Tag Archives: annual-books-read

Experimental Film, by @gemmafiles – Five Fucking Great Things

Posted on November 24, 2015 by

There are a lot of things about Experimental Film that are gaspworthy, horrifying, disturbing and exciting, and I hope to talk more about this book as time spools, but right now I just want to give you five reasons to read the living hell out of this awesome new horror novel from Gemma Files.

  1. Lois Cairns is not your standard protagonist – Lois is a woman in the midst of a profound midlife crisis. Her career has evaporated out from under her, her son’s autistic and difficult, and she can’t shake a nagging idea that it’s all her fault. She’s not twenty, or adorable, or on the cusp of love. But she’s smart and determined and fearless, and she knows more about movies than most of us could learn if we spent the next fifty years studying up.

2. The bad stuff isn’t lurking in the shadows. You know how vampires and spooks wait for it to get dark and dreary, and then creep up on you? You know that idea that you can barricade yourself in somewhere safe, and at dawn it’ll all be over for awhile? Not in this story. The dread thing in Experimental Film comes at you in the full light of a summer’s day, in all its searing heat and blinding glare.

3. I heart Haunted Toronto. This book is another piece in the creepy patchwork universe Files has created, and I love it with a love that’s true. Her characters have lunch down the street from my house. They get into full-on confrontations with monsters at the Kensington Market. And there’s always an expedition out to the backroads of cabin country, a part of the province I really haven’t seen yet, where the skin between worlds is thin and permeable and something far more disturbing than a Hellmouth is on the bubble.

4. Victorian Creep Factor, Canada Styles. The mystery at the heart of this book is about an early auteur filmmaker working in the days of silver nitrate and no rules. Iris Whitcomb made the same movie over and over, with the aid of spiritualists, as she tried to discover why her son Hyatt vanished in 1908.  Then she vanished too, from a moving train whose passenger compartment apparently caught on fire en route to the city.

5. Crunchy family stuff rounds out the dark notes. This brings us back, in a way, to the idea of an atypical hero. Lois is no lone wolf. She may want to be at times; she may be unconvinced she’s got much worthwhile going on as a wife and mother. But as she wrangles with the missing Iris and her incandescent producer, she also has to deal with her child, her marriage, her in-laws, and her own often-problematic mom. It’s not always easy to read–plenty of folks will find their own family-of-origin nerves twanging as things play out–but it’s very believable. And what good is a horror novel if you don’t feel, on some level, as if this could have happened to someone like you?

Gemma did a Heroine Question interview here back in June, by the way, so if you’re curious about who she liked to read about as a kid, check it out.

2014 Books Read, with some stories

Posted on December 31, 2014 by

keep readingThis year’s reading. If I finished it, it was at least good. If it has an asterisk after it, it was great.
1. Echopraxia, by Peter Watts*
2. Devil in the Grove: Thurgood Marshall, the Groveland Boys, and the Dawn of a New America by Gilbert King
3. The Best American Science and Nature Writing 2013, edited by Tim Folger and Siddhartha Mukherjee
4. All Heads Turn when the Hunt Goes By, John Farris
  1. Touchstone, by Laurie R. King
  2. The Madonna and the Starship, by James Morrow
  3. Outliers, by Malcolm Gladwell
  4. Horns: A Novel, by Joe Hill*
  5. The Door in the Mountain, by Caitlin Sweet*
  6. A Taste Fur Murder, by Dixie Lyle
  7. The Golden Princess: A Novel of the Change, by S.M. Stirling*
  8. The Secret Place, by Tana French*
  9. The Lesser Dead, by Christopher Buehlman*
  10. Last Plane to Heaven by Jay Lake*
  11. Last Song Before Night, by Ilana C. Myer
16. N0S4A2, by Joe Hill
17. The Worst Hard Time: The Untold Story of those who survived the Great American Dustbowl, by Timothy Egan*
18. The Best American Science and Nature Writing 2014, edited by Tim Folger and Deborah Blum*
19. The Great Influenza, by John M. Barry*
20. Nobody’s Home, by Tim Powers
21. We Will All Go Down Together, by Gemma Files (As of this morning, I’m two stories away from being finished with this.)*
Plus some, but not all, of the stories
The Eighth Grade History Class visits the Hebrew Home for the Aging,” by Harry Turtledove*
“Hard Stars,” by Brendan DuBois
each thing I show you is a piece of my death,” by Gemma Files*
Miss Violet May from the Twelve Thousand Lakes,” by Tina Connolly*
On Disposing of a Corpse,” by Tom Jolly
Wedding Day,” by Brian Trent
Love is a component of this Story,” by Liz Argall
The Devil in America,” by Kai Ashante Wilson
Swarm, the Queen Commanded,” by K.A. Gillett
“Something going Around,” by Harry Turtledove
Amanda Who Went Before,” by Rebecca L. Brown
Waiting for Flashmob” by Ryan Abbott*
Nine Lives,” by Callie Snow
The Last Repairman,” by Dave Beynon
The Vivisection of Sergeant Shane Eastwood,” by Matt Mikalatos
Coffin,” by Mari Ness
“Solstice Cakes,” by Nina Kiriki Hoffman,
Snow, Glass, Apples,” by Neil Gaiman,
“The Faery Handbag,” by Kelly Link
“Strange Attractors” by S.B. Divya
Oceans of You,” by Pam L. Wallace
Clasp Hands,” by Stephanie Burgis
Mephisto,” by Alan Baxter
English Muffin, Devotion on the Side,” by Cat Rambo*
Guy Walks Into A Bar,” by Simon Rich*
Ten Wretched Things about Influenza Siderius,” by Rachael K. Jones*
Futures Market,” by Mitchell Edgeworth

2013 Books Read

Posted on January 3, 2014 by

keep readingHere’s the annual list of everything I read last year. It’s a new low, numerically–between the move and a couple other things, I wasn’t in the right headspace. I did read a fair number of short stories, but I often forgot to record them. A few made it to their own list, though, at the bottom. Of those, my favorite was the John Chu story

The best novel for me, this year, was Hild, by Nicola Griffith. You probably remember that I reviewed it, here.

1. Best American Science and Nature Writing, edited by Dan Ariely and Tim Folger
2. Throne of the Crescent Moon by Saladin Ahmed
3. The Cat’s Table, by Michael Ondatje
4. The Daughter of Time, by Josephine Tey
5. Suspect Identities: A history of fingerprinting and criminal identification by Simon A. Cole
6. The Murder of the Century: The Gilded Age Crime that Scandalized a City and Sparked the Tabloid Wars, by Paul Collins
7. Eighty Days: Nellie Bly and Elizabeth Bisland’s History-Making Race Around the World, by Matthew Goodman
8. The Power of Habit, by Charles Duhigg
9. Black Rubber Dress, by Lauren Henderson
10. The Given Sacrifice, by S.M. Stirling
11. The Summer of Dead Toys, by Antonio Hill
12. Hild, by Nicola Griffith
13. The Great Influenza: The Epic Story of the Deadliest Plague in History, by John M. Barry
14. The Voices In-Between, by Charlene Challenger
15. Dark Places, by Gillian Flynn
16. The Shining Girls, by Lauren Beukes
17. Wolf Hall, by Hilary Mantel
2 student novels, plus partials

Short Stories
About Fairies,” Pat Murphy
The Water that Falls on You from Nowhere,” John Chu

Running of the Bulls” by Harry Turtledove
Brimstone and Marmalade,” by Aaron Corwin,
Dormanna,” by Gene Wolfe
House of Dreams“, by Michael Swanwick

In which I #amreading about the history of fingerprinting…

Posted on March 8, 2013 by

keep readingI am currently more than halfway through Suspect Identities: A History of Fingerprinting and Criminal Identification, by Simon A. Cole. The title’s pretty self-explanatory, I think.

This is research for the trilogy set on Stormwrack, the same world where “Among the Silvering Herd” takes place, and
I’ve learned a lot. I’ve learned that early uses of fingerprinting tended to center around colonizing nations trying to tell their individual subjects apart (they thought all those non-white folks they were dominating looked alike!) I also learned how much of the early development of this technology was less about gathering fingerprints–either directly from individuals or in the form of latent prints on crime scenes–and more about generating a reliable filing system so that you could match the things.

I’d been craving a good non-fiction read and this has definitely delivered.

Here’s a short quote…

J. Edgar Hoover would reminisce fondly about the days when “too many law-enforcement officers were men of low intelligence, some of low morals, and, indeed, of a low opinion for anyone who sought to make science his aid and his standby in the pursuit of a criminal.”

Other books, so far this year –

1. The Best American Science and Nature Writing 2012, edited by Dan Ariely and Tim Folger
2. Throne of the Crescent Moon, by Saladin Ahmed
3. The Cat’s Table, by Michael Ondaatje
4. The Daughter of Time, by Josephine Tey (I read this partly because of the discovery of Richard the III’s bones and partly because of the Jo Walton essay “How can this be so gripping?

Short Stories
About Fairies,” Pat Murphy

Reading in 2012 – the whole shebang (#amreading)

Posted on January 3, 2013 by

Here’s all the books and many of the short stories I read in 2012

1. The Swerve: How the World Became Modern, by Stephen Greenblatt
2. Among Others, by Jo Walton
3. Atlantic: Great Sea Battles, Heroic Discoveries, Titanic Storms, and a Vast Ocean of a Million Stories, by Simon Winchester
4. Stone Spring by Stephen Baxter
5. Kat, Incorrigible (Unladylike Adventures of Kat Stephenson), by Stephanie Burgis
6. Remote, by Donn Cortez
7.The Pattern Scars by Caitlin Sweet
8. one awesome draft novel by a dear friend
9. Property of a Lady, by Sarah Rayne
10. Hark a Vagrant by Kate Beaton
11. Black Blade Blues, by J.A. Pitt
12. Redshirts, by John Scalzi
13. Broken Harbour, by Tana French
14. Sharp Objects, by Gillian Flynn
15. Are you My Mother? By Alison Bechdel
16. The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins
17. Catching Fire, by Suzanne Collins
18. Mockingjay, by Suzanne Collins
19. On Conan Doyle or The Whole Art of Storytelling, by Michael Dirda
20. Falling Angel, by William Hjortsberg
21. Between two Fires, by Christopher Buehlman
22. Black Diamonds; The Rise and Fall of an English Dynasty, by Catherine Bailey
23. The Warlock’s Curse, by M.K. Hobson
24. Little Star, by John Ajvide Lindqvist
25. Gone Girl, by Gillian Flynn
26. The Keeper of Lost Causes, by Jussi Adler-Olsen
27. The Sin Eater, by Sarah Rayne
28. How to Archer, by Sterling Archer

Short Stories (there were others; I’m just getting into this habit).
“Men Who Would Drown,” by Elizabeth Fama
“Six Months, Three Days,” by Charlie Jane Anders
“Nell,” by Karen Hesse (http://www.tor.com/stories/2012/09/nell)
“How to Make a Triffid” by Kelly Lagor (http://www.tor.com/stories/2012/11/how-to-make-a-triffid)
“Your Final Apocalypse,” Sandra McDonald, Clarksworld
“A Scandal in Bohemia,” Arthur Conan Doyle

Faithful Place, by Tana French
Into Thin Air, by Jon Krakauer
Broken Harbour, by Tana French