Archive for the ‘Friday Fragments’ Category

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!

FF: Mystery and Midnight

December 11, 2020
Mei-Ling Poses

My reading is the usual eclectic mix this week.  I haven’t found a Christmas book yet.  Any suggestions?

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:

I Shall Wear Midnight by Terry Pratchett.  Tiffany Aching is now sixteen, and while she’s a highly capable witch,  changes in those she’s known her entire life may be beyond what she can deal with.

A Geek in Japan by Hector Garcia.  Somewhat dated (originally published in 2010), definitely slanted to a male point-of-view, and sometimes not carefully researched.  Nonetheless, an interesting read.

In Progress:

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.

Also:

With the fourth Star Kingdom/Stephanie Harrington novel officially turned in, Weber and I are brainstorming on the fifth, which means I’ve been doing some research reading.

FF: Bits Here, Pieces There

December 4, 2020
Persephone In Her Thick Fur Defies The Wintersmith

Anyone doing “holiday reading”?  Two of my favorites are Hogfather (Terry Pratchett) and The Dark is Rising (Susan Cooper).   I’m interested in new (to me) suggestions.

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:

Wintersmith by Terry Pratchett.  The third Tiffany Aching book.  Once again, Tiffany dances in where angels would fear to tread.  Can she get herself out before all she loves freezes solid?

Black Mountain by Rex Stout.  Audiobook.  Nero leaves not only his home (unthinkable) but his adopted homeland to return to Montenegro on the trail of the murderer of his long-time best friend.

Passenger to Frankfurt by Agatha Christie.  Audiobook.  A spy thriller from late in her career.  Honestly, reads a bit like a draft that hadn’t yet been firmed up.  Nonetheless, ambitious and with a political setting that, in some ways, seems all too familiar today.

In Progress:

I Shall  Wear Midnight by Terry Pratchett.  Tiffany Aching is now sixteen, and while she’s a highly capable witch,  changes in those she’s known her entire life may be beyond what she can deal with.

Also:

I’m doing research for a couple of projects, so a lot of scattered bits here, pieces there.

FF: Dragons and Tricksters

October 16, 2020
Gangly Roary: Almost Seven 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.

A reminder that I’m always happy to hear what you are reading!

Recently Completed:

Death of a Dude by Rex Stout.  Audiobook.  A Nero Wolfe.  This one takes Archie, and later Nero, to Montana, outside of their usual comfort zone.

Tiger in the Smoke by Margery Allingham.  Thirteen book in her Albert Campion series.  Often regarded as the best in the series.  I’m not sure I feel that way, but it’s very good.

In Progress:

Tether’s End by Margery Allingham.  Fifteen book in her Albert Campion series.  As is often the case as the series went on, Campion is a background character.  Some similarities to Tiger in the Smoke, with a trickster figure as adversary.

A Natural History of Dragons by Marie Brennan.  Audiobook.  First in her “Memoirs of Lady Trent.”  Extremely mannered, detached narrative style may not be for everyone.  Despite a singular lack of romance and being set in a nicely developed imaginary world, has something of the feel of the better Regency Romance. 

Also:

Weber sent me his notes on SK4, so I spent a fair amount of reading time on that!

FF: Mostly Mystery

October 9, 2020
Mei-Ling Reads

One of the things I really like about reading older mysteries is that the prose can be so incredibly good. 

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.

A reminder that I’m always happy to hear what you are reading!

Recently Completed:

Traitor’s Purse by Margery Allingham.  Tenth book in her Albert Campion series. This one is tense, with Campion suffering amnesia and finally facing how screwed up his priorities are. 

Right to Die by Rex Stout.  Audiobook.  A Nero Wolfe.  Published in 1964, the speech in the first chapter could have been made by many a Civil Rights activist today. 

More Work for the Undertaker by Margery Allingham.  Twelfth book in her Albert Campion series.  A return to her pre-War type of settings, with quirky characters and a very localized problem.  Introduces Charlie Luke, who will become Campion’s “active” police ally in later books.

In Progress:

Death of a Dude by Rex Stout.  Audiobook.  A Nero Wolfe.  This one takes Archie, and later Nero, to Montana, outside of their usual comfort zone.

Tiger in the Smoke by Margery Allingham.  Thirteen book in her Albert Campion series.  Often regarded as the best in the series, it deals with PTSD in a very creative manner.

Also:

As usual, the beginning of the month brought in a bunch of periodicals, and I’ve been doing what might be called “channel surfing,” if that could be applied to print media.