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Posted by Amanda

This HaBO comes from Brenda, who wants to find a book a colleague recommended:

So I am at work and there is a sub in the classroom. We start talking books. 😀 She says her favorite is historical romance and starts to describe her favorite. I can only remember the plot, but the way she described it made me want to read it.

1. It was super funny. She claimed she was laughing throughout.

2. Historical romance. Set in Scotland. It was very cold.

3. Our hero gets himself a mail order bride.

4. Our hero knows NOTHING about woman. I suspect he may be a virgin.

5. Our heroine claims to know how to cook and clean. She don’t know those things.

6. She might have brought along her younger brother.

7. Not a new book. Several years old. Possible Harlequin.

Mail order brides. Scots. Virgin heroes. Catnip, anyone?

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Posted by John Scalzi

For the parking lot aficionados, bask in the glory of not one, not two, but three entirely separate parking structures! Parkingpalooza! That really catches us up on the parking lots, which had been a bit sparse the last few days.

Also: Hello, Dallas! Tonight at 7 you can see me at Half Price Books! So do! I will be lonely without you. All of you. Every single citizen of Dallas. Yes.

Tomorrow: Chicago, my collegiate stomping grounds! Volumes Bookcafe at 7pm. The event is sold out (yikes!).

And then I get to go home for a few days. Wheee!

Links for you today: A review of The Collapsing Empire at Ars Technica: The Collapsing Empire is a hilarious tale of humanity’s impending doom. And then, from me: Five Books I Was Thinking Of When I Wrote The Collapsing Empire. Enjoy!

The Unyielding by Shelly Laurenston

Mar. 28th, 2017 03:49 pm
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Posted by SB Sarah

Short version: This book is seriously fun, and I had a very good time reading it. Yes, you should read books one and two, but you must know by the number of times I’ve squeed about this series, including in my review, that having to read them is not at all a bad thing. Go read books 1 and 2, then get 3, then lie back and bask in the collective bliss of getting to know the Crows.

ALSO: Trigger Warnings for attempted rape, and violence against (and by!) women (but you knew that).

Long version: I have been waiting semi-impatiently for book 3 in the Call of Crows series. I’ve read both The Unleashing ( A | BN | K | G | iB | Au ) and The Undoing ( A | BN | K | G | iB ) twice, and listened to each while walking my dogs – which resulted in some very long and tiring walks because I wanted to keep going. I love the world of this series, the sisterhood of Crows who fight and snarl and dislike one another but have each other’s backs when in battle, without question. I love the idea of women superheroes in allegiance to a Norse goddess, all driven and fueled by rage – and having a myriad of justifications for that rage, all of which are entirely valid and painful levels of familiar.

The set up of the world is pretty simple but the execution thereof is very not:  Norse gods and goddesses have a human team representing their interests on earth (aka Midgard). Those interests usually mean fighting demons or other dreadful creatures, retrieving some lost thing that a god or goddess somehow misplaced (again), and sometimes fighting alongside or against the other clans.

The Unleashing
A | BN | K | iB
Book three, The Unyielding, picks up shortly after the end of book two – and the chronology of the larger story is partly why you should read the first two. The “big bad” that they’re dealing with won’t make as much sense if you don’t have the background. A lot is already set up, both in the world, and in the characters when this book begins. So The Unyielding doesn’t work, I don’t think, as a stand alone, but as I’ve said, books 1 and 2 are so much fun, I recommend them without reservation. Yes, you have to read three books but they are worth it, trust me.

The heroine, Erin Amsel, has been a major character in each book, and in this one she’s the full focus of the story. Her gift from Skuld, the goddess who creates the Crows, is fire: she can make fire appear on her hands, she can craft ropes of flame, and can stop fire from harming her. She can, in fact, literally burn everything down to the ground.

The Undoing
A | BN | K | iB
 That ability plays a crucial role in the plan devised by Jace, the heroine of book 2, The Undoing, who, with The Protectors, the clan who represents Tyr, the Norse god of knowledge, heroism, and war, has figured out a possible way to finally beat Gullveig, who is determined to take over earth and destroy everyone and everything (she also has some rage and a bit of a grudge against all the other gods).

Erin teams up almost accidentally with Stieg, one of the Ravens, who serve Odin. (See what I mean about reading books 1 and 2?) (Seriously, go get started now, and you’ll be done by Sunday.) (Yes, they are that good!) Stieg is dispatched by his team leader to keep an eye on Erin, as the clans are starting to realize through their collective research that there may be only one option to defeat Gullveig, and that Erin is the key and the only one who can make that defeat happen.

As a result of that very special status, a lot of other groups, some of whom would totally love to bring about the end of the world, are trying to kill her – so Stieg ends up helping Erin avoid some potentially deadly situations. They are thrown together, and then they stay together once it’s acknowledged by all nine clans that there’s only one way to finish Gullveig, and they have to work together (cue eye-rolling, barely-hidden complaints, and general resentment among those same nine clans).

In this story, there is more quest and adventure than romance – which is part of the reason I can’t set up the squee cannon and fire into the atmosphere the way I have and will for books 1 and 2. I liked this book plenty, and I love how it fits into the world and continues the saga, but as a romance, it’s not as strong and didn’t generate as many feels as the other two.

Part of it is vulnerability, I think. Erin is not very vulnerable – for valid reasons – and Stieg is so candid about his own history that what other characters think is his vulnerable area really isn’t. Plus, once Erin and Stieg team up, they fit together marvelously. When they head out on the quest that drives the majority of the story, that quest takes up most of their attention, and steers the other characters to the end of this book. They have each other’s backs, yes, and they have a partnership that works for the purposes of their journey, so it’s a bonus that their pants feelings lead to frequent and honest enjoyment of one another physically. But there isn’t a lot of conflict aside from getting to know each other’s true selves in little portions as they travel.

The heroines in this series don’t have to change much, but they do grow up, evolve, and become better people – as do the heroes. The conflict becomes more and more external with each book, too. Kera from book 1 needs to learn how to fit in with a completely different squad of fighting people, moving from a human formerly of the US Marines to a Crow among sister-Crows loyal to Skuld. Jace, in book 2, needs to learn how to control her rage and how to embrace the power of it, and overcome a horrible and abusive backstory.

In this book, and in the first two, Erin is a dick. She’s always been a dick. She’s still a dick. And she knows it. She stirs shit because watching people get upset about trivial crap is fun for her. But in this book, her character doesn’t so much change drastically as reveal herself to the reader, to Stieg, and to her sister Crows. She messes with people and she’ll be terribly honest when she doesn’t want to be in a situation (“Bored now. Leaving. Bye!”) but she also acknowledges in some key moments that she knows where people’s truly vulnerable spots are, and she doesn’t go near them. She’s disrespectful 99.6% of the time, but there’s a moral core that has a consistent respect for what really matters.

Erin also adores her powers, and her second life as a Crow. She loves her life, enjoys every moment of it as much as she can, and generally doesn’t care about unimportant or unnecessary stress. She’s very smart, very clever, and also deadly. but I don’t think she changes so much as faces a challenge that scares her and forces her to take something seriously, thus revealing more about herself to Stieg and to the reader. But that “more” was always there; she’s just more open about it in this book. It’s more of a “this is who I really am” revelation than a “now I have developed as a person” type of evolution.

As for Stieg, it’s a similar series of discoveries about his character: all the things he reveals were always there, but he just didn’t share them with anyone.

There is one scene early on that I want to discuss in detail. I read it three times, going back to the start of the chapter to question my own acceptance of it, and because of that I want to explain in some detail so as to allow you to make fully-informed decisions about your reading. Triggery discussion ahoy.

First, references to rape appear a few times in the course of the story. These are some violent people who battle creatures who do even more violent and dreadful things. All of these characters are Vikings, or similar to (the Crows are the exception, as they aren’t of Scandinavian or Nordic heritage. They were originally slaves brought back to life by Skuld). As representatives of a Norse god, there’s a lot of “You’re not really Viking like us,” from the other clans, even though the Crows exhibit the same strengths and powers and loyalty to their goddess. But as I said, due to the repeated viking theme, there are several references to “raping and pillaging,” especially by the creatures that come out of Hel because, well, they are from Hel. Sexual violence is a threat wielded by the evil and monstrous, but there’s also an acknowledgement that this same violence is part of the heritage of many of the characters.

Plus the book opens with a seriously violent flashback to a very, very old battle between the clans. I struggled a bit with that part.

Show Spoiler

But there is one scene after a battle where Stieg is watching tv and Erin’s at his apartment, and that’s the one I read a few times. Erin takes charge and satisfies herself and Stieg sexually, and I stumbled a bit on the scene and the dialogue before and during, because I wasn’t entirely sure he’d given consent. Or at least given it to Erin.

But as I read it over (and over), I realized that part of my hang up was my own messy gendered thinking, and that he does consent (actively so) though he wants more emotionally than Erin is willing to give at that time.

Erin’s development as a character rests on vulnerability. She’s the only hope for, you know, all creatures in existence on earth. Initially she sort of shrugs it off and accepts it, until she begins to realize that while she’s able to shrug off small stuff, this is the exact opposite of small stuff. This is the least-serious person being tasked with the most serious job. That’s the big picture, the basis of the quest, and that part of her growth is brilliant.

On a personal level, she begins to have feelings for Stieg, and that part wasn’t as strong for me. The lower levels of conflict between Stieg and Erin made this book not as powerful for me as a romance.

As a fantasy adventure, though, it rocks. I love exploring Norse mythology through Laurenston’s imagination and her take on all of it – the worlds, the gods, the sexism, and the fury that all of these gods and warriors who think so highly of themselves have to depend on a clan they look down on, and one Crow in particular that many of them despise.

Erin and Stieg travel through several Norse worlds and Laurenston’s versions are a lot more interesting than other representations I’ve read and seen. Women drive the story in every chapter and in each world or underworld, and each character who is introduced serves as a vehicle to explore and celebrate (in some cases) how women manage rage, power, revenge, and their natural abilities (super-powered or otherwise). Women are the superheroes here, and while there are super-powered men, in this series, women run the show.

The epic battle at the end is massive in scale, and very satisfying to read if you’ve got rage and frustration stored up. The book also ends on a bit of a twist (but not a cliffhanger) and there’s the introduction of a new group of characters — and I’m hoping that all of this means there’s a few more books in this world planned for the future (please please please).

The foundation of the world rests on the idea of a do-over for women who have been victims of brutality in various forms, almost always at the hands of men. In their second lives as Crows, they are more powerful. They are free to do whatever they like. They start over with strength and knowledge that they can’t be hurt as badly by things that hurt them before – especially since they can’t be killed twice in the same way (a rule that is deployed ironically several times in this book).

The do-over-with-more-power idea alone is the start of hours of daydreaming. The idea of finding one’s Crows, of finding the women who stand with you whenever shit gets messy – it’s so powerful, and so necessary. This series, and each book within it, makes me feel better whenever I’m stressed or feeling powerless and overwhelmed.  It acknowledges the rage inherent in feeling powerless, and transforms that rage into useful, powerful action. It’s the best kind of catharsis. The Unyielding may not be my favorite of the series, but I still recommend the Crows books loudly to everyone who will listen to me.

Scifi, Fantasy, & Paranormal Romance

Mar. 28th, 2017 03:30 pm
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Posted by Amanda

Sleeping Giants

RECOMMENDEDSleeping Giants by Sylvain Neuvel is $1.99! It’s a scifi novel with a female protagonist. Readers say that though this scifi is a little darker and less “feel good,” the loved it. However, some felt a bulk of the book was just setup and information dumping for the next book. It has a 3.8-star rating on Goodreads. Elyse enjoyed this one and I really loved the audiobook.

Sleeping Giants is a thriller fueled by an earthshaking mystery—and a fight to control a gargantuan power.
A girl named Rose is riding her new bike near her home in Deadwood, South Dakota, when she falls through the earth. She wakes up at the bottom of a square hole, its walls glowing with intricate carvings. But the firemen who come to save her peer down upon something even stranger: a little girl in the palm of a giant metal hand.

Seventeen years later, the mystery of the bizarre artifact remains unsolved—its origins, architects, and purpose unknown. Its carbon dating defies belief; military reports are redacted; theories are floated, then rejected.

But some can never stop searching for answers.

Rose Franklin is now a highly trained physicist leading a top secret team to crack the hand’s code. And along with her colleagues, she is being interviewed by a nameless interrogator whose power and purview are as enigmatic as the provenance of the relic. What’s clear is that Rose and her compatriots are on the edge of unraveling history’s most perplexing discovery—and figuring out what it portends for humanity. But once the pieces of the puzzle are in place, will the result prove to be an instrument of lasting peace or a weapon of mass destruction?

Add to Goodreads To-Read List →

This book is on sale at:

Amazon Barnes & Noble Kobo iBooks Audible





RECOMMENDED: Sabriel by Garth Nix is $1.99! Many of you were talking about the continuation of this series in a previous Hide Your Wallet post. For those who want to jump on the awesome train or want to convince a friend/family to jump on with you, the first book in the Abhorsen series can be snagged for less than $2! This young adult fantasy novel involves a girl, magic, a boarding school, and a quest to find her missing father. Some recent readers of the series found the material a little dated, but they seem to be in the minority as the book is closing in on 100,000 ratings on GR with a 4.1-star rating overall.

Since childhood, Sabriel has lived outside the walls of the Old Kingdom, away from the power of Free Magic, and away from the Dead who refuse to stay dead. But now her father, the Abhorson, is missing, and Sabriel must cross into that world to find him. With Mogget, whose feline form hides a powerful, perhaps malevolent spirit, and Touchstone, a young Charter Mage, Sabriel travels deep into the Old Kingdom. There she confronts an evil that threatens much more than her life and comes face-to-face with her own hidden destiny…

Add to Goodreads To-Read List →

This book is on sale at:

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A Hunger Like No Other

RECOMMENDED: A Hunger Like No Other by Kresley Cole is $1.99! This is the first full-length novel in the Immortals After Dark series. The series also operates on the “fated mate” trope, but I like how the books feature more than just your standard vamps and weres. The hero and heroine in this book are natural adversaries. He’s a Scottish (yum!) werewolf and she’s part vampire. There are some readers who felt the plot was a little weak, while others enjoyed the heroine’s vulnerability. I can honestly say this is my favorite series that just gets better and better. The first three books are on sale in the Immortals After Dark series!

A mythic warrior who’ll stop at nothing to possess her…

After enduring years of torture from the vampire horde, Lachlain MacRieve, leader of the Lykae Clan, is enraged to find the predestined mate he’s waited millennia for is a vampire. Or partly one. This Emmaline is a small, ethereal half Valkyrie/half vampire, who somehow begins to soothe the fury burning within him.

A vampire captured by her wildest fantasy…

Sheltered Emmaline Troy finally sets out to uncover the truth about her deceased parents—until a powerful Lykae claims her as his mate and forces her back to his ancestral Scottish castle. There, her fear of the Lykae—and their notorious dark desires—ebbs as he begins a slow, wicked seduction to sate her own dark cravings.

An all-consuming desire…

Yet when an ancient evil from her past resurfaces, will their desire deepen into a love that can bring a proud warrior to his knees and turn a gentle beauty into the fighter she was born to be?

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This book is on sale at:

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Burn for Me

Burn for Me by Ilona Andrews is still 99c! Burn for Me is the first book in the Hidden Legacy series, and is an urban fantasy/billionaire story with magic, suspense, and a 4.4-star rating from readers on GoodReads. For those who remember, this book made it to the finals in a previous DABWAHA tournament, and it was beaten by another Ilona Andrews title – Magic Breaks ( A | BN | K | G | ARe | iB | Au )

#1 New York Times bestselling author Ilona Andrews launches a brand-new Hidden Legacy series, in which one woman must place her trust in a seductive, dangerous man who sets off an even more dangerous desire . . .

Nevada Baylor is faced with the most challenging case of her detective career—a suicide mission to bring in a suspect in a volatile situation. Nevada isn’t sure she has the chops. Her quarry is a Prime, the highest rank of magic user, who can set anyone and anything on fire.

Then she’s kidnapped by Connor “Mad” Rogan—a darkly tempting billionaire with equally devastating powers. Torn between wanting to run and wanting to surrender to their overwhelming attraction, Nevada must join forces with Rogan to stay alive.

Rogan’s after the same target, so he needs Nevada. But she’s getting under his skin, making him care about someone other than himself for a change. And, as Rogan has learned, love can be as perilous as death, especially in the magic world.

Add to Goodreads To-Read List →

This book is on sale at:

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The Libertarian Futurist Society
has announced five finalists for the Best Novel category of the 37th annual Prometheus Awards

The Corporation Wars: Dissidence by Ken MacLeod (Orbit)
The Corporation Wars: Insurgence by Ken MacLeod (Orbit)
The Mandibles: A Family, 2029-2047 by Lionel Shriver (HarperCollins)
The Core of the Sun by Johanna Sinisalo (translated by Lola Rogers) (Grove Press/Black Cat)
Blade of p'Na by L. Neil Smith (Phoenix Pick)
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Posted by Amanda

We are huge fans of TeeFury here at the Bitchery and they have an awesome sale going on for today only! Use code MARCOLL17 for 30% off, which means each tee is $15. The sale ends later today, so this post will be disappearing around 5pm EST!

Here are some highlights from the Strong Females collection:

A TeeShirt with the Hidden Figures women that says, "Ask me about my scientific agenda."

Scientific Agenda” features the genius women from Hidden Figures in front of the NASA background.

She-Ra reading a book. She's wearing a pair of glasses with the caption, "She-Read"

Sarah actually owns this “She-Read” shirt. I’ve seen it in person and it looks super comfortable and it has a vintage 80s tee look to it.

A smirking Statue of Liberty wearing a "Nasty" button.

Nasty Lady Liberty” is one of the more popular shirts from TeeFury and I absolutely love the quote on the tee. “Here’s to strong women. May we know them. May we be them. May we raise them.”

Now onto the Books t-shirt collection, which features quotes proclaiming your bookish love, but also references to your favorite stories.

A graphic tee with the caption that says, "There's a million books I haven't read, but just you wait."

The “Million Books I Haven’t Read” shirt is a testament to the determination of readers to READ ALL THE THINGS!

A t-shirt with a bookshelf and the caption, "When in doubt, go to the library."

Not only does “Go to the Library” have a bookish messages, but the bookshelf is filled with all sorts of Harry Potter references. Can you spot them all?

What other t-shirts are you loving from TeeFury? Remember, the sale is good for today only!

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Posted by Amanda

This HaBO comes from C791e, who wants to find an urban fantasy book:

I’m not sure if I hallucinated this or not because for the life of me I can’t remember anything but the plot.

I think it may have novella length or could have been in a compilation book, but I read super fast so it could have been novel length. It was a woman whose family owed a debt to another family for something that happened a couple of generations back, like their family had some people murdered (there may have been a wedding involved?) and her ancestor didn’t help or something, just hid?

And now she’s been called to serve this family, run by a naturally attractive man.

They need her to fight in some sort of challenge by another family. I can’t remember if the guy’s family had magic or just some kind of modifications, but he could definitely fly at some point and the other family had powers of some sort too. The only ones left in her family are her, her mother, and an uncle of some sort.

I remember her telling him she was never going to have kids and her family line would be gone, so no more forced servitude. He ends up erasing the debt. I don’t remember if it was before or after the fight with the other family, but she still fights and they win, and of course they end up together. Hopefully that was coherent!

Well, this sounds fascinating.

Movie Review: Beauty and the Beast

Mar. 28th, 2017 08:00 am
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Posted by Redheadedgirl

I promised you all that we would give you our thoughts on the new live-action Beauty and the Beast, and here are the spoilery thoughts of me and Elyse.

Elyse and I? Both of us.

The top part here is pretty spoiler-free, and then we get into the details, but we’ll mark when that starts.

Elyse: So I loved it. LOVED IT. Would watch again a thousand times. I know intellectually it was not perfect and there are things that made me go “wha?” but on an emotional level, it hit me just right. I was 9 when the first movie came out and I fell in love with it and watched it so much on VHS that I’m pretty sure my mom hates that movie now. So I think some of my happiness was definitely nostalgia.

Side note: when Gaston dies at the end my eight year old nice sniffed and said, “Eh. He deserved it.”

RHG: All the nostalgia was great- I have a theory that one of the things that’s driving all the nostalgia from things from the 90s isn’t, “Oh it’s the era before social media and we all miss that time” but that it was the era right before 9/11.

Similar to how the Edwardian Era looks so shiny and lovely because it’s in contrast to the horror that was WWI came right after it, the 90s is this candy colored age that looks so innocent and carefree from this perspective. So we go back to those things because it reminds us that life wasn’t always this scary place.

….that got deep.

ANYWAY, I was grinning madly through “Belle.” All the supporting cast was fantastic (Luke Evans, please don’t be a dick in real life or if you are just be quiet and don’t ever talk because I really really like watching you do things).

Production values: top notch, but we’ll get to the costumes because I HAVE SOME THOUGHTS.

Your niece is already a wise woman.






Ok. If you’re trying to avoid spoilers stop reading now, k?







Elyse: This movie tried to fix some things that were confusing or problematic in the animated film. Like the prince is much older when he’s cursed–and he’s not just a snotty kid who refuses to let an old lady in. He also over taxes his people, cares only about material possessions, etc.

Also the enchantress makes it so that everyone forgets the prince and the castle exist which explains how everyone forgot they had a monarchy ten years ago.

It also tried to answer the question, “Okay but why are the servants cursed? They didn’t do anything” but the justification is pretty weak.

RHG: I did appreciate that. The question of, “Wait, so… how old is the prince? Why are you losing your shit at an 11 year old kid? Yeah, they’re monsters at that age, but this seems excessive” has bothered me for like 26 (…oh shit) years.

ALSO ALSO ALSO I really liked the answer to the, “What the hell time of year is it? It’s sunny, it’s snowing, it’s sunny and warm again, WHEN IS IT.”

It’s June, and it’s Magic Snow. Boom. Done. (This question bothered my mom. It did not bother me.)

I mean, we are in pre-revolutionary France (so… like… first, Gaston, what war were you in? WHAT WAR? I’m confused) so we don’t have a lot of time before The Prince and Belle are gonna have to carve off their bit of France to be an independent Luxembourg or something or they’re gonna lose their heads!

I loved the production values. The sets and set dressing is FANTASTIC. The Beast’s Castle is INCREDIBLE.

Elyse: There were other, subtle adjustments that added to the story too.

For one, Belle straight up rejects Gaston. No dissembling. “Can I come to dinner?” “No.” “Oh, so you’re busy tonight?” “No.”

Gaston stopping Belle to say, Good morning Belle, wonderful book you have there

Belle asking Gaston, Have you read it?

Well not THAT one but you know ... books.

Also there’s a scene where Belle’s in the west wing and she sees the Beast’s bed, which is kind of a nest of straw and cloth and animal bones. It’s a really fast glimpse but it confirms that as the curse goes on he’s becoming more and more an animal and less of a man.

There’s even a nod to the whole xenophilia aspect the story. Belle asks the prince (jokingly) if he’s ever considered growing a beard and he growls at her.

I actually really liked Dan Stevens in this. I know a lot of people have not forgiven him for Downton but I think he did a great job. And I felt bad about his stupid temple curls at the end scene.

Belle and the beast standing in his hella wow library

RHG: By “not a lot of people” you mean me. I have not forgiven him.

He did do a good job. I didn’t realize he could sing, and, TO BE HONEST, in the grand tradition of the Disney BatB, the Beast is kinda hotter than the Prince. He is a good actor, and handled the emotional journey well: “Some of them are in Greek!”

I thought his big solo number, “Evermore” was in the wrong key for the moment. Belle has left and he sings about how he’ll always remember, and it’s a big, belting number and not sad, like that moment is.

Temple curls do no one any favors. No one.

Promotional poster for Dan Stevens as The Prince wearing ice blue brocade with silver embellishments and two fat hot dog sized curls of hair at his temples looking serious and also completely ridiculous

What did you think of the new songs?

Elyse: He did do the singing and there a couple interviews where he shows how he modulated his voice. They added a bit of a growl over it but honestly it’s almost all him. He also had to walk around on ten inch stilts and in a giant foam suit.

I think “Evermore” was okay. I think they did it so we got a little more time in the Beast’s head. The version of “Beauty and the Beast” with Ariana Grande and John Legend is not Celine Dion and Peabo Bryson, and that makes me sad.

Actually I was surprised most by Luke Evans’ singing voice. I think they really improved the Gaston song and the mob song. There was some nuance that wasn’t there in the original. They also made Gaston way more of a bastard.

RHG: LUKE EVANS YAS. He was PERFECT. Perfect in all the ways. I love him so much. I GOT YOUR TOXIC MASCULINITY RIGHT HERE.

(I also realized that the “Gaston” scene in the original gave me a very unrealistic idea of what people do in bars, and I’ve been profoundly disappointed my entire adult life.)

Gaston and LeFeu jumping on tables and dancing in their bar scene

And as much as I like Josh Gad, and as much as I love LeFou (“And it’s spelled G A S…T…maybe there’s another T…I just realized I’m illiterate and never had to spell this before…”)

The producers went on in some of the publicity about “we have a gay subplot!” and some theater owners were like, “We ain’t gonna show this movie!”

And it was… exactly the same plot you’d expect and nothing new. LeFou is gay and attracted to Gaston, and Gaston mostly ignores it. This isn’t groundbreaking. This isn’t progressive. It’s overdone, and disappointing. We’ve seen this plot before; it’s only slightly more overt this time.

Elyse: Yeah, there wasn’t any there there. At first I was like, “Oh, great, they are going to make the buffoon-ish sidekick comically gay and attracted to Gaston,” but LeFou actually gets a really good arc. He realizes what a shit bag Gaston is. He does the right thing even when it hurts him.

And hey! There were black people in pre-revolutionary France! Who knew! There was at least more diversity than in the 2015 remake of Cinderella.

Do you want to talk about the costumes? Ha! I know you do. A lot of people didn’t like this version of Belle’s dress. Thoughts?

RHG: Imagine my heavy sigh.

Let me get to the diversity though- yes, Cinderella had some background diversity and at least one speaking role. This had more. But (and you knew there was a but) I would have swapped out Gugu Mbatha-Raw for Emma Watson. Mbatha-Raw has a stronger singing voice and more emotional range and Watson just doesn’t have much there-there.


Clearly, they were capable of making the Pre-Rev costumes – the saque-back gowns that the Court wore were fantastic. Most of Stevens’ costumes were great.

EVERYTHING BELLE WORE THOUGH. EVERYTHING. WHY. Her skirts, even in her village girl clothes, were straight up skimpy. Too short, not full enough, and definitely not full enough to tuck the hem up and SHOW YOUR (out of period) BLOOMERS WHAT THE HELL WAS THAT.

More skirt! JUST MORE.

(That said, I will give credit where credit is due and the pouch she was wearing where she slipped the bread in after she bought it? That is an actual thing, it’s called a wallet.)

BUT THAT YELLOW DRESS THOUGH. WHY. It’s…. Everything about it was WRONG. The silhouette was mid-19th century. It was yellow, sure, but it wasn’t even a decent interpretation of the animated dress. I HATED IT. You know they have costumers in the Disney stable that can do amazing gowns. SOMEONE THEM WERE WORKING ON THIS MOVIE. So why that? WHY.

Also the dress Belle wore for the final ball was…well, it looked like it was made from a couch.

Elyse: I thought it was weird that everything else was so clearly set in a certain time period, but they departed from that with Belle. Like Dan Stevens wore hose and high heels and FUCKING TEMPLE CURLS. Belle’s costume should have been more historically accurate if I have to see Dan Stevens with temple curls. I think he might have had a French braid, too. I don’t know.

I have to say, and I’m super biased because of Legion, that Stevens can be incredibly charismatic and I wanted a little more time at the end where they were just happy together.

I love Emma Watson, but I agree that there are a lot better Belles. Emma didn’t have the vocal range for the songs she had to sing. Audra McDonald would have been a better choice, rather than casting her as the wardrobe.

RHG:  Audra was on Broadway in Shuffle Along (or The Making of the Musical Sensation of 1921 and All That Followed) while they were doing principal photography. I liked that they were able to get her at all, given her busy schedule! And she was clearly enjoying her voice work.

I was impressed with everyone they got to be the servants- Ewan McGregor! Ian McKellan! Emma Thompson! STANLEY TUCCI! And KEVIN FREAKING KLINE as Belle’s dad! The casting director has done outstanding work.

The thing that had me confused was the Enchantress is still hanging around… why? To see how this story she set into motion played out? There could have been a moment or two to put a button on that, but she’s just wandering around and living UNDER A TREE and begging in the street for kicks? THIS IS A VERY ODD WAY TO SPEND YOUR POWER.

But also why was Belle wearing a couch?

I did like the trip to Paris and answering the question of, “What happened to these people’s parents? Why does Belle have no mom? Where’s the Beast’s parents?” (WHAT WAR WERE YOU IN, GASTON?)

What was with that dress. Why.

Elyse: The inclusion of more of a backstory for Belle was really great. It also helped develop the romance between Belle and the Beast. They didn’t fall in love immediately after a random snowball fight. The timeline was still compressed, but it gave it a little depth.

Belle also knows the Beast has been cursed in this version and talks about helping him break that curse. She doesn’t know what that entails or who he was, but there were some substantial hints about his expensive education and time spent in Paris. AND HE LIVES IN A GODDAM CASTLE. ALL SIGNS POINT TO ROYALTY. She’s not stupid. So it did bug me a little when she talked about helping everyone and Mrs Potts was like “Don’t worry about it, dear” and Belle went, “Okay then.”

Also, OBVIOUSLY when women have substantial power (the enchantress) they can only use it to help a man along his own heroic journey. WHERE HAVE YOU BEEN, RHG?

RHG: I’m just saying, she could have at least magicked up some walls.

So, as I said, there were things I loved (set design, supporting performances, some of the additions of logic) and things I didn’t like (Emma Watson, the costumes for Belle), and things I found weird and confusing (The Enchantress). Which I think, which since the performance of Belle is such an integral part of the whole, brings me to a B, B-.


Elyse: I gotta go A-. The only thing that bugged me enough to pull me out of the movie was Watson’s singing, to be honest. And even though it wasn’t perfect it was almost exactly what I wanted. So what do you think? B+ average?

RHG: I’ll go with that. But I’ll also link to some amazing cosplays of Belle’s animated gown and we can mourn what could have been (no, I’m never gonna forgive that, and I can hold a grudge for EVER) (Just ask Dan Stevens).

Gold period-appropriate verison of Belle's gown with ruffles everywhere

A nearly identical copy of the animated dress with gathers and ruffles


Beauty and the Beast is in theaters now. You can find tickets (US) at Fandango and Moviefone.

good morning, it's 28 march 2017

Mar. 27th, 2017 10:54 pm
solarbird: (korra-on-the-air)
[personal profile] solarbird
Lots on the Russia situation - first, on Nunes's continuing interference-run on behalf of the Trump administration. "Nunes met source at White House before surveillance announcement," "Chairman and partisan: The dual roles of Devin Nunes raise questions about House investigation," "Nunes’ Surveillance Claim: It’s Coming From Inside the White House," "House Democrats Ask Devin Nunes to Recuse Himself From Russia Inquiry." Good luck with that last one.

I wish I could expect more out of "Senate Committee to Question Jared Kushner Over Meetings With Russians." But, as we've seen, lying to Congress doesn't mean anything anymore, so even if he's truthful, we can't really know that, right? (Another version of that story, more partisan but not paywalled: "Trump’s son-in-law had undisclosed meeting with Putin crony with KGB ties.")

In "so much for breathing" news, "Trump moves decisively to wipe out Obama’s climate-change record."

An opinion piece states the obvious: "The All-Male Photo Op Isn’t a Gaffe. It’s a Strategy." The channers loathe women. I cannot overstate how much they hate, despise, loathe women. It's the ocean in which they swim. And that extends well into Trump's larger base.

"White House keeps up sanctuary cities pressure with funding threat" and "King, Snohomish counties may be targets in Justice Dept. threat against ‘sanctuary cities’" are - well, the latest version of threats and stories made before. Still, keep an eye on it. Also in economic war news, "Next up for Trump Amateur Hour: NAFTA?" Cascadia is a net exporter. Hell, Cascadia runs a surplus with fucking MAINLAND CHINA. Or did, last time I saw figures. I can't wait to see how the Trumpists manage to screw that up.

"Seven Ways the Trump Administration Could Make Obamacare ‘Explode’" goes into detail about some of the ways the GOP will continue to play sabotage over the next few years.

In corruption news, we have a trifecta: "Carl Icahn Is Apparently Profiting Enormously From His Role as an Adviser to Donald Trump," "Finally, a Cure for Government Dysfunction: Nepotism," and "Why Republicans Are Ruling With Utter Incompetence." Well, okay, the last one isn't really... no, it is. "Trump keeps demanding credit for Obama’s successes" kinda is - let's call that the Plus4.

"Trump Repeals Regulation Protecting Workers From Wage Theft" is self-explanitory. "AP Exclusive: 'Bathroom Bill' to Cost North Carolina $3.76B" is kind of a lowball estimate, but is pretty solid as such and I'm good with that.

Finally, an historical: "How resistance overcame hate in Hood River" in World War II and after.

It's March 28, 2017; this is the news )

Greetings from Richmond

Mar. 28th, 2017 12:11 am
littlereview: (little review)
[personal profile] littlereview
I am in Richmond with Paul, where we have had a lovely very full day with Cheryl and Kevin -- lunch at Greek Cuisine, Toys of the '50s, '60s and 70s and The Fine Art of Children's Book Illustration at the Virginia Historical Society, The Rachel Lambert Mellon Collection of Jean Schlumberger jewelry exhibit at the VMFA, a walk around the frog-filled lake at Deep Run Park, a visit to Kevin's house to see his son, dinner at Olive Garden, and a viewing of Mystery Men at Cheryl's house. In the morning we're going to Williamsburg to see Botticelli and the Search for the Divine! Some pics of the toys, jewelry, and a duck:

Richmond )


Mar. 27th, 2017 10:27 pm
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[personal profile] james_davis_nicoll
I get to toy with being a living example of the Peter Principle at work.
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Posted by John Scalzi

Definitely not a parking lot. I could get used to this.

(Don’t worry, I’m sure more parking lots are coming.)

This is a fine time to answer a question I get sometimes about touring, which is whether I can any control (or say) regarding the hotels I’m in while on tour. The answer to this is that before the tour starts I make requests, not of hotels, but of what I’d like as my baseline for touring. In my case, I basically want three things: A decent bed, a viable internet connection, and not to be murdered when I exit the hotel.

This gives the tour booker a lot of leeway, and I assume they then move forward with hotels they’re used to working with and/or hotels that fulfill a practical purpose (like, for example, being a short walk to the event venue). So sometimes I get a boutique hotel, like today, sometimes I get a something like a Marriott or an Omni, and occasionally I’ll get something like a Holiday Inn. And in all cases: Does it have bed, internet and no murders? Great! That’ll work for me. Also, I mean, I’m not paying for the room. From my point of view it’s all good.

(Also, when I fly I typically fly Premium Economy, which (usually) means I get on reasonably early and I have overhead space for my carry-on. I don’t request business or first class because I don’t see the utility of spending hundreds more for one of those seats. I fit reasonably well in a standard airline seat, and I don’t take advantage of the “free” drinks, and most flights I take are not long enough for me to get either antsy or achey. This personal preference should not imply that other folks don’t have valid reasons to ask for business or first class seats, although I’m sure Tor is happy I’m happy with Premium Economy.)

So, that’s how I do hotels (and flights).

On an entirely different note, I wrote a piece about Seven Secrets to Writing a Best-Selling Science Fiction Novel. Just in case you were wondering.

Finally: Houston! See you tonight, 7pm, at Brazos Bookstore. And tomorrow, Dallas, you can see me at 7pm at Half Price Books (the one at 5803 E Northwest Highway, which gets a full three compass points in the address). See you there!

Done last week: (20170319Su - 25Sa)

Mar. 27th, 2017 08:55 am
mdlbear: the positively imaginary half of a cubic mandelbrot set (Default)
[personal profile] mdlbear

Nasty, uncomfortable things!

As my dedicated readers (all three or four of them) are probably aware, Rainbow's End is being sold. It goes on the market, in fact, in a couple of weeks. (BTW, if you want a superb 6-bedroom house in West Seattle, complete with concert hall, ...) In order to present the place in the best light, we have vacated the top two floors, replaced the carpets, and removed the stair lifts. Colleen and I have been sleeping on our sofabed in the Rainbow Room.

Saturday, we moved. Or, rather, went out to a terrific Japanese restaurant in Port Townsend to celebrate the Younger Daughter's birthday, while our moving crew hauled what turned out to be three truckloads of stuff to the apartment. The plan was for us to drive home; pick up (cat) Ticia, (guinea pig) Clea, and (guitar) Plink; come back to an apartment full of boxes; and get settled in. Um..., not quite. In retrospect, leaving Clea at home was the best decision I made all day.

Because the keys, with the all-important fob that gets one into the building and then the elevator, slipped off a box and went through the crack between the elevator and the floor.

Meanwhile, I was driving home. Attempting to follow slightly confusing directions, on a phone that suddenly did not have a visible display! It was particularly confusing because I had missed a turn, and the phone was trying to direct me to turn around. But I didn't know that, either. I pulled off at an intersection in Kitsap that had a convenience store where I could use a bathroom, and switched to Colleen's phone. Fighting, again, with Google Maps, that wanted to direct me to a route it thought was faster, using a ferry. The last thing I needed was to wait an hour or two if I missed the ferry. Of course, I spent nearly that long in a traffic jam in Tacoma.

The traffic jam in Tacoma was where N called me to give me the bad news about the keys. The backup plan was to get buzzed in using the building manager's door code. Which worked fine until I used it too many times figuring out how to keep the garage door open, and said building manager started sending it to voice mail. (I'd thought that it was automated. Nope.) Leaving me outside in the cold, Colleen and Ticia inside waiting for an elevator, and both our phones, plus the litter box that actually had litter in it (we'd sent an empty one ahead), in the van.

After some kind person finally let me in, we proceeded to the apartment. Which is where we determined that we had no phones, no cat litter, and no way of getting back into the elevator after getting them. After meltdown, panic attack, or whatever it was, I proceeded to knock on doors until I found someone who actually opened the door and said they would buzz me in. I arrived downstairs just about the same time as the police, who were investigating an apparent intruder who was knocking on peoples' doors. This is apparently a standard MO for homeless people in the area.

Fortunately, at this point I was well beyond the panic and able to see the humor in the situation, so I had a pleasant conversation with one cop while another went upstairs to knock on my door to confirm with Colleen that we actually lived there.

It wasn't until I got back to the apartment that I took a good look at the phone and realized that the screen wasn't dying, it had just had its brightness turned all the way down. I also figured out that setting up my phone to let people in couldn't be done without having an account set up on dwelo.com. And we had a nice visit from the young lady who had called 911 to report me.

I've lost track of how many anxiety meltdowns I had; at some point I got over the panic and had a nice bout of acute depression.

We have spent the rest of the weekend in the apartment, finding out what's missing and what we have to send back to Rainbow's End to go into the storage pod after all.

Today has been cozy and domestic, sorting through boxes and figuring out which things we actually have room to keep in our apartment's tiny cabinets. And eating veggie, because while I was able to find two cans of crabmeat, the only can-opener we had was a battery-powered one that Colleen had just purchased. Batteries not included.

Oh, and did I mention the scratches I got as I attempted to corner a terrified Ticia and get her into her carrier? Those too.

Meanwhile, here we are.

Notes & links, as usual )

posted late because my emacs client is flaking out. Probably due to the HTTPS redirection.

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Posted by Amanda

Destiny’s Captive

Destiny’s Embrace by Beverly Jenkins is $1.99! Jenkins is this year’s RWA Nora Roberts Lifetime Achievement awardee! Carrie read this one and gave it a B, saying that she wished she had read the previous books in the trilogy, but she loved the sense of place:

I loved how physical the world of the story feels – the blue sea in Cuba, the dresses, the parties, the dirt on the segregated train, the horses, and the discussions about American versus Cuban food.

In national bestselling author Beverly Jenkins’ Destiny series, the Yates men play hard and live hard. And when they find that special woman, they fall hard . . .

Noah Yates fully believes in the joys of a happy family and a good wife. But that’s not the life for him. No, he would much rather sail the wild seas in search of adventure, not tied down. But then the unthinkable happens . . . he finds himself literally tied down. To a bed. By a woman.

And Pilar isn’t just an ordinary woman. She’s descended from pirates. And after giving him one of the worst nights of his life, she steals his ship! Now Noah is on the hunt, and he’ll stop at nothing to find this extraordinary woman . . . and make her his.

Add to Goodreads To-Read List →

This book is on sale at:

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Do You Want to Start a Scandal

RECOMMENDEDDo You Want to Start a Scandal by Tessa Dare is $1.99! This book is nominated for a 2017 RITA® in the Short Historical Romance category. Elyse loved this book:

I loved Do You Want to Start a Scandal. It’s funny, it’s sexy and it’s got some Clue-like shenanigans going on. If you have better self control than I do, I recommend savoring this book rather than powering through in one sitting (good luck).

On the night of the Parkhurst ball, someone had a scandalous tryst in the library. Was it Lord Canby, with the maid, on the divan? Or Miss Fairchild, with a rake, against the wall? Perhaps the butler did it.

All Charlotte Highwood knows is this: it wasn’t her. But rumors to the contrary are buzzing. Unless she can discover the lovers’ true identity, she’ll be forced to marry Piers Brandon, Lord Granville—the coldest, most arrogantly handsome gentleman she’s ever had the misfortune to embrace. When it comes to emotion, the man hasn’t got a clue.

But as they set about finding the mystery lovers, Piers reveals a few secrets of his own. The oh-so-proper marquess can pick locks, land punches, tease with sly wit . . . and melt a woman’s knees with a single kiss. The only thing he guards more fiercely than Charlotte’s safety is the truth about his dark past.

Their passion is intense. The danger is real. Soon Charlotte’s feeling torn. Will she risk all to prove her innocence? Or surrender it to a man who’s sworn to never love?

Add to Goodreads To-Read List →

This book is on sale at:

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Summer is for Lovers

RECOMMENDEDSummer is for Lovers by Jennifer McQuiston is $2.99! This is the book two in the Second Sons series and the third book is also on sale. Elyse enjoyed this one and found it better than the previous book in the series. It earned an A grade:

I recommend Summer is for Lovers as a break from the ballrooms of London scene in historicals, and as a way of reliving the best parts of summer vacation—rescuing a handsome Simon Baker look-alike from the ocean and then making out with him.

His heart is unavailable. Luckily, her interest lies in the rest of him…

Though she was just a girl when they first met, Caroline Tolbertson’s infatuation with David Cameron remains undimmed. Now fate has brought the handsome Scotsman back to Brighton for what promises to be an unforgettable summer. Soon, Caroline will have to choose a husband, but for now she is free to indulge her curiosity in things of a passionate nature.

That is, if David will agree to teach her.

Past mistakes have convinced David he’ll make a terrible husband, though he’ll gladly help the unconventional Caroline find a suitor. Unfortunately, she has something more scandalous in mind. As the contenders for her hand begin to line up, her future seems assured…provided David can do the honorable thing and let them have her.

When a spirited young woman is determined to break Society’s rules, al a gentleman can do is lend a hand…or more.

Add to Goodreads To-Read List →

This book is on sale at:

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Sins of a Wicked Princess

Sins of a Wicked Princess by Anna Randol is $1.99! This is a historical romance with a spy and a princess, class differences, and a bit of a forbidden romance. Some readers found the heroine was getting pretty close to being TSTL (too stupid to live), but others liked the romantic chemistry. This is the third book in the Sinners Trio. It can be read as a standalone, but if you don’t want to read out of order, all three books are available for less than $5.

In the scorching finale of Anna Randol’s wickedly tempting Trio series, the Wraith takes on a mission—and a princess—he’ll never forget…

Ian Maddox, aka the Wraith, is happy to leave his life as a spy— as soon as he discovers who’s been trying to kill his friends. All clues lead him to the bedroom of an exiled princess. Yet Princess Juliana isn’t the simpering royal he expects, and this irresistible beauty agrees to give him the information he seeks…for a price.

Princess Juliana has never cowered—not even as she fled her burning castle in the midst of a rebellion—so she won’t tremble before the darkly charismatic man who appears in her bedchamber and holds a knife to her throat. Instead, she bargains with the infamous spy to help her retrieve sensitive documents and restore her kingdom. But Juliana quickly finds that Ian is no humble servant, and she never imagines that lessons in thievery will lead to schooling in seduction.

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This book is on sale at:

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solarbird: (made her from parts)
[personal profile] solarbird

Build reports are nice enough. (I wrote up a little errata post yesterday, by the by.) But the real question, of course, is how does the RK-47/990B kit mic sound?

Early impressions are surprisingly good. Even with only the single microphone, there’s a sense of presence and space – even with a purely mono signal path – that I normally have to dual-mic to attain. Also, it has tremendous precision – this is a mic capable of great subtlety. And the amount of gain built into the microphone itself is crazy – this is one spicy meatball of a microphone. That’s something you won’t hear in recordings, but it results in a lower noise floor, which is always good.

Let’s start with some unsubtle differences, ones that’ll show up on laptop speakers. Because while I’ve never liked the MXL-990, they sell a zillion of ’em, and we should make a couple of direct comparisons.

Here’s a snippet of chords from “Lukey,” alternating between the MXL-990 (unaltered factory) and the RK-47/990B. It starts with the MXL-990, then transitions in-song to the RK-47, then back and forth. It ends with the RK-47. It’s a pure mono signal path until prepped for uploading to Soundcloud.

And here’s a short melody, on zouk – again, starting on MXL-990 (factory stock), then RK-47, then back to MXL-990. The last phrase is repeated to allow us to end on the RK-47; also, I wanted that ending bit to be presented on both microphones. The glissando really highlights some of the differences.

But that’s shooting fish in a barrel, as it were. The MXL-990, while popular, is not a good microphone. We should do comparisons to microphones I actually like – let’s say, the M-Audio Nova. At about twice the price of the MXL-990, it’s still a cheap microphone, just one I consider entry-level competent. But it has issues – not the least of which being it’s kind of a noisy beast as these categories of microphones go.

So let’s take the easy swing – here’s a sharply boosted noise level comparison of the RK-47 to the M-Audio Nova, at equivalent gain levels. This is not the noise you’d actually hear; I recorded a silent room at gain appropriate on each microphone for instrument recording, then cranked that recording up 32db for easy noise levels comparison.

Unfortunately, this really requires headphones, because it’s RK-47 on left, Nova on right:

NOT SUBTLE. But also, an easy shot. The Nova is noisy and everybody knows it. There are some mods out there to improve that, but they change the sound a bit in ways I don’t like, so I work with it.

comparison of waveformsSo let’s dig down a bit. Pictured here is a snippet of waveform from a bit of music played, in mono, over my studio monitors, into identically positioned microphones relative to those speakers. These two recordings were made simultaneously.

You’ll note in this highly-zoomed-in render how the RK47 waveform remains clear and unmuddled in these extremely rapid changes, while the Nova’s blurs into a bit of a mush. That’s the sort of thing I’m talking about, and also, the sort of thing you can hear in these very short snippets of horns from a jazz track. This comparison requires headphones, possibly good ones:

They’re short because they must be uncompressed for best comparison – sorry about that – but listen to them a few times and compare. Note how the edges of detail – bits which add flavour – are blurred in the Nova, but retained in the RK-47. Neat, eh?

That out of the way, let’s step up a level in comparator microphones. Oktava 012s are considered very good affordable microphones, particularly strong in their price ranges, and street for a new 012 and one pickup is comparable to the cost of this kit. With a second head (to add a second pickup pattern, as this mic has), it’s a bit more. They’re small-can capacitor instrument mics, rather than large-can, but we’re doing instrument recording, so that’s fair. The components inside – particularly older ones picked up used – can be a bit dodgy, but the design is great and the pickups are great, and you can upgrade the iffy capacitors and the suspect transistor if necessary. I have, of course, done this with mine.

Here’s the intro to “King of Elfland’s Daughter,” on the Oktava 012 (upgraded components) and the RK-47/990B kit. This recording repeats phrases, with the Oktava 012 first, then the RK-47/990B. Pure mono signal path, identical recording setup made within a few minutes of each other, but not simultaneously, as you can’t put two microphones in exactly the same place and I wanted the most equal comparison I could, modulo performance limitations. This probably also requires headphones, as the 012 is a pretty darned precise microphone itself:

44.1khz/16-bit uncompressed WAV file version here.

Once again, I’m finding that the RK-47 has a real staging advantage. There’s a sense of in-the-room presence with the RK-47 that I can make happen by dual-miking with my other microphones and mixing down, but not directly in mono.

Now, I don’t want to leave the impression that it is BEST AT ALL THINGS, because it’s not. These aren’t the only recordings I made – they’re just ones that show differences best. The first example I found was mandolin – the Nova likes my mandolin better than the RK-47 does. The specific response behaviour and foibles of the Nova work in its favour; a single RK-47 may have more presence and precision than a single Nova, but the Nova recording sounded more musical just the same. I’m sure there will be other examples as well.

In the end, I think this will probably become a heavy-use microphone in my kit. It may even become my go-to mic on the zouk – I need to do some stereo and multi-distance comparisons before I will know that for sure, but it’s looking very good. I also like what it does with piccolo and flute. I haven’t done any playing around with fiddle or drums, and one thing I want to play with is a two-mic setup with the ribbon kit mic I built, to see how those behave together – it’s a mic placement technique I’ve wanted to try for a while, but have never got round to testing. Now is probably the time.

I kind of wish I’d ordered the matched-pair version of this microphone kit. But it would’ve cost twice as much and I couldn’t know in advance I’d like it this much, so.

Mirrored from Crime and the Blog of Evil. Come check out our music at:
Bandcamp (full album streaming) | Videos | iTunes | Amazon | CD Baby

(no subject)

Mar. 27th, 2017 11:04 am
stickmaker: (Default)
[personal profile] stickmaker

World's largest aircraft crashes during second flight:

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Posted by Redheadedgirl

Last year for Women’s History Month, we discussed some of our favorite women in history. This year we’d thought we’d bring you some of our favorite biographies and biopics.

RHG: Television has given us some lavish biopics of Royal women recently – Victoria (about Queen Victoria) and The Crown, about Elizabeth II. Like all biopics, there’s some fast and loose history at play, but the concept of how these two young women become Queen and how they learn to balance their personal lives with the public demands of their position is fascinating. Also, both series are GORGEOUS.

Mrs Beeton’s Book of Household Management
A | BN | K | iB
I am currently reading a biography about Isabella Beeton, the “Mrs. Beeton” that wrote the handbook that British Victorian women used to run their households. Even though she died four years after the initial publication of Mrs. Beeton’s Book of Household Management, it continued to be updated and a best seller until the early 20th century. It’s still in print (I have a copy).

But as for who the actual Isabella was, well, that’s been a lot of work for her biographers due to family fights and the lack of documentation of a young woman’s life in general. But the effect she and her work has had on women and their lives is basically incalculable. For good and for ill, her’s was a book that tells you ALL THE THINGS you should know to run a household, but also lists ALL THE THINGS you should be doing to run your household. Nevermind that for the vast majority of this book’s publishing history, no one was doing all of these things. All the pressure!

Another biography I enjoyed in much the same vein (you may notice a theme?) is Stand Facing the Stove: The Story of the Women Who Brought America the Joy of Cooking. Irma S. Rombauer and Marion Rombauer Becker were mother and daughter, and it’s the story of a woman who originally just wanted to self-publish a cookbook to help support her family. What you get is the story of a mother-daughter relationship, through MANY ups and downs, and a book that changed how America cooks. In terms of social history, The Joy of Cooking is one of those watershed moments, and so often we don’t get the story of the women who changed the world.

Elyse: I am always interested in the history of a maligned women — the actual history, not the bullshit history we’re all taught. I found The Witches by Stacy Schiff fascinating. It can be a little dry at times (and if you’re looking for a definitive “why” the Salem witch hysteria happened, you won’t get it here). Schiff explores how the accusers, mostly young women, assumed a role of tremendous power in a community that didn’t value them as much beyond a commodity. It’s a really in depth look at gender politics in 1692 New England.

If you’re really into Netflix’s The Crown, you might try Elizabeth The Queen: The Life of a Modern Monarch by Sally Bedell Smith. Smith makes Queen Elizabeth a more approachable figure than she appears in the media and also offers a glimpse in the daily life of royalty.

If you prefer fictionalized biographies, then I recommend Empress Orchid by Anchee Min. It’s a first person account of the life of Empress Dowager Cixi as she first comes to marry the emperor. It’s part love story, part auto-biography and deeply satisfying. Empress Dowager Cixi effectively rule China from 1861 to 1908, and she’s a controversial figure –some blame her for the downfall of the Qing dynasty, and others claim that had she been a man, she wouldn’t have been so criticized. Min continues her story in The Last Empress.

Sarah: I love documentaries in so many ways, and keep a list of ones I want to see in a notebook. I add to the list constantly. Alas, a number of the documentaries I encounter via streaming services I already pay for feature dudes. Lots of dudes.

For example, I watched one, Baristaabout the national barista competition. Look at the cover image, and you can see why I was curious. But alas, it featured mostly dudes, even though, for me, the most compelling person was easily Eden-Marie Abramowicz.

On my list to watch that I haven’t seen yet: Sophia Yesterday, Today, and Tomorrow, about Sophia Loren; Anita, about Anita Hill; Vessel, about Rebecca Gomperts, a doctor who sought to perform safe abortions to women aboard a ship thereby avoiding restrictive laws in several European countries; A Ballerina’s Tale, about Misty Copeland; and Miss Representation, about the media’s pervasive sexism – not technically a biography, though it is about all of us.

Also in the “about a lot of women not just one” category is the documentary Dark Girls, about the prejudice faced by women with dark skin. One of my closest friends from college just completed her MFA with a project on images of Black women in the media, and she used this documentary as part of her thesis.

And while I have exactly zero objectivity for this one, I also recommend Love Between the Covers, a documentary about the romance genre (which I’m in briefly).

RHG: Carrie has done a series of posts of Kickass Women in History, which I highly recommend you check out. Some of the names were familiar, but a lot more were new to me!

Carrie has also reviewed a number of biographies, and I asked her to pick her three favorites.  After some gnashing of teeth (“NO I LOVES THEM ALL”) she made her choices:

  1. Liar, Temptress, Soldier, Spy by Karen Abbott, about four women who were spies and undercover soldiers during the Civil War.
  2. Charity and Sylvia by Rachel Hope Cleves, about two women who functionally formed a same-sex marriage in Early America
  3. The Secret History of the Mongol Queens by Jack Weatherford, which covers the history of women who led the Mongol Empire from 1206 to 1509.

Other bios Carrie has reviewed include multiple Brontes, Lady Byron, Shirley Jackson, and the women who worked at the Harvard Observatory.

We’ve also reviewed a number of biopics about women in our movie reviews:

What about you? What are your recommendations? What bios, either literary or visual, have you loved and want more people to read or see?  

[syndicated profile] smartbitches_feed

Posted by Amanda

Most of these covers are safe for work, except for the facial expressions and half-open shirt of the first one. Enjoy!

I Only Like the Fingers of the Guy I Hate by Ryo Akiduki. This is a manga and more of a title snark because...what? The cover has an illustrated couple. The woman's mouth is wide open and her shirt is unbuttoned. She seems pretty surprised.

Amanda: Methinks something is lost in translation.

Sarah: Um. Yes?

Where did you find that majesty?

Elyse: I just did an actual spit take

Amanda: I was searching for I Hate Fairyland Vol 2 and that’s what came up. Clearly not the same thing.


Fingers or gtfo.

Sarah: Dare I ask where and WHY the fingers?

Redheadedgirl: You know where and why the fingers.

He’s clearly talented with them.

Sarah: So if you like a guy, do you have to cut off his fingers?

Maybe his fingers are the problem.

Amanda: Well maybe if it didn’t have those sweet, sweet fingers, she could go back to hating him.

Redheadedgirl: I kinda want to read it.

I do want to read it.

The Unforgettable Wolf by Jane Godman. A woman looking over her shoulder, but there's a bright red outline of a wolf superimposed over her body.

Amanda: This looks like it’d be in 3D if you had those glasses.

Carrie: I admit it – I like the colors.

But it looks less like she’s part wolf and more like she skinned the wolf and made a cape.

Sarah: Is that Amy Adams?

Redheadedgirl: No, it’s Isla Fisher.

Sarah: They’re the same 43% of the time.

Elyse: It looks like the title card from an 80s movie where they slowly superimpose the wolf over here and techno music plays in the background.

Amanda: Or like an Animorphs cover!

Redheadedgirl: It looks like it should be one of those changeable hologram thingies.

Next to Me by Jodi Watters. A headless dude. His shirt is unbuttoned and he has a hairy chest. But his abs look concerning, like something about to bust through.

Sarah: From Jill, without comment.

Is what’s next to me a food baby?


Alien Alien food baby?

Redheadedgirl: Hello my baby, hello my darlin’…..

Sarah: Hello distended aaaaaabs

Amanda: Definitely looks like a food baby to me.

But can I also say that it’s always nice to see a dude without a waxed chest on a cover.

Sarah: I was just thinking that. Points for nice chest hair.

Elyse: I like a hirsute man

Sarah: Roger that.
Brooklyn Streets Meet Wall Street by James Jimmy Richardson. A man and a woman embracing at the top of some stone steps while a bull and a bear are fighting below.

Amanda: BEARS ARE LOOSE! Watch out!

Carrie: We told you to keep guns off wall street but no, you had to keep attacking bulls instead. Now look at this mess.

Sarah: There is so much cut and paste and the light is coming from three different directions and it’s the end of the world because the animals are fighting each other and I need to go lie down now.


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