On the Shelf: Books to Read in the New House

It finally happened–I missed a week of posting On the Shelf. But at least I had a good excuse! Exactly one week ago, we moved out of our camper and into our new house. There were some back and forths with the closing, which meant that we had to re-schedule our household goods dropoff (and then couldn’t get our original date back when the shenanigans were resolved). So, we’ve been camping out in the house using the mattresses and dishes from the RV, making the best of it.

We did manage to get internet and utilities set up, and I’ve been able to make long strides on catching up all the things I should have been doing the past month or so. I also called the mosquito and pest control people because this property had been vacant for a while, and some of the local creepy crawlies were getting just a little too comfortable for this entomophobic writer. In fact, as we speak, I have a stack of horror novels on the bookcase (and two on my desk), and the thing that’s icking me out is the cockroach doing the kickin’ chicken as it slowly succumbs not two feet away from my desk.

Yes. I could put it outside. No, I’m not touching it while its icky little cockroach feet are all waving in the air and stuff.

A little classic horror–and the proof of our next anthology!

Anyway, now that I’ve gotten that out of my system, what have I been reading or looking forward to reading? Let’s talk TBR piles. When we left California, I put a stack of paperbacks and my Kindle into the RV. I read about half the paperbacks and a bunch off my Kindle, and still managed to forget a whole bunch of the paperbacks (we were storing them under one of the bunks, and out of sight, out of mind. So I’ve got a number of titles waiting for me.

I read a bunch of pro reading the past few weeks and am currently meandering my way through a book on writing business plans, but this past week of reading consisted of books for pleasure crammed in between setting up promotions for Stories We Tell After Midnight 2, and making progress on Winter Run. Slow progress. Very slow. Anyway, here are some of the books I enjoyed the past few days. As always, if you’ve read one, let me know what you think. And if you have any book suggestions, drop me a line!

Zombie Cosmetologist Novellas 1 & 2 by JD Blackrose
This two-novella series (which I’ve just listed as the series page because do yourself a favor and just pick up both at once, it will save time when you get to the end of the first one and need to go on to the next) has as its premise that a former Union Soldier gets turned into a zombie after he dies as the Battle of Shiloh, and then decides that the way to make money in the modern world is to turn to the world of makeup artistry. And not just makeup–hair, nails, special FX, anything that a modern celebrity might need. But, since he IS a zombie, he ends up getting wrapped up in some clandestine shenanigans involving shady research, zombie Marine experiments, and a whole host of other hijinks. I enjoyed the novellas–they were funny and fast-paced, without neglecting character development or avoiding hard character choices. I’m looking forward to the next book club where we talk about the books. There was one tiny nitpick, and if you are not military affiliated, you likely won’t even notice. And that was, there were some inconsistencies with the military characters that now and then pulled me out of the story. Not super terrible, just be prepared to roll your eyes and keep going, because the stories are awesome and funny, and Waylon Jenkins is a hoot.

Trail of Lightning (The Sixth World #1) by Rebecca Roanhorse
I picked this book up because it was (still is of today) on sale on Kindle for $1.99, and it was set in an apocalypse where climate change had terraformed most of the world, and magic and Gods had started to reappear. The main character, Maggie Hoskie, is a Navajo woman who has been apprenticed to a demigod, and who is nicknamed Monsterslayer. The demigod is the sort of guy who goes around killing monsters and then telling Maggie that there’s too much darkness within her before disappearing in the middle of the night. So of course, when the book opens, she’s a giant mess. Plus, it’s the apocalypse. There are things I loved about this book–the characters, the setting, the urban fantasy outside of the normal modern city setting. It reminded me a little of sharing Tony Hillerman books back and forth with my roommate on my second deployment who was Diné. While I was reading, and immersed in the world of the book, I really enjoyed it. I think I even posted on FB how much I did. But when I went back and started thinking about it, I’m not sure if I’m invested in reading the next one. For me, the fact that she has so internalized the whole “evil has tainted me” line that it leads her to do what she does in the first chapter (trying to avoid spoilers)… something about the character was irretrievably lost in that moment, and even the end couldn’t resolve it in a satisfying way for me. But, YMMV, and I know a bunch of people who love this book, so put it on the qualified recommend list.

Reach! Finding Strength, Spirit and Personal Power by Laila Ali
I picked up this book on Kindle right around the time I picked up the memoir by Donivan Blair. Like that book, this one had the distinct voice of an author who is coming to writing after accomplishing a number of other things. Written when she was 24, this memoir takes us from Ali’s earliest memories of growing up the daughter of Muhammad Ali and Veronica Porche to her adolescence, fights with her family and authority, even time spent in trouble with the authorities, to her decision to open her own business and go to school, and then to step into the boxing ring. All along the way, she muses on what it was like to grow up with her father’s fame always there, to see her mother, after she divorced Muhammad Ali, get trapped in an abusive relationship, to go through a similar situation herself, and still keep striving to the goals she set for herself and accept nothing less. I’m a fan of boxing fiction, and enjoy watching women’s boxing and MMA (men’s too, but I’d rather watch the former), and so I found this to be a fun, fast read. I would have really liked to see more of what it was like in the ring, what was going through her head, etc., but as a whole, I’d pick this up and read it.

Anyway, it looks like Charlie (yes, I’ve named him) is still kicking, and my kids are getting suspiciously silent, so I’m going to hope that I don’t have a bunch of typos, post this, and get back to today’s super long to-do list. Enjoy!

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