Monthly Archives: August 2014

Deal Me In, Week 33 ~ “Alice, Falling”

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Hosted by Jay @ Bibliophilopolis

“Alice, Falling” by Steven Millhauser

Card picked: Eight of Diamonds

From: The Barnum Museum (only one more story left in this anthology!)

Review: Confession time: Along with Peter and Wendy and The Wonderful Wizard of Oz, I haven’t read Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland. I seem to have skipped many of that era’s children’s literature in favor of Poe and Conan Doyle. What I know of Alice is, indeed, the Disney version.

Millhauser’s Alice falls with seemingly no hope of ever reaching a bottom. She falls past cupboards with raspberry jam and ginger beer. She falls past maps and mirrors and statues of cherubs. She wonders if she is falling toward adventure, or if she’s already taking part in the adventure, or if this is only a dream. And if it’s only a dream, is the Alice asleep by the lake while her sister reads (a book without pictures or conversations) any more real than the Alice that followed a white rabbit down a rabbit hole? And Millhauser subtly leads the reader to wonder if the Alice of the book is more real than the Alice that the story was told to and written down for.

This is the second to last story of The Barnum Museum and I think I’m going to miss Millhauser. At least until I pick up another of his anthologies.

Bout of Books 11

Bout of Books

The Bout of Books read-a-thon is organized by Amanda @ On a Book Bender and Kelly @ Reading the Paranormal. It is a week long read-a-thon that begins 12:01am Monday, August 18th and runs through Sunday, August 24th in whatever time zone you are in. Bout of Books is low-pressure, and the only reading competition is between you and your usual number of books read in a week. There are challenges, giveaways, and a grand prize, but all of these are completely optional. For all Bout of Books 11 information and updates, be sure to visit the Bout of Books blog. – From the Bout of Books team

It’s that time again. Don’t you feel it? I do. A shiver in my bookshelves. A slight fever in my e-reader. I’m coming down with a Bout of Books.

Goals

I’m keeping my goals modest because lately I’ve been a flake when it comes to participating and even reading. 500 pages, do a couple challenges, make it to a Twitter chat, comment where appropriate.

Reading “List”

The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier & Clay Monstrous Affections: An Anthology of Beastly Tales M&M The Broken Hours
  • The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier & Clay by Michael Chabon – I’m currently reading this and I will probably still be reading it next week.
  • Monstrous Affections: An Anthology of Beastly Tales by Kelly Link (Editor), Gavin J. Grant (Editor) – An ARC from Armchair BEA. Coming out in September & I’d love to review it by the time it debuts.
  • Magic And Mystery: The Incredible Psychic Investigations Of Houdini And Dunninger – Just puttering my way through this book.
  • “The N Auntie” by Anne McCaffrey Deal Me In
  • From Magic in Mind – “The Big Lie” by Michael Close
  • Who knows what else!

Updates

Friday-Sunday

  • Notes: I’ve been having a hard time with things lately and Bout of Books has fallen victim to the tentative reorganization of life. But! I plan of finishing up my goal today. Just 20 pages left. Hope you all are having a great BoB!

Thursday

  • Notes: Finished The Broken Hours. It was pretty good, but a slow burn. Got The Confabulist from the library yesterday and started it today. Still not feeling up to snuff.
  • Challenges: Amazingly, I have a book recommendation!

Wednesday

  • Notes: Less reading, more writing. Still on track, but lacked energy for the Twitter party or anything else.
Tuesday
  • Notes: Read during most of the morning and afternoon because I still hadn’t been feeling well. The Broken Hours involves H. P. Lovecraft as a character. Coincidentally, this is Lovecraft’s birthday week and Paula Cappa highlighted one of his non-mythos stories, which I decided to read. Plus another couple short works, not by Lovecraft.
  • Challenges: Neither were in my wheelhouse and I needed to get some other work done.
Monday
  • Notes: Had a super-uber flare-up day. I added The Broken Hours to my list because I couldn’t comfortably hold a book and had that as an ARC that I could read on my computer monitor. On the plus side, I was able to log a pretty good reading day. Didn’t do much of anything else though. Purposefully missed the chat because I knew it would wipe me out.
  • Challenges: Did both! It’s harder to do picture challenges without a smart phone.

Magic Monday ~ Diminishing Cards

MagicMonday

I like Mondays. On Monday, I am refreshed from the weekend and exhilarated by the possibilities of the week ahead. I also like magic. I like its history, its intersection with technology, and its crafty use of human nature.  I figured I’d combine the two and make a Monday feature that is truly me: a little bit of magic and a look at the week ahead.

Last week was one of those weeks where I started out a little tired of words. I didn’t feel like reading and let myself easily be distracted from writing. Chris paid us an unexpected visit Tues-Thurs. League registration opened on Thursday as well. (Fall league registration. There are two other leagues opening soon too.) By Saturday, I simply cut my losses and worked on finishing the rug I’m crocheting out of old T-Shirts. I blame summer.

That’s fine, Katherine. Where’s the Magic?

No movement on the duck automaton article. Instead, a quick, pleasurable jaunt: two of my favorite sets of hands. In this performance, Cardini does the majority of his card manipulation *while wearing gloves.*

Zabrecky’s version of the Diminishing Cards, which Cardini does at about the 2:00 mark in the above video.

I suppose I shouldn’t be surprised that I enjoy different interpretations of a trick. I’m fascinated by the differences in translated works and the changes that occur when books are adapted for stage/screen (and vice versa).  What is it about looking at iterations that pushes my brain’s curiosity buttons?

SmallAce

What Am I Reading?

The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier & Clay

  • The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier & Clay by Michael Chabon
  • Magic And Mystery: The Incredible Psychic Investigations Of Houdini And Dunninger
  • More Steven MillHauser coming up for Deal Me In. With two stories left in the anthology, I’m tempted to “cheat” and finish it off.

What Am I Writing?

It’s all In Need of Luck. Also I’ll be setting up my very first countdown deal via KDP Select.

On the Blog

I make no promises this week. Probably will have a Bout of Books post at some point.

So, what are you reading? Any magic to share?

Deal Me In, Week 32 ~ “Diamonds Aren’t Forever”

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Hosted by Jay @ Bibliophilopolis

“Diamonds Aren’t Forever” by S. P. Somtow

Card picked: Five of Spades

From: David Copperfield’s Tales of the Impossible

Review: Marvin is a procurer of objets de’art visiting Thailand. Incongruously, Marvin’s very wealthy business partner has business somewhere else and leaves Marvin in the company of his wife, Midge. Nearly every day, a particular scene plays out. Midge loses a pair of very expensive earrings. She accuses the staff. She calls the police. The police find the staff innocent, and then Midge calls a shamaness of Shiva who manages to locate the earrings. This happens so often that the staff has the events down to a schedule.

Marvin sees opportunity in this diviner of lost things. Can she find the missing piece of a collection of tiles depicting Buddha? What about the Holy Grail? Or the Ark of the Covenant? But, as with any dealings with a god, there is a catch. Keeping the items relies on more than simply having them. After all, Midge can’t seems to keep those earrings around for more than a day or two…

“Diamonds Aren’t Forever” is solidly told, maybe one of the more complete short stories I’ve read in a while. Marvin is forced to really consider what he wants to find, and it isn’t just priceless artifacts.

About the Author: I was vaguely familiar with S. P. Somtow as a horror writer. Indeed, he was president of the HWA back around the time I was a member of that organization. I had no idea that he is Thai and also a musician/composer. If anything, these Copperfield anthologies (and Deal Me In) have more formerly introduced me to many multifaceted writers.

#COYER Scary Stories by the Campfire Read-a-thon

Scary Stories by the Campfire

Read scary stories – books about ghosts, goblins, and any other horror/thriller that would make for a scary campfire tale. More info at: Because Reading

Man, this week. It totally got away from me. I didn’t get Thursday’s review up and that’s okay. I thought about not doing this mini readathon, but this is the one I’ve been looking forward to. I need a little horror in my summer!

What am I reading?

On Wearing Two Hats, or why I cleared my ratings on Goodreads

I love reading. I love thinking about why we tell stories and how the construction of narratives affects how we experience them. What works? What doesn’t work? Why do I like what I like?

I am also an author. I love telling stories and trying to apply what I’ve learned to make them better.

A while back, probably well over a year ago now (two years?), I rebranded this blog as The Writerly Reader. I wanted it to mostly be a book blog—a place to think  out-loud about the books I’ve read—but I also wanted room to talk about my writing and my career as an author. I wanted to have a place to wear both my hats. My “reviews” have a tendency to pick apart what I’ve read, so I’m often grumpy, even about books I like. Regardless, I try to be fair in my comments. I’m never snarky; I try to look for the good in every book.

As a reader: I’ve never had a star rating system on my blog. I feel that star ratings are inadequate and a bit of a fool’s game. Ratings are an effort to put a quantitative measurement on something subjective. Even when I try to be objective about storytelling and style, likes and dislikes always creep in.

As an author: I have become keenly aware of how ratings, especially on Goodreads and Amazon, affect authors and their books.

I’ve never rated or reviewed books on Amazon because, since it is a consumer site, I’ve never felt comfortable as a fellow author rating “competing products.” I didn’t want to engage in the possible (or even perceived) conflict of interest.

Goodreads has been a different story. I started using Goodreads as a way to catalog my library, even before I started book blogging. My star ratings were really for myself, I’ve never been a social user of Goodreads. I’ve also never posted reviews there because I want to discuss books in my own environment. But recently, I’ve become a Goodreads Author. Despite my personal philosophy about ratings, I am courting attention as someone who would like her product to be rated. And that’s the conflict of interest.

So, I cleared all my Goodreads ratings. All 600+ of them.

I kept all my shelves and added one called Favorites. The only other shelf that has any kind of “rating” implication is Did-Not-Finish.

The last big question: Is my blog itself, and the reviewing of books, a conflict of interest as an author? Yes, it probably is. It’s also one of the things I enjoy most about the process of reading and writing. Sharing these thought in this venue is part of that. The Writerly Reader isn’t going anywhere anytime soon.

SmallAce

Magic Monday ~ All Over TV

MagicMonday

I like Mondays. On Monday, I am refreshed from the weekend and exhilarated by the possibilities of the week ahead. I also like magic. I like its history, its intersection with technology, and its crafty use of human nature.  I figured I’d combine the two and make a Monday feature that is truly me: a little bit of magic and a look at the week ahead.

I had intended to post about the automaton duck today, but I realized I wanted to do more research first. Instead, I want to shine a little light on a few magical media things that are going on.

First, the CW in the US currently has two magic-related shows on its schedule. The first is Fool Us. Magicians Penn & Teller invite fellow magicians to fool them. No secrets are revealed and the illusions are pretty darn good, even if they don’t always fool the professionals. This is actually the US airing of the UK series, with hopes of getting a new season in the future.

The second CW show is Masters of Illusion. It’s a half-hour magic variety show. I’d say this is the weaker of the two. There’s less setup for the tricks and abrupt transitions between each. It leaves little time to appreciate anything that’s going on. There’s a thin overlay of brain science, but nothing beyond the premise that your brain deceives you. Still, nice to have some magic on the over-the-air channels.

About Houdini, Adrien Brody

But…he’s too tall!

Upcoming, the History Channel will be airing a two-night Houdini bio-pic starring Adrien Brody. While Houdini isn’t my favorite of magicians, it’ll probably be worth the watch. Dean Carnegie has an ambitious plan to post 30 Days of Houdini. He’s off to a great start looking at the origins of some of Houdini’s tricks.

SmallAce

What Am I Reading?

Still working on Great Expectations, and Kavalier & Clay. Plan on finishing “Wakulla Springs” by Andy Duncan too.

What Am I Writing?

Lots of In Need of Luck.

On the Blog

  • Thursday: Mini reviews of Wool, Part 1 by Hugh Howey, “Wakulla Springs” by Andy Duncan and “Burning Girls” by Veronica Schanoes
  • Friday: #COYER Scary Stories by the Campfire readathon for the weekend.
  • Saturday: An S. P. Somtow tale for Deal Me In

So, what are you reading? Any magic to share?