READING ROUND-UP: February 2019

Continuing the monthly summaries of what I’ve been reading and listening to:

BOOKS

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 18 books in February: 12 in print, 4 in ebook format, and 2 in audio. They were:

1.       Lightspeed Magazine #105 (February 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 Carrie Vaughn’s “Marlowe and Harry and the Disinclined Laboratory,” Ashok K. Banker’s “Oath of a God,” KT Bryski’s “Ti-Jean’s Last Adventure, as told to Raccoon,” and Kat Howard’s “Hath No Fury.”

2.       The Thing: Liberty Legion, by Roy Thomas, John Buscema, Sal Buscema, Frank Robbins, Don Heck, and others.  This hardcover collects stories from Marvel Premiere, The Invaders, Fantastic Four and Marvel Two-In-One to tell a time-hopping story involving some of my favorite tertiary-level Marvel characters. The art style varies greatly between the four main artists and that might be a turn-off for some folks (I personally miss both Frank Robbins and Don Heck’s work.) I still own all of the original monthly issues these stories appeared in, as well.

3.       The Terrifics Vol 1: Meet The Terrifics, by Ivan Reis, “Doc” Shaner, Jeff LeMire, and others. DC brings four unlikely characters together as a team: the long-existing Mr. Terrific, Plastic Man and Metamorpho and a new version of Phantom Girl, in a loving pastiche of that other fantastic foursome published by Marvel. The characterizations are solid and make me want to pick up the second volume when it comes out, but there’s a feeling towards the end of the volume like the story has taken a jump that never really gets explained.

4.       Check, Please! Year Three, by Ngozi Ukazu.  Bitty’s junior year on the Samwell hockey team is full of secrets, revelations, supportive friends and more than a little drama. I’ve enjoyed the three volumes of this so far, and might just have to catch up on Year Four on the webcomic rather than waiting for the next Kickstarter.  And I am way out of practice reading regularly-updated webcomics.

5.       Scrum by P.D. Singer. Picked this very short novella up because I’ve suddenly grown an interest in reading gay sport romances (see Check, Please! Above), it popped up as a free Kindle read and I’m not really familiar with the sport of rugby so a story told from the POV of a guy who also has no familiarity with the sport should have been an easy sell. I left the story feeling like I knew a little bit more about rugby, but the romance angle didn’t work for me. Too much “creepy-stalk the hot sports star” for me.

6.       Brothers Keepers by Donald E. Westlake.  Another of Westlake’s more fun crime thrillers, this one involving the impending shut-down of a monastery in the middle of Manhattan thanks to a real-estate deal / land-grab that involves a theft from the monastery, family secrets, and one Brother going way outside his comfort zone to save the day. A fast, fun read.

7.       The Spark by David Drake. The first in a new “Arthurian SF saga,” recommended by a friend. The first half doesn’t feel particularly Arthurian but sets the stage and main characters well enough so that when the familiar Arthurian tropes do appear, it becomes obvious you’ve been reading about a futuristic Sir Percival/Parzival the whole time. (His name is Pal, so yes, that should have been a give-away right off….)  Really enjoyable read, but lots of hand-waving to explain the future tech and this world’s versions of the Mortal World, Faerie, and the spaces in-between.

8.       The City Beyond Play by Philip Jose Farmer and Danny Adams. A really wonderful SF novella about a small city-state that cuts itself off from modern times and lives “as the medieval times should have been lived.” There’s a bit of romance, a lot of derring-do and a ton of interesting world-building. You can find a longer review of this book if you page back through my blog to HERE.

9.       Isola, Chapter One, by Brendan Fletcher, Karl Kerschl and others.  A powerful queen has been cursed to live as a tiger, and her bodyguard must find a way to reverse the curse and get to the truth of what’s behind it all. Very solid world-building and character-building in this first trade collection. The art is a mix of manga and Chinese influences, I think, that give it a particular kind of beauty.

10.   Bedfellow, by Jeremy C. Shipp.  Shipp’s second novella from Tor.com is as eerie as his first (“The Atrocities”). A mix of physical and psychological horror that works on all levels and doesn’t necessarily provide easy answers.

11.   The Voyage of Argo, by Apollonius of Rhodes, translation by E.V. Reiu.  I’m almost ashamed that I never realized there was an actual epic poem that served as the basis for the Jason and the Argonauts movies and stories I loved so much, until I tripped across this. The classic 60s movie took a lot of liberties with the sequence of events from this original and was the more exciting for it. Reiu’s translation is interesting as source material, but kinda lifeless in many ways.

12.   Legion Vs. Phalanx: The Epic Struggle for Infantry Supremacy in the Ancient World, by Myke Cole. My first non-fiction read (as opposed to listen) of the year was way outside my wheel-house. I’m not a student of the military or military history, and most of what I remember about the Greeks, Romans, and associated empires is thanks to mythology. But Cole’s intent with this book was to make the discussion understandable to people like me, and he did a great job. I still can’t quote times and names to you, but I could probably give you a decent idea of the differences between a legion, a phalanx, and who Cole thinks the clear winner is.

13.   The Man Who Corrupted Hadleyburg, by Mark Twain.  Another classic I don’t think I’d ever read before but have thanks to my subscription to Melville House’s series “The Art of the Novella.” And I loved it, as I love so much of Twain’s work. There’s snarky humor, of course, but also social commentary that is as pertinent today as it was when the novella was written. And I love the fact that we never really find out who the aggrieved man is who manages to corrupt and incorruptible town.

14.   Scratchman (A Doctor Who novel), by Tom Baker. What a fun, nostalgic read. Apparently this is adapted from a movie script Baker co-wrote. The first half feels absolutely like ClassicWho; the second half feels very meta and drops a few comments about the Doctor’s “future” (for him, anyway). I think there was even a little Clara Oswald cameo (tying to her “Impossible Girl” status from NewWho). And listening to Baker read it was an extra treat. He’s a great storyteller.

15.   Diaries: The Python Years 1969-1979, by Michael Palin. Interesting to hear Palin read, unexpurgated and emotionally raw, his diary entries from Python’s heyday. A very different feel from the Idle and Cleese memoirs I read late last year.

16.   Section Zero Volume 0, by Karl Kesel, Tom Grummett, and others.  It’s no secret that I’m a huge fan of 50s-60s-era “adventure team” comics: give me the Time Masters, the Sea Devils, the Challengers of the Unknown, Cave Carson’s crew, the original Secret Six, and I’m all in. Kesel and Grummett hooked me from page one with this mysterious “group-of-usually-four” that ages in real time and has a lot of backstory to be revealed. Grummett is also one of my favorite comic artists. I love his clean, open, expressive style.

17.   The Problem of Susan and Other Stories, by Neil Gaiman, P. Craig Russell, Scott Hampton, Paul Chadwick, Lovern Kindzierski and others. Dark Horse Comics continues to publish Russell’s adaptations of Gaiman stories and books, although this time the artist has some help. The title story, drawn by Russell, is Gaiman’s rumination on what happened to Susan after the Narnia books and it’s quite good, but I was also happy to see how well “October in the Chair” converts to graphic form.

18.   At Home in the Dark, edited by Lawrence Block. A great anthology of very dark short stories – mostly crime but a few sf/fantasy/western to keep the reader on their toes. A longer review will be forthcoming in about a week or so on this site, but for now the individual stories are listed below, and I can easily call out the Joe Hill, Joe R. Lansdale, Elaine Kagan and James Reasoner stories as favorites.

So eighteen books in February, which Goodreads told me was a few ahead of goal for the month/year.

 

STORIES

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.       “Life Sentence” by Matthew Baker, from Lightspeed Magazine #105 (February 2019 issue), edited by John Joseph Adams.

2.       “Okay, Glory” by Elizabeth Bear

3.       “The Incursus By Asimov-NN#71” by Gord Sellar

4.       “Marlowe and Harry and the Disinclined Laboratory” by Carrie Vaughn

5.       “The Perpetual Day” by Crystal Koo

6.       “Ti-Jean’s Last Adventure, As Told To Raccoon” by KT Bryski

7.       “Oath of a God” by Ashok K. Banker

8.       “Healing Benjamin” by Dennis Danvers

9.       “Hath No Fury” by Kat Howard

10.   “On The Side” by Seanan McGuire, on the author’s Patreon page.

11.   “Hot Pants” by Elaine Kagan, from the anthology At Home in the Dark, edited by Lawrence Block

12.   “The Eve of Infamy” by Jim Fusili

13.   “Night Rounds” by James Reasoner

14.   “The Flagellant” by Joyce Carol Oates

15.   “The Things I’d Do” by Ed Park

16.   “Favored to Death” by N.J. Ayres

17.   “Rough Mix” by Warren Moore

18.   “This Strange Bargain” by Laura Benedict

19.   “The Senior Girls Bayonet Team” by Joe R. Lansdale

20.   “If Only You Would Leave Me” by Nancy Pickard

21.   “Giant’s Despair” by Duane Swierczynski

22.   “Whistling in the Dark” by Richard Chizmar

23.   “O, Swear Not by the Moon” by Jill D. Block

24.   “Nightbound” by Wallace Stroby

25.   “The Cucuzza Curse” by Thomas Pluck

26.   “Cold Comfort” by Hilary Davidson

27.   “Faun” by Joe Hill

So that’s 27 short stories in February, leaving me still slightly behind for the year so far. (February 28th was the 59th day of 2019.)

 

Summary of Reading Challenges:

“To Be Read” Challenge: This month: 0 read; YTD: 0 of 14 read.

365 Short Stories Challenge: This month:  27 read; YTD: 52 of 365 read.

Graphic Novels Challenge:  This month: 6 read; TYD: 10 of 52 read.

Goodreads Challenge: This month: 18 read; YTD: 29 of 125 read.

Non-Fiction Challenge: This month: 02; YTD: 02 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

March 2018 Reading Round-Up

Being the third of my monthly reading summaries for 2018. Here’s what I read in March:

 

BOOKS

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 22 books in February: 18 in print, 2 in audio, and 2 in ebook format. They were:

1.       DC Archives Editions: The Golden Age Green Lantern Volume 2 by Bill Finger, Martin Nodell and Irwin Hasen. A hardcover collection of long-out-of-print Green Lantern (Alan Scott) stories from the early days of the Golden Age, with his sidekick Doiby Dickles. What struck me was the absence of costumed and powered villains (he fights mostly mobsters) and the fact that the love interest he had in these early stories has been completely forgotten since the character was revived in the Silver Age.

2.       Lightspeed Magazine #94 (March 2018 issue), edited by John Joseph Adams. The usual great assortment of science fiction and fantasy short stories and non-fiction. Favorites this issue were Seanan McGuire’s “And Men Will Mine the Mountains for Our Souls,” Ken Liu’s “Cosmic Spring,” Beesan Odeh’s “Al-Kahf,” and A. Merc Rustad’s “Brightened Star, Ascending Dawn.”

3.       Rings of Anubis (Folley & Mallory Book 1), by E. Catherine Tobler. The first of Tobler’s alt-history/steampunk/Egyptian legends series introduces us to former archeologist Folley, searching for the rings of the mummy that stole her mother from her, and Mallory, intrepid government agent and reluctant werewolf. Exciting, fast-paced and just fun. I look forward to reading the rest of the series.

4.       Lumberjanes Vol 8: Stone Cold by Watters, Leyh, Pietsch and others.  The Roanoke cabin is excited for Barney’s first day as a Lumberjane, only to discover Barney’s whole cabin group has been turned to stone. Was it a gorgon or something more horrific? And how does a fomer camper-adversary fit into the mix?

5.       Tricks For Free (InCryptid #7) by Seanan McGuire. Antimony Price is on the run from the Covenant, estranged from her family, and working at LowryLand amusement park when she comes to the attention of the park’s secret board of magic-users. With help from new and old friends and her dead aunts Mary and Rose, can she remain off the radar but still save the day? This was a fun one, and I find the more I read of Antimony the more I like her (although Verity is still my favorite Price sibling of the current generation). And I really, really like Antimony’s boyfriend Sam.

6.       A Wrinkle in Time (Time Quintet #1) by Madeleine L’Engle. One of my childhood favorites, re-read countless times over the years, and it never disappoints. With a brevity of language that somehow is still descriptive and poetic, L’Engle sweeps us along on a journey across the galaxy with characters we come to love very much, faults and all.

7.       Changing The Grade by Jonathan Cornue.  Educator Cornue describes the need for a new, less “open to interpretation” method of grading student work, and discusses how hard the process of change will be for districts set in their ways. This is a book every educator, administrator, parent, and college admissions director should read and discuss.

8.       Coming To You Live: A Newsflesh Novella, by Mira Grant. As I haven’t gotten around to reading all of Grant’s collection of Newflesh novellas, I was really glad Orbit Books decided to release this one as a stand-alone ebook. It was great, after years of reading novellas focusing on various series secondary characters, to return to the point of views of the series’ original main characters, Shaun and Georgia Mason. This one opens up a new level of future possibilities for the series, and really packs an emotional punch for long-time readers.

9.       Widow’s Point by Richard Chizmar and Billy Chizmar. The story of a haunted lighthouse told in the style of a “found footage” horror film: the main character is a paranormal investigator who narrates his experiences in the lighthouse, interspersed with his description of its bloody history. Very effective with the sense of unease, the chills, etc. Reminded me of the much longer House of Leaves by Mark Z. Danielewski.

10.   Binti: Home (Binti #2) by Nnedi Okorafor.  This was a re-read. Well, a re-listen. I’d read the second novella in Okorafor’s series last year, but it finally came out in audio once again with the amazing Robin Mills narrating, and I had to listen to it. It’s just as good in audio as it was in print, and I still felt all the emotions I felt on the first read.

11.   Legion of Super-Heroes: Enemy Rising by Jim Shooter, Frances Manapul and others. A collection from the Legion’s “ThreeBoot” period (which will mean nothing to you if you’re not a Legion of Super-Heroes fan). The art is great in places, not so great in others. The story itself is a bridge between earlier volumes and the next big battle for the team, so there’s lots of character building interspersed, but it all felt a bit hectic and disorganized. Not my favorite LSH story.

12.   Shazam! The Monster Society of Evil by Jeff Smith. I’d forgotten just how adorable and breezy this story (which I first read in monthly issue format) was. Smith captures the whimsy of original Golden Age Captain Marvel stories by Otto Binder and CC Beck, but adds his own story-telling voice and twists to the mix. I had a smile on my face the whole time I was reading it.

13.   Justice Society of America: Thy Kingdom Come Volume 3 by Geoff Johns, Alex Ross, Dale Eaglesham and others. The end of a popular JSA arch that brought the Superrman from the Kingdom Come miniseries into the then-current DC Universe main Earth, and also addressed (in sections with art by Jerry Ordway) whether Power Girl could ever find her way back to the original Earth-2. This arch overall felt drawn out, especially here in the final section. Great art, some great character work, but it probably could have been a few issues shorter overall.

14.   Black Bolt: Hard Time (Black Bolt #1) by Saladin Ahmed, Christian Ward and others. I have to give Saladin Ahmed credit: he made a character I’ve always found boring (Black Bolt, king of the Inhumans) interesting. He did it by removing the character from all of his traditional trappings and putting him in the middle of a “fight your way free with unlikely allies you’re not sure you can trust” situation. I’m interested to see where Ahmed took the story in volume 2 later this year.

15.   The Evil Wizard Smallbone by Delia Sherman. My second audiobook for the month. A lovely modern YA fairy tale about a runaway teen boy who finds refuge with a supposedly evil wizard in a magic bookshop hidden on the seacoast of Maine, who then gets involved in saving the local town and his mentor from another evil wizard. I loved every word of this, and all of the character development.

16.   The Bitter Tea of General Yen by Grace Zaring Stone. This was my March read for my 2018 To Be Read Challenge. A longer review will be coming in a separate post. Short version: it was okay, but didn’t blow me away the way the introduction thought it would. Part of Vintage Books’ Vintage Movie Classics series, which I’m also trying to work my way through this year (with the intent to see the movies based on the books as well, where possible).

17.   Dog Men: A Dresden Files Graphic Novel by Jim Butcher, Mark Powers, Diego Galindo and others. Another original graphic novel filling in the space between the novels Small Favor and Turn Coat in Butcher’s urban fantasy series. This one finds Harry Dresden, with a huge chip on his shoulder comprised of anger and guilt, and Mouse on an impromptu road trip with elder wizard Listens To Wind, investigating a bloody family slaughter that is not what it seems. There are ties to the previous OGN “Goblin, Ghoul,” and to the novels preceding this in the timeline. Diego Galindo’s art is among the best in the series.

18.   Astro City Volume 9: Through Open Doors, by Kurt Busiek, Brent Anderson, Alex Ross and others.

19.   Astro City Volume 10: Victory, by Kurt Busiek, Brent Anderson, Alex Ross and others.

20.   Astro City Volume 11: Private Lives by Kurt Busiek, Brent Anderson, Alex Ross and others.

21.   Astro City Volume 12: Lovers Quarrel by Kurt Busiek, Brent Anderson, Alex Ross and others.

22.   Astro City Volume 13: Honor Guard by Kurt Busiek, Brent Anderson, Alex Ross and others. I got sick over Easter weekend and went on a bit of a graphic novel reading binge, deciding to finally catch up on one of my favorite, but long-neglected, series. Astro City is a complex and wonderful creation, Busiek’s love-letter to and sometimes criticism of the super-hero comics industry, and I hope he never stops telling stories set here, especially working with co-creator Anderson on art and Ross on covers. Some of these volumes are novel-length (“Victory” and “Lovers Quarrel”) and some are collections of one- or two-issue shorter stories (“Through Open Doors,” “Private Lives,” and “Honor Guard”), but they all show off Busiek’s world-building and his and his co-creators creativity. In the shorter-story volumes, various artists give Anderson a break, and it’s clear Busiek’s scripts were written to the skill sets of the individual artists. And while all of the Astro City volumes can be read in any order because of the way the tales jump around in the city’s history, it’s very clear this run from Vertigo is building towards something big a few more volumes down the road.

That’s 22 books in February, to a Year-To-Date total of 45, which Goodreads says me puts me 20 books ahead of schedule for my 100 Books Challenge.  The Bitter Tea of General Yen is the only book read this month for the 2018 To Be Read Challenge. A Wrinkle in Time counts towards the “Bustle Reading Challenge.” Twelve graphic novels exceeds my “one graphic novel per week” reading challenge and puts me ahead for the year-to-date there. Rings of Anubis and The Bitter Tea of General Yen helped me start a couple of the “Complete the Series” challenges. All but the To Be Read Challenge were described HERE.

 

 

STORIES

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 Independence Patch” by Bryan Camp, from Lightspeed #94, March 2018, edited by John Joseph Adams

2.       “Brightened Star, Ascending Dawn” by A. Merc Rustad

3.       “Cosmic Spring” by Ken Liu

4.       “The Effluent Engine” by N.K. Jemisin

5.       “The Dreamers of Alamoi” By Jeremiah Tolbert

6.       “Al-Kahf” by Beesan Odeh

7.       “And Men Will Mine the Mountains For Our Souls ” by Seanan McGuire

8.        “You Do Nothing But Freefall” by Cassandra Khaw and A. Maus

9.       “The Proving Ground” by Alec Nevala-Lee

10.   “The Haunted Ceiling” by H.G. Wells, from The Strand Oct 2016, edited by Lamia Gulli

11.   “The Adventure of the American Drifter” by Larry Millett

12.   “The Recitation of the Most Holy and Harrowing Pilgrimage of Mindy and Also of Mork” by Seanan McGuire, from Tricks For Free (additional novella in the hardcover release)

13.   “Now Rest, My Dear” by Seanan McGuire, from the author’s Patreon page

14.   “Last Call at the Last Chance” by Seanan McGuire

15.   “Cabbages and Kings” by Seanan McGuire

16.   “From A to Z in the Book of Changes” by Seanan McGuire

17.   “Pop-Pop” by Brian James Freeman, from the author’s Patreon page

18.   “The King of the Animals” by Josh Russell, from One Story #238, February 15 2018, edited by Patrick Ryan

So that’s only 18 short stories in February, far less than one per day, bringing me Year-To-Date to 87 stories. As March 31th was the 90th day of the year, this puts me 3 stories behind of schedule for the year so far.

Reading Round-Up: January 2018

Reinstating what I intend to be a monthly summary of everything I’ve read, since I’m not reviewing every single book or story the way I used to try to do on Livejournal. Here’s what I read in January of 2018:

 

BOOKS

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 14 books in January: 11 in print, 2 in audio, and 1 in ebook format. They were:

1.       Lightspeed Magazine #92 (January 2018 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 Catherynne M. Valente’s “Golabush, Or Wine-Blood-War-Elegy,” Sarah Pinsker’s “The Court Magician,” and José Pablo Iriarte’s “The Substance of My Lives, The Accident of Our Birth.”

2.       Aristotle and Dante Discover The Secrets of the Universe, by Benjamin Alire Saenz.  A wonderful first-person gay coming-of-age story about two Latino boys in the Southwest in the 80s, endearingly read on audio by Lin-Manuel Miranda. I didn’t quite get the sense that Ari was as angry as the cover-copy made him out to be (conflicted yes, over-the-top angry not so much).

3.       Wonder Woman ’77 Meets the Bionic Woman, by Andy Mangels, Judit Tondora and others. Fun, fun, fun team-up between two of my favorite 70s TV icons. Mangels skillfully melds bad-guys from both shows into a formidable menace, and there are lots of great nods to both shows’ supporting casts (especially the female members). But there’s also an sub-plot that’s never resolved, indicating Mangels expected there to be a sequel mini-series/trade paperback. And Judit Tondora’s art is just wonderful to look at.

4.       Beneath The Sugar Sky (Wayward Children #3), by Seanan McGuire.  The story of the portal-children at Eleanor West’s Home for Wayward Children continue, this time with a quest into a Wonderland-like candy world that could have dire consequences for several members of the cast. What I love about these novellas is that you don’t have to have read the previous installments at all: McGuire tells you everything you need to know in each installment. But of course, reading them (in or out of order) gives you a much bigger picture to absorb.

5.       Sherlock Holmes and the Green Lama: Heir Apparent, by Adam Lance Garcia. Love Holmes pastiches, love the “modern pulp movement.” Not overly familiar with the pulp history of The Green Lama, but that didn’t affect my enjoyment of this crossover which draws on both the Lama’s and Holme’s overlapping experiences in Tibet. The tension is well-spooled-out, the action sequences well-done. I’m sure I missed some of the nods towards other pulp characters and settings.

6.       The Squirrel on the Train (Oberon’s Meaty Mysteries #2), by Kevin Hearne.  Another fun novella in the Iron Druid Chronicles narrated by everyone’s favorite Irish wolfhound, Oberon. The IDC novels and short stories told from the human characters’ perspectives are fun and exciting, but the voice Hearne gives Oberon is more endearing and intimate and just plain joyful.

7.       Binti: The Night Masquerage (Binti #3), by Nnedi Okorafor. The Binti trilogy of novellas concludes as solidly as it started: with amazing poetic prose, beautiful descriptions of people and places, action propelled by characterization, and at least one story twist I personally did not see coming. Folks whose first exposure to Afrofuturism was the Marvel movie Black Panther really need to check out this series.

8.       Lumberjanes Vol. 7: A Bird’s Eye View, by Shannon Watters, Kat Leyh, Carey Pietsch, Ayme Sotuyo, Maarta Laiho. After a couple of volumes where I felt the story had slowed or the art wasn’t quite up to the standard of the first few, I feel like Volume 7 is both a return to form and a departure, with several new interesting supporting characters introduced and other supporting characters returning and being given more depth – all without shirking development for the core cast. I hear there might me a television version in development, and I hope none of the spark and strength of these girls is lost in adaptation.

9.       Ironcastle, by Philip Jose Farmer, adapting J.H. Rosny Aine.  It’s taken me way too long to get around to reading this Farmer classic. I enjoyed it. There will be a longer review sometime next week, since this is one of the books I read to meet this year’s To Be Read Challenge, which requires an individual review to be posted.

10.   Superman: The Phantom Zone, by Steve Gerber, Gene Colan, Tony DeZuniga, Rick Veitch, Bob Smith and others.  I loved this four-issue mini-series when it was published in the early 80s, before DC’s Crisis on Infinite Earths, as goofy as the story is. Gerber told a great story (although the follow-up story in DC Comics Presents was a bit more convoluted upon re-reading than I remembered). Colan’s art here is not necessarily his best compared to Tomb of Dracula, or even the Silverblade and Nathaniel Dusk minis he was drawing for DC around the same time, but it’s still fun. The man was a master of shadow and fluidity of movement.

11.   Kiss Me Like A Stranger, by Gene Wilder.  I can’t believe I haven’t read Wilder’s memoir before now. It’s become my habit to listen to, rather than read, memoirs if they’re read by the author, and I feel like I got a better sense of what Gene was trying to say (and what he was shying away from saying) by listening to him. I think, especially when it comes to the estrangement from his adopted daughter, he had blinders on as to what the problem actually was, but then again it’s very easy to judge from the outside things that aren’t as obvious when you’re in the middle. And his love for Gilda as well as the woman he married after her passing are very very strong and clear.

12.   Iceman Volume 1: Thawing Out, by Sina Grace, Alessandro Vitti, Edgar Salazer, and others.  I really intend to write a longer blog-post about this eventually. As I said on Twitter, I felt like Grace really captures the act of coming out “later in life” (a subjective term, to be sure, but I think Bobby Drake coming out as gay in his late 20s, after having “come out” as a mutant in his teens, qualifies), and the different pressures and roadblocks that come with it. Bobby’s journey in these few issues very much matches my own coming out in my late twenties after years of trying to convince myself I was straight and having lots of failed relationships with otherwise wonderful women, many of whom are still good friends.

13.   Cry Your Way Home, by Damien Angelica Walters. A wonderful short story collection by one of my favorite authors, about which I don’t want to say too much here because my full review will be forthcoming at Strange Horizons in about a month.

14.   The Ship of the Dead (Magnus Chase and the Gods of Asgard, Book 3), by Rick Riordan.  I have not been as captivated by the Magnus Chase books as I have by the Percy Jackson and Kane Chronicles series, but this concluding volume of the first trilogy (which features a short guest spot by everyone’s favorite son of Poseidon as well as Magnus’ cousin Annabeth) grabbed me. A slightly slow start gives way to a fast-paced adventure that resolves all of the extant main and sub-plots and gives us more depth to the supporting cast of Magnus’ hotel-mates.

So fourteen books in January, which Goodreads told me was a few ahead of goal for the month/year. Ironcastle is the first book read for the 2018 To Be Read Challenge. Four graphic novels meets my “one graphic novel per week” reading challenge, while nothing I read in January helped meet any of the “Complete the Series” challenges, nor the “Bustle Reading Challenge.”  Those Reading Challenges were described HERE.

STORIES

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 Streets of Babel” by Adam-Troy Castro, from Lightspeed Magazine #92 (January 2018 issued), edited by John Joseph Adams.

2.       “Golabush, or Wine-Blood-War-Elegy” by Catherynne M. Valente

3.       “The Eyes of the Flood” by Susan Jane Bigelow

4.       “Someday” by James Patrick Kelly

5.       “Auburn” by Joanna Ruocco

6.       “The Substance of My Lives, the Accident of Our Births” by Jose Pablo Iriarte

7.       “Divine Madness” by Roger Zelazny

8.       “The Court Magician” by Sarah Pinsker

9.       “A Thousand Nights Till Morning” by Will McIntosh

10.   “Written in Water” by Seanan McGuire, a Patrick-and-Dianda story, on the author’s Patreon page.

11.   “Guerilla Marketing” by Sanjay Agnihotri, from One Story #236, edited by Will Allison

12.   “Our New Lives” by Helen Coats, from One Teen Story #53, edited by Patrick Ryan

13.   “Trouble Comes” by Neal Bailey, stand-alone ebook available on Kindle

14.   “Tooth, Tongue and Claw” by Damien Angelica Walters, from her collection Cry Your Way Home, edited by Leslie Connor.

15.   “Deep Within the Marrow, Hidden In My Smile” by Damien Angelica Walters

16.   “On The Other Side of The Door, Everything Changes” by Damien Angelica Walters

17.   “This Is The Way I Die” by Damien Angelica Walters

18.   “The Hands That Hold, The Lies That Bind” by Damien Angelica Walters

19.   “Not My Circus, Not My Monkeys: The Elephant’s Tale” by Damien Angelica Walters

20.   “The Judas Child” by Damien Angelica Walters

21.   “S Is For Soliloquy” by Damien Angelica Walters

22.   “The Floating Girls: A Documentary” by Damien Angelica Walters

23.   “Take A Walk In The Night, My Love” by Damien Angelica Walters

24.   “Falling Under, Through the Dark” by Damien Angelica Walters

25.   “The Serial Killer’s Astronaut Daughter” by Damien Angelica Walters

26.   “Umbilicus” by Damien Angelica Walters

27.   “A Lie You Give, And Thus I Take” by Damien Angelica Walters

28.   “Little Girl Blue, Come Cry Your Way Home” by Damien Angelica Walters

29.   “Sugar and Spice and Everything Nice” by Damien Angelica Walters

30.   “In The Spaces Where You Lived” by Damien Angelica Walters

31.   “How The Marquis Got His Coat Back” by Neil Gaiman, the full-cast BBC Audio production available on Audible.

32.   “The Way Home” by Seanan McGuire, an Alice Healey /Tom Price “Incryptid” story, on the author’s website

33.   “The Lay of The Land” by Seanan McGuire

34.   “Target Practice” by Seanan McGuire

So that’s 34 short stories in January, more than one per day, putting  me exactly on schedule for the year so far.