Tag Archives: 2019

My Reading List for 2019

My Reading List for 2019

The next decade looms. But for now, it’s time for reflection. It’s been an exciting year full of amazing experiences. Plus, I did a ton of reading! So, as I do every year, I’ve compiled a list of the books I’ve read over the last three hundred and sixty-five days, and I’m here to share them with you all.

Overall, I’m thrilled with my reading for the year. It contained several firsts for me. I read a plethora of great books—my most in a single year. (Forty-seven!) I Did-Not-Finish’d my first book ever. (It’ll remain nameless.) I quit listening to the news/sports during my commute and have now switched over to audiobooks one hundred percent of the time. (Those are labeled with the 🎧 emoji.) I beta-read three upcoming novels—my most in a single year. And, on top of all of that, I managed to read a bunch of great short stories and got to spend more time reading graphic novels as well. So yeah—it’s been a great year of reading.

This list correlates with my Goodreads 2019 Reading Challenge but always includes a few extra since Goodreads doesn’t let me count beta reading and I don’t list comics or short stories over there. Remember, this is all strictly reading for pleasure—I typically forgo listing any research/history books. Since this list is always enormous, l skip reviews except for my top three in each category. However, I’d invite you to follow me on Goodreads, where I do occasionally leave other reviews.

As before, all links will go to Amazon through my affiliate account by default. If one of these books sounds interesting to you, I’d encourage you to skip Amazon and instead visit your local independent bookstore and purchase through them. It’s essential for your local economy to buy local whenever you’re able, and always good to build a relationship with your local indie bookshop.

Okay, to the list!


📚 Novels

  1. Tomorrow’s Shepherd (The Verdant Revival #2)
    by Michael Ripplinger
  2. Beta Reading (Fantasy)
    by REDACTED
  3. Promise of Blood (Powder Mage #1) …again 🎧
    by Brian McClellan
  4. Mapping the Interior
    by Stephen Graham Jones
  5. Authority: A Novel (The Southern Reach #2)  🎧
    by Jeff VanderMeer
  6. The Traitor Baru Cormorant (The Masquerade #1)
    by Seth Dickinson
  7. ‘Salem’s Lot  🎧
    by Stephen King
  8. When You Reach Me
    by Rebecca Stead
  9. The Scorpio Races
    by Maggie Stiefvater
  10. Nine Princes in Amber (The Chronicles of Amber #1) 🎧
    by Roger Zelazny
  11. The Last Kingdom (The Saxon Chronicles Series #1)
    by Bernard Cornwell
  12. The Haunting of Tram Car 015
    by P. Djèlí Clark
  13. Beta Reading (Sci-Fi)
    by REDACTED
  14. The Civil War: A Narrative: Volume 1: Fort Sumter to Perryville 🎧
    by Shelby Foote
  15. Butcher Bird …again.
    by Richard Kadrey
  16. House of Furies
    by Madeleine Roux
  17. A. Grimsbro, Warlord of Mars (Futhermucking Classics #2)
    by Matt Youngmark
  18. I Am Providence
    by Nick Mamatas
  19. The Compleat Crow
    by Brian Lumley
  20. Orconomics: A Satire (The Dark Profit Saga #1)
    by J. Zachary Pike
  21. Beta Reading (Fantasy)
    by REDACTED
  22. Four Roads Cross (The Craft Sequence #5)
    by Max Gladstone
  23. The Reality Dysfunction (Night’s Dawn #1) …again 🎧
    by Peter F. Hamilton
  24. The Grand Dark
    by Richard Kadrey
  25. The Forever War
    by Joe Haldeman
  26. Vermilion
    by Molly Tanzer
  27. The Terror 🎧
    by Dan Simmons
  28. The City of Brass: A Novel (The Daevabad Trilogy #1)
    by S. A. Chakraborty
  29. The Black God’s Drums
    by P. Djèlí Clark
  30. The Warehouse
    by Rob Hart
  31. It: A Novel 🎧
    by Stephen King
  32. City of Blades (Divine Cities #2)
    by Robert Jackson Bennett
  33. The Dream-Quest of Vellitt Boe
    by Kij Johnson
  34. Game of Thrones (A Song of Ice and Fire #1) …again 🎧
    by George R. R. Martin
  35. Every Heart a Doorway (Wayward Children #1)
    by Seanan McGuire
  36. Carry On (Simon Snow #1)
    by Rainbow Rowell
  37. Interview with the Vampire (The Vampire Chronicles #1) 🎧
    by Anne Rice
  38. Agents of Dreamland
    by Caitlin R. Kiernan
  39. Abaddon’s Gate (The Expanse #3)
    by James S.A. Corey
  40. Imago (Xenogenesis #3)
    by Octavia E. Butler
  41. Punktown (Punktown)
    by Jeffrey Thomas
  42. A Lush and Seething Hell
    by John Hornor Jacobs
  43. Perdido Street Station (New Crobuzon #1) …again 🎧
    by China Miéville
  44. Uncanny Collateral (Valkyrie Collections #1)
    by Brian McClellan
  45. United States of Japan
    by Peter Tieryas
  46. A Clash of Kings (A Song of Ice and Fire #2) …again 🎧
    by George R. R. Martin
  47. Grass (Arbai #1)
    by Sheri S. Tepper

🏆 Favorite Novel of 2019

A Lush and Seething Hell by John Hornor JacobsA Lush and Seething Hell
by John Hornor Jacobs

The Sea Dreams It Is The Sky was one of my favorite books last year, and when paired with its counterpart, My Heart Struck Sorrow, the two quickly merged to become my favorite book of the year. Connected via theme (and set in the same world), both novellas tell intense stories within stories unsettling accounts of humanity and history, obsession and turmoil. This is the new weird at its most exquisite. As unsettling throughout as it is enthralling. Phenomenal.


🏅 Favorite Novel Runners-up of 2019

Mapping the Interior by Stephen Graham JonesMapping the Interior
by Stephen Graham Jones

Jones is a modern master of horror and always approaches the genre in unique ways; Mapping the Interior is no exception. Told from 12-year old Junior’s perspective, the story is one part family-struggle and one part ghost-story all woven with a heartfelt earnestness that’s easy to believe and hard to shake. It’s a book about childhood, family, heritage, legacy, and the cost and ramifications of all four. The ending devastated me.

The Terror by Dan SimmonsThe Terror
by Dan Simmons

At first glance, this would appear to be a fictionalized account of Captain Sir John Franklin’s lost 1845 expedition to find the Northwest Passage. But there is more to this than historical account—much of this book delves into the psyche of survival while interspersing elements of the thriller and horror genres to weave an extraordinary and sometimes supernatural tale—Darkly disturbing, severely bleak, and utterly unforgettable.


🎈 Honorable Mentions of 2019

As I did last year, I wanted to highlight a few other books. These honorable mentions are books that resonated with me long after I had finished them, and they deserve a callout. In no particular order…

  • The Grand Dark by Richard Kadrey
    A diesel-punk reflection on the ramifications of war. Kadrey’s best work.
  • Abaddon’s Gate by James S. A. Corey
    The 3rd entry in the incredible Expanse series.
  • Tomorrow’s Shepherd by Michael Ripplinger
    Giant machines and power armor continue the battle for Verge.
  • Punktown by Jeffrey Thomas
    New weird sci-fi anthology about the citizens living in a city on the frontier.
  • It: A Novel by Stephen King
    Um, it’s It. And It is so very, very good. Except for that one weird scene.
  • The Civil War: A Narrative: Volume 1: Fort Sumter to Perryville by Shelby Foote
    Detailed history of military campaigns during the first third of the American Civil War.

📜 Short Stories

  1. Ours
    by Randy Ribay
  2. The Farm
    by Charlie Jane Anders
  3. A Catalog of Storms
    by Fran Wilde
  4. Bull Riding
    by Richard Kadrey
  5. 13 Ways of Destroying a Painting 🎧
    by Amber Sparks
  6. Hell is a Parade
    by Nathan Crowder
  7. Artificials Should Be Allowed to Worship
    by Steven James
  8. The Three Stigmata of Peter Thiel
    by Brendan C. Byrne
  9. Space Angel (Denim Superheroes)
    by Lee French
  10. Beta Reading (Horror)
    by REDACTED
  11. A Study in Emerald …again
    by Neil Gaiman
  12. Beneath Their Hooves
    by Katharine Duckett

🏆 Favorite Short Stories of 2019

The Farm by Charlie Jane AndersThe Farm
by Charlie Jane Anders

A short yet striking tale of a terrifying future that cuts too close to home. A reporter named Roy struggles to maintain his journalistic integrity while trying to keep advertisers happy. Anders is a great writer, and her tight prose works wonders here. The best short stories can alter how one views the world and as I watched the news cycle play out throughout the year, The Farm was never far from my mind.


🏅 Favorite Short Story Runners-up

Hell is a Parade by Nathan CrowderHell is a Parade
by Nathan Crowder

A violent little story of a parade that quickly shifts into a scene of horror as one young woman allows obsession to send her down a dark path. The descriptions are wonderful, the emotions hot and raw, and the parade personified as a living beast whose glamor corrupts as much as it enthralls. A wickedly subversive warning on the dangers and ramifications inherent within vengeance.

Artificial Should Be Allowed to Worship by Steven JamesArtificial Should Be Allowed to Worship
by Steven James

My favorite short stories dress modern struggles in fictional costume—Star Trek excelled at this—and this piece continues that tradition. Written as an op-ed, the piece pleads with the reader to understand and empathize with artificial individuals seeking a place to worship. The set dressing might be different, the plight fictional, but one can’t miss the echoes from the modern efforts towards equality.


💥 Graphic Novels

  1. Monstress Vol. 1
    by Marjorie Liu (Author), Sana Takeda (Artist)
  2. Saga Vol. 7
    by Brian K. Vaughan (Author), Fiona Staples (Artist)
  3. Paper Girls: Book One
    by Brian K. Vaughan (Author), Cliff Chiang (Cover Art, Artist), Matthew Wilson (Artist)
  4. The Promised Neverland, Vol. 1
    by Kaiu Shirai (Author), Posuka Demizu (Illustrator)
  5. Die, Vol 1: Fantasy Heartbreaker
    by Kieron Gillen (Author), Stephanie Hans (Artist)
  6. Blackbird Vol. 1
    by Sam Humphries (Author), Jen Bartel (Artist)
  7. Through the Woods
    by Emily Carroll (Author & Artist)
  8. Gideon Falls Vol. 1: The Black Barn
    by Jeff Lemire  (Author), Andrea Sorrentino (Artist), Dave Stewart (Artist)
  9. Gideon Falls Vol. 2: Original Sin
    by Jeff Lemire  (Author), Andrea Sorrentino (Artist), Dave Stewart (Artist)
  10. Uzumaki
    by Junji Ito (Author & Artist)
  11. Trees Vol 2.
    by Warren Ellis (Author), Jason Howard (Artist)
  12. Gideon Falls Vol. 3: Stations of the Cross
    by Jeff Lemire (Author), Andrea Sorrentino (Artist), Dave Stewart (Artist)
  13. Death or Glory Vol. 1: She’s Got You
    by Rick Remender (Author), Bengal (Artist)
  14. Skyward Vol. 1: My Low-G Life
    by Joe Henderson (Author), Lee Garbett (Artist), Antonio Fabela (Artist)

🏆 Favorite Graphic Novel of 2017:

Uzumaki by Junji ItoUzumaki
by Junji Ito

Kurôzu-cho is a coastal town haunted by uzumaki—spiral patterns that infest everything, distorting the village and its inhabitants. Everything starts simple enough, but as the chapters breeze past the effects of the uzumaki becomes more and more profound. With engaging characters and an incredible premise, this is quite easily one of the great horror comics ever written.


🏅 Favorite Graphic Novel Runners-up of 2017:

Gideon Falls by Jeff Lemire, Andrea Sorrentino, Dave StewartGideon Falls
by Jeff Lemire, Andrea Sorrentino, Dave Stewart

This nearly took the top spot from me, and for a good reason; it’s an amazingly told tale. A young man becomes obsessed with a conspiracy theory found in a city’s trash, and elsewhere a priest becomes entwined in the rural legend of The Black Barn—a strange building that appears at random throughout history, leaving death in its wake. And then things get really weird…

Through the Woods by Emily CarrollThrough the Woods
by Emily Carroll

This creepy anthology horror collection was one of my favorites. It’s not “scary” in the traditional sense we Westerners expect; instead, there’s a folklorish creepiness to the tales therein. More Poe than Barker. Plus, the visuals that accompanied those spooky accounts only enhanced each tale. I read it cover to cover on a foggy October morning, and it remains a memorable and unforgettable read.


So, there is my list! A lot of reading in a variety of places I didn’t make time for last year. It was good to get back into comics and to start reading short stories. I’m considering adding a poetry section next year as well, but we’ll see. If anything suffered from this, it was my television and game systems, they’ve been lonely, but I’ve felt a lot more fulfilled with the fiction I’ve devoured. Fiction is the perfect way to step into the shoes of someone else and discover new points of view. So thanks, 2019—it’s been a fantastic year in reading. Here’s to more in 2020!

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 of old.

 2013 • 2014 • 2015 • 2016 • 2017 • 2018 •

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 2020.


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 →

Merry Christmas

Merry Christmas

I’m spending the day with family, but I wanted to make a quick post wishing all of my readers a heartfelt Merry Christmas! This year wildly exceeded my expectations, and that’s primarily due to all of you. So, thanks for buying and reading my books. Thanks for telling your friends, and thank you for leaving reviews. Thanks for showing so much excitement over my little brush-set project and for sticking around throughout the year. All of that means a lot to me.

I have come to greet you

What does this weird card have to do with Christmas or the holiday season in general? Your guess is as good as mine. But we still mimic other odd Victorian customs and don’t bat an eye, so this holiday season, let’s all take a moment and appreciate this strange goat emerging from the forest to greet a child. It just fills one with holiday cheer. I think? And, hey, at least I didn’t pick murder frogs. (Yes, there are two links there.)

The Victorians were a strange breed of people.

I blame sexual repression.

Merry Christmas, everyone.

2019 in Ten Significant Photos

2019 in Ten Significant Photos

Every December, it has become a tradition to assemble a post wherein I share ten photos from the year that represent the most significant moments of my past 365-ish days. I look forward to this every year. This annual ritual forces thought and introspection in a way algorithm-driven apps like Top Nine avoid. (I ranted about this a bit at length, last year.) It leaves me to ponder how I lived my year. What mattered the most? What experiences drove me? What did I find meaningful? What shaped me as a person, a partner, a creator? What made me or my world around me better?

The rules are simple but firm, pick ten photos from your past year that are the most significant to you: positive or negative—significance can be found in either. But it can’t be more, can’t be less. Some moments will have to fall by the wayside—and that’s intentional—culling is essential. It’ll help create a more realistic picture of your year. Some years will be harder than others and you’ll need to discover significance in the smaller quieter moments. The ten are irascible and relentless.

So, enough talk! Let’s take a look at my 2019 distilled into ten significant photos.


Lime Kiln Trail - 2019New year, old trails. Kari-Lise and I always like starting the year off right by escaping the city and heading into the mountains for a hike. (In this case, the Lime Kiln Trail and easy little seven-miler in the Cascades.) This year was no different. We had big plans to hike more throughout the year, but life got in the way. Still, it’s always refreshing to start a year in nature, and 2019 was no different.


Amsterdam - 2019
In mid-January, we took a trip with our ex-pat pals Kelcey Rushing and Jimmy Rushing to the beautiful (and infamous) city of Amsterdam. It was terrific. Great place. Wonderful sights. Amazing people. Delicious food. We were there nearly a week, it was packed, and I felt like we had barely scraped the surface. There was so much we didn’t see and so much more we could have done—I absolutely want to go back. If you’re interested in more details, read my Amsterdam Trip Report here.


ECCC - 2019
Emerald City Comicon happened, and once again they somehow let me returned as a pro. My buddy Steve Toutonghi and I attended together, and it was a really eye-opening in a lot of ways. As much fun as fan conventions are, I’m much more interested in talking shop, attending readings, and sitting in on discussions about story-craft. That said, it was enjoyable, and there are worse ways one can spend a weekend. Plus, I managed to see some good friends, and Steve and I sat in on some great panels. You can read about my experience in this debriefing.


Finished Manuscript - 2019Roaders celebrate! I finished another manuscript! (Two years in a row!) Gleam Upon the Waves has been a bit of a fight, but I am thrilled with how it turned out. I got some great feedback from my first round of beta readers, and I’ve been neck-deep in revisions since. It’s so close. I can hardly contain myself; I want to share it with everyone! Gleam’s a little different, but it’ll be worth the wait. I promise.


The Vision of Graces - 2019
Early in the summer, Kari-Lise and her friends Laurie Lee Brom and Syd Bee had a three-person show at Roq La Rue Gallery entitled The Vision of Graces. All three artists brought fantastic work, the show sold out, and the turnout was stellar. After moving to Seattle in 2008, I’ve attended hundreds of art openings across the city (and around the world), and this was easily one of the best.


13 Fantasy Map Brush Sets - 2019
I completed a project! A quite large mapping project. One that is really hard to capture in a single image. This year I began to release completely free brush sets for Photoshop that would empower indie authors (and anyone else) to create high-quality fantasy maps for their projects. The goal was to release a free brush set a month, and thanks to some overeagerness in February, I ended with thirteen free brush sets for the year. The response was overwhelming. I couldn’t be more humbled by the reaction, and I’m glad everyone has been so receptive. You can download the brushes from my Free Stuff page.


Two new nieces - 2019I leveled up as an uncle and now can dual-wield nieces! Up until this year, I was only proficient in nephews. Liesel Lynn (Left) was born in August to my brother Anthony and his wife, Aischa. Blakely Michelle (Right) was born in October to my sister Meghan and her husband, Tyler. Aren’t they adorable? I’ll be meeting both for the first time at Christmas, and I cannot wait. And, as a bonus, I have a THIRD niece due next year. Nieces! Nieces EVERYWHERE.


Art Happened - 2019
So. Much. Art. Beyond Kari-Lise’s show we attended two amazing exhibitions with our pal Kai Carpenter at the Seattle Art Museum, we hit up the Seattle Art Fair, and took in many many many art walks. Stand out openings include an incredible show from Rick Araluce and a recent one from one of my favorite artists working today, Peter Fugerson.


Haleakalā National Park, Maui, Hawaii - 2019For Thanksgiving, we went to Hawai’i with Kari-Lise’s family hanging out on O’ahu for a few days and then spending nearly a week on Maui. I’d never been to the Hawai’ian Islands until this year, and I’m generally not a tropical-destination traveler, but the trip was memorable. Even after nine-ish days, I came away feeling like I have unfinished business with Hawai’i. But more on that later—I’m in the process of putting together a more detailed trip report.


The Kari-Lise Klassic - Burke-Gilman Invitational Marathon - 2019On December 14th, Kari-Lise ran her first marathon. This spring, she started running again, and this summer, she decided she would train for a marathon as her eventual goal. We were traveling during the Seattle Marathon, so to complete her goal, she decided to host her own with me running ahead, setting up aid stations along the entire 26.2-mile course. Friends came out and cheered her on, I made her a teeshirt, a few ran with her some part of the way, and one all of the way. She crushed the run, and I couldn’t be more proud.


In Conclusion

Since changing the title last year from “awesome” to “significant,” I find myself taking more time with this list. Much of the labor from 2018 blossomed in 2019. Where last year felt sparse, this year, I found myself culling more than I expected. There were lectures and readings I attended with my friend Steve Leroux. Time in the backyard with Kari-Lise around our fire pit. I got really into smoking meat and making stock—cooking in general, really. Our friends Roxy and Redd deciding to leave Seattle and travel indefinitely (Follow them here.) Then there was the excitement of Moth & Myth, which I’ve barely mentioned here. The Sounders winning another MLS Cup. Birthdays and anniversaries and snowstorms. It was one hell of a year and if I wanted I could have tripled this list. But the rules are the rules, and distilling the year into ten is the requirement—no more, no less.

So, how about you? What did you experience in 2019? What are your ten? Assemble them and leave a comment with a link! Let us all know about the significant events in your year.


Want to revisit photos of past years? Click on any of the links below and check out my pictures from that specific year. I find it fascinating to watch subtle changes year over year.

2014 • 2015 • 2016 • 2017 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 →

I’m Going to ECCC (Again)

I’m Going to ECCC (Again!)

In less than a month I’ll be attending Emerald City Comic Con for my second year in a row! (Read my Debrief for 2018 here.) Just like last year ECCC ’19 will be more of a work-focused convention. I won’t be running a table or appearing in any panels—the plan is to spend most of my time networking and catching up with some friends and fellow writers.

That doesn’t mean I’ll be a curmudgeon hermiting away in some dark corner. I’ll be sitting in on panels, wandering the show floor, and generally enjoying myself. If you see me—I look like this—please say “hi!” I love to meet up with readers, and it’d be great to chat with you. Don’t be afraid to stop me. As I said last year, I’m as much a fan as I am a writer and I love talking with readers and fellow fans.

I really enjoyed myself last time, and I’m looking forward to diving into the masses once again. If you’re in town and are interested in attending ECCC runs March 14th–17th at the Washington State Convention Center here in Seattle. You can find out waaaay more info over on the official site. As of this post, there are still tickets available for Thursday, Friday, and Sunday. But they’ll go fast, so don’t wait.

Should be a good time. I hope to see you there!