Stretch's 2023 continuation of reading things

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Stretch's 2023 continuation of reading things

Editado: Nov 27, 2023, 9:43 am

Things will be read at some point in time. I'm not entirely sure what those will be. We'll just have to wait and see.

This year I plan on reading ewer books and posting them in batches, so it might be a while before I get back here.

I am Legend by Richard Matheson ★★
Airframe by Michael Crichton ★★★½
Lost in the Moment and Found Seanan McGuire ★★★★½
Food Fright by Nico Bell ★★★
Biogenesis by Tatsuaki Ishiguro ★★★
Tastes Like Candy by Ivy Tholen ★★½
Church by Renee Miller ★★★
Shutter by Romona Emerson ★★★★½
The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho ★★½
Animal Farm by George Orwell ★★★★
The Con Season by Adam Cesare ★★★
Idol Burning by Rin Usami ★★★★
Lute by Jennifer Thorne ★★
The Short-timers by Gustav Hasford ★★★★
Bad Vibrations by Lucy Leitner ★★★
Rape: A Love Story by Joyce Carol Oates ★★★★★
A Blink of the Screen by Terry Pratchett ★★★
Eric by Terry Pratchett ★★★
Conjuring the Witch by Jessica Leonard ★★★★★
This is Where We Talk Things Out by Caitlin Marceau ★★★
The Consultant by Bentley Little ★★
Astral Season, Beastly Season by Thai Saihate ★★★★
Nails and Eyes by Kaori Fujino ★★★★½
Feed Them Silence Lee Mandelo ★★★½
Bound Feet by Kelsea Yu ★★★★
Wyrd and Other Derelictions by Adam Nevill ★★★★½
Whalefall by Daniel Kraus ★★★★½
Killstreme by Rayne Havok ★★½

This is What it Sounds Like by Susan Rogers ★★★
A Short History of the Troubles by Brian Feeney ★★★½
Evil: The Science Behind Humanity's Dark Side by Julia Shaw ★★★★
Complaint! by Sara Ahmed ★★★★
Ancient Greece: A Very Short Introduction by Paul Cartledge ★★
Kill All Normies by Angela Nagle ★★½
The Reason for the Darkness of Night by John Tresch ★★★★
Grunt by Mary Roach ★★★½
Net Gains by Ryan O'Hanlon ★★★★
Missoula by John Krakauer ★★★★★
Bad Blood by John Carreyrou ★★★
The Myth of the Lost Cuase and Civil War History by Gary W. Gallagher et. al. ★★★
Horror Fiction in the 20th Century by Jess Nevins ★★★½

Lemon by Motojiro Kaji ★★★★
Skeleton Song by Seanan McGuire ★★★★
A juice Like Wounds by Seanan McGuire ★★★½
Dyke (Geology) by Sabrina Imbler ★★★
Against Interpretation by Susan Sontag ★★★
Revenge of the Librarians by Tom Gauld ★★★
A Forest, or a Tree by Tegan Moore ★★½
You Should Have Let Me In by Donna Latham ★★★
THe Kurosgai Corpse Delivery Service, Vol 3 by Eiji Otsuka ★★★½
Harry Potter and the Cursed Child by Jack Thorne and J.K. Rowling ★★★
The Driver's Guide to Hitting Pedestrains by Andersen Prunty ★★★
A Collegiate Casting-out of Devilish Devices by Terry Prachett ★★★
Minutes of the Meeting to Form the Proposed Ankh-Morpork Federation of Scouts by Terry Prachett ★★½
Suicide Girls in the Afterlife by Gina Ranalli ★★★½
Some Other Animal's Meat by Emily Carroll ★★★
Eat the Rich by Sarah Gailey ★★★
The Genre of Horror by Various ★★★½
Unboxed by Briana Morgan ★★★

Editado: Nov 27, 2023, 9:47 am

Favorite Covers:


Jan 2, 2023, 5:26 pm

>1 stretch: This year I plan on reading ewer books

Books written by or about sheep :-)

Good to see you here, Kevin. I'll look forward to following along as always.

Jan 2, 2023, 5:37 pm

>3 labfs39: Defintely by sheep.

Jan 2, 2023, 5:46 pm

Oh good, someone else posted first and made the joke I was contemplating.

I hope you will be continue reading/reviewing Japanese books -- I like their flavor of weird fiction and you've had such interesting finds.

Jan 2, 2023, 6:18 pm

>5 ELiz_M: For sure a sizable chunk of the reading this year will come from Japanese authors, I have one I'm kind of currently reading that will be impossibe to describe so weird fiction will continue unabated.

Jan 3, 2023, 1:45 am

>2 stretch: Off to an interesting start for me (this is what matters, of course). I've had vague intentions to read I Am Legend for eternity, and I read This Is What It Sounds Like late last year. I'll be here to see what you think of those, and where you go from there!

Jan 3, 2023, 8:16 am

Placing my star for the year! Here's hoping for an exciting Japanese reading year for the both of us! I'll be creating my thread when I get back from vacation.

Jan 3, 2023, 10:20 pm

Two interesting books done already? Happy ewe year, Kevin (Couldn't help myself, sorry). Wish you great reading.

Editado: Jan 4, 2023, 5:32 am

>7 ursula: Trying an experiment this year with posting but I'll have something up sometime later this month. Going for less but longer posts. Last year my thread started to become unwieldy, but are never long enough to break into multiple parts. January will be weird since I have to figure out the best formatting with LT limited options.

>8 lilisin: Look forward to following along with your reading again this year once you get a thread up and running. My first Japanese read for the year is certainly different we'll see how interesting it turns out.

>9 dchaikin: The sheep are cannon now.

The drive to and from Oklahoma is long. Audiobooks made it bit less so. Back to my usual slower pace and reading far too many things simultaneously.

Jan 5, 2023, 1:38 am

>10 stretch: Ah okay, well no worries. I understand experimenting with how you manage your thread. I know what you mean about limited formatting options!

Editado: Jan 9, 2023, 9:55 am

I am Legend by Richard Matheson

Let me caveat this whole thing with I am not a vampire guy. I love horror in all its forms, but I find vampire stories to be tedious, I found I am Legend to be tedious.

In a post-apocalyptic LA, a man survives alone as a mysterious plaque has overrun the population that has turned them into vampiric monsters. Some are the undead kind of vampires, it is unclear how to tell the difference. The man is tormented by his personal lost and the new monsters outside his barricaded home. Overtime he learns to better survive, kill, and find the cause of the plaque that has overtaken the world. Discovering that next step in human evolution looks very different from our current trajectory.

For the most part, the vampires are just background noise. The story is an about a man dealing with lost and being possibly the only human left in the world. Dealing with loneliness and guilt. Driven closer and closer to the edge by the demons outside and within his mind. All compelling story elements on their own, if they are handled with care and nuance. Matheson does not do nuance, we get a functioning, horny alcoholic through good portions of the story. Not until he begins investigating the cause and function of vampires does this story opens up into anything more interesting than a man losing his mind. The main character is just ill-equipped for something like an adventure survival tale. He really doesn’t posse much in the way of survival skills, not particular heroic in his deeds, and frankly kind of dumb. But the story doesn’t really work as a psychological thriller either. We get to be inside is head the whole time, but his thought process is painfully slow and pretty shallow. It tries to be both and in my estimation fails. Sprinkle in a bit of that 1950s sexism and racism as casually as you’d like, and this becomes an ugly tale for all the wrong reasons.

Vampire is metaphor. Sometimes a stand in for evils of the aristocracy. Sometimes for toxic masculinity and the fears that bring. Here it’s a mixed metaphor for an inferiority complex and failure to understand the diseased. At least that is what I think it is supposed to be about, or he was just tired of zombies and subbed in vampires without a lot of thought.

The movie was better than this story, and it wasn’t even close to borrowing from the plot.


Connective Tissue: Dracula, The Road

This Is What It Sounds Like by Susan Rogers and Ogi Ogas

I wasn’t sure exactly what I was looking for with reading this one. I was certainly drawn to the “a journey into the science and soul of music that reveals the secrets of why your favorite songs move you,” part of the description. That is a huge promise for something so personal and individualistic as taste in music. It doesn’t really explain it, but more outlines the tools for recognizing why certain music speaks to the listener. How being an active listener of music can reveal how your brain processes music. Part memoir and part neuroscience, Rogers shows how our taste in music can help define our own identities. How music plays a role in cognitive processes and shapes how we view the world.

It is a well written and inclusive work. There is something to be gleaned here for sure. At times, it felt like she was making fairly obvious connections, with and without data. And I could live without the personal anecdotes, more interested in the science. I guess for me, it comes down t this not being as rigorous as I was hoping for. It was a bit too surface level to really dig into. More like a long personality test than a deep exploration of music explained as a universal art. But I did get a pretty good play list out of it, so can’t complain about that.


Connective Tissue: The Rolling Stone Illustrated History of Rock and Roll

Lemon by Motojiro Kaji - The way this narrator it just talks to us about how he's dying first in the opening paragraph is interesting, comparing his mood to not that of resignation but more of feeling of hangovers during a prolonged period of drunkenness. What a brilliant way to open a story, with the main character is telling us that this is the feeling with what it's like to die slowly. This story does a great job of starting off at the very bottom and just keeps dragging the reader down, hitting on the truth of living while dying. The decay, the loneliness, the lack of comfort in things that once held joy, it’s all here. A realistic portrait of what it is like to face an impending death by an author that was facing his own; not a very comforting picture.

Jan 9, 2023, 9:49 am

I think I'll make the posts in batches of three. Originally though about updating it on a monthly basis, kind of like how I manage my Japanese reading archive in the Japanese Literature group, but I think that would be too long for CR. This is a good compromise and meets my minimum criteria for a list, so that's a win!

Jan 9, 2023, 3:30 pm

Enjoyed your post. I’ve seen only part of I am Legend (and still get a kick of the MLB baseball matchup when pitcher Will Smith faced batter Will Smith). Anyway I assumed the book must be alright. Doesn’t sound like it.

This is What it Sounds Like - the subject definitely interests me. Noting your reservations.

Lemon - whoa. Maybe too heavy for my state of denial.

Jan 9, 2023, 4:45 pm

>12 stretch:. When I read this as a teenager I loved it. Creepiness at its best I thought. It was published in 1954, so perhaps has not aged so well, certainly since then vampires have moved on a bit.

Jan 10, 2023, 8:43 am

>14 dchaikin: I liked the movie when it came out. The story and movie go in very different directions, and I think the movie explores the key elements of lonliness and discovery better than Matheson.

I read Lemon over a lunch break on a busy day, so I didn't have to linger too long on the extensional dread.

>15 baswood: It is funny how these things hit in our own reading timelines. If it had come earlier in my timeline I might have had better feeling towards it. Having read so many books that cover the same themes bettter with more depth, this one pales in comparison with those. Matheson is great for concept and setting the tone. All his stories are perfect for adaptation but his themes never feel fully fleshed out before he tries to tackle some other theme. We have great media beacuse of Matheson and his concepts lie on in so many ways.

Jan 12, 2023, 8:55 pm

>12 stretch: I'm definitely not in the mood for existential dread, but I love Lemon's cover.

Jan 15, 2023, 6:47 am

>12 stretch: I read with interest your review of I Am Legend. I actually really liked the book, and did not like the film.
I've watched the movie first and felt there were lots of themes that were not developed enough but would have been interesting. The I learnt it was based on a book, so I read it. And liked it a lot (despite some caveats)!
I agree there are some inconsistencies, and I don't care about the vampires. I think it could have been zombies, werewolves, or anything else, it's not the point. What I liked is really the realisation of what it is to become the minority, to become the past, to think you have to preserve what you are and what your culture is, when you and your culture are becoming irrelevant and others fight against you for the same reasons why you fight against them: you've become the monster, and you're the one who will loose because you are the minority.
It seems I'm in the minority here, so I hope I won't end up like Robert Neville (in the book)...

Jan 18, 2023, 10:28 am

>18 raton-liseur: Hmmm, interesting take. I agree that the ending was statisfing conclustion to the book. It was just getting to that point that I found less then stellar. To me none of the themese were all that well explored, leaving the reader to fill in the gaps and read into what Matheson was laying down. It took several chapters to learn that Laura was his wife and Kate his daughter. Matheson only mentions by name and early on I thouhgt Laura was a mother or mother-in-law and Kate his wife. It wasn't until the gravesite visit does the relationships clear up. Matheson was a great screenwriter and a great ideas man, but is actual writting just is just lacking depth. I like the movie because it discards a lot of what Matheson introduces to exlpore the themes of loneliness and the drive to explore the causes of the vampires with more depth and naunce that Matheson glossed over. I can even forgive the terrible 1954 understanding of bacterias and virsuses, they are easy to mix up. But that was the only part of the book that Matheson really dived into, until well he dropped that thread just as it was getting somewhere in the plot, only to pick it up again when it can feel in a plot hole later on.

Jan 18, 2023, 2:01 pm

>19 stretch: I totally get your point. I guess I was in a more forgiving mode at the time I read the book.

Editado: Jan 20, 2023, 2:26 pm

Airframe by Michael Crichton

A re-read, read this as a kid. Really enjoyed it then. It was as I remembered. Having taken an interest in plane investigations, it was kind of fun to read a thriller on the subject. Even with the usual Crichton inaccuracies, it was still a fun read. There are a few more of the Crichton bibliography I want to get to.


Connective Tissue: The Crash Detectives

Lost in the Moment and Found by Seanan McGuire

Another great addition to the Wayward Children Series. Different in that its a child fleeing an abuser only to find herself with another kind of abuser. Not the typical misfit finding an identity, but a story of a girl finding her strength to follow what is right and what is wrong. It’s a bit darker than most of the stories in the series that doesn’t end on a high note like so many others.

A world book, that is more a transit hub for the various doors, that adds quite a bit to the overall lore. Our main character is able to step into any of the other worlds and trade for goods and objects in order to survive. Not as fantastical as the other stories but is opening a way to end the series to a conclusion and the possibility for all the children to find their way back to into their preferred world.

There are quite a few threads in both the real world and the portal worlds that will be interesting to see how McGuire ties up as the series comes to its conclusion.


Connective Tissue: Wayward Children

Food Fright by Nico Bell

foody revenge monster slasher stemming from a classic hazing prank gone wrong, Food Fright is a fun campy romp. It’s a fun and campy slasher that fits right in with the rest of the Rewinds and Dies. Taking a ludicrous concept and running with it, full of retro references and callbacks to the worst of the paperback era and 90s horror flicks. They are pretty well written, but it's horror that doesn’t take itself too seriously.


Connective Tissue: My Heart is a Chainsaw, Camp Neverland, Cirque Berserk

Jan 20, 2023, 6:31 pm

Crichton was an early favorite of mind, then I read Rising Sun and noticed it was a bit racist (Japanese stereotypes). Then Disclosure felt a little sexist. Then I learned how much I didn’t like him as a person (and those two books turned incredibly racist and/or sexist in my malleable memory.) Anyway, knowing now how many authors are _not_ people I would like to have over for dinner, wonder if I would be more forgiving now. … probably not. 🙂

Editado: Jan 26, 2023, 1:05 pm

>22 dchaikin: Yeah Crichton was seminal to my reading outside of assigned reading as a teen. Airframe and Jurassic Park are big signposts in my own reading history. Never picked up anything else reallyby him, the few passages of Congo I read was problematic. Rising Tide just seems problematic on its premise and I can't imagine how Disclosure would read in today's era.

It's a shame because I like these science/corporate thrillers that no one really seems to write anymore. or at least I don't know of any.

Jan 21, 2023, 1:56 pm

>21 stretch: I didn't know about Rewind or Die, and I'm very excited to be introduced. You got me with Cirque Berserk to start with since I love the title.

Jan 21, 2023, 3:58 pm

>24 nancyewhite: That one is my favorite so far, really great twist to that one! They are defintely horror, bloddy and gory s slashers should be. There's an element of fun to them and are twisted in really different ways. I think of them as grownup Goosebumps with adult themes.

Editado: Jan 31, 2023, 10:23 am

Biogenesis by Tatsuaki Ishiguro
Translated by Brian Watson and James Blazer

This is a hard, hard science fiction. The four stories are written as scientific reports, detailing the discovery and the investigation of strange plants and animals. The first is a story about a mouse with wings, bloody tears, and that glows in the dark. The second story is an about the investigation of a very much alive woman with white hair, complexion and body temperature that would indicate she is dead. Up third is a story about a plant requiring radiation and human blood to grow. With the fourth following a more conventional story telling form about the investigation of a marine creature that has cancer curing abilities. Each investigation is mysterious and very strange, but incredibly detailed. The drama is in the science and the endeavor to investigate these very strange creatures. It is an oddly compelling read.


Connective Tissue: Ten Billion Days and One Hundred Billion Nights

Dyke (Geology) by Sabrina Imbler - Short prose poem where Imbler uses a volcano as a metaphor for queerness and a lesbian relationship. Talented writer for sure, the metaphor gets a little strained in places. While geology is full of sexual puns, it doesn’t really fit into our ideas of sex and gender. But then I’m always uncomfortable with humanizing nature.

Tastes Like Candy by Ivy Tholen

Carnival scavenge hunt gone wrong. A group of girls are invited to take a part in a school tradition that turns deadly serious. Except it never does. This is book is full of stoner dialogue and inane sarcasm. This wouldn’t kill a slasher in most cases, but Tholen way over does it. Even if the kills and twists are unique, the lack of seriousness just removes you from the thrill. Had a lot of potential.


Connective Tissue: Hide, Cirque Berserk

Church by Rennee Miller

Religious zealotry is a deep story mine within the horror genre. But a good cult story is hard to find. Church has the bones for making a great one, two immovable objects on two diametrically opposing sides in a battle of wills. One to save a woman the other a charismatic and sadistic leader of a cult. The back and forth is certainly there, neither side painted in the best light. But ultimately this is a rushed story, then ending not allowed enough time to develop and explore some of the themes Miller was setting up. This had the legs to be full length novel and gone so much deeper.


Connective Tissue:

Evil: The Science Behind Humanity's Dark Side by Julia Shaw

The psychology behind the many facets of the behaviors' society commonly refers to as "evil". The author goes at length to show that all of these behaviors are, to some degree, present in many of us. Many people have sadistic tendencies, or have murder or rape fantasies, but don't act on them. Backed by statistics and qualitative explanations, Shaw argues that these thoughts/behaviors are common enough that outright condemning them as evil is condemning large swaths of society. There are no silver bullet reasons to be found, a lot of the simple answers are profoundly wrong or just a part of a much more complex puzzle. Our initial assumptions and bias drives our fears of ‘others’. That applying the word evil to what is to some degree normal takes the power of the word away and affords us the ability to react with our baser emotional responses.


Connective Tissue: Thinking Fast and Slow

Fev 3, 2023, 8:43 pm

Interesting group of five. I enjoyed your comments. I was actual a little frustrated with Evil, even if I liked the intent.

Editado: Ago 14, 2023, 10:38 am

This is a totally dumb exercise that my favorite Podcast does from time with Pop Culture. I kind of went off the deep end, decided to do it for American authors. Positions are based loosely on weird intangible logic that really doesn't make sense so it's complete nonsense, but I enjoy the exercise.

Starting XI of American Authors: 4-2-3-1

                                                        Mark Twain


Joan Didion                       Aldo Leopold                   John McPhee                       Kurt Vonnegut


                         Percival Everett                               Mary Roach


    Louise Eldrich                                          Poe                                        Toni Morrison


                                                      James Baldwin


Subs: John Steinbeck, Jasmyn Ward, William Faulkner, Shelby Foote, Shirley Jackson, Colson Whitehead, Ernest Hemingway (goalkeeper)

Sticking to what team us does best--> playing fast on the counter, win the ball deep and move it through the channels.

Mark Twain: A great communicator, able to organize the defense; might be liability as shot stopper; terrible with his feet, but commanding presence on the back line.

Full backs: Creative with their form; likely able to go the full length of the field in a single breath. Tireless out look. Overlaps with the incisive winger play. Not the strongest in defense.

Center Defenders: Classic stalwarts of Americana, strong defenders, good for putting in a challenge and winning the ball back in the box, knowing the field of play and getting the ball to playmakers feet.

Defensive Mids: Play more like a double pivot, trading off roles; a little devious and will put a shoulder into the defense just to see what happens; knows where the ball goes in the pass, solid all the time.

Wingers: Fast and fluid play that cut in from the wings put in goals. Imagine them playing inverted so they cut back to their strong foot. Ideally good crosses of the ball.

Playmaker: Poe, versatile, scrappy, and hustler. Able to break down defenses either with a through ball to striker, dribbling, or getting it out to the wingers. Always hungry to score a goal.

Striker: Able to hold up the ball and poach a goal when needed. Always got an eye out for goal.

Fev 13, 2023, 1:45 pm

>28 stretch: Love it! There was a similar Facebook post late last year with starting XIs and substitutes of clubs of French and British philosophers. I posted it on my timeline, so I'll have to look for it.

Editado: Fev 14, 2023, 4:38 pm

>29 kidzdoc: Yeah it's a bit of fun for the soccer nerd in me, formations and playing style even fictious is an interesting excercise. But man I would be hard pressed to figure out a XI of just philosophers let alone Fench or British ones. That's a whole another level to this.

Editado: Maio 3, 2023, 10:04 am

Finally back from a long work project, for an incident I can't talk about, legal wrangling. Didn't do a lot of reading but did manage to finish something:

The Reason for the Darkness of the Night by John Tresch

John Tresch explores the intersection between literature and science in 19th century America through the lens of the works of Edgar Allan Poe. The book argues that Poe's interest in science and his works were not just a hobby, but rather an essential part of his literary works and worldview. A very different Poe biography. Yes, it’s the key moments of his life, the impressions he left on the people he crossed, the events that shaped his life, etc. But it’s all framed by his little known interest (within the zeitgeist) in science that culminated in his last major contribution "Eureka." As a work Eureka is completely different from what Poe is famous for his fictional works, being a nonfictional essay/speech on the state of science of the time and what it meant in a larger context. An attempt for Poe to more prominently assert himself as a public thinker.

Fascinating to learn just how hooked into the scientific discourse Poe was while working in Philadelphia. Really, among Poe’s many firsts in written world, he was America’s first Science Journalist reporting on the latest discoveries and inventions. Focusing on an area of Poe’s life that most biographers demise as passing fancies or at best gloss over even though Poe himself returns to time and time again transforms Poe from an almost tragic figure where the outcome is a forgone conclusion to someone with a great deal of thought and interest within the world he occupied. That is not say he wasn’t a man of his time, believing in designer theories and some of uglier blatantly racist science of the 1840s. He wasn’t a progressive thinker in this era but he was a kin learner and enthusiastic adopter. Not sure what is take would have been in just a couple more decades.

With Tresch argues that Poe's unique perspective as a literary figure allowed him to critique and engage with scientific ideas in ways that traditional scientists could not. This framing has totally flipped my understanding of his stories and poetry. Not sure if everything Tresch interprets as being influenced by Poe’s thoughts on science or psychology, but I can definitely see those elements in retrospect.

I might have to restart my ongoing Poe project and begin again with this new paradigm in mind. Really adds a layer to my favorite author that I was unaware of at least in the detail I gleaned before from the more melodramatic biographies.

As an side note this biography does what I love in biographies, while the main focus is Poe it discusses other people outside of Poe’s immediate circle and what they were doing that would later play a role in Poe’s life or writing. A glimpse of not just Poe as a person, but the times and places he lived in. Similar to Eric Larsson.


Connective Tissue: Devil in the White City

Editado: Maio 4, 2023, 1:05 pm

Idol, Burning by Rin Usami
Translated by Asa Yoneda

Akari, a young high schooler with an strong obsession for member of the singing group Maza Maza. Akari is mostly a mess, having difficulty learning in school, is easily overwhelmed at work, and is often tense around her mother and sister, but her obsessive dedication for her oshi (idol) is the one area in her life where she can exercise some level of control. Everything she earns and goes to her idol, her well-being and personality becomes inextricably tied to her oshi. Her super-fandom of of her oshi she is organized and singularly focused providing a sense of fulfillment she struggles to find elsewhere. She is often teased for her obsession and she is somewhat area of just how destructive the fandom can be, yet for Akari this is her happiness in life. So waking up to the news that her oshi has assaulted a fan triggers what should be crisis in Akari’s life, but really her whole life is in crisis. With difficulties at shool Akari becomes a dropout, struggles to find a job she can handle, and becomes increasingly unmoored. Her family doesn’t know what to do with her so after her grandmother dies, her family let her move into the now-vacant house. However, being left alone is the last thing Akari needs, where she can't even keep the house in any kind of order she can't find any hold. All in the background of her oshi’s career coming to an end.

The idol worshiping world is not a subculture I can get my head around, but Usami has captured fandom and obsession very well, at least the reasoning and rationale makes sense to me. She has also captured Akari's struggles with fitting in in the world beyond the one she has immersed herself in. It’s often a dark and bleak story that doesn’t find itself going down a simple falling out storyline that you would think from the synopsis. It’s much more a dark coming of age than a fandom gone wrong. Hope Usami continues to write these kinds of stories. She has a lot of talent for someone so young.


Connective Tissue: Lonely Castle in the Mirror

The Con Season by Adam Cesare

The Con Season is a thrill ride for fans of horror movies and conventions. A story that follows a group of B horror actors as they embark on a journey to attend a very different kind of horror convention. The novel is a blend of horror and comedy fantasy that is both totally campy and wish fulfillment. It was mostly enjoyable if not particularly memorable.


Connective Tissue: FantasticLand

Harry Potter and the Cursed Child by J.K. Rowling

Meh, wasn't needed. Not a terrible addition to the series, still not something that puts a definitive end to the story or at the very least needs to be fleshed out into something bigger. Otherwise it is just a sanctioned fan fiction.


Connective Tissue: Harry Potter

Maio 3, 2023, 11:30 am

Nice to see you back on the threads, Kevin. I hope your issue-which-shall-not-be-named has been favorably resolved. Idol, Burning sounds interesting.

Maio 3, 2023, 1:14 pm

>33 labfs39: Thanks, I have a lot of catching up to do.

Maio 3, 2023, 1:22 pm

Kevin - the sheep are talking to me. Should i be worried about this?

Great review on Poe and science. I wish Akari well. Nice to see you posting.

Maio 3, 2023, 3:28 pm

>35 dchaikin: Dan, as I always like to say you should only worry about going crazy if you start losing arguments to yourself, or in this case the sheep. Everything up to that point is just eccentricity working its way out.

Editado: Jun 9, 2023, 11:42 am

The Short-Timers by Gustav Hasford

The Short-Timers is a gritty semi-autobiographical account of Gustav Hasford’s own experience as a Marine during the Vietnam War. It is a raw and unflinching portrayal of the Vietnam War, vivid and immersive, capturing the brutal and chaotic nature of combat. The story provides a deep and introspective exploration of the psychological toll that war takes on its participants. It delves into the complexities of human nature, exposing the dehumanizing effects of war while also examining themes of camaraderie, survival, and the loss of innocence. The dialogue is sharp and fills authentic, reflecting the military jargon and gallows humor prevalent among soldiers.

Hasford skillfully balances vivid descriptions of the war-torn landscape with introspective passages that delve into the minds of the characters. The pacing is intense and relentless, mirroring the chaos and uncertainty of the war itself. Short-Timers is a remarkable and harrowing novel that offers a compelling glimpse into the Vietnam War. Through its raw and unflinching portrayal of the experiences of young Marines, the book explores the human cost of war and raises important questions about the nature of conflict. The dialogue can become exhausting to get through with so much jargon and its intense pacing.


Connective Tissue: The Matterhorn, The Things They Carried

Lute by Jennifer Thorne

Folklore horror is a difficult thing to pull off in a modern setting, even one set in World War 2. Ancient rituals and rites just seem out of place in a world that is far more interconnected in ways that make A/B testing the plot possible. {Lute set on a remote British isle with a remarkable amount of good fortune, an American transplant must come to terms quickly with a ritual sacrifice to some mystic force that keeps the islanders safe and happy even as the world around them falls apart.

The problems: the ugly American is a thing in this story and she is exceptionally annoying, the auxiliary characters are beyond paper thin, so their deaths are just not felt, the romantic storyline is so fast and dumb it’s insulting to the reader, the ritual s ill explained, and most importantly the mystic force is just random nothing ever feels like it has a purpose. Folk horror needs a setting that is fit for purpose, something grounded in reason and spirit. Lute fails on so many points, real disappointment.


Connective Tissue: The Twisted Ones, American Gods

Yellowface by R.F. Kaung

Yellowface is impossible to classify. It is certainly a satire, not a humorous one, but one none the less, it’s a ghost story, but not a physical haunting; it is a social thriller, but not fast-paced action heavy thrill ride kind of way; it is both shallow and deep social commentary, but without a clear moral; and it is all packaged in a neat and tidy well written story. There is a lot unpack in a seeming simple concept: white privilege within publishing, who gets to tell which stories, where inspiration lies, what it means to co-op the pain of others for art, the package of stories for conception by the industry, the commercialization of art, the culture of branding on social media and what pressures that brings, the take down of public figures, the consequences of it all, and murkiness of it all. There is much moralizing to be found, no clear answers, and no villains or heroes, just the exploration of a subset of questions for authors and readers that are hard to answer.


Connective Tissue: The Other Black Girl

Grunt by Mary Raoch

It’s a Mary Roach book of course it’s going to be a fun and informative exploration of seemingly blind alleys. This time exploring the scientific and technological aspects of military life. Always learning something new and interesting from her curiosity that I was never expecting.


Connective Tissue: All of Mary Roach books

Jun 9, 2023, 7:31 am

>37 stretch: Love the sheep; loved Grunt, my introduction to Roach thanks to you; and love love love Matterhorn.

P.S. Your touchstone for Grunt goes to a children's book.

Jun 9, 2023, 1:56 pm

>38 labfs39: Thanks, always fixing touchstones the sheep are always breaking the linls.

Mary Roach is one of those treasured authors that I struggle to even rate or rank in any way. She is simply fantastic finding the twist in a subject that leads to something uniquely fascinating and does it through a bit of self-deprecating humor that makes it all the more readable. She's to me the Alan Alda of books instead of TV.

Matterhorn is such a great novel. Shares a lot in common with short-timers, if short-timers is more gritty and in your face. I only picked up this book, which was hard to find because of it being a basis for the movie Full Metal Jacket. Which, the movie was pretty faithful to the source material.

Jul 27, 2023, 11:27 pm

An article in the Smithsonian that I thought you might be interested in.

See Inside One of America’s Last Pencil Factories: The family-owned facility in Tennessee produces more than 70 million pencils annually

Ago 3, 2023, 8:11 am

That is cool, thanks! The Musgrave pencils aren't necessarily the "best" but they are one of the best companies. Very active in engaging with fans and just cool folks that care.

Editado: Ago 14, 2023, 10:00 am

Rape: a Love Story by Joyce Carol Oates

This a raw, and dark look at rape, victimhood, and limits of the justice system. It's unflinching in its portrayal of a traumatic rape and the consequences that follow. Slowly evolving into a revenge tale that is both bleak and satisfactory. The only grip is that the mother's story is wrapped too neatly in the end, even if she is more of an ancillary character it feels that her aftermath was an afterthought that needed a conclusion.

I think I finally found my Oates wheelhouse. She's an author that on paper I should love, deep well written stories, often dark, but something about her style just doesn't work for me. Nothing I can put a finger on. However, her crime work and stories based on tangential real world events are definitely her stories that work best with my preferred reading.


Connective Tissue: Only the Stains Remains, Pursuit

Bad Vibrations by Lucy Leitner

This was a book of two parts. The first part was the build of a new-age wellness sex cult that felt right in line of Nexus, Gwoop that made headlines not so long ago. The build up of the cult and those characters were developed enough to be a believable story. The other part of this story, the slasher was most definitely not developed. The towns folk villains were just there, the motivation was ill defined and vague even if believable. It's another horror novella that need to be a novel. With a little more flesh on the bone this could have been a classic slasher, instead a of a mostly forgettable messy mass murder story with little impact.


Connective Tissue: Cultish

Editado: Set 13, 2023, 9:50 am

Conjuring the Witch by Jessica Leonard

This is the witch book I have longed for in the horror canon.
A small town religious community that is focused on keeping its women subvertant to their men folk no matter the costs. A fear of the deep, dark woods and the freedom they offer. A sudden haunting of the outsiders within this tight church community. Characters that aren't just there to move the plot. Everything about this book is perfect for the ultimate climax and redemption.

Leonard's prose and religious upbringing help create the perfect oppressive atmosphere that lets this story develop in the most natural way. Never really straying too far from the central point and never letting mysticism or any of the more cliche aspects of witchy novels in.


Connective Tissue: Camp Neverland, Little Dead Red

Missoula by Jon Krakuer

Excellent Journalism.

Just a maddening situation all the way through.


Connective Tissue: Under the Banner of Heaven, Into Thin Air, Airframe

Astral Season, Beastly Season by Tahi Saihate
Translated by Katsu Almony

Two high school boys obsessed with an idol that has committed a terrible crime, hatch a destructive path to clear her name. Unlike the other Idol book I read this year, this one is purely on the dark side of fandom. One boy's self hatred transfers to what he thinks is a perfectly ordinary idol. He is full of misogynistic thoughts and loathing he has for everyone, it becomes hard to see why he loves this idol. The other boy is just a straight up psychopath. Neither can define why they are willing to go to such great lengths to protect their idol. The inner world of these characters is dark and depressing.

Told in a rapid almost fever dream pace, it is sometimes hard to tell how the story is progressing. The weakest part is the second half of the book where a secondary character tries to piece the previous events together through a conversation with a mutual friend and another stalker of the idol. It would have been stronger for her to just have an internal monologue, the other characters add nothing to the narrative.


Connective Tissue: Idol, Burning

Set 13, 2023, 12:03 pm

You've had some interesting reading in the past month, Kevin. I'm not sure I can handle Missoula at present, it's so frustrating and depressing. Did Krakauer see any movement toward a better process? I wonder if the book has had any impact, in Missoula at least, after having its dirty laundry revealed.

Set 13, 2023, 1:39 pm

>44 labfs39: It is an incredibly frustrating read, with so much wrong with the system and all the parties involved, except of course the victims.

The book ends with the police changing their training and being more receptive to believing the victims from the outset, which was paradigm shift to how they investigated these crimes from before. However, the detective that often sided with the accused is still the lead detective on sexual assault cases, but has reformed some of her tendencies and appears at least publicly to be pushing harder to get more cases prosecuted. The DA implemented the DOJ changes, but the assistant attorney that failed to take so many cases to trail was elected as the county attorney after she successfully defended a quarterback on trial. The Missoula athletics department and University leadership is all gone, they cleaned house and changed how the report and enforce allegations on campus. It's a real mixed back of outcomes, with some policies getting better but the people in charge remaining largely the same.

From accounts of some friends who reside in Missoula things have gotten better. The football team is still king, but they no longer get to escape the consequences of their actions like they once did. More cases are also making it to trial, how many don't still is anyone's guess. They are still reeling from all the ramifications, Missoula is a best a big town that really took a hit to its self image and families are still very much divided.

Set 13, 2023, 5:32 pm

>45 stretch: Thanks for taking the time to answer so thoroughly. I'm glad to hear that the university has cleaned house, but the lack of change in detectives and county personnel make me fear that the positive changes will backslide.

Set 13, 2023, 8:06 pm

Oo, if Krakauer wrote it I'm definitely going to have to pick up Missoula.

Set 14, 2023, 8:31 am

>47 lilisin: It's worth the read, even if it is one of those books you have to yell at.

His style of nonfiction is probably my favorite type of contemporary story telling of actual events. One day I'll need to tackle Into the Wild, the last of his more popular books.

Set 14, 2023, 7:46 pm

>48 stretch:

Into the Wild is the one I keep going back and forth on. I saw the movie and hated the protagonist and generally dislike those type of young boys, so struggled to enjoy the movie. So there is no reason for me to enjoy the plot in just a different medium. On the other hand, it's Krakauer, and like you, I find his narrative style compelling and addicting.

Set 14, 2023, 8:13 pm

>48 stretch: i loved Into the Wild

>49 lilisin: i liked the movie, and its music, but the book is much richer and different. He makes you like that kid, and also, completely missing in the movie, K. looks in on himself making it a quietly self-reflective book.

Editado: Set 18, 2023, 9:32 am

Nails and Eyes by Kaori Fujino
Translated by Kendall Heitzman

Nails and Eyes is the novella of this short collection and the main focal point. In this story a young preschool aged girl (Hina) with repressed memories and severe trauma from her mother’s death narrates her absentee father’s moving on with his mistress and attempt at establishing normalcy. Told through an omnipresent second person we learn the inner lives of both Hina and the mistress' newly turned stepmother.

The horrific circumstances of Hina’s mother has left her with an understandable amount of damage. Constantly chewing her nails, an inability to use portions of the home especially the balcony, a quiet and docile attitude, all of this raises little concern from the father or her young stepmom. The stepmother in her mid-twenties is still ill defined, lacking any real passion or much interest in much of anything. She is more a passive passenger in life letting the world wash over her. Nothing but her nearsightedness sets her apart. Hina is clearly transfixed eyes as a metaphor and with this woman's contact lenses that allows her to see the world more clearly. This metaphor leads into the climax of the story that involves both nails and eyes in one of the most fear inducing scenes I’ve ever read (Can’t stand putting things in my eyes) after the stepmother stupidly moves Hina out of the way for a meeting with a jilted lover. Action and natural reaction of a creepy child with untreated mental illness that is beginning to manifest itself in violent acts.

Nails and Eyes is a perfect portrayal of the creepy child horror trope from the perspective of the child. How the lack of action to traumatic situations leads down a road to destructive, disturbing acts. The child is always watching and learning, how they process those observations without the proper reference frame. This slowly breaks their fragile psyches and they are unable to process their emotions in a healthy manner. Fujino captures the unsettling effects of ready-made family suffering from trauma that a woman coasting through life is wholly unprepared for. There’s more to this story that gets left unsaid, which only adds to the disturbing conclusion.

Fujino’s other stories in this collection are disturbing and creepy in their own right. She is great at establishing unsettling atmospheres and playing with horror tropes that typically railroad the story to one direction. Their flaw is that they end too early with too many unanswered questions. Leaving the reader wanting more is typically a good thing. I really hope more of her work is in the translation pipeline, I need more Japanese horror.


Connective Tissue: The Book of Lost Things

Set 18, 2023, 7:45 pm

>51 stretch:

I'm glad you liked it so much! But I had no doubt you would.

Set 18, 2023, 9:00 pm

>51 stretch: That sounds interesting, and I love that cover. I just grabbed a copy.

Set 19, 2023, 7:08 am

>52 lilisin: Yeah I have been waiting all year for this publishing date, since your glowing review. I can see why you'd want to translate this one, it is beautifully written.

>53 lisapeet: Hope you enjoy when you get to it. A very different literal horror.

Out 17, 2023, 5:36 am

I've had a very nice catch-up on your reading... Good stuff. Glad you liked that particular Oates. I have loved a lot of her work but have not been able to read her in the last year or two. I would like to re-read my favorite (A Bloodsmoor Romance) again....

Out 19, 2023, 12:12 pm

>55 avaland: Oates has always been the writer I should love considering the types of fiction I like, but her style of Gothic has never gelled for me. Objectively her writing is fantastic so I am happy to have found something I can subjectively love as well. Knowing what works I can go back throuh her extensive backlog and pickout the things that will work and not force it.

Editado: Nov 27, 2023, 3:38 pm

Lots and lots of cath up to do here, will try to get them mostly caught up in 3s so as not to overwhelm.

Feed Them Silence by Lee Mandelo

Feed Them Silence is a short science fiction novella with a premise that explores the ethical and psychological implications of using a neural interface to connect with a wolf. Dr. Sean Kell-Luddon, is a scientist obsessed with experiencing the world through the eyes of a wild wolf, one of the last of its kind. She uses a device that allows her to tap into the wolf’s mind and feel its sensations, emotions, and instincts. However, this comes at a cost to her personal life, her mental health, and her research integrity. She also faces the risk of losing her subject to the greedy interests of her funders, who want to exploit the technology for profit.

The novella is at times gripping and thought-provoking, raising questions about the nature of consciousness, empathy, and identity. Mandelo skillfully portrays the contrast between the human and the animal perspectives, as well as the ethical dilemmas that arise from such a radical experiment. The novella also touches on themes of environmentalism, conservation, and animal rights, as well as the challenges of being a queer woman in a male-dominated field. The writing is crisp and engaging, and the plot is fast-paced and suspenseful. There also times the story is bogged downed about sophomoric ethical philosophy and naivete that is ill suited for an accomplished researcher.


Connective Tissue: All Systems Red

Horror Fiction in the 20th Century by Jess Nevins

Is a book that covers the history and evolution of the horror genre in literature from the 19th century to the present day. The book examines the various trends, movements, subgenres, and influences that shaped horror fiction in different regions and periods, as well as the major authors and works that defined the genre. The book also explores the social, cultural, and political contexts that influenced horror fiction, and how horror fiction responded to the changing times and events. The book is divided into three parts: the Golden Age of Horror (1901-1939), the Silver Age of Horror (1940-1979), and the Modern Age of Horror. Each part covers the main developments and characteristics of horror fiction in that era, as well as the diversity and innovation of horror writers from various backgrounds, countries, and media. The book is a comprehensive and critical survey of horror fiction that aims to provide a deeper understanding of the genre and its impact on literature and culture.

Lots of new books added to the pile for me, especially things I passed on before form the Golden and Silver age of horror. The coverage of the modern era seemed a bit rushed and his international author spotlight could have used a bit of curation, lots of interesting sounding works but no translations.


Connective Tissue: Paperbacks from Hell, 150 Exquisite Horror Books, Horror: A very short introduction

Whalefall by Daniel Kraus

A scuba diver who is swallowed by a sperm whale and has to find a way out before his oxygen runs out. An insane place to start a story, but one that never felt outlandish. As a mixture of horror, thriller, and science fiction, as well as a meditation on grief, guilt, and survival it comes off as well balanced, where every decision and choice has fitting consequences. To be honest, I was beyond surprised by this one, not only action packed with some good chills but is well written as exploration on loss and coming to terms with a tough upbringing.


Connective Tissue: The Martian, Getting Back

Nov 27, 2023, 12:51 pm

>57 stretch: happy to see your latest. Watch out for those whales.

Nov 27, 2023, 3:27 pm

>57 stretch: Thanks for your review of Whalefall. I'll get a copy for my husband, it sounds like a book he'll really enjoy.

Editado: Jan 7, 2:52 pm

>57 stretch: I wish it were only whales that is scary about the ocean.

>59 RidgewayGirl: Hope he does, MTV books has some 'interesting' sounding plots.

More Books:

Wyrd and Other Derelictions by Adam Nevill

A collection of 7 vividly imagined horror scenes. There are no characters, no plot, no story, just elaborate world-building. On its face this should be an awful reading experience in an especially plot driven genre like horror. Inviting the reader to fill in the details of the horrific, haunting scenes should never work, but Nevill's level of description feels pulled right out of a movie. I was wrapped up in the creepy worlds he created and imagining the circumstances that lead to the final outcome that we as readers are investigating.

This is a classic example of the author being manipulative of his audience, forcing us to do much more of the story telling lifting. And I am here for it. It's been a long time since I've read a horror story and felt truly creeped out. Turns out conspiring with an author to imagine truly dark scenarios is a way to get that tingle back for the things that go bump in the night. Or perhaps I just need therapy.

Certainly not for everyone. I can see finding these stories too abstract, vague, or lacking in impact to be enjoyable, but highly recommend for the horror fan that has seen or read too much and is in need for something new and experimental.


Connective Tisssue: None.

Bound Feet by Kelsea Yu

A horror novella that explores the themes of grief, trauma, and cultural identity through the lens of Chinese folklore and history. Jodi, who is mourning the loss of her daughter. She visits a Chinese garden and museum on the night of the Hungry Ghost Moon, hoping to see her daughter’s ghost. Instead, she encounters various horrors that are related to the exhibits in the museum, such as a pair of lotus slippers that belonged to a woman with bound feet.

The story is well written, atmospheric, and creepy, with vivid descriptions and imagery. It's another dereliction horror that is more focused on setting the mood than following a straight forward plot. Overall, Bound Feet is a unique, innovative, and haunting novella that offers a different perspective on horror and Chinese culture.


Connective Tissue: Shutter, The Graveyard Apartment

Dead Blondes and Bad Mothers by Sady Doyle

Dead Blondes and Bad Mothers is a book that explores how women are portrayed as monsters in pop culture and history from a feminist perspective. She analyzes various examples of female monstrosity, from Lilith to Carrie, from Ed Gein’s mother to Anneliese Michel. Agues that these stories reflect the patriarchal fear of women’s power and agency, and also the potential for women to reclaim their strength and rage.

The thesis can be interesting and informative, but her examples quickly become repetitive with each chapter just being confirmation of the main thesis. There's not much nuance or counter-argument that consistently reinforces the negative view of men and masculinity even stretching some of her examples in ways that aren't supported by context. The book is more of a rant than a balanced analysis, and it often relies on personal anecdotes and subjective interpretations rather than solid evidence and logic, which is fine, but this could have been a essay.


Connective Tissue: We Should All be Feminist, I am not your final girl, SCUM

Unboxed: A play by Briana Morgan

Is a play about a paranormal vlogger who buys a dark web mystery box to boost his online popularity. However, the box contains a sinister entity that threatens to destroy his life and his relationship with his girlfriend. To be honest I mostly forgot what this one was about, I think mostly about the dangers of obsessing over social media credibility and focusing on the unimportant. Remember it being okay and using its horror tropes well, just nothing special.


Connective Tissue: The Box: Uncanny Stories

Eat the Rich SC by Sarah Gailey and Pius Bak

A definitively meh horror thriller that explores the dark secrets of the wealthy elite, who are literally cannibals. The story follows Joey, a law student who spends the summer with her boyfriend Astor at his family home in Crestfall Bluffs, a seemingly perfect town where the rich and powerful live. But Joey soon discovers the horrifying truth behind the idyllic facade, and the danger she faces as an outsider.

It is lacking in originality, full of shallow characters, rushed pacing, and a thoroughly predictable and unsatisfying ending. But it was a quick read and decent distraction.


Connective Tissue: Locke and Key, The Nobody

Nov 28, 2023, 10:47 am

The Myth of the Lost Cause and Civil War History by Gary W. Gallagher and Alan T Nolan

Eamines and challenges the popular narrative of the Confederacy as a noble and heroic cause that was defeated by overwhelming odds. The book argues that the Lost Cause myth is a distortion of history that obscures the true causes and consequences of the Civil War, especially the role of slavery and racism. The book also explores how the myth has influenced the memory and historiography of the war, as well as the culture and politics of the South and the nation. The essays in this collection offer a rigorous analysis, diverse perspectives, and clear writing, but not much in the way of new insights or new research into the stickiness of the Lost Cause Myth.


Connective Tissue: Confederates in the Attic

Anybody Home? by Michael J. Seidlinger

Told in the second person the narrative follows that follows a group of home invaders who film their crimes for entertainment and profit. The book is told from the perspective of the director, who instructs the invaders on how to terrorize their victims and create the most thrilling footage. The book is a disturbing and violent exploration of voyeurism, sadism, and the dark side of human nature.

Certainly an original and daring premise, with an immersive and unsettling narration. The social commentary on the media and the culture of violence is pretty basic but effective. The plot can get monotonous and drags for long sections. It’s a little exhausting, but if you’re willing to put a little work into reconstructing each scene to find just how terrifying they truly are then the story really delivers something dark and unique at the end.


Connective Tisssue: True Crime

Killstreme by Rayne Havok

The book is a fast-paced, brutal, and disturbing read that does not shy away from graphic violence and gore. Exploring themes of human depravity, sadism, voyeurism, and the dark side of the internet. The book has a simple plot and a small cast of characters, with unrealistic dialogue, lack of character development, and plot holes. It's one of those splatterpunk stories written for the sake of the concept and not a point. It is not for the faint of heart or the easily offended but can be fun if you enjoy the tables being turned and can suspend the notion of what makes a good story.


Connective Tissue: Go Down Hard

Nov 28, 2023, 12:51 pm

Your sheep are getting darker. Interesting titles.

Nov 28, 2023, 1:07 pm

>62 dchaikin: They seemed fitting for horror centered posts. They'll get lighter again for the next set of catch up books. Well I hope anyway, sheep are far less creepy than goats.

Nov 29, 2023, 1:38 pm

>61 stretch: Hmm, we could use a good book deconstructing the Lost Cause myth. Target is selling a book on-line that makes all the old debunked claims about how the Civil War had nothing to do with slavery, etc... and that isn't a good thing.

Nov 29, 2023, 6:58 pm

>64 RidgewayGirl: Yeah the resurgence of the Lost Cause has been disappointing, with the poltic atmosphere of the last decade, the statue removal, and the burning of the United Daughers of Confederacy HQ there has been a radical uptick in the membership of the UDC and SCV. I'd expect more of these Target books in the near future. They are mainstream enough to seem reasonable, so they are the biggest groups for neo-confederate and white supermacist myths and propaganda that is the hardest to desmise. It felt like for a while at least since the awful movie of Gods and Generals the Lost Cause was finally being drowned out by accurate histography. There was a good 10 to 15 years of solid progress in there, even Hollywood was shifting its tone regarding the myth of gentleman confederate/misunderstood rebel. I do hope more mainstream counter Lost Cause media comes out soon to stem the flood that is sadly coming.

Editado: Jan 7, 2:51 pm

Finger Bone by Hiroki Takahashi
Translated by Takami Nieda

One of the themes within my Japanese reading I keep returning to is the personal experiences of the events of WWII. Finger Bone is another novel that explores the harsh realities of war and its impact upon the human psyche. The narrator, a unnamed Japanese soldier wounded in Papua New Guinea, recounts his experiences and thoughts in a series of flashbacks and reflections. The novel is not a typical war story, but a deep and nuanced exploration of the themes of imperialism, identity, death, and survival. Although Takahashi's writing is elegant and evocative, creating a vivid and immersive atmosphere it can veer into the sentimental. The narrative can get bogged downed at times that limits the impact of certain passages that get lost in the more mundane conversations and details. If it was a little punchier I think this story would have been at the very top with a lot of other works that focus on similar themes.


Connective Tissue:Fires on the Plain, Onward Towards Our Noble Deaths

Editado: Nov 30, 2023, 11:30 am

The Fire Line: The Story of the Granite Mountain Hotshots by Fernanda Santos

The Fire Line tells the story of the Granite Mountain Hotshots, a group of elite wildland firefighters who died fighting the Yarnell Fire in 2013. The book is based on extensive interviews and research, and it explores the lives, motivations, and sacrifices of the men who dedicated themselves to protecting others and property from the flames. Examining not only the factors that led to the tragedy, and the aftermath for the families and communities affected by it, but also the men and their lives that made up the Granite Mountian Hotshots.


Connective Tissue: Big Burn, The Arsonist: A Mind on Fire

Summer Never Ends by Judtih Sonnet

Fitting within the extreme horror of the genre. Summer Never Ends is about a group of boys who encounter a terrifying evil in the woods during a church camp. The book is very graphic and violent, and not subtle in messaging. Sonnet was damaged by conservative religion and is not in a forgiving mood.


Connective Tissue: Church, Conjuring the Witch, Camp Neverland

Dead Girls by Selva Almada
Translated by Annie McDermott

Something of hybrid nonfiction/fictionalized investigation into the murders of three young women in Argentina in the 1980s. Through extensive research and interviews, and it exposes the violence, injustice, and misogyny that pervade the society of Argentina. Through skillful storytelling, compassionate tone, and journalistic rigor it is highly effective and heartfelt exploration of a topic that doesn't get the attention it needs.


Connective Tissue: Twilight Zone

The Thanksgiving Play / What Would Crazy Horse Do? by Larissa FastHorse

The Thanksgiving Play / What Would Crazy Horse Do? is a book by Larissa FastHorse, a Native American playwright and humorist. It contains two of her plays that explore the themes of identity, representation, and history through comedy and satire.

The Thanksgiving Play is about a group of white artists who try to create a culturally sensitive pageant for Thanksgiving, but end up exposing their own ignorance and biases. It is a hilarious critique of the white American mythology and the theater industry’s attempts to be “woke”.

What Would Crazy Horse Do? is about twins that are the last members of the Marahotah tribe, who plan to commit suicide as a grand jesture after their grandfather’s death. Their lives are disrupted when two white strangers, who claim to be members of the Klan, knock on their door. It is a dark and provocative exploration of the legacy of colonialism and the dangers of nationalism.


Connective Tissue: Discworld: Night Watch, The Crucible, Tiffany Aching, Fires in the Mirror

Minor Detail by Shibli Adania
Translated by Elisabeth Jaquette

A provocative story told in two parts. The first part is set in 1949, during the early years of the Israeli occupation of Palestine, and tells the story of a brutal rape and murder of a young Bedouin woman by Israeli soldiers. The second part is set in the present day, and follows a Palestinian woman from Ramallah who becomes obsessed with the unsolved crime and decides to investigate it herself.

A direct challenge to confront the realities of the Palestinian experience, both past and present, and to question the dominant narratives of history and nationalism. Written in a sparse and precise style, creates a stark contrast between the horrific events and the detached objective tone of an investigator. An intensity and urgent novel.


Connective Tissue: Palestine Speaks, Dead Girls, Twilight Zone, Your House Will Pay

The Lessons of History by Will and Aerial Durant

Provides the main insights and patterns the author's learned from studying the history of civilization for over four decades. The book covers topics such as human nature, war, religion, morality, economics, politics, and culture. It is a short and concise book, but also profound and thought-provoking. Also a fun example of the folly of trying to predict the future even when you know you are likely to be wide of the mark. Some things hold true, some not so much. Inherently dated.


Connective Tissue: Maps of Time

Think I am finally caught up.

Nov 30, 2023, 11:28 am

Ooh, several of these look interesting. I have Minor Detail. I need to move it to the front of the queue.

Editado: Jan 2, 1:02 pm


I've gotten so busy at work again, so posting this super early this year, or it won't happen for a awhile.

Total Number of Books = 72 | Pace = 6.00
Fiction = 38 | 52.8%
Non-Fiction = 19 | 26.4%
Other = 9 | 12.5%
Article = 6 | 8.3%
Total Number of Pages = 15,745 | Average = 239
Audio Hours Listened = 60.4 | Median = 208
Podcast Hours Listened = 846.1
Average Number Days = 13.0
Average Pages per Day = 44.6
TBR Status = 10.4% Increase (762 book TBR)

Bought = 35 | 48.6%
Borrowed = 30 | 41.7%
Stole = 7 | 9.7%

Author Demographics:
Male = 27 | 37.5%
Female = 40 | 55.6%
Mixed = 5 | 6.9%
New to Me = 53 | 73.6%
Diverse Read = 14 | 19.4%
Translated = 11 | 15.3%
More than 1 book: Pratchett, Terry (3), Seanan McGuire (3), Judith Sonnet (2)

Country of Origin:
U.S. = 48
U.K. = 8
Japan = 7
Brazil = 2
Ireland = 1
North Macedonia = 1
Canada = 2
Palestine = 1
Argentina = 1

Publication Year:
2020+ = 35
2010-2019 = 21
2000-2009 = 6
1990-1999 = 2
1980-1989 = 2
Pre-1980 = 6
Avg. Pub. Year = 2011
Median Pub. Year = 2019

5 = 4
4.5 = 7
4 = 14
3.5 = 15
3 = 21
2.5 = 6
2 = 4
1.5 = 1
1 = 0
Average = 3.44
33.8% Rated 4 stars or higher
48.6% Rated between 3 & 4 stars
14.9% Rated below 3 stars

Disincentive = 43

Reading Goals Achieved:
Total Books 70 --> 102.9%
Total Pages 15,000 --> 105.0%
Average Pages 300 --> 79.5%
Average Days 10 --> 13.0
Pages/Day 30 --> 44.6
Women 60% --> 92.6%
Japan 10 --> 70.0%
Outsiders 15 --> 106.7%
Translated 12 --> 91.7%
Diverse Read 30% --> 64.8%
Rating 3.50 --> 98.2%

Favorites of 2023

1st Quarter:

(s) Lemon by Motojiro Kaji
(f) Lost in the Moment and Found by Seanan McGurie
(nf) Evil:The Science Behind Humanity's Dark Side by Julia Shaw
(f) Shutter by Ramona Emerson
(nf) The Reason for the Darkness of the Night by John Tresch

2nd Quarter:

(f) The Short-timers by Gustav Hasford
(f) Yellowface by R.F. Kuang
(nf) Grunt by Mary Roach

3rd Quarter:

(f) Rape: A Love Story by Joyce Carol Oates
(nf) Missoula by John Krakauer
(f) Nails and Eyes by Kaori Fujino
(f) Wyrd by Adam Neville

4th Quarter:

(f) Whalefall by Daniel Kraus
(nf) Horror in the 20th Century by Jess Nevins
(nf) The Lessons of History by Will & Ariel Durant
(f) Finger Bone by Hiroki Takahasi
(nf) The Fire Line by Fernanda Santos
(f) Minor Detail by Adania Shibli
(f) Dead Girls by Almada Selva

This year was beyond hectic, had trouble being involved here in Club Read. Hopefully I can do better next year. As far as reading goes there were some great reads like Shutter, Rape, Missoula, Wyrd, Whalefall, Nails and Eyes, Minor detail, Dead Girls and the Fire line. Quite a bit of the best reads were dark works and found some new favorite authors. Far too many low rated books that I need to learn to give up on much sooner than I have. I also need to remove some of the longer works from the TBR over the next year and get my average pages back to a respectable length. Otherwise, it was a pretty good year overall.