Sunday, October 30, 2011

"Song For A Naming Day" by Sarah Ash (by Mihir Wanchoo)

Read Sarah Ash's interview with Fantasy Book Critic
Read Suvudu article about Lord of Snow and Shadows

Sarah Ash is one of my favorite writers and when I first read her Tears of Artamon trilogy, I was amazed as to how intricately plotted it was and with great characterization along with loads of political intrigue. The series was also followed by a duology which further expanded the events of the trilogy as well focusing on other characters from the trilogy.

Things are further detailed in the article I have written about the world of Artamon, however I along with many others have been pining for a sequel series to this wonderful series. Sarah recently was able to write a small short story focusing on Lady Kiukiu and Lord Gavril of Azkhendir. It particularly focuses on what has happened after the events detailed in the books and resolves a particular question many fans had raised in regards to Kiukiu’s actions in the Children of the Serpent Gate. Sarah first published the story in the “Anniversaries” collection which was published last year to commemorate the fifth anniversary of the The Write Fantastic.

The Write Fantastic is a group of UK fantasy writers who came together since 2005 to maintain and increase fantasy readership through libraries, literary festivals, reader's circles, writers' groups and bookshop events. More information can be found about the book here.

Since then Sarah has decided to go ahead and post the story in its entirety on her website. The story is called “Song For a Naming Day”. The story has artwork provided by Marcelle Natisin who is equally a big fan of Sarah. So hopefully this will be the first of many such collaborative efforts ahead.

Just a small reminder for all readers, the story features certain spoilers for the previous books so be warned and for those who can’t wait to read the story, go over here and enjoy!

How to Care for African American Wigs

Proper care of African American wig is very important if you want your wig to look good for a long time. Of course, the proper wig care depends on the type of wig you have - whether or not you have a synthetic wig, human hair wig, a wig of dreadlocks, etc

General African American wig care:

1. Wash your wig after you have used about 8-12 times. In truth, however, you may be able to go longer without washing, or you may need to wash well before - this depends on humidity and air quality. And, for example, if you go to a bar and smoke, you may want to wash the smoke, the smell of your hair at night, even if washed only a few days ago! Be your own judge.
2. Use a towel to gently blot your wig dry - again, be gentle! Do not wring your wig!
3. Now add an aerosol dispenser.
4. Allow your wig to dry. You can use a Styrofoam head, but may stretch the cap. You may, however, prefer to put the wig on top of something like a glass or a bottle of hairspray covered with a towel.
5. Do not brush your wig unless it is completely dry.
6. Do not leave your wig on direct sunlight to dry.
7. If you decide to cut the wig, make sure you are using it for best results.
8. When not wearing his wig, left him in a wig so that it can maintain its shape and not get caught.
9. When traveling, take your wig in a box of wigs - you do not want to be crushed.
10. To wash the wig:

Synthetic Wig Care - Professional secrecy

Synthetic wigs are easy to care for. No need to change the style of the wig after each washing, as you would with a wig of human hair. However, it is important to note that the man of shampoos and other hair care products are not suitable for synthetic wigs. Even the mildest shampoo you can use in your own hair is too strong for the synthetic fibers used in a wig. The same can be said about hair styling mousses, sprays and gels - do not try to use them in your synthetic wig.

Instead, use shampoos, conditioners and hairsprays specially formulated for synthetic wigs. Raquel Welch, Revlon Tress Allure and produce wide ranges of wig care products, and all these brands work well with any synthetic wig. Most websites that sell wigs offer wig accessories, too, so it is advisable to choose a wig shampoo, conditioner and spray when you order your wig.

Another thing to remember is that synthetic wigs can be styled with curling irons, hot rollers or hair dryer. In fact, heat can destroy your wig, so be careful to keep it away from lamps, ovens, etc. Most synthetic wigs are already prestyled but if you want to add some personality to it, you can use a foam is specially formulated for synthetic wigs and style with your fingers.

The different types of wigs

In today's society, the use of wigs is becoming more and more popular than ever. Women in particular are attracted to the use of wigs and celebrities, including Dolly Parton, Tina Turner, Jenna Jameson, Tyra Banks and Britney Spears, have boosted the popularity of sports in false wigs wigs in their daily lives.

Of course, most people wear wigs to because of severe hair loss caused by aging or a variety of diseases. Women who undergo chemotherapy and hair loss often experience also wear wigs. But apart from hide the baldness, people are starting to wear wigs for fashion purposes. Wigs offer an easy way to change a style or hair and wearing a perfectly cut and styled. In addition, some religious and cultural practices require the use of wigs.

No matter the reason why people (especially women) wear wigs, wigs are a variety of material going in and so people should be aware of before buying a wig for themselves. Above all, if you are looking for a wig, you want to feel comfortable and look natural.

Standard Cap Wigs

First, if you are thinking of buying a wig, it is important to know about the different parts of the wig. And aside from the hair, the most important part is the wig cap. The cap is the base of the wig that sits on the head and the hair is attached. A variety of different covers used on wigs, including standard lid, which is the most common and more affordable wig cap. In a standard cap, the hair is sewn by machine at the top. The layers of hair on the top are pre-designed in a particular style, and the crown of the cap is often teased or pressing, so that viewers can not see through the hair and see the cover. People like this capitalization standard wigs as they give hair a lift that makes the hair look more voluminous.

types of wig material your intention

There are two types of wig material - synthetic fiber and real human hair. Most people naturally assume that a human hair wig is necessarily better than a synthetic, when in reality is not so simple. The right choice depends on what you expect from your wig, how to use, and how long can you can devote to caring for her.

Human Hair Wigs

Most human hair wigs on the market are made with hair from Asia. The majority comes from China, although higher quality Asian hair comes from women living in India or Pakistan. Asian hair by its nature is coarse, straight and usually very dark. Obviously, this hair is great for making straight black wigs, but to do a curly blond wig that has to go through several stages of bleaching and other chemical treatments. As a result, the hair is damaged and a wig that looks great when new, could be boring in a few months.

The best quality hair for European-looking wigs comes from Eastern European countries like Poland and Russia. This hair costs more than Asian hair, because in these countries many women are willing to sell their locks. Wigs made from European hair last longer and feel softer to the touch.

When buying a wig of human hair, be sure to find out where the hair originates. If you're willing to spend hundreds of dollars on a wig, it's best to find one made from European hair. If the label says wig "human hair wig," without specifying the origin of hair, most likely made of hair from Asia.

"The Book of Transformations" by Mark Charan Newton (Reviewed by Liviu Suciu)

Official Mark Charan Newton Website
Order The Book of Transformations HERE
Read FBC Review of Nights of Villjamur
Read FBC Review of City of Ruin
Read FBC Interview with Mark Newton

INTRODUCTION: The Book of Transformations is the third novel in the four volumes Legends of the Red Sun series, following Nights of Villjamur and City of Ruin. So far the series had a tapestry like structure with new and old characters, action in multiple places and several plotlines that are clearly related but in ways that are still mysterious to some extent.

In the reviews linked above, I talked at length about the setting of the novel and the essential characteristics of the world created by the author - old, multiple disappeared civilizations, forgotten science as magic, incoming ice age, island based imperial setting so less centralization and homogeneity, several extant races including the main two: humans and the longer lived rumel, so I will assume the reader has at least a rough knowledge of what the books are about.

As with City of Ruin, I have received copies of The Book of Transformations at several stages - early final draft, "final pre publication copy" and finished copy - and I had the honor to exchange several emails with the author about the book, while being also mentioned in the acknowledgments to the novel, so the usual disclaimers apply.

While I read The Book of Transformations in the Fall of 2010 (early final draft) and then again in January or so (final pre-publication copy) and the summer of 2011 (final copy), the May-July hiatus from FBC due to my household move prevented my reviewing it for its publication in June. The Book of Transformations is also one of the few books where I sort of know the author - even if only by email - and I generally find it much harder to review such.

OVERVIEW/ANALYSIS: Nights of Villjamur introduced the world and especially Villjamur the city, the setting, several main characters and the two main plotlines, City of Ruin shifted the action to Villiren which is another important city of the Empire that stood directly into the path of the alien invaders from the first novel. Now in The Book of Transformations, we return to Villjamur and the local mostly political plotline with the new Emperor and his tenuous hold over the city and empire, the underground rebels and their rumored powerful cultist leader.

After an introductory chapter where an old acquaintance from the first novel, rumel Investigator Fulcrom appears and we realize he will be one of the main leads of the book, we are introduced to the new main character of the novel, Lan who is "different" and has suffered all her life for that. Because you see, Lan has the body of a young man, but inside she feels herself to be a woman in all that counts. So she lives a life of continuous concealment - outwardly and in all the things that define her self-image, a woman - but with the wrong physical parts. Not an easy life even in our contemporary and relatively tolerant society, while in the harsh post-technological world of Villjamur, ice and mostly primitive beliefs and tech, immeasurably harder.

However, Lan gets somewhat lucky and finds out about Ysla, an isolated "cultist" island, where there are people that can perform a gender change operation - at considerable risk to Lan of course - but she desperately accepts and later, finally more or less fully a woman, she goes to Villjamur to make a life in the big city. But the new emperor Urtica has a plan to maintain his slipping grip on power and Lan happens to fit them, whether she likes it or not...

While The Book of Transformations is mostly about Lan, Fulcrom and their adventures and discoveries in Villjamur, there are strong connections with the rest of the series and we also continue an earlier thread dealing with an immortality obsessed cultist and his gone badly wrong search for eternal life. By the end of the novel many things fall into place, the tapestry's outlines are becoming clearer, while the last series novel is a huge one as it promises the convergence of all that came before.

As discussed above, I consider that the main strength of the Legends of the Red Sun series is the superb worldbuilding and extreme inventiveness of the author. While he created some strong personalities in the earlier volumes, I think that with Lan and Fulcrom, Mr. Newton hit on a perfect combination and they are the best characters of the series at least for me.

The writing in the novel flows very well and the pages turn by themselves with vivid description of everything from the squalor of middle of nowhere provinces of the empire, to the lush Ysla and finally to the teeming, unsettled, grim but also luxurious Villjamur itself. There is action galore, the magic - or very advanced technology - intensifies even more and the tension raises continually.

Overall The Book of Transformations (A++) continues the trend of the Legends of the Red Sun novels to date - superb books that fit very well with my tastes in style, while bringing the extreme inventiveness that made speculative fiction the overwhelming choice for my reading.