Category Archives: Reading

My Virtual Nightstand

My Virtual Nightstand

The other day, I was chatting with a few friends, and we were talking about our to-read stack. We all have them, the books you’ve purchased queued up to read in no particular order. For some, it sits on our nightstand. For others, it’s on a shelf. These days it might be a collection of files on your Kindle. Voracious readers all have them—myself included.

As we talked, I realized I didn’t have a good way for me to track my own to-read stack. Afterall, while I do read primarily on my Kindle, I have a lot of physical books as well. My to-read stack was all over the place! Knowing what I have and what I could start next was a tad cumbersome.

But, I think I’ve come up with a solution. I’ve decided to start using Goodreads’ “To-Read” feature to list my collection of owned but unread books. This way, when I finish a book, I have one spot where I can peruse everything I have on hand. Since the list is public, I figured a quick post was necessary to explain how I’m using it. (I track books I intend to purchase with a different method.) These aren’t just books I’m interested in, these are books I’ve committed to reading eventually.

There’s no particular order, but feel free to check it out my list below. Maybe you’ll find something in my to-read stack that’ll pique your interest. Happy Reading!

K. M. Alexander’s To-Read List →

💀 📖 💀


Dead Drop: Missives from the desk of K. M. AlexanderWant to stay in touch with me? Sign up for Dead Drop, my rare and elusive newsletter. Subscribers get news, previews, and notices on my books before anyone else delivered directly to their inbox. I work hard to make sure it’s not spammy and full of interesting and relevant information.  SIGN UP TODAY →

My 2017 Reading List

My Reading List for 2017

Can you feel it? The end of a year approaches. That means it’s time to revisit all the books I’ve read over the last year. As always most of this list correlates with my Goodreads reading challenge. (See my Goodreads Year in Books here.) It’s always a bit longer here because I can’t list any of the beta readings I do for friends.

I had no challenge this year. Which was great. There’s a lot of books on this list that I had been saving after the last few challenges. It was nice to be able to work through the proverbial nightstand pile. One minor note, there’s are a few books on here I’d consider novellas. Usually, they wouldn’t make the cut or they’d be shifted to another list, but I am keeping them this year. I read a few enormous tomes, so I feel they balance things out.

Since this list is always enormous, l forgo reviews. However, follow me on Goodreads where I do occasionally leave reviews. I call out some of my favorites of the year at the end of each list. As before, all links will go to Amazon as a default, but if one of these books sound interesting to you, then I encourage you to visit your local independent bookstore and purchase through them. It’s vital for your local economy to buy local whenever you’re able.


📚 Novels

  1. Yesterday’s Demons (The Verdant Revival Book 1)
    by Mike Ripplinger
  2. Red Rising
    by Pierce Brown
  3. Hard Magic
    by Larry Correia
  4. The Incorruptibles (The Incorruptibles #1)
    by John Hornor Jacobs
  5. Dawn (Xenogenesis #1)
    by Octavia E. Butler
  6. The Golem and the Jinni (The Golem and the Jinni #1)
    by Helene Wecker
  7. The Black Company (The Chronicles of the Black Company #1)
    by Glen Cook
  8. The Last Days of New Paris
    by China Miéville
  9. Two Serpents Rise (Craft Sequence #2)
    by Max Gladstone
  10. Hammers on Bone (Persons Non Grata #1)
    by Cassandra Khaw
  11. The Girl with All the Gifts (The Girl With All The Gifts #1)
    by M.R. Carey
  12. The Fifth Season (The Broken Earth #1)
    by N.K. Jemisin
  13. The “Wonderful” Wizard of Futhermucking Oz (Futhermucking Classics Book 1)
    by Matt Youngmark
  14. Beta Reading
    by REDACTED
  15. Rocannon’s World (The Hainish Cycle #1) …again
    by Ursula K. Le Guin
  16. The Collapsing Empire (The Interdependency #1)
    by John Scalzi
  17. Beta Reading
    by REDACTED
  18. River of Teeth
    by Sarah Gailey
  19. The Magicians
    by Lev Grossman
  20. The King in Yellow …again
    by Robert W. Chambers
  21. The Half-Made World (The Half-Made World #1)
    by Felix Gilman
  22. Engines of the Broken World
    by Jason Vanhee
  23. The Brotherhood of the Wheel
    by R. S. Belcher
  24. Alif the Unseen
    by G. Willow Wilson
  25. Master and Commander (Aubrey/Maturin #1)
    by Patrick O’Brian
  26. “I Give You My Body . . .”: How I Write Sex Scenes
    by Diana Gabaldon
  27. A Monster Calls: Inspired by an idea from Siobhan Dowd
    by Patrick Ness
  28. The Rise of Ransom City (The Half-Made World #2)
    by Felix Gilman
  29. Devil’s Call
    by J. Danielle Dorn
  30. Full Fathom Five (Craft Sequence #3)
    by Max Gladstone
  31. Lord Foul’s Bane (The Chronicles of Thomas Covenant the Unbeliever #1)
    by Stephen R. Donaldson
  32. A City Dreaming
    by Daniel Polansky
  33. The Stand
    by Stephen King
  34. This Dark Earth
    by John Hornor Jacobs
  35. Justice Calling (The Twenty-Sided Sorceress #1)
    by Annie Bellet
  36. Jade City (The Green Bone Saga #1)
    by Fonda Lee
  37. Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell
    by Susanna Clarke
  38. The House on the Borderland
    by William Hope Hodgson
  39. Mortal Engines (Mortal Engines #1)
    by Philip Reeve
  40. All Systems Red (The Murderbot Diaries, #1)
    by Martha Wells

🏆 Favorite Novel of 2017:

The Golem and the JinniThe Golem and the Jinni
by Helene Wecker

I can understand why The Golem and the Jinni took so long to write. (Apparently, ten years.) It’s captivating. Wecker’s command of language is stunning. The story is a classic American tale exploring the immigrant experience through the eyes of two people who are both similar and yet unlike anyone else. A must read.

🏅 Favorite Novel Runners-up of 2017:

The Half-Made WorldThe Half-Made World
by Felix Gilman

This was recommended to me by a friend, and I am so glad I picked it up. The weird west is fast becoming one of my favorite genres. Its worldbuilding is superb and its characters fantastic. The conflict between the Line and the Gun is well realized. I was hooked and loved every moment I spent with its pages.

Jonathan Strange and Mr NorrellJonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell
by Susanna Clarke

It has magic and fairies and English gentlemen magicians. Its characters are fully realized, its plot more intricate than most novels, and all of this is handled with a deft hand. (Oh, Clarke’s use of language is divine.) A love letter to Jane Austen, Charles Dickens, and England.

Picking this was difficult this year. There are so many others I could have named as runners-up but tradition dictates I only pick two. Sorry other books and authors of aforementioned other books, thems the rules.


💥 Graphic Novels:

  1. House of the Holy
    by Mike Carey (Author), Dave Kendall (Illustrator)
  2. Rat Queens Vol. 1: Sass & Sorcery
    by Kurtis J. Wiebe (Author), Roc Upchurch (Illustrator), Fiona Staples (Illustrator)
  3. The Sandman Vol. 1: Preludes & Nocturnes …again
    by Neil Gaiman (Author), Sam Keith (Illustrator), Mike Dringenberg (Illustrator)
  4. Rat Queens Vol. 2: The Far Reaching Tentacles of N’Rygoth
    by: Kurtis J. Wiebe (Author), Stjepan Sejic (Artist)
  5. Triceratots
    by: Josh Montreuil (Author & Artist)
  6. Descender Vol. 1: Tin Stars
    by Jeff Lemire (Author), Dustin Nguyen (Artist)
  7. Injection Vol. 1
    by Warren Ellis (Author), Declan Shalvey (Illustrator), Jordie Bellaire (Illustrator), Fonografiks (Illustrator)
  8. House of Penance
    by Peter J. Tomasi (Author), Ian Bertram (Illustrator), Dave Stewart (Illustrator)

🏆 Favorite Graphic Novel of 2017:

Rat Queens Volume 1: Sass & SorceryRat Queens Vol. 1: Sass & Sorcery
by Kurtis J. Wiebe (Author), Roc Upchurch, Fiona Staples (Illustrators)

Rat Queens is a traditional D&D fantasy-style book, but it’s not the setting that’s so engaging. It’s its characters. Every single one is delightful in their own particular way. Hannah, Violet (my fav), Betty, and Dee are complex, and that complexity makes this book shine.

🏅 Favorite Graphic Novel Runners-up of 2017:

House of PenanceHouse of Penance
by Peter J. Tomasi (Author), Ian Bertram, Dave Stewart (Illustrators)

A story of guilt, loss, and humanity. The Winchester House is a strange place. This book explores Sarah Winchester’s motives behind the building of the infamous house. The art is gorgeous, if not a bit difficult. Violence should never be easy to confront, and House of Penance refuses to glorify.

The Sandman Vol. 1: Preludes & NocturnesThe Sandman Vol. 1: Preludes & Nocturnes
by Neil Gaiman (Author), Sam Keith, Mike Dringenberg (Illustrators)

So, this is a bit cheat, since Sandman has long been one of my favorite comic series of all time. But I needed to include it here. Gaiman’s book is still as delightful as it was when I first read it. Dream’s quest to regain his stolen possessions still serve as an excellent catalyst for a fantastic journey.


So there’s my list for 2017! I read a lot of amazing books and some really great graphic novels. (Sadly, no short stories this year.) I have no reading challenges in 2018. So, I plan on continuing with my escapism theme for the foreseeable future.

Are you looking for a good book? Want to see my reading lists from previous years? Check any of the links below and see what I was reading in the bygone halcyon days.

 2013 • 2014 • 2015 2016 •

Next year, why not join me? Goodreads does a reading challenge every year, and I am an active participant. First, follow me on Goodreads (leave me a review while you’re there), and once the New Year arrives, participate in the Goodreads Reading Challenge for 2018.


Dead Drop: Missives from the desk of K. M. AlexanderWant to stay in touch with me? Sign up for Dead Drop, my rare and elusive newsletter. Subscribers get news, previews, and notices on my books before anyone else delivered directly to their inbox. I work hard to make sure it’s not spammy and full of interesting and relevant information.  SIGN UP TODAY →

My Reading List for 2016

We’re nearing the end of the year, and as tradition dictates now is the time when I compile a list of the books I have read (to see previous years: 2013, 2014, 2015). I’m not the fastest of readers, but I try to remain consistent. This usually correlates alongside my Goodreads reading challenge. The books in this list are books I read for pleasure; I don’t count research material. Likewise, graphic novels and short stories get counted separately in their own list.

This year I was offered up another challenge, this time by my friend and fellow author Steve Toutonghi. He challenged me to read more classics than anything else this year, and I accepted. By the time I had finished, over two-thirds of the novels I had read where from the classic or modern classic category. Not bad!

Since this list tends to be long, I forgo reviews, but you’re welcome to follow me on Goodreads where I do occasionally review books. At the end of each list, I will call out some of my favorites of the year. As before, all links will go to Amazon as a default, but if one of these books sound interesting to you, then I would encourage you to visit your local independent bookstore and purchase through them. It’s important for your local economy to buy local whenever you’re able.


Novels:

  1. Join
    by Steve Toutonghi
  2. Partials (Partials Sequence, #1)
    by Dan Wells
  3. The Great Gatsby
    by F. Scott Fitzgerald
  4. Slaughterhouse-Five …again.
    by Kurt Vonnegut
  5. Wise Blood
    by Flannery O’Connor
  6. Brave New World
    by Aldous Huxley
  7. The Aeronaut’s Windlass (The Cinder Spires #1)
    by Jim Butcher
  8. Leviathan Wakes (The Expanse #1)
    by James S.A. Corey
  9. The Old Man and the Sea
    by Ernest Hemingway
  10. Beta Reading
    by REDACTED
  11. Life on the Mississippi …again.
    by Mark Twain
  12. Beta Reading
    by REDACTED
  13. Dracula …again.
    by Bram Stoker
  14. This Census-Taker
    by China Miéville
  15. Prince of Thorns (The Broken Empire #1)
    by Mark Lawrence
  16. Labyrinths: Selected Stories and Other Writings
    by Jorge Luis Borges,
  17. The Illustrated Man
    by Ray Bradbury
  18. Great Expectations
    by Charles Dickens
  19. Iron Council (New Crobuzon #3)
    by China Miéville
  20. The Scar (New Crobuzon #2) …again.
    by China Miéville
  21. Hondo
    by Louis L’Amour
  22. The Hell Bent Kid: A Novel
    by Charles O. Locke
  23. Ravencroft Springs
    by Logan L. Masterson
  24. Perdido Street Station (New Crobuzon #1) …again.
    by China Miéville
  25. Dark Matter
    by Blake Crouch
  26. True Grit
    by Charles Portis
  27. Animal Farm …again.
    by George Orwell
  28. Lord of the Flies …again.
    by William Golding
  29. The Handmaid’s Tale
    by Margaret Atwood
  30. Kindred
    by Octavia E. Butler
  31. The Gunslinger …again.
    by Stephen King
  32. To Kill a Mockingbird …again.
    by Harper Lee
  33. Call of the Wild …again.
    by Jack London
  34. 1984 …again.
    by George Orwell
  35. Wuthering Heights
    by Emily Brontë

When selecting my favorites, I decided to disregard any books I had previously read from the running. (Twain’s Life on the Mississippi, Miéville’s The Scar, and King’s The Gunslinger are some of my favorite books of all time and it’s really not fair to compete with those.) I read so many good books this year it made picking my faves tough. While there were many I enjoyed, I settled on three. All were new to me, and they all not only challenged me but lingered in my mind long after I had finished.

Favorite Novel of 2016:

Kindred by Octavia ButlerKindred
by Octavia E. Butler

This book is stunning. Bulter is one of the preeminent science fiction writers of our time. Her prose is sharp, her plot intense, the portrayal of the slave/master relationships in antebellum South shook me. I found myself dwelling on Kindred weeks after I finished it.

Favorite Novel Runners-up of 2016:

The Handmaids TaleThe Handmaid’s Tale
by Margaret Atwood

There is an art to writing a book so captivating and yet so simple. The regressive dystopia of Gilead is terrifying in its believability. It’s strange to think this book was written in ’85 yet its criticisms of gender relations, religion, and power are still as poignant as ever.

Join by Steve ToutonghiJoin
by Steve Toutonghi

My friend Steve’s debut novel, like the others, stuck with me long after I had finished. His examinations on individualism, mortality, gender, and consciousness were thought-provoking, engaging, and whip-smart. I knew when I finished that Join would end up here.


Short Stories:

  1. Last Boy in Aster
    by Drew Gerken
  2. Binti (Binti #1)
    by Nnedi Okorafor
  3. Ravencroft Springs: The Feast of ’69
    by Logan L. Masterson
  4. A Study in Emerald (Currently available in Fragile Things) …again.
    by Neil Gaiman

Four isn’t enough to rank favorites, but Drew Gerken’s story stood out. It lingered with me more than the other three and I continued to think about Kacee, Fin, and Aster long after I had finished. Seek it out. It’s very much worth your time.


Graphic Novels:

  1. Prophet Volume 2: Brothers
    by Brandon Graham (Author & Illustrator), Simon Roy (Author & Illustrator), Farel Dalrymple (Illustrator), Giannis Milonogiannis (Illustrator),
  2. Black River
    by Josh Simmons (Author & Illustrator)
  3. Wytches, Vol. 1
    by Scott Snyder (Author) and Jock (Illustrator)
  4. Bitch Planet, Vol. 1: Extraordinary Machine
    by Kelly Sue DeConnick (Author), Valentine De Landro (Artist)
  5. Saga Volume 6
    by Brian K. Vaughan (Author), Fiona Staples (Illustrator)
  6. Penultimate Quest Vol. 1
    by Lars Brown (Author & Illustrator)
  7. Penultimate Quest Vol. 2
    by Lars Brown (Author & Illustrator)
  8. Penultimate Quest Vol. 3
    by Lars Brown (Author & Illustrator)
  9. Catbeard Vol. 2
    by Matt Nelson (Author & Illustrator)

Favorite Graphic Novel of 2016:

Bitch PlanetBitch Planet
by Kelly Sue DeConnick (Author), Valentine De Landro (Artist)

From the get-go, Bitch Planet sets out to be subversive, and it’s not apologetic. Playing off the women-in-prison exploitation films the comic twists the genre to be a smart satire about modern culture, feminism, and humanity.

Favorite Graphic Novel Runners-up of 2016:


Penultimate Quest Vol. 1Penultimate Quest
by Lars Brown (Author & Illustrator)

See! I don’t always read serious/dark comics. Occasionally, I step outside of my comfort zone and read something lighter. Lars Brown’s writing is witty and fun, and the characters are memorable. A must for role-playing game fans and people who like jokes.

 

catbeardbook2

Catbeard Vol. 2
by Matt Nelson (Author & Illustrator)

Yep, it’s back! I picked up and thoroughly enjoyed the second Catbeard book. Attentive readers remember that the first book was one of my favorite graphic novels from last year and Vol. 2 was even better than the first.


So there is my list for 2016, a lot of amazing books and some fantastic short stories and graphic novels. For the next year, I’m returning to my roots and focusing on primarily science fiction and fantasy. In particular, books I’ve passed by in my stack on my quest to read classics. I could use a little escapism right now, and it’d be therapeutic to get lost in another narrative for a time.

Are you looking for a good book? Want to see my reading lists from previous years? Check any of the links below and see what I was reading in bygone days.

 2013 • 2014 • 2015 

Next year, why not join me? Goodreads does a reading challenge every year, and I am an active participant. First, follow me on Goodreads (leave me a review while you’re there), and once the New Year arrives, participate in the Goodreads Reading Challenge for 2017.

Three Great Horror Reads For Halloween

Three Great Horror Reads For Halloween

Since today is Halloween (or High Hallow as it’s known in the Territories), I thought it’d be fun to share some of the more memorable horror novels that I have read over the last few years. Since I have been reading horror since I was a kid, I figured it’d be best to limit myself to any of the books I have read during my participation in the Goodreads Reading Challenge. You can see my list for 2013 and 2014 here on my blog, and you can view my current list for 2015 over on Goodreads. Let’s get to my picks!


Blood Meridian: Or the Evening Redness in the West by Cormac McCarthy Blood Meridian: or the Evening Redness in the West
by Cormac McCarthy

I’ve talked about Cormac McCarthy’s novel a few times in the past, and over the last few years it has easily become one of my favorite books, and ultimately my favorite horror novel of all time. This story tends to get classified as a western, but after spending some time with the kid, and the mysterious Judge Holden it becomes apparent that there is much more to this narrative than a brutal western. Following the trail of several scalp hunters along the Mexican border, this novel is a disturbing tale of violence, blood, and possibly the devil.


Something Wicked This Way Comes by Ray BradburySomething Wicked This Way Comes
by Ray Bradbury

While the trope of the Circus of Fear can be traced back to the 1919 German silent horror film The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari, it’s safe to say it was Bradbury who made it popular with this novel. When Cooger & Dark’s Pandemonium Shadow Show has come to Greentown, Illinois, two young boys and best friends begin to explore its strange and ultimately evil attractions. Bradbury is amazing at capturing the life of the young boy, and the challenges of fatherhood. Easily one of the best gothic horror novels ever written, and a classic within the genre.


Chapelwood by Cherie Priest

Chaplewood (Borden Dispatches #2)
by Cherie Priest

The second novel in Cherie Priest’s modern take on Lovecraftian mythos goes above and beyond even book one (which was one of my runners-up last year.) Following the adventures of the Lizzie Borden of legend, Chaplewood takes us from book one’s rain-soaked coast of New England to the heart of the sultry deep South. As a dark gospel is spread by a strange cult, and an ax murderer runs rampant, a detective, a young woman, and an elderly matron must face down a growing evil. Easily one of my most memorable reads this year.


So there are three of my favorite horror books from the last few years. If you’re looking for something to read on a cozy and dark autumn night, you’d be hard-pressed to find better. What are you favorite horror novels? Leave a comment below and let everyone know!

Have a safe and happy Halloween!

books books books

Some Bookquisitions

My pile of books grows ever larger. Some of that is due to me being stuck in the mire of a particular epic fantasy that while very good it also happens to be enormous and could have been edited down a bit a lot more. That said, I see the light at the end of this tunnel which means I’ll be starting some new very soon so I figured it’d be fun to share some of my recent bookquisitions…

Three Moments of an Explosion by China Miéville Three Moments of an Explosion by China Miéville
If you have read any of my books or have been following my blog for any length of time you’ll know that China Miéville is one of my most favorite authors of all time. (The Scar is easily in my top five.) So it’s no surprise that his latest collection of unpublished short stories appeared on my Kindle on launch day. (Which was yesterday.)


Trees by Warren Ellis & Jason Howard Trees Vol. 1 by Warren Ellis & Jason Howard
I have been intrigued by Trees ever since I saw some of Jason Howard’s early art so I was excited to find out that the first trade was available. Set in a world ten years after a strange alien race (that loom large like trees) have landed. The story explores the lives of several characters scattered around the globe as they discover what these strange and silent visitors are all about. The concept sounded fresh and I’ve always been a fan of Ellis’ writing so I’m on board and excited to dive in.


The Iron Ship by K. M. McKinleyThe Iron Ship by K. M. McKinley
I’ve been seeing buzz about this for a while now and the reviews were looking pretty awesome. A new epic fantasy centered around a shop forhed of metal and magic? Adventure? Travel? Sign me up! Also, we K. M.s have to stick together. It’s contractual.


I’m always on the hunt for new books. If you have a book recommendation for me please leave a comment! Don’t want to leave a comment? Shoot me an email: hello@kmalexander.com and let me know what you think I should add to my stack.

My Cthulhu Con Schedule

My CthulhuCon Schedule

Since we’re now less than a week away from the start of CthulhuCon in Portland, Oregon. Since I’m an active participant I figured it’d be handy for me to post my schedule. All this is penciled in, and meant only as a guide. Stuff can change. However, I’ll try to stick to this as much as I can.

[UPDATE 4/22] – I’m now doing an author signing on 10am in Bellmont B and I’ve also gone ahead and updated my schedule with room information as well.


FRIDAY:

7:00 pm – 9:00 pm — Hello, Portland!

I’ll arrive Friday afternoon and I’ll be around. There’s a party that night, but the con really doesn’t kick off until the following morning. But, if you see me, stop me and say hello!


SATURDAY:

10:00 am – 7:00 pm — Hanging out in The Mall of Cthulhu [Bellmont C]

I’ll be in the Dealers Room, selling and signing books all day. The dealers room isn’t large, so look for my big black banner. I’ll have copies of The Stars Were Right and Old Broken Road, as well as a ton of free swag.

Along side me you’ll find a lot of other awesome folks selling their wares. You can see the full vendor list here →

8:00 pm – 9:00 pm — Author Reading 3 [Foyer]

I’ll be joining fellow authors Jim Smiley and Christine Morgan in the Foyer reading an excerpt from The Bell Forging Cycle, Book I: The Stars Were Right.


SUNDAY:

10:00 am – 10:45 am — Author Signing [Bellmont B]

Me and the fourteen other authors attending the convention are going to be hanging out in Bellmont B signing our books.

11:00 am – 12:00 pm — Creating A Mythos Panel [Bellmont B]

Join me and names like: Leslie S. KlingerRoss E. Lockhart, Wilum H. PugmireJustin Steele, and Sean Hoade as we discuss the pluses and minuses of working within a mythos. Full description below:

“One of the mainstays of Lovecraft’s legacy has long been the Mythos he created. Many authors, both before and after Lovecraft, have created a Mythos of their own: Pugmire’s Sesqua Valley, Chambers’s King in Yellow stories, Barron’s Old Leech universe, Dunsany’s Pegana, Clark Ashton Smith’s Hyperborea. Some have outgrown their creators and have opened their doors to many authors to contribute. What is the allure of a Mythos? What are the benefits of writing in one? What are the pitfalls?”

12:00 pm – 4:00 pm — Hanging out in The Mall of Cthulhu [Bellmont C]

After the panel I’ll be found back by my table in the Dealers Room until the end of the convention at 4:00pm.


So there’s my schedule. This weekend my lovely wife, Kari-Lise, will be joining me, so anytime I’m not in the dealer room she’ll be at my table.

Really looking forward to meeting folks and discussing Lovecraft, Mythos, the Territories, weird fiction, and anything else that comes up! I can’t wait, see you at the convention!