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).