Archive for the ‘Friday Fragments’ Category

FF: Jumping Around

December 24, 2021
Ruby, Roary, and Argent Under the Tree

This week, because I’ve been going through audiobooks faster than usual, I did some jumping about in series.  This can be a disaster with poor writers, forcing a reader to endure huge amounts of infodump.  Both Bujold and Aaronvitch are skilled enough I have had no issues.

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.  Two of the series I’m trying right now are due to FF reader mentions.

Completed:

Penric and the Shaman by Lois McMaster Bujold. Audiobook.

Penric’s Fox by Lois McMaster Bujold.  Audiobook.

Mira’s Last Dance by Lois McMaster Bujold.  Audiobook.  I couldn’t get the audio for novella four, so I jumped.  Good story, but I think I probably did need the prior for best effect.  Still, this worked and I want to listen to the previous more than ever.

In Progress:

Written in Stone by Christopher Stevens.  Non-fiction.  I am now up to “T.” 

The Liar’s Knot by M.A. Carrick.  Sequel to The Mask of Mirrors.  A few chapters in.  Enjoying very much.

Whispers Underground by Ben Aaronovitch. Audiobook.  This series has been mentioned repeatedly, and I really wanted to try it, but since I wanted audio, because I have room in that queue, I am starting with the third book.  The author does a good job of supplying enough background while moving the plot ahead.  Several cheers for doing a tough job well!

Also:

Dipping into Christmas: A Biography, which takes a look at how various things we assume have “always” been part of Christmas evolved.

FF: You’ll Notice That

December 17, 2021
Roary Never Lies

You’ll notice that my reading is up this week.  This is because I use audiobooks as background when doing chores, and there have been a lot of chores in the last week.

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. 

Completed:

Terciel & Elinor by Garth Nix.  A prequel to Sabriel, featuring her parents.  Good read, although suffering some from in jokes that only a reader of later books in the series would get.

Curtains For Three by Rex Stout.  Audiobook.

Plot It Yourself by Rex Stout.  Audiobook.

Penric’s Demon by Lois McMaster Bujold.  Audiobook. This novella is set in the “World of the Five Gods” featured in The Curse of Chalion and Paladin of Souls.  Very strong, with an engaging protagonist.  First of the “Penric and Desdemona” series.

In Progress:

Written in Stone by Christopher Stevens.  Non-fiction.  I am now up to “N.” 

Penric and the Shaman by Lois McMaster Bujold. Audiobook.

The Liar’s Knot by M.A. Carrick.  Sequel to The Mask of Mirrors.  Just started.

Also:

A scattering of magazine articles.

FF: One Great Reason

December 3, 2021
Mei-Ling Catches a Whiff of a Good Story

One great reason for re-reading is to sooth a stressed soul.  With lots going on, I am deliberately choosing audiobooks that I know I can relax to while I do various and sundry holiday preparation jobs. 

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. 

Completed:

Paladin of Soul by Lois McMaster Bujold.  Audiobook.  Not really a sequel to The Curse of Chalion, except in the sense that it takes place three years after the other novel.  Strong enough that I’ll be listening to other books in this setting.

Star Surgeon by James White.  Quite good, and I’ll certainly read others.  However, this is from 1965, and more modern readers may find it anything from unsettling to solidly off-putting that the attitude toward human females is far more denigrating than toward any of the varied and wonderful aliens.

A Spindle Splintered by Alix E. Harrow.  Novella.  An interesting twist on “Sleeping Beauty.” Those unfamiliar with folklore will have some surprises coming their way.  However, even for someone who, like me, knew all the information, this story had a warmth of its own that made it well worth reading.

Over My Dead Body by Rex Stout.  Audiobook.  Old favorite.

In Progress:

Written in Stone by Christopher Stevens.  Non-fiction.  Chatting anecdotal look at the origins of modern language.  Short chapters make for easy reading.

And the Doorbell Rang by Rex Stout. Audiobook.

Also:

I’ve been reading a heck of a lot of Jane Lindskold’s work.  I finished a re-read of Child of a Rainless Year this week in preparation for a new e-book edition in early 2022.  Now I’m reading the page proofs of Aurora Borealis Bridge, due out April 2022.

FF: Jacket Copy

November 26, 2021
Persephone Fancies Herself an Elegant ‘Tec

Beverly, a frequent FF Commenter, repeatedly mentioned enjoying James White’s “Sector General” novels.  Alan Robson, with whom I wrote the Thursday Tangents for seven years, had also recommended them, so when I had a chance to try one, I did. 

I chose Star Surgeon because the jacket copy got me: “Trying to solve the baffling medical problem of the comatose, immortal, and possibly homicidal demigod Levelin would have been trouble enough…”

Who could pass that up?

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. 

Completed:

Lord Peter by Dorothy L. Sayer.  A collection of the short stories featuring Peter Wimsey.  I came across this collection and, although I probably “read” most of the stories in various audiobook collections.  Her prose does just fine without a narrator!

In Progress:

Paladin of Soul by Lois McMaster Bujold.  Audiobook.  Not really a sequel to The Curse of Chalion, except in the sense that it takes place three years after the other novel.  The plot has taken some excellent twists!

Star Surgeon by James White.  Just started.

Also:

About half-way through my re-read of Child of a Nameless Year, one of my standalone novels, the first step in a new e-book edition.

FF: There Is Balance

November 19, 2021
Mei-Ling Balances

For some reason, I’m reading a lot of shorter works right now, which is not all bad.  Since my current audiobooks is a very long novel, there is balance.

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. 

Completed:

The Curse of Chalion by Lois McMaster Bujold.  Audiobook.  One of the FF regulars mentioned Bujold’s fantasy, and my library had this, and here I am.  Court intrigue on an intricate scale.  The “different realty” elements enter in more in the latter portion, but far from making life easier for the characters, they make it harder.

Liavek: Players of Luck edited by Emma Bull and Will Shetterly.  I’m liking this collection even more than the first.  More variety in types of stories, as well as more inter-play between characters and plotlines.  A more ambitious collection.

Liavek: Wizard’s Row edited by Emma Bull and Will Shetterly.  Quite sound, although the first collection where I felt that having read the earlier volumes was beginning to be necessary.

In Progress:

Paladin of Soul by Lois McMaster Bujold.  Audiobook.  Not really a sequel to The Curse of Chalion, except in the sense that it takes place three years after the other novel.  This one focuses on “Mad” Ista, and her attempt to find an identity that is not defined by her relationships to other people: mother, wife, sister, niece.

Lord Peter by Dorothy L. Sayer.  A collection of the short stories featuring Peter Wimsey.  I came across this collection and, although I probably “read” most of the stories in various audiobook collections, I decided to see how they held up without Ian Carmichael’s excellent narration.

Also:

My work on getting my backlist up in new e-book editions is progressing, with the two “Artemis Awakening” novels (Artemis Awakening and Artemis Invaded) now available (in the case of the former) or almost available (in the case of the latter).  I’m starting a re-read of Child of a Nameless Year, one of my standalone novels.

FF: Dragons, Luck, Curses

November 12, 2021
Coco and the Dragons

I hope to have more time to read soon, but I’m still managing to squeeze a little in.

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. 

Completed:

Liavek: City of Luck edited by Emma Bull and Will Shetterly.  Enjoyed, although stories started to fall into a theme.  My favorite story was the final one, a longer piece by Barry Longyear, which tipped the balance and made me decide to go on to the next anthology.

Dragons by the Yard, Kymera Press.  Comic.  Issues one to five.  This would be a good one for kids to read with adults, as the story progresses slowly enough for thoughtful discussion.  No children as protagonists but no overtly “adult” themes.   Colorful art has a “disneysque” feel.  I’d definitely read issue six, because the story was getting more intriguing by that point.

In Progress:

The Curse of Chalion by Lois McMaster Bujold.  Audiobook.  One of the FF regulars mentioned Bujold’s fantasy, and my library had this, and here I am.  Court intrigue on an intricate scale.  The “different realty” elements enter in more in the latter portion, but far from making life easier for the characters, they make it harder.

Liavek: Players of Luck edited by Emma Bull and Will Shetterly.  I’m liking this collection even more than the first.  More variety in types of stories, as well as more inter-play between characters and plotlines.  A more ambitious collection.

Also:

Smithsonian’s most recent issue is proving to be one of my favorites in quite a while.

FF: Writers Read Differently

November 5, 2021
Roary Finds an Excellent Read

This week I’ve been very aware that writers read differently than casual readers.  I’ll extend this reaction to habitually thoughtful readers who don’t write, as well.

While reading The Curse of Chalion by Lois McMaster Bujold, I saw a certain plot point coming.  No.  This wasn’t because Bujold was boring or predictable but, as a writer, I saw where a particular element would become crucial.  Did this make me bored?  Not in the least…  I nearly collapsed in relief when the scene finally hit and was resolved (very much to my satisfaction). 

I think this awareness of the elements of story is something editors acquire as well.  As fiction “gatekeepers” this can become a danger point.  Editors read so much that, after a while, what would have once delighted now seems “meh.”  On the other hand, a new editor doesn’t know enough, and gets excited over something a longtime reader says “meh” about.

Interesting…

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. 

Completed:

Quartered Safe Out Here by George MacDonald Fraser.  Audiobook.  Non-fiction.  Re-read.  Memoir of the Burma campaign in WWII, British POV.  Read by David Case, who does accents amazingly.

Travel Light by Naomi Mitchison.  Nordic mythic underpinnings to a story that’s part fairytale, more magical realism.  Main character is more acted upon than acting.  Still feel mixed about this one.

Finder by Emma Bull.  Set in the “shared universe” of Bordertown, but fully standing on its own.  A very fine story, that sometimes hit a little too close to current events in ways I can’t mention without spoilers.

In Progress:

The Curse of Chalion by Lois McMaster Bujold.  Audiobook.  One of the FF regulars mentioned Bujold’s fantasy, and my library had this, and here I am.  Court intrigue on an intricate scale.  Very limited magic, so should suit readers of historical fiction as much as of Fantasy.

Liavek edited by Emma Bull and Will Shetterly.  When looking to see if I have any of the Bordertown anthologies (I don’t, must amend), I came across this on my shelves.  The 1980s saw the growth of shared world anthologies, with a wide variety of settings.  I’m enjoying this quite a bit. 

Also:

Our local Biopark (combination of affiliated zoo, botanical garden, aquarium, and more) magazine came out.  I read with happiness about a new baby hippo, but was brought to tears by the news that three members of the siamang family died as a result of a disease—one of the gorillas, too, but the siamangs have long been particular favorites, and we’d watched the baby grow up.  He was such a showoff.

FF: Who Would Have Figured?

October 29, 2021
Mei-Ling Thinks This Book Makes a Great Fashion Accent

This week I pulled out an old favorite in honor of Halloween… And, as promised, I’m letting you know that a book I read as an advanced review copy, This Broken World by Charles E. Gannon is now available! I’ve posted the cover at the end for your enjoyment. Although book one in a series, it does have a complete story arc.

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. 

Completed:

The Wonder Engine by T. Kingfisher.  Sequel to The Clockwork Boys.  Not steampunk.  Sword and sorcery.

Old Nathan by David Drake.  Re-read.  A series of short stories that weaves into a very satisfying novel.  Appalachian folklore vibe on the spooky side, so a good Halloween read!

In Progress:

Quartered Safe Out Here by George MacDonald Fraser.  Audiobook.  Non-fiction.  Re-read.  Rambling memoir of the Burma campaign in WWII, British POV.  Read by David Case, who does accents amazingly.

Finder by Emma Bull. A Bordertown novel.

Travel Light by Naomi Mitchison.  Nordic mythic underpinnings to a story that’s part fairytale, more magical realism.  Main character is more acted upon than acting, about which I have mixed feelings.  It adds to the fairytale feeling, but I prefer stories where magical gifts are somehow earned, not just bestowed.

Also:

I’ve caught up on Archeology and Smithsonian, for once, dipping into Vogue, which has some interesting articles not just about fashion, but about the creative process.  Who would have figured?

Now Available!

FF: Diving Deep

October 22, 2021
Paladin Roary

This week I did a lot of diving deep into books, and am very happy to have done so!

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. 

Completed:

Age of Faith by Will Durant.  Audiobook.  Done!  With Dante as a finale.  Nice choice, since, especially as presented by Durant, Dante’s life and work is a fit summation of the 1,000 year period covered by this monumental historical tome.

Dogtripping by David Rosenfelt.  A non-fiction look at the hassles involved in moving twenty-five dogs from California to Maine.  Bittersweet, but wherever you’re dealing with animal rescue, there’s going to be sad.

Paladin’s Hope by T. Kingfisher (aka Ursula Vernon).  The newest of the “Saint of Steel” books.  I really enjoyed.  First part is good.  Second part is even better.

The Clockwork Boys by T. Kingfisher.  Reread, because I found myself wondering if some of the details here might be seen in a new light shed by recent reading.  And, well, I like the books.  Despite the title, this is not steampunk, but sword and sorcery with a unique twist or three.

In Progress:

The Wonder Engine by T. Kingfisher.  Sequel to The Clockwork Boys.  Also not steampunk. 

Quartered Safe Out Here by George MacDonald Fraser.  Audiobook.  Non-fiction.  

Also:

Most recent Archeology.  Some good articles in this one.

FF: Moving Along

October 15, 2021
Mei-Ling with Her Nose in a Book

I’ve turned in the proofs of Library of the Sapphire Wind.  Two thumbs up to Libby O’Brien, production manager and coach on how to amend a PDF, who answered so very many questions…  However, between the proofs and losing Sally, this hasn’t been my biggest reading week.

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. 

Completed:

Fallen Into the Pit by Ellis Peters.  Despite the biblical-sounding title, this was actually one of Peter’s contemporary (then) novels, set in the years following WWII.  A dark, gritty tale of ambition, environmental concerns, social change, and racism that speaks to today as much as it surely did at the time it came out.

Saiyuki manga, new translation.  I enjoyed, and was very happy to see in the translator’s notes that my longtime guess as to which was the only mah-jong hand by which Genjo Sanzo could have won the game was correct.  In case you wonder, it was the one Americans call “Thirteen Orphans.”  Yep.  The same one that I used as a book title.

In Progress:

Age of Faith by Will Durant.  Audiobook.  Into the section on medieval science, primary focus, medicine.

Dogtripping by David Rosenfelt.  A non-fiction look at the hassles involved in moving twenty-five dogs from California to Maine.  I’m impressed.  The most I ever moved was six cats, in a small sedan, and that was only from Virginia to New Mexico.

Paladin’s Hope by T. Kingfisher.  The newest of the “Saint of Steel” books—about what happens to a small group of paladins (in a fantasy world, not historical) when their god dies, and they try to rebuild their lives and sense of identity—came out at a perfect time for me.

  Also:

Smithsonian from a couple months back that I’d mislaid.  Some great articles including some of the best coverage of September 11th and its aftermath that I’ve read.