Archive for August, 2011
For those who are interested in learning Taishanese (台山話 aka Toisanwa aka Hoisanva), I finally got a chance to put up a web page linking to the Taishanese learning material that I found (as mentioned in my previous blog post, ‘Learning Chinese: Cantonese or Mandarin? Or…? Taishanese!’).
You may go to Learn Taishanese (台山話) (alternate link: Learn Taishanese (台山話)) to download the zip files containing the Defense Language Institute’s ‘Chinese-Cantonese (Toishan) Basic Course’ (Audio Material). The link to the text material is also provided there. Please note the information about copyright regarding this material.
I love social media. I think it’s an important aspect of the internet as it gives people a chance to connect with others they might never ever meet in ‘real life’. I’ve been considering GoodReads for a while now. On my old Facebook profile, I used to use weRead, but since I signed up for that on Facebook, that account got deleted with my old Facebook profile. I finally got around to setting up my GoodReads account (feyMorgaina). I find GoodReads nicely organized and streamlined. Strangely enough, I find the site’s colour scheme peaceful, which puts me in the frame of mind to read something.
A feature I like about GoodReads is the exporting of any new reviews I write on there to my WordPress. In fact, my last blog on here was a review imported from GoodReads. (See “Review: Brian Lumley’s Mythos Omnibus: “Burrowers Beneath”, “Transition of Titus Crow”, “Clock of Dreams” Vol 1″.)
Here’s a quick recap of what I’ve read lately (though of course you can now go to my GoodReads profile to see what’s on my bookshelves):
Knights of the Old Republic: Commencement (Star Wars graphic novel)
Angel: The Wolf, The Ram, and The Heart (graphic novel)
A Feast for Crows (book four of A Song of Ice and Fire) by George R.R. Martin
The Farthest Shore by Ursula K. LeGuin
Dark Force Rising by Timothy Zahn
And, my current ‘to read’ list:
The Last Command by Timothy Zahn
Downbelow Station by C.J. Cherryh
Priestess of Avalon by Marion Zimmer Bradley
Stormqueen! (part of The Ages of Chaos omnibus) by Marion Zimmer Bradley
Circus of the Damned by Laurell K. Hamilton
Stolen by Kelley Armstrong
Moon of 3 Rings by Andre Norton
I enjoyed the first six issues of Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic (KOTOR) and will likely read more at some point. I think the series got off to a good start in the first little story arc. Like all Star Wars comics/graphic novels, KOTOR is published by Dark Horse. They have finished the run of KOTOR, so now is a good time to read the whole series. The series takes place before the setting for the new Star Wars video game The Old Republic. The new game is an MMORPG (if you’re a gamer you know what that is).
IDW finally published Angel: The Wolf, The Ram, and The Heart and concludes their run of the Angel (Buffyverse) comics. I enjoyed IDW’s Angel: After the Fall series and the few stories after that, but I failed to see where they were going (or that they were going somewhere good) with the series when Bill Willingham took over in Immortality for Dummies. (I initially enjoyed Willingham’s Fables comics, but when he started dragging out the stories I lost interest after volume ten.) The Wolf, The Ram, and The Heart concluded Willingham’s storyline for Angel, and in my opinion brought the story back to what Angel is all about as a series. I think it’s for the best that the Angel title is moving back to Dark Horse. Dark Horse will be publishing a new series called Angel and Faith which will be running alongside Buffy Season 9.
I finally finished A Feast for Crows, the fourth book of A Song of Ice and Fire by George R.R. Martin. I found I didn’t enjoy A Feast for Crows as much as the previous three novels – likely because I didn’t care about the characters in this book as much as I did the characters in the first three novels. (I kind of think of the first three novels as a beginning trilogy in A Song of Ice and Fire.) I do not like Cersei – never did. I may feel a little pity for her, but she wins hands-down on the b-i-t-c-h award (considering that she’s probably sleeping with all the men who swear allegiance to her as queen, well… the b-word pretty much fits her). She’s conniving, manipulative, and paranoid. Sure, maybe she feels like she got the short end of the stick (not really though; in reality, she got things pretty good for a while) when she had to marry Robert Baratheon instead of Rhaegar Targaryen, but she still got to be queen in name (even if being Robert’s queen wasn’t exactly how she dreamed being queen would be). Basically her point of view chapters consisted of “Look how beautiful and smart I am” and “I deserve better than this!”
I have to commend Martin though for writing so well. Clearly, we are not supposed to like Cersei. Considering how much I dislike her, Martin did an awesome job writing her chapters.
Some high points of the novel were Arya’s chapters (who doesn’t love Arya??) and a new character in Dorne that I rather like, though it remains to be seen if I’ll like her later. There’s only a little bit about her in this novel. For those who have read A Feast for Crows, I am speaking of Princess Arianne Martell of Dorne, of course. She’s high-spirited, but not irrational. (Okay, maybe she reminds me of me, but at least I know my biases.) It will be interesting to see where Martin takes her character.
There’s more I could say about A Feast for Crows, but the previous points are really the most important things to note (at least, in my opinion). I do have to point out though that the Cersei chapters are important (annoying as she is) because as Queen Regent, her chapters provide important information as to what’s going on in Westeros and overseas (or at least they show how the Queen and her council think things are going). One last thing, Tommen seems to be a ‘normal’ boy – not at all like Joffrey. Instead of killing a mother cat to see the kittens inside, Tommen sleeps with three little kittens. Will wonders never cease.
I finished reading the third book of the Earthsea trilogy. I doubt I will be reading the remaining books in that series. The Farthest Shore just didn’t seem as fun as the first two novels in the trilogy. LeGuin is a good writer, but I think the next novels I’ll read by her will be some of her science fiction ones.
Speaking of science fiction, having caught up with The Wheel of Time and A Song of Ice and Fire (in terms of hard copy books I have sitting around), I continued with the Star Wars trilogy written by Timothy Zahn, also known as the ‘Thrawn trilogy’. Dark Force Rising turns out to be pretty much a chase for some old, but very deadly and powerful starships that the New Republic could use in its battle against the remaining Empire loyalists. Some minor plot points get resolved in this novel, such as the “C’Baoth is crazy, Luke, run away!” storyline and the “Mara Jade wants to kill you, Luke, rescue her!” storyline. All in all, Zahn continues to please readers with a very Star Wars tradition of storytelling. The trilogy is worth reading if you like Star Wars.
Review: Brian Lumley’s Mythos Omnibus: “Burrowers Beneath”, “Transition of Titus Crow”, “Clock of Dreams” Vol 1Wednesday, August 3rd, 2011
I liked The Burrowers Beneath (I’d give that 3 or 4 stars), but was disappointed with The Transition of Titus Crow. Maybe Lumley lost me somewhere (or maybe he got lost himself). All I know is suddenly I was reading science fiction and fantasy instead of horror (not that I don’t like sci-fi and fantasy, but I was expecting the book to lean towards more horror). While reading The Transition of Titus Crow, I kept waiting for the story to turn back to the CCD – it did so only vaguely. The elements of The Burrowers Beneath that I liked was the distinct Holmesian mood of it and was looking forward to more of that. Sadly, I was disappointed.
Suffice it to say, I didn’t read The Clock of Dreams. Though, maybe curiosity will bring me back to this series at a later date.