My random nattering about all things geek, including family, friends and what I find to be fantastic and fun!
|Posted on March 3, 2015 at 10:40 AM||comments (0)|
Most of the time I review fictional novels for adults, occasionally a fictional book aimed at young adults and very occasionally a non-fiction title. I can now add to my list a non-fiction book aimed at school age children.
I have to give out a huge THANKS to Prometheus Books for sending this one to me. It may be aimed at middle school children, but any adult will greatly enjoy this as well.
It is part Neil deGrasse Tyson biography. Early in the book its focus is on his initial interest in space as a child, how he found ways to learn more, and how he got to where he is today. Later in the book is a more indepth discussion of his studies, work and life now. You'll also learn about Neil's favourite parts of our universe and his favourite things about being an astrophysicist. The book is also part introduction into the space sciences. The reader will learn the basics, from its chemistry to its physics. Explore the Cosmos also introduces you to scientists through the ages who studied the stars. What their contributions to this science were, and even how they have expanded our understanding today.
This book is full of wonderful photos of Neil deGrasse Tyson as a child (he was adorable), and as the well known scientist he is today. The reader will also find a number of gorgeous images of objects in space from our solar system and planets, to nebulae, galaxies, and more. They are so beautiful that now I'm craving a good telescope and a clear sky. Sitting outdoors in the summer and staring at the stars will have a whole new meaning from now on.
Author CAP Saucier has created a brilliant book for any age, and for young children in particular, it is a fabulous first step into space!
All the best, your GG
|Posted on February 19, 2015 at 11:10 AM||comments (0)|
Covenant's End is not only the end of this series, but of a long and fabulous relationship that I'll miss dearly. Widdershins and her tiny personal god Olgun have been through a lot in this series. She has fought many evils with him there to guide and assist her. She has lost many people close to her with him there to calm and support her. This story is no different.
Widdershins and Olgun return to their home city of Davillon after almost a year away. While Shins expects only to face the difficulty of making up with her friends, what she actually finds is far, far worse. Her nemesis, Lisette, has returned, and she is not alone. Lisette has made a dark pact with supernatural powers that have granted her abilities far greater than anything Widdershins and Olgun can match.
Together, Widdershins and Olgun face enemies on both sides of the law, for Lisette’s schemes have given her power in both Davillon’s government and its underworld. For even a slim chance, Shins calls on both old friends, some of whom haven’t yet forgiven her, and new allies. Even with their help, Widdershins makes the hardest decision of her life to rid Davillon, and herself, of Lisette once and for all.
This is probably the darkest and most grim of the whole series. It's a perfect climax to finish Widdershin's adventures with Olgun.
In the end they both get what they truly need and desire the most - followers and family. But it's the road they have travelled to get there that has been the best part of this series. I hope Ari Marmell will consider a reunion sometime in the future. Or every once in a while I'll just have to reread the whole series again to get my fix of this amazing duo.
You can get Covenant's End at amazon.ca and all fine bookstores.
All the best, your GG
|Posted on February 11, 2015 at 1:40 PM||comments (0)|
I've watched another film to be shown at this Baltic-Nordic festival going on during Winterlude. The movie is The Good Son by Zaida Bergroth.
The film revolves around the psychologically troubling relationship between a huge diva of a film star mother and her teenage son. Leila is a middle-aged and profoundly narcissistic actress who is constantly surrounded by scandal. Vain and demanding, she’s relied on her oldest son Illmari for everything. Taking Illmari and his little brother with her on a weekend “break” to their lakeside cabin, a bored Leila invites a drunken coterie of friends and sycophants to join them. Enter screenwriter Aimo who immediately catches Leila’s eye. Illmari is not amused. As tensions mount, things go from bad to violent.
Leila is an attention whore and a drama queen. She absolutely must be the centre of attention. She'll do whatever she has to to make that happen. She uses her oldest son Illmari as everything she needs - her confidant, servant, and bodyguard. He basically carries all the roles for this family. He's been forced into adulthood far too early and doesn't have the maturity to go with his forced upon role. His younger brother, on the other hand, is left to do as he pleases, which mainly consists of filming wildlife. He's left alone. By the end of the film you'll realize this is probably the best thing that could happen to him.
The "cottage" they escape to is gorgeous. I'd watch this movie just to look at this home, sauna and outdoor surroundings. It's a perfect contrast to the constantly dark and depressed Illmari. The only time he shows his youth is when he becomes involved with a strange young girl in the nearby town. She's incredibly flightly and very much an attention whore like his mother. But he doesn't see it until it's too late. It is about the same time that his mother finally sees what she has done to him, but again, too late.
You will have the opportunity to watch this fine piece of Finnish visual storytelling on Friday, February 13th at 7:00pm. More information and tickets available HERE
All the best, your GG
|Posted on February 10, 2015 at 1:20 PM||comments (0)|
The lovely people at Tor occasionally send me something steampunk in nature to review at my other website - Steampunk Canada. This time, however, they sent me something a little different. A very very dark western full of the supernatural called The Shotgun Arcana.
Author R.S. Belcher's debut novel set in this western town, The Six-Gun Tarot garnered high praise from reviewers and readers alike. This second in the series should get no less.
1870. A haven for the blessed and the damned, including a fallen angel, a mad scientist, a pirate queen, and a deputy who is kin to coyotes, Golgotha has come through many nightmarish trials, but now an army of thirty-two outlaws, lunatics, serial killers, and cannibals are converging on the town, drawn by a grisly relic that dates back to the Donner Party…and the dawn of humanity.
Sheriff Jon Highfather and his deputies already have their hands full dealing with train robbers, a mysterious series of brutal murders, and the usual outbreaks of weirdness. But with thirty-two of the most vicious killers on Earth riding into Golgotha in just a few day’s time, the town and its people will be tested as never before—and some of them will never be the same.
(description from the publisher)
This weird west tale is epic in its scale of heroes, villians, battles, and just downright weirdness. It is also incredibly dark. No one is spared when the most vicious killers come to town. Not even the children. Be prepared. There is nothing graphic, but if you don't like something quite this dark - you've been warned. On the other hand, the story is wonderful in its darkness. It's truly cruel, but it makes the moments of redemption even more sweet.
While the villians are terrifying, those fighting for their town, and their lives, are just as incredible. I really loved the diversity of characters, and there was an equal number of kick ass men and women, young and old. A few are a little more in the gray spectrum of good/evil, but that keeps the reader on their toes. It's a true old time western community.
I also enjoyed the author's brilliant way of naming the chapters. Each title is a specific tarot card, and the chapter sticks to the meaning of that card. It's simple, but if you know the meanings of the cards it gives the reader a little precognition as to what's coming. It gave me warning when something nasty was coming up. Much appreciated.
Something else Belcher does that I loved was his cohabitation of many different spiritual beliefs within the story. Not one was right or better than another. They existed together, whether black, white or gray. I would love to see this spiritual equality and cooperation more often.
If you like tales of the weird west, with mad scientists, spirits, the undead, and really, more supernatural beings than I could count, you'll love The Shotgun Arcana!
All the best, your GG
|Posted on February 6, 2015 at 10:00 AM||comments (2)|
Last September I wrote about our upcoming 25th wedding anniversary and our plans for an Anniversary Adventure. In getting prepared, I have had to research and learn a few things about making or acquiring historically accurate clothing and accessories. I have learned how to turn a giant linen pillowcase into a fichu and how to turn a pair of second hand black fabric flats into shoes ready for a ballroom.
Answer: remove fabric buttons and add satin bows
I worked on these simple projects because I was putting off my next one. It involves a simple $3 straw hat. Easy to find at any Value Village or Goodwill.
But to change it into a period appropriate style I had to do something drastic to it...
This part terrified me - taking a perfectly good hat and chopping practically half of it off. I took a deep breath, drew where I wanted to cut with a marker, and just went for it. Once that was done I felt much better and set about finishing it.
Now, there are versions where you take off even more, but those add a poofy fabric crown. As I'll be a soldier's wife, living in a British army camp during the war of 1812, my hat had to be simple and more utilitarian. And so...
I added a natural colour binding all along the hat edge and two simple ribbons.
The whole thing took about 2 hours. Hand stitching the binding took the longest because it needed to be neat and tidy. But in only 2 hours I took a $3 second hand straw hat and turned it into a historical accessory I can wear for events. (Note: I purchased the linen bonnet underneath - married ladies and those my age always wore the white bonnet and added the hat when going out)
Here's the simple replay for those who want to give it a go:
I'm one happy hat maker.
All the best, your GG
|Posted on February 4, 2015 at 8:20 AM||comments (0)|
This week's Geek Hero post is a special one. My daughter Rowan requested and wrote this one.
Not only did Monty Oum create beautiful fight scenes for both video games and the series Red vs Blue, and create an amazing series of his own, he also had an amazing connection with the community formed by his art.
As a cosplayer, he understood the difficulties of trying to find pieces or finding patterns to make your own and gave the community advice and full break downs of each outfit and weapon in RWBY. He named attacks after names the community had given to relationships between certain characters in the same series. He took the time to kick butt at DDR with people at RTX.
Monty Oum’s art and determination to make it amazing has inspired and brought together countless people in various geek communities, whether it be fans of Rooster Teeth/Achievement Hunter, RWBY, Red vs Blue, or video game culture in general.
Sadly, at the very young age of 33 he passed away this week due to complications of a severe allergic reaction to a routine medical procedure.
He is being mourned by not only family and friends, but also a very large community of geeks, including my daughter Rowan.
All the best, your GG
|Posted on February 3, 2015 at 10:25 AM||comments (0)|
I watched it yesterday. I feel truly lucky to have had the chance to see it alone. I was weepy through almost the whole movie.
It is a Lithuanian film based on a real piece of their history.
The Excursionist is an inspiring true story taken from a dark period in the nation’s history. After World War II, Europe was divided in two parts and the state of Lithuania found itself on the eastern side of the Iron Curtain. Under the yoke of Stalinism, hundreds of thousands of Lithuanians were deported to gulags in the Soviet Union. Marija, an orphaned eleven-year-old girl, escapes from a transport train and sets out on a 6,000-mile trek back home, posing as a Russian and keeping her true identity secret in the face of suspicion and cruelty. This film is based on a true and extraordinary story. (from CFI)
The story begins in 1948. This really hit me because it's the same year my parents and two oldest sisters left the devastation in Malta from WWII and came to Canada. They were incredibly lucky to be invited to a new land of freedom and opportunity. What happens to this girl and her family is the exact opposite. This is where my eyes got a little watery (must have been dust in the house, yeah, that's it).
The whole movie is a succession of her trials and triumphs as she slowly makes her way home to Lithuania. This period of Russian history is very bleak and under Stalin, quite terrifying. Although Marija ends up in some horrible situtations, she is equally lucky to find a number of people who help her get back home. My absolute favourite is Bubba Nadia who brings her back from the brink of death, shows her only love, and begins her lessons on how to survive.
The movie may very well be based on the memoirs of Dalia Grinkeviciute, who was deported with her mother and sisters by train to an uninhabited island with 400 other Lithuanians. The conditions were horrible. She escaped back home to Lithuania in 1949. She was arrested again in 1951 and sent to a prison camp. Before she was arrested the second time she buried her memoirs. Dalia died in 1987. Her memoirs were found in 1991. (information from a paper by Tomas Balkelis, Lithuanian Children in the Gulag)
The filmmaker Audris Juzenas has created a beautiful telling of this girl's story. The cinematography is absolutely gorgeous. The music is classical and peaceful in contrast to some of the imagery. The story is inspirational. I highly recommend it. It's a wonderful marriage of history and art
You can watch it yourself this Sunday, February 8th. There's more information and tickets at the Canadian Film Institute.
All the best, your GG