Tag Archives: notes

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.

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, 4/11/21

Finished Reading

Children of Dune by Frank Herbert

I finished Children of Dune yesterday and started the infamously difficult God Emperor of Dune today. I wonder if some of the problem with God Emperor is that Children of Dune is the most character-driven of the Dune novels (at that point in the series, at least) and, from what I remember of my previous attempt to read it, God Emperor take a hard turn away from that. Something I need to keep in mind. Yeah, I like this book better than Dune or Dune Messiah and it’s probably because Children of Dune is, well, more focused on the Children of Dune, both Paul’s children and the culturally changed Freman. I am amused by the blurb on my old paperback “The climax of the classic DUNE trilogy.” I don’t know whether Herbert was encouraged by his publisher to continue or if he felt he had more to do with Dune, but God Emperor being the start of a second trilogy (more or less) might be further reason for its awkwardness. I suspect that I’ll have more to say on this in a couple months when I’ve finished or given up on God Emperor of Dune.

Deal Me In

6♦️: “The Mouser of Peter the Great” by P. Djèlí Clark
P. Djèlí Clark has become one of my favorite speculative fiction authors. I love the blend of fairy tales and history that he often brings to his fiction. Here, Ibrahim, a boy who can see things and summon a golden sword with which to behead ogres, ends up at the court of Peter the Great. He is tasked with taking care of a very dangerous “mouse” that is stifling the Tsar and the Empire.

Classics Club Spin #26

What is the spin? At your blog, before next Sunday 18th April, 2021, create a post that lists twenty books of your choice that remain “to be read” on your Classics Club list.

This is your Spin List. … On Sunday 18th, April, we’ll post a number from 1 through 20. The challenge is to read whatever book falls under that number on your Spin List by the 31st May, 2021.

https://theclassicsclubblog.wordpress.com/2021/04/11/cc-spin-26/

Here is my list:

  1. A Thin Ghost and Others by M. R. James
  2. Carnacki the Ghost Finder by William Hope Hodgson
  3. Journey to the Center of the Earth by Jules Verne
  4. Three John Silence Stories by Algernon Blackwood
  5. The House of the Vampire by George Sylvester Viereck
  6. Kwaidan: Stories and Studies of Strange Things by Lafcadio Hearn
  7. The Horla by Guyde Maupassant
  8. Three Ghost Stories by Charles Dickens
  9. Uncle Silas by J. Sheridan Le Fanu
  10. Curious, if True Strange Tales by Elizabeth Gaskell
  11. Mosses from an Old Manse by Nathaniel Hawthorne
  12. Clarimonde by Théophile Gautier
  13. The Mummy! by Jane Webb Loudon
  14. The Private Memoirs…of a Justified Sinner by James Hogg
  15. The Devil’s Elixirs by E. T. A. Hoffmann
  16. The Monk by M. G. Lewis
  17. The Mysteries of Udolpho by Ann Ward Radcliffe
  18. Lady Audley’s Secret by Mary Elizabeth Braddon
  19. Behind a Mask by Louisa May Alcott
  20. Lord Arthur Saville’s Crime, and other stories by Oscar Wilde

Currently Reading


As I said above, I’m starting God Emperor of Dune; I’m planning on reading a chapter a day which means I’ll finish the first week of June. Still reading The Phantom of the Opera and Books of Blood.

Reading Notes, 4/4/21

Currently Reading

I didn’t finish reading anything this week, mostly because I’ve been getting my April blogging legs under me. On schedule with Children of Dune and started The Phantom of the Opera.

Deal Me In

6♣️ – “My Body, Herself” by Carmen Maria Machado
This is the first story I’ve read by Carman Maria Machado (I believe) and I can understand why she’s so well regarded. Is this a story about a dead woman or a woman overcoming trauma (likely the trauma of rape)? Doesn’t matter, “My Body, Herself” works both ways. I have more of Machado on my mist and I’m looking forward to those stories too.

Reading Challenge Check-In

The Classics Club

Goal: 10 Books by 12/14/21
Progress: 3/10

✅ Read Two on a Tower by Thomas Hardy.


Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

#ShelfLove

Goal: Abstain from acquiring books; read at least 21 books from my shelves.
Progress: 1 pre-order and 3 free books; 3/21+

❌ I suck at sticking to books I already own… I will need to read two books from my own shelves per month for the rest of the year to reach a goal of 21 books. That is doable, but unlikely.


I Read Horror Year-Round

Goal: Read 6 books from 6 categories.
Progress: 1/6

⭕ No progress in March, but April is Spring into Horror!


Dune Read-through

Goal: Read Herbert’s 6 Dune books by October.
Progress: Finished Dune Messiah, on schedule for Children of Dune. ✅

Nonfiction

Goal: Read at least 30% nonfiction.
Progress: Still at 33% but I don’t really have nay nonfiction in my April TBR. 😬

Short Stories

Goal: Deal Me In each week and Cather Reading Project each month.
Progress: On track with reading, though I didn’t put together any thoughts on March’s Cather story. ⭕

Reading Notes, 3/29/21

Finished Reading

Two on a Tower by Thomas Hardy

*sigh*

In general, high school English classes treated me pretty well. I wasn’t made to read Moby-Dick before I could appreciate it, was exposed to the requisite amounts of Steinbeck and Orwell, and lucked out to have not only Arthur Conan Doyle, but Bram Stoker and Ray Bradbury on the syllabus. The only author I took a dim view of was Thomas Hardy. We read The Mayor of Casterbridge. From the outset, I couldn’t understand why no one stepped in to say, “Hey, auctioning off your wife and daughter isn’t something you can do… Hey, buying a woman and her kid at auction just isn’t something you can do…” Who are people that act this way? What the heck, Thomas Hardy?

After thirty years, I figured I’d give Hardy another try. Two on a Tower seemed like something I would enjoy: a woman in a fairly abusive marriage falls in love with a young astronomer. “Romance and science is a combination I can get behind!” I thought.

*sigh*

I get that this story is a critique of class boundaries, but there are ways to comment on that without the main female character being maddeningly inconstant. On top of that, when Swithin returns to her, she is now an old hag of *gasp* thirty-four years-old. Thank goodness, he’s the type to feel morally obligated to keep his promise to now marry her. Worry not, Swithin, this story also contains my least favorite trope: “Happily ever after? Nope, abrupt death.”

Who are people who act this way? Seriously, Thomas Hardy, what the heck?

Deal Me In

K♣️ – “Sometimes They Arrive Late” by Rebecca Parfitt
Quick shout out to this story, published in The New Gothic Review. Chloe and her husband travel to the Philippines, where her family is originally from, to reconnect with each other, but Chloe also finds she’s reconnecting with old spirits as well.

Spring Into Horror

While I’ll still be working on my Dune-a-thon, I otherwise intend to read horror for #SpringHorror. I don’t exactly have a list worked out but here are some possibilities:

  • Into Bones like Oil by Kaaron Warren
  • The Ceremonies by T.E.D. Klein (from off my own shelves)
  • The Phantom of the Opera by Gaston Leroux (for Classics Club)
  • The Ghost Studies by Brandon Massullo (nonfiction)