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    The Books I Read: March – April 2024

    The Best American Short Stories 2022 edited by Andrew Sean Greer So when I first started this “year of short stories” I asked Reddit how to write one, because I don’t know how. I write novels. I do long form. What they said was “read short stories”. So this is my first foray into sampling what others are doing in the space. All I know is I was glad when it was done. Did I learn anything? Well, I learned that I am way out of my league when it comes to reaching the kind of quality and skill needed to express an idea in a fancy literary way. But…

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    The Books I Read: January – February 2024

    Golden Son (Red Rising #2) by Pierce Brown I don’t know what defines military science fiction, but this is it. And I’m sorry I didn’t recognize it in my review of the first book when I compared it to Hunger Games because I’m an idiot. Hunger Games was about survivalism. This is about strategy, tactics, politics, and war. I’m an idiot not to see it for what it is. But that doesn’t mean it’s bad. In fact, it’s a testament to how good the book is that it disguises it so well. In Red Rising, it was basically setting up pieces — the character creation and then “the war games”…

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    The Books I Read: November – December 2023

    It by Stephen King(re-read) I can’t remember what inspired me, but one day I just thought “I should re-read It“. It’s a defining book of both an author and a genre. Two two-part movies have been made about it. It’s an intrinsic part of the cultural zeitgeist. It was Halloween time. A good reader re-reads the classics every once in a while. It’s been about twenty years since my first reading, back when I was just starting as a writer (lowercase w). This time I was able to read it with a more critical eye. The eye of an author, knowing what I know about good writing and about Stephen…

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    The Books I Read: September – October 2023

    Red Rising by Pierce Brown This has been out for a while, but it didn’t really get on my radar until Justin McElroy recommended it on The Besties. At first, I was dubious because I thought “eugh, another dystopian novel where people are separated into castes? And by color this time? Sounds so heavy-handed. Like I read this already in Shades of Grey. Or every other YA novel in the past ten years where teen girls get sorted by some arbitrary trait and enter a love triangle.” That happens, but it’s way better than you think. It’s like Hunger Games, Uglies, Harry Potter, and Leviathan Wakes all mixed together and…

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    The Books I Read: July – August 2023

    The Client by John Grisham I realized I had never read a John Grisham novel, and I like law (I watch Legal Eagle and listen to podcasts about it.) So I thought I ought to remedy that, since the guy basically invented legal thrillers. (Is there such a thing as lawyerpunk? Justicepunk?) The style reminds me of Memory Man. Straightforward, good with tension, tight with time. All the events take place in only three or five days. (The justice system can work fast when it wants to in the Grishamverse). The story doesn’t seem like a thriller or suspense novel, but it is. It’s just about a kid who learns…

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    The Books I Read: May – June 2023

    How to Sell a Haunted House by Grady Hendrix So I’ve grown to love Grady Hendrix and his books. He just seems to have a knack for combining grody horror and nuttiness. Like Stephen King if he was fabulously gay. This book is like his other ones — My Best Friend’s Exorcism, The Southern Book Club’s Guide to Slaying Vampires. It starts out tongue-in-cheek to help you bond with the characters, then migrates to horror, then terror. In How to Sell a Haunted House, there really isn’t much “selling”. But there is plenty of conflict between a brother and sister whose parents just died. The sister (main character) is smart,…

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    The Books I Read: January – February 2023

    Catfishing on CatNet (CatNet #1) by Naomi Kritzer So this is a YA novel about a girl forced to switch schools a lot because of her stalking father. The way she stays socially healthy is something called CatNet, which is basically a forum/chat client for people who like cute animals. What she doesn’t know is that this forum is run by a super-intelligent AI who, well, likes cute animals too. And as the girl and the AI become friends, the AI discovers things about her father. Things that make the girl think she might not know the whole truth. It’s very good. The pace is fast. At first, you think…

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    How I Pick the Books I’m Going to Read: 2022 in Review

    I thought it’d be interesting to see how I pick books to read, if there’s a pattern. So I looked back over 2022’s books I read and tried to remember how/why I added them to my “to be read” list. Swashbucklers – a Big Idea on John Scalzi’s site. The Big Idea is a type of featured post where authors of new works can talk about what inspired them to write the book. All These Worlds (Bobiverse #3) – The third book in a trilogy, and I liked the first two well enough. I don’t remember where I became aware of the original book. Nothing But Blackened Teeth – a…

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    The Books I Read: November – December 2022

    Fairy Tale by Stephen King Look, I don’t think I’m making any grand statement when I say that King can write. We all know that. He’s been writing since the 1970’s and I’ve statistically proven his books have never gone down in popularity or quality, even after getting sober, even after getting hit by a truck, even after being shoved out of a tree by his son Joe Hill. But we’ve all known that King is not sophisticated. He’s not Proust. He’s not “Where the Crawdads Sing” or “The Goldfinch”. Which is fine. King writes for the masses. And that’s fine. I want to write for the masses. I’m just…

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    The Books I Read: September – October 2022

    The Mad Scientist’s Daughter by Cassandra Rose Clarke(unfinished) Do not trust the title. For something called “The Mad Scientist’s Daughter” I was expecting a story about the relationship between a father and daughter. It turns out this is a love story about the daughter and the android he invents. Said android is made out of human flesh, so he looks real, but never ages and has a cold computer-like personality. Nonetheless, the daughter grows up with him and ends up falling in love with him. But she does nothing about it because she’s not supposed to love an android. So this is essentially a romance with a passive protagonist. If…