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