January 21, 2017

"Excalibur" (and The Warlord Trilogy) Review



This is one of the best trilogies, or series,  that I have ever read.

What is begun in "The Winter King" carries through "Enemy of God" and concludes here. Each book is divided into 'parts' (usually 3 or 4 per book) and serves as a nice 'breaking point' in the narrative. So, this could have one HUGE book, or about 10-12 much much smaller ones.

Nothing ever 'wavers' throughout all 3 books. The conclusion...well, it's not terrible, but it's a 'we get there before we realize it' type scenario. Enough is wrapped up to satisfy, enough left open to ponder. As ever, with books 1 and 2, read the Author's Note at the end of each book for additional context or commentary from Cornwell himself. 

I can safely recommend this trilogy to any and all who like historical fiction, or even fantasy.

This 3rd and final book is a great and worthy follow up to "Enemy of God" (which in itself was a great and worthy follow-up to "The Winter King.") and the entire trilogy is practically flawless, as are the books therein. If possible, read all 3 as close together as you can.

January 17, 2017

Tolkien Tuesday: 2017

One subject I wished to blog about, was upcoming Tolkien publications this year. I could have covered it in my books post, but I thought I should give it its own spot.

There are a few interesting items on the horizon, as well as events.

2017 marks the 40th anniversary of The Silmarillion. Presently, there isn’t a new edition planned (or a republication of an older, etc), however that could happen in 2027 for its 50th. I’m not too sure what else they can add, to be honest. I can see both The Hobbit and The Silmarillion getting an edition similar to the 60th anniversary illustrated edition of The Lord of the Rings. What I’d like to see in a future Silmarillion edition would be the sheet about the heraldry and devices that was included in a Tolkien calendar from the ‘70s, and it was also included in the white collector’s box that came out in ’99.

Most likely the biggest Tolkien publication this year is Beren and Luthien. At this point, because I haven’t seen the table of contents, I can’t say exactly what the book will contain. What’s for certain, though, is that it’s one of Tolkien’s original 3 ‘Great Tales’ edited by Christopher Tolkien, and illustrated by Alan Lee. The others are The Children of Hurin (which came out in 2007, 10 years ago) and The Fall of Gondolin. Here’s hoping that The Fall of Gondolin will happen in this manner, as it will round out all the Great Tales in that style. For Beren and Luthien, there will be a deluxe edition published the same day as the hardback and ebook. The 2018 Tolkien Calendar will also feature Alan Lee’s artwork from Beren and Luthien.  

Another item I’m looking forward to is 10th anniversary revised edition of The Tolkien Companion and Guide by Wayne G. Hammond and Christina Scull. I’ve been on the lookout for the original box set by Harper Collins, however, since it’s out of print, the market place prices are crazy high. I believe around 2010-2013 was when it caught my attention. However, this year, the two book set has been expanded. So much so, that it will now be a three book set. If I’m not mistaken, the Reader’s Guide has expanded from one book to two.

There doesn’t appear to be any sign [and by that I mean pre-order listing] for a deluxe version of The Lay of Aotrou and Itroun. The deluxe version of The Story of Kullervo came out a year and a bit after the hardback and ebook did; so I’m wondering if Harper Collins will do likewise with this one. Then again, Beren and Luthien gets its deluxe edition ‘same day’, so…. Aotrou & Itroun is smaller / slimmer / thinner than Kullervo, so it may be possible that the book may be too small to get produced or printed in the deluxe edition design and style. Anyway, at this point, it’s not known if one will come [this year or ever.]. I check about once a week, every week, but I’ll make a point to check around the half-way mark for the year. If July or August rolls around and there’s no listing for it, then there won’t be in 2017 [or…ever?], would be my guess.

For those who like paperbacks, it seems that The Hobbit illustrated by Jemima Catlin will be arriving later this year (September), under the title “Colour Illustrated Hobbit”. I’m guessing because paperbacks usually have black and white artwork etc, they wanted to specify. The Story of Kullervo will also be coming out in paperback, in the “matching” size as the other Tolkien paperbacks in August.

I usually don’t track ‘books about Tolkien’ but in August, The Song of Middle-earth by David Harvey is coming out in hardback….which is a tad backwards, considering that the paperback came out last year. I am not sure what it will feature [aside from the fact the book will be in hardback], if anything. It could possibly be a print-on-demand title offered from Tolkien.co.uk , the official Tolkien bookstore.

For the time being, I believe that covers the notable Tolkien publications for 2017….that we know of at this point.

January 15, 2017

2017: Books & Reading

There isn’t a whole lot I’m looking to buy this year in the way of books; whether they be new releases or books previously published that I’ve yet to discover.

There are only a select few I intend to get. Of course, this isn’t counting any books that may be gifted to me throughout the year, nor comics / trades / graphic novels. I really hope The Winds of Winter comes out this year. Once it’s announced, I’m pre-ordering it ASAP. If it comes out this year, the earliest would be May, the latest would be November.

I’ll be getting The Flame Bearer in the spring; which is usually when the Bernard Cornwell books come out in the format I like, and have the other Last Kingdom books in. I’ll also be getting The Tolkien Companion and Guide by Wayne G. Hammond and Christina Scull; which is a revised 10th anniversary edition of their 2-book set. Another Tolkien book I’ll be getting will be Beren and Luthien in the spring when it comes out. All three books I’ve mentioned are on pre-order.

I may also consider picking up the Everyman’s Library edition of a collection of Robert Burns Poems.

Aside from those, my trips to the book store will be minimal. I’ve got catching up to do, though!

Now, what do I plan to read


Well, I am currently reading Excalibur by Bernard, the final book in his Warlord Trilogy. I have about 100 pages left, and I hope to finish that by next Sunday. After that, I have a number of options of what to read next.

- Canterbury Classic's leather edition of Alice's Adventures in Wonderland (And Other Stories) 

- Nova Scotia: Shaped by the Sea [New Revised Edition] by Lesley Choyce 
 - The Man in High Castle by Philip K. Dick 
- Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury

So those are my choice son 'what to read next.' I will read all of those titles, but the question is 'when', and 'which one do I start with.'
 

I am also looking to read some 'mythology' [Sagas of Icelanders, Penguin's "Legends from the Ancient North" series, a few other mythology titles, Canterbury Classic's leather duology of Iliad and Odyssey], a re-read of His Dark Materials, Les Miserables, and The Count of Monte Cristo, to name few other titles I wish to read at some point this year. That's not counting what I'll read on my Kobo ereader, or if The Winds of Winter does in fact come out this year.

Lots of books, lots of choices...not nearly as much time as I'd like!


January 11, 2017

2017: Movies + TV

For the next installment of  my 2017 series, I’m going to examine which TV shows and movies I’m looking forward to feasting my eyes on. 

First, I’ll cover movies. 

So far, 2017 seems to be quite lacking in the big blockbuster movie department. I don’t mean the fact that it’s only January, of course, but looking ahead to seeing when movies are coming out. That said, I’m looking forward to the following. Please note, that just because I don’t want to see something at the cinema, doesn’t mean I don’t want to see it. 

 


Guardians 2


I will definitely see this one opening night in premium format.

 


Alien: Covenant


The Aline films seem to be hit or miss. The very first two were quite good but the rest after that…..we’ll see by word of mouth before I decide if I want to see this one at the cinema, or wait for it to hit Netflix [so I can ‘legally’ watch it but not pay an arm and a leg to do so.]

 


Pirates 5


Good chance I’ll see this one at the cinema. Perhaps not during the first week, but I hope to see it at the cinema. If I hear it’s terrible….I’ll still watch it, but may wait for it to be on Netflix.

 


Spider-Man


It’s another MCU movie, so of course I’ll be at the cinema in premium format to see this one! I quite enjoyed Spider-Man in Civil War, so bring on his own film. 

 


War of the Apes


I’d like to see this one, but I’ll most likely see it on Netflix. I enjoyed the more recent Apes movies, but I’ve never gotten excited enough to catch them at the cinema, though. 

 


Dunkirk


I managed to see about the first 10 minutes of this when I saw Rogue One. It looks pretty impressive. I’d definitely be willing to catch it in the cinema, especially in a premium format (Nolan likes to use IMAX camera for filming). 

 


Blade Runner 2


I loved Blade Runner, especially the final cut. I saw it in a cinema, in fact. Basically, the reception of this film will determine how I will watch it. I want to see it though, but do I want to spend the $20 to do so….?

…and those are pretty much it for the year that I I’m looking forward to seeing. I’m sure I’ll see others, and some dates may get pushed back, and some may advance. But as of this moment, those are the ones I’m looking forward to seeing. 

Now, for the TV shows. 

At the moment, the only show I’m watching “as it goes” is Vikings. I enjoyed it enough to not wait until the season was finished to power through it, but to watch it week-by-week. The only other show I do that with at the moment is Game of Thrones. Season 7 will be this year sometime, so I’m looking forward to that. It would be nice to get the book The Winds of Winter by Martin before the new season begins, but that’s another post. 

The other shows I watch ‘later’ – I either wait for the season to end, the entire show to finish, or I watch on Netflix. Netflix recently posted the final episodes for Hell on Wheels, so now the entire show is there. I’m waiting for newer seasons of Halt and Catch Fire and Turn to be uploaded, as well. The Americans and Better Call Saul I’m waiting until they’re finished. I’m also interested in The Crown. Probably soon I’ll start Star Wars: Rebels, as well.

January 6, 2017

2017: Wishlist

As part of my “2017 Series”, I will examine which things I am hoping to get, as well as save up for the year. Each year, I usually ‘treat’ myself to a somewhat large financial purchase. So, I’m going to look ahead and tell you what I want to get this year. This is essentially a birthday and Christmas wishlist for 2017.

BOOKS
There aren’t that many I’m looking to get this year, surprising enough. It’s time to start reading what I own! If The Winds of Winter comes out this year, I’m definitely getting that.

- Beowulf by The Folio Society [I’d love town this special edition of Beowulf]

- A Middle-earth Traveler (Sketches From Bag End to Mordor) by John Howe [ISBN: 
9780008226770] (To be published Oct. 5.) [it sounds like a john Howe Lord of the Rings sketchbook….]
​​
- The Legend of Zelda: Art & Artifacts [just in time for the new game coming out on wii u! Also, I own Hyrule Historia, so this will match it!]

- A Feast of Ice and Fire [I have the other cookbooks by the same author: the Warcraft one and the Shire one. This one’s all that’s missing. I wonder if there will be an updated one once the books or the show ends….?]

- Through the Eyes of the Vikings: An Aerial Vision of Arctic Lands  by Robert Haas [saw the Viking exhibit at my local museum and I should have grabbed this book!]


OTHER

This is the stuff that doesn’t really fit into a category.

- Ottawa Redblacks jersey

- Ottawa Redblacks [Grey Cup Champions?] t-shirt (red)

- Ottawa Redblacks tickets
​​
- Team Canada Jersey

- cozies (pants + shirt combo)

- Beau's Pint Glass [need a beer glass from one of my fav breweries!]

- Beau's B-Side Brewing Label t-shirt [my fav t-shirt they currently sell] 

- NES Classic *AND* NES Classic Controller [I’m in no hurry to get this, but I’ll make the effort any time I know they’ll go on sale.] 
- Shrine of Talos statue [Talos is central to the story of Skyrim, and this statue is pretty sweet looking.]
 
-  Batman Rebirth Symbol t-shirt

- Dawn of Justice Batman t-shirt 

​​
MUSIC [VINYL LP]
​​
Some vinyl LPs that I’d love to get.
- Hero of Time 

- The Rolling Stones: Blue and Lonesome 

Some breweries that I like, whose beers can be bought at LCBO.

- St Bernardus
​​
- Muskoka

- Beau's

- Chimay

- Innis & Gunn
- Belhaven

- Fuller's
 
​​
​​
GIFT CARDS

These will help me get a few things for the house [such as full sized ‘proper’ bookcases], get some clothes, or to help pay for Netflix, game son Steam, or music on iTunes.

- Home Depot

- Lowe's
​​
- Jysk

- Canadian Tire

- Eddie Bauer

- Banana Republic / GAP

- Netflix

- Steam
​​
- iTunes
​​

SAVING UP

There are two things I’m specifically saving my own up for in terms of “big purchases” this year – I want to build a stereo system [receiver, 2 speakers (maybe with a sub) and turntable] and I’d like to get an ASUS ROG laptop. For the ASUS ROG, I’ll grab it on ‘Back to school’, Black Friday or Boxing Day….if I have enough funds. It may have to wait a year because of that. But I’d love to get myself set up with a brand new stereo set this year at some point.

January 4, 2017

A Few More Details About the Revised Tolkien Companion and Guide


The original set from 2006.
In late 2016, it was revealed that the ultimate Tolkien resource by Wayne G. Hammond & Christina Scull was being revised and republished.

The Tolkien Companion and Guide is set to be re-published [updated and revised] in the fall of 2017. The original set, is comprised of two books: Chronology and Reader's Guide. The new set, is so expanded, that it will now be three instead.

Why I'm doing up this quick little post, is that there are a few ways [and ISBN's] that you can get the revised set later this year.

THE BOX SET:


"
The J. R. R. Tolkien Companion and Guide : Boxed Set"
ISBN: 9780008214548
Publication Date: 9780008214517
Publication Date:

9780008214531
Publication Date: 30 Nov 2017



So it appears that the Reader's Guide has gotten to be so large, that it's getting two books. This is of course going by the fact that it goes "Volume X: Part Y" in the current titling format.

Wayne G. Hammond and Christina Scull are among the most knowledgeable Tolkien scholars; as they have proven their expertise time and again throughout the years.

January 3, 2017

2017: Sports

With the new year, there are a few things I look forward to. This entry will focus on sports.

I was never really a big sports guy. I’ve watched, followed and enjoyed my local NHL team, the Ottawa Senators, as far back as about 96/97. Recently, I followed other teams as well – Tampa Bay Lightning and St Louis Blues, chiefly, but not exclusively. Before that, my grandfather and I enjoyed following the Blue Jays (1990 – 1995-ish), as well as my father.  It was in the past year that I got back into baseball, because of how well the Jays were doing. In the past couple of years as well, I’ve been following a few NFL teams. So really, in the past few years I’ve been following sports when “something” was happening – The World Cup, FIFA, Team Canada (hockey) etc…. and now, the Ottawa Redblacks have won the Grey cup, and have been on fire since about 2014.

So since I’ve given you a quick glimpse of my past with sports, I’ll say what I’m looking forward to seeing / happening this year.

HOCKEY

I’m looking forward to seeing, and hoping, that the Senators have a great ending in 2017. By ending I mean January to hopefully the Stanley Cup. Now, since Ottawa isn’t the only team I like (though they are my favourite) I would also like to see the St Louis blues do well in the West. I also hope that Tampa does well, in Ottawa’s place. Here’s hoping that Ottawa wins the Stanley Cup!

There have also been rumors, musings and rumblings about the Senators getting a new arena. We’ll see if that happens this year. Since it’s 25 years since the Sens ‘came back’ it would be great due to that fact. Also, I’m sure that whenever that happens, there’s bound to be some great deals on tickets…..

BASEBALL

Well, I only watch for the Jays. I hope to follow the team a little bit more, and hopefully they’ll win the World Series!

FOOTBALL

NFL: I don’t want to see the following teams do well: New England Patriots, Green Bay Packers, or Oakland Raiders. Some of the teams I’d like to see do well: Pittsburgh Steelers, New York Giants, and Seattle Seahawks.

CFL: I only watch for the Redblacks, so here’s hoping they have a great season and win the Grey Cup yet again….seeing as Ottawa is hosting the next one. I hope to see a game or two this season, as well as get a jersey.

OTHER / Closing Thoughts: I’ll also check out whatever special soccer events happen during the year as well. Since I don’t have cable (sports is the thing I miss – being ABLE to watch games), I will most likely catch games at the pub, or go to a few of them. By ‘them’ I’m referring to the Redblacks. At the very worst, I follow some teams on social media, and theScore app, so I’ll always be in the loop even though I may not be able to actually WATCH some of these games.

January 1, 2017

End of Yuletide 2016



Well, another Yuletide has come and gone. What a great one it's been! There was nothing in particular I was asking for, or after. I am in dire need (no longer) for PJs and cozies. Some of my first ever pairs are starting to go, so it was time to retire a few of them. Plus, the winter / Christmas beer is always great to get.

I think of, and celebrate, Yuletide from the first day of winter until the 2nd of Jan. This essentially marks New Year's Day the final day of the winter holidays. During this time I follow sports the most often within a short period, as I am actually able to watch a few hockey games. This is due to relatives having cable and sports packages - the only "TV" I'd pay for. The World Juniors are always great hockey, as are a few games here and there in the NHL. More on sports later.....


So, apologies I haven't been blogging as much lately. Work, plus getting ready for Yuletide, including travel, has been taking away some time. I've also been reading a little bit more often as well. I didn't get around to finishing a few books before 2016 ended, however that means I'll finish them off in the first weeks of 2017.

I also got around to seeing Rogue One, which will get a review shortly. So, now that the holidays are over, it's time to catch up...... Because of that,, the first few posts of 2017 [this month,of course] will be about a few aspects of 2017 I look forward to. Not to brag, but I may also do a gift recap, covering what I got under the tree for those curious. I'll also mention things I want this year, as well.....

Hope you all had a great Yuletide as well. The next day I look forward to will be Robert Burns Day!