Saturday, December 31, 2011

100 Books Challenge 2011 - Failure

I well and truly failed at reading a hundred books this past year. Just totalled up the list and it turns out, I only managed to read 59 books. Need to try and do better for next year.

I am signing up again though.

Saturday Snapshot - December 31

Saturday Snapshots is a fun little photography meme hosted by Alyce of At Home With Books.

Felt like I needed a bit of sunshine today, it's been so grey and wet. This is another one out of my collection of flower photos. I think it's some kind of iris.

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Kobo Vox Installing Overdrive and Borrowing Library Books

Edited in response to a question in the comments as of January 2, 2012

Like the Kobo WiFi and the Kobo Touch, you can read library books on the Kobo Vox. It's just done somewhat differently. Where with the previous Kobo e-readers, you would download the book to your computer and then load it onto the e-reader through Adobe Digital Editions, with the Vox you have to download an app.

Here's the up-side though, Overdrive, the makers of the app have it linked from their website, bypassing the Android Marketplace completely. Thus, it's a breeze to download to the Kobo Vox and install.

I googled Overdrive, then found on their site the Overdrive Media Console, selected the operating system (Android), chose to download it directly from them, and then agreed to the user agreement. From there, it took less than a minute to download.

To install, I've found that the best way is to bring down the notifications screen and then touch (I keep wanting to say "click") the file you've just downloaded. From there, follow the prompts.

The newly installed Overdrive Media Console app can be found under "All Apps".

Once you've opened Overdrive Media Console for the first time, the shelf will be empty except for the welcome option. You'll have to choose your libraries, which is one of the options you'll get in the menu from the button at the bottom of the screen. Go to "Get Books", and it will ask you to choose your libraries.

You can either use your postal code or browse for libraries. I tried the former and got told there were no results which I know is not true, as I've borrowed for my old Kobo before. So, I'm browsing to find libraries. It will bring it up by country. Narrow it down, until you find your libraries in the list. Save the library, and start browsing or searching.

Once you've found a book you want, add it to your cart and either keep searching for more books or proceed to check-out. Apparently, you can have a maximum of five titles out at any one time.

The first step in the check-out is to choose the library that issued your library card from their drop-down menu. Then, you have to type in your library card number. I found that doing it with no spaces worked. Choose your checkout period and confirm the check-out. Hit download, and now discover a quirk you didn't know about. You need to have an Adobe ID to use the book. Easy enough to get, and you might already have one.

The books you borrow will be stored and accessed within the Overdrive Media Console.

If you've checked out books on your computer, you can still get them onto the Kobo Vox:

First go to the "Get Books" option in the menu. Select the library you checked the book out from and go to the "My Digital Account" option.

Log in.

Go to the My Bookshelf option and from there you can download the books you've checked out.

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Kobo Vox Further Impressions

I've had my Kobo Vox for a little over a week now and I'm still loving it for reading.

No, the backlit screen isn't quite as easy to read on as the e-ink of the Touch or Wi-Fi models, but it's not bad at all glare-wise, and in the evening it's actually kind of neat - I've taken to reading while waiting for my ride after work and things when I'm standing outside.

Pages turn really easily (occasionally too easily as I accidentally turn two pages once in a while), and books load quickly. That is, when I don't have one of the Live Wallpapers activated. Those are incredibly neat, and the ones that come with the Kobo don't slow it down any at all. The one that I found and downloaded on the other hand, it slowed things down quite a bit, enough that I reverted back to the static images.

For browsing the web, you've just got to get used to the mobile versions of the websites. Something that's not bothering me much, I have to say. It's really handy though, having access to my e-mail all of the time. Just have to figure out better how to use the Vox for typing up blog posts and the like for it to be even more perfect.

I love the ability to highlight and make notes (and then to be able to jump back to them in an instant). That's going to make finding quotes and things a breeze for book reviews.

Not having access to the Android Marketplace on the other hand is proving to be frustrating! Nearly every site that says it has an Android app you can use has it linked to the marketplace so I can't download it. On the other hand, I'm not that familiar with the Android system yet, so I haven't really tried all of the tricks out there to get them in other ways (or any of the tricks really, although I've seen a couple of tutorials).

Overdrive, the way to access the libraries, at least in Canada, though does have the app in a way you can download it straight from their site. That's something I've got to try in the near future, though that might end up being after Christmas.

Loading on non-Kobo e-books is a snap! If you have a micro-sd card and adaptor that is. I just copied them onto there and then once the card was inserted, imported the books into the Kobo Library, where they show up in the list just like any other book. And highlighting and note-taking both work fine in non-Kobo Epubs as well.

Music seems to stay on the SD card, although both photos and e-books seem to be imported right onto the Kobo. At least I'm sure of that with the e-pubs, but not quite so sure for photos (need to try things with them before I can say for sure). I also need to do some experimenting with playing video on the Kobo. I've heard a few too many contradicting things to really know what works and what doesn't.

My biggest gripe is with the charging cable that comes with the Kobo Vox. Because the battery life is so short, I tend to charge it quite regularly, and when sitting at my desk, the cable is just barely long enough to reach me from beside the desk. I think it's only a 3 foot wire - which also leaves me limited in where I can put the Kobo while I'm charging it. Guess I'm going to have to daisy-chain an extension cord or two in the near future.

Still, I'm loving the experience, even though I'm grumbling a bit here.

Monday, December 19, 2011

It's Monday! What Are You Reading? - December 19 (& Book Buying)

It's Monday! What Are You Reading? is hosted each week over at One Person's Journey Through A World Of Books. Thanks for trying to keep us all on track each week.

Last week I finished reading:
Gwenhwyfar: The White Spirit by Mercedes Lackey. Fantasy, Fiction. Mercedes Lackey's version of the Arthurian story and the Matter of Britain. Definitely a good read.

Writing Horses: The Fine Art of Getting It Right by Judith Tarr. Non Fiction. Quite a useful resource, whether you know horses or not, and it's written in a wonderfully readable form.

I'm currently reading:
Empire From The Ashes by David Weber. Fiction, Science Fiction. An omnibus book containing Mutineer's Moon, The Armageddon Inheritance and Heirs of Empire. I've read it before, and enjoyed it last time too.

Ancient Greece by Sarah B. Pomeroy et al. Non Fiction, History. One of my former textbooks, but it's turning out to be a good read on it's own too.

Ring Of Words: Tolkien And The Oxford English Dictionary by Peter Gilliver, Jeremy Marshall and Edmund Weiner. Non Fiction. This is kind of weird. I thought I knew what this book was going to be about, but it's turning out to be something completely different. Still interesting - perhaps even more interesting for all of that. I'd thought it was going to be a more detailed biography of Tolkien's years during which he was working on the OED, but instead it's turned out to be about the words he edited. Add to that all kinds of details about the languages that he invented.

As usual, I don't really know what I'm going to be reading next, but it's a fair guess that The Art of The Hobbit is going to be in there somewhere.

I've also done a fair bit of book-buying over the weekend (and one book that came in the mail):
The book that came in the mail was
By Fire, By Water 
Mitchell James Kaplan.
The product description:
Luis de Santángel, chancellor to the court and longtime friend of the lusty King Ferdinand, has had enough of the Spanish Inquisition. As the power of Inquisitor General Tomás de Torquemada grows, so does the brutality of the Spanish church and the suspicion and paranoia it inspires. When a dear friend’s demise brings the violence close to home, Santángel is enraged and takes retribution into his own hands.  But he is from a family of conversos, and his Jewish heritage makes him an easy target. As Santángel witnesses the horrific persecution of his loved ones, he begins slowly to reconnect with the Jewish faith his family left behind. Feeding his curiosity about his past is his growing love for Judith Migdal, a clever and beautiful Jewish woman navigating the mounting tensions in Granada. While he struggles to decide what his reputation is worth and what he can sacrifice, one man offers him a chance he thought he’d lost…the chance to hope for a better world. Christopher Columbus has plans to discover a route to paradise, and only Luis de Santángel can help him.
   Within the dramatic story lies a subtle, insightful examination of the crisis of faith at the heart of the Spanish Inquisition. Irresolvable conflict rages within the conversos in By Fire, By Water, torn between the religion they left behind and the conversion meant to ensure their safety. In this story of love, God, faith, and torture, fifteenth-century Spain comes to dazzling, engrossing life.
 The other books I bought were:
Kings of the North by Elizabeth Moon. I read the book when it first came out earlier this year, but didn't buy it until now.

The Art Of The Hobbit by J.R.R. Tolkien, Christina Scull and Wayne G. Hammond. An examination and display of all the art that Tolkien created for The Hobbit while he was writing it. Really looking forward to reading this one.

Dragon Art by Graeme Aymer. Not sure if this one will ever get read actually, it's more of an art book.

Ghost On The Throne by James Romm. Non fiction, History. A book on the aftermath of Alexander's death and how his empire was broken up. Looks really interesting.

Saturday, December 17, 2011

Saturday Snapshot - December 17

Saturday Snapshots is a meme hosted by Alyce of At Home With Books. It's also the only non-book/reading related meme that I participate in regularly. I find that rather fun, to be able to go into another of my hobbies once in a while regularly.

This week's photo is another oldie if I'm remembering things rightly. I'm actually not even sure what kind of flower the photo is of. It was just absolutely spectacular. The one thing I'm absolutely sure of is that said flower was not in my garden.

Friday, December 16, 2011

Writing Horses: The Fine Art Of Getting It Right - Judith Tarr

Writing Horses - The Fine Art Of Getting It Right
Judith Tarr
Book View Cafe
Copyright: November 2010

The product description:
How far can a horse travel in a day? What does a horse eat? When is a brown horse really a sorrel (or a bay, or a dun)? What do tack and withers and canter mean?

In this long-awaited and much-requested book based on her "Horseblog" at Book View Café, author and horse breeder Judith Tarr answers these questions and many more. She looks at horses from the perspective of the writer whose book or story needs them as anything from basic transport to major plot device, and provides definitions, explanations, and links and references for further research--leavened with insight into the world of the horse and the humans who both use and serve him.

How fast can a horse run? What happens when a foal is born? How have humans and horses evolved together over the millennia? And above all, what mistakes do writers most often make when writing about horses, and how can the educated writer avoid them?

Here is a guide to the fine art of getting it right. 
I first read and reviewed Judith Tarr's guide to writing about horses back in February. Back then, I enjoyed the read on my e-ink Kobo E-reader. This time I was reading on the Kobo Vox, the new tablet style colour e-reader. Partly because of the surprise I had when I opened the book out of curiosity, I have to admit. This wasn't on my planned reading list at all. I'd just thought "I wonder", and decided to see if the images were in colour or not. They were, and at the same time, I found that the humour in the writing was even more apparent.

Not only that, but the little tidbits of information I didn't have, but would find useful as a writer were also more numerous than I remembered. Maybe it was the addition of the ability to highlight passages that made me keep an eye out for them more. All sorts of things that aren't always there in the riding manuals - genetics of which colours certain breeds don't have, for example and what kinds of personality traits are more suited for certain kinds of tasks - war horses etc.

And, there's several sections on how certain kinds of stables are run - breeders etc. That kind of thing is just not there if I'm remembering rightly the books I have. All of that, plus suggestions of how to write certain kinds of things - possible plot ideas to interwork, how things would be done in a lower technology society etc, are all very useful.

As I noted in my last review, the fact that my e-reader doesn't cope with links is rather frustrating with this book - it's littered with links to sites for specific breed registries, podcasts on various horse-related subjects etc, and I can't even mark down the url to go look from my computer because it's not listed anywhere. That, honestly, is my biggest gripe with Writing Horses: The Fine Art Of Getting It Right.

It's certainly an enjoyable and thought-provoking read though.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Gwenhwyfar: The White Spirit - Mercedes Lackey

Gwenhwyfar: The White Spirit
Mercedes Lackey
DAW Books
Copyright Date: 2009

The blurb:

Gwenhwyfar moves in a world where gods walk among their pagan worshippers, where nebulous visions warn of future perils, and where there are two paths for a woman: the path of the Blessing or the rarer path of the Warrior. Gwenhwyfar chooses the latter, giving up the power that she is born into. Yet the daughter of a King is never truly free to follow her own calling. Acting as the "son" her father never had, when called upon to serve another purpose by the Ladies of the Well, she bows to circumstances to become Arthur's queen-only to find herself facing temptation and treachery, intrigue and betrayal, but also love and redemption... 
I read Gwenhwyfar: the White Spirit back when it first came out in 2009, enjoying it greatly as my previous review shows. Going over that review right now, it feels as though it hit all the high points of my feelings this time too.

Otherwise, what really struck me was the combination of similarities and differences to Marion Zimmer Bradley's novel The Mists of Avalon. In Bradley's book, Morgaine is the main character of the story and is "good", whereas in this book, she is one of the villains of the story - her more traditional role. In part, it was something of a reminder just how differently done The Mists of Avalon is to most Arthurian literature.

This re-read was inspired by reading Anne McCaffrey's Arthurian novel Black Horses For The King.

Kobo Vox Impressions - 2nd Day

2nd day impressions:
Up until about six thirty tonight the Kobo Vox was more or less perfect in it's behaviour. Reading was smooth, the highlighting was easy to do - and I had a really neat unrelated surprise. Well, more or less unrelated. There's an e-book I was given to review, Writing Horses: The Fine Art of Getting It Right by Judith Tarr, that I read back in February on the Kobo Wi-Fi. At the time I'd rather wondered why the file was about 14 megs. However, I just figured it was because there were a lot of images. I opened it on the Kobo Vox this morning and had a wonderful surprise: All of those images I'd assumed were in black and white because the e-readers were turned out to be in full, glorious colour.

So, I read and highlighted away all day, having fun with the various settings. I figured out how to change the desktop image, and there are some absolutely beautiful ones that come with the Vox. Personally, I'm finding that the static beach scenes are the nicest, although there are also some really neat images which also contain movement - water rippling or colours changing, or even a rotating galaxy for example.

Got home and turned on my Vox, expecting it to work properly. After all, it had all day. Instead, I found myself with a bit of a problem.
Connection issue: Kobo can't start right now because of a problem connecting to the Kobo server. Please try again in a little while.
Now, I'm still not sure what the Kobo thought it was doing. You don't need to be connected to the wi-fi to be able to read. The books are stored on the device itself, but that message came up every time I tried to load the store, a book (both Kobo and non-Kobo) or the library itself. Tried re-starting - no luck. Tried removing the micro-SD card I'd left in from last night. Didn't change anything. Tried changing various settings with no success either. And, just in case, right at the beginning, I made sure that I was connected to the wi-fi. Browsed the internet, twitter etc with no problems.

Ended up resorting to searching Google for a solution to the problem. Two different messageboards suggested doing a factory re-set, which seems to have fixed the problem - along with removing all my books and other things of course. I found that this one had the clearest instructions. After going through that and redoing the initial set-up, I'm now waiting for all my Kobo books to re-download. After that, I have to re-import my non-Kobo books, although I think I might add a few more of them this time.

At this time, I'm also working out how to add music to my Vox, more or less by following the instructions in the user guide. Also in the near future, I need to figure out how to get Overdrive and access to library books. I've been told that the device can do that - but I need to try it for myself. Just hope I can find some library books I actually want to read this time around. That's why I didn't use that option much to date with my other Kobo E-reader.

Despite this issue, I'm still quite happy with my Kobo Vox and am not about to give up on it yet  (or at all)

Kobo Vox Setup and First Impressions

Testing out the Kobo Vox e-reader/tablet for the first time. So far, I'm really liking it, although all I've really done so far is the setup and some poking around.

Initial setup:
On the first attempt, the set up process got stuck in a loop at the video clip. Touching the "Get Started" button restarted the video clip as did touching anywhere else on the screen. Restarting the Vox got the setup process going again without any problems. Updates applied themselves quickly - 8 minutes give or take.

After the firmware update it went back to the first screen of the start-up and asked me to "get started" again. No problems it seems. Went to the "Connect" screen and the reader connected to the right network automatically. Asked me to check for updates again and then went to the "Date and Time" screen. Just choose your time-zone. The Vox does the rest.

The next step is to either create a Kobo Account or sign in with your existing account, although you also have the option of signing in with your Facebook account.

Once this is done, then the setup is complete and your books will download.

Beyond that, I'm finding that the keyboard works well for typing although arrow keys would be nice for making corrections, and for navigating around within the post.

Honestly, at this point I'm not familiar enough with the keyboard on the tablet to fully try to type a whole post there.

As to reading on the Vox, it's not the same as with the e-ink screen of either the Wi-Fi or the Touch models, but I like it. Page turning is quick and the text is crisp and clear. Admittedly though, this is only my experience with the books for the earlier Kobos. I have yet to try any of the books that are designed specifically for the Kobo Vox.

Monday, December 12, 2011

It's Monday! What Are You Reading? - December 12

It's Monday! What Are You Reading? is hosted each week over at One Person's Journey Through A World Of Books. Thanks Sheila for trying to keep us all on track with our reading.

It's been a decent week for reading this past week.
I finished reading:
The Rowan by Anne McCaffrey. Fiction, Science Fiction. More or less a science fiction novel that has a lot of romance to it, this is a book that's a classic in my opinion.

Under The Vale edited by Mercedes Lackey. Fantasy, Fiction, Anthology. The latest book of short stories set in the world of Valdemar. Some of the authors include Tanya Huff and Elizabeth Waters, as well as Fiona Patton, Larry Dixon and Mercedes Lackey herself.

I'm currently reading:
Gwenhwyfar by Mercedes Lackey. Fantasy, Fiction. I've read this book before, back when it first came out. The story is an Arthurian based one, and I'm really noticing similarities to Marion Zimmer Bradley's The Mists of Avalon this time around. I was inspired to read it by reading Black Horses For The King by Anne McCaffrey a couple of weeks ago. Nearly finished the read.

Ring Of Words: Tolkien And The Oxford English Dictionary by Peter Gilliver, Jeremy Marshall and Edmund Weiner. Non Fiction. This is kind of weird. I thought I knew what this book was going to be about, but it's turning out to be something completely different. Still interesting - perhaps even more interesting for all of that. I'd thought it was going to be a more detailed biography of Tolkien's years during which he was working on the OED, but instead it's turned out to be about the words he edited. Neat! Actually, I need to get back to this one.

Ancient Greece by Sarah B. Pomeroy, et al. Non Fiction, History. Actually this one was one of my college and university textbooks. Re-reading it now for various reasons.

Again, I don't really know what I'm going to be reading next.

Saturday, December 10, 2011

Under The Vale - Ed. Mercedes Lackey

Under The Vale
Ed. Mercedes Lackey
Daw Books
Copyright: Dec. 6, 2011

The back jacket description:
Valdemar's Heralds...
...are an ancient order. Chosen from all across the land, from all walks of life, and at all ages, these unusual individuals are Gifted with abilities beyond those of normal men and women. They are Mindspeakers, FarSeers, Empaths, ForeSeers, Firestarters, FarSpeakers, and more. Trained to be emissaries, spies, judges, diplomats, scouts, counsellors, and even warriors, their unique inborn talents make them indispensable to their monarch and their realm. Sought and Chosen by mysterious horselike Companions, they are bonded for life to these telepathic, enigmatic creatures. With their Companions, the Heralds of Valdemar ride circuit throughout the kingdom protecting the peace and, when necessary, defending their land and monarch.
Now, eighteen authors ride with Mercedes Lackey to her magical land of Valdemar, adding their own unique gifts to the Heralds, Bards, Healers, and other heroes of this well-loved fantasy realm.
Join Tanya Huff, Fiona Patton, Rosemary Edghill, Larry Dixon, Elizabeth Waters, Nancy Asire and others in seventeen original stories, including an all-new novella by Mercedes Lackey and Larry Dixon set in the magical land of Valdemar where:
A runaway orphan gets a chance for a new life in Haven...a human transformed into a magical creature struggles to reclaim his legal rights as a man...a Herald, blessed - or burdened - with a variant of the gift of Foresight that allows him to see through another person's eyes, witnesses an event so terrible that its memory is slowly killing him, and finds restoration in a very unexpected way.
Under the Vale is the annual anthology of Valdemar stories that comes out every December. I have to admit that I look forward to it every year and do my best to get my hands on it as soon as possible. Last year, with Finding The Way, that meant that I got it in e-book format, but this year I was able to get the paperback version.

With so many stories and authors, it's inevitable that there are going to be some that are my favourites, and I have to say, that a lot of the stories this year fit that category. I really liked Mercedes Lackey's story in this one - not always a given, I have to admit, given the story she wrote for Moving Targets. The twist she adds to this story just works really well. Elizabeth A. Vaughan's story In An Instant felt perfect too. The way she wrote the story - Queen Selenay's perspective on her new lifebond with Daren - felt like the characters as written by Mercedes Lackey.

Warp and Weft, by Kristen Schwengel (a name I don't recognize off the top of my head) is another story which peaked my interest, given my love of spinning. Not spinning in this story for the most part, but weaving, although there is a good side of spinning, but again, it worked within the world of Valdemar as Mercedes Lackey writes it.

As with previous anthologies, there are some continuing stories, two in particular: that of Ree, the hobgoblin in the Empire - two new stories here, both of which I really liked, and one set in the family of the Haven Watch. I like the continuity these bring to the books.

On the other hand, I missed reading Judith Tarr's story. She's had one in each of the previous several volumes, and I was hoping to see one here. I don't especially find that they fit within the magical structures of Valdemar as it's written, but I enjoy reading them anyway - one of the few places that Dressage features within stories.

Larry Dixon has added a fascinating essay - the first of it's kind in the Valdemar anthologies, but something I hope they continue adding to future volumes. This one was on how the Tayledras Vales are created and structured, both above and below ground - it's where the title for the book comes from, I think. Fascinating and detailed, and something I liked seeing, both as a fan of the series and to see how things work towards world-building - all of the details that the author has to figure out.

In my review of the last book, I lamented the loss of the introductions to the stories. This time, they're not there again, but there is a series of brief biographies of the various authors at the end of the book - not quite as entertaining, but there none the less.

Overall, this is definitely a fascinating read for any fan of the Valdemar series. I'd almost be willing to say that this is one of the best of the anthology collections to date, but it's been so long since I've read some of them that I can't say for sure. Definitely worth the money spent though.

Saturday Snapshot - December 10

Saturday Snapshot is a fun little meme hosted by Alyce of At Home With Books. I've gotten to really enjoy participating in this - it makes me go back through my photo collection to see what I've taken over the years.

This week's is one from the summer - I love trying to take pictures of birds in flight, but it's a lot more difficult than it seems.

The Rowan - Anne McCaffrey

The Rowan
Anne McCaffrey
Ace Publishing
Copyright: 1991

The product description:
The Rowan was destined to become the greatest Prime Talent in human history, facing a lonely existence of servitude. Until she receives a telepathic plea from across the stars from a Prime named Jeff Raven-and falls in love with him. 
Although The Rowan came out in 1991, the kernel for this story was written much earlier, in 1959, that being the story Lady In The Tower, which can be found in the collection, Get Off The Unicorn. That story appears about midway through the book, and is the first meeting between The Rowan and Jeff.

I've been thinking about this novel for a little while now, since I finished reading it, and the best way I can think of to categorize The Rowan is that it's a combination of science fiction and romance novel, as it's setting is science fiction, but the focus is really that of the eventual relationship between the two characters. And yet, that doesn't quite cover it either, as the first half of the book covers The Rowan's childhood and coming of age.

One really neat little thing I noticed this time around (it wouldn't have been possible to notice more than a couple of years ago) was the presence of the barquecats in this story. What's so neat about it is that it's something of a connection for two of Anne McCaffrey's more recent novels: Catalyst and Catacombs, which are all about the barquecats.

Beyond that, the book The Rowan is really a central point for several other books. It starts the sequence for the Tower and the Hive series, but it's also the same world that To Ride Pegasus and Pegasus In Flight are set in - the early days and the discovery of Talent.

I do have to say that I really love the new cover art for The Rowan, and also for Damia. I haven't seen it for any of the other books in the series, but I hope they re-issue them with similar artwork.

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Book Rambling: Short Story to Novel

When I read Anne McCaffrey's book of short stories Get Off The Unicorn a couple of weeks ago, the one thing that really struck me about the book was the way so many of the stories later became full novels. For sure there was the Thorns of Barevi (Freedom's Landing) and The Lady In The Tower, but I'm fairly certain also of the story A Meeting Of Minds as well. It seemed vaguely familiar when I read it. I just can't remember the title of the book for sure, although I think it was Damia.

Lady In The Tower turns up more or less in the middle of the novel The Rowan, and fits in pretty well. In fact I'm not that far past that point in the book now, and I wasn't at all jarred out of the read by reading the short story inserted into the novel.

Anne McCaffrey's not the only author to do that either. I've noticed it a few times with Mercedes Lackey as well. The first time I saw it was with a short story she wrote for one of the Sword and Sorceress anthologies edited by Marion Zimmer Bradley. That later became chapter 6 in the novel Oathbound.

The start of the pair of novels centering on Alberich is another of these stories too. Originally called Stolen Silver, it's supposed to have appeared in the anthology Horse Fantastic if my memory's not playing tricks on me. And, it almost seems like half the novel, but there are three short stories that make up a part of the novel The Wizard Of London.

Now, I'll admit that these are the only two authors where I've read their short stories extensively, but they're also the only two where I've seen this happen. Short stories set in the same worlds as the novels I've seen a lot of though - Sherrilyn Kenyon, J. R. Ward, Patricia Briggs etc have all done it.

Are there other authors who reuse short stories as parts of novels? And, what do you think of it when it happens? I personally don't tend to mind too much, at least if the story works well.

Monday, December 5, 2011

It's Monday! What Are You Reading? - December 5

It's Monday! What Are You Reading? is hosted each week over at One Person's Journey Through A World Of Books. Thanks Sheila for trying to keep us all on track with our reading.

As usual this week the books I was reading last week aren't the ones that got finished for this week.

Completed Books:
A Beautiful Friendship by David Weber. Young Adult, Science Fiction. Set in the world of the Honor Harrington novels, but much earlier in the history. This is the story of the discovery of the tree-cats and the first adoption.

Facing the Frozen Ocean by Bear Grylls. Non fiction, outdoors. A recounting of Bear Grylls trip across the northern Atlantic in an open inflatable boat. Quite the read!

I'm currently reading:
The Rowan by Anne McCaffrey. Fiction, Science Fiction. The story of the most famous telepath in the FT&T.

Ring Of Words: Tolkien And The Oxford English Dictionary by Peter Gilliver, Jeremy Marshall and Edmund Weiner. Non Fiction. This is kind of weird. I thought I knew what this book was going to be about, but it's turning out to be something completely different. Still interesting - perhaps even more interesting for all of that. I'd thought it was going to be a more detailed biography of Tolkien's years during which he was working on the OED, but instead it's turned out to be about the words he edited. Neat!

As usual. I'm not sure what I'm going to be reading next.

Sunday, December 4, 2011

A Beautiful Friendship - David Weber

A Beautiful Friendship
David Weber
Baen Books
Copyright: October, 2011

The product description:
Stephanie Harrington always expected to be a forest ranger on her homeworld of Meyerdahl . . . until her parents relocated to the frontier planet of Sphinx in the far distant Star Kingdom of Manticore. It should have been the perfect new home --- a virgin wilderness full of new species of every sort, just waiting to be discovered. But Sphinx is a far more dangerous place than ultra-civilized Meyerdahl, and Stephanie’s explorations come to a sudden halt when her parents lay down the law: no trips into the bush without adult supervision!

            Yet Stephanie is a young woman determined to make discoveries, and the biggest one of all awaits her: an intelligent alien species.

            The forest-dwelling treecats are small, cute, smart, and have a pronounced taste for celery. And they are also very, very deadly when they or their friends are threatened . . . as Stephanie discovers when she comes face-to-face with Sphinx’s most lethal predator after a hang-gliding accident.

            But her discoveries are only beginning, for the treecats are also telepathic and able to bond with certain humans, and Stephanie’s find --- and her first-of-its kind bond with the treecat Climbs Quickly --- land both of them in a fresh torrent of danger. Galactic-sized wealth is at stake, and Stephanie and the treecats are squarely in the path of highly-placed enemies determined to make sure the planet Sphinx remains entirely in human hands, even if that means the extermination of another thinking species.

            Unfortunately for those enemies, the treecats have saved Stephanie Harrington’s life. She owes them . . . and Stephanie is a young woman who stands by her friends.

            Which means things are about to get very interesting on Sphinx.
 Written as a teen book, A Beautiful Friendship is the start of a new series set in the same world as David Weber's Honor Harrington series (On Basilisk Station, etc). Stephanie Harrington, Honor's ancestor, was both the discoverer of and the first person to be adopted by the treecats, Sphinx's native sentient species. That event is also described in the short story of the same title in the anthology More Than Honor. But, that's not the only short story referenced in this novel. Linda Evan's story The Stray from the anthology Worlds of Honor is also used as background, and the characters involved are main characters here.

For teen cross-over novels, (stories set in the same universe as an author's existing series), this is the best one I've seen to date. Nothing seems to contradict the existing Honor Harrington books, and the story doesn't feel particularly as though it's aimed at a younger audience. There's less of the political manoeuvring though than there is in some of the adult books.

If you like David Weber's writing, don't shy away from picking up this addition. It's a great read, and I'm definitely going to be keeping an eye out for the next books in the series. Stephanie's most certainly an interesting character, and I can see where Honor might have gotten some of her inspiration and character from, if she used this ancestor as something of a role model.

Highly recommended for both teen and adult audiences.

Saturday, December 3, 2011

Saturday Snapshot - December 3

Saturday Snapshots is hosted each week over at Alyce's blog, At Home With Books. Thanks for keeping this little piece of fun going every week, Alyce.

My post is ridiculously late this week, but I'm glad of it, because I can use a couple of photos I took today. I just can't choose between them though.
We went snowshoeing for what might as well have been my first time. I had gone once before, but that was way back when, when I was in the Girl Guides. Ended up having a heck of a lot of fun today, and I can't wait go again. I'm no expert, but the snowshoes I used were wonderful: light, comfortable, and the bindings were so easy to use.

Unfortunately, I decided at the last minute not to take my camera, figuring that with the cloudy sky, I wouldn't have much opportunity for taking photos. Thankfully I had the camera on my phone, which is how I got these pictures.

The first is across what we think is a frozen lake, and it was spectacular, and the second photo is a close-up of some of the snow that had fallen on the tree-branches, taken with the flash on.

The crystal formations are so neat in this. It's snow, but it looks like a giant frost of sorts.

Most of the people we came across on the trail didn't use poles, but I did, and I found them to be so helpful - especially when dealing with hills, and they were a comfort for some of the narrower bridges as well, as the effect may well be as much mental as physical. I just felt that much steadier.

I can't wait to go snowshoeing again soon! Next time though, I'm taking the camera with me.

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Your Best Books of 2011?

All of the major booksellers have their lists of what they consider to be the best books of 2011. has theirs grouped by type - kids, fiction, non-fiction etc. Amazon's top 100 books of the year are located here, also broken down into categories.

Looking at the lists, I can see that they're mostly the top sellers, a few of which only just came out. The retailers are probably basing their lists on how many of the books sell - not always the best indicatator of how good a book is, just how much of a media influence there is. Of course, I think they're also limiting themselves to books that came out this year too. A reasonable limitation for this category.

I've got two questions for you though, to make my own list of the top books for 2011.

First of all, what was your favourite book that came out this year, i.e. the best read, the book that made your year perfect, the book that you've been waiting for for a long time?

My second question is more or less the same, but it's not limited to just books from 2011. What's your favourite read of this year? - the book that you can't believe that you waited this long to read, even though people have been telling you to read it for years. Or, it could have been a complete surprise, impulse buy off the shelves.


Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...