Monthly Archives: June 2019

Sunday Salon, 6/30/19

Sunday Salon

Read & Reading

I was overcome by readathon insanity on Friday and signed up for the Book Junkie Trials. Yeah, this happens occasionally. So, I’ve pretty much doubled the number of books I was going to read in July. We’ll see how it goes. This week in addition to daily The Count of Monte Cristo and short stories, I’ll be reading Fevre Dream by George R. R. Martin for the Book Junkie Trials and rereading PHYSIC by Eric Nabity.

Fevre Dream PHYSIC

Deal Me In: After a shuffle of the remaining half of my cards (almost), I pulled K which was assigned to “Don’t Look Behind You” by Fredric Brown. The narrator of the story begins by addressing the reader and telling the story which explains why he’s going to have to kill the reader. There is plenty of unbalanced in this story to make reading it a slightly uneasy experience. “But wherever you’re reading it, I’m near you, watching and waiting for you to finish. You can count on that.”

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

Movie of the Week

The only movie I watched this week was The Bourne Legacy. I made note on Twitter not long ago that by the metric of films I’ve rewatched many times and still find enjoyable, for me, this is one of the best movies of the 2010s. I think it got a bad rap for not being “Bourne” enough, but the plot was a nice sci-fi-ish expansion of that universe and I have a soft spot for both Jeremy Renner and Rachel Weisz.

What Else is Going On?

Writing: I’ve been going back and forth on what I want to work on and what I am motivated to work on. Considering I have a sale scheduled in early August for the first One Ahead book, I am going to polish up the second story and give it a cover. So, maybe by the beginning of August I’ll publish One Ahead: The Case of the Horrid Haunting. I believe I have a fairly solid, clean final draft.

A cool thing that happened last Monday: Literary Flits reviewed the anthology I edited of David P. Abbott’s Open Court articles. In a weird way, this easier for me to be happy about than if it had been about my own fiction.

The Sunday Salon is a linkup hosted by Deb @ Readerbuzz

The Book Junkie Trials Readathon

I’m late-ish arriving at this readathon/challenge which I heard about from Liz @ Travel in Retrospect. All the details can be found at Rachael Marie Book Junkie’s post video or on Twitter or via this comprehensive Google docs folder. The fun part? A little personality quiz to figure out which team I’m on and which book prompts.

I usually don’t do these kinds of readathons, but I’m in the mood for something a little different.

I’m on Team Magi!

A tricky folk, they can bend time. Magi have a 3 day lead on all other teams. (The readathon begins July 1st.)

One of their spells went awry, and now they are forced to read a book outside of their comfort zone.

My Path (Prompts & TBR)

Each of these have to be read in order. No skipping, trading, or DNFing! (But I will be reading a couple other books I have in-progress, for reviews, etc. too.)

1. Orc Grove: Some say there is no talking to Orcs, but a good political relationship is needed. Learn some Orc customs by reading a book that is gruesome, gory, or gritty.

Fevre Dream

Fevre Dream by George R. R. Martin
I have a later prompt that involves dragons, but I’m going to read George R. R. Martin’s vampire book!

2. Ol’ Pirate Cove: Shiver me timbers. You shall be walking the plank if you don’t learn how to sail better. Read a book that takes place, at least in part, on sea.

Mr. Midshipman Hornblower (Hornblower Saga: Chronological Order, #1)

Mr. Midshipman Hornblower by C. S. Forester
I’ve had this on my TBR for quite a while now.

3. Glimmer: This Isle is alight with gems and crystals, one of the most picturesque spots in
The High Queendom. Make sure you fit in with a beautiful or colourful book.

Comic Books Incorporated: How the Business of Comics Became the Business of Hollywood

Comic Books Incorporated by Shawna Kidman
I decided to make it a little easy on myself by including one of my library books.

4. Draconic Isle: Oh My! This island is swarming with wyverns and dragons. Brush up on your draconic knowledge with a book that features dragons.

His Majesty's Dragon (Temeraire, #1)

His Majesty’s Dragon by Naomi Novik
This is also going to be my “weakness” book.
Alternate history…with dragons??? This is going to be rough, my friends.

5. The Bookie Grail: Here you find a lost manuscript, delivered on this forgotten island by a fallen star. Read the group book: Stardust.


Stardust by Neil Gaiman
I know I can get the audio book from hoopla, so I’m set!

Review ~ Conjure Times

Conjure Times cover

Conjure Times: The History of Black Magicians in America by James Haskins & Kathleen Benson

Throughout American history, black magicians have achieved great skill in both the magician’s tricks of the trade as well as the psychology of entertaining an audience. However, because of slavery and, later, racial segregation and discrimination, few have been able to make their living as magicians. Those who have succeeded are rare indeed, and although some have left a mark on history, many exist only as names on old playbills or in newspaper advertisements. Jim Haskins delivers an illuminating portrait of these unheralded pioneers — a tribute to African-Americans who paved the way for and will inspire future generations. (via Goodreads)

Why was I interested in this book?
I’ve been reading about magic history for some time now, but I realized I knew very little about African-American magicians aside from Adalaide Herrmann’s mention of the black assistants in their show. The assistant was known as Boomsky, though several magicians played that part. Indeed, the last of the Boomskies, M. H. Everett went on to have a fairly good career after Herrmann’s death.

What did I learn?
African-American magicians have different career lineages. While some, like Everett, were assistants for white magicians, most learned magic from other black magicians—most of whom are relatively unknown to history. They didn’t learn from the likes of Kellar or Dai Vernon, but rather Alanzo Moore or Clarence Hunter. While it seems that white magicians weren’t opposed to helping and mentoring black students, they just really weren’t available due to different performance circles.

An early stage opportunity for black magicians was as part of minstrel shows. These eventually gained a little more legitimacy as vaudeville shows, but the stages and audiences were still segregated. Black magicians didn’t perform for white audiences because they prevented from doing so. Well, unless they wanted to take the persona of a “Hindoo” illusionist. Many did and made a decent living at it. Eventually, desegregation led to more and more performing opportunities.

There was also a barrier due to types of gaffed products available. For example, the thumb tip is  a versatile tool for many magic tricks, but not if it isn’t available in the proper skin tone.

What more did I want?
Conjure Times is aimed at young readers, so none of the biographies are particularly in-depth. There’s a list of sources that I’m definitely going to check out. Also, it was published in 2001 and deserves a new edition. Not included in the modern section, for example, is Kendrick McDonald, who was the first African-American to serve as the president of the Society of American Magicians.

You didn’t think I wasn’t going to include a video did you?

Informative and a good starting point.

Publishing info: Walker & Company, 2001
My Copy: Hardback, Tempe Public Library
Genre: history

The Black Cat, No. 9, June 1896

Welcome to the No. 9 issue of The Black Cat and the Black Cat Project!

Thankfully, this month’s issue annoyed me a lot less than the last. I guess that’s what happens when I don’t have to deal with a racial invective in the very title of a story.


“The House Across the Way” by Leo Gale

I was worried that I might not get another good creepy tale in The Black Cat until the autumnal/winter months. My worries were unfounded. There were two in this issue! The first was “The House Across the Way.” Mr. Jones is a bit nosy. He noticed the rather smart family who lived in the building across the street and when he noticed their absence, he was quick to inquire about their apartment. After he moves in, he befriends Mr. Flemming, the second floor’s only other resident. Since the other rooms on the floor aren’t locked, they make light use of them. During one lazy evening, Jones notices that the width of two apartments is shorter than the hallway is long. Is there a secret room? And the better question, why is there a secret room?

“Mrs. Sloan’s Curiosity” by Mabell Shippie Clarke

Mrs. Sloan’s daughter is engaged to Mr. G. F. S. Simms. He is, by all accounts, a nice guy and a good match. But there is one thing: he won’t tell anyone what G. F. S. stands for. We do find out, but I feel like this is maybe a joke that made more sense in 1896.

Mabell Shippie Clark had quite a literary career including a series featuring a character named Ethel Morton.

“The Seaweed Room” by Clarice Irene Clinghan

Prof. Linwood was a collector of seaweed. Until he got married. But now his wife is dead and the seaweed room is kept locked. No one knows why, so surely it would be okay if a late-staying guest spends the night there, right? “The Seaweed Room” is the second creepy story of the issue and it does not disappoint. It’s my favorite story of the issue due to its atmosphere and its brevity.

This is Clarice Irene Clinghan’s third story for The Black Cat, each better than the last.

“The Second Edition” by Geik Turner

Last month, Geik Turner’s story highlighted how one lonely man can bring a railroad to his knees. This month a lonely night shift newspaper editor is coerced into printing a detraction at gun point. Mr. Turner definitely seems to have something to say about the state of the world.

“The Luck of Killing Day” by McPherson Fraser

The issue concludes with a Western. In order to impress the only unmarried woman at Ft. Niobrara, two lieutenants crash a Native American celebration. As one does. I guess.



Want to read for yourself?
Here’s the link to Issue No. 9, June 1896

Or find out
More about the Black Cat Project

Sunday Salon, 6/23/19

Sunday Salon

Read & Reading

Kind of had a terrible week progress-wise on everything. PMS does this to me sometimes. Just rotten, rotten brain fog. But, I’m feeling much better now.

Didn’t finish reading anything aside from the June 1896 issue of The Black Cat. I should finish Conjure Times today with a thought to review it Tuesday-ish. Making slower-than-expected progress on Poe’s Arthur Gordan Pym. Anachronistically, it’s like a mash-up of Moby-Dick and Event Horizon. I’ll probably pair it with The Four Horsemen this week.

The Four Horsemen: The Conversation That Sparked an Atheist Revolution The Narrative of Arthur Gordon Pym of Nantucket

For Deal Me In this week I pulled 4 and read “An Obstruction to Delivery” by Sean Adams from the July/Aug 2017 issue of The Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction. In the introduction to this story the editor noted that the magazine had received an increase of stories about snail mail around the time the magazine switched to electronic submissions. In “An Obstruction to Delivery,” an over-zealous postal worker forces local government to relegate the mail carriers to the mysterious tunnels under the city. Unfortunately, the tunnels are already in use… This was a nicely done little horror tale, using vignettes to tell the story.

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

Movie of the Week

I checked out the movie Mary Shelley (2017) from the library on a whim. I…didn’t care for it. It was plain and seemed to shy away from anything that might be difficult in Shelley’s life. Plus, all the men were pretty and looked alike, which is difficult for someone with a bit of face-blindness. Instead I bookmarked a couple of biographies to read and fondly remembered Gothic (1986). Gothic is no more factual about Shelley’s time at Lake Gevena than Mary Shelley, but it’s stylish, has interesting looking men, and is completely insane. It’s also quite NSFW.

What Else is Going On?

Writing: I’ve been reformatting Eric’s first novel PHYSIC as he works the sequels’ edits. I plan on giving it another read-through too. I meant to get through more of my rewrite of Wicked Witch, Retired in June so I’m going to continue on instead of moving to a different project in July.

Ultimate: We’ve been playing in our Tuesday night league. Due to the heat, daytime ultimate has been less common, but we’re still playing at lunchtime about once a week and Eric and I have been running intervals again a couple of times a week. It’s funny how much more difficult it is to get exercise in the summer in Phoenix. Unless you get up at 4am, which is not gonna happen!

The Sunday Salon is a linkup hosted by Deb @ Readerbuzz

Down the TBR Hole 20


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.

The Magician's Wife cover The Magician’s Wife by Brian Moore

The plot has a kinda-sorta historical seed in Robert-Houdin’s visit to Algeria, which is interesting to me. I’ve become a little leery of fictional magicians, but I think I’ll KEEP this one on my list longer. Plus it’s available from Hoopla. I might actually get to it one day!

52 Ways To Magic America cover 52 Ways To Magic America by James Flint

This one is on the opposite end of availability. Maybe it’s more easily gotten in the UK. It’s blurbed at the British answer to Carter Beats the Devil, but it seems much more mainstream and it is contemporarily set. It’s also touted as being well-researched, so I will KEEP it.

The Worst Hard Time cover The Worst Hard Time: The Untold Story of Those Who Survived the Great American Dust Bowl by Timothy Egan

The Dust Bowl is something I find fascinating, but don’t know nearly enough about. This was a Nonfiction November recommendation from 2014. Given it’s wide library availability, I’m pretty sad with myself that I haven’t read it yet. KEEP.

The Rabbi and the Hit Man The Rabbi and the Hit Man: A True Tale of Murder, Passion, and Shattered Faith by Arthur J. Magida

I read Magida’s The Nazi Séance (about a Jewish psychic who becomes one of Hitler’s advisors) a couple years back. It was pretty good and the subject of this books seems as eclectic. But if I’m honest with myself, I don’t think I’m ever going to get to this one. GO.

Gretel and the Dark cover Gretel and the Dark by Eliza Granville

A bit of what I said about The Rabbi and the Hitman goes for this book as well. It’s not that I’ve totally changed my mind and this book is now unappealing; its that its just not compelling enough when I have a couple hundred other books in my queue. GO.

Anyone have any experience with any of these? Any arguments for KEEP or GO?

Sunday Salon, 6/16/19

Sunday Salon

Read & Reading

I did indeed finish The History of Soul 2065 and reviewed it on Friday. While at the library last week I also read a slim volume of humorous poems titled Love Poems (for Married People). I might do a short review with it and a few other things this upcoming week, if I’m feeling ambitious. I’m currently a little behind on The Count of Monte Cristo and this week I’m going to finally get to one of my older library books Conjure Times: The History of Black Magicians in America by James Haskins. I also haven’t been reading my Poe, but this week I should finish his only “novel,” The Narrative of Arthur Gordon Pym of Nantucket.

Conjure Times: The History of Black Magicians in America The Narrative of Arthur Gordon Pym of Nantucket

For Deal Me In this week I pulled 8: “The Golden Girl” by Ellis Peters from Alfred Hitchcock presents: More Stories Not for the Nervous. All the men onboard the cruise ship, Aurea, are taken by the pregnant but very beautiful blond woman. All the women are envious of how tentative her husband is, not even letting her be touched. The poor woman can hardly move though so weighted down by her condition. When a fire breaks out onboard, one brave purser takes it on himself to help her, but dooms her with his efforts.

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

Movie/Series of the Week

This week I’m looking forward to the premier of Penn & Teller: Fool Us. I went to a taping back in March, so it will be interesting to see how it ends up on TV.

What Else is Going On?

Not a super-duper lot going on. For me, summer brings doldrums and it’s hard being motivated to do much of anything. This coming week I’ll be reformatting Eric’s novel PHYSIC.

The Sunday Salon is a linkup hosted by Deb @ Readerbuzz