Archive for the ‘Friday Fragments’ Category

FF: Up In The Air

July 10, 2020

Roary Curls Up With A Good Book

It’s been a heck of a week, with very little time for reading, but happily a new-to-me book arrived just in time.  For those of you who’ve expressed concern, thank you.  I’ll see what’s up next week and maybe report on the WW, but too much is up in the air.

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 Magician of Hoad by Margaret Mahy.  A thoughtful fantasy that takes the main characters over many years, from childhood into full adulthood.  Some might find parts “slow,” but I enjoyed very, very much.  I’m glad we bought this one based on liking the author’s work in the past, because I know I will re-read.

In Progress:

The Age of Faith by Will Durant.  Audiobook.  Non-fiction.  In the Dark Ages.

Mystery Mile by Margery Allingham.  Back to classic British mystery.

Also:

Stopped on the short fiction read.  Maybe I just picked the wrong stories, but nothing really grabbed me.

FF: This Is A Blank

July 3, 2020

Kwahe’e Is Never Unpleasant

I’ve been writing like a mad fiend, which does cut into my reading time…  But the weekend is coming!

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 Tyrant’s Tomb by Rick Riordan.  Audiobook.  Trials of Apollo, four.  Quite good, although I felt as if Riordan lost some of his usual grip on mythic elements and use of humor in non-humorous settings.  Nonetheless,  I enjoyed.

The Unpleasantness at the Bellona Club by Dorothy L. Sayers.  As with her prior novel, a story in which timing is a key element.

In Progress:

For once, this is blank because I probably won’t have time until Saturday to figure out what I’m reading next.

I think I need a break from classic mystery.

Also:

Earlier in the year, I subscribed to a couple of short fiction magazines, in addition to DreamForge, which I read pretty much as soon as I get my copy.  I’ve been dipping into these.

FF: Less Famous

June 12, 2020

Princess Persephone (See Below for Which Princess)

I’m as guilty as the next reader of trending toward one element of a writer’s work.  As a writer, I’m often saddened that readers who loved Changer won’t touch the Firekeeper Saga or those who came to me from Firekeeper only want more Firekeeper.

But I can be just as contrary.  What I’ve learned though is that often a writer’s atypical books are some of that writer’s best, precisely because they’re outside of the grove.  Patricia McKillip’s Science Fictional Fool’s Run is phenomenal.  David Weber’s early Path of the Fury remains one of my favorites of his.  (Hmm…  Maybe a re-read is in order?)

So this week I’m giving Peter Wimsey and Albert Campion a break, and am reading one of Dorothy L. Sayer’s less well-known works.

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:

Dancers in Mourning by Margery Allingham.  Musical theater and country house combine to make an interesting setting for this tale of not-so-accidental death.

Whose Body by Dorothy L. Sayers.  Her first featuring Lord Peter Wimsey.

In Progress:

Call Down the Hawk by Maggie Stiefvater.  Audiobook.  So far interesting…

The Documents in the Case by Dorothy L. Sayers with Robert Eustace.  A collaboration in which the collaborator provided the science behind the intricate mystery plot.

Also:

Mostly immersed in writing on SK4.

Persephone Enacts “The Princess and the Pea”

FF: Where I Turn

June 5, 2020

Tricky Furball in My Sink

It’s been an insane week, one in which I’ve been grateful for the chance to escape into 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.

Recently Completed:

Flowers for the Judge by Margery Allingham.  A locked strong room mystery tied to a disappearance many years before.

Trickster’s Choice by Tamora Pierce.  Audiobook.  Excellent and compelling—and surprisingly on-target in some of its elements, especially when addressing the current state of affairs.  A trickster with an agenda certainly would explain a lot.

In Progress:

Dancers in Mourning by Margery Allingham.  Musical theater and country house combine to make an interesting setting for this tale of not-so-accidental death.

Call Down the Hawk by Maggie Stiefvater.  Audiobook.  I’ve been waiting for this one since it was first announced.  Features the Ronan and his brothers from her “Raven Boys” series with, so far, only cameos from the other characters.

Also:

Preparing packages containing Wolf’s Soul, signed and personalized, to go out in the mail.

FF: Continuing

May 8, 2020

Part of the View Outside My Office

This week my reading is mostly electronic formats, so I offer picture of one of Jim and my pets: the garden.  Every plant you see, we put in. This corner used to be all sterile sand and construction junk.  It’s looking good now.  It will look even better when the hollyhocks, yarrow and desert willow start flowering

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:

Miss Marple: The Complete Short Stories by Agatha Christie.  I could probably recite some of these aloud, but I needed something both absorbing and yet familiar to read before bed.

Pasttime by Robert B. Parker.  Audiobook.  Held up well.  Less a detective story than a mediation on how relationships between parents and children shape the adult, seasoned with gunshots.

David Bowie: The Oral History compiled by Dylan Jones.  Stronger before the editor decided to have the last word on Bowie.  Rather a contradiction, given that the inherent message of the book is that no one, probably not even Bowie, could have the last word.  But isn’t that true about all of us?

The Father Brown Mysteries radio dramas adapted from several short stories.  Well done.  Obviously audio!

In Progress:

 The Fashion in Shrouds by Margery Allingham.  Audiobook.  Yep.  Another re-listen.

Also:

This latest Smithsonian magazine, while slim, had some good articles.  I’d recommend.

FF: You Must Remember This

May 1, 2020

Mei-Ling Embraces Miss Marple

I’m just about finished with the biography of David Bowie I’ve been reading.  My general impression of this book overall is that the editor has an agenda.  This is a good time to remind people that “biography” and even “autobiography” are not fact, but a delicate dance between fact and opinion, because the writer, compiler, or editor makes choices as to what to include and how to lead into various sensitive issues.

With David Bowie: The Oral History, I was particularly annoyed by the lack of a bibliography, since without that the editor is creating the impression that he spoke to each and every person, and at the time the book was compiled when, in fact, he is clearly cherry-picking from a host of sources.  That said, reading it was an interesting intellectual exercise.

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:

Last Ditch by Ngaio Marsh.  Audiobook.  Largely from the POV of Alleyne’s now-grown son.  Minor complaint, in the light of having also recently read Spinsters in Jeopardy is that there is no mention of the fact that this is not the first time Alleyne’s job put his son at risk.

Spinsters in Jeopardy by Ngaio Marsh.  Audiobook.  This one goes back to when Alleyne and Troy’s son, Ricky, was six.  A bit of an initial jolt after him being a young man in Last Ditch.  Also raises the question of why the kids of detectives are so often precocious and rather bratty. 

In Progress:

Miss Marple: The Complete Short Stories by Agatha Christie.  I could probably recite some of these aloud, but I needed something both absorbing and yet familiar to read before bed.  My dreams have been loaded with anxiety.

Pasttime by Robert B. Parker.  Audiobook.  Just starting.  I read this years and years ago, and cannot remember anything but that I liked it.

David Bowie: The Oral History compiled by Dylan Jones.  Bowie is dead.  Editor is mixing reactions of friends and family to the event with a look at the cultural impact not only of Bowie, but of reactions to his death.

Also:

Smithsonian magazine, which has apparently been put on a diet.  The letter’s column contains a reference to the Covid-19 pandemic, which brings the issue into current events.

FF: Peeking Out

April 24, 2020

Mei-Ling Peeks

This week I’ve been writing more, reading less, but I’m still immersed in story, from which vantage I peek out at the world.

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:

Tied Up in Tinsel by Ngaio Marsh.  Audiobook.  Once again Alleyne’s name is pronounced “Al-ay-n”) throughout.  It’s pronounced “Allen.”   Oddly enough, Marsh doesn’t mentions how his name is pronounced in some books, but in some she does.   If I was wearing my English prof hat, I’d be tempted to read the series in order and see if there is a pattern.

But I think I’ll write about the denizens of the planet Sphinx instead.

DreamForge, Issue Five.  Coincidentally, many of the stories deal with parallel worlds, but it works.

In Progress:

Last Ditch by Ngaio Marsh.  Audiobook.  Largely from the POV of Alleyne’s now-grown son.

David Bowie: The Oral History compiled by Dylan Jones.  The big question of whether Let’s Dance was selling out or not.  Sometimes Bowie is taken way to seriously.  This is the man whose first major single was “The Laughing Gnome.”

Also:

Archeology magazine.

FF: No Pattern At All

April 17, 2020

Inspired Hats for Dandy and Coco

Other than renewing my acquaintance with various classic British mysteries, there’s really no pattern to my reading right now.  Part of this is that I’m immersing myself in the Star Kingdom setting again.

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:

A Guinea Pig ABC  by Kate Duke.  Sharyn November posted a page a day from this, and after we decided needed our own copy.

Death of a Fool by Ngaio Marsh.  Audiobook.  I love the folklore aspect of this one.

Artists in Jeopardy by Ngaio Marsh.  Audiobook.  Quirk in that Alleyne’s name is pronounced incorrectly throughout.  It’s just “Allen.”

In Progress:

David Bowie: The Oral History compiled by Dylan Jones.  Moving into the Berlin albums.

DreamForge, issue five.  About halfway.

Tied Up In Tinsel by Ngaio Marsh.  Audiobook.  Fans of the series will see I’m reading these as I can find them, not in order!

Also:

Magazines.  Only AARP and AAA (American Automobile) mentioned Covid-19 at all.  The others were written in an alternate universe.

FF: Time Capsule

April 10, 2020

Dandy: Rock n Roll Guinea Pig

Over the last week or so, quarterly magazines came in.  I was immediately struck by the time capsule aspect of them.  Only the one from AAA even mentioned Covid-19, which makes sense, since part of their business is travel.  All the rest belong to an alternate universe where travel is assumed, lock-downs aren’t even contemplated, and well…  You get it.

It will be interesting to see what next quarter brings.

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:

Y is for Yesterday by Sue Grafton.  Audiobook.  Despite being weighed down by the need for a good edit (repetition and redundancy in particular plague this), there are moments that remind me why I’ve read this entire series.

David Bowie: A Photographic Memoir Through the Lens of Terry O’Neill.  Mostly photos, spiced with reprints of text from interviews that O’Neill provided the visual images for and some pithy quotes by O’Neill.

In Progress:

David Bowie: The Oral History compiled by Dylan Jones.  An ambitious project, looking at David Bowie’s life through snippets from interviews with friends and family from childhood on.  Of interest is an afterword featuring material from Bowie’s cousin debunking the well-released theme that Bowie was haunted by the specter of familiar insanity. By contrast with the other, no photos other than those on the cover. Quite a long book, chronologically arranged.  I’m up to the Aladdin Sane period.

Death of a Fool by Ngaio Marsh.  Audiobook.  I love the folklore aspect of this one.

Also:

As mentioned, catching up on magazines.

FF: Delving Into The TBR

April 3, 2020

Persephone Reaches For A Good Book

At Christmas I was given two very different books about David Bowie.  I put them aside for when I’d need a distraction and this week decided there would never be a better 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.

What’s in  your TBR pile that’s getting air now?

Recently Completed:

Peasprout Chen: Battle of Champions by Henry Lien.  Second book in the series.  Unlike many series featuring a talented over-achiever as a protagonist, this one looks squarely how being better than just about everyone can make that person difficult to deal with. While at times Peasprout verges on unlikeable, I didn’t give up on her.

In Progress:

Y is for Yesterday by Sue Grafton.  Audiobook.  Despite being weighed down by the need for a good edit (repetition and redundancy in particular plague this), there are moments that remind me why I’ve read this entire series.

David Bowie: A Photographic Memoir Through the Lens of Terry O’Neill.  Mostly photos, spiced with reprints of text from interviews that O’Neill provided the visual images for and some pithy quotes by O’Neill.

David Bowie: The Oral History compiled by Dylan Jones.  An ambitious project, looking at David Bowie’s life through snippets from interviews with friends and family from childhood on.  Of interest is an afterword featuring material from Bowie’s cousin debunking the well-released theme that Bowie was haunted by the specter of familiar insanity. By contrast with the other, no photos other than those on the cover.

Also:

Dipping into short fiction…