Posted in Readathons-Challenges-Memes

Dreamy December Days Readathon



What: Weeklong Read-a-thon
When: December 1-7, 2013
Where: Always Lost in Books and Books Keep Me Sane
Why: Because we can~
How: Simply sign up at Always Lost in Books or Books Keep Me Sane


Spent much of the week feeling pretty poorly, so I didn’t quite get as much reading done as I wanted. My challenge participation fell off too. On the other hand, I finished two books, read two novellas, and got well into Death from a Top Hat.


The Turk: The Life and Times of the Famous 19th Century Chess-Playing Machine
Finished last 35%
Christmas Tales of Terror (Tales of Terror)
Finished last 80%
In the Company of Thieves Death from a Top Hat
  • Finish The Turk.
  • Finish Christmas Tales of Terror.
  • Make some progress on In the Company of Thieves or Death from a Top Hat (library book).
  • Will probably read something not at all on this list!

Not going to declare any page count goal. Just getting through a couple extra chapters of something would be good.


Saturday, December 7, 2013

Pages Read Today: 59
Pages Read Total: 416
Reading Materials:

  • Death from a Top Hat, pg. 84-122
  • Ghosts at Christmas by Darren W. Ritson, pg. 1-19

Challenges & Notes: Death from a Top Hat isn’t bad, but I was in the mood for something lighter. Spent a good part of the day bouncing from book to book.

Friday, December 6, 2013

Pages Read Today: 57
Pages Read Total: 357
Reading Materials:

  • Death from a Top Hat, pg. 27-83

Challenges & Notes: Challenge #6: Dreamy Characters
Playing ultimate frisbee last night didn’t treat me well. I spent the morning on the couch reading and napping. A terrible, terrible thing. Still behind on, well, everything, but at least I’m less stressed out.

Thursday, December 5, 2013

Pages Read Today: 26
Pages Read Total: 300
Reading Materials:

  • Death from a Top Hat, pg. 1-26

Challenges & Notes: Sheesh, the busy days keep on coming. Dealt with some financial stuff this afternoon and played ultimate frisbee this evening. Maybe tomorrow I’ll have a good clear block of time in which to read. (But, hey, I’m at an even 300 pages read!


Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Pages Read Today: 59
Pages Read Total: 274
Reading Materials:

  • Whom the Gods Would Destroy, pg. 27-74
  • Dalek I Love You, pg. 1-11

Challenges & Notes: Another kind of busy, kind of spacy day. Was feeling kind of hermity. There was ultimate frisbee to be played and basketball to be listened to.

Spore (Doctor Who 50th Anniversary E-Shorts, #8)

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Pages Read Today: 63
Pages Read Total: 215
Reading Materials:

  • Spore, pg. 1-40 (novella)
  • Whom the Gods Would Destroy, pg. 4-26

Challenges & Notes: Yep. It took me two days to go off-list…Today was one of those spacy, fatigue-ridden days. Struggled to get anything done.

Monday, December 2, 2013

Pages Read Today: 27
Pages Read Total: 152
Reading Materials:

  • Christmas Tales of Terror, pg. 55-81

Challenges & Notes: Challenge #2: Dreamy Destinations
Tales of Terror was shorter than I expected due to an excerpt at the end.

Sunday, December 1, 2013

Pages Read Today: 125
Pages Read Total: 125
Reading Materials:

  • The Turk, pg. 161-247
  • Christmas Tales of Terror, pg. 17-54

Challenges & Notes: Challenge #1: Bookish Christmas Wishes

Posted in History

What Else in November

Writing Work

modelSpeciesCoverLarge6Despite NaNoWriMo dreams, I didn’t quite get 10K added to the Abbott project. Instead, Eric and I have been working on the Big Damn Plan. By the end of next week, the website should be online and Model Species should be available for download.


# of submissions for Luck for Hire: 6
# of responses: 1
# of submissions for Model Species: 0
# of responses: 1

Other Life Stuff

Basketball season began, signifying the beginning of winter for me. Fall league ended, signifying…uh, a week devoted to setting up winter league and New Year Fest. This is the busy time of year in Phoenix for disc. My team went 0-3 after winning the play-in game, but it was a fun team and my favorite part of finals is catching up with people I don’t see too often. You can’t do that when you’re actually playing in finals.

Photo courtesy Kris Kaufman
Photo courtesy Kris Kaufman

I have sort of a consternated grimace going on there. Also, I’ve seen several pics of me gripping the disc with both hands after catching. It’s not an action that I’m not conscious of. I find that interesting.

Also, there was Doctor Who‘s 50th anniversary, which I seem to be celebrating until the end of the year.

Books Obtained

River City Empire: Tom Dennison’s Omaha by Orville D. Menard

Other Books I Want to Read

At Goodreads:

  • Falling Free by Lois McMaster Bujold
  • The War MagicianThe Rabbit Back Literature Society by Pasi Ilmari Jaaskelainen
  • The Magician’s Assistant by Ann Patchett
  • The Troupe by Robert Jackson Bennett
  • The Westing Game by Ellen Raskin
  • The War Magician by David Fisher
  • Dream London by Tony Ballantyne
  • The Knife of Never Letting Go by Patrick Ness
  • Kindly Inquisitors: The New Attacks on Free Thought by Jonathan Rauch
  • The Color of Light by Helen Maryles Shankman
  • Trip of the Tongue: Cross-Country Travels in Search of America’s Languages by Elizabeth Little
  • The Blackheath Seance Parlour by Alan Williams
  • Affinity by Sarah Waters
Posted in KidLit, Male Author

Rewind ~ The Rope Trick


The Rope Trick by Lloyd Alexander

Cover via Goodreads

Lidi is a brilliant magician, able to perform all manner of astonishing illusions. But one trick eludes her, the greatest in the world: the rope trick. And only one person can teach it to her: the legendary magician Ferramondo. On her quest to find him, she joins up with Daniella, an orphan with true prophetic powers; a handsome outlaw with a price on his head; and a circus owner with a troupe of dancing pigs. But when Daniella is kidnapped by men who want to use her gift for their own ends, Lidi must abandon her quest and summon all of her resources and magic-working to save herself. (via Goodreads)

Original review of The Rope Trick, newly imported from my LJ to The Writerly Reader (12/29/2007):

I nabbed this book via PaperbackSwap. I was interested in what Lloyd Alexander could do with a female protagonist after reading pieces of his more “boy-oriented” Pyrdain and Westmark series. What I got was a hardback in near perfect condition and really lovely tale. There are maybe one too many narrative coincidences, maybe one too many tales told by one character about other characters, but I forgive that, as I often do with this kind of book. None of the characters are particularly detailed, but our protagonist, Lidi, is determined and a little stubborn, and there’s enough romance that, well, *I* would have liked it as 10 year old.

Posted in Anthology, Mixed Anthology

Review ~ Sons of Moriarty

This book was provided to me by F+W/Adams Media and Tyrus Books via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

Sons of Moriarty and More Stories of Sherlock Holmes ed. by Loren D. Estleman

Cover via Goodreads

A follow-up collection to well-received “The Perils of Sherlock Holmes”! Award-winning author Loren D. Estleman has curated a collection of Sherlock Holmes stories from some of the finest authors in “Sons of Moriarty and More Stories of Sherlock Holmes.” This is the first time that these stories appear together in one anthology, including “Sons of Moriarty,” a Sherlock Holmes novella, appearing here for the first time.

Estleman’s last Holmes collection, “The Perils of Sherlock Holmes,” was authorized by the Estate of Arthur Conan Doyle and was met with rave reviews. It was dubbed “an excellent collection of short stories and essays” by the “New York Review of Books,” “an entertaining and diverting read” by, and was said to transport readers “to another place and time during the series of short stories that pay homage to the legend that is Sherlock Holmes” on the Pop Culture Guy Blog. (via Goodreads)

The cover copy says a lot about Estleman’s previous collection and absolutely nothing about *this* anthology, Sons of Moriarty, and that’s a mistake. I had three preconceptions going into this anthology:

  1. These were all new stories. (They’re not.)
  2. These stories were, maybe, Moriarty-centric. (They’re not.)
  3. These stories are all classic pastiches. (They’re not.)

Looking at a few other reviews, I’m not the only reader whose expectations have been slighted.

This anthology is held together by an interesting thread: they all involve Holmes dealing with more modern crimes or Holmes written into a post-WWI setting. But it’s a very tenuous thread that bind loosely and not always successfully.

The anthology starts with “The Infernal Machine” by John Lutz. This story was a reread for me. Set late in Holmes’ career, Holmes and Watson encounter the Gatling gun. The duo, of course, meditate on the horrors that could be wrought by the titular infernal machine. It’s a good start and a great bookend to the final story of anthology. Unfortunately, it’s a rocky road between the first tale and the last.

“The Adventure of the Double Bogey Man” by Robert L. Fish is not a pastiche, but a parody. Personally, I have a pretty liberal love for Sherlock Holmes, but I really dislike parodies. Holmes need to be the smartest man in the room, arrogance and all. Yes, this story involves Holmes and something utterly new to him, but sticking a parody story in the middle of a serious anthology is not a great move.

Likewise, “The Case of the Bloodless Sock” by Anne Perry is another sort of fiction that I don’t entirely understand. Holmes is a man of expertise and experience. If you’re writing a young Holmes, he doesn’t have all of those things. Writing teenage Holmes, smarts intact, into a completely modern setting is simply pandering to a YA audience.

“Sherlocks” by Al Sarrantonio is an even further extension of Sherlock in the future. The story is SF noir and sherlocks are an information gathering technology. There is not a true Sherlock in sight.

There are no Sherlocks in “The Adventure of the Frightened Baronet” by August Derleth either, but this is more of a Holmes story than the previous three. Solar Pons was a character created to bring Holmes into the 1920s and 30s (as Wikipedia notes). The change of setting did not seem obvious to me, but this character and the story are as good as Doyle could have written. It’s a very good pastiche. I have been meaning to read some of Derleth’s stories and I was pleased to find one here.

Until I started writing this review, I had forgotten about “Before the Adventures” by Lenore Carroll. It is a fictional letter from Doyle to the editor of Strand magazine about the origins of Holmes & Watson. The inspirational Cockney personality of Budger not only provides Doyle with his character, but puts the entirety of Doyle’s life in order. I have no idea why it’s included in this anthology or why I’d find it more interesting than what might have factually been Doyle’s inspirations.

All of the stories in this anthology should be in service to Loren D. Estleman’s novella, “Sons of Moriarty.” Comprising the last 40% of the book, it is the show piece and it certainly could have withstood better companions. It is also the only previously unpublished work. While it runs a little long and is maybe little light on the deductive reasoning, it’s a pretty good pastiche. Holmes and Watson are older and encounter the Mafia. Organized crime is something that traditional Holmes never dealt with.

Despite it’s very good points, this anthology felt padded out for the purposes of making it appropriately book length. Hopefully, readers will skip the stories that don’t really belong and still join author and editor Estleman for his fine tale at the end.

Genre: Mystery, mostly.
Why did I choose to read this book? Got me with the Moriarty, who is not in evidence.
Did I finish this book? (If not, why?) Yes, but it was touch and go for a while.
Craft Lessons: Don’t pad for padding’s sake.
Format: Kindle ebook
Procurement: NetGalley

Posted in History

It’s Monday! What am I Reading? (11/25/13)

31Hosted by Sheila at Book Journey

It’s Monday! What Are You Reading is where we share what we read this past week, what we hope to read this week…. and anything in between! This is a great way to plan out your reading week and see what others are currently reading as well… you never know where that next “must read” book will come from!

Happy Monday Everyone!

I’m terrible at keeping to a reading list. The last few weeks have been the epitome of that. Haven’t been able to get into the Pinkerton book and other things are jumping past River City Empire in my interest queue.

This week, I intend to read:

The Turk: The Life and Times of the Famous 19th Century Chess-Playing Machine

It’s a library book, due eventually.

Next up:
I’m not even going to guess. Possibly something Christmasy or Whovian.

On the blog this week:
Reviews of Sons of Moriarty and Tiny Book of Tiny Stories a retro review.

Happy Reading, Everyone!

Posted in Readathons-Challenges-Memes

Christmas Spirit Readathon

e8ea5-christmas2013-3Hosted by Michelle @ The True Book Addict

Time to kick off the holiday season with style…reading style. If you’re joining us, remember these things:

  • You do not have to read Christmas books (I’m not the Christmas enforcer–haha), but if you can squeeze one little one in… *wink*
  • You do not have to have a blog. Join us from Twitter, Facebook or Goodreads
  • Have fun!

If you’re on Twitter, stop by and chat with the hashtag #CSReadathon


Didn’t quite get as much read page-count-wise as I would have liked, but I pretty much finished the list of things I wanted to read: holiday goblins, Holmes, and the eighth Doctor celebrating Christmas. It was an appropriately wintery weekend (for low Arizona) and I’ve revved up my Christmas spirit.

Thanks for hosting, Michelle!


Read! I’m pretty modest with my goals. 250 pages for the weekend?


Hershel and the Hanukkah Goblins
The Goblin's Christmas (1908)
Sons of Moriarty and More Stories of Sherlock Holmes
Finished last 40%
Short Trips: A Christmas Treasury  (Doctor Who Short Trips Anthology Series)
Read a half dozen stories

The first two are children’s books, but I can’t resist getting goblins wrapped up in the holidays. I have one novella left in Sons of Moriarty. The last is just pure, guilty-pleasure indulgence.

Sunday, November 24

Pages Read Today: ~101
Pages Read Total: ~185
Reading Materials:

  • Sons of Moriarty, ed. Loren D. Estleman, 70%-100%, ~65 pages.
  • Doctor Who Short Trips: The History of ChristmasThe Goblins’ Christmas by Elizabeth Anderson – “Ho! Kris!” they cried, “We’ll have some fun, / We’ll bind the old man down, / We’ll tie him up, and toss him o’er / Into our goblin-town.” And…then Kris Kringle turns them into toys. It’s a new one on me! ~5 pages.
  • Doctor Who Short Trips: The History of Christmas, ed. Simon Guerrier. Pg. 179-195, 218-231. Stand out story from the ones I cherry-picked from this anthology: “The Long Midwinter” by Philip Purser Hallard.

Notes: Well, I came in a little short of my goal. 😉 Ended up doing some work Sunday night. That’s how it goes.

Saturday, November 23

Pages Read Today: ~29
Pages Read Total: ~84
Reading Materials:

  • Sons of Moriarty, ed. Loren D. Estleman, 59%-70%, ~22 pages
  • Doctor Who Short Trips: The History of Christmas, ed. Simon Guerrier. Pg. 90-96.

Notes: There was just too much Who…

Friday, November 22

Pages Read Today: ~55
Pages Read Total: ~55
Reading Materials:

  • Hershel and the Hanukkah Goblins by Eric Kimmel, illustrated by Trina Schart Hyman – Lovely illustrations. Imp-like goblins. Cute story although the goblins are pretty dim. (Pun intended.) “Now, Hershel, do you know who I am?” “I know you’re not Queen Esther.”
  • Stinky Santa: A Very Smelly Christmas E-book for KidsStink Santa by Otto Fishblanket, illustrated by Gerald Hawksley – And now for something completely different. Easy rhymes, fun illustrations. Not much going on aside from general silliness. “Any similarity to any real Santa is purely coincidental.”
  • Doctor Who Short Trips: A Christmas Treasury, ed. by Paul Cornell. Pg. 205-238. The standout story of the day was Stephen Cole’s “Evergreen”. Creepy, with basis in traditions and superstitions.
Posted in Male Author, Novel

Review ~ The Eight Doctors

Doctor Who: The Eight Doctors by Terrance Dicks

Cover via Goodreads

Newly-regenerated and travelling through the universe in his TARDIS, the eighth Doctor is suddenly hit by a mind-shattering blast of malignant psychic energy – a final booby trap left by the Master. (via Goodreads)

My entire reading plan for the week went out the window when I decided to skew toward celebrating the 50th anniversary of Doctor Who. After the surprise of “The Night of the Doctor” webisode last week, I again wanted more of the eighth Doctor. The Eight Doctors picks up where the 1996 TV movie leaves off and provides an adventure akin to the 20th anniversary The Five Doctors.

“Let’s just say I’m a Doctor…Clearly, I’m not the one you were expecting.”

The premise is simple. The eighth Doctor must meet his previous incarnations to regain his memories. Of course, the Doctor being the Doctor, there’s always trouble. Some of these visits work considerably better than others. Dicks’ writing shines when describing about Four’s adventures with vampires and the events of The Five Doctors; Raston Warrior Robot included. If there had been more Sontarans, so much the better. In contrast, the political intrigue portion was rather dull and the framing story set in 90s London was somewhat cringe-worthy.

Still, it was fun. Many of the iconic episodes referenced are ones I had just watched or read about in Who’s 50. It’s a nice bridge between big, multi-Doctor adventures, which this weekend’s “The Day of the Doctor” promises to be.

Genre: Sci-Fi
Why did I choose to read this book? Wanted some Doctor Who fun.
Did I finish this book? (If not, why?) Yes. It was a quick read.