#24in48 Readathon Summer 2018

#24in48 Readathon!

The goal of #24in48 is to read for 24 hours over the course of 48 hours.

I wavered back and forth on whether to join this time around. I really wanted to, but I have a previous engagement on Sunday night and, well, I like to sleep. (Sleep has become more impoEditrtant as I’ve gotten older.) But then I remembered that *technically* the readathon starts at midnight Saturday Eastern Time. Which is 9pm Friday night for me! So, if I get a few hours on Friday, a solid Saturday, and a good Sunday morning… I should be close.


Saturday, 14:04 – Went out for some exercise, read “The Adventure of the Copper Beeches.” Total time logged: 6:28:56

Saturday, 10:23 – Finished Q’s Legacy. Total time logged: 5:32:53

Saturday, 05:43 – Up early. Here the 1st line from Q’s Legacy for the Hour 6 challenge:

“Q and I first met on a summer morning when I was eighteen, at the main branch of the Philadelphia Public Library where I’d gone in search of a teacher; and I took him home with me despite certain doubts about his fitness for the post.”

Friday, 23:51 – Finished 30-ish pages of The Science of Illusion, all of Jane, and a little of God’s War. Time logged: 2:21:23.

Preliminary TBR

God's War (Bel Dame Apocrypha, #1) The Science of Illusions Q's Legacy

The Secret History of Magic: The True Story of the Deceptive Art Jane Thieves, Rascals and Sore Losers: The Unsettling History of the Dirty Deals that Helped Settle Nebraska

  • God’s War by Kameron Hurley
  • The Science of Illusions by Jacques Ninio – Unless I finish it Friday afternoon. FINISHED!
  • Q’s Legacy by Helene Hanff – FINISHED!
  • The Secret History of Magic: The True Story of the Deceptive Art by Peter Lamont & Jim Steinmeyer – If it arrives on Saturday!
  • Jane by Aline Brosh McKenna, Ramón Pérez (Illustrator) – Because you need a graphic novel during a readathon! – FINISHED!
  • Thieves, Rascals and Sore Losers: The Unsettling History of the Dirty Deals that Helped Settle Nebraska by Marilyn Coffey
  • “The Adventure of the Copper Beeches” by Arthur Conan Doyle – FINISHED!

Review ~ Heaven’s Ditch

Heaven's Ditch cover via Goodreads

Heaven’s Ditch: God, Gold, and Murder on the Erie Canal by Jack Kelly

The technological marvel of its age, the Erie Canal grew out of a sudden fit of inspiration. Proponents didn’t just dream; they built a 360-mile waterway entirely by hand and largely through wilderness. As excitement crackled down its length, the canal became the scene of the most striking outburst of imagination in American history. Zealots invented new religions and new modes of living. The Erie Canal made New York the financial capital of America and brought the modern world crashing into the frontier. Men and women saw God face to face, gained and lost fortunes, and reveled in a period of intense spiritual creativity.

Heaven’s Ditch by Jack Kelly illuminates the spiritual and political upheavals along this “psychic highway” from its opening in 1825 through 1844. “Wage slave” Sam Patch became America’s first celebrity daredevil. William Miller envisioned the apocalypse. Farm boy Joseph Smith gave birth to Mormonism, a new and distinctly American religion. Along the way, the reader encounters America’s very first “crime of the century,” a treasure hunt, searing acts of violence, a visionary cross-dresser, and a panoply of fanatics, mystics, and hoaxers. (via Goodreads)

Why was I interested in this book?
I won this book from Doing Dewey almost two years ago! It falls firmly into the category of “I know nothing about this…let’s read a book about it!”

What Worked
There are many story threads in this book. I found each of them really interesting and learned a lot. The Erie Canal. The Masons. The Mormons. Millerism. Rivivalism. Abolitionism. Honestly, I probably knew the most about the history of the Mormons, but that isn’t saying much. It’s really amazing how many concepts in American religion—and American politics—came into being in this area during this time period.

What Didn’t Work
There are many story threads in this book… The organization of how they were interwoven didn’t always work for me. Granted, this is probably the most difficult thing to do well in this sort of nonfiction book.

I also really wish there would have been more about building the canal. In the early 1800s, a 363 mile was a marvel of human engineering. I’m kind of a sucker for people building amazing things. There was a lot of heaven but not enough ditch for me.

Each of the individual narratives were compelling, though my reading was slowed down by shifting gears when the “scene” changed. Good history though!

Publishing info, my copy: hardback, St. Martin’s Press, 2016
Acquired: Won it from Doing Dewey!
Genre: nonfiction, history

20 15 Books of Summer, hosted by Cathy @ 746 Books

hosted by Roof Beam Reader

Down the TBR Hole 15


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 Serialist cover The Serialist by David Gordon

Hmm, this still sounds pretty good: a pulp writer who is working on a serial killer’s memoir has to get to the bottom of new murders. Even if it is possibly on the literary side, KEEP.

The Poisoned Island cover The Poisoned Island by Lloyd Shepherd

I’m always looking for a mystery with some interesting element. This one: 1812 London with some connection to burgeoning scientific efforts. KEEP.

The Winter People cover The Winter People by Jennifer McMahon

Modern day connection to events a hundred years ago… It’s a trope that I’m not too keen on lately. GO.

The Mad Sculptor cover The Mad Sculptor: The Maniac, the Model, and the Murder that Shook the Nation by Harold Schechter

I don’t think I already own a book about a sensational murder in the 30s. Sounds good and pulpy. KEEP.

The Bohemians cover The Bohemians: Mark Twain and the San Francisco Writers Who Reinvented American Literature by Ben Tarnoff

I feel like I should want to read this book, and maybe it’s because I’m just finishing up a broad book about the 1830s, but I think this one is going to have to GO.

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

Deal Me In, Week 27 ~ “Secret Keeper”


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

“Secret Keeper” by Bonnie Jo Stufflebeam

Card picked: 3
Found at: Nightmare Magazine

The Story

A girl is supposed to be beautiful. A girl is supposed to have rosy red cheeks and a laugh that makes men wilt to think of her bright future. A beautiful girl will have a beautiful life. An ugly girl slips unseen through secret doors.

The ghost girl was born with a birth defect that, after many skin grafts, has left her face pale and featureless. She has managed through grade school and middle school by avoiding attention, by becoming a shadow, a ghost. Now in high school, she lives beneath the theater stage and dreams of singing. Alas, due to her  appearance, the best she can do is mentor Chrissie, the new girl with the beautiful voice. Their singing lessons are held in a remote girl’s bathroom, the stalls keeping ghost girl from being seen. When Chrissie is given a supporting role in the spring musical instead of the lead, ghost girl’s vengeance is visited upon the less talented, but prettier Aimee and Chrissie has to fill in. All goes well, for a while, until the toll of ghost girl’s mentorship—being completely focused and keeping ghost girl’s secret—becomes too high for Chrissie. And Chrissie also has secrets that the ghost girl is keeping for her.

“Secret Keeper” is an adaptation of The Phantom of the Opera, gender-bent and set in high school, and it works very well. By senior year, the ghost girl is a thing of legend. No one quite remembers the truth about her and every prank and misfortune is blamed on her. By being unnoticed and otherwise forgotten, the ghost girl has access to information and secrets that she uses judiciously to manipulate Chrissie and frame Aimee. But the ending does add a tiny bit of ambiguity to the situation. No one can really hear the ghost girl except Chrissie.

Review ~ World of Trouble

World of Trouble cover

World of Trouble by Ben H. Winters

There are just 14 days until a deadly asteroid hits the planet, and America has fallen into chaos. Citizens have barricaded themselves inside basements, emergency shelters, and big-box retail stores. Cash is worthless; bottled water is valuable beyond measure. All over the world, everyone is bracing for the end.

But Detective Hank Palace still has one last case to solve. His beloved sister Nico was last seen in the company of suspicious radicals, armed with heavy artillery and a plan to save humanity. Hank’s search for Nico takes him from Massachusetts to Ohio, from abandoned zoos and fast food restaurants to a deserted police station where he uncovers evidence of a brutal crime. With time running out, Hank follows the clues to a series of earth-shattering revelations.

The third novel in the Last Policeman trilogy, World of Trouble presents one final pre-apocalyptic mystery—and Hank Palace confronts questions way beyond whodunit: How far would you go to protect a loved one? And how would you choose to spend your last days on Earth? (via Goodreads)

Why was I interested in this book?
This is the third book in the trilogy. I enjoyed the first two and I was interested in how Winters was going to wrap up a story set at the end of the world.

What Worked
There are a lot of post-apocalypse stories, but there aren’t many pre-apocalypse stories. I’d argue that’s because the end of the world is the least interesting part of the whole deal. Therefore, if you’re going to set a story at the apocalypse, the story itself has to be solid. Winters does a great job telling a story that would have been good even without an asteroid hurtling toward earth.

The feel of this installment reminded me of the movie Looper. The characters in both act in the inevitable way they should. Both are noir, but take off into a rural setting. I like that juxtaposition. Both also have a speculative fiction future setting that isn’t the story itself.

I’ve said it before but I like Hank Palace. I like his dogged determination and his loyalty. Which is why it’s pretty heartbreaking when he’s wrong about a few things. I’m going to avoid spoilers, but Hank is a little dense at times in this book. It’s understandable, but weirdly disappointing.

What Didn’t Work
The characters in this book take beatings. And stabbings. And burnings. Sometimes, I had a hard time believing that anyone could survive such abuse. I suppose it’s not impossible, but it gives me pause.

What Worked Best
There are so many times when I thought to myself, “Winters isn’t going to pull this off. He’s going to screw up the ending.” But he doesn’t. The meanderings of plot are all justified. The ending is spot-on. I don’t read a lot of series fiction and I finish even less.

I’m going to miss Henry Palace.

Publishing info, my copy: Kindle, Quirk Books, July 15, 2014
Acquired: Amazon, 5/30/18
Genre: mystery/crime


20 15 Books of Summer, hosted by Cathy @ 746 Books

Writing Update, 7/11

Writing Update pic
How’s It Going?
Or rather, “Hey, Katherine, wasn’t some sort of anthology that you edited supposed to come out last week or something? What’s up with that?”

Reader, it’s been a rough couple of weeks…

Our Past in the Uncanny Valley is stuck in Amazon review jail. This is a good deal my fault. I don’t want to go into the whole story; I haven’t decided what the ultimate fate of the book is. This happened after I completely reformatted the manuscript in one day due to a problem with an embedded image. (These things are unrelated.)

But I’ve learned two things:

  1. Publishing public domain works through Amazon might be more work than it’s worth.
  2. I rather enjoy formatting ebooks. Maybe something should/will come of that.

So, I spent last week moping, building a palazzo in Minecraft, and deciding what to do next. I need to get back to work.

But it’s such nice place to hang out while my ms is in review jail.
(Created with Lord of the Rings Minecraft mod.)

It’s Monday, What Are You… 7/9


These last two weeks have been kind of blah reading-wise. Actually, blah everything-wise. That’s how it goes for me in summer. Too much heat and brightness.

Heaven's Ditch: God, Gold, and Murder on the Erie Canal World of Trouble (The Last Policeman, #3) The Science of Illusions
  • Heaven’s Ditch: God, Gold, and Murder on the Erie Canal by Jack Kelly – This book is interesting, but it’s also slow-going. Kelly follows several threads of intertwined events; there’s just so much going on. I’m about halfway through.
  • World of Trouble (The Last Policeman #3) by Ben H. Winters – I’m over 60% finished. I’ll probably finish it this week.
  • The Science of Illusions by Jacques Ninio – Starting this today. It will probably be a bit of a “dip-in” book for the next week or so.
  • Short stories: “Secret Keeper” by Bonnie Jo Stufflebeam and “The Adventure of the Blue Carbuncle” by Arthur Conan Doyle

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