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National Poetry Month starts tomorrow (in the USA, anyhow)!

Are YOU ready?

If not, here's a list of helpful links to take you from bad to verse. Don't get caught with your pantoums down!

What is National Poetry Month, anyhow?

How can I celebrate it?

How can I get more free poetry in my life? (Try Poem-a-Day, Poetry Daily, Rattle -- I use all of these.)

Where can I find out more about speculative (SF, fantasy, horror, etc.) poetry?


OK, that should get you started. I'll be posting more -- I hope -- on poetry all during April.

Truth in LJing: I commit poetry. Fairly regularly. I'm a member of SFPA, & the author of several collections of speculative poetry. My most recent, Dark Energies (P'rea Press 2015) was a Bram Stoker Award Finalist.

DEquinox

My Goodreads Review: Mira's Last Dance

Posted on 2017.03.22 at 15:52
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Mira's Last Dance (Penric and Desdemona, #4)Mira's Last Dance by Lois McMaster Bujold

My rating: 5 of 5 stars


This is a slightly iffy five stars, because it's actually the second half of a plot begun in Penric's Mission . .. but five stars none the less, if you're a Bujold fan.

The best of this, for me, was the continuing exploration of Learned Penric's relationship to his very complicated "demon" Desdemona. She is actually several separate personalities, and one of them (Mira, a noted courtesan dead for over a century) turns out to have exactly the skills needed to resolve the situation Penric & Co. found themselves in at the end of the last novella.

Pen being male doesn't slow Mira down a bit, though it does add to the lighter feel of this entry in the series. It also adds a bit to Bujold's examination of what it means to be male or female, and the importance of recognizing / honoring the gray areas.

If you're new to this series, be sure to start with Penric's Demon. These novellas are very serialized -- and besides, why miss out on more of a good thing?







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Want to help find Planet 9? (No, it's not Pluto. Nor, alas, Yuggoth.)

According to several sources of space news -- like Smithsonian.com, Space.com, & EarthSky -- NASA and the University of California, Berkeley are looking for a few good citizen scientists to check through images from WISE, NASA's Wide-field Infrared Survey Explorer. Apparently, there are still things the human eye does better than a computer program -- and noticing moving bright spots is one of them.

The project is called Backyard Worlds: Planet 9. To learn more, or join in the search, check here.

Good luck! I haven't joined yet, but I'm seriously considering it. After all, this is pretty much how Pluto got discovered by Clyde Tombaugh back in 1930.

DEquinox

My Goodreads Review: The Turn of the Screw

Posted on 2017.03.07 at 15:14
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The Turn of the ScrewThe Turn of the Screw by Henry James

My rating: 5 of 5 stars


A slow-burn classic of supernatural horror, with a side order of psychological suspense. This is pretty much the definitive Evil Children/possession tale, but James' writing style takes some settling into. The payoff is well worth it, however.

Probably best for those willing to enter into the Gothic game of shadows, suggestions, and ambiguities. If mysteriously troubled country houses and imperiled governesses don't enhance your horror experience, this might be one to avoid. If they do, though, this one's your catnip.





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I don't usually post about crowdfunding projects, but I've recently backed one (also rare for me!) that I'm pretty excited about.

Tony C. Smith of the District of Wonders podcasts is doing a Kickstarter for a new SF/F anthology.  It's entitled Everyone: Worlds Without Walls.  Its stated goal is to:

explore and celebrate how we are greater together – and, conversely, the need to tear down walls of ignorance, prejudice, and injustice.

The TOC for this one is international, diverse, & impressive -- and will expand as stretch goals are met.   Dr. Amy H. Sturgiseldritchhobbit will be writing the introduction. At this point, there are 21 writers involved!

With 10 days to go,  the project's original goal and one stretch goal have been met.  Pledge levels range from the extremely reasonable -- which gets you a e-copy of the anthology -- to more generous amounts for additional rewards.

All details, including that expanding TOC, can be found here.

(Full disclosure: I am backing this, but I am not one of the writers or otherwise involved with the project.)


DEquinox

My Goodreads review: Penric's Mission

Posted on 2017.02.23 at 16:30
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Penric’s Mission (World of the Five Gods, #3.7)Penric’s Mission by Lois McMaster Bujold

My rating: 5 of 5 stars


This third entry in Bujold's Penric & Desdemona series (long may it prosper!) has a distinctively darker tone than the two previous novellas, though it never veers into grimdark territory.

When the young Temple sorcerer and his much more experienced demon find themselves betrayed during a diplomatic mission, they must use all their skills to escape from almost certain death. The action and interpersonal intrigue never stop after that. Bujold delivers a coherent magical system, well-crafted fight scenes, and even a touch of honest romance in this one, and any fan of her World of the Five Gods will find this a must read.

Those new to these novellas should definitely start with Penric's Demon, since the plot is quite serialized. A fourth adventure -- Mira's Last Dance -- should be available soon, and I'll be preordering that for my Kindle at the earliest opportunity.




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DEquinox

My Goodreads Review: Sacrificial Nights

Posted on 2017.02.15 at 11:46
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Sacrificial NightsSacrificial Nights by Bruce Boston

My rating: 4 of 5 stars


This is a dark and effective novella-in-poems (with some prose / prose poem passages), weaving the lives of several characters into a compelling plot. The collaboration of Boston and Manzetti is nearly seamless, and the pages turn far more quickly than one would expect. The overall effect is one of noir hallucination, with several photomontage illustrations (by UK artist Ben Baldwin) enhancing the experience.

Aficionados of free verse, modern prose poetry, or noir fiction will probably find this a five-star ride. I prefer a little more structure and music, but still found myself unable to look away before this urban apocalypse reached its conclusion.

Full disclosure: I was supplied with an e-copy for Bram Stoker Award consideration.





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DEquinox

My Goodreads Review: The Girl on the Train

Posted on 2017.02.07 at 16:05
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The Girl on the TrainThe Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins

My rating: 4 of 5 stars


If you enjoy figuring out unreliable narrators, this one is definitely for you. Told through the perspectives of three young (to me, anyhow!) women, all of whom have serious problems in their lives, a fairly ordinary whodunit becomes something very hard to put down.

Recommended for those who enjoy female-centered thrillers, modern UK atmosphere, and a heavy dose of interpersonal drama. I found myself liking this one more than I expected to, possibly because I've ridden the London area commuter trains that figure so heavily in the plot.





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DEquinox

My Goodreads Review: Buddhism for Beginners

Posted on 2017.01.31 at 14:03
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Buddhism for BeginnersBuddhism for Beginners by Thubten Chodron

My rating: 3 of 5 stars


I'm rating this three stars rather than four due to the audio format. It's very well presented, but there is simply too much information in this short book to absorb in audio.

That said, this is a very good introduction to Buddhism for the curious, with an amazing amount of data packed into four hours of listening! It's clear and well-organized, and covers several different traditions. I suspect a hard copy or Kindle edition is the way to go with this one -- it seems intended for reference, as well as for reading straight through.





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Penric and the Shaman (World of the Five Gods, #1.6)Penric and the Shaman by Lois McMaster Bujold

My rating: 4 of 5 stars


Another delightful return to Bujold's World of the Five Gods, though with a somewhat confusing look into how shamanism works in that culture. (I've been told that reading The Hallowed Hunt first might help. I have somehow missed this one, & definitely intend to do that!)

This is very clearly the second in a series, so reading Penric's Demon first will let the reader get the most out of another right-sized fantasy adventure featuring a very young "full-braid divine" and his much more experienced demon. I'm already looking forward to reading the third of this series, now waiting on my Kindle.



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