Archive for the ‘Friday Fragments’ Category

FF: Laughter and Art

August 18, 2017

During a week where the news has been very stressful, I’ve turned to comedy for relief and balance.

Wow! Horned Toads Aren’t Toads!

For those of you just discovering this feature, 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 Goose Girl by Shannon HaleAudiobook.  Bonus on the audio is a very short interview with Ms. Hale talking about some of her considerations when writing this novel.

Creatures, Critters, and Crawlers of the Southwest by April Kopp.  New Mexico has six of the seven “life zones.”  The only one we don’t have is “tropical.”  Lovely photos a bonus, although I wish the rule I was taught back in high school that you don’t “gutter” a photo in layout was still adhered to!

In Progress:

How Much For Just the Planet? by John M. Ford.  A completely insane Star Trek novel about a planet that doesn’t want to join either the Federation or the Klingon Empire.  I’ve laughed out loud so many times that Jim has put dibs on this for when I’m done.

The Princess in Black by Shannon Hale.  Audiobook.  Just started.  I’ve read the first of the stories included in a charming illustrated children’s book.  I’m curious how the words will hold up without the pictures.

Battlepug, volume 2 by Mike Norton, Allen Passalaqua, and Chris Crank.  Graphic novel.  I saw this one the library shelf and immediately thought of my friend Dominique’s pug Merlin. The story’s so quirky I’ve ordered the other volumes.

Also:

As I gear up to the next stage in self-publishing my very odd original novel Asphodel, I’m spending a lot of time reviewing works on illustration, looking for just the right cover art approach.  I never thought I’d find myself working as an art director, but there it is.

FF: Reading on the Road

August 11, 2017

Last weekend, we went to Texas to visit Jim’s family.  The only thing I like about air travel these days is that I have a lot of time to read!

So That’s What the Cats Are Up To!

For those of you just discovering this feature, 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:

Monstress: The Blood by Marjorie Liu and Sana TakedaVolume Two of the graphic novel.  Lovely art with some of the best depictions of animal-human hybrids I’ve ever seen.  Story is pretty good, although somewhat predictable.  The most interesting character thus far is Kippa, although I like the protagonist Maika well enough to care about her search.

Every Heart a Doorway by Seanan McGuire.  This novella has been getting lots of attention on award ballots this year.  I found it a good read with some lovely prose.  Best of all, there was a reason that so many of the characters were a bit outside of the mainstream.  I’d love to have the backstory on some of the ostensibly “normal” types who went to the “rainbows and unicorns” worlds.

Cat-a-lyst by Alan Dean Foster.  On the light side, but given some heft and a liberal sprinkle of irony by the fact that the reader knows a lot the characters do not.  Excellent descriptions of the Peruvian jungle add to the pleasure.

In Progress:

The Goose Girl by Shannon HaleAudiobook.  I always thought this was a dark tale, and Ms. Hale’s version isn’t making it any prettier!

Creatures, Critters, and Crawlers of the Southwest by April Kopp.  New Mexico has six of the seven “life zones.”  The only one we don’t have is “tropical.”  This means that the range of critters featured in this book is pretty amazing.

Also:

Lots of magazine articles.  I always enjoy the Southwest Airlines magazine because it’s a window into a completely alien world.

FF: Intense Week

August 4, 2017

It’s been insane this week.  This weekend I’m definitely making time to read.

Our Monstress With Monstress

For those of you just discovering this feature, 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:

Several short books on desert environments, insects, and plants.  Next year I want to try growing tepary beans in our hot, dry yard.  They sound like a perfect fit.

In Progress:

Monstress: The Blood by Marjorie Liu and Sana TakedaVolume Two of the graphic novel.  I had to go back and re-read the end of Volume One to remember the context.  Lovely art and, so far, a compelling story.  I’m going slowly with it because it’s too bloody for before bed!

The Goose Girl by Shannon HaleAudiobook.  I always thought this was a dark tale, and Ms. Hale’s version isn’t making it any prettier!

Also:

Jim and I watched a couple of documentaries.  One was the final volume of the Beatle’s Anthology series (disks seven and eight), which deal with the band’s final years and dissolution.  The other is the two disk Martin Scorsese the Living in the Material World biography of George Harrison.

FF: Color, Plants, and Monsters

July 28, 2017

Still doing a lot of research as well.

For those of you just discovering this feature, 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.

Kwahe’e of the Wolves

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:

Colour Scheme by Ngaio Marsh.  Audiobook.  Re-listen.  One of the few novels she managed to set in New Zealand, her homeland.

Wicked Plants: The Weed that Killed Lincoln’s Mother & Other Botanical Atrocities by Amy Stewart.  Very informative and interesting.  However, I find the conceit that poisonous plants are “evil,” as if they act with intellectually calculated malice, a bit wearing.

In Progress:

Bridge of Words: Esperanto and the Dream of a Universal Language by Esther Schor.  A bit of a slow read, and the author can be catty about the strangest things.

Monstress: The Blood by Marjorie Liu and Sana TakedaVolume Two of the graphic novel.  I had to go back and re-read the end of Volume One to remember the context.  Lovely art and, so far, a compelling story.

Also:

Still re-reading Through Wolf’s Eyes by Jane Lindskold.  Almost done.

FF: Reading and Researching

July 21, 2017

The balance seems to be shifting toward non-fiction again.  I left out a bunch of books I’m skimming for research purposes.

Kel After Looking Up Catnip

For those of you just discovering this feature, 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:

Why Do Clocks Run Clockwise and Other Imponderables? by David Feldman.  The occasionally dated nature of some of the material does not detract from the charm and fascination of these short – sometimes only a few paragraphs long – essays.

Speed Racer: The Official 30th Anniversary Guide by Elizabeth Moran.  Stumbled across this at the library and couldn’t resist.  I didn’t read the episode summaries, but the material on how the character came to be and how the story was subtly re-interpreted for American audiences was fascinating.

In Progress:

Colour Scheme by Ngaio Marsh.  Audiobook.  Re-listen.

Bridge of Words: Esperanto and the Dream of a Universal Language by Esther Schor.  Alan and my Tangent discussion on Esperanto a week or so ago led me to want to learn more about the context in which this language was developed and in which it continues to – if not thrive – at least exist.

Wicked Plants: The Weed that Killed Lincoln’s Mother & Other Botanical Atrocities by Amy Stewart.  Very informative and interesting.  However, I find the conceit that poisonous plants are “evil,” as if they act with intellectually calculated malice, a bit wearing.

Also:

Still re-reading Through Wolf’s Eyes by Jane Lindskold.  It’s been long enough that I can read this as if it was written by someone else.  Fascinating.

FF: Substance and Illusion

July 14, 2017

I found myself wondering a lot this week about depth versus the illusion of depth…

Kel likes Marvin Gardens

For those of you just discovering this feature, 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 Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern.  Audiobook.   A series of vivid, often elegant, descriptions tied together with an unsurprising, although not off-putting, plot.

Me and Marvin Gardens by Amy Sarig King.  The author writes gripping YA novels as A.S. King.  Among my favorites are Please Ignore Vera Dietz and Glory O’Brien’s History of the Past.  This middle grade book is superficially less ambitious, but manages to pack a lot of subtext into what most kids will read as a modern ecological fable.

In Progress:

Why Do Clocks Run Clockwise and Other Imponderables? by David Feldman.  The occasionally dated nature of some of the responses does not detract from the charm and fascination of these short – sometimes only a few paragraphs long – essays.

Bridge of Words: Esperanto and the Dream of a Universal Language by Esther Schor.  Alan and my Tangent discussion on Esperanto a week or so ago led me to want to learn more about the context in which this language was developed and in which it continues to – if not thrive – at least exist.

Also:

This book called Through Wolf’s Eyes by Jane Lindskold.  I haven’t read it from beginning to end in well over a decade.  I find myself enjoying it.

FF: Heating Back Up

July 7, 2017

The temperatures aren’t the only things that are going up…  I’ve been writing a lot, which means reading less.

Persephone Chills

For those of you just discovering this feature, 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 Lost Conspiracy by Frances Hardinge.  Ambitious in setting and plot with well-designed characters.

In Progress:

The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern.  Audiobook.  Something Wicked This Way Comes meets The Prestige.  Still very episodic.

In Search of Marvin Gardens by A.S. King.  Just starting.

Also:

Egyptian Hieroglyphs for Complete Beginners by Bill Manley.  An interesting approach.  I wish I was better at drawing.

FF: Cooling Down

June 30, 2017

The heat wave broke last weekend, so I’ve been back outside.  This week’s challenge seems to be power outages…

Ziggy in Her Armchair

For those of you just discovering this feature, 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 Mysterious Affair at Styles by Agatha Christie.  Audiobook.  Introducing Hercule Poroit and Captain Hastings.

In Progress:

The Lost Conspiracy by Frances Hardinge.  No.  The conspiracy isn’t lost, the Lost are conspiring and being conspired against.

The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern.  Audiobook.  Something Wicked This Way Comes meets The Prestige.  Very episodic to this point.

Also:

Egyptian Hieroglyphs for Complete Beginners by Bill Manley.  An interesting approach.  I wish I was better at drawing.

FF: Hot Weather Reads

June 23, 2017

This week has been so unbearably hot that lows of over thirty degrees still leave nighttime temperatures above 70.  I feel like an old-fashioned computer, my processing ability slowed by heat.

Cool Cat Ogapoge

For those of you just discovering this feature, 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 Secret History of Wonder Woman by Jill Lepore.  A gloriously footnoted look at the people and events who shaped the development the iconic comic book character

Black Coffee by Agatha Christie, audiobook.  This audio is an adaptation by Charles Osborne of her first stage play.  Mr. Osbourne is so faithful to the text that one can almost hear the stage directions in his descriptions.

In Progress:

The Mysterious Affair at Styles by Agatha Christie.  Audiobook.  Introducing Hercule Poroit and Captain Hastings.

The Lost Conspiracy by Frances Hardinge.  No.  The conspiracy isn’t lost, the Lost are conspiring.

Also:

I’m setting up a new adventure for my RPG so have been immersed in all sorts of resources on everything from fiber arts to desert denizens: real, exaggerated, and imaginary.

FF: Read Me a Story

June 16, 2017

I’m writing more than ever, but now that the garden is in, I’m finding little more time to read, or at least to listen to audiobooks.

Wonder Kel!

For those of you just discovering this feature, 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:

Murder on the Links by Agatha Christie.  Audiobook.  Re-read.

The Return of the Twelves by Pauline Clarke.  A middle grade story about some magical wooden soldiers twisted up with the juvenilia of the famous Brontes.

The Big Four by Agatha Christie.  Audiobook.  Re-read.

Fleetwood Mac: The Ultimate Guide to Their Music and Legend.  Rollingstone special issue.  For all their money and fame, I ended up feeling this was a sad story.

In Progress:

The Secret History of Wonder Woman by Jill Lepore.  A gloriously footnoted look at the people and events who shaped the development the iconic comic book character.  No.  I haven’t seen the movie yet!  This book was actually a Christmas present I’m finally getting to read.

Black Coffee by Agatha Christie, audiobook.  This audio is an adaptation by Charles Osborne of her first stage play.  Mr. Osbourne is so faithful to the text that one can almost hear the stage directions in his descriptions.

Also:

Finished the current Smithsonian and am now reading the one before.  Interesting article on the placebo effect.