Tag Archives: deal me in

Reading Notes, 5/3/21

Spring Into Horror Wrap-Up

Spring into Horror Readathon banner

I didn’t finish many books in April, but I did keep (happily) focused on horror. I read to completion The Phantom of the Opera (which was my Classic’s Club pick) and Into Bones like Oil by Kaaron Warren. I also read volume one of Clive Barker’s Books of Blood. I’m not counting that as finished because it’s a three volume collection and I do intend to read the rest. I started The Ceremonies by T. E. D. Klein and I’m in the middle of Nightmare Movies by Kim Newman.

Deal Me In

8♣️: “Let Shadows Slip Through” by Kali Napier
Our narrator is a nervous mother, traveling with her young son in Australia. When they stop at the Hampton Arms tea room, her past catches up to her. A short, atmospheric piece with a haunting sense of place.

Reading Challenge Check-In

Didn’t I just do this? I guess April went by fast-ish, which is a change from any month since February 2020.

Classics Club Icon

The Classics Club

Goal: 10 Books by 12/14/21
Progress: 4/10

✅ Read The Phantom of the Opera by Gaston Leroux. I’m on track!

A pic of a bookshelf
Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com


Goal: Abstain from acquiring books; read at least 21 books from my shelves.
Progress: 1 pre-order, 3 free books, 1 very cheap book by an author I love, 1 ARC; 3/21+

❌ Yes, somehow I managed to not finish reading any of my own books…

I Read Horror Year-Round banner

I Read Horror Year-Round

Goal: Read 6 books from 6 categories.
Progress: 2/6

Into Bones like Oil by Kaaron Warren counts for the prompt: Written by a woman! I decided not to count The Phantom of the Opera for “Monster or monsters” despite the OG being one of Universal’s classic movie monsters. The OG (Opera Ghost) is a guy with some issues.

Dune Read-through

Goal: Read Herbert’s 6 Dune books by October.
Progress: Finished Children of Dune and started God Emperor of Dune. The chapter-a-day method is working well. ✅


Goal: Read at least 30% nonfiction.
Progress: I slipped down to 27%. And then decided to right the situation by starting a 640 page book. I’m pretty sure I’m totally doing this correctly. 👍‍‍

Short Stories

Goal: Deal Me In each week and Cather Reading Project each month.
Progress: Doing fine here. ✅

Reading Notes, 4/27/21

Finished Reading

I participated in Dewey’s 24-Hour Readathon on this past Saturday. I started more books than I finished, but that’s the way it goes sometimes. I did read, cover-to-cover, Into Bones like Oil by Kaaron Warren. It’s a horror novella that has been getting quite a bit of award nomination notice. Dora, who has recently lost her two children to a tragedy, becomes a resident at The Angelsea, a boarding house for people who have a hard time sleeping. It’s a grimy, skeevy place full of ghosts and opportunists.

I also read/listened to a few short stories, including Lovecraft’s “Colour Out of Space” and the delightful “The Tree’s Wife” by Mary Elizabeth Counselman. I’m not familiar with Counselman, but I find it delightful that she wrote for both Weird Tales and Good Housekeeping.

Deal Me In

J♦️ – “Dotty” by Horacio Quiroga
This story by Uruguayan writer Quiroga was translated by Nina Zumel. Zumel includes a link discussing the translation and adaptation: how to include the word-play of the original story when a fairly straight English translation doesn’t allow for that. I think she does a darn good job. This story is a little weird and a little unsettling as we contemplate the many meanings of “dotty.”

Willa Cather Short Story Project

This month’s story is “The Son of the Celestial,” in which Cather indulges in Oriental exoticism. On one hand, it’s Cather stretching her writing muscles. It’s imaginative and has some fine imagery. On the other hand, the depiction of Yung Le Ho is very stereotypical for the time (and for a long time to come). Ponter is his good friend, a white man who is on the outs with academia due to his propensity for drinking and pool playing. It should be noted though that Yung is still a member of his community while Ponter is not really a member of white society.

Currently Reading

One of the books I started on Saturday was Nightmare Movies: Horror on the Screen since the 1960s by Kim Newman. It’s big. I’ll try to finish it by the time my loan ends. Still doing a chapter-a-day of God Emperor of Dune (which reminds me, I haven’t read today!). And I’ve jumped back into the world of ARCs with P. Djèlí Clark’s A Master of Djinn.

Reading Notes, 4/18/21

Finished Reading

The Phantom of the Opera by Gaston Leroux

Growing up in the 80s, even in Omaha, NE, it was pretty much impossible to not be aware of the Andrew Lloyd Weber musical, but my first girlish infatuation with The Phantom of the Opera was due to a 1990 mini-series with Charles Dance as the Phantom. Ah! the romance! Ah! the creepy opera house full of secret passageways and hidden doors. (Also being a makeup effects fan, I of course knew of Lon Chaney in the 1925 movie.) But, I hadn’t read book. Translations are particularly a classics hurdle for me.

Leroux was a journalist and a mystery writer, with particular reverence for Arthur Conan Doyle and Edgar Alan Poe. Had I known that, I probably would have read his works sooner. And I’ll probably be inclined to read more of his straighter mysteries. As is, The Phantom of the Opera is very much a serial novel of the time and almost more toward the adventure genre, at least toward the end of the book. I don’t know what I think of the romance angle. The Opera Ghost (as he’s known in the novel) is manipulative and overbearing; Raoul is jealous and easily wounded. Poor Christine has her hands full trying to juggle them. There are definitely some creepy moments, but also a sub-plot or two that plod along.

A Classics Club pick and very #SpringHorror appropriate, but, ultimately, not suitable for the I Read Horror All Year “monster” prompt. The O. G. (as he’s also referred to in the book, which is amusing considering the current slang use) is more of a man with problems than a monster.

Classics Club Spin #26

And the random choice is… 11!

The next Classics Club book I will be reading is Mosses from an Old Manse by Nathaniel Hawthorne. I’m excited for this one, but I realized looking over the table of contents that I’ve read quite a few of this collection’s stories. For example, I just read “Egotism, or, The Bosom Serpent” a couple months ago for Deal Me In. I didn’t do a good job cross referencing my lists, obviously.

Deal Me In

8♠️: “The Pipers of Mallory” by Henrietta Dorothy Everett
Another story from Multo’s Women Writers of Folklore series. Henrietta Dorothy Everett often wrote as Theo Douglas and is one of so many fine writers who is little known now. This story is nicely done, set during WWI with harbinger ghosts.

Currently Reading

Saturday (April 24th) is Dewey’s 24-Hour Readathon. I plan on taking part and knocking out some extra #SpringHorror reading.

Reading Notes, 3/22/21

Photo by Karolina Grabowska on Pexels.com

Finished Reading

Nothing! Yeah, I’m a slow reader.

I did read “The Sword of Parmagon” by Harlan Ellison from The Essential Ellison. It’s an extremely early work—written when the author was 15-ish. It’s fine; decent writing of basic fantasy/adventure tropes.

I still need to read this month’s Willa Cather story.

Deal Me In

A❤️ – “The Moonstone Mass” by Harriet Prescott Spofford
I always think I’m going like Northwest Passage stories more than I do. Maybe it’s because, while I like frontier adventures, I just *know* that the Northwest Passage isn’t going to work out. This story is not the best. The language is creaky, even for 1868.

Currently Reading

Since I’m still reading the same two books, Children of Dune by Frank Herbert and Two on a Tower by Thomas Hardy, I figured I’d go with some covers from translations. I suppose I could concentrate on one book at a time, but that’s not how I roll.

Reading Notes, 2/22/21

Finished Reading

The Ghost Pirates cover

The Ghost Pirates by William Hope Hodgson

Back in October of last year, I got in the mood to read about some supernatural fiction set at sea. I planned on reading Hodgson’s The Ghost Pirates, but ended up instead reading the first of a trio of his novels that are kinda-sorta related. The Boats of the ‘Glen Caring’ still fit that supernatural-at-sea niche, though was much more of an adventure novel. The second, The House on the Borderland, delved more fully into Hodgson’s dimension/time slip motifs, but with much less plot. The Ghost Pirates ends up being a pretty good melding of the two.

Seaman Jessop survives the destruction of the Mortzestus and lives to tell the tale of strange goings-on. It begins as phantom winds and unnatural fogs, but events quickly get out of hand as the captain of the ship will not believe that it’s anything more than a little bad luck or the meandering minds of his underlings. Again, I like Hodgson’s factual narrative style (in contrast with someone like Lovecraft) and, considering his time as a sailor, he writing what he knows. The plot gets a little repetitive; end of the day, I probably like The Boats of the ‘Glen Caring’ the best out of these three novels.

I Read Horror Year-Round banner

This was my first book for the I Read Horror Year-Round challenge:
Horror featuring a body of water.

Deal Me In

7♠️: “Vampiro” by Emilia Pardo Bazán, translated by Nina Zumel
This was one of two tales featured on Nina’s blog back in April of last year. The blog post was about two “living” literary vampires. In this case, the young, lovely Inesiña is married off to a 77½ year-old. He couldn’t possibly out-live her, right? I hope I draw the other tale, “Good Lady Ducayne” by Mary Elizabeth Braddon in the near future.

Currently Reading

Didn’t read as much last week as I originally intended. I ended up in a blah mood and played a lot of Minecraft. (I listened to The Ghost Pirates. LibriVox has some pretty good recordings.) This week, I will continue with Dune Messiah by Frank Herbert. Coles’ The Call of Stories was annoying me, so I needed a break. What’s the opposite of literary pretentiousness? The Coney Island Fakir: The Magical Life of Al Flosso by Gary R. Brown. Plus, short stories.

Reading Notes, 2/15/21

Finished Reading

The Hole by Hiroko Oyamada
(translated by David Boyd)

When it comes to reading materials, I generally don’t care about “best of” or nomination lists, but I make an exception for horror fiction. I’m usually curious about what the industry considers good in the horror genre. I’d been seeing The Hole mentioned here and there and took the opportunity to check it out from the library where not nearly enough Japanese horror is available.

It’s a curious story. According to the summary on Goodreads, Asa and her husband move to the countryside (“next door” to his parents) when he gets a new job—the commute being not bad since they’re in a less populated place. I suppose if you’re used to a city such as Tokyo, the area that Asa and her husband move to might be considered countryside, but to me it had a more suburban feel. It reminds me of the edge of Omaha where the 7-11 or the wilderness along a creek are both as easily encountered. Houses aren’t too close together and have a good deal of yard. My notion of countryside left me expecting something different

For the secong time in a row (the other being House of the Borderland), I read a story in which many strange things happen, but there is very little pursuit of the the mystery. Asa isn’t terribly interested in getting to the bottom of the weird things that are happening. She’s pretty acquiescent about all the things that happened to her, even in her city life before moving. And it occurred to me that I’m overly used to the mystery of a story being solved, or at least actively investigated. That left me dissatisfied, but not overly so. There is a sort of Gothic vibe to the story that reminds me a little of Jane Eyre or Rebecca: a young woman is led into a situation, her married family is involved, there’s maybe something nefarious going on, and in the end she’s changed by it.

I guess maybe this is just part of that magical realism genre that I’m not very conversant with/in.

Deal Me In

K♥️: “Whatever Comes After Calcutta” by David Erik Nelson
from The Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction, Nov-Dec 2017

Calcutta, Ohio, that is. Though published in 2017, I was kind of surprised that one of the story’s background characters wore a MAGA hat. I suppose that’s a shorthand that we will see often for certain types of characters in this era, but it still felt weird to me. Anyway. An okay story of a modern-day witchery.

Currently Reading

Starting Dune Messiah this week. I have a leisurely reading pace scheduled. I’ve been listening to William Hope Hodgson’s The Ghost Pirates while playing Minecraft. I’ve been wanting to read it for a while, but got the notion that I should read The Boats of the “Glen Caring” and The House on the Borderland first. Thus far, I find no story connection between the three, but there are definitely some thematic connections.

Reading Notes, 2/8/21

Finished Reading

Dune cover

Dune by Frank Herbert

One book down in my Dune read-through. A reread for me.

David Lynch’s Dune (1984) is not very faithful to the book, at least not after the first few chapters, but the style of it is very hard to shake. The weirdness of the gom jabber scene and creepy, uncanny Alia are a couple of the Lynchian things that are always going to be part of my internal Dune vision. Those images somewhat override themes in the book that are more important, that I forget about until I read again—like the Bene Gesserit seeding religious prophecies throughout the universe, know you, just in case…

I also noticed in this reading how Herbert plays with epic fantasy; not just tropes, but details. We begin in a castle on Caladan. The Reverend Mother is referred to as witch. One of the Atreides’ most trusted advisors/warriors is a bard; there are songs, poetic digressions! These are fantasy things. Chocolate in my peanut butter.

The House on the Borderlands cover

The House on the Borderland by William Hope Hodgson

I’ve come to a realization: it’s not weird fiction that I dislike, or even cosmic horror that leaves me rolling my eyes. It’s H. P. Lovecraft. Lovecraft relies on “It couldn’t be described! It was so horrible everyone who looked upon it went insane!” That leaves me pretty disconnected from his fiction, and I had thought that this was representative of all weird fiction/cosmic horror. I had been reluctant to read Lovecraft’s progenitors, though I felt like I should. I’m glad I’ve stuck with it and put William Hope Hodgson on my Classics Club list. (This is Classics Club book #2 for the year.)

The House on the Borderland isn’t quite what I expected. I had figured on maybe more of ghost story or more metaphorical borders. No, Hodgson goes for dimensional rift/Hellmouth and isn’t afraid to give some details. I will say, Borderland is pretty light on plot. It’s a recitation of strange things happening without cause or solution. It’s mostly just a very weird, not unenjoyable, ride.

Deal Me In

7♥️: “Carbo” by Nick Wolven
From The Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction, Nov–Dec 2017

What if you mashed up browser history, predictive text, deep learning AI, and self-driving vehicles? And what if the owner of such a vehicle was a somewhat pervy teenager? Would you end up with a virus-laden car that believed you only wanted to go to the next place where you could see scantily clad women? This story was a little too pessimistic for me and I feel like it floated over any depth that it could have plumbed.

Currently Reading

The Hole cover
The Call of Stories cover

I had intended to start Dune Messiah after The House on the Borderland, but I think I need a little more break. As timing would have it, I put The Hole by Hiroko Oyamada on hold last week and it became available yesterday. Still have Coles’ The Call of Stories as my morning reading.