You know how sometimes you say something and at the time you mean it but later you regret saying it?
That's the case here. In the first post about this reading challenge I declared that graphic novels, though they obviously counted as reading, wouldn't count toward the goal I've set here. I would now like to officially say that is bollocks.
They made a TV series out of the comic series Locke & Key, and I really wanted to watch it but I was determined to read the source material first. So, I've just finished reading through all 37 issues of the comic, and if that doesn't count for something, I don' t know what does.
This story is amazing. A house full of keys, all with different things they allow the user to do, a sordid family history that slowly unfolds as the story progresses through flashbacks, and enough action to keep you drawn in until the end. I loved every minute of it.
So this counts. Now back to something with just words, just to feel completely back on track.
Yet another book by a author I found through Twitter, this guy has been cracking me up for a while, so I figured it was time to check out something he has written. I wasn't disappointed.
My review: "Great premise and enthralling story - The premise drew me in (well, that and Johnson’s tweets) and I had no idea what to expect. As the story unfolded I found myself drawn further into the world he had created and happily along for the ride. Read it in one sitting. A great read!"
I wish I could say I'm getting better at writing reviews, or that it has gotten easier, but that would be a lie. Still, I really enjoyed the book so I had to have a go at saying something praising about it.
Some years ago I became obsessed with Kurt Vonnegut and proceeded to buy all of his books in paperback and devour them. (I had a fascination with paperbacks - proper mass market, not those oversized trade paperbacks - because I could slip them into my back pocket and carry them around with me. I imagine I probably thought it made me look cool, but really it probably just contributed to my future back problems. So it goes.)
Cat's Cradle was the second of his books that I read. Slaughterhouse Five was the first. I read everything he had written at the time (and at the time he was still alive) and while I'm sure some things have been released posthumously I can feel honest in saying I've read all his books.
Anyway, with this whole virus pandemic shitstorm (or pool-pah as Bokonon would have it) I was thinking about how much care we're having to take in washing our hands and disinfecting ourselves and not touching our faces because all it would take would be one tiny bit of COVID-19 to be introduced into our system for the whole thing to invade and replicate and I couldn't help but think of ice-nine and how it was the very same. And yes, it took that stupidly long sentence to make my point.
So I read the story again, after digging out my old, dusty paperback, realizing once again how incredibly allergic I am to dust, and buying the e-book so I could enjoy the book without sneezing.
And now I'm a bokononist again. It's something to do and gives me something to focus on while I try and sort out the insanity that is happening in the world right now.
Busy busy busy.
Aicher is one of my Twitter peeps (can a 47 year old man say "peeps"?) and I read this before I got his e-book Nightswimming (see last post) but it took me longer to write a review because I like to put more thought into reviews of novels.
You know, if they took all that time to write the thing, I can put some time into voicing my opinion.
Anyway, here's my well-thought out review of The Trouble With Being God:
"An enthralling story. A story of imperfect people trying to relate to each other in the midst of the investigation of horrific killings. Aicher's characters feel like real people with real problems (outside of a killer on the loose) and this story kept me guessing until the very end and then turned me on my head. A great read!"
I liked the book. It was his debut book way back when (2018, I think, but originally ten years earlier as this is the "Special 10th Anniversary Edition") and I can only hope that when I finally put out a novel in print it measures up to even half what this one accomplishes.
That being said, it's pretty violent and gory in places, so if that sort of thing turns you off then give it a pass.
I know, I know. When I started this thing I went on some pompous ramble about how I would only be reading physical books and counting them for this purpose. But then a damn pandemic happened and everything changed.
So since having books delivered by Amazon means they'll have to wait in quarantine for several days if they show up at all, I've had to adjust my attitude.
With that in mind, here are some e-books written and published by fellow authors from Twitter that I have picked up and read which totally count toward the end total:
When Nothing Stares Back by Marcus Vance
My review: "A Great Collection - Short stories interspersed with bite-sized morsels of fiction. I read it all in one sitting, then read it all again. Great stuff."
Nightswimming by William F. Aicher
My review: "Properly creepy - I always knew there was a reason I liked pools with lights in them, and now this story is that reason."
Evidence of Changes, Vol. 1 by Micah Thomas
My review: "Stories that make you question reality - Three stories that make you question what is real and what is a psychedelic hallucination. This book pulls you in and doesn't let go. I read the entire thing in one sitting and will now toss The Little Demons Inside onto my TBR list because I need to know more about this crazy world Micah Thomas has created. A great read!"
Something Missing by Kyle Anthony
My review: "Hooked me and kept me on the line - I love a mystery that I can't figure out, and this one kept me guessing until the very end."
So there you go. Four books that I may not have had the opportunity to read had I not been in the position to need to buy some e-books. There are more, but I'll get to those later.
Another in my quest to read authors I've met on Twitter, The Four Before Me is the independently-published debut novel by E.H. Night and if you check the date stamps on these posts you'll see that I read it in two days.
I like dark stories, and this one delivered. I also like mysteries, and this one delivered again. I didn't want to stop reading because I was instantly invested in the story and in discovering what secrets this small town held.
In the author's words: "If you like the 80's, serial killers, or strange twists, this is the book for you! Just try not to puke."
In my words: "Oh, man, what an opening! And what an ending! This dark and twisted story kept me intrigued until the very end, where the truths that were revealed left me surprised and slightly unsettled. This story will stay with me for a long, long time."
I've been following Gillian McAllister on Twitter and Instagram for quite a while now, and I knew that eventually I would need to pick up one of her books and see what her writing was like and if I liked it. It seemed pretty likely, since I liked what she shared on social media and could relate to her story (though only in a wish sense), her having quit her job to write full time.
So I finally picked up her debut book. It makes sense to me to start at the beginning, even if the author's books aren't connected, because then if they're good you get to keep going with them and see how much better they become.
I loved it. I didn't know what to expect, exactly, and that was fun for me. I really enjoyed it and read the entire book in two evenings.
Here's the review I posted (usual caveat: I suck at writing reviews):
"A compelling read from start to finish. I couldn't put this book down as numerous mysteries unfolded within its pages and I had to see what happened next. I can't wait to pick up her next book."
I will definitely read more of her work, but first, I have some others to read. Up next is "The Four Before Me" by E.H. Knight, another writer I found through Twitter (and by the looks of it, another Indie publication)
See you on the other side.
Okay, so it's twenty-one days into the year and I've finally finished a book. And what a good way to start off.
Here is the review I posted on Amazon and Goodreads:
"I love it when I finish a book and immediately find myself missing the characters. Zev created such a wonderfully messed up family and through the course of the book, through all the ups and downs, made us love them and feel every struggle and every joy."
Now I'd like to go on the record confessing that I suck at writing book reviews. I always feel like it's very easy to fall into sounding like a pretentious prick, and so I struggle with it. With that in mind, I kept it short and sweet on this one, as no one needs to read me summarizing the book.
Thank you, Zev, for sharing this story with the world. It was amazing.
Now onto the next book, once I decide what it will be.
So here we are, twelve days into the year, and I'd like to day I've had my head buried in a book for all this time or several books but the truth is, I haven't.
I can say that yesterday I came to this realization and picked up a book I started a month ago before my reading drought happened (All About the Benjamins, by Zev Good) and I can't for the life of me figure out why I ever put it down. It had nothing to do with the book, of that I can assure you. It's as interesting and enthralling as his first book (A Map of the World: Stories) and I really can't wait to see how it all turns out.
That's the trouble with this brain of mine. Sometimes it just shuts down avenues for a while to reset. My only regret is actually saying to Zev, "Hey, I bought your book and I'm reading it," when I actually did so because now it may appear that I'm not into it, which is very far from the case. I know when someone tells me they're reading my stuff and then they take forever on it, it gets hard not to imagine them slogging through it to get it over with and dreading every page.
Hopefully Zev isn't as cripplingly insecure as I am.
So part of this plan is to add to my reading list authors I've met through Twitter, Zev being one of them. Last year I read A Map of the World by him and Songbirds & Stray Dogs by Meagan Lucas (loved, loved, loved it!), and that really lit my fire for reading the works of people I can actually communicate directly with so that when I'm done I can tell them how amazing their books are and I can leave reviews to help them out.
Not that my reviews are especially gripping. That may just be my weakest area, writing reviews. It's very hard not to sound like a pretentious twit when you're writing them.
So, though I'm sure Zev will understand when I do finish his book and leave a poorly-written review that I enjoyed it, I'm going to wait to tell these authors about getting their books until I finish them:
That's my list of people I've discovered through Twitter so far. There will be more, but that's a good start.
In today's high-tech world it's very easy to get distracted, and with that Magic Box of Answers and Games in my pocket masquerading as a phone it's even easier. As a result, reading has become something of a difficulty for me.
So it's time to once again try and retrain my brain to be able to focus on page after page and get through a book or ten. It's time to break away, just for a little while at a time, from that magic, flashy, look-at-me world of the internet and lose myself in books again.
It's not like I don't have reading material.
So the goal for 2020 (because why not base a goal around arbitrary beginnings and endings?) is to read 24 books. That's only two a month. I should be able to do that.
There has been much discussion in my family about what constitutes "reading" a "book."
First off, for the purposes of this exercise, listening to an audiobook will not count toward the goal. It will count, mind you, just not toward this tally. There is much merit in listening to a story being told, especially if you're fortunate enough to have the author reading you their own story. But since this is about retraining my brain to physically read then only the printed page will do.
Yes, that also means, for me, that reading off of a screen won't count. I just don't like it. I want to feel the pages between my fingers. It still counts for everyone else, but not me.
Now, on to what constitutes a "book." Does a graphic novel count? Sure, why not? But I don't think I'll count it toward this goal. They still count, though, out in regular tallies.
Right, so that's about it. Graphic novels and audiobooks are grand and count as reading but not for this purpose, so I'll just be counting books with lots of words between two covers. Twenty-four of them. Starting tomorrow. I already know which one will start it.
I've created this page so I can document when I finish, and to hold myself accountable. Sure, I could just delete it if things go wrong, but the shadow will always be there, so I'd best play nice.
Time to crack some spines.