Books Received in January, 2023
Sci-Fi Fan Letter Blog
by Jessica Strider
2d ago
Many thanks as always to the publishers that send me review copies this month. Mary Magdalene: A Visual History by Diane Apostolos-Cappadona - I find it so interesting that the medieval church conflated all of the New Testament Marys into one woman. I also find it curious that at least 2 French monasteries claimed to be her final resting place. So I can't wait to learn more about her and how her legend has changed and how she's been portrayed in art through the centuries. Out February 23. From faithful apostle and seductress to feminist icon, Mary Magdalene's many complex roles in ..read more
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Video: Ancient Magical Artifacts Explained "Solomon's Seal has Annihilated You"
Sci-Fi Fan Letter Blog
by Jessica Strider
1w ago
I started following Antikemagie recently, an "archaeologist with a research focus in ancient Egyptian, Greek, and Roman magic". She's put out a video on a fascinating bronze amulet from ca.600 AD with Christian, Jewish and pagan elements that protects the wearer from a particular demon.  ..read more
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Shout-Out: Karma of the Sun by Brandon Ying Kit Boey
Sci-Fi Fan Letter
by Jessica Strider
2w ago
Six Suns, six blasts in the sky; a seventh one, and the earth will die. In the isolation of the Himalayas, the snows still fall, but they are tinged with the ash of a nuclear winter; the winds still blow, but they wail with the cries of ghosts. The seventh and final blast is near. As the world heaves its final breaths, the people of the Tibetan plateau—civilization’s final survivors—are haunted by spirits and terrorized by warlords. Though the last of the seven prophesied cataclysms is at hand, young Karma searches for a father who disappeared ten years earlier, presumed dead. Driven by a y ..read more
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Book Review: Merlin Dreams by Peter Dickinson
Sci-Fi Fan Letter
by Jessica Strider
2w ago
Illustrated by Alan Lee Pros: beautiful pictures, variety of stories Cons: Merlin is trapped under the earth, dreaming of his past and things yet to come. This is a book of 9 pseudo-medieval short stories based around the frame story of the British sorcerer Merlin, dreaming. There is a good variety of stories, including knights, kings, and villages with problems. There’s a slew of fantasy creatures: a form of werewolf, mermaids, dragons, enchanted knights, a basilisk and even a sciopod, which was kind of cool. The stories take weird turns and generally don’t end the way you’d expect, but ..read more
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Book Review: Lost in the Moment and Found by Seanan McGuire
Sci-Fi Fan Letter
by Jessica Strider
3w ago
Pros: psychologically astute, lyrical writing Cons: packs a real emotional punch, may be distressing for some readers When Antsy ran away from a bad situation at home she opened a Door. The Shop Where the Lost Things Go is a nexus connecting all the worlds and provides a new home for her. Antsy wants to return to her mother someday, but doesn’t realize what her adventure has already cost. The book begins with a content warning from the author that Antsy runs before she is sexually abused. The first few chapters are difficult to read all the same. While she is a child, you know what’s happe ..read more
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2022 My Reading Year in Review
Sci-Fi Fan Letter
by Jessica Strider
1M ago
I've done a lot more non-fiction reading the past few years, so the number of books I finished is smaller than I'd like, though I did read some fantastic books. I only managed 28 books, 15 of which were history or history adjacent (like a cookbook and a book on gardens). For SF/F/H I read 13, only 1 science fiction and 12 various fantasy (6 general fantasy, 3 urban fantasy and 3 historical fantasy). The books I enjoyed the most were for fiction: The City of Dark by Tara Sim (my review) Nettle and Bone by T. Kingfisher (my review) Lost in the Moment and Found by Seanan McGuire (Comes out in Jan ..read more
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Books Received in November and December 2022
Sci-Fi Fan Letter
by Jessica Strider
1M ago
Many thanks to the publishers who sent me books to review the last 2 months.  Camp Zero by Michelle Min Sterling - Set in Canada, it sounds pretty interesting. In a near-future northern settlement, a handful of climate change survivors find their fates intertwined in this mesmerizing and transportive novel in the vein of Station Eleven and The Power. America, 2049: Summer temperatures are intolerably high, the fossil fuel industry has shut down, and humans are implanted with a ‘Flick’ at birth, which allows them to remain perpetually online. The top echelons of society live in Floating ..read more
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Cookbook Review: Culinary Travels: Memories Made at the Table by Emily Szajda
Sci-Fi Fan Letter
by Jessica Strider
1M ago
I've something different for the blog today, a cookbook review. There seem to be a few standard meals in fantasy novels: stew at inns and feasts for nobles. We sometimes forget the sheer variety of food available around the world and the cleverness of humans in preparing similar ingredients in different ways. This cookbook shares recipes from around Europe and shows that even cultures that are geographically close can have widely varying menus. There’s no table of contents. The book starts with a brief introductory prologue. Each chapter deals with a specific country/region and begins with a ..read more
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Video: The Roots of Magic Signs
Sci-Fi Fan Letter
by Jessica Strider
1M ago
Last month I stumbled across a kickstarter campaign to make a sourcebook for magic signs (sigils, etc). The author has done a couple of youtube videos on the topic, including the one below. I find magic a fascinating topic. So much time and effort has gone into carving amulets and blessing or curse tablets, praying to or trying to manipulate higher powers for aid, creating formulas, symbols, potions, etc. It's also interesting how older traditions got folded into religions ..read more
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Topaz Sharpen AI Thoughts
Sci-Fi Fan Letter
by Jessica Strider
2M ago
I recently came back from a research trip to France. I took... tens of thousands of photographs using a 10+ year old camera. It's focusing ability wasn't as good as it used to be, nor are my eyes or my ability to hold it super steady. So taking photos in low light cathedral interiors and museums means I came home with a larger than I'd like number of blurry photos. :( So I was intrigued when I saw an ad for Topaz Sharpen AI. The reviews I saw for the program were pretty impressive and it turned out my husband had used some of their products in the past. So I got their free trial download (it's ..read more
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