Archive for the ‘Friday Fragments’ Category

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.

FF: Pretentious? No Thanks!

September 25, 2020

What You Got, Mei-Ling?

As I mentioned last week, I was questing for a new audiobook to listen to.  I tried one, non-SF/F, much praised a few years back and found it so pretentious that I dumped it.  Then I found some old friends instead.

Yes.  I was an English Major.  Yes.  I read classics and even poetry for fun.  But any book that starts with a writer talking about writing and writer’s block and other self-indulgent twaddle loses me right off.

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:

The Last Hunt by Bruce Coville.  Fourth book in the Unicorn Chronicles.  Audiobook.  Coming in on the last few chapters, with revelations coming fast and thick.

Look to the Lady by Margery Allingham.  Third book in her Albert Campion series.  Mysterious secret societies, chalices, monsters…  What more do you need in a non-fantasy mystery?

In Progress:

Might As Well Be Dead by Rex Stout.  Audiobook.  A Nero Wolfe.

Policemen At the Funeral by Margery Allingham.  Fourth book in her Albert Campion series.  Introduces continuing secondary character, Uncle William Farraday.

Also:

The most recent Archeology, still, and, of course, my own work-in-progress.

FF: Trusted and True

September 18, 2020

Roary Is Now Much Taller Than an Eight Inch Book  (See Below)

I’m in transition with what I’m reading, started a new that’s an old, trying to decide what my next audiobook will be.

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:

The Bible As History by Werner Keller.  This book’s title in the original German was Und die bible hat doch rechet which translates as closer to “And the Bible is Right” with “Right” in the sense of “Accurate.”  Interestingly, the last chapter dealt not with archeology but with what then (the book was published in the 1950’s) scientific theories from physics, astronomy, and otherwise might say about matters previously defined only by biblical texts.

In Progress:

The Last Hunt by Bruce Coville.  Fourth book in the Unicorn Chronicles.  Audiobook.  Coming in on the last few chapters, with revelations coming fast and thick.

Look to the Lady by Margery Allingham.  Third book in her Albert Campion series.  A good friend trusted me with her much-loved copy.  I feel very honored.

Also:

The most recent Archeology and, of course, my own work-in-progress.

Who Will Win? Baby Roary Or the Mass Market Paperback?

FF: Myself Distracting Myself

September 11, 2020

Dandy and Some of Library of the Sapphire Wind

You’ll see that I haven’t completed either of the longer works I was reading last week.  This isn’t because they aren’t good.  They are, but there’s one book I haven’t listed that I’ve spent a lot of time reading: my own manuscript of a work in progress, Library of the Sapphire Wind. Sometimes I’m so caught up, I read it on “break” as well as during work time.

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:

The Rhine Gold (Das Rheingold) by Richard Wagner, first volume in “The Annotated Ring Cycle” which includes a new translation and annotations by Fredrick Paul Walter.  This lively and vivid translation also includes older illustrations, costume designs, and new “graphic novel style” line drawings.  I believe it’s due for release in 2020.  I received an ARC.  This is the first for four volumes in the series.

In Progress:

The Last Hunt by Bruce Coville.  Fourth book in the Unicorn Chronicles.  Audiobook.  This one contains several plot lines, and includes what might be considered several short stories within the larger plot.  Definitely an interesting structure.

The title is deception but The Bible As History by Werner Keller.  This book’s title in the original German was Und die bible hat doch rechet which translates as closer to “And the Bible is Right” with “Right” in the sense of “Accurate.”  This comes closer to reflecting the intention of the book, which was to compare biblical texts with then current archeological research and see how many passages in the Bible provide good guides to cultures and landscape features of the time.  Needless to say, since the book was published in 1955, more recent discoveries have invalidated some material, but this is still a very enjoyable read, excellently and fluidly translated by William Neil.

Also:

The most recent Smithsonian and a few articles here and there.

FF: Taking It Easy?

August 28, 2020

“Hold Still, Mei-Ling! You Will Get Your Picture Taken!”

I was going to take time off last week to celebrate completing  a draft of SK4.  But a short story galloped into my imagination so instead I ended up writing right through the weekend.  Anyone want to place bets as to whether I figure out how to unwind this coming week?

Remember to join us for free at Virtual Bubonicon this Saturday.  Convention website is here.  Information on the panel I’m on is in this week’s WW.

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:

Maddigan’s Fantasia by Margaret Mahy.  Excellent.  Post-apocalyptic magical realism with both science and magic, and a protagonist who, while annoying at times, is worth rooting for.

DreamForge Magazine, issue six.  I very much enjoyed.

In Progress:

Dark Whisper by Bruce Coville.  Third book in the Unicorn Chronicles. Audiobook.  I’m almost done, but writing cut into my listening time.

Expecting Someone Taller by Tom Holt.  A re-read, impulse chosen because I felt like smart humor.  This book contains the single funniest and yet oddly sensible summary of Wagner’s Ring Cycle ever.

Also:

Archeology Magazine, finishing one in time for the next to show up!

FF: Masks and Whispers

August 21, 2020

Roary: Five Months Old and Growing

Yes!  I did it.  I’ve handed SK4 over to David Weber, and as a reward gave myself more time to read.

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 Mask of Mirrors by M.A. Carrick.  First book in the forthcoming Rook and Rose Trilogy.  Due for release in January 2021.  Rich in intrigue, characters, and setting, this was what epic fantasy should be but rarely is.  (M.A. Carrick is a joint pen name for Marie Brennan and Alyc Helms, both previously published authors.)

In Progress:

Dark Whisper by Bruce Coville.  Third book in the Unicorn Chronicles. Audiobook.  As with any good series, solving one set of problems created new ones.

DreamForge Magazine, issue six.  My copy arrived and I’ve been reading it before bed.

Maddigan’s Fantasia by Margaret Mahy.  Time travel meets post-apocalyptic with a brush of magic.  I had to put this on side a bit back, and now I’m happily with it again.

Also:

I’m doing some research for several projects, including finally getting back to running my RPG and a possible short story.

FF: Plants and Unicorns

August 14, 2020

Mei-Ling Reads!

Being a gardener, I started by reading the portion of Wild Plants of the Pueblo Province in the section about specific types of plants.  I skipped trees.  This week, I went back and started from the beginning and finished off with the trees.  Side bonus: I learned something about the various ways hides can be tanned.

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:

Song of the Wanderer by Bruce Coville.  Second book in the Unicorn Chronicles. Audiobook.  An actual song is key to this story and Full Cast Audio’s cast included several people who could sing, so this was an audiobook that was more than simply narrated.  If you listen to it, make sure you go to the end, because the entire song is performed there.

A Place at Mother Earth’s Table: Edible Wild Plants of the Rio Grande Region by Lisa W. Huckell. This slim book—probably technically a booklet—was so well written that I read all of it and in the process identified one of the plants in our yard as “Green Thread” aka “Indian Tea” or “Navajo Tea.”  We’d just been calling it “that pretty plant w/the yellow pom-poms.”  I now have some drying to try.  And the bibliography led me to read…

Wild Plants of the Pueblo Province: Exploring Ancient and Enduring Uses by William W. Dunmire and Gail D. Tierney.  Centered around four parks in New Mexico, this books looks at various plants and how they were used by a wide variety of indigenous peoples.  Since one of the parks—Petroglyph National Monument—is very close to my house, I also ended up identifying several more of the plants in our yard, including scorpion weed, which is a far easier name to use than “that annoying plant that, although it has pretty purple flowers in the spring, gets all prickly and, worse, sticky, so let’s pull it.”  I started with the chapter on types of plants, but found the book so well-written, I’m reading the whole thing.

In Progress:

Dark Whisper by Bruce Coville.  Third book in the Unicorn Chronicles. Audiobook.  As with any good series, solving one set of problems created new ones.

DreamForge Magazine, issue six.  My copy arrived and is part of my relaxation reading.

Also:

Jim is reading my manuscript of SK4 (fourth book in the Star Kingdom series I am collaborating on with David Weber).

FF: What Is Old Is New Again

July 31, 2020

Mei-Ling Reads!

Mostly, actually, I’m reading , proofing, and line editing SK4 (the yet-untitled fourth book in the Star Kingdom series I’m writing with David Weber).  However, for a few moments here and there, I’m taking time to read 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.

Recently Completed:

Starsight by Brandon Sanderson.  Sequel to Skyward.  Space opera that isn’t military SF, even though military action is an element.  Very character driven.  I quite enjoyed, despite one technological element I couldn’t quite buy into…  Thanks again to the FF reader who recommended this series.

In Progress:

Into the Land of the Unicorns by Bruce Coville.  First book in the four volume Unicorn Chronicles. Audiobook.  I read this series years ago, and all I remember is that they were good.  Let’s see how they hold up to a second pass!

Maddigan’s Fantasia by Margaret Mahy.  Re-read also.  After enjoying The Magician of Hoad, I had a great desire to re-read this.

Also:

Oddly enough, the most recent issue of Vogue had some of the most thoughtful essays I’ve read so far about the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic on lifestyles and attitudes.

The Age of Faith by Will Durant.  Audiobook.  Non-fiction.  I got through the post-Crusades, but I needed a break from accounts of nations founded on hope and idealism that crashed after about 200 years.