Reading Round-Up: July 2019

Continuing the monthly summaries of what I’ve been reading and writing. (This one’s a bit overdue!)

 

BOOKS

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 July: 2 in print, 5 in e-book format, and 0 in audio. They were:

1.       Lightspeed Magazine #110 (July 2019 issue), edited by John Joseph Adams. The usual fine assortment of sf and fantasy short stories. This month’s favorites for me were Andrew Penn Romine’s “Miles and Miles and Miles,” Indrapramit Das’s “The Moon Is Not a Battlefield,” J. Anderson Coats’ “Mother Carey’s Table,” and Senaa Ahmad’s “Ahura Yazda, The Great Extraordinary.”

2.       Ormeshadow by Priya Sharma. You would think that as an English major in college, I’d have read something, anything, by Willa Cather. But if I did, I don’t recall it at all (please forgive me, Professor Malcolm Marsden!). So I’m counting this as my first Cather work. I’d like to read more by her eventually. I found this one an interesting character study. Full Review HERE.

3.       Sealed by Naomi Booth. An interesting combination of near-future environmental horror, graphic body horror, and a potentially unreliable narrator. Not for the easily squeamish, for sure. Full review appeared at Strange Horizons on August 30th.  http://strangehorizons.com/non-fiction/reviews/sealed-by-naomi-booth/

4.       Treasure Trail, by Morgan Brice. This is the first M/M urban fantasy/paranormal romance by Gail Z. Martin’s pen name that I have read, and it won’t be the last. This, the first in a new series, takes place in very haunted Cape May, NJ and introduces us to an antique shop owner with “the touch” (the ability to sense an object’s supernatural history) and a former cop turned rental property manager who sees ghosts. There’s also present- and past-day Mafia connections, because NJ.

5.       A Secret Guide to Fighting Elder Gods edited by Jennifer Brozek. A really fun anthology of Lovecraftian Young Adult stories. The stories hit all the requisite Lovecraft themes and monsters, but with settings mostly in the present day focusing on teens – and often, on teens seeing what the adults can’t or won’t see.

6.       The Trans Space Octopus Congregation by Bogi Takács. Bogi’s newest short story collection, due out from Lethe Press in October, has a wonderful mix of science fiction and fantasy, including a few stories set in a shared future setting. Eir stories touch on many present day issues, including the immigrant, transgender, and “alternate sexuality” experiences. A great read.

7.       The Triumph of the Spider-Monkey by Joyce Carol Oates. Not going to lie, this was a very difficult read for me. Long out of print and brought back by Hard Case Crime, this is a very disturbing look inside the head of a serial killer.

 

 

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 read this month and where you can find them if you’re interested in reading them too. If no source is noted, the story is from the same magazine or book as the story(ies) that precede(s) it:

1.       “The Null Space Conundrum” by Violet Allen, from Lightspeed Magazine #110 (July 2019 issue), edited by John Joseph Adams.

2.       “The Mysteries” by Karen Lord

3.       “Miles and Miles and Miles” by Andrew Penn Romine

4.       “The Moon Is Not A Battlefield” by Indrapramit Das

5.       “Mother Carey’s Table” by J. Anderson Coats

6.       “Sand Castles” by Adam-Troy Castro

7.       “Song Beneath the City” by Micah Dean Hicks

8.       “Ahura Yazda, The Great Extraordinary” by Senaa Ahmad

9.       “Face Your Furs” by Seanan McGuire, on the author’s Patreon page.

10.   “The Good Girl” by Lucy Snyder, on the author’s Patreon page.

11.   “Freak Corner” by John Rolfe Gardiner, from One Story #254, edited by Patrick Ryan

12.   “The Story of O-Tei” by Lafcadio Hearn, from Oriental Ghost Stories, edited by David Stuart Davies

13.   “Green Glass: A Love Story” by E. Lily Yu, from If This Goes On: The Science Fiction Future of Today’s Politics, edited by Cat Rambo

14.   “The Last Adventure of Jack Laff: The Dayveil Gambit” by Steven Barnes

15.   “King Harvest (Will Surely Come)” by Nisi Shawl

16.   “Away Game” by Seanan McGuire, from A Secret Guide To Fighting Elder Gods, edited by Jennifer Brozek

17.   “The Icarus Club” by Weston Ochse

18.   “Stormy Monday” by Chesya Burke

19.   “Pickman’s Daughter” by J.C. Koch

20.   “Us and Ours” by Premee Mohamed

21.   “The Art of Dreaming” by Josh Vogt

22.   “Visions of the Dream Witch” by Lucy A. Snyder

23.   “The Tall Ones” by Stephen Ross

24.   “Just Imagine” by Tim Waggoner

25.   “Holding Back” by Lisa Morton

26.   “The Mouth of the Merrimack” by Douglas Wynne

27.   “The Geometry of Dreams” by Wendy N. Wagner

28.   “Being Emily-Claire” by Jonathan Maberry

29.   “This Shall Serve As A Demarcation” by Bogi Takács, from The Trans Space Octopus Congregation, edited by Steve Berman

30.   “Some Remarks on the Reproductive Strategies of the Common Octopus” by Bogi Takács

31.   “A Superordinate Set of Principles” by Bogi Takács

32.   “Forestspirit, Forestspirit” by Bogi Takács

33.   “Given Sufficient Desperation” by Bogi Takács

34.   “Changing Body Templates” by Bogi Takács

35.   “For Your Optimal Hookboarding Experience” by Bogi Takács

36.   “Increasing Police Visibility” by Bogi Takács

37.   “Good People in a Small Space” by Bogi Takács

38.   “Records of a More Personal Nature” by Bogi Takács

39.   “This Secular Technology” by Bogi Takács

40.   “Three Partitions” by Bogi Takács

41.   “Unifications” by Bogi Takács

42.   “The Size of A Barleycorn, Encased in Lead” by Bogi Takács

43.   “To Rebalance the Body” by Bogi Takács

44.   “Shovelware” by Bogi Takács

45.   “The Oracle of DARPA” by Bogi Takács

46.   “Toward the Luminous Towers” by Bogi Takács

47.   “Wind-lashed Vehicles of Bone” by Bogi Takács

48.   “The Need for Overwhelming Sensation” by Bogi Takács

49.   “Spirit Forms of the Sea” by Bogi Takács

50.   “All Talk of Common Sense” by Bogi Takács

51.   “Standing on the Floodbanks” by Bogi Takács

So that’s 51 short stories in July, keeping me way ahead for the year so far. (July 30th was the 212th day of 2019.)

 

Summary of Reading Challenges:

“To Be Read” Challenge: This month: 0 read; YTD: 3 of 14 read.

365 Short Stories Challenge: This month:  51 read; YTD: 291 of 365 read.

Graphic Novels Challenge:  This month: 0 read; YTD: 17 of 52 read.

Goodreads Challenge: This month: 7 read; YTD: 78 of 125 read.

Non-Fiction Challenge: This month: 0; YTD: 5 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. Having checked several different websites, it seems like July is not a month that lends itself to any specific reading goal (it’s the National Month of several foods, though: National Baked Bean Month, Culinary Arts Month, Grilling Month, Horseradish Month, Hot Dog Month, Ice Cream Month, Blueberries Month, and Picnic Month!) So my mini-challenge to myself was to make July Series Month, to help me catch up on one of my year-long challenges (The “Complete the Series” Challenge).

Friends, I completely bombed this self-challenge. I brought two series on a three-week business trip (Seanan McGuire’s Velveteen series, and one of the two remaining books I need to read in Chinua Achebe’s Africa Trilogy) and read precisely none of them. (In fact, I discovered on the trip that I’d brought the wrong Achebe with me, so stopped reading….)

August’s monthly special challenge is/was in honor of PulpFest and FarmerCon, the annual overlapping conventions that celebrate the fiction of the Pulp magazine era and the work of author Philip Jose Farmer. Tune into my next post to see how I did with that!

Reading Round-Up: May 2019

Continuing the monthly summaries of what I’ve been reading and writing.

 

BOOKS

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 11 books in May: 4 in print, 2 in e-book format, and 5 in audio. They were:

1.       Lightspeed Magazine #108 (May 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 Rati Mehrotra’s “This Way to Paradise,” Nancy Kress’s “Cocoons,” Matthew Kressel’s “Trust is Like the Sun,” Kathleen Kayembe’s “The Ocean That Fades into Sky,” and Sofia Samatar’s “Fallow.”

2.       Lady Susan by Jane Austen. I’ll admit I’ve read precious little Austen, despite having been an English Lit major. This was a fun, and apparently lesser-known, work of hers. I really enjoy epistolary stories when done right – meaning that parts of the story are left for the reader to “fill in the blanks” between what the characters are and are not saying to each other.

3.       In Re: Sherlock Holmes: The Adventures of Solar Pons (Solar Pons Book 1), by August Derleth, narrated by Steve White. I’ve been meaning, since I finished reading the full official Sherlock Holmes canon, to move on to his Praed Street successor, created by August Derleth. This is a good start to what was a pretty long run of stories and novels. Steve White’s narration is solid as well, although there were a few points where the voices he was doing didn’t seem to quite match the descriptions of the characters. I posted a lengthier review HERE.

4.       Two Todd Tales, by Joseph Pittman, narrated by Benjamin Seay. This was a re-read/re-listen of two great short stories featuring Pittman’s con-man Todd Gleason, one of which features a character named after me, so I might be a bit partial. Benjamin Seay’s narration captures all of Todd’s, and the unnamed narrator’s snark.

5.       Upon A Burning Throne (The Burnt Empire, Book 1) by Ashok K. Banker. As I said in my longer review HERE, I’ve pretty much burned out on “doorstop/encyclopedia-length” epic fantasy. But Ashok K. Banker’s short stories in Lightspeed magazine in recent months really whet my appetite for this, and I’m glad I read it right away. Great character development and world-building.

6.       The Hidden Witch (The Witch Boy, Book 2) by Molly Knox Ostertag. I have a longer review of this coming on Strange Horizons in a few weeks, so all I’ll say here is this is a wonderful second installment in Ostertag’s graphic novel series about a boy who bucks family convention to be a witch instead of a shapeshifter.

7.       Fool For Love: New Gay Fiction edited by Timothy J. Lambert and R.D. Cochrane, narrated by Roman M. Wagar. Most of the sixteen stories in this romance collection worked for me. Some are sweet, some are brutally funny, some are painful. My favorites include ‘Nathan Burgoine’s “Heart,” Greg Herren’s “Everyone Says I’ll Forget in Time,” David Puterbaugh’s “Thai Angel,” and Rob Williams’ “Party Planning.” Roman M. Wagar’s narration is wonderfully varied, voices crafted to fit each individual story.

8.       Black Crow, White Snow by Michael Livingston, narrated by Janina Edwards.  I am completely unfamiliar with Michael Livingston’s writing, and picked this up honestly because it was an Audible Original free book. I’m glad I did. The mix of Caribbean and post-apocalyptic world-building is wonderful. And Janina Edwards’ narration is warm and smooth and full of character.      

9.       Under the Sunset by Bram Stoker. One of my “To Be Read” Challenge titles for 2019, so there’ll be a longer review upcoming. But I have to say right out: as much as I love Bram Stoker in general, I struggled with this fairy tale story collection. It felt like he was trying to write in someone else’s voice, and it just didn’t work most of the time.

10.   Acres of Perhaps: Stories and Episodes by Will Ludwigsen, narrated by John Fleming. “Acres of Perhaps,” about the sudden dissolution of a television writing team in the 60s, is easily one of my favorite novellas of the past few years, and the rest of the stories in this collection, which I intend to post a longer review of soon, are equally engaging and thought-provoking. John Fleming’s narration fits the dark, not-quite-noir-but-close, tone of the author.  

11.   Algorithmic Shapeshifting: Poems (Conversation Pieces Book 68) by Bogi Takács. As I say in the longer review posted HERE, I am not a poetry reader overall and asked for an ARC of this accidentally. And I loved it. Recommended, especially to fans of poetry with speculative fiction elements.

 

 

 

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 Iron Man” by Max Gladstone, from Lightspeed Magazine #108 (May 2019 issue), edited by John Joseph Adams.

2.       “This Way To Paradise” by Rati Mehrotra

3.       “Cocoons” by Nancy Kress

4.       “Trust is Like the Sun” by Matthew Kressel

5.       “The Ocean That Fades Into Sky” by Kathleen Kayembe

6.       “The Portal” by Debbie Urbanski

7.       “The Minor Superhero, At Home After His Series Ends” by Adam-Troy Castro

8.       “The Convexity of Our Youth” by Kurt Fawver

9.       “Fallow” by Sofia Samatar

10.   “Vegetables and Vaccines” by Seanan McGuire, on the author’s Patreon page.

11.   “The Church Fire and Redemption” by T.M. Morgan from Lamplight Vol 7 #2, edited by Jacob Haddon

12.   “Marrow” by E. Catherine Tobler, from Black Static #65

13.   “Silencer Head Like A Hole Remix” by E. Catherine Tobler, from Interzone #259

14.   “Notes Upon the Diadem Club” by Lyndsay Faye, from The Strand October 2015, edited by Lamia Gulli

15.   “It’s All Right – He Only Died” by Raymond Chandler, from The Strand October 2017

16.   “An Actual Treasure” by David Marcum, from The Strand October 2018

17.   “Tonight, My Love” by Max Allan Collins and Mickey Spillane, from The Strand October 2018

18.   “Lady Hilda Revealed” by Bonnie MacBird, from The Strand October 2018

19.   “A Word from Doctor Lyndon Parker” by August Derleth, from In Re: Sherlock Holmes (Solar Pons, Book 1), edited by David Marcum

20.   “The Adventure of the Frightened Baronet” by August Derleth

21.   “The Adventure of the Late Mr. Faversham” by August Derleth

22.   “The Adventure of the Black Narcissus” by August Derleth

23.   “The Adventure of the Norcross Riddle” by August Derleth

24.   “The Adventure of the Retired Novelist” by August Derleth

25.   “The Adventure of the Three Red Dwarfs” by August Derleth

26.   “The Adventure of the Sotheby Salesman” by August Derleth

27.   “The Adventure of the Purloined Periapt” by August Derleth

28.   “The Adventure of the Limping Man” by August Derleth

29.   “The Adventure of the Seven Passengers” by August Derleth

30.   “The Adventure of the Lost Holiday” by August Derleth

31.   “The Adventure of the Man with the Broken Face” by August Derleth

32.   “The Antics of Anton Ardno” by Joseph Pittman, from Two Todd Tales

33.   “The Perils of Penelope Pittston” by Joseph Pittman

34.   “Thai Angel” by David Puterbaugh, from Fool For Love: New Gay Fiction, edited by Timothy J. Lambert and R.D. Cochrane

35.   “Love Taps” by Mark G. Harris

36.   “Matchmaker” by Sean Aniston

37.   “A View” by Brandon M. Long

38.   “Gratitude” by Felice Picano

39.   “Happy Hour At Café Jones” by Rob Burns

40.   “Trunk” by Trebor Healey

41.   “De-Anima” by Joel Derfner

42.   “Like No-One’s Watching” by Josh Helmin

43.   “At The End of the Leash” by Jeffrey Ricker

44.   “Two Tales” by Paul Lisicky

45.   “Heart” by ‘Nathan Burgoine

46.   “Party Planning” by Rob Williams

47.   “Two Kinds of Rapture” by Andrew Holleran

48.   “Everyone Says I’ll Forget in Time” by Greg Herren

49.   “Angels What You Must Hear On High” by John H. Rausch

50.   “Under The Sunset” by Bram Stoker, from Under The Sunset

51.   “The Rose Prince” by Bram Stoker

52.   “The Invisible Giant” by Bram Stoker

53.   “The Shadow Builder” by Bram Stoker

54.   “How 7 Went Mad” by Bram Stoker

55.   “Lies and Lilies” by Bram Stoker

56.   “The Castle of the King” by Bram Stoker

57.   “The Wondrous Child” by Bram Stoker

58.   “Acres of Perhaps” by Will Ludwigsen, from Acres of Perhaps: Stories and Episodes, edited by Steve Berman

59.   “Season 1, Episode 2: Ourselves and Immortality” by Will Ludwigsen

60.   “The Zodiac Walks On The Moon” by Will Ludwigsen

61.   “Season 1, Episode 5: Singing Each to Each” by Will Ludwigsen

62.   “The Leaning Lincoln” by Will Ludwigsen

63.   “Season 1, Episode 10: Guess What’s Coming To Dinner” by Will Ludwigsen

64.   “Night Fever” by Will Ludwigsen

65.   “Season 2, Episode 2: Dark Horse Candidate” by Will Ludwigsen

66.   “Poe At Gettysburg” by Will Ludwigsen

67.   “Season 2, Episode 8: Unable Are The Loved To Die” by Will Ludwigsen

68.   “On Stony Ground” by Cynthia Ward, from Analog May-June 2019, edited by Trevor Quachri

69.   “Repairs at the Beijing West Space Elevator” by Alex Shvartsman

70.   “Painting the Massive Planet” by Marissa Lingen

So that’s 70 short stories in May, putting me now way ahead for the year so far. (May 31st was the 151st day of 2019.)

 

Summary of Reading Challenges:

“To Be Read” Challenge: This month: 1 read; YTD: 3 of 14 read.

365 Short Stories Challenge: This month:  70 read; YTD: 200 of 365 read.

Graphic Novels Challenge:  This month: 1 read; YTD: 15 of 52 read.

Goodreads Challenge: This month: 11 read; YTD: 61 of 125 read.

Non-Fiction Challenge: This month: 0; 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 May goal to try to read primarily short story collections and anthologies, since May was Short Story Month, and also to read some non-fiction about Asia and/or the Pacific Islands and/or about the Jewish Diaspora, since May was also Asian/Pacific Islander Heritage Month and Jewish-American Heritage Month.

I blew it on the Asia, Pacific Islands, and Jewish Diaspora mini-challenges – only Bogi Takacs’ poetry collection really counts toward the last of those three, although at the end of May I started Barbara Krasnoff’s The History of Soul 2065, which would also count towards the Jewish Diaspora challenge had I finished it in May (it was the first book finished in June, though!)

I was more successful on the Short Stories challenge, reading 70 stories, the bulk of that coming from 5 of the books and 1 magazine read in May.

June is Pride Month, so my mini-challenge is to read mostly books and stories by or about people who identify somewhere on the Queer (QUILTBAG+) rainbow.

Reading Round-Up: April 2019

Continuing the monthly summaries of what I’ve been reading.

 

BOOKS

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.

 

 

 

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 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.

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

2019 Reading Challenges

In January, I posted my list of planned reads for RoofbeamReader’s 2019 “TBR Challenge.” But I always set myself more than one reading challenge per year. Some carry over from year to year, and some are new. Some are broad and some are themed. And in many cases, books read will help me meet more than one challenge.

 

365 SHORT STORIES CHALLENGE

Every year, I challenge myself to read one short story per day. Some years I keep the pace pretty well, and some years I fall behind and then scramble to catch up (and some years, I catch up and fall behind again). I used to post thoughts on each individual story over on my now-largely-defunct Livejournal; this year I plan to review a story or two in-depth each Sunday and then do a monthly “round-up” of all stories read that month. I’m defining “short story” as anything from flash fiction to novella-length. If a story/novella is published as a stand-alone book (ebook or otherwise), that story will also count towards my annual Goodreads “Books Read” Challenge.

 

GOODREADS CHALLENGE

Goodreads allows members to set a challenge. In 2018 I set a 125-book challenge. I blew past that in mid-fall and decided to increase it to 150 and managed more than that. For 2019, I’m going to start out planning on 125 books again and see where we go. Goodreads also counts magazines and individually-published short stories as “books,” so I count them for this challenge as well. Of course, any book read for the TBR Challenge, or the challenges mentioned in this post count towards this one.

  

GRAPHIC NOVEL CHALLENGE

I own far more graphic novels and trade paperback collections of classic comics than I’ve read. In 2017 I started trying to turn that around, and I’m again setting a goal in 2019 of reading one graphic novel per week. I may start a separate post tracking these, or I may just continue to include them in the monthly Reading Round-Up Posts.

NON-FICTION CHALLENGE

As with graphic novels, I tend to get intrigued by and purchase far more non-fiction books than I actually end up reading. In an effort to clear some shelf-space, justify the money spent, and increase my knowledge a bit, I’m setting myself a new challenge this year to read two (2) non-fiction books per month, or 24 for the year. I may start a separate post tracking these as well, but it’s more likely I’ll just continue to include them in the monthly Reading Round-Up Posts.

 

READ THE BOOK / WATCH THE MOVIE CHALLENGE

I have so many books in my collection that are the basis for classic (and sometimes not-so-classic) movies that I thought it might be time to read some of them and then see how the movies compare. I actually unofficially started this last year, when I read Grace Zaring Stone’s The Bitter Tea of General Yen and then watched the movie adaptation directed by Frank Capra and starring Barbary Stanwyck. So this year, I’m committing myself to at least reading/watching the rest of the Vantage Movie Classics (listed below) and possibly more.

 

COMPLETE THE SERIES CHALLENGE

In previous years I’ve challenged myself to come “up to date” on series I’d started but fallen behind on. Last year, I challenged myself to also read one series that I own but have not read. Titles that I have read in each series are indicated with (read). Last year, I blew this almost completely, so I’m setting fewer “complete the series” challenges for 2019.  I plan to come back to this post and add “date completed” for each book individually and for each series as a whole. I’ll give links to reviews where appropriate.

 

THE VELVETEEN SERIES by Seanan McGuire

1.       Velveteen Vs. The Junior Super-Patriots

2.       Velveteen Vs. The Multiverse

3.       Velveteen Vs. The Seasons

 

 

VANTAGE BOOKS MOVIE CLASSICS (Themed Set by PenguinRandomHouse, 2014-2015)

1.       Showboat by Edna Ferber (read in 2017)

2.       Cimarron by Edna Ferber

3.       Back Street by Fannie Hurst

4.       Alice Adams by Booth Tarkington

5.       The Ghost and Mrs. Muir by R.A. Dick

6.       The Bad Seed by William March

7.       Drums Along the Mohawk by Walter D. Edmonds

8.       The Bitter Tea of General Yen by Grace Zaring Stone (read in 2018)

9.       Logan’s Run by William F. Nolan and George Clayton Johnson

10.   The Night of the Hunter by David Grubb

 

THE AFRICA TRILOGY BY CHINA ACHEBE

1.       Things Fall Apart (read in 2018)

2.       Arrow of God

3. No Longer At Ease

APRIL 2018 READING ROUND-UP

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

 

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 8 books in April: 3 in print, 2 in audio, and 3 in ebook format. They were:

1.       Lightspeed Magazine #95 (April, 2018) edited by John Joseph Adams. The usual great assortment of science fiction and fantasy short stories and non-fiction. Favorites this issue were Will McIntosh’s “What About Eve,” Ken Liu’s “Snow Train,” Suzanne Palmer’s “Lazy Dog Out,” and Carmen Maria Machado’s “The Old Women Who Were Skinned.”

2.       Locke & Key Full Cast Audio Production based on the graphic novels by Joe Hill and Gabriel Rodriguez. I have to admit, I didn’t enjoy this. I thought I would, as I loved the graphic novel series and the voice cast includes Haley Joel Osment, Kate Mulgrew and Tatiana Maslany. But I didn’t feel like the material translated well. Places where narrator exposition would have helped bridge scenes were lacking narration, and places where a narrator’s introduction were unnecessary had noir-style deep-voiced narration. The whole thing was a bit uneven to me. That said, there were some scenes that were absolutely terrifically performed by the cast. (I also could not find a full cast list anywhere on-line when I looked.)

3.       So You Want To Be A Robot and Other Stories, by A. Merc Rustad. Don’t want to say too much about this here because a full review should be forthcoming on Strange Horizons in the near future, but overall I quite enjoyed this collection.

4.       To The Stars by George Takei.  I like listening to memoirs narrated by the actual person, because you often get more insight through the way the person tells their own story. While there were parts of this I found intriguing (the details of his family’s internment and his mother’s near-loss of her American citizenship; the behind-the-scenes machinations of Leonard Nimoy that kept Takei, Nichols and Doohan involved in the Star Trek cartoon), there was also a lot of Shatner-bashing. I know there’s never been any love lost between Takei and Shatner, but there were points where it felt a little tiresome. I know when Takei originally wrote this, he wasn’t yet as publically out as he is now; I hope someday he’ll narrate the rest of his story to date.

5.       Saving The Date (1Night Stand #1) by ‘Nathan Burgoine and Angela B. Stone. Three years ago, Morgan was the victim of a brutal gay-bashing. He’s decided to “reclaim the date” of the event by creating new, happier memories – through a blind date set up for him by his therapist. Zach, a local cop, is newly divorced and trying to figure out how to tell his loved ones he’s bisexual when he’s set up on a blind date by a co-worker’s sister. They turn out to be each other’s dates. This is a cutely romantic, and very erotic, novella that links to several other of Burgoine’s short stories. A quick read but not lacking in emotional depth, with characters I’m looking forward to seeing more of (as well as wanting to see more of the 1Night Stand private dating service).

6.       A Wind in the Door (Time Quintet #2) by Madeleine L’Engle. Charles Wallace Murry is sick, and it might have something to do with the farandolae in his mitochondria, which seem to be linked to creatures destroying the galactic fabric of reality. In childhood, and even the last time I reread this series over a decade ago, this was my least-favorite installment in the Time Quintet. This time through, I got a lot more out of it, perhaps because of my own cancer diagnosis mapping so well onto the way Charles Wallace Murry falls ill.

7.       The Glass Falcon (Folley & Mallory #2) by E. Catherine Tobler.  This second, novella-length installment in Tobler’s steampunk-Egyptiana-shapeshifters series is no less fun that the first installment was. Damaged artifacts at the Louvre and vandalism in the Paris Catacombs are connected, and it’s up to Folley and Mallory to figure out how.

8.       The Scarlet Plague (Radium Age of Science Fiction #1), by Jack London. A grandfather tells his young grandsons the story of the Plague that virtually destroyed humanity and crippled civilization. It’s more of a novella, by the author of Call of the Wind. There’s some great descriptions of nature, and of how the plague spread, but it’s a bit heavy-handed on the “civilized elite” versus “uncouth servant class” divide.

 

That’s 8 books in February, to a Year-To-Date total of 53, which Goodreads says me puts me 18 books ahead of schedule for my 100 Books Challenge.  I didn’t read anything this month for the 2018 To Be Read Challenge or the “one graphic novel per week” reading challenge (I’m at 17 graphic novels for the year, and as the last full week of April was week #17 of 2018 I’m still at least on-track for the year-to-date). To The Stars (the George Takei memoir) counted towards the Bustle Challenge. The Glass Falcon and The Scarlet Plague continued two of my “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.       “What Is Eve?” by Will McIntosh, from Lightspeed #95, April 2018, edited by John Joseph Adams

2.       “Webs” by Mary Ann Mohanraj

3.       “The Elephant’s Crematorium” by Timothy Mudie

4.       “Mozart on the Kalahari” by Steven Barnes

5.       “The Old Women Who Were Skinned” By Carmen Maria Machado

6.       “A Place Without Portals” by Adam-Troy Castro

7.       “The Snow Train” by Ken Liu

8.        “Nitrate Nocturnes” by Ruth Joffre

9.       “Lazy Dog Out” by Suzanne Palmer

10.    “These Antique Fables” by Seanan McGuire, from the author’s Patreon page

11.   “This Is A Wardrobe Not A Door” by A. Merc Rustad, from the author’s collection So You Want To Be A Robot

12.   “Tomorrow When We See The Sun” by A. Merc Rustad

13.   “The Sorcerer’s Unattainable Gardens” by A. Merc Rustad

14.   “The Android’s Prehistoric Menagerie” by A. Merc Rustad

15.   “For Want of A Heart” by A. Merc Rustad

16.   “Once I. Rose” by A. Merc Rustad

17.   “Where Monsters Dance” by A. Merc Rustad

18.   “A Survival Guide For When You’re Trapped In A Black Hole” by A. Merc Rustad

19.   “Thread” by A. Merc Rustad

20.   “Under Wine-Bright Seas” by A. Merc Rustad

21.   “Of Blessed Servitude” by A. Merc Rustad

22.   “To The Knife-Cold Stars” by A. Merc Rustad

23.   “Finding Home” by A. Merc Rustad

24.   “Winter Bride” by A. Merc Rustad

25.   “To The Monsters, With Love” by A. Merc Rustad

26.   “Batteries For Your Doombot 5000 Are Not Included” by A. Merc Rustad

27.   “…Or Be Forever Fallen” by A. Merc Rustad

28.   “Iron Aria” by A. Merc Rustad

29.   “What Becomes of the Third-Hearted” by A. Merc Rustad

30.   “The Gentleman of Chaos” by A. Merc Rustad

31.   “How To Become A Robot in 12 Easy Steps” by A. Merc Rustad

 

So that’s 31 short stories in April, one per day (and one for luck, so to speak) bringing me Year-To-Date to 118 stories. As April 30th was the 120th day of the year, this puts me only 2 stories behind of schedule for the year so far.

FEBRUARY 2017 READINGS

A few days ago I posted about my writing accomplishments in February. Today’s post is about my reading.

I set myself several reading challenges each year, (and at some point I’ll write about this year’s unique challenges in an upcoming post. For now, here’s a look at the two I do every year, and how I’m progressing as the second month of the year has come to an end:

BOOKS

I set myself an annual goal over on Goodreads of 100 books. I track books the same way GR does, so self-published short stories in ebook format count, as do magazines if I read the entire issue and not just a story or two. January’s books read were:

  1. Black Knight: The Fall of Dane Whitman Volume 1, by Frank Tieri, Luca Pizzari and Kev Walker.  I’ve always been a huge fan of Marvel Comics’ Black Knight character, but this latest graphic novel collection felt like it just repeated story beats for the character we’ve already seen when he was an active member of The Avengers and Excalibur.
  2. Lightspeed Magazine #81 (February, 2017), edited by John Joseph Adams. Another fine selection of original and reprint SF and fantasy shorts. This month’s favorites for me were A. Merc Rustad’s “Later, Let’s Tear Up The Inner Sanctum,” Seanan McGuire’s “Lady Antheia’s Guide to Horticultural Warfare,” Brian Stableford’s “The Elixir of Youth,” and Ashok Banker’s “The Six-Gun Vixen and the Dead Coon Trashgang.”
  3. Full of Briars, by Seanan McGuire. Another novella in McGuire’s October Daye urban fantasy series, this one narrated by Quentin Sollys, Toby’s squire, who harbors a few secrets of his own. I loved that this was a quiet, “day in the life” type story, something rare in the Daye-verse, and I loved Quentin’s voice — totally his own but with hints of Toby’s influence.
  4. Ghost Girl in the Corner (A Shadowshaper novella), by Daniel Jose Older.  Focusing on a few of the supporting characters from the Shadowshaper novel, Older gives us a missing girl / dead girl pair of mysteries (with satisfactory “fair play” solutions) and further insight into how the Shadowshaper world works.
  5. Sinner Man, by Lawrence Block. Block’s first crime novel, long out of print since it was first published under a pseudonym, is classic noir Block: the main characters may be unlikeable, but you have to find out how it all comes out. (Reviewed Here on my Blog)
  6. Latin@ Rising: An Anthology of Latin@ Science Fiction and Fantasy, edited by Matthew David Goodwin.  An excellent collection of genre stories by writers of Latin descent or from Latin American countries, including Daniel Jose Older, Junot Diaz, and Sabrina Vourvoulias. (Reviewed Here on my Blog)
  7. Locke and Key Volume 2: Head Games, by Joe Hill and Gabriel Rodriguez. The second installment of the graphic novel series expands the mythology and ups the stakes for the characters in intriguing and disturbing ways.
  8. Undertow, by Jordan L. Hawk. This novella set in Hawk’s “Whyborne and Griffin” Lovecraftian universe shifts the focus to two supporting characters: secretary Maggie Parkhurst and Whyborne’s Ketoi twin sister. Still the same fun adventure, Lovecraftian worldbuilding and same-sex romance Hawk always expertly delivers.
  9. Norse Mythology, by Neil Gaiman. Gaiman solidly and smoothly retells the Norse myths that influenced him, often with the voice one would expect to hear if the tale were being told around a campfire on a cold winter’s night.
  10. The Prisoner of Hell Gate, by Dana I. Wolff.  I picked this up because as a kid born in Queens NY and growing up just north, the Hell Gate bridge scared the hell out of me, and the idea of that part of the river combined with the story of Typhoid Mary into a kind of literary slasher-flick intrigued me. It didn’t really work for me though, despite some interesting character moments and the tying-in of other East River tragedies.

So: ten books read in February, and Goodreads tells me I’m still on track for the year.

SHORT STORIES

I also set myself a goal each year of reading 365 short stories: 1 per day, theoretically, although it doesn’t always work out quite that way. (366 in leap years, of course)

I didn’t quite hit the “one per day” goal in January, but I more than made up for it in February. 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. “Optimistic People” by Chris Drangle, from One Story magazine for December 31, 2016. Two teens get caught up with a drifter when they rescue him from being buried alive. Really great character work.
  2. “We Blazed” by David Farland, from an ebook perk via a Kickstarter reward. Cool world-building mixes fantasy and SF.
  3. “Starship Day” by Ian R. MacLeod, from Lightspeed Magazine #31. Hearbreaking.
  4. “Later, Let’s Tear Up The Inner Sanctum” by A. Merc Rustad. Fantastic super-hero world-building.
  5. “Lady Antheia’s Guide To Horitcultural Warfare” by Seanan McGuire. Disturbing and Victorian and also a bit funny.
  6. “The Last Garden” by Jack Skillingstead
  7. “Probably Still The Chosen One” by Kelly Barnhill
  8. “The Memorial Page” by K.J. Bishop
  9. “Six-Gun Vixen and the Dead Coon Trashgang” by Ashok Banker. Violent and creative mix of SF, westerns and bible-thumping.
  10. “The Elixir of Youth” by Brian Stableford. A retelling of The Prodigal Son takes a very dark turn.
  11. “Taklamakan” by Bruce Sterling.
  12. “Mortensen’s Muse” by Orrin Grey, from Children of Lovecraft.
  13. “Oblivion Mode” by Laird Barron, from Children of Lovecraft.
  14. “The Devil’s Apprentice” by Premee Mohamed, from No Shit, There I Was!
  15. “Blush Response” by E. Catherine Tobler, from No Shit, There I Was! Loved the noir-ish world-building of this story of enforcers and “shine girls.”
  16.  “Full of Briars” by Seanan McGuire. The above-reviewed Quentin Sollys novella.
  17. “Ghost Girl in the Corner” by Daniel Jose Older. The above-reviewed Shadowshaper novella.
  18. “The Road to Nyer” by Kathleen Alcala, from Latin@ Rising: An Anthology of Latin@ Speculative Fiction. A wonderful, ethereal, haunting ghost story.
  19. “Code 51” by Pablo Brescia.
  20. “Uninformed” by Pedro Zagitt.
  21. “Circular Photography” by Pedro Zagitt. Amazing detail that stayed with me long after this bit of flash fiction was over.
  22. “Sin Embargo” by Sabrina Vourvoulias. Words, and translations, mean everything.
  23. “Accursed Lineage” by Daina Chaviano.
  24. “Coconauts in Space” by Adal.
  25. “Cowboy Medium” by Ana Castillo.
  26. “Flying Under the Texas Radar with Paco and Los Freetails” by Ernest Hogan. Music-infused prose.
  27. “Monstro” by Junot Diaz.
  28. “Room For Rent” by Richie Narvaez.
  29. “Artificial” by Edmundo Paz Soldan.
  30. “Through the Right Ventricle” by Steve Castro.
  31. “Two Unique Souls” by Steve Castro
  32. “Caridad” by Alex Hernandez
  33. “Difficult At Parties” by Carmen Maria Machado. Hearbreaking.
  34. “Death of a Businessman” by Giannina Braschi
  35. “Burial of the Sardine” by Giannina Braschi
  36. “Entanglements” by Carlos Hernandez
  37. “The Drain” by Alejandra Sanchez.
  38. “Red Feather and Bone” by Daniel Jose Older
  39. “A Science Fiction” by Carl Marcum
  40. “Scifi-Kill” by Carl Marcum
  41. “Traditions” by Marcos S. Gonsalez
  42. “An Oral History of the Next Battle of the Sexes” by Lucas Schaefer, from One Story magazine for February 21, 2017. Told entirely in quoted interviews from those who saw or were part of the title boxing match between a stellar woman boxer and an obvious male patsy.

So: forty-two short stories for February, which was more than one-per-day and which put me ahead of target (February 28th was the 59th day of the year).