As I moseyed through the pages of Wonderbook by Jeff VanderMeer, I came across Ursula K. Le Guin’s essay, “A Message about Messages,” and found this stellar quote:

“I believe storytelling is one of the most useful tools we have for achieving meaning: It serves to keep our communities together by asking and saying who we are, and it’s one of the best tools an individual has to find out who I am, what life may ask of me and how I can respond.”

Quick Reads (November 2018)

The list of everything short I read this past month isn’t very long this time. As I mentioned in a previous blog post, National Novel Writing Month took over my life. So I only had time to peek at a few things. So here they are. Please remember: this list is not necessarily meant to act as a review, a show of favor, or a “best of” list. Feel free to share your own findings in the comments!


Hannah Gordon: My (Small Press) Writing Day: To Each Their Own
[I was asked by Rob Mclennan to be part of this series a well.]

Kathleen Bruce (Scott) Asks to See Her Parasitic Twin” by Kate Fox (The Cumberland River Review)

Quick Reads (October 2018)

So many wonderful magazines and journals released new content this month and it was hard to keep up. I haven’t read through all the things I want to, but I’m sure I can sneak more in while procrastinating during National Novel Writing Month!

Anyway, here is the list of everything short I read this past month. Please remember: this list is not necessarily meant to act as a review, a show of favor, or a “best of” list. Feel free to share your own findings in the comments!


A Summoning in Section 292.1.J-P” By Anya Josephs (Green Briar Review)
[Note: This is where I volunteer as a fiction editor. Please consider sending us your own excellent creations!]

When Czechoslovakia Was Still a Country” By Tad Bartlett (Green Briar Review)
[See note directly above this.]

4P16.3” by Maya Alexandri (The Forge Literary Magazine)

Snap Bam Boom” by Robert Mangeot (The Forge Literary Magazine)

Zero Tolerance” by Jayne Martin (Barren Magazine)

Toy Box” by Asher (Barren Magazine)
[Note: “Buried in the Ground” by yours truly is in this issue of the magazine!]

Barnlights” by Amanda Crum (Barren Magazine)

A Girl Buys Lilies for Herself” by Priyanka Sacheti (Barren Magazine)

Sharp Parables” by Emily Osborne (Barren Magazine)

How to weave a blanket out of horsehair and spidersilk” by Sonja Swift (Barren Magazine)

The Horror of Party Beach” by Dale Bailey (Lightspeed)
[I listened to this story via the Lightspeed podcast.]

The Miracle Lambs of Minane” by Finbarr O’Reilly (Clarkesworld Magazine)
[I listened to this story via the Clarkesworld Magazine podcast.]

Midwestern Women: An Essential Reading List” by Meghan O’Gieblyn (Literary Hub)

The Routine” by Marie McKay (Rhythm & Bones)

Unravelling” by A.L. Bradshaw (freeze frame fiction)

Waiting for Nothing to Happen” by Caroline Langston (Image)

Dionysus Promised to Let You Have Another Glass” by Chloe N. Clark (Likely Red)

The Atomic Clock” by Michael Grant Smith (Spelk)

Crazy in Love” by Anita Goveas (Pixel Heart Literary Magazine)

Letter of Recommendation for a Basic Male MFA Applicant” by Emma Brewer (McSweeney’s Internet Tendency)

How to Build a Dream World” by Ruth Joffre (Electric Literature)

The Power of Cautionary Questions: Neil Gaiman on Ray Bradbury’s ‘Fahrenheit 451,’ Why We Read, and How Speculative Storytelling Enlarges Our Humanity” by Maria Popova (Brain Pickings)

Into the Wash” by Mitchell Grabois (Blue River)

The Hill” by Laura Huey Chamberlain (jmww)

The Things I Miss the Most” by Nisi Shawl (Uncanny Magazine)
[I listened to this story via the Uncanny Magazine podcast. It is part of the Disabled People Destroy Science Fiction issue.]

Convalescence” by Alicia Cole (Uncanny Magazine)
[I listened to this poem via the Uncanny Magazine podcast. It is part of the Disabled People Destroy Science Fiction issue.]

“Catalyst” and “Reaction” by M. Stone (Nice Cage)
[My short story, “All the Waves Resound,” is also in this issue of the journal!]

New Old” by Tara Isabel Zambrano (The Southampton Review)

Emily As We Turn Off the Sound of Monday Night Football” by Darren C. Demaree (The Stay Project)

The Horror of the Unknown: Songs of a Dead Dreamer and Grimscribe by Thomas Ligotti” by David Peak (Electric Literature)

Quick Reads (September 2018)

Here is the list of everything short I read this past month. Please remember: this list is not necessarily meant to act as a review, a show of favor, or a “best of” list. Feel free to share your own findings in the comments!


Rabbit Hat” by Marcus Slease (Nice Cage)

Watch Them Glitter” by Tommy Dean (Ellipsis Zine)

Comfort, Dogs” by Matthew Fiander (Barren Magazine)

Fantastic Fabrics” by A.E. Weisgerber (Barren Magazine)

Chinese Bleeding on a Friday” by Peter Ngila (Barren Magazine)

Sweet Violets” by A.E. Weisgerber (New Flash Fiction Review)

The Funny Thing” by Michelle Ross (Nashville Review)

All of #22, Volume XII, Issue 1 of the Whitefish Review

Salt and Calcium” by Sarah Roth (Columbia Journal)

One Lifetime With a Stranger” by Matthew Caldwell (The Esthetic Apostle)
[Note: Matthew attended Creighton University’s MFA program around the same time I did.]

Unmentionables” by Kaitlyn Andrews-Rice (Paper Darts)

Back Talk” by Danielle Lazarin (Copper Nickel)

Nebraska” by Brian Hoey (New Orleans Review)

A Girl Walks on the Moon” by Ruth Joffre (Vestal Review)

Muriel” Elizabeth O’Brien (Newfound)

The Difference Between Reading and Reading Well” by Collin Huber (Fathom Magazine)

A Son” by Rachel Rodman (Apparition Literary Magazine)

Inversions” by Meghan Xanthos (The Bookends Review)

Mullenville, Population 82” by Sandra K. Barnidge (Allegory Ridge)

Wings and Sand” by Sean Patrick Whiteley (Obra/Artifact)

Counting Elephants” by F.E. Clark (Rhythm & Bones)

The Farewell” by Gem Caley (The Ginger Collect)

Out and Out” by Latifa Ayad (The Masters Review)

Quick Reads (August 2018)

Here is the list of everything short I read this past month. Please remember: this list is not necessarily meant to act as a review, a show of favor, or a “best of” list. Feel free to share your own findings in the comments!


All of The Conium Review: Vol. 5

Why Christians Should Read More Fiction” by Paul Anderson (RELEVANT Magazine)

“The Fool’s Stone” by Aubry Kae Andersen (Analog Science Fiction and Fact)

An elf in the witch-garden” by Kate Garr (Rhythm & Bones)

Thaumatrope” by Christopher Iacono (Rhythm & Bones)

forgiving mistakes i’ve made” by Linda M. Crate (Rhythm & Bones)

Today” by Maddie M. White (Rhythm & Bones)

A Dungeon Open House” by Ben Niespodziany (Train)

And the Hole Never Heals” by Ryan Habermeyer (Bat City Review)

Dragon Princess” by Michael Chin (Cherry Tree)
[Note: I read the excerpt available online.]

Big Bad Wolf” by Terrance Wedin (New South)

Unicorn” by Philip Dean Walker (Big Lucks)

This and That” by Ricky Garni (Big Lucks)

Rhode Island Red” by Michael Kimball (Big Lucks)

The Wardrobe” by Aysegul Savas (The Adroit Journal)

Apology” by Anne Rasmussen (Jellyfish Review)

Uncle Soot” by Joshua Jones (Midwestern Gothic)
[The round 1 winner for the journal’s annual summer flash fiction series]

Perseids” by Madeline Anthes (Midwestern Gothic)
[The round 1 runner-up for the journal’s annual summer flash fiction series]

Day in the Manner of Magritte” by Austin Sanchez-Moran (Maudlin House)

Bees” by ​​Melissa N. Warren (Gordon Square Review)

Me and You and Zvonimir” by Casey Whitworth (Green Briar Review)

Arsonist With Unlit Match” by Matt Fiander (Barren Magazine)

The House Mourns Alone at Midnight” by Maryse Meijer (Outlook Springs)

Koi Pond” by Cathy Ulrich (Outlook Springs)

Quick Reads (July 2018)

Here is the list of everything short I read this past month. Please remember: this list is not necessarily meant to act as a review, a show of favor, or a “best of” list. Feel free to share your own findings in the comments!


Pillow Talk” by Lori DeSanti (Blue Earth Review)

Ice” by Marianne Villanueva (Bellingham Review)

Ohio Deathbed, 1990” by Greg Marzullo (Arkana)

This Must Be the Place” by Jeffery Helton (Appalachian Heritage)

Of Leaf and Limb” by Hamilton Kohl (The Arcanist)

Bloom” by Lori Sambol Brody (matchbook)

Coloring Book Sky” and “Holy Noodles” by Elizabeth Elliott (Remington Review)
[Note: Elizabeth graduated from the Creighton MFA program before I did.]

Tips on Discipline” by Jeff VanderMeer (wonderbooknow.com)

Jeff VanderMeer on the Art and Science of Structuring a Novel” by Jeff VanderMeer (Electric Literature)

Rebuking A Sexist Prayer” by Diane J. McDougall (Fathom Magazine)

Every Bright Patch of Green” by Rachel Joy Welcher (Fathom Magazine)

Birds of a Feather” by Tianna Grosch (Okay Donkey)

The Piano Room” by Lily Wang (Cosmonauts Avenue)

Quick Reads (June 2018)

Wow, May and June are stellar months for flash fiction. There were a lot of contest and special issues that were recently published—the majority of which I haven’t had the chance to read yet. Here are just a few recommendations for flash lovers: Wigleaf’s Top 50SmokeLong Quarterly’s contest issue, and the FlashFlood blog.

Anyway, here is the list of everything short I read this past month. Please remember: this list is not necessarily meant to act as a review, a show of favor, or a “best of” list. Feel free to share your own findings in the comments!


Drift” by Toti O’Brien (Bridge Eight)

Fruit” by Jacquelyn Bengfort (matchbook)

Why I Write Sad Stories” by Kevin Fitton (Ruminate blog)

Gator Butchering For Beginners” by Kristen Arnett (Recommended Reading Commuter)

The Vector of Our Love” by Elizabeth Shack (freeze frame fiction)

An Ocean This Big” by Christine Hennessey (Monkeybicycle)

The Mansion of Endless Rooms” by L Chan (Syntax & Salt)

Upon Discovering That Cows Can Swim” by Santino Prinzi (Jellyfish Review)

I Open I Wince” by Shane Kowalski (Peach Mag)

Girl” by Jamaica Kincaid (The New Yorker)

The Huntress” by Sofia Samatar (Tin House Online)

There is No Albuquerque” by Kathy Fish (Newfound)

A Man Named Magritte” by Abby Burns [Bending Genres (50mm Microfiction Contest first place)]

Happiness is Gold” by Jean Reyes [Bending Genres (50mm Microfiction Contest, second place)]

Sisyphus Speaks” by Jennifer Wortman [Bending Genres (50mm Microfiction Contest, third place)]

Wings of Desire” by Jude Higgins [Bending Genres (50mm Microfiction Contest, honorable mention)]

Tiny House” by Nancy Stohlman (New Flash Fiction Review)

A Husband Should Be Eaten and Not Heard” by Megan Giddings (Split Lip Magazine)

Three poems by Erin Pulsipher (Déraciné Magazine)
[Note: Erin graduated from the Creighton MFA program the same time I did.]

Full” by Carolina VonKampen (Déraciné Magazine)

The Soul Sucker” by Andrea Salvador (Déraciné Magazine)

All of Crack the Spine Issue 238
[Note: My flash fiction story “While Taking Photographs in Nepal” is in this issue!]

Final Girl Slumber Party” by Meghan Phillips (Barrelhouse)

Hospice” by Tara Isabel Zambrano (The /tƐmz/ Review)

Filaments of Air” by Tommy Dean (FlashFlood)

Grateful” by Laura Pearson (FlashFlood)

This Isn’t as Much Fun as I Thought It Would Be” by Mary Lynn Reed (FlashFlood

A Day for Watching Birds” by Anna Vangala Jones (FlashFlood)

Whale Fall” by Alvin Park (SmokeLong Quarterly)

Nocturne” by Leslie Marie Aguilar (The Common)

Snowstorm” by Tara Isabel Zambrano (Atticus Review)

Shoot by Grace” by Grace Campbell (Jellyfish Review)

The Rats” by Blake Middleton (Hobart)

The Devil and Ellen and Charles” by Mary Clemens (Hobart)

Greetings From” by Melissa L. Amstutz (Tin House Online)

All of the Penny Fiction in From the Depths Issue 15

May Mini-Reviews

 May was a really good month for reading. At least for me. I read twelve books and micro-chapbooks. The summer micro-chapbook series is really boosting my numbers! What did you pick up in May, blog readers?

The following reviews will cover what worked well in the books. If you wish to discuss what didn’t work in the books or what you enjoyed about the books, then I’d encourage you to comment on this post.

Without further ado, here are the mini-reviews for this month. (Mild spoilers may follow.)


Brass

Brass by Xhenet Aliu

Brass by Xhenet Aliu is another novel I picked up from the Bellevue Public Library. I found the cover art curious and so I picked up the book and read the synopsis. I put it down at first because I was unsure if I really wanted to try it out. But then I circled back and took it to the checkout counter. I’m glad I took the time to read this one in the end.

Synopsis from the Penguin Random House website:

A waitress at the Betsy Ross Diner, Elsie hopes her nickel-and-dime tips will add up to a new life. Then she meets Bashkim, who is at once both worldly and naïve, a married man who left Albania to chase his dreams—and wound up working as a line cook in Waterbury, Connecticut. Back when the brass mills were still open, this bustling factory town drew one wave of immigrants after another. Now it’s the place they can’t seem to leave. Elsie, herself the granddaughter of Lithuanian immigrants, falls in love quickly, but when she learns that she’s pregnant, Elsie can’t help wondering where Bashkim’s heart really lies, and what he’ll do about the wife he left behind.

Seventeen years later, headstrong and independent Luljeta receives a rejection letter from NYU and her first-ever suspension from school on the same day. Instead of striking out on her own in Manhattan, she’s stuck in Connecticut with her mother, Elsie—a fate she refuses to accept. Wondering if the key to her future is unlocking the secrets of the past, Lulu decides to find out what exactly her mother has been hiding about the father she never knew. As she soon discovers, the truth is closer than she ever imagined.

Told in equally gripping parallel narratives with biting wit and grace, Brass announces a fearless new voice with a timely, tender, and quintessentially American story.

Another audiobook I finished in May is Parasite by Mira Grant (a. k. a. Seanan McGuire). I had a hard time feeling engaged by McGuire’s writing style in Every Heart a Doorway, so I wanted to try a different book by her. While I liked Parasite better, I think I’m too disenchanted at this point to continue the series.

Synopsis from the Hachette Book Group website:

A decade in the future, humanity thrives in the absence of sickness and disease.

We owe our good health to a humble parasite — a genetically engineered tapeworm developed by the pioneering SymboGen Corporation. When implanted, the Intestinal Bodyguard worm protects us from illness, boosts our immune system — even secretes designer drugs. It’s been successful beyond the scientists’ wildest dreams. Now, years on, almost every human being has a SymboGen tapeworm living within them.

But these parasites are getting restless. They want their own lives . . . and will do anything to get them.

What worked well:

  • Grant’s idea of sentient parasites that can heal people by living in their body is bizarre, wild, and extremely imaginative. It’s also a genius twist on a familiar genre, which becomes more apparent as the reader delves farther into the book.
  • Grant also approaches animal rights in a way that many other writers do not. Many writers consider animal rights at a distance, their characters narrating what is happening instead of actively engaging with the animals. Grant’s protagonist engages with animals and their rights directly, a truly refreshing approach.

Who should read Parasite:

  • Readers who enjoy new approaches to familiar science fiction genres
  • Those who enjoy books about human and animal rights
  • Fans of Seanan McGuire’s books
  • Readers who enjoy books about weird science

A Wrinkled in Time

A Wrinkle in Time by Madeleine L’Engle

I wanted to support the film version of A Wrinkle in Time but felt guilty about not reading the book before the movie released. I watched A Wrinkle in Time in theaters anyway and decided to read the book later on. I ended up downloading the audiobook from my local library. Madeleine L’Engle is an inspiring writer and I’m glad I had the chance to listen to some of her work.

Synopsis from the Penguin Random House website:

Madeleine L’Engle’s ground-breaking science fiction and fantasy classic, soon to be a major motion picture. This movie tie-in audiobook includes an introduction read by director Ava DuVernay, a foreword read by the author, and an afterword read by Madeleine L’Engle’s granddaughter Charlotte Jones Voiklis.

Meg Murray, her little brother Charles Wallace, and their mother are having a midnight snack on a dark and stormy night when an unearthly stranger appears at their door. He claims to have been blown off course, and goes on to tell them that there is such a thing as a “tesseract,” which, if you didn’t know, is a wrinkle in time. Meg’s father had been experimenting with time-travel when he suddenly disappeared. Will Meg, Charles Wallace, and their friend Calvin outwit the forces of evil as they search through space for their father?

In 1962, Madeleine L’Engle debuted her novel A Wrinkle in Time, which would go on to win the 1963 Newbery Medal. Bridging science and fantasy, darkness and light, fear and friendship, the story became a classic of children’s literature and is beloved around the world. Now Disney is taking it to the silver screen! Directed by Ava DuVernay and with an all-star cast that includes Oprah Winfrey, Reese Witherspoon, Mindy Kaling, Chris Pine, and newcomer Storm Reid, the major motion picture brings the world of Wrinkle to life for a new generation of fans.

What worked well:

  • A Wrinkle in Time does a nice job of depicting a female protagonist who needs to embrace her truest self—flaws and all—to overcome obstacles in her path. It’s a positive message but, let’s be real, it’s also kind of radical. She’s a young girl who’s not your stereotypical beauty and whose flaws are things like anger and impatience. L’Engle opened a door with this novel for many young girls who badly needed representation in literature.
  • L’Engle’s imagination was also a joy to discover. From the “tesseract” device to the villainous “IT” to the vastly different locations, L’Engle creates a complex universe full of life, weird science, and beautiful fantasy.

Who should read A Wrinkle in Time:

  • Those who enjoy middle-grade books
  • Fans of the science fantasy genre
  • Readers who like complex female protagonists
  • Those who enjoy books about family and bonds of friendship

The Underneath

The Underneath by Melanie Finn

When I read that Melanie Finn had a new book coming out, I knew I had to buy it. In the past, when I worked at Tethered by Letters, I read The Gloaming for a review. Back then, I wasn’t familiar with her work. Now I know how much of a genius she is. It was inevitable that I would preorder The Underneath from Two Dollar Radio.

Synopsis from the Two Dollar Radio website:

With the assurance and grace of her acclaimed novel The Gloaming—which earned her comparisons to Patricia Highsmith—Melanie Finn returns with a precisely layered and tense new literary thriller.

The Underneath follows Kay Ward, a former journalist struggling with the constraints of motherhood. Along with her husband and two children, she rents a quaint Vermont farmhouse for the summer. The idea is to disconnect from their work-based lifestyle—that had her doggedly pursuing a genocidal leader of child soldiers known as General Christmas, even through Kay’s pregnancy and the birth of their second child—in an effort to repair their shaky marriage.

It isn’t long before Kay’s husband is called away and she discovers a mysterious crawlspace in the rental with unsettling writing etched into the wall. Alongside some of the house’s other curiosities and local sleuthing, Kay is led to believe that something terrible may have happened to the home’s owners.

Kay’s investigation leads her to a local logger, Ben Comeau, a man beset with his own complicated and violent past. A product of the foster system and life-long resident of the Northeast Kingdom, Ben struggles to overcome his situation, and to help an abused child whose addict mother is too incapacitated to care about the boy’s plight.

The Underneath is an intelligent and considerate exploration of violence—both personal and social—and whether violence may ever be justified.

What worked well:

  • There is so much good to say, but let’s start with the obvious one: Finn’s use of violence. Violence may not seem like a good thing—and indeed, it is not—but in the hands of a master prose stylist, there is somewhat of an important subversion that takes place. The Underneath unflinchingly delves headlong into some heartbreaking topics through the characters and their experiences: child soldiers, warmongers, mutilation, drug abuse, self-harm, suicide, sexual abuse, neglect, pedophilia, physical abuse, verbal abuse, animal abuse, destruction of the earth, etc. It’s true that you likely need a strong stomach to read this book. But the things that Finn brings up are important for us to discuss and not to ignore. Finn also shows us how any person—”good” or not—can end up perpetuating violence.
  • Like with The Gloaming, Finn’s prose in this book is stellar. From the very first beautiful and compelling line, I was hooked. Finn phrases things in ways that few other writers can or have. To understand what I mean, you should read an excerpt of the novel or just take a leap of faith and buy the book.

Who should read The Underneath:

  • Readers who enjoy literary thrillers
  • Those who are prepared to read about intense violence
  • Fans of The Gloaming
  • Readers who enjoy exquisite prose

*BONUS TITLES!

From Likely Red Press:

 

From the Ghost City Press Summer Micro-Chapbook Series:

casserolethere are over 100 billion stars in our galaxyWolf InventoryBrett+Stuckel+-+Outerbridge+Shelter  

*I have strong affiliations to these particular titles and their publishers.

Quick Reads (May 2018)

Here is the list of everything short I read this past month. Please remember: this list is not necessarily meant to act as a review, a show of favor, or a “best of” list. Feel free to share your own findings in the comments!


Ghost Story” by Thirii Myo Kyaw Myint (Split Lip Magazine)

At the Plant Shoppe in OKC I Learn That I Need to Nurture a Plant” by Kimberly Priest (Storm Cellar)

Mario Reconsiders His Profession in Plumbing” by Dustin M. Hoffman (Booth)

Other Metamorphoses” by Fabio Fernand {Lightspeed [from People of Colo(u)r Destroy Flash Fiction!]}

The Logicians” by James Warner (Ninth Letter)

Sapphires” by Melissa Goodrich (The Forge Literary Magazine)

The Dependants” by Michael Noll (The New Territory)

A Change in Latitude” by Brianne Kohl [Wigleaf (winner of The Mythic Picnic Prize)]

The Gift” by Rose Andersen [Gone Lawn (from Wigleaf Top 50)]

Extinction of Female Blue Morphos from the Love Archive of a Museologist”  by Karen An-hwei Lee (Minola Review)

Columbus, Ohio” by Joseph Grantham (Fanzine)

Glass House” by Elise Blackwell (Necessary Fiction)

The Liar” by Brandon Giella (Fathom)

April Mini-Reviews

I’ve read 17 books so far this year. For the month of April, I focused primarily on reading library books. Bellevue Public Library started the 2018 Adult Library Program and I wanted to participate. It’s been fun trying out different books and authors.

The following reviews will cover what worked well in the books. If you wish to discuss what didn’t work in the books—or better yet, your own reading goals for the year—I’d encourage you to comment on this post.

Without further ado, here are the mini-reviews for this month. (Mild spoilers may follow.)


Palaces

Palaces by Simon Jacobs

Before I began reading library books in earnest for the month of April, I decided it was time to read another Two Dollar Radio book. Palaces by Simon Jacobs caught my eye right away with that startling black, white, and red cover. After reading the synopsis, I decided to give the novel a try.

Synopsis from the Two Dollar Radio website:

Quick Reads (April 2018)

Due to starting a new job, I wasn’t able to read as much as usual. I managed to get a few stories in despite being so busy. Here is the list of everything short I read this past month. Please remember: this list is not necessarily meant to act as a review, a show of favor, or a “best of” list. Feel free to share your own findings in the comments!


Fathers” by Amanda DeNatale (Toasted Cheese)
[Note: Amanda is a good friend of mine. She also graduated from the Creighton MFA program.]

Rainbow, Fungus, Rainbow” by Liam Johnson (The Molotov Cocktail)

The Clearing” by Alexi Zentner (Orion Magazine)

To Live and Die in E.V.” by Oscar Mancinas (Storm Cellar)

No One Worships What They Find Under Their Fingernails” by Kathryn McMahon (Booth)

Better than Healed” by Michael Harris Cohen (Apparition Literary Magazine)

March Mini-Reviews

I’ve read 13 books so far toward my goal of 52 books for this year. I’m mostly excited to share my thoughts about what I’ve read this month. I write “mostly” because I was surprised how strongly I disliked one of Neil Gaiman’s books. As a huge fan of Gaiman’s Neverwhere, Coraline, and Fragile Things—and an appreciator of The Graveyard Book—I was shocked to realize American Gods would rank among my least favorite books of all time.

Nevertheless, the following reviews will cover what worked well in the books. If you wish to discuss what didn’t work in the books—or better yet, your own reading goals for the year—I’d encourage you to comment on this post.

Without further ado, here are the mini-reviews for this month. (Mild spoilers may follow.)


flash fiction, chapbook, Split Lip Press, shasta grant

Gather Us Up and Bring Us Home by Shasta Grant

After seeing Shasta Grant‘s name appear in some of my favorite literary journals and magazines, I became really curious about her work. Perusing the Split Lip Press store, I noticed Grant’s collection of stories, Gather Us Up and Bring Us Home, was runner-up for the 2016 Turnbuckle Chapbook Contest. I decided to purchase the chapbook and I’m glad reading it gave me the chance to become even more acquainted with Grant’s work.

Summary from the Split Lip Press website:

Quick Reads (March 2018)

Here is the list of everything short I read this past month. Please remember: this list is not necessarily meant to act as a review, a show of favor, or a “best of” list. Feel free to share your own findings in the comments!


The Town of Milkcarton Kids” by Ali Rachel Pearl (Redivider)

No Girls Allowed” by Anna Valente (Fairy Tale Review)

Raw Materials” by c.a. schaefer (Superstition Review)

Forty-Five Feet” by Joshua Jones (Split Lip Magazine)

Girl in Dog House” by Carol Guess and Aimee Parkison (New Delta Review)

Red City” by Ashley Kunsa (Sycamore Review)

Rattle and Spin” by Jeanette Sheppard (Bare Fiction)

Investigations on the Theft of Heaven” by Abhishek Sengupta (Outlook Springs)

TOMWABFAM” by Matt Tompkins (Puerto del Sol)

The Ones Who Chose the Rain” by George Edwards Murray (Daily Science Fiction)

Everything Red” by Emily Lackey (Monkeybicycle)
[Note: I met Emily at the Bemis Center for Contemporary Arts during her residency there.]

Alien Love” by Jennifer Lynn Christie (Atticus Review)
[Note: I read this on the 2017 Best of the Net website.]

Rut” by Maria McLeod (The Journal)

Swayze” by Natalia Hero (The /tƐmz/ Review)

What Strangers Do” by Christopher Allen ([PANK])

A Priest of Vast and Distant Places” by Cassandra Khaw (Apex Magazine)

Quick Reads (February 2018)

Here is the list of everything short I read this past month. I’m going to cheat this time and include some nonfiction and poetry with the flash fiction and short stories. Please remember: this list is not necessarily meant to act as a review, a show of favor, or a “best of” list.

Feel free to share your own findings in the comments!


Paper Shackles” by Sean Enfield (Lunch Ticket)
[Note: I worked with Sean—namely, performed some minor edits—on his piece “Colorblind Passengers,” which was printed in F(r)Online.]

Prom Night” by Jayne Martin (Crack the Spine)

Life Without Anesthesia” by Kristen M. Ploetz (Crack the Spine)

Death and Dying in America” by Bailey Bridgewater (Crack the Spine)

Forever Jung” by Leah Mueller (Crack the Spine)

The Diamond Girl” by Courtney Bird (Fairy Tale Review)

The Clowns” by Rodney Gomez (Fairy Tale Review)

Ashes” by Aimee Pokwatka (Fairy Tale Review)

Delicate” by Jasmine Sawers (Fairy Tale Review)

Interrogation” by Michael Chin (Prime Number Magazine)

Devil’s Hopyard” by Donald Hubbard (The Harpoon Review)

The World for a Heart” by Kenneth Otani (The Harpoon Review)

Trajectories” by Alex Miller (The Harpoon Review)

Otherwise Panic” by Mary Kuryla (Shenandoah)

Resort” by Mary Miller (Wigleaf)

Now That the Circus Has Shut Down, the Human Cannonball Looks for Work” by Meghan Phillips (Wigleaf)

Parliament of Owls” by Jeff Ewing (Smokelong Quarterly)

Princess Shipwreck” by Tessa Yang (Smokelong Quarterly)

Ueno Zoo” by E. J. Koh (Smokelong Quarterly)

חלב חם” by Lea Klibanoff (Smokelong Quarterly)

New Yorker Story About Michigan” by Carolyn Nims (Smokelong Quarterly)

The Jumper” by Geoff Kronik (Smokelong Quarterly)

The Cartographers” by Joshua Jones (Smokelong Quarterly)

The Noises from the Neighbors Upstairs: A Nightly Log” by Amber Sparks (Smokelong Quarterly)

All the shortlisted flash fictions for the VERA (Vestal Review)
[Note: James R. Gapinski’s story, “Tuxedos and Evening Gowns,” appeared in F(r)iction #6]

Moorish Architecture” by Erinrose Mager (The Adroit Journal)

Check My ID” by Krys Malcolm Belc (The Adroit Journal)

The Cry of the Butterfly” by Matthew Baker (The Adroit Journal)

Chinaman, Run” by Kathryn Hargett (The Adroit Journal)

Harvest” by Stephen Case (Bracken)

poltergeist ii” by Candice Wuehle (Sonora Review)

We Are Trying to Understand You” by Joy Baglio (TriQuarterly)


[Note: I’m pretty sure I missed a few.]

 

February Mini-Reviews

With eight books now read, I am closer to my goal of reading 52 books this year. For the short month of February, I decided to check out the collected novellas of Ursula K. Le Guin and revisit some of the books I read in college.

The following reviews will cover what worked well in the books. If you wish to discuss what didn’t work in the books—or better yet, your own reading goals for the year—I’d encourage you to comment on this post.

Without further ado, here are the mini-reviews for this month. (Mild spoilers may follow.)


the found and the lost

The Found and the Lost: The Collected Novellas of Ursula K. Le Guin

With Ursula K. Le Guin‘s passing, I felt the need to read her collected novellas as an act of mourning. She was such a talented writer and the breadth of her work could not be contained by any one genre.

Summary from the Simon & Schuster website:

Ursula K. Le Guin has won multiple prizes and accolades from the Medal for Distinguished Contribution to American Letters to the Newbery Honor, the Nebula, Hugo, World Fantasy, and PEN/Malamud Awards. She has had her work collected over the years, but never as a complete retrospective of her longer works as represented in the wonderful The Found and the Lost.

Includes:
-Vaster Than Empires and More Slow
-Buffalo Gals, Won’t You Come Out Tonight
-Hernes
-The Matter of Seggri
-Another Story or a Fisherman of the Inland Sea
-Forgiveness Day
-A Man of the People
-A Woman’s Liberation
-Old Music and the Slave Women
-The Finder
-On the High Marsh
-Dragonfly
-Paradises Lost

This collection is a literary treasure chest that belongs in every home library. 

Quick Reads (January 2018)

Hey, everyone! How is your New Year going? Are those resolutions a habit yet or are they falling by the wayside? What goals have you made for your writing or reading this year?

One of my less rigid goals for 2018 was to read more flash fiction and short stories. I figure it’s cooler to read and share, so these monthly posts will cover all of the individual pieces that I’ve read in a 28+ day period. This list is not necessarily meant to act as a review, a show of favor, or a “best of” list—so please keep that in mind when I’m sharing these stories. Hopefully, my resolution to do this will become a habit and not fall by the wayside. 🙂

Feel free to share your own findings in the comments!


Something Elemental” by Alyssa Jordan (CHEAP POP)
[Note: Alyssa works for Tethered by Letters, where I volunteer.]

Wind Warning” by Traci Skuce (Varnish Journal)
[Note: Traci’s work is in Issue #2 along with my flash fiction story!]

In the Corner Under Baby Jesus on the Cross” by Dawn Wilson (Paper Darts)
[Note: Dawn leads Inklings, which is a new writing group I attend.]

Aphorisms of Someone More Famous Than You” by Frankie Bielfeld (Laurel Magazine)
&

The King’s Last Meal” by Philip Charter (Laurel Magazine)
[Note: both flash fiction stories appear before my flash fiction story in this issue!]

Nature.” by Cheryl Pappas (SmokeLong Quarterly)

There Are Songs That Only Echo in the Belly of the Sea” by Rebecca Saltzman (SmokeLong Quarterly)

Mechanical Martyr” by Rachel Levy (Atticus Review)

Midwestern Girl Is Tired of Appearing in Your Short Stories” by Gwen E. Kirby (Guernica)

The Beast” by Megan Cummins (CRAFT)

Pigeon Forge” by Jenny Xie (The Offing)

The Changeling” by Matt Jones (Ruminate)

In the Lakewater” by Monica Wang (The /tƐmz/ Review)

The Little Transient” by Lorri McDole (Prime Number Magazine)

Homecoming” by Noël Rozny (Prime Number Magazine)

Nebraska” by Nathan Knapp (The Collagist)

Sleeping Beauty is Not Well” by Cezarija Abartis (Bennington Review)

Fantasy World Has Fallen Into Disrepair” by Alexandra Tanner (Nashville Review)

On Top of the World” by Len Kuntz (Wigleaf)

Clemency” by Cady Vishniac (The Lascaux Review)

Excerpts: Half of What I Say by Anil Menon (Mithila Review)

January Mini-Reviews

For 2018, I hope to read at least 52 books by the end of the year. This may seem like a low goal, so it may also come as a surprise to you that I’m a slow reader, considering how much I read. However, my undergraduate and graduate courses have helped me nail the novel-per-week schedule in the past, so I think 52 books is doable for me.

At the end of the month, as a response to each book, I plan to write mini-reviews. The reviews will consist of mainly what worked and links to the book. If you wish to discuss what didn’t work in the novel—or better yet, your own reading goals for the year—I’d encourage you to comment on this post.

Without further ado, here are the mini-reviews for this month. (Mild spoilers may follow.)


novel, literary fiction, science fiction

The Salt Line by Holly Goddard Jones

How could a dystopian junkie pass up The Salt Line? I couldn’t of course. Holly Goddard Jones had me at deadly ticks and outdoor excursions.

Summary from the Penguin Random House website:

Blue River Review

LeeAnn Adams

The 2016 Blue River Editors’ prize for creative nonfiction went to Chloe Livaudais’ essay “Lazy Eye.”  In her essay, our editors found a mixture of powerful storytelling and craft. Livaudais takes us into memory and, at the same time, weaves a sense of the present in an imperative second person voice. Chloe Livaudais kindly took some time to answer some questions for us.

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Change Seven Magazine

What a rough year 2016 was—the countless deaths of our favoriteauthors, actors, and musicianswars at home and abroadBrexit; not to mention our own mind-boggling political election. We still have books, though, and thank goodness for that. I read all over the literary map for work, school, and pleasure, and have come up with ten novels, broken into three categories, that sustained me this year:

Adult Novels

  1. Homegoing by Yaa Gyasi (Knopf, 2016): I listened to Gyasi’s novel via audiobook before I knew about the book’s hype and Gyasi’s growing fan base. Dani Hedlund featured Gyasi’s novel in F(r)iction #5, where I am a junior editor. However, I was reading Homegoing before I knew about the feature. The novel’s characters and strong voice drew me in immediately. The way Gyasi manages time and multiple generations is also rather wonderful.

2. The Gloaming

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Maria Haskins

Another month gone by, another leap into the wealth of excellent speculative short fiction available online. There are so many wonderful websites and zines that publish short fiction these days: support the ones you like. Subscribe, use Patreon, buy single issues… it makes a difference to the sites and zines, and it makes a difference for the writers, too.

Here we go: 11 wondrous speculative fiction stories I read this past month.

Man of the House, by Pamela Ferguson in Daily Science Fiction. “Our man is not producing any energy. There is no electricity to power the house. Nothing works.” This is a fabulous short-short story that is so deceptively simple in its construction, and so completely brilliant. If you want to read a story that demonstrates how you can completely twist a story sideways with one sentence (I actually gasped), then this story is for you.

So…

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