March Wrap-up!

I am a tired human being and have not been updating as often as I would like. I don’t feel like I’m reading as much as I’d like, either, although I’m still reading quite a bit. I’m still here, still chugging along, and still trying to post when I’m not falling asleep at my keyboard. I’m working on getting back into the swing of things — whatever those “things” are — and while this is a little later than I’d like it to be, I still want to update with my March reads!

Reads for March

Here’s all I read in March:

The Beauty That Remains by Ashley Woodfolk — 5 of 5 stars — review forthcoming!

The Pants Project by Cat Clarke — 5 of 5 stars — review forthcoming!

Dark Screams: Volume Ten (ARC) edited by Brian James Freeman and Richard Chizmar — 3 of 5 stars — review here!

Miles Morales by Jason Reynolds — 5 of 5 stars

Meet Me In The Strange (ARC) by Leander Watts — 2 of 5 stars — review forthcoming!

At the Edge of the Universe by Shaun David Hutchinson — 5 of 5 stars

Kids of Appetite by David Arnold — 5 of 5 stars

American Street by Ibi Zoboi — 5 of 5 stars

The Half Life of Molly Pierce by Katrina Leno — 5 of 5 stars — review forthcoming!

Kitchen Table Tarot by Melissa Cynova — 5 of 5 stars

Maus I by Art Spiegelman — 5 of 5 stars

Maus II by Art Spiegelman — 5 of 5 stars

 

Reading stats:

  • Number of books read: 12
  • Number of nonfiction books: 3
  • Number of ARCs: 2
  • Number of books by marginalized authors: ~8
  • Number of books read for class: 2
  • Number of library books: 6

Okay, I think I actually read more than I thought I did this month — I only read 9 books in February, so 12 for March is actually pretty good in comparison. I guess it’s mostly about perspective. I really need to read more ARCs — I went on a requesting spree on NetGalley because I thought there was no way that most publishers would actually say yes to me, and now I have a list 15 books long just on NetGalley… And that’s not even all of my ARCs. April to-do list?

On The Personal Side…

I’m almost exactly two months away from graduation and I’m SLIGHTLY panicking about it because I’ve been a student for two solid decades and I have no idea how not to be a student. The last time I wasn’t a student, I was three years old — three-year-old me isn’t exactly the ideal person for twenty-three-year-old me to turn to for life advice. I am pretty thrilled that I’ll have a graduate degree in just a couple months, and I’m really lucky that I’ve been able to do this.

I’m thinking more about my online presence and about possibly starting a Patreon to support my writing, both on my blog and my own stories. I’m still working out the details and how I’m feeling about it, but this might be a thing soon! Many Patreon rewards would be Coco-related, so if you like cute cats that’d be a good place to put your money, maybe? Speaking of Coco, she has a Twitter now! You can follow her at @CocoTheTux, where she Tweets out photos and self-care messages. Coco loves self-care.

I’ve been trying harder to cook more despite my exhaustion, and I’ve been trying Blue Apron to help with this and found that I really like it. A lot of the vegetarian dishes use tomato paste and I’ve been swapping that ingredient out for peanut butter (seriously!) quite a bit and have had really good results. Also, I have like five free boxes available to give to friends, so if anyone would like one just shoot me an email at librarybenni@gmail.com and I’d be happy to give you one (US only). (This isn’t sponsored — I’ve just been given more free boxes for friends than I actually have friends and wouldn’t mind giving some away to people who want some free food!)

What did you read in March? Let me know in the comments!

ARC Review: Dark Screams: Volume Ten edited by Brian James Freeman and Richard Chizmar

Image of book cover from Goodreads
Image of book cover from Goodreads

Title: Dark Screams: Volume Ten

Editors: Brian James Freeman and Richard Chizmar

Category: Adult Horror Short Story Anthology

Publisher/Date: Random House (Hydra)/13 March 2018

Edition: eARC

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/35669193-dark-screams

Amazon: https://smile.amazon.com/Dark-Screams-Brian-James-Freeman-ebook/dp/B072SSVKBF/

Simon Clark, Clive Barker, Heather Herrman, Wrath James White, Marc Rains, Lisa Tuttle, and Kristine Kathryn Rusch unleash the terrifying truths behind love, loyalty, and obsession in a sextet of twisted tales presented by preeminent horror editors Brian James Freeman and Richard Chizmar.

I received an ARC from the publisher via NetGalley. This book has content warnings for violence, war violence, death, child death, gun violence/shootings, and homomisia.

After really enjoying the ARC of Dark Screams: Volume Nine a while ago, I was really looking forward to this one. Unfortunately, I didn’t enjoy this one nearly as much as I’d enjoyed the previous volume in the series. I feel like this was largely because the first story of the anthology, “Bastion” by Simon Clark, took up a full 50% of the length of the entire anthology, and I didn’t care for it at all. It felt under-developed for its size, and I thought that a lot could be cut out of it without harming the story at all. If it really wanted to be something of a longer length, it could have gotten made into a novel with deeper character development and more worldbuilding. For its size, that story fell really flat with me — I couldn’t connect with any of the characters and there wasn’t enough explanation behind the war that was going on that these children were fighting for me to care. If a story is going to take up a full half of an anthology then it really needs to be something that shines, and this one didn’t do it for me.

I did enjoy several of the other stories; “The Woman in the Blue Dress” by Heather Herrman was a standout for me that was really creepy and connected with me really quickly. Likewise, “Seven Years” by Wrath James White was hard-hitting and powerful, and I really enjoyed it.

I didn’t run across any stories in this anthology that I truly disliked, but there were more stories that I felt ambivalent about than ones that I really enjoyed, and that was a bit disappointing. This anthology is a pretty quick read, and there are several stories that I would recommend. If you don’t like Simon Clark’s story, though, you might feel a bit disappointed with this one.

Final rating: 3 of 5 stars

ARC Review: Dark Screams: Volume Nine edited by Brian James Freeman and Richard Chizmar

Image of book cover from Goodreads
Image of book cover from Goodreads

Title: Dark Screams: Volume Nine

Editors: Brian James Freeman and Richard Chizmar

Category: Adult Horror Short Story Anthology

Publisher/Date: Random House (Hydra)/9 January 2018

Edition: eARC

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/34884588-dark-screams

Amazon: https://smile.amazon.com/Dark-Screams-Nine-Kelley-Armstrong-ebook/dp/B071RB1D9H/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1513315767&sr=8-1&keywords=dark+screams+volume+9

Kelley Armstrong, Stewart O’Nan, Taylor Grant, Jonathan Moore, Peter Straub, and Lee Thomas weave six hair-raising yarns proving that appearances can be deceiving—and deadly—in this horror anthology assembled by Brian James Freeman and Richard Chizmar.
I received an ARC from the publisher via NetGalley.

Overall, this was a great anthology! I love a good horror short story, and there were a bunch of them here. My three favorites:

  • “Invitation to the Game” by Kelley Armstrong was a VERY strong start to this anthology. The pacing was perfect, and the use of power imbalances was extremely powerful. I am so glad they put her story first in this collection.
  • “The Dead Years” by Taylor Grant was just creepy. It’s a story of lost love and doppelgängers that ends up being somewhat sweet with a huge dose of terrifying.
  • “Torn” by Lee Thomas tells the story of the aftermath of a young girl’s disappearance. This story was a bit longer and more of a slow burn, and it’s engaging through every page. (This story debatably has a “punishment for being gay” aspect to it; I don’t believe any homomisia was intended, and I still haven’t quite decided how I feel about this particular part of the story, but it could potentially be off-putting for other queer readers. There were also a couple of racial microaggressions; they didn’t feel that big to me while I was reading, but because I’m white I am not in a position to make that call.)

Overall, this was a solid anthology with some great stories that are worth reading.

Final rating: 4 of 5 stars.