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: June, 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 #109 (June 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 Ellen Kushner’s “When Two Swordsmen Meet,” Caspain Gray’s “Unpublished Gay Cancer Survivor Memoir,” Isabel Canas’ “The Weight of A Thousand Needles,” and Karen Joy Fowler’s “The Last Worders.”

2.       Alexander’s Bridge by Willa Cather. 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.       The History of Soul 2065 by Barbara Krasnoff. I’d previously read only three of the twenty short stories that comprise this mosaic novel that covers fifteen decades in the lives of two families. Subtle magic, strong women, strong LGB representation, strong ties to the Jewish Diaspora.

4.       Spinning Around A Sun: Stories, by Everett Maroon. Flash fiction with sometimes horrific twists, these early stories by Maroon show hints of the style he works so well in his novel.

5.       Fresh Kill (Jimmy McSwain Files, Book 6) by Adam Carpenter. Jimmy McSwain is back for another round of mysteries, and Carpenter returns to the character and his New York City setting with style. Full Review HERE.

6.       Lumberjanes Volume 11: Time After Crime by Shannon Watters, Kat Leyh, and others. The latest Lumberjanes collection gets a bit timey-whimey, but in a very different way from Doctor Who. I was happy to see the focus this time is largely on Molly, with lots of character growth stemming out of her stressful family interactions.

7.       Shout Out edited by Andrew Wheeler. This is a wonderful YA graphic novel anthology of short stories featuring pretty much the entire range of LGBTQIA+ characters across genres from science fiction and fantasy to romance (and often intermingling several genres at once). I can’t praise this one enough.

8.       Synchronicity by Keira Andrews.  I am notoriously under-read when it comes to gay romance (as opposed to gay sf/fantasy/horror with romance or erotica elements). For some reason, much of the gay romance I have read falls into the sports romance realm, and this short about a synchronized diving team at the Olympics is no exception. Nicely written with likeable characters.

9.       From A Whisper to A Riot: The Gay Writers Who Crafted An American Literary Tradition by Adam W. Burgess. I’ve really not been doing well on the whole “read more non-fiction” thing, largely because I read non-fiction much slower than I read fiction. This work by Adam Burgess is a nicely-detailed look at a critically under-represented period in gay fiction, and it is worth your time seeking out. My full review is HERE.

10.   The Drowning Girl by Caitlin R. Kiernan, narrated by Suzy Jackson. A first-person narration ghost story high on eeriness but not gore, featuring a narrator who is lesbian and “crazy” (by her own words). I love narrators who tell you right at the start that they are not necessarily reliable, and IMP is one of those narrators. This is a really great listen. Suzy Jackson captures the main character’s innocence and slow fraying as she goes off her meds while relating her tale.

 

 

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.       “Between The Dark and the Dark” by Deji Bryce Olukotun, from Lightspeed Magazine #109 (June 2019 issue), edited by John Joseph Adams.

2.       “An Advanced Readers’ Picture Book of Comparative Cognition” by Ken Liu

3.       “The Harvest of a Half-Known Life” by G.V. Anderson

4.       “Warhosts” by Yoon Ha Lee

5.       “The Last Worders” by Karen Joy Fowler

6.       “The Weight of A Thousand Needles” by Isabel Canas

7.       “When Two Swordsmen Meet” by Ellen Kushner

8.       “Unpublished Gay Cancer Survivor Memoir” by Caspian Gray

9.       “Dust to Dust” by Tochi Onyebuchi

10.   “Sun Sets Weeping” by Seanan McGuire, on the author’s Patreon page.

11.   “The Clearing In the Autumn,” by Barbara Krasnoff, from her collection The History of Soul 2065.

12.   “Sabbath Wine” by Barbara Krasnoff

13.   “Lost Connections” by Barbara Krasnoff

14.   “Hearts and Minds” by Barbara Krasnoff

15.   “Cancer God” by Barbara Krasnoff

16.   “In The Loop” by Barbara Krasnoff

17.   “The Ladder-Back Chair” by Barbara Krasnoff

18.   “The Sad Old Lady” by Barbara Krasnoff

19.   “The Red Dybbuk” by Barbara Krasnoff

20.   “Waiting For Jakie” by Barbara Krasnoff

21.   “The Gingerbread House” by Barbara Krasnoff

22.   “Time and the Parakeet” By Barbara Krasnoff

23.   “Under the Bay Court Tree” by Barbara Krasnoff

24.   “An Awfully Big Adventure” by Barbara Krasnoff

25.   “Rosemary, That’s For Remembrance” by Barbara Krasnoff

26.   “Stoop Ladies” by Barbara Krasnoff

27.   “Escape Route” by Barbara Krasnoff

28.   “Sophia’s Legacy” by Barbara Krasnoff

29.   “The Clearing in the Spring” by Barbara Krasnoff

30.   “The History of Soul 2065” by Barbara Krasnoff

31.   “Chamber Speed” by Everett Maroon, from his collection Spinning Around A Sun.

32.   “Crazy Making” by Everett Maroon

33.   “Connaissieur” by Everett Maroon

34.   “Dead Martha” by Everett Maroon

35.   “Lost Boy” by Everett Maroon

36.   “Conception” by Everett Maroon

37.   “Mummy” by Everett Maroon

38.   “Desperados” by Everett Maroon

39.   “The Seamstress” by Everett Maroon

40.   “Cold Statues” by Jay Lake, from The Many Tortures of Anthony Cardno, a charity anthology.

So that’s 40 short stories in June, keeping me way ahead for the year so far. (June 30th was the 181st 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:  40 read; YTD: 240 of 365 read.

Graphic Novels Challenge:  This month: 2 read; YTD: 17 of 52 read.

Goodreads Challenge: This month: 10 read; YTD: 71 of 125 read.

Non-Fiction Challenge: This month: 1; 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, but I set a June goal to try to read primarily work by Queer authors or centering Queer characters, since June was Pride Month.

I think I was pretty successful with this one. I’m unsure how many of the writers in the June issue of Lightspeed Magazine identify somewhere on the Queer spectrum. But Will Cather was a lesbian, Everett Maroon and Caitlin R. Kiernan are transgender, and Adam Carpenter and Adam W. Burgess are gay. Many of the creators of the Lumberjanes series and most, if not all, of the creators of the stories in the Shout Out graphic novel anthology are Queer-identifying as well. And while Barbara Krasnoff is straight, The History of Soul 2065 heavily centers two queer couples with a third couple mentioned.

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 is going to be making July Series Month, to help me catch up on one of my year-long challenges (The “Complete The Series” Challenge).

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: March 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 14 books in March: 13 in print, 1 in e-book format, and 0 in audio. They were:

1.       Lightspeed Magazine #106 (March 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 Maria Romasco Moore’s “Self Storage Starts with the Heart,” Ashok K. Banker’s “A Hundred Thousand Arrows,” Kat Howard’s “Those Are Pearls,” and Vandana Singh’s “Of Love and Other Monsters.”

2.       The Backstagers Vol 1: Rebels Without Applause, by James Tynion IV, Rian Sygh, others.  Sort of a “male Lumberjanes in a high school drama department instead of a summer camp” in set-up and tone. Wonderfully diverse cast (gay, straight, trans, white, black), very very cartoony art. The characters are wonderful, but the world-building feels a bit loose and the plot progression a bit slow; I personally would have liked a bit more sense of the underpinnings but your mileage may vary.

3.       The Backstagers Vol 2, by James Tynion IV, Rian Siygh, others. This one swings a bit in the other direction, with tons of details about the world-building and a much faster moving plot, including a resolution I thought would be much further along in an on-going monthly series (and I have no idea if the book is still being published, so maybe the quick resolution was because of impending cancellation?).  I really do like all of these characters, though, and their interactions make the cover price worth it.

4.       Firebrandt’s Legacy (Space Pirates Legacy #1), by David Lee Summers.  It is not easy to take a bunch of short stories published separately and out of order and whip them into a cohesive novel, especially if you’re trying not to lose the episodic feel of the stories themselves. Summers pulls it off excellently. There’s great future world-building, very likeable characters and several consistent believable threats to the main characters’ lives and livelihoods.

5.       Sal & Gabi Break The Universe by Carlos Hernandez. I posted a full review of this earlier. Short version: near future SF with middle-grade protagonists without the usual dystopian trappings and with a very healthy sense of humor. I loved it.

6.       That Ain’t Witchcraft (InCryptid #8) by Seanan McGuire.  The third InCryptid novel featuring youngest Price sister Antimony, her boyfriend Sam, and their friends brings several plot threads to a wild conclusion. In the process we learn more about the legend of the Crossroads and Crossroads Ghosts. Fast-moving and tons of comic-book trivia snark.  There’s also a back-up novella featuring oldest Price child Alexander, his girlfriend Shelby, and their Gorgon friends investigating a mass kidnapping. The novella has hints of what the next novel will likely be about, so perhaps don’t read it until after you’ve finished the main novel.

7.       Hexhunter (Hexworld #4) by Jordan L. Hawk. Hawk continues to develop this alternate history, magic-is-real-and-the-cops-use-it, world full of romance and sex. Each book follows the development of a new witch-familiar pairing, and this volume brings together two long-term supporting characters who must work through much personal baggage while investigating the murder of a nun by a snake familiar. This one also advances the series over-arc about corruption and the distrust between “normal” humans and those who wield magic.

8.       We Have Always Lived in the Castle, by Shirley Jackson. The first book I’ve managed to read this year for the 2019 To Be Read Challenge is one I should have read a long time ago given my love for Jackson’s short story “The Lottery” and novel The Haunting of Hill House.  A full review appeared on this site a week ago.

9.       Oroonoko, by Aphra Behn.  I’m still not completely sure what to make of this novella from 1688. It’s a compelling story by an early female author not writing under a male name, and it’s very clearly anti-slavery. At the same time, it trades on the “noble savage” trope quite heavily.

10.   I Am Malala, by Malala Yousafzai with Christina Lamb.  The second book this year from the 2019 To Be Read Challenge list, I posted a full review earlier this week. I wish there were an audiobook version of this narrated by the author herself; I think I’d have connected more with her voice if I could hear her voice. Still, I learned a lot about Pakistan history as well as Malala’s personal story.

11.   Captain Marvel, Volume 2: Stay Fly, by Kelly Sue DeConnick, Marcio Takara, David Lopez and others.  This one’s been sitting on the graphic novel pile for a while, and I’m glad I read it a few days before seeing the Captain Marvel movie. It’s a fun read, although not quite as fun or engrossing as the first volume in this iteration of Carol Danvers’ adventures.

12.   Liars, Mistruths, and Perception, by Kate Fox.  I am not, as I’ve said often, a big poetry reader. Still, Kate’s short ruminations on real life speak to me. Definitely recommended.

13.   Ms. Marvel, Vol 1: No Normal by G. Willow Wilson, Adrian Alphona and others.  I’ve heard good things about Wilson’s Ms. Marvel since the first issue collected in this volume came out back in 2014, but as with DeConnick’s Captain Marvel run, I am only now getting around to reading the series. I really enjoyed the way Wilson set up the origin so that I didn’t have to understand, or run out and buy, a big Marvel event that I missed because I haven’t bought monthly comics issues since approximately 2010. Probably my favorite graphic novel read of the month.

14.   Forget the Sleepless Shores: Stories, By Sonya Taaffe.  A great collection of densely written, horror-tinged short stories. Can’t say more here because I’ll be writing a review for Strange Horizons later this month.

So fourteen books in March, which Goodreads tells me is twelve ahead of goal for the 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.       “The Synapse Will Free Us From Ourselves” by Violet Allen, from Lightspeed Magazine #106 (March 2019 issue), edited by John Joseph Adams.

2.       “On The Shores of Ligeia” by Carolyn Ives Gilman

3.       “A Temporary Embarrassment in Space-Time” by Charlie Jane Anders

4.       “My Children’s Home” by Woody Dismukes

5.       “Self Storage Begins With The Heart” by Maria Romasco Moore

6.       “Ambitious Boys Like You” by Richard Kadrey

7.       “A Hundred Thousand Arrows” by Ashok K. Banker

8.       “Those Are Pearls” by Kat Howard

9.       “Of Love and Other Monsters” by Vandana Singh

10.   “Emergency Landing” by Seanan McGuire, on the author’s Patreon page.

11.   “Bridge of Sighs” by Kaaron Warren, from Nightmare Magazine #78 (March 2019 issue), edited by John Joseph Adams

12.   “Carry On” by Seanan McGuire

13.   “The Measure of a Monster” by Seanan McGuire, novella published as a free extra story in the paperback of her InCryptid novel That Ain’t Witchcraft.

14.    “Tiends” by Sonya Taaffe, from her collection Forget the Sleepless Shores: Stories (Lethe Press)

15.   “Chez Vous Soon” by Sonya Taaffe

16.   “Little Fix of Friction” by Sonya Taaffe

17.   “On the Blindside” by Sonya Taaffe

18.   “Notes toward the Classification of the Lesser Moly” by Sonya Taaffe

19.   “Another Coming” by Sonya Taaffe

20.   “Last Drink Bird Head” by Sonya Taaffe

21.   “The Boatman’s Cure” by Sonya Taaffe

22.   “The Dybbuk in Love” by Sonya Taaffe

23.   “Like Milkweed” by Sonya Taaffe

24.   “Imperator Noster” by Sonya Taaffe

25.   “The Salt House” by Sonya Taaffe

26.   “And Black Unfathomable Lakes” by Sonya Taaffe

27.   “The Face of the Waters” by Sonya Taaffe

28.   “The Creeping Influences” by Sonya Taaffe

29.   “Drink Down” by Sonya Taaffe

30.   “Exorcisms” by Sonya Taaffe

31.   “When Can a Broken Glass Mend?” by Sonya Taaffe

32.   “On Two Streets, with Three Languages” by Sonya Taaffe

33.   “The Trinitite Golem” by Sonya Taaffe

34.   “All Our Sal-Bottled Hearts” by Sonya Taaffe

35.   “The Depth Oracle” by Sonya Taaffe

36.   “Latvian Angel” by Matthew Lansbaugh, from One Story #250 (February 14, 2019), edited by Will Allison

So that’s 36 short stories in March, leaving me still slightly behind for the year so far. (March 31th was the 90th day of 2019.)

 

Summary of Reading Challenges:

“To Be Read” Challenge: This month: 2 read; YTD: 2 of 14 read.

365 Short Stories Challenge: This month:  36 read; YTD: 88 of 365 read.

Graphic Novels Challenge:  This month: 4 read; YTD: 14 of 52 read.

Goodreads Challenge: This month: 14 read; YTD: 43 of 125 read.

Non-Fiction Challenge: This month: 1; YTD: 3 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 since March was Women’s History Month, I decided to try to read primarily women authors, and I did a pretty decent job of it. Of the 14 books I read, 8 were written by women. Of the 35 stories, 9 women authors wrote the majority (32 total; Sonya Taaffe accounts for 22 of them, Seanan McGuire for 3).

April’s challenge: read titles primarily from small press publishers.

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

READING ROUND-UP FOR January, 2019

Reinstating what I intend to be a monthly summary of everything I’ve read. Here’s the January 2019 round-up:

 

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 11 books in January: 10 in print, 1 in ebook format, and 0 in audio (no long work drive trips in January, which is when I usually listen to audiobooks. They were:

1.       Lightspeed Magazine #92 (January 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 Sarah Micklem’s “The Book Collector,” Ashok K. Banker’s “Son of Fire and Water,” and Maria Dhavana Headley’s “What There Was To See.”

2.       Exits Plans For Teenage Freaks, by ‘Nathan Burgoine.  Burgoine’s first sf gay YA novel is a fast-moving, character-driven wonder. Cole discovers he can teleport, just another thing to make him standout on top of being openly gay and that kid who got kidnapped when he was four years old. Of course, he’s not the only one who can do what he does, and that could lead to trouble. There’s also a wide range of LGBTQIA supporting characters and an adorable romantic subplot.

3.       Kingdom of Needle and Bone, by Mira Grant. Another truly disturbing, very realistic bit of near-future science/medical-based horror by the reigning queen of the genre. What happens when our herd immunity disappears and the old diseases not only return but mutate to something even deadlier?

4.       Bartleby The Scrivener, by Herman Melville.  I love novellas, as witnessed by how many I read this month. I don’t ever remember reading this classic by Melville in any high school or college literature course. It’s possible I just wiped it from my memory, because I didn’t really like it. I dug the gothic feel, but it felt like it went nowhere slowly.

5.       Elevation by Stephen King. Third novella of the month, a new Castle Rock story from a master of the novella length. It starts out intriguing (man is losing weight but not mass), bogs down a bit in the middle with a bit too much attention to subplots, and ends on  … well, I’m not sure how to describe the notes it ends on. Maybe hopeful, maybe just depressing.

6.       Parents Day (Lumberjanes Volume 10), by Shannon Watters, Kat Leyh and company.  I was excited to finally meet the parental units of the girls of the Roanoke Cabin. I felt like the story could have given us a bit more of the parent-child relationships among the usual fun Lumberjanes weirdness. It wasn’t my favorite installment of the series so far, but even the disappointing installments are still great reads.

7.       Fence, Volume 2 by C.S. Pascat and others. The second volume of this boarding school fencing team story continues to develop the rivalry between the two leads and develops some of the supporting characters beyond the “stock” feel they had in volume one. The art is solid throughout as well, and I think I actually learned a thing or two about the sport in amongst all the character drama.

8.       In An Absent Dream (Wayward Children #4), by Seanan McGuire. I continue to marvel at the twists and turns McGuire brings to the “portal fantasy” genre. The great thing about this series is that you can seriously read them in whatever order you want. You do not have to have read the preceding three volumes to really fall into this story of a girl who repeatedly visits a fairy-tale “goblin market” realm where giving fair value is the rule and failure to do so has lasting consequences. I’ve been intrigued by every portal world McGuire has introduced us to, but this might now be my favorite (alongside the Gothic horror world of “Down Amongst The Sticks and Bones.”)

9.       Roar of Sky, by Beth Cato.  Cato wraps up her magic-based alternate history of a United States allied with Imperial Japan in fine style. The story is still totally character-driven, as Ingrid comes to terms with her growing powers, Cy comes to terms with his family’s legacy as weaponizers of war, and Fenris continues being Fenris. The Pacific Island and Asian mythology woven throughout is wonderfully deep and not just window-dressing. I will miss reading these characters.

10.   Resist Fascism, edited by Bart R. Leib and Kay T. Holt.  Crossed Genres’ first (and hopefully not last) themed “micro-anthology” of 9 stories about resistance and revolution – both in small acts and large. Not a bad story in the lot, but my favorites were Rivqa Rafael’s “To Rain Upon One City,” R.K. Kalaw’s “3.4 oz,” Barbara Krasnoff’s “In The Background,” and Santiago Bellucco’s “Meg’s Last Bout of Genetic Smuggling.”

11.   A Time To Scatter Stones, by Lawrence Block.  The final novella read for January is a classic Block modern noir tale with a thick veneer of nostalgia sans regret. Matthew Scudder, the only one of Block’s series characters to age in real time, has pretty much hung up his private investigator shingle, but when a member of his girlfriend’s “AA”-like group for women trying to leave “the life” needs help with a stalker, Scudder jumps back in. Problem is, he’s not as young, spry or sharp as he used to be. Block doesn’t shy away from the downsides of getting old, but he doesn’t ignore the enjoyable moments either. There’s a lot of whimsy, a lot of cute nods for long-time readers, and just a bit of erotic talk as well.

So eleven books in January, which Goodreads told me was a few ahead of goal for the month/year. Only two graphic novels, so I failed to meet my “one graphic novel per week” reading challenge, and nothing I read in January helped meet the To Be Read Challenge.

 

 

 

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.       “With Teeth Unmake the Sun” by A. Merc Rustad, from Lightspeed Magazine #104 (January 2019 issue), edited by John Joseph Adams.

2.       “Engine at Heartspring’s Center” by Roger Zelazny

3.       “Midway” by Tony Ballantyne

4.       “The Book Collector” by Sarah Micklem

5.       “The Emerald Coat and Other Wishes” by Emily B. Cataneo

6.       “Son of Fire and Water” by Ashok K. Banker

7.       “The Pilgrim and the Angel” by E. Lily Yu

8.       “Endor House” by Meg Elison

9.       “What There Was To See” by Maria Dhavana Headley

10.   “Sweet as Sugar Candy” by Seanan McGuire, on the author’s Patreon page.

11.   “The Duke of Riverside” by Ellen Kushner, from Uncanny #26, edited by Lynne M. Thomas and Michael Damian Thomas

12.   “Infernal Affairs” by Jordan L. Hawk, from Devil Take Me, edited by Tricia Kristufek

13.   “Phases” by Chris Vanjonack, from One Story #249, edited by Patrick Ryan

14.   “To Rain Upon One City” by Rivqa Rafael, from Resist Fascism, edited by Bart R. Leib and Kay T. Holt

15.   “3.4 oz” by R. K.Kalaw

16.   “In The Background” by Barbara Krasnoff

17.   “The Seventh Street Matriarchy” by Marie Vibbert

18.   “We Speak in Tongues of Flame” by J.L. George

19.   “Meet Me At the State Sponsored Movie Night” by Tiffany E. Wilson

20.   “Ask Me About My Book Club” by M. Michelle Bardon

21.   “Pelecanimimus and the Battle for Mosquito Ridge” by Izzy Wasserstein

22.   “Meg’s Last Bout of Genetic Smuggling” by Santiago Bellucco

23.   “Christmas Eve” by Jim Butcher, on the Evil Hat website

24.   “Burning, In You” by Brayden Meket, from One Teen Story #57, edited by Patrick Ryan

25.   “An Archangel’s Defiance” by Lydia M. Hawke, on the author’s website

So that’s 25 short stories in January, putting  me slightly behind for the year so far.

READING ROUND-UP: MAY 2018

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

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 15 books in May: 9 in print, 2 in audio, and 4 in ebook format. They were:

1.       Lightspeed Magazine #96 (May, 2018) edited by John Joseph Adams. The usual great assortment of science fiction and fantasy short stories and non-fiction. Favorites this issue were Martin Cahill’s “Godmeat,”, Kodiak Julian’s “Our Side of the Door”, Xia Jia’s “Night Journey of the Dragon Horse,” and Tobias Buckell’s “Sunset.”

2.        E is for Evil edited by Rhonda Parrish. The latest in Poise and Pen Publishing’s “Alphabet anthologies” is another fun collection of stories of varying lengths built around the title theme, in this case “evil” in all its forms. The fun of this series is not knowing the story title (“A is for [fill in the blank]”) until after the story concludes. Some entries are easy to guess, some are nice surprises that make you look at the story differently after the fact. Two of my favorites in this volume were by Beth Cato and Jeanne Kramer-Smyth.

3.       Scourged (Iron Druid Chronicles #9) by Kevin Hearne. The concluding volume, at least for now, in Hearne’s Iron Druid Chronicles is, without spoilers, a very satisfactory finish: every major plot and pretty much every sub-plot introduced in the previous 8 novels and various novellas and short stories is wrapped up without sacrificing story flow, action, or urgency. It literally has all been leading to this. If I have any complaint, it’s that Owen’s subplot feels a bit too disconnected from the rest of the book.

4.       Perennial: a garden romance by Mary Anne Mohanraj. A beautiful little romantic novella featuring a cancer patient, a flower-shop owner, and poetry the author wrote during her own cancer struggle. I re-read it several times, and posted a longer review a few weeks ago.

5.       Iceman Vol 2: Absolute Zero by Sina Grace and Robert Gill. I enjoyed the second volume of Grace’s run as writer on Iceman’s solo series almost as much as I enjoyed the first volume. Grace continues to show the coming out process for the occasional mess it can be – I can’t pick out just one or two moments out of the many that felt so real. As a fan of relatively-obscure super-teams, I loved the way Grace scripted, and Robert Gill illustrated, the reunion of Marvel’s 1970’s Champions team in the first half of the book.

6.       Strange Weather by Joe Hill. This collection of four novellas felt sort of hit-or-miss to me. “Snapshot” (narrated on the audiobook by Wil Wheaton) and “Rain” (narrated by Kate Mulgrew) were my favorites: tightly-told stories in first person POV with high stakes that were believable despite the supernatural aspects. “Aloft” (narrated by Dennis Boutsikaris) felt about a third too long for the story Hill was trying to tell. “Loaded” (narrated by Stephen Lang) is a topical and politically charged story that feels like it should be an “all-star cast” ensemble movie.

7.       The Golem of Deneb Seven and Other Stories by Alex Shvartsman. A really wonderful collection of science fiction and fantasy stories, many of them humorous. Favorites included the title story and “The Race for Arcadia.” Posted a review earlier this week.

8.       The Wicked and the Divine Vol 2: The Faust Act by Keiron Gillen, Jamie McElvie, Matt Wilson. The first volume of a graphic novel series that’s been around a while but which I’m just getting around to reading. The premise (every 90 years or so, a small handful of gods are incarnated into human form to influence world culture) feels simple enough, but within the first 25 pages the story starts to take interesting turns. And of course the volume ends with a hook (but not a cliffhanger) to get you to keep reading. McElvie’s art is expressive and dynamic.

9.       Captain Marvel, Vol 1: Higher, Faster, Stronger, by Kelly Sue DeConnick and David Lopez. There’s a lot of DC and Marvel stuff I’ve been meaning to read, including DeConnick’s run as writer on Captain Marvel. I suspect I started with the wrong “volume 1,” as back-of-book ads and story subplots indicate there’s an earlier DeConnick run I probably should have read first. Nonetheless I found the story accessible for someone who hasn’t picked monthly comics up in years. The story builds and has legitimately interesting twists (rather than twists present for shock’s sake alone). Lopez’s art is clean and stream-lined.

10.   Red Sonja / Claw the Unconquered: The Devil’s Hand by John Layman, Andy Smith. I loved both of these characters back in the day. I only liked this story. It was decent, but I didn’t feel drawn in to either the story or captivated by the art.

11.   Hercules: Still Going Strong by Dan Abnett and Luke Ross. I remember ads for Marvel’s “all-new, all-different Hercules” run, but didn’t realize it was short enough to fit into one graphic novel and basically incomplete. I like what Abnett attempted to do, turning what we know about Marvel’s Hercules upside down, and was intrigued by the new gods / old gods threat (shades of Neil Gaiman’s “American Gods”). I would have liked to have seen where he would have gone with the story given more than six monthly issues. And I really liked how detailed and realistic Luke Ross’s art was.

12.   You Will Meet A Stranger Far From Home: Wonder Stories by Alex Jeffers. A really solid collection of fantasy (or fantasy-tinged) stories featuring a cast of gay, mostly Arabic characters and hinging heavily on Middle Eastern legends and mythology. One or two of the stories have fantasy aspects that are barely even noticeable, and several of the stories are clearly inter-connected. Favorites included "Tattooed Love Boys," "Jannicke's Cat," "Farouz and His Brother" / "Haida and His Dog," and "Wheat, Barley, Lettuce, Fennel, Salt for Sorrow, Blood for Joy."

13.   Solacers: An Iranian Oliver Twist Story by Arion Golmakani. One of my “To Be Read” 2018 challenge titles, a more detailed review will be forthcoming on the blog. Short version is that I found this an intriguing look at Iranian culture before the Shah fell couched in a very personal, and often very painful, life story.

14.   Madman Walking (Janet Moodie #2) by L.F. Robertson I found the second entry in the Janet Moodie legal thriller series easily accessible even not having read the first entry. As I was sent an ARC of this to review, there will be a more detailed review coming up next week on the blog.

15.   The Witch Boy by Molly Knox Ostertag. A really wonderful middle-grade graphic novel about a magical family in which the boys are shapeshifters and the girls witches, and in which very strong gender roles are enforced, resulting in a dark family secret that title character Aster must deal with. The art is expressive without being over-detailed, never quite jumping into cartoony. A world I hope the author will continue to revisit.

That’s 15 books in February, to a Year-To-Date total of 68, which Goodreads says me puts me 26 books ahead of schedule for my 100 Books Challenge.  Solacers was this month’s read for the 2018 To Be Read Challenge. I read 6 graphic novels for the “one graphic novel per week” reading challenge (I’m at 23 graphic novels for the year, and as the last full week of May was week #21 of 2018 I’m now a little ahead for the year-to-date). Solacers also counted towards the Bustle Challenge. I didn’t read anything towards any of my “Complete the Series” challenges in May. 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.       “Sunset” by Tobias Buckell, from Lightspeed #96, May 2018, edited by John Joseph Adams

2.       “We Will Be All Right” by Carolyn Ives Gilman

3.       “The Crystal Spheres” by David Brin

4.       “A Green Moon Problem” by Jane Lindskold

5.       “Godmeat” By Martin Cahill

6.       “Night Journey of the Dragon Horse” by Xia Jia (translated from Chinese by Ken Liu)

7.       “Our Side of the Door” by Kodiak Julian

8.        “His Artist Wifee” by John Grant

9.       “Great Work of Time” by John Crowley

10.    “Goodnight, Sleep Tight” by Seanan McGuire, from the author’s Patreon page

11.   “Snapshot” by Joe Hill, from the author’s collection Strange Weather

12.   “Loaded” by Joe Hill

13.   “Aloft” by Joe Hill

14.   “Rain” by Joe Hill

15.   “We Go Together” by Eric McMillan, from One Story #239 (March 15, 2018)

16.   “Mt. Adams at Mar Vista” by Gwen E. Kirby, from One Story #240 (April 19, 2018)

17.   “Sanguinary Scar” by E. Catherine Tobler, from Black Static #62 (March/April, 2018)

18.   “The Golem of Deneb Seven” by Alex Shvartsman, from the author’s collection The Golem of Deneb Seven and Other Stories

19.   “A Perfect Medium for Unrequited Love” by Alex Shvartsman

20.   “Burying Treasure” by Alex Shvartsman

21.   “Noun of Nouns: A Mini-Epic” by Alex Shvartsman

22.   “Whom He May Devour” by Alex Shvartsman

23.   “Letting Go” by Alex Shvartsman

24.   “The Fiddle Game” by Alex Shvartsman

25.   “The Seven Habits of Highly Effective Monsters” by Alex Shvartsman

26.   “Islands in the Sargasso” by Alex Shvartsman

27.   “Catalogue of Items in the Chess Exhibit at the Humanities Museum, Pre-Enlightenment Era” by Alex Shvartsman

28.   “Fifteen Minutes” by Alex Shvartsman

29.   “Masquerade Night” by Alex Shvartsman

30.   “The Poet Kings and the Word Plague” by Alex Shvartsman

31.   “Golf to the Death” by Alex Shvartsman

32.   “Staff Meeting, As Seen By the Spam Filter” by Alex Shvartsman

33.   “Invasive Species” by Alex Shvartsman

34.   “One in a Million” by Alex Shvartsman

35.   “Grains of Wheat” by Alex Shvartsman

36.   “The Ganthu Eggs” by Alex Shvartsman

37.   “The Practical Guide to Punching Nazis” by Alex Shvartsman

38.   “Dante’s Unfinished Business” by Alex Shvartsman

39.   “Forty-Seven Dictums of Warfare” by Alex Shvartsman

40.   “How Gaia and Guardian Saved the World” by Alex Shvartsman

41.   “He Who Watches” by Alex Shvartsman

42.   “Recall Notice” by Alex Shvartsman

43.   “Dreidel of Dread: The Very Cthulhu Chanukah” by Alex Shvartsman

44.   “Die, Miles Cornbloom” by Alex Shvartsman

45.   “A Man in an Angel Costume” by Alex Shvartsman

46.   “Future Fragments, Six Seconds Long” by Alex Shvartsman

47.   “Parametrization of Complex Weather Patterns for Two Variables” by Alex Shvartsman

48.   “The Race for Arcadia” by Alex Shvartsman

49.   “Departures” by Sara Batkie, from One Story #241 (May 17, 2018)

50.   “Wheat, Barley, Lettuce, Fennel, Salt for Sorrow, Blood for Joy” by Alex Jeffers, from the author’s collection You Will Meet A Stranger Far From Home

51.   “The Arab’s Prayer” by Alex Jeffers

52.   “Then We Went There” by Alex Jeffers

53.   “Farouz and His Brother” by Alex Jeffers

54.   “Turning” by Alex Jeffers

55.   “Haida and His Dog” by Alex Jeffers

56.   “Jannicke’s Cat” by Alex Jeffers

57.   “Liam and the Wild Fairy” by Alex Jeffers

58.   “Bann’s Dream of the Sea” by Alex Jeffers

59.   “Tattooed Love Boys” by Alex Jeffers

 

So that’s 59 short stories in May, way more than one per day, bringing me Year-To-Date to 177 stories. As May 30th was the 151th day of the year, this puts me 26 stories ahead of schedule for the year so far.

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.

March 2018 Reading Round-Up

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

 

BOOKS

To keep my numbers consistent with what I have listed on Goodreads, I count completed magazine issues and stand-alone short stories in ebook format as “books.” I read or listened to 22 books in February: 18 in print, 2 in audio, and 2 in ebook format. They were:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

 

STORIES

I have a goal of reading 365 short stories (1 per day, essentially, although it doesn’t always work out that way) each year. Here’s what I did read and where you can find them if you’re interested in reading them too (with some short notes for stories that really stood out to me). If no source is noted, the story is from the same magazine or book as the story(ies) that precede(s) it:

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

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

3.       “Cosmic Spring” by Ken Liu

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

5.       “The Dreamers of Alamoi” By Jeremiah Tolbert

6.       “Al-Kahf” by Beesan Odeh

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

15.   “Cabbages and Kings” by Seanan McGuire

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

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

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

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