Reinstating what I intend to be a monthly summary of everything I’ve read. Here’s the January 2019 round-up:
To keep my numbers consistent with what I have listed on Goodreads, I count completed magazine issues and stand-alone short stories in ebook format as “books.” I read or listened to 11 books in January: 10 in print, 1 in ebook format, and 0 in audio (no long work drive trips in January, which is when I usually listen to audiobooks. They were:
1. Lightspeed Magazine #92 (January 2019 issue), edited by John Joseph Adams. The usual fine assortment of sf and fantasy short stories and novellas. This month’s favorites for me were Sarah Micklem’s “The Book Collector,” Ashok K. Banker’s “Son of Fire and Water,” and Maria Dhavana Headley’s “What There Was To See.”
2. Exits Plans For Teenage Freaks, by ‘Nathan Burgoine. Burgoine’s first sf gay YA novel is a fast-moving, character-driven wonder. Cole discovers he can teleport, just another thing to make him standout on top of being openly gay and that kid who got kidnapped when he was four years old. Of course, he’s not the only one who can do what he does, and that could lead to trouble. There’s also a wide range of LGBTQIA supporting characters and an adorable romantic subplot.
3. Kingdom of Needle and Bone, by Mira Grant. Another truly disturbing, very realistic bit of near-future science/medical-based horror by the reigning queen of the genre. What happens when our herd immunity disappears and the old diseases not only return but mutate to something even deadlier?
4. Bartleby The Scrivener, by Herman Melville. I love novellas, as witnessed by how many I read this month. I don’t ever remember reading this classic by Melville in any high school or college literature course. It’s possible I just wiped it from my memory, because I didn’t really like it. I dug the gothic feel, but it felt like it went nowhere slowly.
5. Elevation by Stephen King. Third novella of the month, a new Castle Rock story from a master of the novella length. It starts out intriguing (man is losing weight but not mass), bogs down a bit in the middle with a bit too much attention to subplots, and ends on … well, I’m not sure how to describe the notes it ends on. Maybe hopeful, maybe just depressing.
6. Parents Day (Lumberjanes Volume 10), by Shannon Watters, Kat Leyh and company. I was excited to finally meet the parental units of the girls of the Roanoke Cabin. I felt like the story could have given us a bit more of the parent-child relationships among the usual fun Lumberjanes weirdness. It wasn’t my favorite installment of the series so far, but even the disappointing installments are still great reads.
7. Fence, Volume 2 by C.S. Pascat and others. The second volume of this boarding school fencing team story continues to develop the rivalry between the two leads and develops some of the supporting characters beyond the “stock” feel they had in volume one. The art is solid throughout as well, and I think I actually learned a thing or two about the sport in amongst all the character drama.
8. In An Absent Dream (Wayward Children #4), by Seanan McGuire. I continue to marvel at the twists and turns McGuire brings to the “portal fantasy” genre. The great thing about this series is that you can seriously read them in whatever order you want. You do not have to have read the preceding three volumes to really fall into this story of a girl who repeatedly visits a fairy-tale “goblin market” realm where giving fair value is the rule and failure to do so has lasting consequences. I’ve been intrigued by every portal world McGuire has introduced us to, but this might now be my favorite (alongside the Gothic horror world of “Down Amongst The Sticks and Bones.”)
9. Roar of Sky, by Beth Cato. Cato wraps up her magic-based alternate history of a United States allied with Imperial Japan in fine style. The story is still totally character-driven, as Ingrid comes to terms with her growing powers, Cy comes to terms with his family’s legacy as weaponizers of war, and Fenris continues being Fenris. The Pacific Island and Asian mythology woven throughout is wonderfully deep and not just window-dressing. I will miss reading these characters.
10. Resist Fascism, edited by Bart R. Leib and Kay T. Holt. Crossed Genres’ first (and hopefully not last) themed “micro-anthology” of 9 stories about resistance and revolution – both in small acts and large. Not a bad story in the lot, but my favorites were Rivqa Rafael’s “To Rain Upon One City,” R.K. Kalaw’s “3.4 oz,” Barbara Krasnoff’s “In The Background,” and Santiago Bellucco’s “Meg’s Last Bout of Genetic Smuggling.”
11. A Time To Scatter Stones, by Lawrence Block. The final novella read for January is a classic Block modern noir tale with a thick veneer of nostalgia sans regret. Matthew Scudder, the only one of Block’s series characters to age in real time, has pretty much hung up his private investigator shingle, but when a member of his girlfriend’s “AA”-like group for women trying to leave “the life” needs help with a stalker, Scudder jumps back in. Problem is, he’s not as young, spry or sharp as he used to be. Block doesn’t shy away from the downsides of getting old, but he doesn’t ignore the enjoyable moments either. There’s a lot of whimsy, a lot of cute nods for long-time readers, and just a bit of erotic talk as well.
So eleven books in January, which Goodreads told me was a few ahead of goal for the month/year. Only two graphic novels, so I failed to meet my “one graphic novel per week” reading challenge, and nothing I read in January helped meet the To Be Read Challenge.
I have a goal of reading 365 short stories (1 per day, essentially, although it doesn’t always work out that way) each year. Here’s what I did read and where you can find them if you’re interested in reading them too (with some short notes for stories that really stood out to me). If no source is noted, the story is from the same magazine or book as the story(ies) that precede(s) it:
1. “With Teeth Unmake the Sun” by A. Merc Rustad, from Lightspeed Magazine #104 (January 2019 issue), edited by John Joseph Adams.
2. “Engine at Heartspring’s Center” by Roger Zelazny
3. “Midway” by Tony Ballantyne
4. “The Book Collector” by Sarah Micklem
5. “The Emerald Coat and Other Wishes” by Emily B. Cataneo
6. “Son of Fire and Water” by Ashok K. Banker
7. “The Pilgrim and the Angel” by E. Lily Yu
8. “Endor House” by Meg Elison
9. “What There Was To See” by Maria Dhavana Headley
10. “Sweet as Sugar Candy” by Seanan McGuire, on the author’s Patreon page.
11. “The Duke of Riverside” by Ellen Kushner, from Uncanny #26, edited by Lynne M. Thomas and Michael Damian Thomas
12. “Infernal Affairs” by Jordan L. Hawk, from Devil Take Me, edited by Tricia Kristufek
13. “Phases” by Chris Vanjonack, from One Story #249, edited by Patrick Ryan
14. “To Rain Upon One City” by Rivqa Rafael, from Resist Fascism, edited by Bart R. Leib and Kay T. Holt
15. “3.4 oz” by R. K.Kalaw
16. “In The Background” by Barbara Krasnoff
17. “The Seventh Street Matriarchy” by Marie Vibbert
18. “We Speak in Tongues of Flame” by J.L. George
19. “Meet Me At the State Sponsored Movie Night” by Tiffany E. Wilson
20. “Ask Me About My Book Club” by M. Michelle Bardon
21. “Pelecanimimus and the Battle for Mosquito Ridge” by Izzy Wasserstein
22. “Meg’s Last Bout of Genetic Smuggling” by Santiago Bellucco
23. “Christmas Eve” by Jim Butcher, on the Evil Hat website
24. “Burning, In You” by Brayden Meket, from One Teen Story #57, edited by Patrick Ryan
25. “An Archangel’s Defiance” by Lydia M. Hawke, on the author’s website
So that’s 25 short stories in January, putting me slightly behind for the year so far.