Ebook roundup post

Another overdue ebook roundup post. Here are titles I’ve picked up over the last few months.

Acquired from Kobo:

  • Star Trek: Discovery: Wonderlands, by Una McCormack. Grabbed this one as it fills in a gap at the beginning of Season 3, covering the events of the year Michael Burnham spends waiting for her ship to catch up with her.
  • The Demon Equilibrium, by Cathy Pegau. Paranormal/historical romance, also queer. Picked this up on the strength of this review on Smart Bitches, also on the strength of Pegau being a fellow Carina author!
  • Olive Bright, Pigeoneer, by Stephanie Graves. Mystery, set in Britain in WWII. Nabbed this because I saw the review for Book 2 on Criminal Element, and that sounded interesting enough that I looked at their review of Book 1 as well, which I then purchased.
  • Goliath, by Tochi Onyebuchi. SF. Picked up on the strength of this article from Tor Books, linked to in their publishing newsletter.
  • Burning Bright, by Melissa McShane. Historical/paranormal romance. Picked up due to this review on Smart Bitches.
  • The Radium Girls, by Kate Moore. Non-fiction. Picked this up because it went on sale in ebook form for a little bit, and because I’d heard it talked up on Smart Bitches podcasts. Account of what happened with young women working in radium dial factories in World War I.
  • A Psalm for the Wild-Built, by Becky Chambers. SF. Nabbed this as this is the first book in a new series from her, and I’ve really liked her strong character-driven SF so far. And her titles. <3
  • A Snake Falls to Earth, by Darcie Little Badger. Fantasy YA. Got this out of interest in SF/F from indigenous authors; Darcie Little Badger is Apache.
  • Hild, by Nicola Griffith. Historical fantasy. Nabbed this because I’ve been interested in reading it for a while, and was reminded I still needed to buy a copy.
  • The House of Shattered Wings, by Aliette de Bodard. Another thing I’d been interested in reading for a while, and which finally popped off the queue to be bought.
  • Scales and Sensibility, by Stephanie Burgis. Fantasy/fantasy romance, I think. Book 1 of her Regency Dragons series. Nabbed this just because I do love the Regency era + magic or fantasy elements.
  • Lady August, by Becky Michaels. Historical romance, Book 1 of her Linfield Hall series. Got this one because Book 2 of the series showed up in this Cover Awe post by Smart Bitches, and I was impressed enough by that cover to look up more about the series. Saw that A Rake Like You was actually Book 2, so I went and got Book 1 to read. (And I gotta say, I like this trend of illustrated covers on romance novels lately.)
  • Certain Dark Things, by Silvia Moreno-Garcia. Because as I note below, Mexican Gothic was huge fun, swinging out to find more of this author’s work now.
  • Battle of the Linguist Mages, by Scotto Moore. SF. Grabbed this pretty much on the grounds of any SF involving linguistic nerdery sounds like SF I need to be reading!
  • The Pages of the Mind, by Jeffe Kennedy. Fantasy romance. Nabbed this because another thing I’ve been meaning to read for a while, and because I really like the imagery on the cover. Picked this up for free by redeeming points on my Kobo account!

Pre-orders that showed up from Kobo:

  • The Thousand Eyes, by A.K. Larkwood. Book 2 of her Serpent Gates series. I really liked Book 1, The Unspoken Name!

Pre-order placed with Kobo:

  • The Daughter of Doctor Moreau, by Silvia Moreno-Garcia. Nabbed this because holy shit Mexican Gothic was fun, and because Kobo’s recommendation algorithm actually correctly deduced that another book by her is Highly Relevant to My Interests. This book is due to drop in July!

23 so far for the year.

Ebook catchup post

Now that the house net is back up and stable again, and I’m on a three-day weekend where I don’t have to worry about things being on fire at the day job, I have the time to dig back through my inbox and get caught up on tallying my ebook purchases!

This post will cover the tail end of 2021’s purchases and also lay down the initial ones for 2022.

Purchased from Kobo in 2021:

  • A Marvellous Light, by Freya Marske. Book 1 of The Last Binding. Fantasy set in Edwardian England, with a side of M/M romance. Nabbed because of seeing positive buzz for it on Tor.com
  • Comfort Me With Apples, by Catherynne M. Valente. Nabbed this because I’ve read and enjoyed quite a bit of her work, and the idea of her doing a gaslit-wife kind of thriller is intriguing.
  • The Wolf and the Woodsman, by Ava Reid. Fantasy. Nabbed this because it was on sale at the time, for $1.99. Also, because fantasy influenced by Hungarian mythology sounded potentially fun and different.
  • Murder on Black Swan Lane, by Andrea Penrose. Mystery. Book 1 of Wrexford & Sloane. Nabbed this because I’d originally seen buzz about it on Smart Bitches as a period British-set mystery, a genre I generally enjoy. Tried to check it out from the library but never started reading it before the checkout ran out, so I just went ahead and bought it.
  • State of Terror, by Louise Penny and Hillary Rodham Clinton. (Yes, that Hillary Clinton.) Thriller. Nabbed this because I like Louise Penny’s writing and was legit curious about how a thriller Hillary Clinton is involved with would turn out. Started reading it as a library book, but the library checkout ran out, so I just bought the thing so I could finish it.
  • The Scholars of Night, by John M. Ford. Another thriller, a newer edition of this book as a bunch of Ford’s backlist has been re-published since his death. Dara started reading this one in print and liked it, so this was another one I checked out first from the library and then just decided to go ahead and buy.
  • Home: Habitat, Range, Niche, Territory, by Martha Wells. SF. This is a short story about Murderbot! Bought because Murderbot. <3
  • Sisters of the Vast Black, by Lina Rather. SF. Our Lady of Endless Worlds #1. Nabbed this because I kept hearing good things about it, so finally picked it up.
  • Akata Witch, by Nnedi Okorafor. Fantasy. Book 1 of her Nsibidi Scripts series, and YA. Nabbed this because it was on sale for $2.99 at the time, and also because I want to read more SF/F out of the African diaspora. And, it has a gorgeous cover.
  • Sisters in Arms, by Kaia Alderson. Historical fiction. Another book I initially started reading as a library checkout, but the checkout ran out, so I just bought it. This is a story about a regiment of Black women serving during WWII and I’m here for that!
  • Last Night at the Telegraph Club, by Malinda Lo. Historical fiction/romance, and specifically queer, F/F romance between two young women, set during the Red Scare in San Francisco’s Chinatown. Very interested to see how this’ll read. I quite liked this author’s book Huntress, too.

Purchased from Kobo in 2022:

  • West End Earl, by Bethany Bennett. Historical romance. Book 2 of Misfits of Mayfair. Nabbed this because it got talked up on Smart Bitches for having a gorgeous cover and really, I agree. I love the use of yellow on the cover art, which makes it bright and cheerful, and that’s a thing I really need in my life right now! And, the summary seemed fun, as did the sample I read on Kobo’s site.

Purchased from Amazon in 2022:

  • Vessel of Starfire and The Last Witch Queen, by Allison Carr Waechter. YA Fantasy. Books 1 and 2 of the Outlaws of Interra trilogy. Nabbed these because the first one’s cover was called out on Smart Bitches on a Cover Awe post, and I agreed it was lovely! Plus I wanted to pick these up for F/F romance goodness. And I bought both of them because they were nice and cheap!
  • Dangerous Ground and Crash Site, by Fiona Carver. Thriller. Books 1 and 2 of the Fiona Carver series. Nabbed these again because of a Smart Bitches Cover Awe post, and because the individual titles of the series were not expensive.
  • The Raven Spell, by Luanne G. Smith. Fantasy, Book 1 of Conspiracy of Magic. Nabbed this because I saw an ad for it, and because it sounds like fun, particularly with a hook about a hero who’s had his memory rattled around by an attack and needs help from the heroine to find out who targeted him.

79 total for 2021. 6 so far for 2022.

Ebook catchup post

Took a backhoe to my gigantic email backlog yesterday, and that included dealing with receipts from assorted ebook purchases and getting those files incorporated into my Calibre library! Here now are those books, rounded up.

Acquired from Kobo:

  • Aetherbound, by E.K. Johnston. SF/YA. Got this one mostly because I really liked the cover design, and when i read a sample, I found it engaging enough that I’d like to see where the story goes. I like the central story concept of a traveling generation ship where the crew is successive generations of the same family, and the heroine being a young daughter of this family who wants out.
  • Iron Widow, by Xiran Jay Zhao. SF/YA. This seems a mix of Chinese mythos, bunches of anime of the “mecha powered by pilots” type, and Pacific Rim. The heroine is a young woman in a culture where females serve as the “concubine/pilots” for male pilots of mecha, and are frequently killed by the strain of the psychic link these pairings require. Only our heroine, a so-called “iron widow”, is capable of turning that psychic link around and taking out her male copilots instead. I’m here for it.
  • Hands of the Emperor and Stargazy Pie, by Victoria Goddard. Fantasy. Bought both of these on the strength of this article on Tor.com, which speaks very glowingly of this author’s work. And from what I see here, there’s a lot of Anna bait in her stories.
  • The Anatomist’s Wife, by Anna Lee Huber. Mystery. Got this one when I saw it come up as on sale via one of Smart Bitches Trashy Books’ sale posts.
  • We Shall Sing a Song Into the Deep, by Andrew Kelly Stewart. SF. This is post-apocalyptic so I’m not sure how much of a headspace I’m going to have to read this any time soon, but that said, I’m intrigued by the idea of the crew of the last nuclear submarine on the planet turning into a religious sect bent on firing their last missile to trigger the Second Coming. And the protagonist is a young girl kidnapped and raised into the crew as one of their Choristers, only nobody realizes she’s female.
  • When Two Feathers Fell From the Sky, by Margaret Verble. This seems to be a magic-realism type story, or what I’d be calling historical urban fantasy if it was getting sold under the SF/F bracket of stories. But it’s getting marketed as general fiction, so…? Period piece with a Native American heroine at a carnival.
  • Piranesi, by Susanna Clarke. Grabbed this on the strength of this being the next book by the author of Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell. I have already read it; I got it as a library checkout, and then decided I wanted to own my own copy. It’s not nearly as long as its predecessor, and it’s not terribly heavy on action–but it is rich on imagery and theme and characters. Very glad I read it.

Pre-orders that showed up:

  • Grave Reservations, by Cherie Priest
  • Noor, by Nnedi Okorafor
  • You Feel It Just Below the Ribs, by Jeffrey Cranor and Janina Matthewson

68 for the year.

Fiddle practice log 11/3/2021

  • Time practiced: 10 minutes
  • Scales practiced:
    1. One octave G, D, A
    2. Two octave G
  • Arpeggios practiced:
    1. One octave G, D, A
    2. Two octave G
  • Techniques practiced:
    1. Trying to avoid having the neck of the instrument resting in the crotch of my hand, and instead supporting it about halfway along my thumb, to improve the reach of my fingers
    2. Double stops, all open string pairs, in the lower-upper-both pattern
    3. Double stops, all open string pairs, in the upper-lower-both pattern
    4. Whistling a tune phrase to get into my head where I want the slurs to fall, so that I can then specifically tell myself where to put the slurs when I’m actually playing the instrument
  • Tunes practiced: Feller from Fortune

Main interesting discovery for me in this practice ties back to a thing I discussed with Lisa on my last official lesson, when we played around with La fée des dents and discussed what it does to the tune stylistically, if you start on a down bow vs. an up bow.

I tried the same thing in this practice with the tune Feller from Fortune, focusing on the A part and seeing what it felt like to start on a down bow vs. an up bow. Here, as with La fée des dents, I was intrigued to find that starting on an up bow “felt” easier. More natural. I’m still working on trying to articulate why I get that feeling.

There are several interesting questions to consider here:

  1. If there are certain note patterns that are just objectively easier to play more smoothly if you bow them in a certain direction.
  2. What tune you’re playing, and what other ornamentations you want to do on it, I guess? Because if you’re doing slurs in certain places, how does that play into your bow direction choices?
  3. Is it a purely subjective thing where musician A might find a certain way of playing easier than musician B?
  4. What actually sounds better for the tune? How does it sound if you play it one way vs. another way?

Fiddle practice log 10/26/2021

In “Anna remembers she really needs to practice the instrument” news, here’s today’s fiddle practice report!

  • Time practiced: 10 minutes
  • Scales practiced: One octave G, one octave D, one octave A, two octave G, two octave A
  • Arpeggios practiced: One octave G, two octave G
  • Other techniques practiced:
    • Double stops, lower string, upper string, both strings, all three string pairs
    • Double stops, upper string, lower string, both strings, all three string pairs
    • Left hand rehearsal on B part of La fée des dents
    • Being mindful of left hand finger curve
    • Being mindful of elbow position to facilitate finger curve
  • Tunes practiced: La fée des dents, A part and B part

I haven’t tried to play André Brunet’s lovely La fée des dents in a while, so it was a pleasure to revisit it today.

This is one of the tunes that you definitely want to play in a nice flowing kind of way. Figuring out where to put some slurs seems like my primary tool for encouraging that… though I also need to keep in mind that there are questions here of just how smoothly I change fingerings and change bow direction, too.

But that said I did begin to identify some spots in both the A part and the B part where I could add some of that sense of flow, for lack of a better word. By which I mean, some spots where I could put in a few short slurs.

Mostly though I wanted to review the tune and remind myself of the fingerings necessary for it. And I’ll look forward to working with this one some more!

Fiddle practice log 10/11/2021

Time practiced

Ten minutes

Scales practiced

  • Two-octave G
  • Two-octave A

Arpeggios practiced

  • Two-octave G
  • Two-octave A

Techniques practiced

  • Singing my bow directions

Tune practiced

Ciel d’automne

Commentary

Decided to switch it up a bit today and jump over to one of my favorite Andre Brunet tunes, Ciel d’automne. Mostly I played with reviewing the A part, because it’d been a while since I last touched this tune.

But I also wanted to experiment with placing slurs in it, to build on what I’ve been learning playing around with Blarney Pilgrim and Feller from Fortune. Ciel d’automne is a very strong example of what I mean when I talk about needing to master how to make a tune just flow, this thing is gorgeous and it needs to have that liquid feel to it.

I didn’t work out slur patterns for all of the A part yet, but I did get a good way into that section of the tune for that!

I also have aspirations of figuring out where double stops could go in this thing. I tried a couple of places, but that didn’t work very well. I think I need to listen to the recording I have of the tune some more and see if I can figure out how Andre did it!

(Oh darn oh darn whatever shall I do, etc. :D)

Another long overdue ebook roundup log

This is another one of those days when I look at my overflowing inbox and go geez woman get caught up on your email, why don’t you?

So this is me reviewing my various backlogged ebook purchase receipts!

Acquired from Kobo:

  • The Infernal City and Lord of Souls, which are the two Elder Scrolls novels written by Greg Keyes, released back in 2009 and 2011. The events in them apparently take place between what happens in Oblivion, and what happens in Skyrim. For the interested, more info on the novels can be found on the wiki I follow for my Skyrim playthroughs, here.
  • Bombshell, by Sarah MacLean. Romance. Grabbed this one because I’ve read a different historical romance series by this author and enjoyed it! And also, this review on Smart Bitches, even though they gave it a B-, made it sound fun.
  • The Luminous Dead, by Caitlin Starling. SF/Horror. Nabbed this because it went on sale for $1.99, and because I’ve seen good buzz about it. Taking a shot on it because it’s pitched as a gripping SF/horror story with a fairly fucked-up level of interaction between the two female protagonists.
  • The Mysterious Affair at Styles, by Agatha Christie. Mystery. This is the first Hercule Poirot novel, which I’ve never read. Nabbed it because it was a new edition of the book, on sale for $2.99, and because I really like the cover St. Martin’s Press put on it. (You can see that cover here on the Kobo page for the ebook.)

Pre-ordered from Kobo:

  • Noor, by Nnedi Okorafor. SF. Got this because I’ve definitely enjoyed work by this author before. And buzz going around about this book made it sound like something I want to pick up.
  • The Thousand Eyes, by A.K. Larkwood. Fantasy. This is book 2 of the author’s Serpent Gates series. I really liked Book 1, The Unspoken Name, for splendid worldbuilding, a compelling F/F romance, and an orc heroine! Very much looking forward to this one.

Acquired from Amazon:

  • Bacchanal, by Veronica G. Henry. Depression-era historical fantasy/horror mix, with a story about a demonic carnival. (If this sounds interesting to you, note that this was an Amazon-only release, in case this is a dealbreaker for you purchasing it.)
  • Easy Pickings, by C.E. Murphy and Faith Hunter. Urban fantasy. This is crossover fic for the Walker Papers and Jane Yellowrock series, written by the authors themselves, in which they set up a scenario where their heroines can actually meet. Awesome. Sign me up!

60 for the year.

Fiddle practice log 10/5/2021

Time practiced

10 minutes

Scales practiced

  • One octave G
  • One octave D
  • One octave A
  • Two octave G
  • Two octave A

Arpeggios practiced

  • One octave G
  • One octave D
  • One octave A
  • Two octave G

Techniques practiced

  • Paying attention to keeping my elbow moving when coming down on string crossings
  • Singing my bow directions to myself to underscore which way I want to be bowing in a passage
  • Working on where to put slurs in a passage
  • Working on possible double stops in a passage

Tune practiced

Blarney Pilgrim just by itself, this time.

Commentary

The most interesting thing about today’s practice was reviewing Blarney Pilgrim, and two overall things about that:

  1. Trying to figure out where to put the slurs I want in the B part
  2. Actually playing with double stops in the C part

And in regards to the second of these–the way the C part goes is that there’s this pair of triplets that starts off the phrase, A-D-D, B-D-D.

I often hear these triplets played as short, punchy notes, to give emphasis and drama to that part of the tune. And I thought: hey. Can I play double stops here? Because it’s mostly open strings, except for that B.

So I tried that, two different ways:

  1. Double stop landing on the A and B in both triplets
  2. Playing the A and B each as single strings, then doing double stops on the Ds

I think, but am not entirely sure, that I like the second way better. I gotta play with this more and see if I can do it reliably.

This is not the first time I’ve specifically figured out a place where I feel like I can do double stops in a tune–that actually goes back to me figuring out the tail end of how Bob Hallett in Great Big Sea comes out of Salmon Tails Up the Water, when they play that tune as a bridge for Jolly Butcher.

However, it feels notable here. Because this is part of regular practice and investigation of how to make a tune sound cooler, and I’m starting to feel like I’m beginning to get the tools and understanding necessary to actually do that.

Fiddle practice log 10/4/2021

Time practiced

10 minutes

Scales practiced

  • One octave A, without slurs
  • One octave D, without slurs
  • One octave G, without slurs
  • One octave A, with slurs
  • One octave D, with slurs
  • One octave G, with slurs

Arpeggios practiced

  • One octave A
  • One octave D
  • One octave G

Techniques practiced

  • Mindfulness of elbow position when doing string crossings
  • Mindfulness of finger positions, trying to keep a relaxed finger curve and not straightening up my fingers every time I change notes
  • Keeping my fingers in that relaxed curved position when changing strings
  • A little bit of left hand rehearsal when working with the B part of Feller from Fortune
  • More strategic placement of slurs to improve tune flow and ease the changing of bow directions

Tunes practiced

  • Blarney Pilgrim
  • Feller from Fortune

Commentary

Bit of a shaky practice, but I’m coming out of last week being stupid work-wise, and a weekend where I had to do additional day job work as well. So I wasn’t as on top of things in this practice as I’d like.

But this is a situation where it’s just helpful to take a step back and remind myself that it’s okay if I play something incorrectly, I just need to be a little more patient if I’m tired and/or stressed, and think my way carefully through what might have caused me to make a mistake. And at the same time, to not work the problem too hard. On the grounds that if I keep trying the same thing while I’m tired, if I keep playing it wrong that’d make me learn how to do it wrong rather than how to do it right.

In other words, don’t be too hard on myself if a practice goes badly. Don’t push it, me!

So even though my practice today was a bit of a mess, I got in my ten minutes. We’ll see what tomorrow brings!

Fiddle practice log 10/1/2021

Time practiced

10 minutes

Scales practiced

  • One octave G
  • One octave D
  • One octave A
  • Two octave G
  • Two octave A

Arpeggios practiced

  • One octave G
  • One octave D
  • One octave A
  • Two octave G

Techniques practiced

  • Being mindful of where I’m going to put my fingers before they land
  • Left hand rehearsal of tune fragments
  • Double stops, using “upper, lower, both” pattern of strings
  • Placing slurs in appropriate parts of tune fragments

Tunes practiced

  • A part of Blarney Pilgrim
  • A and B part of Feller from Fortune

Commentary

I’ve reminded myself of this before and I need to do so again: when doing double-stops, the angle changes necessary to hit both strings at once are smaller than I think they should be.

And with both the tunes I played around with today, I feel like I’m getting more of a handle on strategic placing of slurs. Which also helps me make a tune just flow better in general.

With Feller from Fortune, I was able to more or less stagger my way through both the A and B part. But not all the way smoothly. More practice!