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Elizabeth II: Life of a MonarchElizabeth II: Life of a Monarch by Ruth Cowen

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This short (8, 30 minute "chapters") Audible Original offering is a well-produced brief biography of the current Queen. It is currently available on Audible Channels, and is well worth the listening time for Anglophiles. I'm not sure whether it's available for separate purchase.

I found this light but very interesting (with a few mentions of the royal Corgis, always a plus for me). It's a fairly balanced look at at the royal family, with plenty of dirty laundry being aired along with the high points. The tone was more historical than gossipy, which I appreciated.

Good for those still curious after the recent royal wedding, or anyone wanting a solid but quick overview.

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The Prisoner of Limnos (Penric and Desdemona, #6)The Prisoner of Limnos by Lois McMaster Bujold

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Any new Penric and Desdemona adventure is worth celebrating (and for many of us, worth acquiring). How much a reader will celebrate this one depends on whether her/his tastes run to romance or magic systems. I personally craved a little more chaos demon and "uphill magic" in action, though I found this novella's resolution satisfying.

I won't attempt to summarize the fairly straightforward rescue plot. Most of the real pleasure here lies in the working out of Pen and Nikys' relationship (though, thank all the Five Gods, it isn't completely worked out -- which means another novella), with a heavy side order of this world's religious system.

As might be expected from the title, there are some nasty threats -- including some court intrigue I did want to see worked out better -- but no serious grimdark elements. Bujold does a fine job of implying rather than detailing the sometimes violent nature of her world, which I for one appreciate.

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My Goodreads review: Circe

Posted on 2018.05.07 at 16:07
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CirceCirce by Madeline Miller

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

This is an utterly lovely -- though brutal at points & heartbreaking at other points -- book, possibly the loveliest I've read since my last Guy Gavriel Kay excursion.

Key points of The Odyssey are retold (possibly reclaimed) by a very NOT-minor minor goddess, in first person and with complete honesty. Speaking from a mythology from an ancient culture that did not value women highly, the witch/sorceress Circe turns the tables on narrative expectations and brings not only herself, but many other "minor" female characters (and monsters!) into the spotlight.

There is a definite revisionist flavor to this one, but the politics never get in the way. Highly recommended for lovers of mythology, prose poetry, and/or writers like Mary Renault.

The Audible version is narrated by Perdita Weeks, who sounds exactly as one would expect a Perdita Weeks to sound. YMMV, but I was very glad I spent a credit to enhance my experience.

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Earth Day, 20??

Posted on 2018.04.22 at 11:14
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big blue pin
in their invasion map
Earth Day

-- Ann K. Schwader

I am very happy to announce that speculative fiction webzine Abyss & Apex #66 http://www.abyssapexzine.com/ is up,
with an extensive poetry TOC:

Introduction to Poetry Issue 66 by John C. Mannone
“The Song of Unknown Night” by Hongri Yuan
“To Watch the World Burn” by Jason Harris
“Rebellion” by Genevieve DeGuzman
“A City Built On Bones” by Ann Schwader
"Oatk Ash, and Crow" by Rebecca Buchanan
“The Honored” by WC Roberts
“Paul Bunyan and the Whirlwind Mountain” by Gabriel Ertsgaard
“La Belle a la Bête” by Brittany Hause
“Tea Leaves” by Hilary Biehl
“Zojaj” by Sheikha A.

My villanelle "A City Built On Bones" http://www.abyssapexzine.com/2018/03/a-city-built-on-bones/
was inspired by the 2017 earthquake in Mexico City, plus a healthy helping of Atzec mythology.


My Goodreads review: West Cork

Posted on 2018.04.09 at 16:05
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West CorkWest Cork by Sam Bungey

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This one reminded me a lot of People Who Eat Darkness: The Fate of Lucie Blackman, though set in a much different environment and with a less definite conclusion. The problem of an "outsider" woman killed in a mysterious manner is combined with her family (also "outsider") trying to get justice, plus less than helpful local law enforcement and a problematic legal system. There is also a remarkably irritating prime suspect.

The very Irish flavor here (a few of the interviewees needed subtitles, though how one could do that on audio I'm not sure) made a real change from traditional British mysteries, though it did have some of the same feeling. The series' close-up look at the An Garda Síochána (Irish national police) was fascinating.

I hesitated between 3 and 4 stars for this, but finally settled on 4 because it really did keep me listening. I suspect that a real true crime fan might find it even more worthwhile. Since I'm only an occasional true crime reader/listener, I was somewhat glad I'd gotten this one free from Audible.

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A half-century Odyssey . . .

Posted on 2018.04.03 at 15:31
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fifty years later
still waiting for HAL
pod bay door

-- Ann K. Schwader


Here in the USA, at least, it's National Poetry Month! (Yes, it really is a thing.) Are you ready?

If not (and I never seem to be), here are some links to get a little more free poetry into your life:

(what the heck IS National Poetry Month, anyhow?)

(Poem-A-Day . . . get a fresh poem in your Inbox every day. Poems M-F are originals, weekends bring you classics. )

(how to sign up for Poetry Daily & their special April Poets' Pick emailings. They're running a fund drive, too, but everything here is free. Poem selections here are from a variety of mainstream poetry journals, & some are in translation.)

(Knopf Poetry Poem-A-Day sign-up. Free, & only for April, but does sign you up for occasional "information" about other poets they publish. I've found it non-intrusive, & the poetry here is excellent.)

(Rattle Poetry. Online & print journal offering yet another chance to have a poem in your Inbox daily. Some of the poetry here is speculative, though Rattle is not a spec poetry journal.)


Spectral Realms #8 now available!

Posted on 2018.03.26 at 16:16
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I'm a little late in posting about this, but still very happy to announce that Spectral Realms #8 (Winter 2018) is now available from Hippocampus Press.

This twice-yearly trade paperback journal of weird verse (edited by S.T. Joshi) continues to offer a comprehensive look at the latest renaissance of this sub-genre. This time around, it's over 130 pages: new work, classic reprints (only two), one article, and two reviews of recent collections.

Contributors include most of the Usual Suspects, both veterans and newcomers. One of the former is Yours Truly, with "Volunteers" (blank verse sonnet).

For the complete TOC, or to order with FREE shipping:



Just International?

Posted on 2018.03.08 at 12:19
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half the sky
is half the stars
alien sisters

-- Ann K. Schwader


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