Tag Archives: deal me in

Writing & Reading Notes, 10/21/21

Writing Notes

Yeah, I’m going to do NaNoWriMo. I plan on revisiting a project I’ve been tinkering with for *years*, but this time from a different angle. Between now and Nov. 1, I have a couple short stories I’ll play ping-pong with. Currently, I have one short story out in the world; it has racked up one rejection thus far.

Finished Reading

The Ones Who Are Waving by Glen Hirshberg

I’m happy any October when I realize that one of my favorite horror authors has an anthology out with some material I haven’t read yet. I was just about to pull out The Two Sams again. Even better? A sequel “Mr. Dark’s Carnival,” one of the standouts of that previous anthology. Hirshberg also introduces his own take on the supernatural detective with a trio of “Normal and Nadine Adventures.”

Deal Me In

Speaking of supernatural mysteries, I finally picked the ace of spades which was “Judge Dee and the Limits of the Law” by Lavie Tidhar. Judge Dee is the final word in matters of vampire law, which aren’t always straightforward. There are two other Judge Dee stories online and I might get to them this weekend.

Currently Reading


I’ll probably do Dewey’s 24-Hour Readathon this weekend, so I’ll have a more in-depth “currently reading” post on Saturday.

Reading Challenge Check-In, 9/30/21

Haven’t done a proper reading challenge check-in since the beginning of July. I’ve been blogging so much about movies lately that one might even wonder if I still read! I do, but I really enjoy movies too.

The Classics Club

Goal: 10 Books by 12/14/21
Progress: 7/10

✅ I’m more or less on track, but with no room to spare. I am also about a quarter of the way through The Devil’s Elixirs (I forgot that my version is in two volumes.)

Photo by Ricardo Esquivel on Pexels.com

Shelf Maintenance / Unwieldy Library

Goal: Abstain from acquiring books; read at least 21 books from my shelves.
Progress: I’ve acquired 14 titles (including six ARCs and a preorder), 12/21+

❌ By the middle of July, I had cataloged all my owned books, both physical and electronic. On July 15th, I owned 561 unread titles. Right now, that’s down 551, mostly due to some short story titles I blew through. It’s doubtful that I’m going to get to 21 full length books by the end of the year since I’ve been distracted by so many ARCs and library books!

Additional note: I’m pretty much no longer using Goodreads. I’m keeping track of my “currently reading/read” myself (which I’ve always done), cataloging my “owned” library at LibraryThing, and only keeping “wishlists” on various library accounts. This might cause me to look at my own shelves before borrowing or buying, but it hasn’t worked that way yet.

I Read Horror Year-Round

Goal: Read 6 books from 6 categories.
Progress: 4/6

✅ On-track. I have books that would cover two more categories on my fall TBR. 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
  • Historical horror (must be an historical novel written by a contemporary author) Slewfoot by Brom

Dune Read-through

Goal: Read Herbert’s six Dune books by October.
Progress: I read 5 of the 6 and am voluntarily stopping with Heretics of Dune. So, I’m considering this a win! ✅

Nonfiction

Goal: Read at least 30% nonfiction.
Progress: By my reckoning, I’m currently at 37% and am reading a non-fiction book as well as a fiction book currently. ✅

Short Stories

Goal: Deal Me In each week.
Progress: Again, I have been reading my weekly Deal Me In stories, if not posting about them. I’m more likely to mention them on Twitter. 😬

Reading Notes, 8/19/21

Finished Reading

Cover: The Flight of the Eisenstein by James Swallow

The Flight of the Eisenstein by James Swallow

This is the fourth book of the Horus Heresy, a long, still on-going series of novels detailing the events that lead to the Warhammer 40K gaming setting. Despite that possibly ignominious designation, the books I’ve read in the Horus Heresy are pretty good. They are military science fiction, a sub-genre I don’t read much of, but I like the occasionally conflicted characters and the Gothic-punk aesthetic. (When I say Gothic here, I mean Visigoth, not Hot Topic goth.) I have in the past commented that often in women’s fiction there is a lot of attention paid to clothes and hair and makeup. Those books have nothing on the descriptions of armor, heraldry, and weaponry in these books. And I kind of dig it!

Searching through my old posts, I find that I read the previous installment back in…2010. I knew it had been a while, but I didn’t realize it had been that long. On the plus side, I was worried about the shift in characters after the initial trilogy of books. Since I didn’t remember much about them, Book #4 was painless to get into.

Deal Me In

Started a Twitter thread for short fiction including Deal Me In stories:

Currently Reading

Cover: Never Say You Can't Survive by Charlie Jane Anders

I intended to start reading The Mysteries of Udolpho by Ann Ward Radcliffe this week during Bout of Books, but I wasn’t in the mood. Luckily, a pending ARC request bailed me out. I’m reading Never Say You Can’t Survive: How to Get Through Hard Times by Making Up Stories by Charlie Jane Anders. Considering I’m trying to get back into writing and dealing with a bit of anxiety, it seemed like a book I might be interested in.

Also reading quite a few short stories.

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.