Categories
Media Consumption

The latest in etcetera with occasional SHOUTYCAPS

 

A little of everything in this last go-round.

Books

One Last Quest M. A. Ray. I bought this short on Amazon and gobbled it down that evening, but it’s also being released as a serial on menyoral.com so I’ve been  re-visiting it there. Because it’s that good. If you have not yet ventured to the world of Rothganar, make plans now. (I really need to get better about listing the indie ebooks I read along with the print ones. Memory like a steel sieve, that’s what I have.)

Nature’s God Matthew Stewart.  Chewed through it. Dense, immense, packed with mind-blowing historical and philosophical material.

The Royal Sentinel L Davidson. It’s the sequel to the Redwood Rebel, which I reviewed on this blog ages ago. (obligatory link here)  Royal Sentinel being released as a serial too. Follow it on the author’s blog or on Wattpad.

The latest in fluff: Lady Claire Is All That Maya Rodale, The Trouble With Dukes & The Heir Grace Burrowes

Side note: I logged a bunch  o’ books into Goodreads. (go, organization!) I’m at 60% of last year’s total already, and the year isn’t half done.  (35 books to last year’s total of 50, for the numbers people.) Kinda highlighted for me  how bad last year truly was. And how much time I was wasting on channel-surfing the internet.  I mean, I knew, but…yeah. Doing more feels better. Yay.

TV & Movies

Moana. Loved it. LOVED IT. So many quotable lines. I didn’t even mind the songs. The song Shiny is a fabulous David Bowie homage. And Maui at one point says, “If you start singing, I’m going to throw up.”

Inferno. Based on a not-so-good Dan Brown novel. (like most Dan Brown novels, the plot pivots on a premise so flawed I cannot stomach the rest of it.)  The movie? BADDER. SO BAD.

Ben-Hur: The Remake. AKA Ben-Hur the Cliff’s Notes edition with God voiceover, Ben-Hur the Pretty People version, Ben-Hur re-imagined by committee…  It was horrible. The plot is less historically accurate, less theologically accurate, AND less true to the original book than the Charlton Heston movie, a feat I didn’t think possible.

Still watching Grand Tour with Spouseman. Episode 4 is the big winner so far. Silly, silly, fun. And Jeremy Clarkson admitted that Porsches are fantastic. So there.

Detours

Spent a half-day off on a celebratory “Woo-hoo, Spouseman is done with radiation treatment” trip to the botanic garden. Results: many pretty pictures, fresh air, exercise and actual appetite, and (later)  wipeout exhaustion. Deli overload celebration meal was also a success. I took zero food pictures, and the leftovers made for delicious lunches and dinners.

Food!

Spring means I start eating pickles with everything. I don’t know why.  I crave pickles and fresh mushrooms too, actually. Luckily Makes me glad almost any veggie can be quick-pickled (except greens. I would not recommend pickled kale. Or spinach.) ANYway. Green beans, peas, corn niblets, red peppers…all of ’em go in the fridge jar.

Scones.  I have made so many different kinds of scones lately. So. Many.  Why haven’t I made chocolate chip cherry ones yet?  That will have to happen soon. <cue music>

GARDENING!

How I celebrate that it’s almost Real Spring: I bought my summer bulbs. Dahlias and gladiolas, mostly.  I know I could dig up glads and the dahlias in the fall and overwinter them, but…I never do. I picked up a big bag of mixed Asian lilies this year too. It’s time to bump up the color variety. They come back every year, but every year more and more of them are orange. I thought I might be mis-remembering, but no. I checked old photos. Yellows and pinks and white. Last year. ORANGE EVERYWHERE. This year I am going for a bit more variety.

And that’s a wrap.

Not tired of my words yet? You could always buy something I wrote. Check out this page to judge all my books by their covers. Or head straight to Amazon, if that’s your preference.

 

 

Categories
Book reviews Media Consumption

The most recent ramblings of me

I’ve been busier creating more than consuming of late, and I’ve also taken some tedious life detours, but here’s the latest “what I’ve been enjoying” scoop.

Readings

1636 Chronicles of Dr. Gribbleflotz: Kerryn Offord & Rick Boatright. Fun, lighthearted alternate history sf/fantasy.  It’s an installment in the Ring of Fire bookset. (21 novels, 7 anthologies and going strong.) That is both an asset and a drawback. Good: It’s a familiar world, yet it is so thoroughly filled with unique characters that nothing ever feels like a retread. Bad: There are so many intersecting plots that it’s easy to lose track of all the tangential characters who get mentioned. And it’s just…there.

Wild Harmonic: Beth Patterson.  Great setting, clever concept, urban fantasy that feels urban AND fantastic. Good, solid fun read.  Reminded me a little of War for the Oaks in that it’s all about musicians and hidden worlds, but it’s also nothing like WFtO, and I was immensely pleased that it captured the feel of New Orleans as I’ve experienced it instead of going all cliche smoky-sugary-angsty vampire-packed like certain other NOLA-based series do. I liked it so much that I barely minded it using present tense.  And I do not get along with present tense at all. Nope.

I’m including a purchase link with because it’s also a brand new book by an author I know, that isn’t available in most bookstores (REMEMBER TO ASK YOUR LIBRARY TO BUY IT) and well, you know how I am about pushing things I like. Here you go: BUY LINK.

Once Broken Faith (and more) Seanan McGuire. More urban fantasy. All fae, all the time.  I started this series with book 1 and I love the way it’s developed. This is the the latest, and I embarked upon a re-read. I think the plot doesn’t hit its stride until book 3 or 4, much like the Dresden novels, and like those, I enjoy a periodic visit down memory lane.  I’m into the third book again.

Viewings both TV and Movies

Supergirl continues. Season 2 moved to the CW, and I still like it.

Frequency. New series based on the same concept as the movie from 2000. (Cross-time ham radio communication between parent & child.) Was recommended to me by someone who knows my dislike for time travel, so I risked the pilot. Glad I did.  Four episodes in, it’s atmospheric, dramatic, polished and well-acted.

Designated Survivor got booted off the viewing list. They put in five good episodes before pulling out the flags, regressive ideas and dog whistles, but they did, and now I’m out.

Veronica Mars. The Movie. It did a good job of capturing the feel of the television series, the story was engaging, and I enjoyd it. There is something to be said for fan service, and this movie did it well.

Locke. I don’t remember why I ordered this movie from Netflix even after viewing it. Tom Hardy may have entered into the decision process.  It was an interesting exercise in storytelling through conversation, it was a phenomenal character piece…and it all takes place in a car, driving at night. Hrrrrrrm.

Silver Chalice. Paul Newman. This oldie was showing late-night on a commercial free channel. I hadn’t seen it in 40 years and decided what the hell. Good choice? I dunno. Perfect for the time, but I in pain on pain meds. It was as awful, stilted, and trippy this time around as when I was young and didn’t know how bad bad could get.  It’s like a sword & sandals New Testament epic interpreted by someone taking LSD.  So weird. SO BAD.

Big Screen:

Dr Strange. Cumberbatch + cape + special effects+ fabulous cast = excellence. Wong the librarian is glorious, and Tilda Swinton as the Ancient One…well. I can’t think of a movie she’s in where I haven’t adored her.  (Yes, even the awful Constantine movie. She was phenomenal in that, and she’s delightful in Dr. Strange.)  ANYway. It was good. I’ll see it again. I’ll own it. And when Thor 3 comes out, I might have slightly higher than bargain basement hopes for it, since it appears it will star, Thor, Loki AND Dr. Strange. (swoon)

That’s all in the “taking things in” category.

Kitchen magic:  Made apple crisp and applesauce and only burned some of it. Used up old frozen bananas and stale beer to make delicious banana beer bread, proving bad ingredients can make tasty results. Laid in the first of the frozen winter cookie doughs. PErfected my salsa/rice/chicken lazy bake. And last week all my food energies went into making puddings, jelloes and experimental mashed potato varieties, courtesy of oral surgery recovery.

For those keeping score, I like strawberry jello and red raspberry but not black raspberry–and never lime or orange–and the pudding has to be the kind that gets cooked in  pot and chilled. Vanilla is best. Seriously. Baked sweet potatoes mash super well in a bowl with butter, salt and onion powder, but mashed white potatoes are better if they’re boiled, drained and whipped together  with cheddar cheeses, milk  (and butter. Because butter is the secret of life.)

Dirt therapy: SPOUSEMAN AND I GOT OUR FALL BULBS PLANTED RIGHT! I wouldn’t be all shouty-caps excited except that last year I…didn’t. Spouseman buys some every year as a little treat to our spring selves, and we plant them together. Last autumn nothing was fun and life fell on our heads and I ended up shoving bulbs into the ground like a manic squirrel around Thanksgiving so I could stop feeling guilty about spending the money. It worked out, the bulbs all came up, but the experience was neither relaxing nor healthy.  This year, there was a day of sunshine and digging and much satisfied soreness the next day. Huzzah.

And that’s all the all there is right now.



Obligatory regular reminder: I write books that can be bought with money all over the interwebs. NOT ONLY ON AMAZON! Here is a handy link:

https://books2read.com/ap/xqvlwR/K-M-Herkes

And I shouldn’t leave out Amazon because books are exclusively available there: author.to/kmherkes

Audible.com even has audio editions of some books. You can buy them direct on Amazon or iBooks too.

 

 

Categories
1. Storysculpting Book reviews Detours Media Consumption Writing Life

Black and Blue & Busy All Over

Busy times in the last little while. Lots of randomness and many life detours.

First, the reading. 

Raising Caine  Charles E Gannon. The third of three books in a series. The ending makes clear there will be more. (Not a cliffhanger. More like a traditional television season ending.)  Still enjoyable, but still very much hard SF.  This one read faster than the other two, as I’d reacquainted myself with the chewy, sticky style and started compensating.

A Scot In the Dark Sarah MacLean. Fluffy, fluffy historical romance. Some consent issues, unusual from this author.

Summer Is For Lovers Jennifer McQuiston. Quite fun. Took place in Brighton, which gets terribly neglected in most British historicals, it revolved around a swimming competition and had some interesting social commentary.

Jumper’s Hope Carol Van Natta. Special mention for this one. I got a sneak peak at this upcoming SF novel as a beta reader.  It is a super-shiny awesome space opera, and it releases later this fall. If you want to catch up on the series first, click the author’s name above to be magically transported to her web page.

Watching. The usual. Television and movies.

Supergirl. This one was hard to watch with Spouseman around, as he has zero tolerance for superpower tropes and stilted dialogue. I enjoy the heck out of it, so I chased the snarky comment generator off to play Elder Scrolls elsewhere. I gave up on Flash because TIME TRAVEL UGH, and on Green Arrow because ANGST UGH, but this series–season one, at least–is treading that fine path between camp silliness and serious dramatic development. All the recommends.

Trumbo. A movie about political fear-mongering and strife destroying lives?  Lots of resonance with current events, sadly.  Not an easy watch but an excellent one, and I can see why Bryan Cranston was nominated for an Oscar. He was brilliant.

Extraction. I had to bring it home. I will watch any Bruce Willis movie without shame. I will not pay to watch them, and this movie is a good example of why. It’s only been a week and I could not begin to tell you the plot. Generic action thriller. I think there was a kidnapping? And some villains. Not recommended.

Ghostbusters. The extended edition has MUCH MORE CHRIS HEMSWORTH DANCING. There were also a couple of scenes that make the continuity flow better. I can see why much of it was cut. The pacing for an action movie is so delicate. It would have been too long in the theater. At home on the couch? Delightful.

All the other random happenings.  I have to record them somewhere because I forget everything without written proof. 

  1. Found out I get to spend an arm and a leg getting rid of a tooth that wants to dissolve my jawbone. Thank heavens for installment plans. Oral surgery next week.
  2. Played human signpost for four hours in the freezing dark on a pumpkin walk. Loved every minute. (Pics at the end of the post)
  3. Got sick but got better, hurt myself doing everyday things but am healing okay, maintaining nominal function in all limbs and organs.
  4. Renewed the website package for a year. Might be pointless, but as a good poet says, best to keep a window open. Some goodly people made a point of mentioning they understood and shared the frustration.  Others offered warm cuddlies and reviews. The last feather feather that tipped the scales: a video I’ll call  Benedict Cumberbatch Reads A Letter. Some NSFW language. Much inspiration.
  5. Finished the final revisions on Flight Plan’s second edition and got the new cover  back. Should have the ebook editions finished by the end of the week. Better four months late than never, right? RIGHT?! Right.
  6. Caught up on other writing obligations and stuffed a beta read into the work hours. SO WORTH IT. Always great when a work read is enjoyable too.
  7. Rediscovered the fun of beer breads. Banana beer bread. Savory cheese beer bread.  Chocolate chip zucchini beer bread. Lots of tastiness.
  8. Scheduled fall yard cleanup with the landscape crew who do my heavy lifting these days. (see point 3 for why I’m not doing it for myself.)  If you want two yucca plants or three Rose of Sharon saplings, mine are free to good homes until Nov 15, and then they’re gone-gone-gone.
  9. Took a city day trip for the first time in ages. Visited the Shedd Aquarium (for the first time in ages.)

The pumpkins from the Night of 1000 Jack O’ Lanterns event were gorgeous, so I’m sharing a few even though my photography is not so good.

And I’m showing off my new book cover. Thanks to Nicole Grandinetti for taking my odd ideas and bad pics and fusing them into shininess. 

And penguins for no reason. (They’re molting, thus the cloaks and mohawks)

 

Categories
3. Other Things Media Consumption

Hibernation Fun

The week was dreary and rainy and cool, so indoor work & play took precedence over most other things. Here be the entertainments of the moment:

Books:

Lady Bridget’s Diary, Maya Rodale. Cottony, fluffy, and brain-free.

Trial by Fire by Dr. Charles E. Gannon, who I met through Wordfire Press booth at WorldCon. Conversing with him about Science Things and Culture Stuff was one of the many high points of my con. So far the book is the high point of my wee, and I have two more to enjoy after it.

Television:

The Miss Fisher Mysteries. The 20’s costumes! The 20’s sets! The snappy dialogue! The smoldering tension between Miss Fisher and Inspector Robinson! The locations I recognized! Social Commentary! ALL-CAPS SWOONING EXCITEMENT.
Ahem. High recommend, unless you’re looking for convoluted mysteries. These are all classic character-driven whodunnits with locked rooms, evil villains & dramatic reveals.

Marvel’s Luke Cage (as opposed to someone else’s Luke Cage? I dunno.)  Base impression: gritty noir. The violence was bloody, on a par with Daredevil.  The story had glorious depth and was filled to the brim with delights. (The music. Oh! The music was purely wonderful.)
I could ask for villains who don’t quote scripture as they commit cold-hearted, evil acts, and I could wish for less anti-science bullshit, because those tropes are hella awful, but…but…could not ask for a better hero. BULLETPROOF BLACK MAN IN A HOODIE.

They totally had me there. Toss in a muchly-female-cast of unique and identifiable characters, all presented without forced  “Why They’re Female” backstories,  add smashing good writing and acting, and  I’m willing to swallow the bitter annoyance  of the “scientists” who spout off idiotic canards, misconceptions, and moronic gibberish ten minutes with Google could have prevented.

I’ll swallow it, but it still tastes disgusting. Equating scientific method with unthinking devotion to rules and procedures is as dangerous as it is fallacious.  You want more anti-vaxxers and flat-earthers? Because this is how you get anti-vaxxers and flat earthers.
(why yes, this is a red-button temper topic for me. What tipped you off?)

Movies:

Noah. Heh. Hrrrgggle. Heeheeheeheeheehee. So badness. Such wrong. Swords and sandals epic meets 21st century action aesthetic with a generous CGI budget. I had to watch it because Russell Crowe, but even his pugnacious scowl couldn’t keep me from giggling.

All the Rest of the Stuff

  • Gave this blog its first annual housecleaning (I erased 100+ random graphics I’d collected and never used, re-organized menus, went through tags and categories, did some planning, blah, blah, boring blah)
  • The usual Daily-Weekly-Monthly Commitments
  • Baked cookies, made applesauce, pork roast & cole slaw, wrote up a spice purchasing wish-list, and generally had fun in my kitchen.
  • Scheduled two book promotions and bought ad space with the year’s ebook “profits”
  • brought in rosemary pots for the winter and cut a bunch of peppermint to dry.
  • Polished up a bunch of draft posts  on writing/philosophy/advice/world-building. I have material scheduled twice a week nearly to the end of the year. Huzzah for authoring.

That’s all the sharables for now.

Categories
Authoring Whimsy Writing Life

The Good, The Bad, & The Amazing.

I’m in a list mood, so here’s this week in boring ol’ me things.  I’ll let you decide which categories apply to each point.

  • A fellow volunteer at Butterflies & Blooms  recommended my writing to another volunteer. That person make it a point to say they couldn’t put Extraordinary down.
  • Fun times with friends both days last weekend. So social. Such muchness.
  • The Prodigals beta-reader notes and overviews are in.  No one ran away screaming,  hit the squick-reject button or whispered, “maybe don’t show this to anyone.” So, it’s on schedule to be editor-ready by Labor Day.
  • The weather was beautiful for spending an expanded Thursday at the Chicago Botanic Garden. Butterflies & Blooms was fun and fluttery all morning, and the afternoon spent outdoors with the laptop was fruitful and productive.
My view Thursday afternoon.
  • I forgot my lunch.
  • Thursday dinner with butterfly crew past and present was spectacular and reminded me that being with people is worth the effort even when it’s exhausting.
  • I’ve corresponded with four five people by email this week and not dropped a single conversation through anxiety-avoidance yet.
  • Spouseman isn’t healing as well as expected, and he has to get more tests and evaluations. So there’s worry and fear. And waiting.
  • He admitted a problem to me and called the doctor with only minimal urging instead of waiting silently for things to get critically bad. That’s HUGE progress. So there’s relief and pride too. Go, us!
  • Someone’s reading my novellas through Kindle Unlimited. That’ll never get old.
  • My cover artist for Weaving In The Ends is fantastic and patient and accommodating, and IT’S GOING TO BE A REAL BOOK SOON!
  • I read three books and watched almost no TV.
  • Facebook’s sneaky time-suck tentacles have been pruned back again.
  • Traffic has been weird, scary, and stressful every day all week.
  • I want to invest in my own ISBNs. Double-downside: it’s a  financial slam, plus  assigning them to existing things that don’t yet have ISBNs will be a ton of extra hassle and work.
  • The new movie edition of Tarzan comes out this weekend.
  • It’s CHERRY SEASON!

Later I’ll go over my failure to complete the June Plans list. But for now? Dinner and foods.