Sunday Salon, 1/12/20

Sunday Salon

Books

Finished Minor Mage and reviewed it. It was a spot-on beginning for the year. I also finished reading The Duchess of Bloomsbury Street by Helene Hanff. I’ve been reading through her works in the mornings during my off-the-grid self-reflection time. I love her voice and her enthusiasm for the things she loves.

Trail of Lightning (The Sixth World, #1)

This week, I need to finish Trail of Lightning before it gets yoinked back by the library.

Movies

I went to the library and it became X-Men week… In the past year, I’ve been availing myself of the library’s DVD collection. I went for Dark Phoenix (2019), but I noticed that there was a “Rogue Cut” of X-Men: Days of Future Past (2014). So, I checked out both.

Days of Future Past is my favorite X-Men movie, combining the best of the old and new cast/storylines. And the scenes with Quicksilver are too much fun. The “Rogue Cut” adds in a few scenes, including a subplot about rescuing Rogue in the future. The movie didn’t need this McGuffin and the plot was leaner without it. But I enjoy watching different versions of movies so it wasn’t lost time.

Dark Phoenix? Oof. It wasn’t terrible, but it wasn’t good either. It was just sort of…plain? I probably wasn’t helped by not watching X-Men: Apocalypse (2016) in the recent past. I’ve seen it, but I don’t really remember it. It’s really too bad because it’s a poor ending for a really good cast. I was pretty stoked by the possibiliy Sophie Turner as Jean Grey.

Not a movie, I decided to read the original “Dark Phoenix Saga” by Chris Claremont too. It is a lot different than than either of the movie version of the story.


The Sunday Salon is a linkup hosted by Deb @ Readerbuzz

Sunday Salon, 1/5/20

Sunday Salon

Books

I finished 2019 with 84, Charing Cross Road and some Edgar Allan Poe. According to Goodreads, if I reread 84, Charing Cross Road, it’s in December. It’s another thing (like jazz music) that I associate with winter and with relaxing (in the midst of finals (when in college) or general holiday nuttiness).

My Poe story of the week was “Thou Art the Man,” one of his many stories that I wasn’t familiar with. Ninety-five percent of the story is a rather good mystery with a pretty bone-rattling climax. But I’ve noticed in a few cases, Poe isn’t very good at ending stories. In this case, there was a pretty exposition-heavy explanation of what had occurred.

I started 2020 with The Twisted Ones by T. Kingfisher, but I put it aside at about the 20% mark. Nothing much was really going on.

I’ll be participating in Bout of Books this week! Bout of Books is a relaxed week-long readathon. There are activities* and a couple of Twitter chats, but mostly it’s just about communal reading. I’m counting this as my post-holiday holiday.

* I’d say challenges, but in the land of readathons, “challenge” has come to mean reading to fulfill prompts. Bout of Books is old-school in its celebration of “read anything, just read.”

You know that tidy TBR I had a couple weeks ago? Totally blown up by library holds coming available. (Is that always the way?) My BoB TBR:

Minor Mage Mesmerists, Monsters, and Machines: Science Fiction and the Cultures of Science in the Nineteenth Century Trail of Lightning (The Sixth World, #1)

Movies

I watched three movies this past week:

Ghost Stories (2017), directed by Andy Nyman, Jeremy Dyson – There were some nice tense moments, but Ghost Stories ended up being schlockier than I expected.

Force Majeure (2014), directed by Ruben Östlund – A Swedish film. On the too-over-dramatic side for me, but I really enjoyed the long, static takes. Actually the reserved and removed style of film-making made it bearable.

Creed (2015), directed by Ryan Coogler – On the good side of unexpected, I really enjoyed Creed. To recuse myself, I grew up watching the Rocky films. I do have a certain amount of nostalgia for them. But there are so many ways this could have been a bad film. The seventh Rocky film? About Apollo Creed’s son? Being trained by Rocky? But it works. Even the maudlin subplot works.

Other Stuff

A couple of things I’d like to get done this coming week:

  • Take down the Christmas decorations. I’ve hit the point of, “Please, no more Christmas…”
  • Finish Take Off Your Pants outline for Wicked Witch Retired. I’m continually looking for better ways to plan my books. And by plan, I mean finish.
  • Eric has news article epigraphs in his books and occasionally I provide some different phrasings; so provide an alternate version of one of those.


The Sunday Salon is a linkup hosted by Deb @ Readerbuzz

Sunday Salon, 12/29/19

Sunday Salon
I’m in that weird place where I’ve finished books, but I don’t want to start new ones until New Year’s. So, today in the Salon, I’m going to take a look back and a look forward.

Books & Reading

By Tuesday, I’ll have read 51 books in 2019. Here are some stats:

  • Average rating (out of 5): 3.495
  • Unique authors: 50
  • New authors: 30
  • Male/Female authors: 55% / 45% (This is the closest I’ve come to 50/50. Without looking super close at numbers, I think this is because I read more nonfiction by women this year.)
  • Fiction/Nonfiction: 55% / 45% (I always aim for at least 60/40.)
  • Rereads: 12% (A little higher than usual.)
  • ARCs: 14% (Much lower than the last few years. I’m stepping away from ARCs.)
  • From my shelves: 31%
  • From libraries: 55%

I plan on doing a “favorites” post on Tuesday.

I’m only joining two challenges for 2020:

DealMeIn

Deal Me In is a short story challenge hosted by Jay @ Bibliophilopolis. What’s the commitment? Pick 52 short stories, assign a card to each of them, and every week you pick a card and read the story! There are better details at Jay’s blog.

I plan on reading at least 10 titles from my Classics Club list.

I’m a flighty reader so many challenges (aka too many plans) don’t work well for me. Instead I want to do more readathons and readalongs. To wit, I’m going to participate in Page-a-thon and Bout of Books in January.

Movies & Television

I’ve  been keeping track of my film watching on Letterbox. According to them, I watched/rewatched 111 films as of 12/29/19. I count 41 rewatches. We went to the movie theater twice, to a rerelease of Blade Runner (1982) and Knives Out (2019). In 2020, I’d like to watch a new-to-me film each week, which should be do-able since I seemed to have watched 70 or so in 2019.

Honest-to-goodness, I can’t think of a TV series in the last year that I really liked. I haven’t been watching much television.

Other Stuff

Writing:

I put two things out into the world in 2019. I edited and formatted David P. Abbott in The Open Court, a collection of articles about magic and fraudulent mediums  that David Abbott wrote for The Open Court magazine. It’s available on my website!

I also published One Ahead: The Case of the Real Estate Revenant on Amazon. It’s the second in my series of mysteries with a fictional David Abbott as detective.

What am I doing in 2020? Tentatively, I’d like to finish Wicked Witch Retired and maybe get that into the world by the end of the year. I’ll probably do another Entangled Tome of some sort. I might also entertain the notion of taking on some formatting work.

Ultimate Frisbee:

I played some; I’ll play some more. Generally, I felt pretty good this year. In 2007, I thought I’d be lucky to still be playing at age 40. Now, at age 45, I can’t see myself not playing at 50, even if it is harder to cover the 20 year-olds.

I also finished updating the VOTS archive online.


The Sunday Salon is a linkup hosted by Deb @ Readerbuzz

Sunday Salon, 12/22/19 (on Monday!)

Sunday Salon

One of the things that keeps me from being a particularly consistent blogger is that I get tired of myself. I wasn’t going to do a Sunday Salon, but this (Monday) morning I decided I wanted to organize what I have to read this week.

Reading

Finished:

  War for the Oaks
  • Alligator Candy: A Memoir by David Kushner
  • War for the Oaks by Emma Bull

Might say something about one or both of these in the near future.

Should finish this week:

Savage Appetites: Four True Stories of Women, Crime, and Obsession Writing Down the Bones: Freeing the Writer Within
  • Savage Appetites: Four True Stories of Women, Crime, and Obsession by Rachel Monroe
  • Writing Down the Bones: Freeing the Writer Within by Natalie Goldberg

There’s a chance I will hit my Goodreads goal of 52 books! I’m at 49 at the moment. These two will bring me up to 51.

Next up:

The Old English Baron: A Gothic Story, with Edmond, Orphan of the Castle Take Off Your Pants! Outline Your Books for Faster, Better Writing Westmark
  • The Old English Baron: A Gothic Story, with Edmond, Orphan of the Castle by Clara Reeve – The Classics Club Spin number was 13, but this is coincidentally the top of my list when sorted chronologically.
  • Take Off Your Pants! Outline Your Books for Faster, Better Writing by Libbie Hawker
  • Westmark by Lloyd Alexander – I think this is going to be my new chapter-a-day morning-routine book.

Movies/Television

Caught The Aeronauts before my Prime subscription lapsed. I liked it well enough. It was a good Victorian era adventure which I’m probably going to want to watch again.

Music

A friend on Facebook linked to this “Seven Nation Army”/”Sweet Dreams (Are Made of These)” mashup by Pomplemoose and it is really excellent. Not familiar with the band, so something new to investigate.


The Sunday Salon is a linkup hosted by Deb @ Readerbuzz

Sunday Salon, 12/15/19

Sunday Salon

Books & Stuff

Me: I’m going to read books I already have.
Also Me: *checks out more books from the library*

I can explain…

Alligator Candy: A Memoir Savage Appetites: Four True Stories of Women, Crime, and Obsession The Bullet Journal Method: Track the Past, Order the Present, Design the Future

Alligator Candy: A Memoir by David Kushner – I checked this out because I wanted an audio book.

Savage Appetites: Four True Stories of Women, Crime, and Obsession by Rachel Monroe – Had this on hold and now it’s available.

The Bullet Journal Method: Track the Past, Order the Present, Design the Future
by Ryder Carroll – Finished this one. I’ve been using a bullet journal since May, but I wanted to refresh my notions of the system and maybe learn a new trick or two. That happened, but much of this book seemed bent on convincing me that bullet journaling is a good idea. I am already sold on that.

DealMeIn
Hosted by Jay @ Bibliophilopolis
What’s Deal Me In?

I haven’t been posing much about my Deal Me In stories, but I read a particularly good one this week. “Tasting Notes on the Varietals of the Southern Coast” by Gwendolyn Clare from the Sept/Oct issue of The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction. (I picked the 8 this week.) I always enjoy efficient story-telling. In less than 2000 words, Gwendolyn Clare sets up a lot and pays it off all against a background of a master vintner making a survey of a despotic king.

Btw, if you’re interested in a short story challenge for 2020, Jay usually opens signups on the solstice, so that should go up on Saturday.

I just joined the Classics Club, and I’m excited to participate in my first Classics Club Spin! If you’re not familiar, I’m going to list 20 titles from my Classics Club list. Next Sunday, the club picks a number and I read that book!

  1. The Mummy! by Jane Webb Loudon
  2. Behind a Mask by Louisa May Alcott
  3. Treasure Island by Robert Lewis Stevenson
  4. King Solomon’s Mines by Henry Rider Haggard
  5. The Big Bow Mystery by Israel Zangwill
  6. The Wind in the Rose-Bush by Mary Eleanor Wilkins Freeman
  7. The House of the Vampire by George Sylvester Viereck
  8. The Magician by W. Somerset Maugham
  9. The House on the Borderland by William Hope Hodgson
  10. The Phantom of the Opera by Gaston Leroux
  11. The Lady of the Shroud by Bram Stoker
  12. The Door in the Wall by H. G. Wells
  13. The Old English Baron by Clara Reeve
  14. The Devil’s Elixirs by E. T. A. Hoffmann
  15. The Vampyre by John William Polidori
  16. Journey to the Center of the Earth by Jules Verne
  17. Two on a Tower by Thomas Hardy
  18. The Parasite by Arthur Conan Doyle
  19. The Experiences of Loveday Brooke, Lady Detective by Catherine Louisa Pirkis
  20. The King in Yellow by Robert W. Chambers

Movies/Television

It’s time for my yearly dip into Amazon Prime to take care of shipping matters, and also to binge a thing or two. Like Good Omens. I’ve tried to read the book a few times and it’s never caught on with me. The series is a lot of fun though.


The Sunday Salon is a linkup hosted by Deb @ Readerbuzz

Sunday Salon, 12/8/19

Sunday Salon

Books

Finished Well Met by Jen DeLuca. I enjoyed it and I’ll post more about it on Tuesday, probably. I think I’ll just finish War for the Oaks next.

War for the Oaks Writing Down the Bones: Freeing the Writer Within Savage Appetites: Four True Stories of Women, Crime, and Obsession

So far, I’ve read 46 book this year. Goodreads points out that I am behind on my goal of 52 for the year. In addition to War for the Oaks, I will most likely finish Writing Down the Bones before the end of the year. Everything else I have in progress is long and on a schedule that will take me into next year. Savage Appetites may come off hold in December, but I won’t hold my breath. I’m going to start a Classics Club reading list on Saturday, so maybe I’ll pick something from it to round out the year. I’ll read a title or two from my Shelf Maintenance challenge.

Links

I’ve got a few links to share this week:

Winter Tales Time! The Festival – One of my favorite things about the winter season is Nina Zumel’s posts of dark tales for long dark nights. She kicks off with Yule tale by H. P. Lovecraft.

The Musical Brilliance of John Mulaney’s Stand-up via Vulture – An article about cadence and timing in John Mulaney’s story-telling, er, stand-up. Timing is something to always keep in mind, even when writing prose.

Rian Johnson’s Looper and the Art of the Supervillain via Tor.com – How do you construct a really good supervillain? Is it all in the origin story?

Music

To me, winter music isn’t just holiday songs, but jazz. The album  Long Ago and Far Away by the Charlie Watts Quintet would be one of my desert island discs. The Rolling Stones’ drummer anchors a marvelous band and produced two albums of jazz standards with Bernard Fowler as vocalist. I had no idea that a video had been made of “I’ve Got A Crush On You.” It’s so very 90s.


The Sunday Salon is a linkup hosted by Deb @ Readerbuzz

Sunday Salon, 12/1/19

Sunday Salon
Whew, November. The past two week have felt like some alternate universe of rain and no ultimate frisbee playing. I generally love the rain, especially here in overly sunny Arizona, but not when it floods the fields I rely on for exercise. So, things have been a bit disjointed around here. And then a four day weekend which has pretty much contained three Saturdays! I’m looking forward to Monday…

Reading

I had Nonfiction November plans which seemed to evaporate as soon as I made them. I ended up splitting the month between fiction and nonfiction. In November, I finished:

  • Ghostbuster’s Daughter by Violet Ramis Stiel
  • Pumpkinheads by Rainbow Rowell
  • The Last Unicorn by Peter S. Beagle – a reread
  • Columbine by Dave Cullen – I plan on posting about it later in the week.

One of the more interesting short stories I read in November was Poe’s “A Tale of the Ragged Mountains.” As I’m going through my books of his complete works, I’m finding a lot of Poe stories that I’m not familiar with. “Ragged Mountain” combines one of his travelogue-style stories with a themes of mesmerism. I hadn’t realized Poe had written more on mesmerism than “Mesmeric Revelation” and “The Facts in the Case of M. Valdemar.” “Ragged Mountain” preceded both into publication.

Of course, I have a TBR for December!

Well Met (Well Met, #1) War for the Oaks Writing Down the Bones: Freeing the Writer Within

Movies/Television

We don’t go to the movies much, but I’m looking forward to seeing Knives Out in the near future. I’ve pretty much been a fan of director Rian Johnson since Brick (2005). I’m glad to see him back from Star Wars land.

Did I watch the three (four?) movies I ear-marked for November? I did not. But that won’t stop me from having a list for December:

  • Creed (2015)
  • Birdman (2014)
  • American Heist (2014)
  • The Beguiled (2017)

I also have The Alienist and season two of American Gods in the queue.

Music

R. E. M.’s Monster was a pretty big deal for me in college. The band just released a 25th anniversary edition remix. That kind of makes me feel old, but it’s definitely feeding into my college days nostalgia.

Other Stuff

I’d say I had fun with my project “fling” during NaNoWriMo, but honestly reading and writing about a 100 year old murder was rough going. I’ll come back to the project, I’m sure, but for now I’m going back to  pure fiction. I’ll be working on Wicked Witch Retired for the foreseeable future.

Fall ultimate league finished a couple of weeks back. My team lost our first game. The second meant very little so we played mostly fun, beer-soaked points. Below it a picture from that game of me catching a hammer throw (an up-side down throw). It was a good throw and an easy catch.

Katherine catching hammer throw.
Photo by Quan Nguyen

And then I didn’t even go running for two weeks (see above about rain) which meant playing today at a friend’s birthday game pretty hard.


The Sunday Salon is a linkup hosted by Deb @ Readerbuzz