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Riding and Knitting with BunRab
While carrying a large saxophone
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  • Tue, 18:51: @fadeaccompli and after all one hears about Dick Francis, a surprising amount of it turns out NOT to be horse racing.
  • Tue, 19:59: Debate topic: Is squeezy garlic the best thing since sliced bread, or is it the best thing since chunky peanut butter?

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  • Tue, 14:54: @fadeaccompli this is why the gods invented two-gallon zipper-top plastic bags: yarn storage. Relatively cat-safe yarn storage.

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  • Sat, 14:22: You know there are some squirelly drivers out there when the lane behind the city bus is moving along the best.

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  • Fri, 21:37: Current earworm: Pique La Baleine. Sheesh.

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  • Thu, 13:21: @fadeaccompli the lovely weather may have something to do with no one indoors. Or the president's visit may have closed down more traffic...

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  • Tue, 17:51: Yes, I was watching that, and yes, that was really something.

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  • Sat, 12:24: The 4th around here was opp for every1 to start getting hyped about Ft McHenry stuff in Sept. Star Spangled Banner till our lips fall off.
  • Sat, 12:37: Did not know until I opened the issue yesterday that it was the last issue of Ladies Home Journal. No advance warning in previous issue.
  • Sat, 23:28: @fadeaccompli twitter just offered to translate 'kittening' from the Swedish for me
  • Sat, 23:38: @fadeaccompli I tried looking for a translation and got offers of Norwegian forest kittens for sale. The webs, they are strange.

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  • Fri, 10:44: Parade has been paraded. Hair has knots, lips are tired, but weather is great.

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  • Mon, 20:01: @fadeaccompli consider cheese and fruit - it's hard to get really crappy cheese and fruit and hummus and pita bread.

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  • Sat, 19:02: Worth repeating: The perfect is the enemy of the good. (However, that doesn't make /half-assed/ good.
  • Sat, 20:40: @fadeaccompli if you haven't read The Golem and the Jinni yet, I suggest it to you.

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  • Thu, 14:00: The 20-years ago style Twinnings Earl Grey tea tin. Sigh.

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Remind me to tell you all about The Martian. And the economics book, and the humor research book. And the couple more fantasy books that haven't gone back to the library yet.

And we saw "The Edge of Tomorrow," so now I want to find that book (titled /All You Need Is Kill/) at the library.

Hmmm. A library trip in the near future, it seems. What a shocking development.

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First off, a couple of books I didn't like, but they were part of my "quest" - I made it a goal of my own to try and read some things that aren't the kind of stuff I always read. So we have a couple of books that are by authors I've never heard of before.
1. A Kindle book, cheap. Witch for Hire (A Witch's Path Book 1) by N. E. Conneely The premise sounded amusing - a witch who works for several police departments in Georgia, as a consultant, when supernatural things cause problems. In execution, however, the book was weak - it read more like a YA than anything else, even though our protagonist isn't a teenager. There's absolutely no sense of how a real work day goes, or what real jobs are like. The family secret is revealed, with reasons for keeping it that sound incoherent, and the resolution of it goes far too smoothly and quickly for what it is. New magical beings spring out of nowhere, as needed, just to give our heroine something to do. The dinner table conversation at the boarding house she lives in is there just so that there are other characters for Michelle to bounce off of - and it's difficult to tell one kind of supernatural humanoid character from another. And the love interest is barely even there at all - and really, Elron? An elf named Elron? Reeeeally? No convincing reasons why said elf should be attracted to Michelle, and even fewer to explain why she should be interested in a middle-aged elf; their repeated interactions seem to be a series of non-sequiters. The ending is ambiguous enough to pretty much guarantee that the author intends a sequel; I don't intend to read it.
2. From the library, allegedly first in a new series: Pile of Bones (A Novel of the Parallel Parks) by Bailey Cunningham  - I'm providing a link to Amazon, because that's easier that linking to a library site most of you won't be signed in on. " In one world, they’re ordinary university students. In another world, they are a company of heroes in a place of magic and myth called Anfractus" RPGers playing a game in a park in Regina, Saskatchewan. The university students are allegedly grad students, and honestly, the grad students I know don't have time for this much game playing. And /everybody/ needs more sleep than any of these characters get - even medical interns on call get more time to sleep between shifts than these guys seem to get between playing their game all night and TA-ing all day. Anyway, the magical world inside the park.seems to be vaguely based on ancient Rome, with lots of Latin words and place names and professions. Why a magical interface from a park made over a Cree area full of buffalo bones should be European rather than Native American/First People/Indian, I haven't figured out. And after chapter 3 or so, I stopped trying, and started skimming, because it became obvious that this book is written for gamers, and is just a novelization of a game, albeit a game the author invented. And I think you'd have to be a serious live-action RPG-er to care what these characters are doing, or to follow their reasoning, even when they're in the real world. You'd also have to be more familiar with Regina than I am, and I don't care to have to familiarize myself with the streets and neighborhoods of an unfamiliar small Canadian city just in order to be able to follow a fantasy novel. In short - not at all interesting to someone who isn't fascinated by novelizations of someone's D&D games from college.

Now on to one I did like:
3. Dragon Bones (The Hurog Duology, Book 1) by Patricia Briggs - I've read her entire Mercy Thompson series, but had never gotten around to any others of hers, so I grabbed this one from the library. And I like it. I like Briggs' writing style. It isn't exactly humorous - well, the Mercy Thompson books have plenty of humor, but that's not their main raison - but it is wry. Most of the characters have a good sense of the fact that so much of what they have to do is ridiculous, and that life is an awful lot of trouble, and that other people are usually inexplicable. Our hero, accompanied by the family ghost, gives up his fortress/leadership of the clan because he can clearly see that no physical castle is worth as much as saving the lives of his people. There are plenty of plot twists that I'm not going to give away. I'll just say, I found the premise - the last set of bones of an extinct race of dragons is buried under the keep of the Hurog - to be carried out well, and I really liked the characters. Ward does what he has to, to make sure his father doesn't kill him, and then has to figure out a way to get out of the hole he's dug for himself after his father dies. He has siblings, and cousins, and faithful followers, and not-so-faithful members of his band of misfits, and he has the aforementioned family ghost. Keep an eye on the ghost. Some particular things I liked about this book, as specifically pertains to fantasy: first, there's not /that/ much magic in it - there's a lot going on that's people interacting, not magical things happening. And the magic seems to follow a reasonable set of rules; there aren't new magical things popping up every few pages just to solve problems or just to give our hero something to kill, as happens in far too many fantasies. There are the dragons, and there are mages, some with more magical abilities than others, and that's about it. The rest of it's real people, doing what real people in feudal societies do, and frankly, when magic comes messing with their lives, they aren't all that enthused about it - it's usually more trouble to people than it is a help. And yes, that has some parallels to Game of Thrones, such as the line that the series is named after. In fact, if you liked Game of Thrones but would prefer to read something with far fewer gory deaths and far fewer pages, you could do far worse than this. It's got the hardworking people of the north, and the king in the south who maybe shouldn't be king, and some other similarities, but all in a normal-sized volume and with not one single toilet disemboweling. I plan on reading the sequel, and on finding more of Patricia Briggs, because I like her voice.

I think that completes
for this year; I probably won't have time for another quest, as there is real stuff I should be doing. Maybe next year.

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  • Mon, 12:28: I like socks, and I like wearing socks in the winter, but I have to admit that I also like not having to SORT #socks in the summer.

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  • Sun, 20:12: Really, as slabs go, I-70 through MD is pretty darn scenic.
  • Sun, 20:12: @landley there was a liquid nitrogen ice cream booth at the community band festival today.

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  • Sat, 13:08: Ah the schadenfreude of seeing the flash of a speed camera on the car that just passed you.

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So when we last met, I had mentioned that I was going to attempt to read one of the volumes in Daniel Abraham's current series; two chapters of that disabused me of the notion. It's definitely complicated enough that one would have to start at the beginning. And given the size of each volume - fatter than the volumes of Game of Thrones, for comparison - it would be far more than I want to take on at this time. So back it went to the library, unfinished.

lengthy book stuffCollapse )

Now under way: another Patricia Briggs, but this time a series I haven't read before, or even noticed existed before, which appears to include dragons, maybe - at the moment, at the beginning of the book, the dragons appear to be extinct. So that will be the next one I report on.

Also read a graphic novel that sort of counts as fantasy: Beasts of Burden Volume: Animal Rites - cute, not terribly deep, but the dog characters and the cat are sort of cool.

Other things: took the euphonium to a Browningsville rehearsal and played it for about half the time, and there were moments when I didn't make a fool of myself. And saw "A Million Ways to Die in the West" with Larry, speaking of the West, and Seth MacFarlane's West is probably almost as fantastical as the books above, and from the first couple of measures of the score during the opening credits I was laughing, and I think I enjoyed it so much because so much of the humor was audio in one way or another, which is what I was paying attention to rather than the gross and tasteless poop jokes. From the snippets of Copland in the score, to "Mila Kunis" by way of "People die at the fair" and not forgetting the uncredited cameo by Bill Maher, I laughed a lot. I'll probably buy the soundtrack album.

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As I described in the previous post, trying to read 5 fantasy books by June 21. Well, I don't really have to try hard; I read enough that I'll have far more than 5 by then. The part that's a challenge for me is remembering to blog about them, and then writing a post that actually says something more than "I read this."

So today's book is Brazen by Kelley Armstrong. It's the newest entry in a werewolf-and-vampire series, a minor entry in several senses of the word, and a disappointing one. Its purpose is apparently to convince us that there's more to a particular minor character than there appears to be, and I didn't find it convincing.

First off, it's barely novelette length - there's not much story here, not even for the short length of the book. What brings the price of the book up to that of others in the series is supposed to be the illustrations - a whopping three of them, on glossy page inserts, none of them necessary and none of them at all useful in furthering the story nor in clarifying anything from the text. So, if you were to pay the list price of the hardcover (I got it from the library; I don't buy hardcovers any more), you'd be paying for a longish short story in which nothing gets resolved, with three glossy black-white-and-red illustrations with no action in them.

Spoiler alertCollapse )

If you're following Armstrong's series, there's no real need to read this, I don't guess, and if it doesn't make it to your library, you can nonetheless read the next one without having lost any major threads in the series arc.
Other recent readingCollapse )

Now tackling a much more substantial volume: Daniel Abrahams. It's apparently the third in a series - new on the library shelves; I often start series in the middle and then decide whether it's worth going back and reading from the beginning. I liked Abrahams' Long Price Quartet, mostly, so this has promise. Stay tuned.

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I just found out about this from avanta7, and though it started March 21, I believe I can read 5 fantasy books and blog about them by June 21. Um, I'm sure I can read them. It's the remembering to blog that's a challenge. So,


And here's the first book, which I happen to have just finished:
Moon Called (Mercy Thompson #1)
by Patricia Briggs
The start of a werewolf-and-vampire series I hadn't read before, by an author I hadn't read before. I read 2 of the series by accident last week, out of order, and decided they were good enough to go start the series from the beginning. Although I refer to it as a werewolf-and-vampire series, one of the things that makes it different is that our protagonist is a shapeshifter coyote, as far as she knows the only remaining one of her kind, which means that for supernatural company she's reduced to hanging out with werewolves. The story is told in first person singular, normally not my favorite voice, but Mercy's (short for Mercedes) voice is quite good, natural sounding, and has lots of humor, so that it works.
In reading this one, I see the first roots being laid down for the plot in the later ones I read out of order, and when I reread them in order, they'll have more depth because I will have the background.

I know, I know, werewolves, what a cliche by now, right? Does it help any if I remind everybody that I've been reading vampire fantasy since long before the current fad? That I started reading Chelsea Quinn Yarbro's St. Germain series when she first started writing it, in the 70's? That I read Tanya Huff's Henry Fitzroy books long before anybody made them into a wretched TV series? (And speaking of TV series, I've never seen True Blood, so I have no idea of how much worse than the Sookie Stackhouse books it might be.)

Nonetheless, cliche or not, and the fact that I've been reading vampire stuff for 4 decades now or not, there was enough in this series that isn't common to all the books in the genre, that I am finding it well worth my time.

Stay tuned for book 2!

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  • Tue, 15:45: @Landley I forget who said "In theory, theory and practice are the same, but in practice, they aren't." Too lazy to read whole list to s ...

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  • Mon, 13:35: OVERTUR ED TRUCK #I95 SB nr exit 47 MD 2 lanes closed; use alt rtes
  • Mon, 14:14: Owee! Immortal vampire mice on front page of today's #WaPo !!

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  • Thu, 12:11: The nice weather after a miserable day yesterday - US 29 SB closed due to flooding, among other fun - is luring me toward sandals.
  • Fri, 00:25: Looking forward to Maryland Community Band Day on June 8! Come for the day, hear us at 6 pm!

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