READING ROUND-UP: February 2019

Continuing the monthly summaries of what I’ve been reading and listening to:


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 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.



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

SUNDAY SHORTS: A Time to Scatter Stones

The “Sunday Shorts” feature is dedicated to reviewing short stories and novellas, two forms I absolutely love.

time to scatter stones cover.jpg



TITLE: A Time to Scatter Stones (A Matthew Scudder novella)

AUTHOR: Lawrence Block

153 pages, Subterranean Press, ISBN 971596068933 (Hardcover)

Disclaimer: Although I bought the Subterranean Press edition, the author also sent me a free e-ARC in exchange for a fair review.


DESCRIPTION: (from the cover flap): More than 40 years after his debut and nearly a decade since his last appearance, one of the most renowned characters in all of crime fiction is back on the case in this new novella by Mystery Writers of America Grand Master Lawrence Block.  Well past retirement age and feeling his years – but still staying sober one day at a time – Matthew Scudder learns that alcoholics aren’t the only ones who count the days since their last slip. Matt’s longtime partner, Elaine, tells him of a group of former sex workers who do something similar, helping each other stay out of the life. Burt when one young woman describes an abusive client who’s refusing to let her quit, Elaine encourages her to get help of a different sort. The sort only Scudder can deliver.


MY RATING: 4 stars out of 5


MY THOUGHTS: It is not usually a good idea to too closely conflate a series character with the author who created them. But I’m going to do it: Lawrence Block and Matthew Scudder are both, in my opinion, living proof that getting old doesn’t necessarily have to suck. Block’s regular Facebook posts and newsletters about jaunts around his beloved New York City and new international publishing endeavors give me hope that maybe I’ll be as physically mobile and mentally sharp at that age. And based on this novella, his possibly most-famous character, Matthew Scudder, has aged just as well alongside him.

Scudder is Block’s only series character to age in real-time, since debuting in The Sins of the Fathers in 1976. He’s grown older, he’s grown wiser … and he’s grown more sedate. He’s happily ensconced (and at this point, probably common-law-married) to his longtime companion Elaine in a nice NYC apartment. They have dinner visits with friends, take slow walks around the neighborhood, enjoy local restaurants, don’t grudge each other time apart pursing their own hobbies and twelve-step-group participation, and banter like an old married couple. Oh, do they banter. One of the things I love about Block’s writing is his ear for conversational dialogue that sounds authentic without being quite as awkward as real life, including the tangents we all go off on where we kind of lose track of what our original point was. Only Block’s characters’ conversational tangents are almost always more pertinent to the plot than they at first seem.

The plot is as straight-forward as it sounds: happily retired PI comes out of mothballs to help a friend of his friend. The difficulty comes in how little the endangered woman knows about the man stalking her; Scudder’s rusty (by his own admission), not sure that his investigative skills are still up to the task of finding a man whose name he doesn’t know and face he’s never seen. Of course, he’s back to Classic Scudder by the end of the book, because how could it be otherwise and have the story feel satisfactory – but he’s also feeling the physical toll in a way we haven’t seen him feel it before. Getting older doesn’t have to suck, but it’s still not easy to accept that we can’t do all the things we used to do with the same ease.

I would say the book is only half about this latest case, and half about how easily we lose track of people as we get older. There’s a very nostalgia-heavy tone to this novella; conversationally, Scudder and Elaine bring up just about every major supporting character in the 40-ish year history of the 18-book series. Some of those characters actually appear in the flesh, but most are mentioned in passing. I enjoyed the tone of these reminiscences because it mirrored conversations I’m having even now, in my early 50s, with the people who have been in my life since elementary school about the people who haven’t stayed in our lives.  But don’t let this scare you out of picking the book up: I haven’t read most of the Scudder books (when it comes to Block’s series output, I’m more of a Bernie Rhondenbarr man than a Scudder or Keller man), and I never felt like these conversations about old friends threw me out of the story. Rather, they made me interested in reading the rest of the series to find out more about the characters I didn’t already know.

The hardcover edition from Subterranean Press might be close to sold out at this writing, but Block has self-published it in ebook, audio, and paperback formats.

2019 Reading Challenges

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



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



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



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


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



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



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



1.       Velveteen Vs. The Junior Super-Patriots

2.       Velveteen Vs. The Multiverse

3.       Velveteen Vs. The Seasons



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

1.       Showboat by Edna Ferber (read in 2017)

2.       Cimarron by Edna Ferber

3.       Back Street by Fannie Hurst

4.       Alice Adams by Booth Tarkington

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

6.       The Bad Seed by William March

7.       Drums Along the Mohawk by Walter D. Edmonds

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

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

10.   The Night of the Hunter by David Grubb



1.       Things Fall Apart (read in 2018)

2.       Arrow of God

3. No Longer At Ease


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.