Archive for the ‘Friday Fragments’ Category

FF: What Happened Or Why?

January 27, 2023
Persephone the Friend-Shaped

A couple of the books I’ve read recently have held few surprises for me by way of major details, but while for one this made the plot a bit flat, for the other it didn’t matter.  This has had me musing as to why the difference, and I’m not really sure.  Any thoughts?

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 Strange Case of the Alchemist’s Daughter by Theodora Goss.  Audiobook.  A book oddly lacking in suspense because the characters keep breaking the fourth wall, so weak on plot, although strong on characterization.  Setting is pulp Victorian, with some logical incongruities.

From Sawdust to Stardust: the Biography of DeForest Kelly, Star Trek’s Dr. McCoy by Terry Lee Rioux.  I’d call this one bittersweet.

Excess by H.P. Holo and Jacob Holo.  Monster Punk Horizon Three.  A very short novel (about twenty percent of my e-book was extra material) with lots of action, hyped-up descriptions, and some very personable characters.  For a book about hunting monsters, it’s very friend-shaped.

In Progress:

Shards of Honor by Lois McMaster Bujold.  Audiobook.  From reading the Miles books, I know much of the “what happened,” but I’m finding the details of the “how” more than enough to keep me interested.

Dinner at Deviant’s Palace by Tim Powers.  Before he became renowned as the master of “secret history” tales, Tim Powers wrote this strange take on post-apolcalyptic LA.  I haven’t read it for years, but I’ve been sucked right in.

Also:

Finished the latest Smithsonian and a copy of the Berkshire magazine I got as a freebee.  The latter is like reading life in an alternate world in some ways.

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FF: Come By It Honestly

January 20, 2023
Persephone Dreams Hexapuma Dreams

This week I finished reading the mass market proofs of A New Clan (written by me in collaboration with David Weber). The mass market edition will be out in May, right alongside my solo Aurora Borealis Bridge, also in mass market.

My reward for a job well done?  I’ve pulled in the manga of Saiyuki Reload, the Burial Arc from out outdoor library, because I want to compare and contrast who the story was handled in the print (manga) form, in comparison to the anime, which I just watched.  Apparently, I come by my English Professor tendencies naturally, since I’m doing this for fun.

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:

A New Clan by Jane Lindskold and David Weber.  Page proofs for mass market edition. This book was released in June 2022, and is currently available in hard cover, e-book, and audiobook formats

In Progress:

The Strange Case of the Alchemist’s Daughter by Theodora Goss.  Audiobook.  A book oddly lacking in suspense because the characters keep breaking the fourth wall, so weak on plot, but strong on characterization. 

From Sawdust to Stardust: the Biography of DeForest Kelly, Star Trek’s Dr. McCoy by Terry Lee Rioux.  I’ve hit the post-Star Trek years.  Interesting.

Also:

Reading the latest Smithsonian.  Almost done.  Some excellent, well-balanced articles in this one.

Proofs Not Pudding

January 13, 2023
Mei-Ling and Friends

This week part of my reading time has gone into reading the mass market proofs of A New Clan (written by me in collaboration with David Weber). This book was released in June 2022, and is currently available in hard cover, e-book, and audiobook formats. The mass market edition will be out in May, right alongside my solo Aurora Borealis Bridge.

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:

Scales of Justice by Ngaio Marsh.  Audiobook.  I think with this one I have exhausted our library’s collection of Ngaio Marsh as audiobook.

Falling Free by Lois McMaster Bujold.  Audiobook.  Almost done.  Even better than I remembered it being.

Paladin’s Grace by T. Kingfisher.  Re-read.  Still quite good.

In Progress:

A New Clan by Jane Lindskold and David Weber.  Page proofs for mass market edition

The Strange Case of the Alchemist’s Daughter by Theodora Goss.  Audiobook.  I read this when it was first released and on the Nebula ballot.  When I learned there were now sequels, I didn’t remember this well enough to try them without a re-read.

From Sawdust to Stardust: the Biography of DeForest Kelly, Star Trek’s Dr. McCoy by Terry Lee Rioux.  I’m still in the early stages.  At least one chapter seems to be more about Carolyn Kelly (his wife) than DeForest, which is a bit odd.

Also:

Reading the latest Smithsonian

FF: Into a Story

January 6, 2023
Dandy Dreams

The other day, someone posted the question “What makes you feel better when you are in a bad mood?”  My answer came easily and immediately: I dive into a story.  Not necessarily the one I’m writing (although sometime that), but definitely a story.  Often, it’s a re-read, but it also can be a new book by an author who I trust.  And “story” definitely extends to visual media 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. 

Completed:

Aurora Borealis Bridge by Jane Lindskold.  Mass market paperback proofs.  I gave this some of my usual “fun reading” time for a variety of reasons, including, honestly, that I’m enjoying it.

DreamForge Anvil, issue ten.  Perfect for before bed, since the stories, while often complex, are strongly character driven.

In Progress:

Falling Free by Lois McMaster Bujold.  Audiobook.  Almost done.  Even better than I remembered it being.

Paladin’s Grace by T. Kingfisher.  It was there when I needed a re-read.

From Sawdust to Stardust: the Biography of DeForest Kelly, Star Trek’s Dr. McCoy by Terry Lee Rioux.  Recommended by a reader on Charles De Lint’s blog.

Also:

I finished Archeology!  Now the next issue will probably arrive.  Just finished Bioscape, the short magazine from our BioPark (zoo, botanical gardens, and aquarium), and am reading AAA trying to convince me that I want to go on a cruise.

Finally, the Shire has been scourged and Frodo has set sail, and Return of the King completed.  I have some fairly serious thoughts about how what Jackson chose to leave out of his movies (which I did enjoy) completely change Tolkien’s underlying tale.  I could share them in a WW if anyone so desires.

FF: Getting Back

December 30, 2022
Coco Is Shorter Than Even a Goblin

Jim and I went to Arizona for the Christmas weekend.  On the road, we listened to an audiobook of Return of the King, starting where we left off this summer, as the Riders were heading for Minas Tirith.  We’re nearly to the end, and the Shire is being scourged.   If we get a little more time on the road, we’ll finish it.

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:

When in Rome by Ngaio Marsh.  Audiobook.  Over time, Ngaio Marsh gently expanded his protagonist’s beat from homicide to uncovering espionage (especially during stories set in WWII), and later to investigating the narcotic trade.

Swordheart by T. Kingfisher.   I needed both to laugh and to be absorbed in the plot.  T. Kingfisher (aka Ursula Vernon) is one of the rare writers who can do both for me.

Nine Goblins by T. Kingfisher.  Novella.  My only “complaint” about this is that it could have been longer. 

In Progress:

Aurora Borealis Bridge by Jane Lindskold.  Mass market paperback proofs.  I’m giving this some of my usual “fun reading” time for a variety of reasons, including, honestly, that I’m enjoying it.

DreamForge Anvil, issue ten.  Perfect for before bed, since the stories, while often complex, are strongly character driven.

Falling Free by Lois McMaster Bujold.  Audiobook.  I read this one a long time ago, long enough that all I remember is enjoying.  Bujold is an excellent example of an SF writer who starts with an idea, and then examines the idea with an emphasis on its implications for three-dimensional characters.

Also:

The latest issue of Archeology, and assorted short articles.

FF: What I Hear…

December 23, 2022
Persephone Claims Sarkis

It’s rather odd when I think about it, but the lovely cookies featured in this week’s WW were baked to a background of classic mystery…

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:

Overture to Death by Ngaio Marsh.  Audiobook.  Village mystery with an acknowledged nod to Agatha Christie.  Putting on a play as a fundraiser to buy a piano for a village community center becomes the setting for high drama and murder.

Spinsters in Jeopardy by Ngaio Marsh.  Audiobook.  Cults, drugs, kidnappings…

Death on the Air and Other Stories by Ngaio Marsh.  Audiobook.  Actually, a mixed fiction and non-fiction collection, which some excellent essays.

Surfeit of Lampreys and A Man Lay Dead.  Audiobook.  BBC dramatization.  I had very mixed feelings about the adaptation.

In Progress:

When in Rome by Ngaio Marsh.  Audiobook.  Over time, Ngaio Marsh gently expanded his protagonist’s beat from homicide to uncovering espionage (especially during stories set in WWII), and later to investigating the narcotic trade.

Swordheart by T. Kingfisher.   I needed both to laugh and to be absorbed in the plot.  T. Kingfisher (aka Ursula Vernon) is one of the rare writers who can do both for me.

Also:

The latest issue of Archeology.

FF: Hands-Free Reading

December 16, 2022
Mei-Ling Listens

My hands are very busy right now, so most of my absorbing of stories has been via audio.  Oh, and that reminds me!  A New Clan, the fourth Star Kingdom novel, in the series I’ve been writing with David Weber, is now available as an audiobook from Audible.

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:

Into the Vortex by Charles E. Gannon.  ARC.  Sequel to This Broken World.  Not a standalone, although the opening does provide reminders for those who have read the first book.  This book has more of an SF feel than did the previous installment. 

Last Ditch by Ngaio Marsh.  Audiobook.  Set late in the series, with most of the book focusing on Rick Alleyne, son of Troy and Roderick, a would-be young writer.

In Progress:

Overture to Death by Ngaio Marsh.  Audiobook.  Village mystery with an acknowledged nod to Agatha Christie.  Putting on a play as a fundraiser to buy a piano for a village community center becomes the setting for high drama and murder.

Also:

A variety of short fiction.

And the latest issue of Archeology.

FF: Re-Reading into the Holidays

December 9, 2022
Roary Considers the Implications of Innocence

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.

Except for the ARC of a novel that I’ve been looking forward to, I mostly focused on re-reading this week, as a loved story is a good backdrop at a very busy time.

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 Complete Miss Marple.  Audiobook.  I have listened to some of these short stories, but it’s interesting to hear how the choices made by a different reader cause subtle changes in interpretation.  And, yes, I’ve read all the stories many times. 

In Progress:

Into the Vortex by Charles E. Gannon.  ARC.  Sequel to This Broken World.  Part epic fantasy, part mystery, with flourishes of horror and, as the title suggests, elements of isekai.  Secrets lead only, as is so often the chase, to greater mysteries. 

Last Ditch by Ngaio Marsh.  Audiobook.  Set late in the series, with most of the book focusing on Rick Alleyne, son of Troy and Roderick, a would-be young writer.

Also:

Jim and I had been rewatching the anime of Cardcaptor Sakura, by the Clamp consortium.  I had a vague memory that the manga ending had been different, and got sucked into re-reading the last story arc, which fills two thick volumes.  My memory was correct.  In case you wonder, I prefer the manga ending!  The second movie catches up with the manga, but took an angle I didn’t find as supported by the material.  Side note: Don’t be fooled by the incredibly cute art.  This is a story about collecting cards the way Moby Dick is a story about hunting whales.

Almost done with the latest issue of Smithsonian

FF: Better Short or Long?

December 2, 2022
Mei-Ling Reads about Lucy Locket

The edition of The Complete Miss Marple I’m listening to includes a short piece by Agatha Christie in which she muses how, although Miss Marple was featured in several novels, she always felt that her talents were best suited to short stories, while Poirot (who was certainly featured in many short stories) needed a novel to show off his particular talents.  Very interesting indeed, and this awareness of how character shapes the tale is probably why Agatha Christie could excel at both long and short form.

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 Frugal Gourmet Celebrates Christmas by Jeff Smith.  About two-thirds anecdotes both about Christmas holiday traditions and Jeff Smith’s family traditions.  The other third is, unsurprisingly, recipes. 

Last Curtain by Ngaio Marsh.  Audiobook.  Painter Agatha Troy can’t resist the lure of a commission to paint a larger-than-life actor at his home, surrounded by his family, who seem eager to try and top each other as the most peculiar.

Black As He’s Painted by Ngaio Marsh.  Audiobook.  Politically-charged diplomatic murder, with prowl-bys by Lucy Locket, a former stray who finds a home with a retired diplomat. 

In Progress:

Into the Vortex by Charles E. Gannon.  ARC.  Sequel to This Broken World.  Part epic fantasy, part mystery.  Secrets lead only, as is so often the chase, to greater mysteries. 

The Complete Miss Marple.  Audiobook.  I have listened to some of these short stories, but it’s interesting to hear how the choices made by a different reader cause subtle changes in interpretation.  And, yes, I’ve read all the stories many times. 

Also:

Still reading the latest issue of Smithsonian

FF: Curling Up

November 25, 2022
Roary the Ferocious!

The day after Thanksgiving is a great time to curl up and enjoy a good book…

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:

River Kings: A New History of the Vikings from Scandinavia to the Silk Roads by Cat Jarman.  Non-fiction.  Curiosity about how a carnelian bead got from (possibly) India to a Viking grave in England sets an archeologist speculating.  Very readable.

Tied up in Tinsel by Ngaio Marsh.  Audiobook.  Marsh kept from going stale by having more quirky characters and situations.  In this one, a self-made rich man gets around the servant problem by giving positions to murders who he firmly believes are not likely to opt again for murder.

Light Thickens by Ngaio Marsh.  Audiobook.  This one is over half devoted to the events before the murder, the rehearsal and staging of a production of Macbeth.  A daring choice by the author, but one that worked very well for me.

In Progress:

The Frugal Gourmet Celebrates Christmas by Jeff Smith.  About two-thirds anecdotes both about Christmas holiday traditions and Jeff Smith’s family traditions.  The other third is, unsurprisingly, recipes. 

Into the Vortex by Charles E. Gannon.  ARC.  Sequel to This Broken World.  Part epic fantasy, part mystery.  I loved the first book, and am eager to read this sequel.

Last Curtain by Ngaio Marsh.  Audiobook.  Painter Agatha Troy can’t resist the lure of a commission to paint a larger-than-life actor at his home, surrounded by his family, who seem eager to try and top each other as the most peculiar.

Also:

I have finished the proofs for the mass market paperback edition of Library of the Sapphire Wind.  Reading the latest issue of Smithsonian