Archive for the ‘Friday Fragments’ Category

FF: Seem To Be

March 26, 2021
Mei-Ling Often Sees Duppies

This week, I seem to be slipping back into non-fiction territory.  Even my fiction choice is historical. Folklore, for me, always walks a line, because it’s a different reality.

For those of you unfamiliar with this column, the Friday Fragments lists what I’ve read over the past week.  Most of the time I don’t include details of either short fiction (unless part of a book-length collection) or magazines.  The Fragments are not meant to be a recommendation list.  If you’re interested in a not-at-all-inclusive recommendation list, you can look on my website under Neat Stuff.

Once again, this is not a book review column.  It’s just a list with, maybe, a bit of description or a few opinions tossed in.  And it’s also a great place to tell me what you’re reading. 

Recently Completed:

Kojiki translated and extensively annotated by Donald L. Philippi.  The title means “Record of Ancient Things” and the text was completed in 712.  A mixture of mythology, folklore, history, and legend­­—with a healthy dose of genealogy—this was created for political reasons, to explain the descent of the Yamato, but also from a desire to preserve older traditions.  I’m really happy to have the extensive footnotes and appendixes, all of which are well-written. 

Duppy Talk: West Indian Tales of Mystery and Magic by Gerald Hausman.  Jamaican folklore.  Great notes from the storyteller provide cultural context, and a sense of a magical realist world view.

In Progress:

The Renaissance by Will Durant.  Audiobook.  Moving into the end of the Italian Renaissance.  A balanced look at how many of the wonders (both of art and of thought) we remember were purchased in a fashion that led to the fall.  Some of Durant’s terminology is dated (he genders qualities as “male” and “female” for example), but if you can get around that, there’s a lot to enjoy.

Flashman and the Mountain of Light by George MacDonald Fraser.  Victorian imperialism told from the point of view of an anti-hero.  Not PC.  Great prose, and liberally footnoted both in text and with appendices.  I enjoy Flashman, but he’s not to everyone’s taste.

Also:

Still reading Archeology, but will probably switch over to Vogue for a different world view.

FF: For Those Who Asked

March 19, 2021
Persephone Wonders About Flying

I’m doing a bit better than I was on Wednesday.  Still a bit achy, though.  While slowed down, I finished then novel I was reading and have almost finished Kojiki.  I am not sure what will be next.

For those of you unfamiliar with this column, the Friday Fragments lists what I’ve read over the past week.  Most of the time I don’t include details of either short fiction (unless part of a book-length collection) or magazines.  The Fragments are not meant to be a recommendation list.  If you’re interested in a not-at-all-inclusive recommendation list, you can look on my website under Neat Stuff.

Once again, this is not a book review column.  It’s just a list with, maybe, a bit of description or a few opinions tossed in.  And it’s also a great place to tell me what you’re reading. 

Recently Completed:

Someplace To Be Flying by Charles de Lint.  Still a good story.  I’m glad.

In Progress:

The Renaissance by Will Durant.  Audiobook.  Still in the papal states.  Rafael is dead, young.  Michelangelo is alive and grumpy.

Kojiki translated and extensively annotated by Donald L. Philippi.  The title means “Record of Ancient Things” and the text was completed in 712.  A mixture of mythology, folklore, history, and legend­­—with a healthy dose of genealogy—this was created for political reasons, to explain the descent of the Yamato, but also from a desire to preserve older traditions.  I’m really happy to have the extensive footnotes and appendixes, all of which are well-written.  Almost done.

Also:

Finished back issues of Smithsonian.  Now back to Archeology.  Why are archeologists so surprised when the facts show that women have always done a lot more hunting than previously believed?

FF: One Thing Leads To Another

March 12, 2021
Roary, Now Eleven Month Old

Last week, I finished Yoshitoshi’s One Hundred Aspects of the Moon, and found myself thinking about how I’d like to read some of his source materials, many of which serve as Japanese cultural underpinnings.  So I am doing so…  I come by my scholar nerd impulses honestly!

For those of you unfamiliar with this column, the Friday Fragments lists what I’ve read over the past week.  Most of the time I don’t include details of either short fiction (unless part of a book-length collection) or magazines.  The Fragments are not meant to be a recommendation list.  If you’re interested in a not-at-all-inclusive recommendation list, you can look on my website under Neat Stuff.

Once again, this is not a book review column.  It’s just a list with, maybe, a bit of description or a few opinions tossed in.  And it’s also a great place to tell me what you’re reading. 

Recently Completed:

Yoshitoshi’s One Hundred Aspects of the Moon by John Stevenson.  Years ago, Jim and I attended a show at the Folk Art Museum in Santa Fe that featured this series of Yoshitoshi’s later prints.  Very intellectually and creatively stimulating.

In Progress:

The Renaissance by Will Durant.  Audiobook.  Having spent a lot of time on the papal states, including looking at which popes may not have been as bad as often represented (including Alexander Borgia), we’ve moved to art and architecture.  Current focus: Raphael.

Kojiki translated and extensively annotated by Donald L. Philippi.  The title means “Record of Ancient Things” and the text was completed in 712.  A mixture of mythology, folklore, history, and legend­­—with a healthy dose of genealogy—this was created for political reasons, to explain the descent of the Yamato, but also from a desire to preserve older traditions.  I’m really happy to have the extensive footnotes and appendixes, all of which are well-written.

Someplace To Be Flying by Charles de Lint.  I’ve deliberately put off re-reading this until I could read fresh. 

Also:

Back issues of Smithsonian.  Now reading about dogs. 

FF: Focus

March 5, 2021
Plump and Rounded, Coco Contemplates the Moon

This week, I find myself back in mostly non-fiction territory.

For those of you unfamiliar with this column, the Friday Fragments lists what I’ve read over the past week.  Most of the time I don’t include details of either short fiction (unless part of a book-length collection) or magazines.  The Fragments are not meant to be a recommendation list.  If you’re interested in a not-at-all-inclusive recommendation list, you can look on my website under Neat Stuff.

Once again, this is not a book review column.  It’s just a list with, maybe, a bit of description or a few opinions tossed in.  And it’s also a great place to tell me what you’re reading. 

Recently Completed:

The Mysterious Benedict Society and the Perilous Journey by Trenton Lee Stewart.  Good but more anxious, less ironic, thus less fun.

In Progress:

The Renaissance by Will Durant.  Audiobook.  Touring some of the smaller cities in Italy.  (The Italian Renaissance is the focus of the book.)

Yoshitoshi’s One Hundred Aspects of the Moon by John Stevenson.  Years ago, Jim and I attended a show at the Folk Art Museum in Santa Fe that featured this series of Yoshitoshi’s later prints.  We were so fascinated, we bought the book.  I read the parts focused on each print pretty much immediately, but only skimmed the introduction.  This time I started there.  Fascinating mixture of history and biography.  Now I’m reading the text that goes with the individual prints.

Also:

Back issues of Smithsonian.  The article on Yellowstone was fascinating, even if the writer should have had an archeologist check some terminology, especially since the article was focused around archeology!

FF: Finished Up

February 12, 2021
Persephone Relaxes With A Good Book

I haven’t chosen what novel I’m going to read next, but am sampling a variety of shorter works, most of which aren’t holding my attention.  Probably I need to go stare at my bookshelves and see what appeals to me.

For those of you unfamiliar with this column, the Friday Fragments lists what I’ve read over the past week.  Most of the time I don’t include details of either short fiction (unless part of a book-length collection) or magazines.  The Fragments are not meant to be a recommendation list.  If you’re interested in a not-at-all-inclusive recommendation list, you can look on my website under Neat Stuff.

Once again, this is not a book review column.  It’s just a list with, maybe, a bit of description or a few opinions tossed in.  And it’s also a great place to tell me what you’re reading.

Recently Completed:

Agent of Change by Sharon Lee and Steve Miller.  I’ve meant to try a Liaden book for years, and am finally getting there.  Strong characterization, even of minor characters.  Great setting.  Plot is action-packed, after the fashion of a spy thriller.  Oh, and I loved the Turtles (aliens).

In Progress:

The Renaissance by Will Durant.  Audiobook.  Looking at the shifting of visual art styles from Medieval to early Renaissance.

Also:

Back issues of Vogue.

FF: Intrigue and Rebirth

February 5, 2021
Mei-Ling Is Not Quite So Camera Shy

This week my list is a considerable distortion of my reading, because most of my reading time is occupied with my own work, but I do find time to read other things, usually during our afternoon break, and before bed, with a smattering of audio between.

For those of you unfamiliar with this column, the Friday Fragments lists what I’ve read over the past week.  Most of the time I don’t include details of either short fiction (unless part of a book-length collection) or magazines.  The Fragments are not meant to be a recommendation list.  If you’re interested in a not-at-all-inclusive recommendation list, you can look on my website under Neat Stuff.

Once again, this is not a book review column.  It’s just a list with, maybe, a bit of description or a few opinions tossed in.  And it’s also a great place to tell me what you’re reading.

Recently Completed:

The Realm of the Gods: Immortals Book Four by Tamora Pierce.  Audiobook.

Three Blind Mice and Other Stories by Agatha Christie.  Featuring a variety of her detectives, and showing off her versatility as a creator of mysteries.

Murder in Three Acts by Agatha Christie.  An Hercule Poirot.  Very clever conceit that I can’t discuss because it would give too much away.

In Progress:

Agent of Change by Sharon Lee and Steve Miller.  I’ve meant to try a Liaden book for years, and am finally getting there.  Opening combines non-stop action and a touch of intrigue.

The Renaissance by Will Durant.  Audiobook.  I’m not quite ready to go back to the Dark Ages (The Age of Faith was the last Durant to which I was listening) but I thought I’d give a little later on a try.

Also:

Back issues of Vogue.  Each issue, I’ve found at least one article to hand over to Jim.  One about innovative distilleries that are “upcycling” what would be waste from production of another edible into boutique booze.  Another on a “re-wilding” project in England, that makes me want to read the book, Wilding, that it was based upon.  Another about the newly elected Vice President.

FF: Myriad

January 15, 2021
The Mysterious Mei-Ling

Lots of reading this week, mostly shorter works.  I’m also writing.

For those of you unfamiliar with this column, the Friday Fragments lists what I’ve read over the past week.  Most of the time I don’t include details of either short fiction (unless part of a book-length collection) or magazines.  The Fragments are not meant to be a recommendation list.  If you’re interested in a not-at-all-inclusive recommendation list, you can look on my website under Neat Stuff.

Once again, this is not a book review column.  It’s just a list with, maybe, a bit of description or a few opinions tossed in.  And it’s also a great place to tell me what you’re reading.  I’ve discovered a lot of good books that way.

Recently Completed:

A Wizard’s Guide to Defensive Baking by T. Kingfisher (aka Ursula Vernon).  Mona is a minor mage with a gift for working with dough.  Lovely imagery and a gripping, if sometimes a bit improbable, plot.

Nine Goblins: A Novella by T. Kingfisher (aka Ursual Vernon). Quirky characters which is good, given that this is an extremely character-driven plot, and an antagonist who is terrifyingly amoral.

The Mysterious Mr. Quin by Agatha Christie.  A re-read of one of my favorite Agatha Christie works.  This series of interconnected short stories are based on the idea that we see events more clearly after time has passed.  Added bonus: the belief that age has value in giving perspective.

In Progress:

Emperor Mage: Immortals Book Three by Tamora Pierce.  Audiobook.  By odd coincidence, a book about dealing with the aftermath of violence altercation that was never quite a declared war.

DreamForge Magazine, issue seven.  One of the missing magazines!

Also:

All but one of our missing magazines has shown up!

FF: Yep! Still Reading.

January 8, 2021
Roary: Now Nine Months Old

For those of you unfamiliar with this column, the Friday Fragments lists what I’ve read over the past week.  Most of the time I don’t include details of either short fiction (unless part of a book-length collection) or magazines.  The Fragments are not meant to be a recommendation list.  If you’re interested in a not-at-all-inclusive recommendation list, you can look on my website under Neat Stuff.

Once again, this is not a book review column.  It’s just a list with, maybe, a bit of description or a few opinions tossed in.  And it’s also a great place to tell me what you’re reading.  I’ve discovered a lot of good books that way.

Recently Completed:

Armenian Folk-tales and Fables retold by Charles Downing.  I enjoyed the translator’s note at the beginning.  Bonus: At the end of the book is a list of short proverbs.  Great windows into a society’s values.

Wolf Speaker: Immortals Book Two by Tamora Pierce.  Audiobook.  Daine is a year and a half older, and racking up the magical abilities as fast as she can concentrate.  Warning for wolf purists: the wolves are more like dogs in their body language, with a culture built more around human idealizations of wolves than “real” wolves. 

In Progress:

Emperor Mage: Immortals Book Three by Tamora Pierce.  Audiobook.  By odd coincidence, a book about dealing with the aftermath of violence altercation that was never quite a declared war.

A Wizard’s Guide to Defensive Baking by T. Kingfisher (aka Ursula Vernon).  Mona is a minor mage with a gift for working with dough.  Lovely imagery and a gripping, if sometimes a bit improbable, plot. 

Also:

We discovered that three of our December magazines did not arrive in December when January issues started showing up. 

One Won Twenty-one

January 1, 2021
Mei-Ling Is Ecstatic Over My Christmas Book

Happy New Year!  Featured above is the Christmas book I curled up with last week.   I hope you managed to chill from the holiday rush as well.

For those of you unfamiliar with this column, the Friday Fragments lists what I’ve read over the past week.  Most of the time I don’t include details of either short fiction (unless part of a book-length collection) or magazines.  The Fragments are not meant to be a recommendation list.  If you’re interested in a not-at-all-inclusive recommendation list, you can look on my website under Neat Stuff.

Once again, this is not a book review column.  It’s just a list with, maybe, a bit of description or a few opinions tossed in.  And it’s also a great place to tell me what you’re reading.  I’ve discovered a lot of good books that way.

Recently Completed:

The White Cottage Mystery by Marjorie Allingham.  This was a Christmas gift from Jim, an early, pre-Campion novel.  It’s a good story in its own right, with the extra bonus of seeing how it’s first life as a magazine series influenced the style, and even things like paragraph length.

Wild Magic: Immortals Book One by Tamora Pierce.  Audiobook.  It’s funny, but I like Alana a lot better in these books than I do in her own series. 

In Progress:

Armenian Folk-tales and Fables retold by Charles Downing.  I enjoyed the translator’s note at the beginning.  I’m about a third in.  Armenian heroes definitely have the best horses.

Wolf Speaker Immortals Book Two by Tamora Pierce.  Audiobook.  Daine is a year and a half older, now facing the consequences of a dark time in her past.  Warning for wolf purists: the wolves are more like dogs in their body language, with a culture built more around human idealizations of wolves than “real” wolves. 

Also:

I’ve been doing a lot of unstructured writing, testing out my new pens and loosening up my writing.  Feels good.

FF: This Is It!

December 18, 2020
Roary Considers the Problem of Keeping Warm

Prioritizing holiday stuff and writing, back and forth as the demands of one take over from the other, hasn’t left as much time for writing as I’d like.  But I’m still writing!

For those of you unfamiliar with this column, the Friday Fragments lists what I’ve read over the past week.  Most of the time I don’t include details of either short fiction (unless part of a book-length collection) or magazines.  The Fragments are not meant to be a recommendation list.  If you’re interested in a not-at-all-inclusive recommendation list, you can look on my website under Neat Stuff.

Once again, this is not a book review column.  It’s just a list with, maybe, a bit of description or a few opinions tossed in.

Recently Completed:

The Affair of the Blood-Stained Egg Cosy by James Anderson.  Published in the mid-seventies, this is both an affectionate homage to the classic detective stories of the 1930’s, and a good yarn in its own right.

Prisoner’s Base by Rex Stout.  Audiobook.  One of Archie’s attempts to prod Nero out of his typical lethargy has unexpected consequences, and Archie ends up as the client.  A good story, although sadder than many.

In Progress:

The Wood Wife by Terri Windling.  A lovely book of mythic fantasy that is also a tale about the cost of inspiration.  Despite being firmly rooted in a specific time period and a specific setting, it does not seem in the least dated.

The Tower of Nero by Rick Riordan.  Audiobook.  Apollo and Meg return to Manhattan where their journeys began.  Possibly the oddest thing about this book is the repeated mentions that only six months have gone by since the first in this series.  These kids should have seriously PTSD with what they’ve been through.  And, perhaps they do.

Also:

Holiday prep and writing haven’t left me a lot of reading time, so other than glancing at a few magazine articles and often re-reading the same paragraphs over and over, this is it!