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



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.





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.

2018 Holiday Poem

‘Tis The Season…



To set the table and lay the feast

However plentiful or meager –

The intent matters more than the amount


To welcome those who bless us with their presence

However long or short the stay –

The quality matters more than the span


To celebrate the good and acknowledge the bad

As they affect us in equal measure –

What matters is how we grow from them



So lay out the cookies and milk for Santa with cheer,

And fruit and nuts for Dasher and the reindeer;

Lay out bread and water for the holy husband, mother and child,

And wine and cheese for the roaming revelers wild;

Lay out fishes and meat for the loved ones living,

Leave equal amounts for the dear departed, midnight-visiting.


Light a candle in the window,

Leave a seat at hearth or table,

For the homeless wanderer or

Neighbor in need, as far as you’re able.


“For whatever you do for the least of these,

You do for me.”

May the light and love of the season bring you

Love, Hope, Peace and Prosperity.













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


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.



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.