Continuing the monthly summaries of what I’ve been reading.
To keep my numbers consistent with what I have listed on Goodreads, I count completed magazine issues and stand-alone short stories in e-book format as “books.” I read or listened to 7 books in April: 2 in print, 2 in e-book format, and 3 in audio. They were:
1. Lightspeed Magazine #107 (April 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 Caroline M. Yoachim’s “The Archronology of Love,” Mathew Corradi’s “Gundark Island or, Tars Tarkas Needs Your Help,” Shweta Adhyam’s “A Conch-Shell’s Notes,” Carrie Vaughn’s “The Lady of Shallot,” and Ashok K. Banker’s “The Seeds of War.”
2. Drama Queen (Nicky & Noah Mystery #1), by Joe Cosentino. The first in a mystery series starring a pair of gay college professors as amateur sleuths has the body count of a crime novel but the tone of a cattier version of cozy mysteries. It’s a light, fun read, and I’m planning to read or listen to the rest of the series at some point.
3. Sakina’s Restaurant, by Aasif Mandvi. The story of a half-dozen different Indian characters who own or work at the titular restaurant, performed as a one-man show by the author. Not every character portrait works, and the sound design sometimes allows the background to overwhelm the actual dialogue. I think I’d have enjoyed it better if I saw it performed onstage.
4. A Bloody Business, by Dylan Struzan, with chapter art by Drew Struzan. Dylan Struzan conducted 50 hours of recorded interviews with crime family member Jimmy Alo, with the understanding that she wouldn’t publish her work until after he was dead. This is an epic piece of creative non-fiction, weaving in Lucky Luciano, Meyer Lansky, Bugsy Siegal, Al Capone and more. Fascinating. FULL REVIEW HERE.
5. The Poor Clare by Elizabeth Gaskell. A gothic horror novella that’s light on the actual horror but strong on the suspense. It was just the right length for the story being told (man learns of the tragic history of a woman, her daughter, and her granddaughter).
6. Around the World in 80 Days by Jules Verne, narrated by Jim Dale. I’m positive I read this in elementary school, but I had absolutely no memory of the events of the story. I kept waiting for a hot air balloon ride that never happened (thanks, movie versions!) and didn’t remember the subplot with Inspector Fix at all. It’s a fun travelogue with quite a few adventure scenes, but of course is also replete with the stererotypes and racism of the era. Jim Dale’s warm, friendly narration makes it almost too easy to ignore the less palatable parts.
7. F is For Fairy edited by Rhonda Parrish. The sixth in Parrish’s “alphabet anthology” series has 26 stories centered around all kinds of fairies, with tones ranging from comedic to dark, at lengths from flash to almost-novella. Not every story was a total winner to me, but I liked the majority of them. FULL REVIEW HERE.
So only 7 books in April. Not my most prolific reading month of late.
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. “The Archronology of Love” by Caroline M. Yoachim, from Lightspeed Magazine #107 (April 2019 issue), edited by John Joseph Adams.
2. “To Market, To Market: The Branding of Billy Bailey” by Cory Doctorow
3. “Gundark Island or, Tars Tarkas Needs Your Help” by Matthew Corradi
4. “The She-Wolf’s Hidden Grin” by Michael Swanwick
5. “Blur” by Carmen Maria Machado
6. “The Seeds of War” by Ashok K. Banker
7. “The Lady of Shallot” by Carrie Vaughn
8. “A Conch-Shell’s Notes” by Shweta Adhyam
9. “The Speed of Belief” by Robert Reed
10. “Of Strange Oaths” by Seanan McGuire, on the author’s Patreon page.
11. “Exhibit K” by Nadia Afifi, from Abyss & Apex 2nd Quarter 2019 issue, edited by Wendy S. Dalmater
12. “The Birds That Flew in Wartime” by Tamoah Sengupta
13. “A Missed Diversion” by R.S. Alexander
14. “Ars Poetica” by David F. Shultz
15. “Sibling Squabbles” by Gregg Chamberlain
16. “The Gifted Sommellier” by Grayson Bray Morris
17. “A is for Apple, Who is Love” by L.S. Johnson, from F is for Fairy (Alphabet Anthologies #6), edited by Rhonda Parrish
18. “B is for Burned” by C.S. MacCath
19. “C is for Contract” by Jonathan C. Parrish
20. “D is for Diplomacy” by Jeanne Kramer-Smyth
21. “E is for Elfshot” by Pete Aldin
22. “F is for Family” by Steve Bornstein
23. “G is for Gentry” by Stephanie A. Cain
24. “H is for Heartkeeper” by Suzanne J. Willis
25. “I is for Imputation” by Joseph Halden
26. “J is for Jabberwocky” by Alexandria Seidel
27. “K is for Kin” by Cory Cone
28. “L is for Leaving” by Lynn Hardaker
29. “M is for Maturity” by Rachel M. Thompson
30. “N is for Neverland” by Brittany Warman
31. “O is for Oasis” by Lilah Ward
32. “P is for Promised One” by Michael B. Tager
33. “Q is for Quiet” by Danielle Davis
34. “R is for Rusalka” by Megan Englehardt
35. “S is for Savior” by Samantha Kymmell-Harvey
36. “T is for Titania” by Sara Cleto
37. “U is for Unseelie Court” by Andrew Bourelle
38. “V is for Verisimilitude” by BD Wilson
39. “W is for Wear Wigs” by Laura VanArendonk Baugh
40. “X is for Xanadu” by Michael M. Jones
41. “Y is for Your Song” by Michael Fosburg
42. “Z is for Zamboni” by Beth Cato
So that’s 42 short stories in April, putting me now slightly ahead for the year so far. (April 30th was the 120th day of 2019.)
Summary of Reading Challenges:
“To Be Read” Challenge: This month: 0 read; YTD: 2 of 14 read.
365 Short Stories Challenge: This month: 42 read; YTD: 130 of 365 read.
Graphic Novels Challenge: This month: 0 read; YTD: 14 of 52 read.
Goodreads Challenge: This month: 7 read; YTD: 50 of 125 read.
Non-Fiction Challenge: This month: 1; YTD: 4 of 24 read.
Read the Book / Watch the Movie Challenge: This month: 0; YTD: 0 of 10 read/watched.
Complete the Series Challenge: This month: 0 books read; YTD: 0 of 16 read.
Series fully completed: 0 of 3 planned
Monthly Special Challenge: I may not do something like this every month, but I set an April goal to try to read primarily books from small press publishers, and I didn’t do good job of it at all (partially due to the smaller number of books read and to commitments to be kept). a pretty decent job of it. Of the 7 books I read, only 3 qualify as from small presses (Drama Queen from Lethe Press; The Poor Clare reissued by Melville House; F is for Fairy from Poise and Pen Publishing). Of the 42 stories, the majority came from small presses (Poise and Pen Publishing: 26; author Patreon: 1; Abyss & Apex magazine: 6; if Lightspeed Magazine counts as a small press among spec-fic magazine publishers, then all of April’s short stories came from small presses of some kind.)
May’s challenge: May is short story month, so the goal is to read mostly anthologies, collections, and novellas. May is also Asian/Pacific Islander Heritage Month and Jewish-American Heritage Month. I’m going to try to read some non-fiction in those areas this month as well.