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Friday, April 29, 2016

Crown of Crystal Flame - C. L. Wilson

When Elysetta was chosen by the Tairen Soul and Fae King, Rain, she thought her dreams had finally come true. But among the romance and magic she anticipated lay turmoil and danger. In this short time period, Elysetta has discovered her hidden magical powers, her fae heritage, and her skills in diplomacy. And now she will learn her skill at war as she goes out side by side with her husband and many skilled warrior to defend both the human world and the Fae lands against the mages.

With the help of friends and former enemies, the world may yet be saved. But nobody is prepared for the greatest threat to the kingdoms yet: Elysetta herself.

The first novel started out as light romance reading until the end and the series has progressively gotten darker and more war orientated as it's gone along. In this final book magic and war takes over, leaving only small bits of romance between the intense scenes of diplomacy and battle. I enjoyed this last book, but also noticed a few loose ends that hadn't been addressed by the end with some minor characters, but the major plot lines were complete. I'm curious if she left it open-ended for spin-offs. The one pitfall throughout this entire series is her terrible use of simile, like "death was playing with her like [a kitten] playing with a jingle ball".

This is a intense romance fantasy read complete with magic and action. It's sure to satiate many reading palettes.

Books in the Series:
Lord of the Fading Lands
Lady of Light and Shadows
King of Sword and Sky

Friday, April 22, 2016

How Music and Mathematics Relate - Professor David Kung

How did Tammie Willis, a deaf woman, earn her Masters in Music in 2003 without being able to hear? Having not always been deaf she knew what music sounded like, but learning music theory is an entirely different matter than just listening.

Music is made of rhythms (sequences of beats), pitches (the highness and lowness of tones), and vibrato (variation in tone). Music theory has been taught for generations, but with new technology we can study it from a mathematical perspective providing a whole new view of how music works and what gives it its appeal. In a series of 12 lectures, Professor David Kung reveals these secrets the listener.

From the beginning Professor Kung grabbed my attention. The first lecture on Overtones where he isolates a single note down to its base note is fascinating. Pitch and Auditory Hallucinations is another fantastic lecture showing how composers trick our brains into hearing what may not be there. Self-Reference from Bach to Gödel is another favorite of mine in this series, showing how various composers made certain that everybody would know who wrote the piece.

Since the version I borrowed from the library only had audio, no video, I often had to make a mental note to look up items like certain waves or rhythm sequences when I got to computer. I feel with this series of lectures, it is beneficial to have the video alongside the audio because of all of the visual components he includes. For anybody who wants to learn more about music this is a must-watch.

More Audio Lectures:
Great Courses
Modern Scholar

Recommended Reads:
Musicophilia: Tales of Music and the Brain - Oliver Sacks
Music, Mysticism and Magic: A Sourcebook - Joscelyn Godwin

Friday, April 15, 2016

The Celtic Way of Prayer - Esther de Waal

As the Celts converted from their native religion, they brought pieces of their faith and integrated it seamlessly into Christianity. Many of the most beloved prayers of Christians today were created or adapted by the Celts.

De Waal presents these prayers, the Celtic worldview, and her own personal experience to bring spirituality alive for the reader. Organized by topic, it makes it easy to find a prayer or inspiration to fit any mood. The topics include: Journeying, Image and Song, the Trinity, Time, the Presence of God, the Solitary, Dark Forces, the Cross, the Saints, and Praise.

Journeying and The Trinity chapters felt especially strong with the amount of prayers, many of which I was familiar with myself. Dark Forces includes a number of powerful prayers for protection and a wonderful bit on the understanding of confession. A variety of readers will find this book a delight to read for its spiritual content and down to earth understanding of faith.

Recommended Reads:
Celtic Spirituality
Fire in the Head - Tom Cowan

Friday, April 8, 2016

Orange Crows II - James Perry II, Ryo Kawakami

Cierra's disappearance means the Orange Crows are down one member, putting them at a disadvantage in their quest to protect the airship. The witch's brew they are protecting is just as important as they witches and warlocks they are having to entertain diplomatically on the ship.

Meanwhile Cierra finds herself wandering in the wilderness once again, only to be disturbed by both familiar and new faces, set to lead her astray from returning to Natalie and the rest of the group.

When disaster strikes and the fairies unexpectedly attack the airship, Natalie thinks she has the situation under control with her exceptional powers; however, she may find herself outmatched by a new enemy.

This series is just getting started and I foresee following it for a while. Between chapters are single page panels entitled "Queen Bianka's Crash Course" revealing only a peak into the in-depth world of magic and technology that Perry has created. This world The characters are each as unique as their costumes. I eagerly await the next installment of this series.

Books in the Series:
Orange Crows

Author's Site:
OrangeCrows.com

Support the Project:
Patreon: Orange Crows

Friday, April 1, 2016

Poe's Children: The New Horror: An Anthology

This anthology collects stories of the uncanny and terrifying in the tradition of Edgar Allan Poe.

Elizabeth Hand tells the story of Cleopatra Brimstone, an amateur entomologist out to collect the corpses of the most rare moths she can find.

Steve Rasnic Tem and Melanie Tem alternate narration to tell the chilling story of The Man on the Ceiling who invades and destroys their lives.

Ramsey Campbell's Voice of the Beach drives two friends to madness as they explore an abandoned town.

Plot Twist David J. Schow is a disturbing tale of what goes wrong when the situation gets dire.

Benjamin Percy tells the disturbing tale of a man who Unearthed more than just historic remains.

Little Red's Tango by Peter Straub tells the curious tale of the sometimes saint.

Of the 24 stories collected in this anthology, I only found the six above memorable. Although Ramsey Campbell and Peter Straub delivered, the other four big names, Stephen King, Neil Gaiman, Thomas Ligotti, and Joe Hill fell short. My other four favorites were from those I hadn't previously heard of. I was disappointed and don't recommend this anthology.