Tag Archives: deal me in

Reading Notes, 7/22/21

Finished Reading

cover: The Perilous Life of Jade Yeo by Zen Cho

The Perilous Life of Jade Yeo by Zen Cho

I had read a few of Zen Cho’s short stories in the past, enjoyed them quite a bit, and added The Perilous Life of Jade Yeo to my TBR without paying too much attention to the story’s summary. As is, I often read a book’s blurb, decide whether the story sounds like something I’d enjoy, and then promptly forget about said blurb. All of the previous stories had some speculative aspect, so I was very surprised that Perilous Life does not. Mostly, this is something of a romance. Jade is a freelance writer in the 1920s who really wants to *live*. She gets into a few scrapes. Mostly she gets out of them. She’s a character I didn’t mind spending time with even if the plot wasn’t my usual thing.

This was a slump-buster for me and I fulfilled a prompt for #Trekathon: Nurse Chapel (Head Nurse) — Read a book with a face on the cover. Plus, book #7 for 20 Books of Summer.

cover: Green Shadows, White Whale by Ray Bradbury

Green Shadows, White Whale by Ray Bradbury

This is the kinda-sorta account of Ray Bradbury going to Ireland to write the screenplay for John Huston’s film adaptation of Moby-Dick. I first read this book back in 2004, well over a decade before I ever read Moby-Dick, so one is not necessary to read the other, but I had a little more context this time and better understood the end of the book when Bradbury finally cracks the script. Like many of Bradbury’s books, this one is a tapestry of stories that eventually make a whole. Some of them would seem to be quite autobiographical. There was purportedly some friction between Bradbury and Houston and both are characters here. Other stories are quite fanciful, including one obvious fiction digression, “The Banshee,” which I swear has been anthologized elsewhere. Some of the portraits of Irish people are not entirely flattering. Then again, neither are the portraits of the Yanks there making a movie…

Book #8 for 20 Books of Summer!

Deal Me In

Two of my Deal Me In stories lately have been from PseudoPod, an online horror fiction magazine/podcast. I listened to “FFUNS” by Johnny Compton and “Allochthon” by Livia Llewellyn, both of which were very good and, uh, NSFW. I haven’t been reading too much hardcore horror lately, so these were refreshing.

Currently Reading

cover: Jay's Journal of Anomalies by Ricky Jay
cover: The Flight of the Eisenstein by James Swallow

Currently reading Jay’s Journal of Anomalies by Ricky Jay for #Trekathon and just added The Flight of the Eisenstein which should count as a #Trekathon triple beam-up! (…It’s not that I’m not reading Heretics of Dune right now…Maybe if I watch the new trailer a couple more times.)


Reading Notes, 7/5/21

Finished Reading

A Thin Ghost and Others cover.

A Thin Ghost and Others by M.R. James

I’m very susceptible to peer (non)pressure. Or maybe it was a case of FOMO. But, anyway, Dale at Mirror with Clouds is reading through a collection of James’ tales and I was moved to read a few as well. I was going to read Journey to the Center of the Earth for my June Classics Club book, but Verne will have to wait.

I’ve said this before, probably differently, but M. R. James gets undervalued as a writer of weird literature. He gets the designation “teller of traditional English ghost stories,” but maybe I don’t understand either category. Are traditional English ghost stories full of bugs (often very large ones) and strange hairy things that are spawned from an apparently cursed wallpaper print? Sure, James has the nested narrators—someone relating a tale told to him by a friend who read the creepy historical documents—of a Christmas ghost story. Often, at least in the case of these five stories, the terrible thing has happened in the less enlightened 1700s, but make no mistake, James traffics in the uncanny.

Reading Challenge Check-In

Here we are at the halfway mark of 2021. Time for a good check-in!

Summer Challenges

10 Books of Summer graphic.

20 Books of Summer

Actually, my goal was to read 10 books between June 1st and Sept 1st, but I’ve already finished six! They’ve all been on the short side, but I’m still considering changing the goal to 15 books. Only two of the six were from my original TRB. ✅

#TrekAThon prompt graphic.

#Trekathon

#Trekathon just started July 1st. I’ve finished one prompt: read a book either set somewhere you’ve never been. A good start.

Next, I’m listening to the event group-read The Long Way to a Small, Angry Planet by Becky Chambers, though I’ll probably switch over to reading it when my hands get tired of crocheting.

I’m feeling pretty optimistic about this readathon! 😎

Year-Long Challenges

Classic Club graphic.

The Classics Club

Goal: 10 Books by 12/14/21
Progress: 6/10

✅ I’m on track! For the second part of the year, I plan on reading a couple of longer works. I might go for a chapter-a-day strategy after I finish the Dune books.

Bookshelf picture.
Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

#ShelfLove / Shelf Maintenance

Goal: Abstain from acquiring books; read at least 21 books from my shelves.
Progress: I’ve acquired 12 titles (including five ARCs and a preorder), 5/21+

❌ I’ve moved on to cataloging my Kindle books on LibraryThing, which is kind of a pain. I’m through titles A–F. I’ve deleted quite a few ebooks that I downloaded for free that, frankly, I’m never going to read. As is, I’m at 453 unread of 862 titles.

I Read Horror Year-Round

Goal: Read 6 books from 6 categories.
Progress: 3/6

✅ Still on-track, more or less. So far I’ve read:

  • A body of water (featured in story, on cover, or in title): The Ghost Pirates by William Hope Hodgson
  • Written by a woman: Into Bones like Oil by Kaaron Warren
  • Ghosts or spirits: A Thin Ghost and Others by M. R. James

Dune Read-through

Goal: Read Herbert’s 6 Dune books by October.
Progress: I managed to finish God Emperor of Dune, which is generally considered a stumbling block. I’ll admit, though, Heretics of Dune isn’t clicking with me. ✅

Nonfiction

Goal: Read at least 30% nonfiction.
Progress: Currently, at 36%. No nonfiction planned in July though. Or August. I’m not worried. I’m sure something will come up. ✅

Short Stories

Goal: Deal Me In each week and Cather Reading Project each month.
Progress: I dropped the Cather Reading Project, mostly because I felt like I wasn’t adding much to the discussions. Still reading my Deal Me In Stories, but haven’t been posting about them. 😬

Reading Notes, 6/17/21

Finished Reading

Zen in the Art of Writing: Essays on Creativity by Ray Bradbury

A reread for me. I’m 90% sure I originally bought this books in college at UNL’s University Bookstore. Despite that I continually call this book Zen AND the Art of Writing

This was a good reread for me. I’ve been flailing around with my writing and my thoughts about being a writer. Leaving writing behind hasn’t seemed right for me, but I’ve also developed some fairly toxic attitudes toward what I should be doing instead of just enjoying writing. And writing can be difficult, so “enjoyment” is often not quite the right sentiment. Bradbury’s sheer enthusiasm is the kind of infection I need right now. I do wish the book would have presented these essays in chronological order. I think I might leave myself a note to read it that way the next time I reread it. And, no doubt, there will be a next time.

I’m resisting a Moby Dick read-through that’s happening on reddit, but I think Bradbury’s Green Shadows, White Whale will be another “writing” book to reread later on in the summer.

This is my second of “10” Books of Summer!

Deal Me In

3♠️: “Black Flowers Blossom” by Vina Jie-Min Prasad
I will admit, this story is smuttier than I’m used to. Nothing against it, but my fiction tastes don’t usually run toward the erotic. But, this is a pretty neat little story following an eldritch “horror” and an occult detective through various time periods.

Currently Reading

  • The Hypno-Ripper, edited by Donald K. Hartman – Nearly finished! I plan to review it next Tuesday.
  • The Reason for the Darkness of the Night: Edgar Allan Poe and the Forging of American Science by John Tresch – I’ve been thinking some time about the use of sciences in 19th century fiction. This book came across my radar and I had to jump on it.
  • Heretics of Dune by Frank Herbert – My Dune saga continues.


Reading Notes, 6/3/21

Finished Reading

The Haunting of Alma Fielding: A True Ghost Story by Kate Summerscale

Heard about this book from What’s Nonfiction’s fabulous blog.

I’ve read quite a few books about magicians and, tangentially, spiritualism due to the vocation of many magicians to debunk (or, alternatively, learn from) mediums. As a skeptic myself, I find mediumship curious. So much of it is a con, but there is also often an aspect of self-delusion. Even magicians who have done mind-reading or séance type acts—professionals who know they are not communing with spirits or guides—have reported the feeling of working beyond what they’re capable of. But they also realize that this is a feeling and not reality.

The Haunting of Alma Fielding begins in 1938 when a normal British housewife begins to be harassed by poltergeist activity. Nandor Fodor, a “ghost hunter” for the International Institute for Psychical Research, investigates. Fodor believes in psychic phenomena, but he wants badly to have scientific proof of it. When we begin this story, he’s in some hot water with the IIPR because he has, disappointingly, proved several mediums to be frauds. He is desperate to find a true case of a haunting, but has also begun to theorized that these poltergeists might be manifestations (still psychic in nature) of trauma. As Alma begins to get attention, from the press and the IIPR, the poltergeist activity shifts to being apports (manifested objects) and mediumship, things that Fodor wants to see of her. There is an interplay between the expectations of Alma and Fodor. Their relationship becomes maybe too co-dependent. And Fodor eventually finds out that Alma isn’t as simple as she seems. This is all against the backdrop of a Britain under increasing pressure as WWII become immanent. Summerscale mentions that there was an increase in news-worthy cases of poltergeist activity during this era, which is a interesting detail.

At times, the book was maybe a little repetitive and there were a few too many a names. I had a tough time remembering who everyone was after putting the book down for a day or two. For me, this is a good addition to my framework of magic and spiritualism. It brought me further into the 20th century than my usual reading.

Mosses from an Old Manse by Nathaniel Hawthorne

This was my May Classics Club Spin book, which I did finish in May. Barely.

I forget sometimes that Hawthorne, Melville, and Poe were contemporaries. What wonderful dinner parties those would be… Anyway. Like Poe, I’m not a fan of Hawthorne’s straight-up allegories. We’ve talked about this before when I touched on “Egotism; or, The Bosom-Serpent” during Deal Me In. To me, the only way a writer should present allegory is if they can do it with a level of actual story. So, a few of the stories in Mosses (“The Celestial Rail-road ” & “The Procession of Life”) were rather torturous for me to get through. But so many others are such wonderful, if cynical, stories. I’m still a Hawthorne neophyte, so I’m still surprised by the very dim view Hawthorne takes of humankind. I’m not used to that from authors. Ironically, while I am not a fan of allegory, I am a fan of speculative fiction genres and the two go hand in hand, especially in the pre-pulp days. “Young Goodman Brown” and “Rappaccini’s Daughter,” and even “Feathertop” and “Egotism; or, The Bosom-Serpent” have gooey horror fiction cores.

Deal Me In

4♠️ – “The Cold Embrace” by Mary E. Braddon
Speaking of early horror fiction… Ever read a story where you say, “Oh, you naive boy. You don’t know what kind of story you’re in”? Yeah, I did that here and enjoyed every second of our main character’s comeuppance.

Currently Reading

Started on my summer reading and then was quickly sidetracked my an impulse read, All the Flavors by Ken Liu, while I was cataloging the books on my Kindle. Next up is The Hypno-Ripper: Or, Jack the Hypnotically Controlled Ripper; Containing Two Victorian Era Tales Dealing with Jack the Ripper and Hypnotism, edited by Donald K Hartman and then back to Journey to the Center of the Earth.


Reading Notes, 5/17/21

Bout of Books 31 Wrap-up

Last week was actually kind of stressful, despite my optimistic Monday attitude. I had a goal of reading 700 pages for BoB and ended up reading 648 pgs. Considering I got into a big don’t-feel-like-reading mood around Thursday, that’s pretty good.

  • I finished reading A Master of Djinn by P. Djèlí Clark (and reviewed it!). I’ll say it again, I definitely recommend it.
  • I also finished Wild Mind by Natalie Goldberg. It’s her follow-up to Writing Down the Bones. I’ve been reading a chapter or so of a writing-related book every morning for a while now.
  • I made a good start on Mosses from an Old Manse by Nathaniel Hawthorne and read a couple other short stories as well.

Currently Reading


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

#ShelfLove

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. ✅

Nonfiction

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.