Monday, July 31, 2017

Monday Musings: Albion Academy Pronunciation Guide

Someone recently asked me about some pronunciations of character names and such in Albion Academy. Although I didn't include a pronunciation guide in the book, I recently put one together in anticipation of the audio book entering production. What follows is a rough guide to how some of the more unusual names and magical phrases in the book are pronounced (some are pulled from other languages, so the pronunciation here is an Anglicized approximation; I apologize for any errors).

Aella – AY-ell-a

Akachi – uh-KA-chee

Alamar – AL-uh-mar

Albion – AL-bee-un

Albrione – al-BREE-own

Ambrosius – am-BRO-zyus

Ana – AH-na

Anaia – uh-NI-uh

Asgard – AZ-guard

Athanval – AH-thahn-vahl

Bechronian – beh-KROW-nee-an

Beclys – beh-CLIS

Belchor – bell-CORE

Bifröst – BUY-frost

Blaise – blaze

Bryn – brin

Brynhildr – brihn-HIL-dur

Caerleon – CAIR-lee-own

Cauda Pavonis – CAW-duh pa-VO-nis

chana – chah-NA

Colonomos – KO-lo-no’-mos

Corrine – core-IN

Corvin – CORE-vin

D’Artagnan – DAR-tan-yan

Darity – DARE-ih-tee

Ddraig tân – dryg tahn

Dénsmore – DENS-more

Ditrio omini nux – DI-tree-o AH-mih-nee NOOX

Djinni – jih-nee

Elevas – ELL-ay-VAHS

Emrys – em-riss

Eovaldi – AY-ō-VAL-dee

Fafnir – făf-NEER

Fiera – fee-AIR-uh

Fortuxanat – for-TOO-zah-NAHT

Freki – FREH-kee

Frey – fray

Freya – fray-uh

Frigga – FRIH-guh

Fyri – fih-REE

Geri – GEH-ree

Greenwich – gren-ich

Heimdall – HĪM-doll

Heurodis – HER-ō-diss

Horos – HOAR-ōs

Huginn – HOOG-in

Iasthai – YAS-thy

Ifrit – ih-freet

Ilium – ih-LEE-um

Jötnar – YŌT-nahr

Jotunheim – YO-tun-HĪM

Juvelin – JOO-veh-lin

Kaya – KI-uh

Lillesøster – LEE-leh-SO-stir

Lochesh – LO-kesh

Loki – LOW-kee

Mabh -- MAB

Malchus – MAL-kuss

Marcellus – MAR-kell-us

Mjölnir – MYŌL-neer

Muninn – MOON-in

Myr – mur

Myrddin – MUHR-thin

Oberon – O-bur-on

Odin – O-din

Pendragon – pen-DRĂ-gun

Purgaplene – PER-guh-plen-ay

Pyros incarcero – PIH-rōs in-CAR-ser-o

Ragnarok – RAG-nuh-rock

Saluton mia amo – SAH-loo-than MEE-uh AH-mo

Sicat – sic-AT

Sif – sihf

Sigrún – SIH-grun

Skuld -- SKULLD

Skuldsdóttir – SKULLDS-dot’-er

Slahn leat – SLAHN laht

Stavros – STAV-rōs

Stelara – steh-LAH-ruh

Steyan – stay-ahn

Storebror – STOW-ray-BRUR

Taliesin – TAL-ee-ess-in

Tariq – tuh-REEK

Terrapos – TEHR-ah-pōs

Titania – tih-TAHN-ya

Valhalla – val-HĂ-luh

Valin – VĂ-lin

Valkyrie – VAL-kur-ee

Yali – YAH-lee

Tuesday, July 25, 2017

Mossflower Library Tour Addendum

There are two main shelves I wanted to include in the library tour that didn't make it into the original photo shoot. First, the writing reference shelf.

This is all of my books on writing craft (along with the dictionaries and a few books of church skits).

Gardner's The Art of Fiction is worthwhile.

Then, there's the bedroom shelf. I featured this shelf in my reading goals post at the start of the year but it's changed a bit since then, so let's revisit it. (There may be a few books here that were already shown in previous library posts, but that's because they migrated between pictures. There are also a few books that migrated from this shelf to the library between pictures, and thus are not shown at all. Poor neglected things.)

Books from giveaways, books from Christmas, and nonfiction.

Fantasy, lit fic, mystery, and ongoing series reads.

Currently in progress: The Mysterious Affair at Styles, The Fact of a Body, The Great Divorce (reread, part of the C.S. Lewis Essential Classics), Innocents Aboard (also a reread), and They Have not Seen the Stars (Ray Bradbury's collected poetry).

More lit fic and fantasy, including a couple ongoing series reads.

This is the complete Count of Monte Cristo. This is the treacherous edition I read in high school that did not tell me it was abridged. I got rid of it as soon as I realized this.

More books I wish to reed sooner than later. I may not finish this shelf before New Year's.

Monday, July 24, 2017

A Bookshelf Tour of the Mossflower Library (Part 3)

Welcome back to the bookshelf tour. No lengthy intro, just more and more books!

This first picture is not from the alphabetical order. It's the short stack of books that's set to replace books from the bedroom shelf as they're read.

Riddle-Master is a reread, as is Beauty. The rest are books I just need to read.

The Ns, from Kim Newman to Mary Norton. (Notice the complete, chronologically ordered Old Kingdom/Abhorsen series. I still need to read Nix's Keys to the Kingdom.)

Also, there's Charlie Bone still to be read in there. So many series I've yet to start.

All of the Borrowers books, along with the Firebirds anthologies and the Dragonlover's Guide to Pern.

Again, I still need to read most of these.

Uprooted, Robert C. O'Brien, and more.
No, I haven't been tempted to reread Uprooted a half dozen times since I read it. Why do you ask?

The Crossroads trilogy, Auralia's Colors, and Ovid.

The Magic and the Healing: mythical veterinarian practice. Read it!

Ah, the Ps. Always missing their Qs.

One of these days, I will read Gormenghast. If it doesn't read me first.

Peretti and Peterson. The Oath scared me to death in high school.

And then Hangman's Curse wasn't quite as good as the film.

Poe, Pratchett, and sundry. Also, The Prestige, which is good in different ways from the film.

There are also a couple of Ellis Peters here. The rest of my Peters (both Ellis and Elizabeth) are on loan to Mom.

Rincewind just can't stay in his proper alphabetical position. However, there's mystery and heartbreak to his right. (The Westing Game still holds up every time I read it, and Where the Red Fern Grows made me tear up at the end, despite my having watched the film since before I can remember.)

The windfall will go to the one who finds the -- Ashes!

Percy Jackson, how can you mess up mythology today? (Just kidding. I loved these books.)

Riders is fantastic and actually uses the 4 Horsemen from Revelation.

Rowling, Rowling, Rowling. Keep the movies going. Even when we're done with the boooooks . . .

Please give me Fantastic Beasts 2. Pretty please with Chocolate Frogs on top.

We will pretend this is the alternate universe edition of Cursed Child, in which Rowling actually wrote the story. Oh, look, Holes! (Possibly my second favorite role for Eartha Kitt, after the tie of Yzma in The Emperor's New Groove and Old Lady Hackmore in Ernest Scared Stupid.)

Also, R.A. Salvatore was (one of) my high school fantasy addiction(s).

The one Sanderson book I actually have in print, and I haven't read it yet. Nor have I read any Sayers. Anyone want to pay me so I can stay home and read these books?

Those are collections of old Peanuts comic strips on the right.  Linus is my hero.

Schwab and Shakespeare!

Yes, I did type Shakespeare in my best Edwin Blackguard voice.

A motley assortment of plays, children's books, and fantasy.

Also, that omnibus of Dracula, Frankenstein, and Dr. Jekyll is perfection.

Snicket and such.

Have you read The Bronze Bow? Read The Bronze Bow!

The shooting script of the Hallmark Merlin series is one of my favorite books I've found (despite not having read it yet).

A lot of Stoker. So much Stoker you could drive a stake through it.

Sutcliff and the Edda.

Short stories, poems, and the only non-Baum Oz I consider canonical.

Tolkien may as well have his own shelf.

Oh wait. He does.

Tolkien and Turner.
Well. Sort of. Two half shelves make a whole.

The Queen's Thief. (I still need to finish rereading it.)

Joan Vinge and the Wangerin books.

The Book of the Dun Cow. Oh, my heart.
The Ws just keep going.

How did Verne get down here?

Dan Wells and T.H. White.

Oh how much the Disney film left out of The Sword in the Stone.

Charles Williams is the reason we can have Peretti.

Descent into Hell and War in Heaven will change the way you look at things. And people.

Tad Williams. Writer of books that are longer than yours. (Or mine.)

More Williams, some Windling, and Wolfe.

The Zs. The end.

Thursday, July 20, 2017

ThrowBook Thursday: The Silver Chair

I have recently been on a The Silver Chair kick, thanks to talking about the upcoming film adaptation with some of the mods and members of NarniaWeb. It started with giving the audio book a second listen, after not going back to it for years because I hated Jeremy Northam's take on Puddleglum (read: it wasn't Tom Baker). Then I followed that up with the Focus on the Family radio adaptation, as well as the BBC Radio version. Due to that, this month's ThrowBook Thursday is a bit of a comparative review, taking a look at the different versions of the story.

The Silver Chair is perennially in my favorites of the Narnia books (to be fair, I love all of them), and with the production of the film adaptation moving forward, I'm hoping the production team really gets Narnia as a whole, not just this story. The movies till now have had a mixed vision of Narnia, falling somewhere between Lewis' Narnia and the average fantasy world of Hollywood (usually on the latter end of that spectrum). But The Silver Chair seems a more straightforward tale to adapt. That being said, I tend to fall back on a couple of scenes (and characters) that are my litmus test for how well an adaptation of this book does.

Jill Meets Aslan

Really, if you don't get Aslan, you don't get Narnia. But this scene is especially important to get right because it lays the groundwork for the rest of the book not only in tone but in theme. Jill's reactions to Aslan from this point to the end are the landmarks of her character development. The Signs (and the call to remember them) guide the story forward, and Aslan's character here is perhaps his most inscrutable appearance because Jill's encounter with him is the most fearful and unsure. So far, the best version of this scene is actually (for my money) the BBC TV version from the early '90s. Though its production value leaves a great deal to be desired, this scene comes across almost perfectly as far as Jill's and Aslan's characterization go. This is the only version to include Aslan's line about swallowing up "girls, boys, men and women, kings and emperors, cities and realms" and get the tone that Lewis describes ("it just said it") right. Neither Northam (who reads the audio book) nor David Suchet (who plays Aslan in the FotF version) quite get the tone right, whereas the BBC radio version elides this exchange altogether (likely because they spent nearly half an hour getting to it, filling in the gap between The Voyage of the Dawn Treader and The Silver Chair with scenes in England and Narnia).

Puddleglum's Speech

This is perhaps the most well-known and iconic scene in the novel. Puddleglum is the character most likely to go wrong in any adaptation. On the surface, he seems to be nothing but an eternal pessimist, but really he is the sort who wishes to be prepared for the worst outcome. So far the Puddleglum farthest from the book is (for me) the FotF version; much of this comes down to his accent, but it's really the way his voice always sounds so doleful. He rarely gets the levity of the book's Puddleglum, and the one time when it really comes through, it falls flat and seems off. That moment comes in this scene, when Puddleglum says, "It's funny, if you think about it. We're just babies making up a game, if you're right." And it winds up ruining the power of the rest of his speech.

In the BBC Radio adaptation, this scene is also truncated. There's no mention of the Sun or Aslan until Puddleglum goes into his speech, and the scene feels entirely too quick. The tension and power are undercut by the need to speed through the beats. And the best line, the one that pushes the speech into excellence, is dropped. There is no "Four babies playing a game can make up a dream world that licks your real world hollow." And that is disappointing.

For my money, Tom Baker's Puddleglum still does the best at delivering this speech, though Northam does it justice as well.

Other Points of Comparison

The BBC radio adaptation is the briefest of the four adaptations we've had so far, and its briefer length unsettles the flow of the story. Rather than begin with Jill and Eustace behind the gym at Experiment House, it adds scenes of Eustace, Edmund, and Lucy discussing Narnia and what's gone on since they've been back in England. These scenes (very clumsy affairs that shift the book's opening focus from Jill to Eustace) are interspersed with scenes from Narnia that follow Caspian's life from his marriage to Ramandu's daughter to her death and Rilian's disappearance. While the Narnian scenes (mostly) serve no more purpose than to present the prince's story upfront, they also make the opening of the story take a bit longer than necessary. The one shining moment of this sequence is the deft handling of Drinian's explanation to Caspian about Rilian's disappearance and Caspian's reaction. The BBC TV version, with its half-hearted drawing of a sword, makes this scene a laugh instead of a serious moment.

The BBC Radio adaptation also shortens the scene with Aslan at the beginning, and speeds over Ettinsmoor so that there is no encounter with the giants there to contrast with the giants of Harfang. The children and Puddleglum have no sooner set out than they reach the giant's bridge and meet the Green Lady and her knight. Other small things are dropped (such as Puddleglum's tipsiness and the sleeping Father Time) and the Signs don't recur and repeat as much as in the book. One other significant scene that is removed in this adaptation is the lunch scene in Harfang during which Puddleglum and the children realize they've been eating a Talking Stag. This scene is necessary because of how much it emphasizes the way the trio has strayed from Aslan's instructions by coming to Harfang.

The FotF radio version has high production values, thrilling music, and generally excellent casting recommending it. However, as I said, its Puddleglum is a bit too dour. There is also the issue of Suchet's Aslan. Many people I know often treat Suchet's Aslan in the same way they treat the outlandish costuming of the BBC TV serials: poking fun with a bit of love. While FotF has such high production values, Suchet's Aslan is decidedly not Aslan. His attempts to sound like a lion often result in strange enunciation and result in readings of lines that mar the meaning rather than supporting it.

The BBC TV adaptation is, though low in production value, a fine adaptation if you're looking for faithfulness to the book. With a few small exceptions (Puddleglum's panic attack in the Underworld, the moving of part of Aslan's speech from Voyage to the end of The Silver Chair), this is the closest adaptation to the book, taking much of the dialogue directly from the book. Tom Baker is still a fantastic Puddleglum in my estimation, and the shining point of this version.

The audio book, read by Jeremy Northam, is splendidly narrated. I can't recommend it enough.

Wednesday, July 19, 2017

Cake Book Tag: Books for Dessert

This is a book tag that I'm nabbing (and modifying) from Cait at Paper Fury (who nabbed and modified it from #bookstagram). I'll try to go with more recent books in cases where there are many answers I could give.

1. Chocolate Cake: A dark book you absolutely love

Hmm . . . I don't usually "love" dark books. But V.E. Schwab's Shades of Magic series is one of the darker I've read recently, and I did love those. (Note: They feature vulgarity, violence, and the occasional mostly tasteful scene of human love-making, so if those aren't your cup of tea, or you're like me and appreciate knowing beforehand, this is your warning.)

2. Vanilla Cake: A light read

I just poked through my reading challenge for this year on Goodreads and . . . I've not read many books this year I'd deem "light" (and truth to tell, a lot more of them are dark than I'd have given myself credit for. I still put SoM as my answer for dark books.) Of this year's readings, I'd say Kathryn Lasky's The Capture is the lightest, although it certainly has its fair share of dark things. But it's also the book written for the youngest audience that I've read this year, so there's that.

3. Red Velvet: A book that gave you mixed emotions (Um. Red Velvet isn't mixed emotions. It is JOY.)

The Charmed Children of Rookskill Castle by Janet Fox. I started out loving this book, and by midway through there was no mystery left except how quickly would the main characters catch up with what the readers know and act on it (spoiler alert: almost the end of the book). And then there's the small matter of the final chapter being more than an open ending: it practically says, "There's another book to be written!" while the author has yet to announce any such book. That sort of thing irritates me about as much as cliffhangers to TV seasons that might not be picked up for renewal (I'm looking at you, Galavant season 1).

4. Cheesecake: A book you would recommend to anyone

Narnia. Till We Have Faces. Uprooted by Naomi Novik is a more recent book I'd put on this list (though again, there is a caveat of a sex scene that honestly feels out of place and is more graphic than I care for. However, it's easily skipped without damage to the story.)

5. Coffee Cake: A book you started but never finished

The Man in the High Castle. I just. Couldn't. Finish. The style was so clunky and jarring. The roots of the show are there, but I couldn't be bothered to keep digging for them when there were a hundred other books calling my name that were more interesting.

6. Carrot Cake: A book with great writing

The Thief by Megan Whalen Turner. It just gets better each time I read it.

7. Tiramisu: Book that left you wanting more

The Heart of What was Lost by Tad Williams. I wanted to dive into The Witchwood Crown as soon as I finished this one, but alas, it hadn't been released yet. (And I still have to reread To Green Angel Tower first.)

8. Cupcakes: Series with 4+ books

Harry Potter. The Wheel of Time. For series I've actually read at least part of this year: Narnia, Megan Whalen Turner's The Queen's Thief/Attolia, Mercedes Lackey's Elemental Masters, Tad Williams' Osten Ard/Memory, Sorrow, and Thorn. All of them are worth the read.

9. Fruit Cake: Book that wasn't what you anticipated

Caraval by Stephanie Garber. I went in expecting a dark but hopeful book about games and carnivals and death traps. I got a romance. I still (mostly) enjoyed it, though, once the true genre emerged.

10. Lamington (favourite Australian books)

I don't know what that is. (Ok. I can mention Garth Nix because he's Australian and I love the Old Kingdom series, but really, I know nothing about Australian books so I'm going to make this one different.)

10. Strawberry Shortcake: Favorite American books

I'm going to list a couple here. Mary Robinette Kowal's Ghost Talkers (while not American-set, it does feature an American main character) is a phenomenal book. Dan Wells' John Cleaver books are very American and very chilling. Robert C. O'Brien's books are American fantasy and science fiction I've enjoyed. It's one thing I'd like to see more of: speculative fiction (anything fantastic, science fictional, or otherwise outside the "normal" realm) that is American rather than being pseudo-European/medieval and written by Americans. I realize that Albion Academy doesn't quite fit this (because I have too much fun mixing mythologies) but it's still something I'd like to see more of.

Are there any books you'd categorize differently from mine? Any you'd like to add? Let me know in the comments!

Monday, July 17, 2017

A Bookshelf Tour of the Mossflower Library (Part 2)

Welcome back to the Mossflower library tour. We left off in the tail-end of the Gs last time, which means this installment picks up with the Grimm brothers.

Lots of myth and folklore on this shelf.

Moving on from Beowulf (just kidding; we never move on from Beowulf), there's Tony Hillerman's Navajo mysteries. These books are infused with Southwestern Native American/Amerindian/First Nations culture, including folklore and religious beliefs. Also, Robin Hobb lurks at the end of the shelf.

This shelf seems to exemplify my reading habits: literary non-fic, sci-fi and fantasy, mystery, with a dash of poetry for good measure.

Robert Holdstock (Mythago Wood is a must-read!), Hosseini (still need to read this one), and lots of Bunnicula.
Who knows what evil lurks in the hearts of books? The Vashta Nerada, that's who. Count the shadows.

From Howe to Hugo to Jacques.

Yes, that is a copy of Fractured Fairy Tales. Yes, the Rocky and Bullwinkle "Fractured Fairy Tales." Yes, Edward Everett Horton still narrates them in my head. No, I can't read them aloud in his voice (yet).

Behold the gloriousness of my (nearly) complete Redwall collection. (I'm not exactly eager to add all of the later books as I feel they petered off in quality after Taggerung/Lord Brocktree or so.)

Side note: Voyage of Slaves is signed because BJ came near enough to where we were living when it released for us to actually go see him and get his autograph.

The Bowers Files and a few random Js, including the wonderful Jim Henson biography.

Steven James is brilliant. Read him.

Diana Wynne Jones. Need I say more?

Shout out to my brother who got me a VW bus for Christmas one year. One day, maybe he'll get me a human-sized one.

The beginning of The Wheel of Time. (Technically, the first two books are missing because my brother is borrowing them. I'm sure I'll have them back before Samwise finishes elementary school.)

The mask on the spine of The Dragon Reborn is even creepier in the shadows.

The rest of the series, in two parts (ironically, my favorite books in the series are at the bottom of the left and the top of the right):

The end of the Js, some Stephen King, and the first Wheel of Time companion book.

Also, the time books in the middle are Alexander Key's Witch Mountain books.

Stephen King, Rudyard Kipling. Same difference, right?

Kidding. Kipling is better.

About half of my Dean Koontz collection. The other half is at my parents' because they were acquired during a period when Mom basically took home my McKay's purchases because she'll read them faster than I.
If you haven't read Mary Robinette Kowal's Shades of Milk and Honey, go out and do so. It's a wonderful spin on Austenian England with just a touch of magic.

Speaking of England + magic, Mercedes Lackey's Elemental Masters series is a fun place to go if you like fairy tales and history. Also, I own a lot of unread Stephen Lawhead books.

I do love that the children's book of Arthur rests next to Lawhead's Arthurian saga.

More Lawhead, along with To Kill a Mockingbird (❤), Ursula LeGuin, and Madeleine L'Engle.

This reminds me: I need to reread the Time Quartet.

A prime example of books I own because they were cheap at McKay's: the complete visual companions for the Lord of the Rings film trilogy:

My preciousss . . .

L'Engle and Lewis: not a bad combination. Also, I have a few wands.

From back to front: oak, elm, hawthorn, and cedar. I think the dogwood wand (my Pottermore wand) is buried.

More Lewis (because there is never enough Lewis on the shelves), along with Lois Lowry and George MacDonald.

The sword is one made by my grandfather. If he's good, Samwise may get to carry it when he's older.

Patricia McKillip and Robin McKinley (as if I don't mix them up enough, they're next to each other on the shelf!), along with Sarah, Plain and Tall and two books I really need to read: Birdwing (a sequel to "The Wild Swans"!) and The Wand in the Word (a book of interviews with some of my favorite fantasy writers).
Also, this shelf will probably be entirely McKillip and McKinley in a few years' time.

I Spy books, Moby-Dick, and an assortment of Ms.

I spy with my little eye . . . books that will consume many hours of searching.

The end of the Ms and the beginning of the Ns. Oh, look. Mirriam's here.

I really need to order a physical copy of Monster to place next to Paper Crowns.

That's all for today. Next time we'll finish the Ns and (maybe) get through the other half of the library. This might be a 4-part series. Any comments, questions, or reading suggestions? Let me know down below, on Facebook, or wherever you can find me.