11 Jul

Reading Challenge: July 2019 (Part 1)

Doing a two-parter again since this post is already approaching 4,000 words not even two weeks into the month.

In this installment, I present to you nonfiction about fiction, four novellas that came in Tor’s Pride bundle of LGBTQIA+ authors, and romance… in… spaaaaaace that reinforced my decision to stay away from romance. It hasn’t been a great month so far, so strap in if you like book bitching, and here’s your warning to click away now if you don’t.


Cover of Damn Fine Story by Chuck WendigDAMN FINE STORY by Chuck Wendig: This is a writing book, and my assessment is colored by the angle from which I’m approaching it as a writer, so bear with me as I blab about me first. I don’t like it any more than you do. Scroll past if you don’t want context.

I’ve been published for 23 years. I’ve read a lot of writing books. I’ve been to a lot of workshops (and helped develop more than a few). I’ve been studying writing nonstop for two and a half decades, picking locks in hope of finding treasure that will help me advance to the next level. A lot of writing advice is absolute shit that no one should ever follow. Some is applicable in such a limited number of circumstances, hardly anyone will ever need it. Most of the good stuff is recycled—which isn’t inherently bad. Delivery matters. One source might be too formal and bore a seeker of knowledge before the point gets through. One might be too informal for another seeker of knowledge to take seriously. My biggest resistance point is rigidity and absolutism because anyone who says their way is the only way is a controlling egomaniac I wouldn’t trust to guide me into the next room. As a result, sometimes you have to hear the same info from three or four or ten different sources before someone says the magic words that make the lightbulb go on in your particular brain. Knowing this, I go into all how-to-write guides with the assumption I’ve already heard everything elsewhere but looking for one little nugget of wisdom presented in a way that illuminates old info I haven’t fully appreciated up to this point.

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25 Jun

Reading Challenge: June 2019

I wasn’t kidding last month about bingeing (binging? I feel like the “e” is necessary for pronunciation, but every reader would probably get it in context without…) on T. Kingfisher and Kelly Barnhill. Despite favorable conditions book-wise, though, I didn’t get a ton of reading done thanks to lots of 16-hour workdays.

I’m not linking to Amazon going forward, since the ~$20/year in affiliate money isn’t worth the stinkface I make every time I run up against their bullshit. (My ad blocker recently began blocking the Amazon-linked book covers and stripped the images from the posts, too, so I took that as a further sign it’s time to sever ties.) Now everybody will be equally inconvenienced having to manually search for books at their preferred stores!


Cover of Kelly Barnhill's The Witch's BoyTHE WITCH’S BOY by Kelly Barnhill: Sister Witch had twin sons who fell into a river. Only one of them could be saved from drowning. The one who survived fell ill with fever. Because she couldn’t bear to lose both of them, she caught the dead twin’s soul and stitched it with magic thread to the ailing twin to strengthen him. That twin, Ned, recovered, but it became difficult for him to speak or read or be around people. His father can’t even look at him, and the villagers call him “the wrong boy”—as in, the wrong boy survived. (Fuck them all very much.)

After Áine’s mother died, her father fell into a deep depression, which breaks only after they’re penniless and facing eviction and he realizes there’s nothing left to lose. He reverts to his premarital banditing ways, stocks up on stolen supplies, and returns to his childhood home in the scary forest with Áine. Then he gets high on a magic amulet and decides to steal the witch’s power, at which point the lives of these children collide. Áine has to help Ned escape from her father, not because she gives a damn about Ned but because if her father gets his hands on that magic, he’ll be further corrupted and she’ll lose him entirely.

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28 May

Reading Challenge: May 2019

Is it just me, or has this month lasted 72 years? Anyhoo, this was supposed to be my last month of web hosting, but it’s tied to email addresses linked to endeavors that periodically cough up money, some of which are unnecessarily difficult to change (“you’ll have to email us your bank information so we can set up a new account for you”—uh, noooooooo), so I’m locked in for another year while I extricate myself from tertiary garbage. Pour one out for my sorely abused credit card.

Product links are affiliate coded and go to Amazon.


THE TURNER HOUSE by Angela Flournoy: The story shifts between the 1940s, when Francis Turner moved to Detroit and left his wife Viola behind in Arkansas while he got established, and the present (2008), which mostly focuses on 2 of their 13 children. Cha-Cha, the eldest, is currently providing a home for their mother due to medical issues, so the titular house sits vacant. He’s in therapy after a work-related driving accident he attributed to a “haint” that first appeared to him as a teen at his parents’ house, trying to figure out what this apparition means. Lelah, the youngest, who’s been suspended at work for borrowing money from coworkers to fund her gambling problem, crashes in the empty house after being evicted from her apartment and spends much of her time trying to prevent everyone from finding out she’s homeless.

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26 Apr

Reading Challenge: April 2019

A better month than last with fun murder, pleasant romance, almost-there horror, a ghost story I finished despite my dissatisfaction, a rollicking adventure worthy of my apocalypse library, and a fourth-in-series that might have fared better if I remembered more about its predecessors before finally getting to a space adventure I couldn’t finish and a fantasy romance I wish had done a thousand things differently.

Links are affiliate-coded and go to Amazon.


MY SISTER, THE SERIAL KILLER by Oyinkan Braithwaite: Korede is a tall, plain, practical nurse with a case of unrequited love for one of the doctors at work. Her younger sister, Ayoola, is so beautiful and vivacious that everyone she encounters is instantly enthralled—including the doctor Korede loves. This familiar tale of sibling rivalry is complicated by Ayoola having killed enough of her boyfriends to officially qualify as a serial killer. Korede has always protected her sister (starting in childhood with their abusive father and extending to body disposal and crime scene cleanup in the present), but this time she’s motivated to warn the victim, who promptly says she’s jealous and he’s disappointed in her for not being more supportive of her sister.

Hey, she tried.

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26 Mar

Reading Challenge: March 2019

In a word, this month was rough. Five books. Four DNFs. I’m going to play video games during reading time for the rest of the month to cleanse my palate.

Links go to Amazon and are affiliate coded.


TIME SALVAGER by Wesley Chu: In a far distant future, Earth is a toxic wasteland and humans have to use time travel to raid the past for resources. There are, of course, strict regulations about what can be taken and when so the theft doesn’t disrupt the future, and only a select few are authorized to do the job. James Griffin-Mars is one such time traveler, and the nature of the job has begun to take a toll.

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