The Book of Lost Tales Two by J.R.R. Tolkien. Edited by Christopher Tolkien
  46. The Lays of Beleriand by J.R.R. Tolkien. Edited by Christopher Tolkien
  47. The Shaping of Middle Earth by J.R.R. Tolkien. Edited by Christopher Tolkien
  48. The Lost Road by J.R.R. Tolkien. Edited by Christopher Tolkien
  49. The Return of the Shadow by J.R.R. Tolkien. Edited by Christopher Tolkien
    The first book covering the draft versions of The Lord of the Rings. Also, the first book in the History Of Middle Earth series that I ever read.
  50. The Treason of Isengard by J.R.R. Tolkien. Edited by Christopher Tolkien
    The second book about the Lord of the Rings
  51. The War of the Ring by J.R.R. Tolkien. Edited by Christopher Tolkien
    The third book in the set about the Lord of the Rings.
  52. Sauron Defeated by J.R.R. Tolkien. Edited by Christopher Tolkien
    Only part of the book covers the end of the documents about the Lord of the Rings. The rest holds one of my other favourite unfinished stories by Tolkien though: The Notion Club Papers. I think this copy also has some holes punched in the pages  (from the metal bookmark I stopped using as soon as I discovered it was doing that).
  53. Morgoth's Ring by J.R.R. Tolkien. Edited by Christopher Tolkien
  54. The War of the Jewels by J.R.R. Tolkien. Edited by Christopher Tolkien
  55. Peoples of Middle Earth by J.R.R. Tolkien. Edited by Christopher Tolkien
    Only one of the History of Middle-Earth books I have in hardcover.
  56. A Middle English Reader and Vocabulary by Kenneth Sisam and J.R.R. Tolkien
    IIRC, Kenneth Sisam was one of Tolkien's tutors.
  57. The Tolkien Family Album by John and Priscilla Tolkien
  58. The Letters of J.R.R. Tolkien edited by Humphrey Carpenter
    Hardcover edition
  59. The Letters of J.R.R. Tolkien edited by Humphrey Carpenter
    With the improved index.
  60. J.R.R. Tolkien: A Biography by Humphrey Carpenter
    This is the gold standard biography I believe.
  61. The Inklings by Humphrey Carpenter
  62. Tolkien by Raymond Edwards
  63. The J.R.R. Tolkien Companion and Guide by Wayne G. Hammond and Christina Scull
    Slip-cased set of two volumes: the Chronology and the Reader's Guide. Another jaw-dropper of a set, and one I consider to be a must-have.
  64. The Lord of the Rings Reader's Companion by Wayne G. Hammond and Christina Scull
  65. The Art Of The Hobbit by Wayne G. Hammond and Christina Scull.
    The artwork that J.R.R. Tolkien did for The Hobbit, both during the drafts and for publication gathered together in one place. Beautifully done in a lovely slipcase.
  66. The Art of the Lord of the Rings by Wayne G. Hammond and Christina Scull. 
    Follows the same format as the Art of the Hobbit. Absolutely spectacular!
  67. J.R.R. Tolkien: Artist And Illustrator by Wayne G. Hammond and Christina Scull
    About Tolkien's own artwork over the years from his childhood on. Stunning, and has insights into Tolkien and his writings as well.
  68. The Complete Guide to Middle-Earth by Robert Foster
  69. The Complete Guide To Middle Earth by Robert Foster
    Dates from university where I was keeping a copy handy for between class editing of my website.
  70. Tolkien and the Great War by John Garth
  71. A Question of Time: Tolkien's Road To Faerie by Verlyn Flieger
  72. Interrupted Music: The Making of Middle-Earth by Verlyn Flieger
  73. Splintered Light: Langage and Logos by Verlyn Flieger
  74. Green Suns And Faerie by Verlyn Flieger. 
  75. Meditations on Middle-Earth edited by Karen Haber
    Illustrated by John Howe. A number of authors writing on how Middle-Earth and J.R.R. Tolkien influenced them.
  76. Master of Middle Earth by Paul Koch
  77. A Look Behind The Lord of the Rings by Lin Carter
  78. A Tolkien Compass by Jared Lobdel
  79. Tolkien's Legendarium Essays on The History of Middle-earth (Contributions to the Study of Science Fiction and Fantasy) edited by Verlyn Flieger and Carl F. Hostetter
    Essays that focus on the History of Middle Earth series. Another expensive book (especially for its size).
  80. The History of The Hobbit: Mr. Baggins by John D. Ratelliff
  81. The History of The Hobbit: Return to Bag-End by John D. Rateliff
  82. The Journeys of Frodo by Barbara Stratchey
    Maps and distances focused on the descriptions given in The Lord of the Rings. Rather a neat book to have, if an awkward size.
  83. Atlas of Middle-Earth by Karen Wynn Fonstaad
  84. Understanding The Lord of the Rings by William Ready
  85. Ring of Words: Tolkien and the Oxford English Dictionary by Peter Gilliver, Jeremy Marshall and Edmun Weiner
  86. The Road Goes Ever On: A Song Cycle: Music By Donald Swann and Poems by J.R.R. Tolkien
    This is one that I`d really like to hear some day. I can`t read music, so I don`t fully appreciate the book at all.
  87. J.R.R. Tolkien: The Man Who Created The Lord of the Rings by Michael Coren
  88. Understanding The Lord Of The Rings: The Best Of Tolkien Criticism Edited by Rose A. Zimbardo and Neil D. Isaacs
  89. J.R.R. Tolkien by Robley Evans
    To be honest I cringe at this book - the errors are glaring.
  90. Tolkien: A Celebration edited by Joseph Pearce
  91. The Battle For Middle-Earth: Tolkien`s Divine Design in The Lord of the Rings by Fleming Rutledge
  92. Middle-Earth: Visions of A Modern Myth by Donato Giancola
    A book of art about Middle-Earth.
  93. The Road To Middle Earth by Tom Shippey
  94. J.R.R. Tolkien: Author Of The Century by Tom Shippey
  95. The Fellowship of the Ring Extended Edition DVD
  96. The Two Towers Extended Edition DVD
  97. The Return of the King Extended Edition DVD
  98. The Lord of the Rings DVD
    The animated Bashki edition. Interestingly, Peter Woodthorpe does Gollum here too.
  99. J.E.A. Tyler`s Tolkien book
    Not pictured, in storage
  100. Tolkien`s Ring by David Day
    Illustrated by Alan Lee - the most redeeming feature of the book
  101. The Tolkien Encyclopedia by David Day
  102. A-Z of Tolkien by David Day
  103. The Gospel According To Tolkien by Ralph Woods.
  104. The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey
    Peter Jackson's first movie in his Hobbit trilogy. Blu-Ray format.
  105. The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug
    Peter Jackson's second movie in the Hobbit Trilogy. Also in Blu-Ray.
  106. J.R.R. Tolkien: The Origin of the Rings
    DVD. A waste of a hour it's that bad. Not pictured as I can't find it. I might have sold it on.
Close-ups of the collection:
The left-most portion of my Tolkien collection

The center portion of the collection

The right end of the collection

Tuesday, May 3, 2016

Two New Books on Indexing

There are two new book on indexing coming out in June.

The first is:
Ten Characteristics of Quality Indexes: Confessions of an Award Winning IndexerTen Characteristics of Quality Indexes: Confessions of an Award Winning Indexer
Margie Towery
978-1573875264

Release Date: June 14th, 2016

The amazon.com product description:
The name "Margie Towery" is synonymous with index quality, and in this guide the master indexer distills more than two decades of experience for the benefit of her fellow indexers. Towery defines and explores the characteristics of quality indexes: audiences and accessibility, metatopics and index structure, accuracy, comprehensiveness, conciseness, consistency, clarity, reflexivity, readability, and common sense.

Writing in an engaging and accessible style, she shares her own struggles in indexing and offers strategies for overcoming challenges such as bias and language, indexing blocks, and working with authors. Her digressions into research on reading and decision-making provide a wider context for thinking about quality, while her suggestions and checklist for evaluating indexes round out this essential volume for professional indexers at every skill level.
This is a book I really want to add to my library. As a professional indexer, albeit a newer one, I find that each time I read a book on indexing, I learn something new - a different way of looking at such finicky debates such as using undifferentiated locators or not, or workflow tricks to speed up the process.

The second book is another one that I really want to add to my library:
Indexing Tactics and Tidbits: An A-Z Guide - Janet PerlmanIndexing Tactics & Tidbits: An A-Z Guide
Janet Perlman
978-1573875257
 
Release Date: June 2016

The Amazon.com product description:
In this highly-recommended reference for indexing professionals, master indexer Janet Perlman presents a treasure trove of practical, in-depth explanations and advice. The author pays homage to the Hans Wellisch classic, Indexing from A to Z, while bringing her own in-depth, conversational style and a multitude of fresh topics to the table.

Indexing Tactics & Tidbits provides answers and insights on such vital subjects as audience analysis, clients and contracts, computers and software, ethics and standards, index depth and length, index structure, periodical indexing, professional resources, quality and usability, work methods and strategies, and much more.

New and experienced indexers alike will appreciate this significant effort to address "everything you always wanted to know about indexing but were afraid to ask" by one of the preeminent indexers of our time.
This should be an interesting read. I have and have read the Hans Wellisch book, Indexing From A To Z, and although it's older, it's still a very useful reference as I noted in my review. Just looking at the list in the amazon.com blurb makes me want to go out and order this right away.

I should note one bit of confusion. The publisher's website says that the release date for this is in June. According to Amazon.com, the book is already available for order, and has been since the end of March. I also note that some indexers have commented about having already received their copies, so it might be shipping out already.

Sunday, May 1, 2016

Almost Two Months Of Spinning


I think I've set a new personal record with my spinning between March 8th and April 30th.
The dates were those for the most recent spin-along hosted on Ravelry by Mirkwood Spindles (my current favorite support spindles).

One of the neatest things about this spin-along for me: Two of the three spindles I was using were Middle-Earth themed, and most of the fiber was as well. The grey was from the previous spin-along and themed for Ungoliant, while the darker fiber is called I Am Death and was inspired by Smaug from The Hobbit.

Anyway, I ended up totalling 747 yards of chain-plied yarn that ranges between lace and sock weight.

My wrists are just happy that there's just over a week before the next spin-along starts! They need a break!

Saturday, April 30, 2016

You've passed on your copies. Now you want to re-read it?

What do you do in this situation? I'm re-purchasing the books bit by bit. It's part of why I keep such a large library for myself. I know I'm a re-reader, and I take a risk every time I clear out a series. Most of the time it works out OK. However, once in a while the bug to re-read that series comes back with a vengeance.

Most recently with the S. M. Stirling Change series. Probably the itch for a re-read was inspired by my new Kobo Glo, as I have the first book (Dies the Fire) in the library there (now the first two books). Either way, I found myself really enjoying the read and then the second book (currently about two thirds of the way through The Protector's War). I've already found a copy of the third book: A Meeting At Corvallis, thanks to a local book sale. My one grumble on this re-read is book order. At least on the Kobo store, the second book is labeled as the first. Thankfully for these early books, that paper copy of A Meeting At Corvallis has the reading order listed.


The other series I've repurchased is Diana Gabaldon's Outlander series. This time though, I didn't need to do a complete repurchase as I already had copies of all the books from The Fiery Cross onwards, although for some reason I simply couldn't find my original copy of it. Again, a local book sale came to my rescue. Trade paperback for $1.00? Even if the original copy shows up again, the cost was worth it. Just have to get around to doing the re-read now. Skipped around a bit on Dragonfly in Amber, but intending to properly re-read Voyageur. Then I'm going to have to find a copy of Drums of Autumn.

One key question for any readers. I'm testing out the newish Amazon Native Ads on this post. Personally, I'm not that sure of them, and find that I really miss the old carousel widget that I used to use. I'm going to leave the one new native ad in on this post, but would love to hear if those few readers I have would prefer I not use them in the future.

Monday, April 25, 2016

The Kobo Glo HD

Kobo Glo HDThe Kobo Glo HD

After a few years of silence on the various Kobo e-readers, I'm piping up again with a rather rambling review of the Kobo Glo HD.

I got into the e-reader craze with the original Kobo - think back to the directional button for navigation and no wi-fi connection. Upgraded to the second generation - same navigation system, but added wi-fi capabilities (and came in some fairly nifty colors). Then I went over to the Vox. And after that, faded back to a strong preference for paper books. I've barely used an e-reader for at least three years.

However, I'd been talking about getting one of the Glo variants for a couple of years now. I finally broke down last month and did so. In general, I've found that I prefer the e-ink style e-readers, although, as the proud owner of an iPad as well, I've still got the option for anything that will do better with full colour (Judith Tarr's Writing Horses: The Fine Art Of Getting It Right for example).

There are several areas where the touchscreen e-ink e-reader outdoes the iPad and even the Vox versions.

First thing. Footnotes. This is something that the original Kobo Touch incorporated, but not any of the reading apps as far as I can tell. However, as someone who likes to read non-fiction as well as fiction, I really appreciate this - even though to date I only have one book which incorporates this feature. It makes the e-reader much more usable for non-fiction reading as well as novels. When I touch a footnote marker, it brings up the footnote right on screen over the page, allowing you to read it and go right back to reading the main text without disruption.

Given some of the articles I've read over the last year to two years on support for indexes in e-pub format ebooks, I'd be interested in seeing how the e-ink Kobo e-readers handle indexes as well. Any suggestions for particularly outstanding examples?

When it comes to the screen and the "Glo" or "ComfortLight" lighting, I have to say it's pretty good. Both definitely live up to their billing of being able to read in both bright, direct sunlight and in darkness. I've tested both. Right from the start with the original Kobo e-ink e-reader they've been great in the sun. I remember having mine with me the day after I got it and sitting out around Noon in full sunlight and having next to no problems. I think I might have upped the font size by one, but that was all.

Now, for night-time or other low-light reading situations, the ComfortLight is an improvement on the methods I had to use with my original e-readers: clip-on lights. Those lights never lasted more than a few hours - I'd kill one on the first couple of nights of a camping trip - before the batteries went.

The strength of the screen light can be easily adjusted. Personally, I rarely take it up above about 30%. Even 2-4% is enough for use in a fully dark room - and it's not as likely to disturb anyone else in the room, although courtesy dictates that the best way to read under those circumstances is to make sure the back of the Kobo is facing them to minimize the light disturbance.

The interface for adjusting the fonts, sizes, line spacing and margins remains more or less the same as it was with the Kobo Touch, as does the workings of the library and home screen as far as I can remember.

Battery life is another satisfactory area. I haven't actually tested how long it takes to end up draining the battery completely yet, but I've only had to charge the battery twice in the last three weeks of fairly heavy use - and probably could have gotten away with leaving it longer both times. I think once was at 60% and the last time the reader still had about 30% of the battery left.

The claim is that the battery will last for up to two months. I'm guessing that that's with either no use or very light use, and of course, using the light will drain the battery faster. Not what I've been giving it. Since I bought the Kobo, I've read the following books on it:
  1. Cythera, by Jo Graham
  2. Deeds of Honor by Elizabeth Moon
  3. Dies The Fire by S. M. Stirling
  4. Time Enough For Love by Robert A. Heinlein
  5. Trio of Sorcery by Mercedes Lackey
  6. Finding The Way by Mercedes Lackey 
  7. The Apocalypse Troll by David Weber
Also, about a quarter of Cleopatra: A Life by Stacy Schiff, and some of Lara Adrian's first Midnight Breed novel, A Kiss of Midnight. Quite respectable for what would be more or less one battery charge I think.

The only negative comment I have is nothing to do with the physical Kobo. Instead, it is regarding the price of e-books. While some (such as many of those by Jo Graham) are still very low priced, others are the same price as the mass-market, or even trade paperback version of the book. I guess my mind is still stuck in the early days of e-books when they were marketed as a way of saving money on your book-buying. On seeing that, I generally opt to buy the paper versions these days. Still, there are times when I can't get to the bookstore, or they don't actually have the book there, so the "instant gratification" aspect of e-books comes into play.

Wednesday, April 13, 2016

Fantasy and Science Fiction Characters Reading

Last week L.E. Modesitt wrote a post about the lack of characters reading/writing books in fantasy and science fiction novels particularly. I just read his post yesterday, so I may be late to the discussion, but I just wanted to add my own comments. I think he's got a point there, however, maybe there are more than he might guess (his guess is about 5% of fantasy and science fiction books).

Here's what I've come up with:
  1. The Lord of the Rings by J.R.R. Tolkien
    It's alleged to be the Red Book of Westmarch, which was written by Bilbo and Frodo particularly, but also including selections from Merry's work, Herblore of the Shire (IIRC, my Tolkien books are downstairs).
  2. The Hobbit by J.R.R. Tolkien
    Bilbo's account of his adventures.
  3. The Diana Tregarde novels by Mercedes Lackey
    Not so much for books mentioned in the series, but if my memory isn't playing tricks, the main character is a romance writer.
  4. Arrows of the Queen by Mercedes Lackey
    The book opens with Talia reading a book, and later in the book discusses the size of her father's library in contrast to the palace library.
  5. Dies The Fire by S. M. Stirling
    Numerous Tolkien references, and also as I noted in my first review, some references to Mercedes Lackey's books and other classic fantasy and science fiction. I'm not sure though if I really should be including this one in the list as I can't recall if there's actually anyone ever reading the books in the story - as you can see, it's been a while since I've read it.
  6. Night Pleasures by Sherrilyn Kenyon
    There is one amusing scene in this book where one of the characters phones another one to ask her to do something, saying that she's sure said character is only reading the latest Kinley MacGregor novel - which she is. Where it gets amusing is that Kinley MacGregor is the other name that Sherrilyn Kenyon writes under.
  7. Time Enough For Love by Robert Heinlein
    Quite a few references to characters reading and even to specific books such as the Oz series.
  8. The Adept series by Katherine Kurtz
    I've forgotten just which book has the reference to The Temple And The Lodge - might be the third one, The Templar Treasure - but that's only one of several book references in the series.
  9. In Her Name: Empire by Michael R. Hicks
    There are a couple of scenes where Reza, the main character is discussing the benefits of reading - clearly he's a lover of books.
  10. Two Crowns For America by Katherine Kurtz
    If I'm not mistaken, there's a scene in this one where one of the characters falls asleep while reading.
  11. The Harry Potter series
    I've been reminded about the numerous references to books and reading in this series.
  12. The Fire Rose by Mercedes Lackey
    Mercedes Lackey seems to write a lot of characters that love books, either reading or writing them. I wouldn't mind the library described in this book - but then you could say the same thing about Adam Sinclair's library in the Adept series by Katherine Kurtz.
  13. Exile's Honor and Exile's Valor by Mercedes Lackey
    One of the secondary characters in these two is the Herald-Chronicler Myste. While the chronicles are mentioned in some of the other books, this is the first time we see the one of the Heralds filling the position. There are a couple of reading scenes in these two books as well if my memory isn't playing tricks
  14. The Blood series by Tanya Huff
    Again, if my memory's not playing tricks, one of the main characters is an author.
  15. So You Want To Be A Wizard by Diane Duane
    It's been a while, but I seem to recall that the opening scenes of this book are set in a library. A series of books for kids, but overall a very good read and ties in well with her other two books in the same world: Book of Night With Moon and To Visit The Queen.
  16. Voyager by Diana Gabaldon
    I'm not quite sure if the Outlander series counts as fantasy, however there is time travel in the series, as well as a ghost showing up in one scene. If it does count, you can add at least two more scenes where Jamie Fraiser is found reading - and that's just in the first two hundred or so pages of the book.
Has anyone else got any titles they could add to this list?

Friday, March 4, 2016

Total War Game Series - Rediscovered

I've rediscovered some old favorites this past week: the Total War series of games.

These are a series of strategy-type games with a historical basis - probably somewhat on the dubious side. However, there's two aspects to the game. I only play one and hate it when the game forces me to attempt the other. The first aspect, and the one I prefer to play is the empire-building. That is, organizing what gets built in each city and what unit types get recruited. Even the diplomacy aspect of treaties and deals between the different factions.

The second aspect to the game, and the one I'm not as keen on - mostly because I'm horrible at it - is running the battles between the armies. Thank you, but I'd much rather let the computer do that for me. Unfortunately, that takes me right out of all the multi-player content. Oh well. There's certainly enough challenges in the grand campaign mode. And the new games have additional campaigns that you can purchase separately. I guess that's the current variant on the expansions.

Medieval Total War
Starting with the original Medieval Total War, and it's expansion, Viking Invasion, I've been playing them for over a decade now. This one still holds a place in my heart as a favorite game that has sucked up hours of my time. Even after hours of game-play and quite a few victorious campaigns, I have yet to play successfully in all of the factions. This one has the simplest game-play of the various versions I have played, however it is still one of the most fun. I've seen several articles compare the graphics and game style to the board game Risk. I can't comment on that as I've only played the game a couple of times. Actually, I should probably test Medieval Total War to see if it will play on my current computers (Windows 7). I'm getting the bug again.

Rome: Total War
At the moment, I'm playing Rome: Total War, which I got when it first came out - followed by the Barbarians expansion. Although I have been playing this one intermittently for years, it has been a while since I've tried it, and I have to be honest and say that I've yet to beat the game even once. As a result I haven't tried the Barbarian Invasion expansion either. The graphics are pretty good here too, and the game is satisfactorily fast on my ancient gaming/photo-editing computer. Of course, the games from this era are from when said computer was new. The game-play here is just enough different from the original Medieval Total War to be frustrating, I found previously, although the Roman setting tickles my historical fancy. Let's see if I can beat this one this time, even playing on "easy".

Medieval II Total War
Then there's my other favorite of the series: Medieval II: Total War. The medieval setting of the game I discovered this series through, but on the 3D style of the Rome: Total War game. I also found my interest kept because I could actually beat this game, and have done so a few times now: England? maybe. France, I'm almost certain I succeeded playing as France, and also Spain, and maybe the Holy Roman Empire. Plus, of course the expansion pack - most of which I haven't tried out, being quite happy to keep playing the original game. Again, this one works great on an older computer.

What amazes me with this one is the price-drop. When I bought the game and later the expansion, they were close to $50 each. Now, you can get both together for under $20!

I don't have much to say about the two versions of Shogun: Total War, not having played either one enough. The same holds true for Total War: Empire.

What started me back on this trip through the Total War games was my purchase the other day of Total War: Attila and Total War: Rome II. Unfortunately, both of these are just slightly beyond the capabilities of my gaming computer. Rome II plays decently, but is very, very slow. And much of Attila is lost in a mass of grey with jagged edges. I suspect that I'm going to have to upgrade my graphics card at the least. Until then, I may as well go back and enjoy playing the earlier games.

Monday, February 22, 2016

Thoughts on the Adult Coloring Book Craze

http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/0399177531/ref=as_li_tl?ie=UTF8&camp=1789&creative=390957&creativeASIN=0399177531&linkCode=as2&tag=alboup00-20&linkId=HN5Z2JYIL3OFIHDI
I like them, although I've only gotten one so far - the Outlander Coloring Book. I'm thinking of getting another though - with a different type of picture, one that's more abstract. Sometimes I'd just like to play with colours, and the Outlander one calls for too much realism to allow that. By which I mean that I've found myself googling the correct colours to use for this or that aspect of the picture - including common colours for cars as in the first image. I'm a bit picky that way.

I think I've been waiting for this since they had one of those giant colouring posters on the wall in the staff-room where I used to work. I don't think it ever got finished though. Still, I had a great time on my breaks - at least before the pens disappeared. This is the kind of picture I'd like to find for a second book:
http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B005MKYHMK/ref=as_li_tl?ie=UTF8&camp=1789&creative=390957&creativeASIN=B005MKYHMK&linkCode=as2&tag=alboup00-20&linkId=WTJRMTV46E7EBCAO
There's been another variant on the adult colouring book that's been around for decades; the informational one. I've gone through a few of those too, and I'm thinking of getting some of them again as they've disappeared over the years - unfinished. The most notable of these were the Human Evolution Coloring Book and one I had on bird identification. At least for me, these made a great way to learn the subject.

Are you someone who's getting into the coloring book craze? If so, what are your favorites?

Friday, February 19, 2016

A Year On From My Last Post

It has been just over a year now since I walked away from All Booked Up. I am sorry for doing so with no warning or explanation. Even now, I'm not completely certain why I did so. Maybe there wasn't just one reason.

I do know that these were some of my reasons however:
  1. That I found myself feeling a lot of pressure to read and finish books so I could review them for the blog.
    I know. This was a self-appointed pressure, but I was feeling guilty each time a week went by with no new posts or book reviews. I think I ended up in a major reading slump for a while there. Even now, I often find myself starting two or three books for each one I finish reading.
  2. The books I was finishing were all books I've reviewed two or three, or even more times here. How many times could I come up with something new to say about the same book?
    This is still the case with my reading. I've been almost exclusively rereading books this past year.
  3. Work comes in fits and starts, or, as I tend to call it "feast or famine" and when I have work, a lot of other things go by the wayside - including a lot of reading time. By no means is this a complaint however. I love indexing!
At any rate, although I haven't missed the pressure of reading books for review purposes, there have been a few times when I've wanted to write up a post but didn't want to start the same guilt cycle over again by restarting my blog.

Instead, I've been thinking about it for a while and have decided that I am going to restart All Booked Up, but not primarily as a book review blog any more. I may still post reviews, but I'm not going to set up a regular schedule for them. Rather, I'm going to relax things here and post about anything and everything I choose - movies, TV shows, books, crafting or just about anything else. There may be pauses and breaks in the posting regularity - in fact, I'm almost sure of it - but I've missed having the blog to write at. So, I'm coming back to it.

Monday, February 16, 2015

It's Monday! What Are You Reading? - February 16th 2015

It's Monday! What Are You Reading? is hosted each week over at Book Journey and it's a great way to grow your TBR pile too by seeing what others are reading.

I missed out on posting last week, so I'm going to include my totals in this week's reading. I've also done some book buying this week, so I'm going to include a list of those as well at the end.

Since my last post, I've read:
The Amazons: Lives and Legends of Warrior Women Across The Ancient World by Adrienne Mayor.

Although it took me a lot longer than I thought it would to get through this, it was a fascinating and educational read. If the legends and accounts of the Amazons, be they the ancient Greek, Persian, Chinese or others intrigue you, this is the book for you. Adrienne Mayor has gathered together the legends and the archaeological evidence that backs them up in her quest to prove that the Amazons were not just mythical but were real people.

Winds of Fate by Mercedes Lackey
Book one of the Mage Winds trilogy.
Read for the Valdemar Challenge and the Hardcore Re-Reading Challenge.

Winds of Change by Mercedes Lackey
Book Two of the Mage Winds trilogy.
Read for the Valdemar Challenge and the Hardcore Re-Reading Challenge.

I'm currently reading:
Unbroken by Laura Hillenbrand.
I started reading this one last night, and I'm already loving it - even though I'm only about 30 pages in at the moment. This was also one of the books I bought in the past week.

Winds of Fury by Mercedes Lackey
Book three of the Mage Winds trilogy. I read partway through the first chapter last night after finishing Winds of Change, and just stalled out. The book starts from Ancar's point of view - a first in the whole series - and it seems like his favorite word is the "B" word. I just couldn't take it at the time.

The books I bought in the past week:
Unbroken - Laura Hillenbrand
Unbroken by Laura Hillenbrand
The amazon.com product description:
#1 NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER • NOW A MAJOR MOTION PICTURE • Look for special features inside. Join the Random House Reader’s Circle for author chats and more.
In boyhood, Louis Zamperini was an incorrigible delinquent. As a teenager, he channeled his defiance into running, discovering a prodigious talent that had carried him to the Berlin Olympics. But when World War II began, the athlete became an airman, embarking on a journey that led to a doomed flight on a May afternoon in 1943. When his Army Air Forces bomber crashed into the Pacific Ocean, against all odds, Zamperini survived, adrift on a foundering life raft. Ahead of Zamperini lay thousands of miles of open ocean, leaping sharks, thirst and starvation, enemy aircraft, and, beyond, a trial even greater. Driven to the limits of endurance, Zamperini would answer desperation with ingenuity; suffering with hope, resolve, and humor; brutality with rebellion. His fate, whether triumph or tragedy, would be suspended on the fraying wire of his will.

Appearing in paperback for the first time—with twenty arresting new photos and an extensive Q&A with the author—Unbroken is an unforgettable testament to the resilience of the human mind, body, and spirit, brought vividly to life by Seabiscuit author Laura Hillenbrand.

Hailed as the top nonfiction book of the year by Time magazine • Winner of the Los Angeles Times Book Prize for biography and the Indies Choice Adult Nonfiction Book of the Year award
I've just started reading this one and I'm already loving it. I can't believe that it took me until now to finally give the book a chance.

The Book of Negroes - Lawrence Hill
The Book of Negroes by Lawrence Hill
The amazon.com product description:
Lawrence Hill’s award-winning novel is a major television miniseries airing on BET Networks.
The Book of Negroes (based on the novel Someone Knows My Name) will be BET’s first miniseries. The star-studded production includes lead actress Aunjanue Ellis (Ray, The Help), Oscar winner Cuba Gooding Jr. (Jerry Maguire, A Few Good Men), Oscar and Emmy winner Louis Gossett Jr. (A Raisin in the Sun, Boardwalk Empire), and features Lyriq Bent (Rookie Blue), Jane Alexander (The Cider House Rules), and Ben Chaplin (The Thin Red Line). Director and co-writer Clement Virgo is a feature film and television director (The Wire) who also serves as producer with executive producer Damon D’Oliveira (What We Have).
In this “transporting” (Entertainment Weekly) and “heart-stopping” (Washington Post) work, Aminata Diallo, one of the strongest women characters in contemporary fiction, is kidnapped from Africa as a child and sold as a slave in South Carolina. Fleeing to Canada after the Revolutionary War, she escapes to attempt a new life in freedom.
Ok. I'm going to shred this blurb a little bit. First of all, that they're saying it's based on the novel Someone Knows My Name - Up here in Canada, the book has always been called The Book of Negroes. It's only in the USA that they changed the name. Second, the blurb given is more about the stars in the TV series. Amazon.ca has a better description, given for the illustrated edition (which I would dearly love to have):
This beautiful full-colour gift edition of the new Canadian classic, The Book of Negroes, shares with readers the many photos, works of art and documents that inspired Lawrence Hill to create his award-winning work. It adds to the novel more than 150 images: early maps and documents, archival photos, period paintings and never-before-published pages from the original handwritten ledger called the Book of Negroes. Readers will travel the world with Aminata Diallo, from a West African village to an indigo plantation in South Carolina, through the tough streets of New York City and the harsh climate of Nova Scotia to the coast of Sierra Leone, and finally to an abolitionist’s home in London.
However, I have to agree that the TV series The Book of Negroes was absolutely amazing. I'm now looking forward to the DVD release, and hoping that it comes out on Blu-Ray as well as DVD. There were moments where the series actually drove me to tears - and anger at the treatment meted out to Aminata.

The final book I bought this week was a crochet book:
Blueprint Crochet Sweaters - Robyn Chachula
Blueprint Crochet Sweaters by Robyn Chachula
The amazon.com product description:
Learn the must-have basics of sweater construction and ways to achieve better-fitting garments!
Best-selling author of Blueprint Crochet, Robyn Chachula presents an approachable resource on the basics of crochet design. This friendly introduction to sweater and garment construction will give you a deeper understanding of working with crochet and help you make better-fitting garments in the process.

In this collection of 16 patterns, Robyn focuses on four basic garment types and their variations--"classic" construction (including raglan, drop-sleeve, and side-saddle sleeve); unique construction (side-to-side or from the bottom up, around the shoulder, and back down); motif construction; and top-down (both round and raglan types).

The perfect introduction to the building blocks of crochet sweater construction, Blueprint Crochet Sweaters breaks down intimidating garment design into easily digestible parts, offering a deeper appreciation and understanding of how to create projects that reflect your own personal style.
I know I've been hesitant to start a project as complex as a sweater - for several reasons, including the cost of that much yarn. Reading through the introduction to this book, well it isn't exactly helping to make things seem simple, but it's certainly going to make sure that I'm prepared when I do attempt a sweater. Not to mention, there are some great looking patterns in here too.

Winds of Change - Mercedes Lackey

Winds of Change - Mercedes Lackey
Winds of Change (Mage Winds book two)
Mercedes Lackey
DAW Books
Copyright: 1993
978-0886775636

The amazon.com product description:
 In The Mage Winds trilogy, which began with the best-selling novel, Winds of Fate, author Mercedes Lackey continues the epic that started with her first published book, Arrows of the Queen introduced readers to the remarkable land of Valdemar, the kingdom protected by its Heralds--men and women gifted with extraordinary mind powers--aided and served by their mysterious Companions--horselike beings who know the many secrets of Valdemar's magical heritage. None but the Companions remember the long-ago age when high magic was lost to Valdemar as the last Herald-Mage gave his life to protect his kingdom from destruction by dark sorceries.
But now the protective barrier set so long ago over Valdemar is crumbling, and with the realm imperiled by the dark magic of Ancar of Hardorn, Princess Elspeth, Herald and heir to the throne, has gone on a desperate quest in search of a mentor who can teach her to wield her fledgling mage-powers and help her to defend her threatened kingdom.
Winds of Change is the sequel to Winds of Fate, which I read and reviewed last week. Again, I found that I couldn't put the book down at all, following the various characters through their lives, although most of the chapters were alternating between the viewpoints of Elspeth and Darkwind, there were chapters seen through Skif's eyes and Nyara among others. And, of course the inevitable chapters from Mornelithe Falconsbane's veiwpoint.

This is the book that had several of my favorite scenes in it - the various tricks played on Falconsbane, Darkwind and Elspeth getting to know one another better - including the fashion show, and, of course, the reveal of Firesong's ancestry.

As with the previous book, there's plenty of foreshadowing going on for future books, and also lots that ties the Mage Winds books in with the earlier Valdemar novels - at both ends of the history, because we're getting a sketched outline of the events from the Mage Wars novels too. And, don't forget the other names that Falconsbane has gone by in previous lives.

At the same time, I do have some nit-picks for continuity and consistency going on as I read these books. Starting with the dyheli. In Winds of Change, they are portrayed as being rather abbreviated in how they mindspeak. However, in the Owl books, they're much, much stronger mindspeakers than that. We also see some slightly different views on Skif's background between these books and Take a Thief. Maybe I'm just more aware of it than usual given how closely together I'm reading my way through Mercedes Lackey's books.

I'm reading this for two separate challenges, the Valdemar Reading Challenge and the Hardcore Re-Reading Challenge.

Thursday, February 12, 2015

Winds of Fate - Mercedes Lackey

Winds of Fate - Mercedes Lackey
Winds of Fate (Mage Winds Book One)
Mercedes Lackey
DAW Books
Copyright: 1991
978-0886775162

The amazon.com product description:
Lackey, who has enchanted readers since the publication of her first novel, Arrows of the Queen in 1987, scores another hit with the paperback release of the first book in an exciting new series. High magic had been lost to Valdemar when he gave his life to save his kingdom from destruction by the dark sorceries. Now it falls to Elspeth Herald, heir to the throne, to take up the challenge and seek a mentor who will awaken her mage abilities.
As the amazon.com description is not that great, here's the jacket blurb as well:
High Magic has been lost to Valdemar centuries ago when the last Herald-Mage gave his life to save the kingdom from destruction by dark sorceries.

Yet now the realm is at risk again. And Elspeth, Herald and heir to the throne must take up the challenge, abandoning her home to find a mentor who can awaken her untrained mage abilities. But others, too, are being caught up in a war against sorcerous evil.
The Tayledras scout Darkwind is the first to stumble across the menace creeping forth from the "Uncleansed Lands." And as sorcery begins to take its toll, Darkwind may be forced to call upon powers he has sworn never to use again if he and his people are to survive an enemy able to wreak greater devastation with spells of destruction than with swords...
Yes, this is a re-read, but it's been so long ago that it might as well not be. I remembered the general course of events, but the specifics were almost new to me again. One thing I do remember though, is that the last time I tried to re-read Winds of Fate, I just couldn't get into it. Not the problem this time. Once I was past the first chapter or two, I couldn't put the book down.

I was also noticing a fair bit of foreshadowing going on as well - especially for the next series, the Mage Storms books (Storm Warning, Storm Rising and Storm Breaking). Not only foreshadowing, but little details that tied into the previous books that I hadn't really caught on to before - probably because I have never done a concentrated re-read through the whole series prior to this. It's little things mostly - the off-hand reference to Roald visiting the Plains or the mentions of Jendar for example.

Winds of Fate is the first of several Valdemar books that had black-and-white illustrations between the chapters, - in a few different styles over the series. Its also the first of six or so longer books with a smaller font-size IIRC. I like it, but unlike many of the other books in the series, I don't know if this trilogy crosses over to the YA market as well. On the other hand, I don't think this one's any more dark or violent than Arrow's Fall, so I don't really know.

This was also the first for a new style of story - alternating chapters and perspectives, where one chapter was from Elspeth's point of view and the next would be from the point of view of Darkwind - a Tayledras scout. As well, there were a few chapters from other points of view mixed in, although those were the main two.

I did get more of a feeling of the history of the world through reading Winds of Fate (and now Winds of Change, which I'm reading now) - things just seem to be a bit more fleshed out in these books, and Elspeth as a main character really grew on me.

I'm really struggling to understand why I was thinking that this wasn't one of my favorites in the Valdemar world, because I most definitely enjoyed the read this time.

I'm reading this for two separate challenges, the Valdemar Reading Challenge and the Hardcore Re-Reading Challenge.

Wednesday, February 11, 2015

Big And Lofty Yarns

My latest spinning-related order arrived today from Interweave:

Big and Lofty Yarns DVD
Big and Lofty Yarns
Maggie Casey
Interweave Press
Run Time: 71 Minutes
Copyright Date:2011

The amazon.com product description:
When you start spinning, it seems like all you can spin are fat, lumpy yarns-then you get the hang of it and figure out how to make fine, smooth, thin yarns, and you spend the rest of your spinning career trying to figure out how to make those smooth yarns big and lofty. In this video, Maggie Casey demystifies the process, explaining just how to make miles of the soft big yarns you want to knit, weave, and crochet with. With this workshop, you will: Prepare you wool on a drumcarder. Learn how to adjust your wheel's take-up. Use the perfect drafting technique for trapping air in your yarn and getting it on your bobbin as quickly as possible. Learn how to preserve the loftiness of the yarn through plying and finishing. Maggie Casey's soothing voice and gentle encouragement are surpassed only by her spinning knowledge gleaned through years of teaching at her spinning shop in Boulder, Colorado. Let her guide you on your spinning journey to a land of big, beautiful yarns-made by you!
I ordered with it 4 ounces of raspberry colored wool roving to practice with.

The irony though, is that I've just started a 200 gram project that's going to take me a while to complete on the wheel: the finest lace-weight that I've managed to date. So, while I can watch the dvd through any time, it's going to be a while before I can put things into practice. Still, I'm looking forward to learning some new techniques.

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