Chez Rambo Reading, January 2019

I’m tracking my reading on a monthly basis again as part of 2019’s effort to be more methodical about record keeping. So here’s what i read, along with some notes on it, as i start building up in order to be doing more regular lengthy reviews again.

  • I have been binge-reading Robert J. Crane’s Out of the Box series and finished up Badder, Nemesis, Apex, Time, Remember, Hero, and Flashback. These are highly satisfying superhero novels and I’m really looking forward to the next installment, which is book #24.
  • I also tried to add more nonfiction to my reading list in 2019. The first of these was Seth Godin’s This is Marketing: You Can’t Be Seen Until You Learn to See, which I found myself taking a lot of notes on. I’ve been reading a number of works on marketing and pricing for the Rambo Academy and it’s been handy but right now I feel like I have been slogging through the same grad-level text on pricing for a kerjillion years.
  • Because I work with some clients as a writing coach, I found The Coaching Habit: Say Less, Ask More, and Change the Way You Lead Forever by Michael Bungay Stamer useful, particularly the listen more, talk less part.
  • William Gibson’s The Peripheral was a terrific read and I’m working on an essay that is an appreciation of Gibson and his work. He’s our latest SFWA Grand master and I’m looking forward to meeting him at the Nebulas.
  • I read Diane Morrison’s Once Upon a Time in The Wyrd West in order to blurb it. Here’s the blurb I sent: Saskatchewan gunslinger elves in a world vividly real and detailed. Morrison shows us a rarely explored Weird West landscape. Really a fun book for Weird Western lovers.
  • A space romp that I really enjoyed, I read Elizabeth McCoy’s Queen of Roses at the suggestion of M.C.A. Hogarth to think about for an upcoming Storybundle. Pleased to say I’m including it, because it’s a really fun read with a great AI protagonist, Sarafina.
  • The book Astounding: John W. Campbell, Isaac Asimov, Robet A. Heinlein, L. Ron Hubbard, and the Golden Age of Science Fiction by Alec Nevala-Lee was an interesting read, particularly since Nevala-Lee’s take on a few figures differed from ones I’d been presented with in the past, particularly Randall Garrett. An acquaintance (now passed) used to insist that Garrett’s habit of walking up to women at parties and saying “I’m Randall Garrett, let’s fuck” was an example of someone unbound by stifling social norms and that no one ever took offense at it, while Nevala-Lee describes Garrett as “a bearded Texan who was known within the science fiction community as a drunk and a sexual predator” (p. 321) following up with a description of Garrett’s actions when engaged to Campbell’s daughter Jane that makes him seem like a pretty awful guy. Anyhow, if you are into SF history, this has a goodly amount, plus a nicely thorough bibliography for further reading.
  • I’m very fond of Kindle Unlimited, given how many books I consume on a weekly basis. There’s a lot of quality titles on it, and this is one of them. Currently by Sarah Mensinga features a fascinating world and a resourceful refugee heroine.
  • Bird Box by Josh Malerman was in many ways similar to the movie, although the ending is slightly different. Dunno that one has to both read the book and see the movie, unless you really dig understanding the differences between the two forms, in which case it might greatly interest you.
  • Lies Sleeping by Ben Aaronovitch finished up the terrific Rivers of London urban fantasy police procedural series and I am amore thant a little sad to say goodbye to its fabulous characters, particularly Peter Grant and Leslie.
  • Niall Slater’s The Second Death of Daedalus Mole is not findable in e-form on the Amazon store, but I read it on my e-reader and no longer remember how I came across it. However, it’s another fun space romp, and recommended.
  • Charlie Holmberg’s The Plastic Magician is part of the Paper Magician series and is a worthy addition, although it didn’t charm me the way the earlier books did.
  • While on the road, I binged on some K.J. Charles, which are M/M Regency romances, and read through An Unseen Attraction, An Unnatural Vice, An Unsuitable Heir (I love Pen!), A Gentleman’s Position, A Fashionable Indulgence, and A Seditious Affair.
  • The Last to See Me by M. Dresser was a subtle and lovely read, one of those books that’s thoroughly speculative yet emphasizing its literary qualities. Some beautiful description, and a slowly unfolding mystery about a modern day ghost resisting the exorcist who’s been summoned to clear her away from the house she haunts.
  • Queen of the Dark Things by C. Robert Cargill is the sequel to a book I haven’t read but now have to go pick up. The setting is both Austin, Texas and Australia in a nicely done modern fantasy that would have been called horror twenty years ago.
  • Another nonfiction read, The Myth of Capitalism: Monopolies and the Death of Competition by Jonathan Tepper and Denise Hearn is a sobering read with a lot of relevance to today’s politics and the rule of the kleptocracy. Well written and clearly laid out.
  • The Wild Dead by Carrie Vaughn is also a sequel where I need to go find the first book. This lovely, understated read reminded me of Kim Stanbley Robinson crossed with Ursula K. Le Guin. Beautifully done.
  • Baking Powder Wars: The Cutthroat Food Fight that Revolutionized Cooking, by Linda Critello is food history and fascinating, particularly if you ever wondered about the difference between cream of tartar and baking powder.
  • Superhero Syndrome by Caryn Larringa is the promising start to another superhero series available on Kindle Unlimited, but it’s the only one available still, although it originally appeared in 2017.
  • Molly Tanzer’s Creatures of Want and Ruin is a solid read, and a follow-up to her Creatures of Will and Temper, though it’s set in Prohibition America while its predecessor was Victorian England. Enjoyable and engaging, it was a great read to finish out the month with.
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About Cat

Cat Rambo lives, writes, and teaches by the shores of an eagle-haunted lake in the Pacific Northwest. Her 200+ fiction publications include stories in Asimov's, Clarkesworld Magazine, and the magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction. Her story, "Five Ways to Fall in Love on Planet Porcelain," from her collection Near + Far (Hydra House Books), was a 2012 Nebula nominee. Her editorship of Fantasy Magazine earned her a World Fantasy Award nomination in 2012. She is the current President of the Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America (SFWA). She is currently working on Exiles of Tabat, the third book of the Tabat Quartet. A new story collection, Neither Here Nor There, appears from Hydra House this fall.
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