It’s Monday, What Are You… 4/23


I’m on the fence about Dewey’s 24 Hour Readathon on Saturday. It’s the same day as league finals, so I won’t be able to even attempt 24 hours. But on the other hand:

So, I feel like I could contribute to the event a little in a fun way. I don’t have a game until 2pm which means I could get maybe six hours of reading in before finals. Probably nothing after—games go until 9:30. Even though my team will probably only play two games, I’m likely to stick around and revel.

What am I reading this week? I’m mostly finishing a few things:

The Valley of Fear Hombre The Three Impostors
  • The Valley of Fear by Arthur Conan Doyle – Over halfway. I love that fairly ridiculous cover.
  • Hombre by Elmore Leonard – Started on Friday; it’s going down easy.
  • The Three Impostors by Arthur Machen – Maybe a third of the way through. Machen is a bit dense at times.
  • A Corner in Sleep by E. E. Kellett – A potential favorite discovered while working on the automaton anthology.
  • “The Neanderthal in the Garden” by Guido Eekhaut – For Deal Me In.
  • “Scandle in Bohemia” by  Arthur Conan Doyle

I’m still holding out hope that Meddling Kids will become available before the end of the month. If it does before Saturday, I’ll definitely readathon.

It's Monday! What Are You ReadingIt’s Monday! What Are You Reading, hosted by Book Date!


Deal Me In, Week 16 ~ “Riddle”


Hosted by Jay @ Bibliophilopolis
What’s Deal Me In?

“Riddle” by Ogbewe Amadin

Card picked: 2 – a WILD card
Found at: Fireside Magazine

The Story

I think Aunty Adesuwa is a witch. Mama says so sometimes.

To Idara, Mama never lies, and when Mama says that witches are evil, it must be so. But witchcraft also see,s like it could be a wonderful thing, full of possibilities. Idara sets out to prove whether Aunty Adesuwa is really a witch and really evil. It’s a riddle that isn’t easily solved.

Fireside Magazine showcases some really nice flash fiction. This one has been bookmarked since January and I decided to choose it for my wild card this week, even though it doesn’t fit with the sci fi tales I’ve chosen for hearts. Glad I did. It’s a lovely story with a nice touch of ambiguity.

The Author
I think this might be Nigerian author Ogbewe Amadin’s first publication. I’m pretty sure it won’t be his last.

Spring into Horror Halfway-ish Point

For someone who had no horror on her TBR at the beginning of the month, I’m doing pretty well.

Castle of the Carpathians cover The Castle of the Carpathians by Jules Verne

I’ll be honest, I haven’t really read much/any Verne. I know the basics of many of his more famous Extraordinary Voyage novels (20,000 Leagues Under the SeaThe Mysterious Island), but I haven’t actually read them yet. I ended up quickly reading The Castle of the Carpathians due to a research tangent.

The story is…very slow. 90% of it does not occur in the titular castle. I feel like Verne decided to write a Gothic novel with the intent of explaining all the possible supernatural happening with technology—very pre-Scooby Doo of him. The problem is, Verne’s not a Gothic writer. This book might have influenced the early portion of Dracula. If it did, Bram Stoker massively improved upon it.

The Greatcoat cover The Greatcoat by Helen Dunmore

I knew going into this book that it was going to be a somewhat romantic slow-burn ghost story. And I like that sort of thing, but I wish there had been a little more menace to the haunting, maybe a little more of a zing to the ending. On the other hand, it wasn’t an entirely predicable ghost story, which was nice.

The Fifty Year Sword cover The Fifty Year Sword by Mark Z. Danielewski

I’ve sort of been in the mood to reread Danielewski’s House of Leaves, a book I didn’t quite like when I read it the first time, but has weirdly stuck with me. But I couldn’t easily find my copy. When I was at the library I considered  checking out their copy, but then I saw The Fifty Year Sword on the shelf.

It’s an odd size for a hard back. It’s cover it riddled with holes as though made by a big sewing needle (or the miniature sword letter opener I own).  The text in the book is upside down and backwards and written in a free-verse style with many quotation marks (demoting different speakers, it’s explained) and embroidery looking illustrations (our protagonist is a seamstress). The names of most of the characters are strange. While there are shadows of E. T. A. Hoffmann’s Drosselmeier in the Story Teller and Shirley Jackson’s “The Witch” in the conceit, I sometimes wish Danielewski would simply tell a story without all the shenanigans. But, I suppose, what else was I expecting…

Down the TBR Hole 12


This is a meme started by Lia at Lost in a Story. The “rules” are:

  • Go to your Goodreads to-read shelf.
  • Order on ascending date added.
  • Take the first 5 (or 10 (or even more!) if you’re feeling adventurous) books. Of course, if you do this weekly, you start where you left off the last time.
  • Read the synopses of the books.
  • Decide: keep it or should it go?

I’m modifying this a little since my to-read shelf is a mess of books that are mostly in storage. Instead, I’m going to look at my wishlist—all those books I add on a whim during my travels around the book blogging community—and weed out the ones that don’t quite sound as good now. The “keepers” I’m going to look for at online libraries or add to my Amazon wishlist.

Cover: Ratcatcher by James McGee Ratcatcher by James McGee

I’m still a little intrigued by a story of Regency era crime, but will I actually ever get to it? Probably not. GO.

Cover: The First Psychic by Peter Lamont The First Psychic: The Peculiar Mystery Of A Victorian Wizard by Peter Lamont

I’ve only read two books by Peter Lamont (The Rise of the Indian Rope Trick and Magic In Theory), but he’s one of my favorite writers on magical subjects. KEEP.

Cover: Extraordinary Beliefs by Peter Lamont Extraordinary Beliefs: A Historical Approach to a Psychological Problem by Peter Lamont

Same as the above. KEEP. Alas, these two books are “out of print”-ish. Extraordinary Beliefs is available in a Kindle edition for the scholarly price of $21.49.

Cover: Pantomime by Laura Lam Pantomime by Laura Lam

At a certain point I added a lot of circus novels to my pile. None have stuck around, but I’m KEEPing Pantomime. It feels like the kind of YA I enjoy every once in a while.

Cover: Fadeout by Joseph Hansen Fadeout by Joseph Hansen

There are two things that led to my adding this book in the first place: the main character is “an insurance investigator who is contentedly gay.” Emphasis is mine. An investigator who isn’t police (or a not-related-to-investigation profession)  and a gay character who isn’t tortured by it. KEEP.

Only one cut. Slow week. Anyone have any experience with any of these? Any arguments for KEEP or GO?

Deal Me In, Week 15 ~ “A Human Stain”


Hosted by Jay @ Bibliophilopolis
What’s Deal Me In?

“A Human Stain” by Kelly Robson

Card picked: 6
Found at: Tor

The Story
Down on her luck, Helen is offered the opportunity to accompany Bärchen, a man she barely knows beyond his propensity for revelry, to his ancestral home to teach his orphaned nephew English for the summer. It shouldn’t be too bad of a job even though Bärchen lives in a remote castle called Meresee, the servants barely do their jobs, and Peter’s beautiful French nursemaid won’t open her mouth except to say oui. After only spending a day at home, Bärchen hastily returns to Munich, leaving Helen to puzzle through the lies and secrets of Meresee.

If you smashed The Turn of the Screw into a H. P. Lovecraft tale, but gave it a female protagonist with agency and wit, you’d have something like “A Human Stain.” It’s a chilling tale, well-told.

The Author
I’m fairly unfamiliar with Kelly Robson, but she’s had a bunch of publications in the last few years. In fact, her first novel just came out!

Review ~ All the Crooked Saints

All the Crooked Saints Cover via Goodreads

All the Crooked Saints by Maggie Stiefvater

Here is a thing everyone wants: a miracle.
Here is a thing everyone fears: what it takes to get one.

Any visitor to Bicho Raro, Colorado is likely to find a landscape of dark saints, forbidden love, scientific dreams, miracle-mad owls, estranged affections, one or two orphans, and a sky full of watchful desert stars.

At the heart of this place you will find the Soria family, who all have the ability to perform unusual miracles. And at the heart of this family are three cousins longing to change its future: Beatriz, the girl without feelings, who wants only to be free to examine her thoughts; Daniel, the Saint of Bicho Raro, who performs miracles for everyone but himself; and Joaquin, who spends his nights running a renegade radio station under the name Diablo Diablo.

They are all looking for a miracle. But the miracles of Bicho Raro are never quite what you expect. (via Goodreads)

Why was I interested in this book?
I won this from Midnight Book Girl(s) during Bloggers Dressed in Blood. YA isn’t usually my thing, but I was intrigued by sort of magical realism vibe going on in the blurb.

What Worked
I love a good setting and the place and time of Bicho Raro, Colorado, in the desert in 1962 are intrinsic to the story. Pirate radio stations are a thing of the past and the desert is as much of a character as any person. Both transported me to an arid, harsh, but beautiful land full of darkness and stars, owls and soundwaves.

There is a heightened type of narration in All the Crooked Saints and it took me about two-thirds of book to figure out what it reminded me of: Wes Anderson. In a Wes Anderson film, each character has a place and a default way of acting, sometimes in a slightly absurd manner. Crooked Saints has that with the myth-making of Peter S. Beagle and a dollop of telenovela drama. To be fair, this is something that could have gone poorly for me if I hadn’t been in the right mood.

It’s a lovely bit of fairy tale with characters working their way through the mysteries of tradition and superstition in a world where magic does exist.

What Didn’t Work
There are a lot of characters. Not all of them get a lot of page time—which is fine—but many of them don’t get too much of a different voice either. The world is peopled, but much of the Soria family sounded and felt the same to me.

I really enjoyed All the Crooked Saints. It was a well-needed injection of gentle fantasy into a fairly dull bunch of March books.

Publishing info, my copy: hardback, Scholastic Press, 2017
Acquired: 11/15/17
Genre: fantasy, YA

Writing Update, 4/11

Our Past in the Uncanny Valley

How’s It Going?
I’ve ended up with 19 stories by 16 different authors. I finished formatting the stories on Saturday. A good thing too because by about Thursday of last week I had completely run out of formatting juice. I worked on the cover a little last week for a break.

This week: I’ve gathered biographical materials. I’ll start writing introductions of some sort tomorrow.

About This WIP
Our Past in the Uncanny Valley is a collection of automaton stories from 1810-1910. From the E. T. A. Hoffmann’s nightmarish Olimpia to the enigma of the mechanical chess-playing Turk to the plethora of humorous later-century robot maids, these stories show that our current fears about artificial intelligences aren’t new at all.

Wicked Witch, Retired

Wait, you’ve been working on this?
I miss Kelvaro and Agatha and Orther and Hanna and, yes, Horatio the mechanical duck. I’ve been brainstorming some more specific endings during my morning writings. Which got me thinking about some of the narrative’s current weaknesses. So, I’m going to work my way through The Story Toolkit and see if I can tighten up WWR‘s saggy bits.

About This WIP
Wicked Witch, Retired is the sort-of sequel to a flash story I wrote, “Wicked Witch for Hire,” which is currently available in the anthology Bounded in a Nutshell.