Page 2 of 167

Happy 2023

Good riddance to 2022. Hello, 2023! Thanks for sticking around and being a reader of my blog. I truly appreciate you and hope your year is an excellent one. May you find love and joy and peace, and all that sappy stuff. May you surpass your goals. May your year be bright and full of many excellent things. I have not-so-very-cosmic-horror-y poetry for you!

In the past, I’ve shared H. P. Lovecraft’s silly Christmas poems, and I’ve shared his creepy Christmas poem, and I’ve shared his creepy Halloween poem! But the grandpappy of cosmic horror also wrote a New Year’s Day poem for his pal Munroe to send to his brother-in-law Smith, which I’ve posted below. Enjoy!

Verses Designed to be Sent by a Friend of the Author
to His Brother-in-Law on New-Year’s Day

by H.P. Lovecraft

Respected Smith, to mark the fleeting time,
Munroe salutes you in fraternal rhyme.
An infant year again the old o’erthrows;
Another twelvemonth meets its certain close.
May all your troubles, with the parting year
Depart as well; as surely disappear;
And may the new, with all-pervading peace,
Delight your heart, and ev’ry joy increase.

Happy 2023, dear reader.

My Reading List for 2022

On the whole, I didn’t enjoy 2022, it had some wonderful moments, but overall it’s been a challenging year. One bright spot—as it always is—has been my reading. Still, it took me until this last week in December to surpass my goal of forty-two novels ending the year with a solid forty-four books read. That’s three and a half books a month, a decent number for a reader as slow as myself. I primarily focused on novels and a few novellas. Like last year, you won’t find many comics or short stories below, but I did read some, and they are listed out though I won’t be naming a favorite in either category.

As it does every year, this list correlates with my Goodreads 2022 Reading Challenge. Occasionally, you might find some slight differences between the two. (Not this year.) This list is all strictly reading for pleasure—I typically forgo listing any research/history books I’ve read for a project as I read those differently than I do fiction. This list is always enormous, so l skip reviews except for the standouts. However, I’d invite you to follow me on Goodreads, where I occasionally leave other reviews.

Most links will go to IndieBound—now more than ever, be sure to support your local bookstore. If possible, I am directly linking to each author’s website—if you’re on the list and I didn’t find your website, please let me know about it. (I won’t link to social media, sorry.)

📚 Novels & Novellas

  1. Nemesis Games (The Expanse #5)
    by James S. A. Corey
  2. The Bright Ages
    by Matthew Gabriele & David M. Perry
  3. Storm of Locust (The Sixth World #2)
    by Rebecca Roanhorse
  4. Crossroads
    by Laurel Hightower
  5. High-Rise
    by J. G. Ballard
  6. The Wicked Blade
    by Jason Vanhee
  7. Between Two Fires
    by Christopher Buehlman
  8. Piranesi
    by Susanna Clarke
  9. Rise of the Mages (Age of Ire #1)
    by Scott Drakeford
  10. The Power Broker: Robert Moses and the Fall of New York
    by Robert A. Caro
  11. The Final Girl Support Group
    by Grady Hendrix
  12. Quicksilver (The Baroque Cycle #1)
    by Neal Stephenson
  13. Shorefall (The Founders Trilogy #2)
    by Robert Jackson Bennett
  14. Rivers Of Power: How A Natural Force Raised Kingdoms, Destroyed Civilizations, And Shapes Our World
    by Lawrence C. Smith, PhD.
  15. Sphere
    by Michael Crichton
  16. Mexican Gothic
    by Silvia Moreno-Garcia
  17. The Forever Sea (Tales of the Forever Sea #1)
    by Joshua Phillip Johnson
  18. Bone White
    by Ronald Malfi
  19. Dead Silence
    by S.A. Barnes
  20. The Civil War, Vol. 2: Fredericksburg to Meridian
    by Shelby Foote
  21. The Shadow of the Torturer
    by Gene Wolfe
  22. Centennial: A Novel
    by James A. Michener
  23. Parable of the Sower (Earthseed #1)
    by Octavia Butler
  24. Three Moments of an Explosion
    by China Miéville
  25. Billy Summers
    by Stephen King
  26. The Hollow Places
    by T. Kingfisher
  27. Tigana …again
    by Guy Gavriel Kay
  28. The Thirteenth Hour (The Cruel Gods #1)
    by Trudie Skies
  29. The Devil Takes You Home
    by Gabino Iglesias
  30. Clown in a Cornfield
    by Adam Cesare
  31. Shōgun
    by James Clavell
  32. The Cooking Gene: A Journey Through African American Culinary History in the Old South
    by Michael W. Twitty
  33. Sandman Slim (Sandman Slim #1) …again
    by Richard Kadrey
  34. The Book of Koli (Rampart Trilogy #1)
    by M. R. Carey
  35. Frederick Douglass: Prophet of Freedom
    by David W. Blight
  36. The Hollow Kind
    by Andy Davidson
  37. Dracula …again… but sequentially
    by Bram Stoker
  38. The Water Dancer: A Novel
    by Ta-Nehisi Coates
  39. House of Hunger
    by Alexis Henderson
  40. Black Helicopters (Tinfoil Dossier #2)
    by Caitlin R. Kiernan
  41. West of Innsmouth: A Cthulhu Western
    by Hideyuki Kikuchi
  42. The Gone World
    by Tom Sweterlitsch
  43. Fairy Tale
    by Stephen King
  44. Razorblade Tears
    by S. A. Cosby

🏆 Favorite Novel of 2022

Between Two Fires

by Christopher Buehlman

A gripping historical horror set in France during the Black Plague that is as bleak as it is intense. Buehelman beautifully builds out the hellish world of 1348 Avignon and populates it with empathetic, if not fraught, characters while weaving their journey into a much larger and significantly more epic tale. Angels. Demons. Redemption. Sacrifice. War in heaven and on Earth. I was absorbed from its harrowing beginning to its spectacular ending. I wish I could erase my brain and read it again for the first time— Between Two Fires has become not only my favorite this year but one of my favorites of all time.

🏅 Favorite Novel Runners-up of 2022

The Hollow Kind

by Andy Davidson

A southern gothic-cum-cosmic horror story that oozes atmosphere and dread with the turn of every page. Brilliantly written, The Hollow Kind weaves two tales of different generations of the Redfern family. Tragedy subsumes the story as each struggle with inner demons and even darker family secrets on their thousand-acre turpentine estate deep in the Georgia pines. A phenomenal book and Davidson’s best work to date.

The Power Broker: Robert Moses and the Fall of New York

by Robert A. Caro

Arguably one of the most extraordinary biographic explorations into an individual’s life and his incredible impact on the modern city. Moses is a complicated figure. Caro conveys a sprawling saga of a driven man who would stop at nothing to see his vision accomplished, shedding everything along the way, from his friends, family, and values, on a relentless quest for power and control over the city of New York. Gripped me from the outset.

🎈 Honorable Mentions of 2022

It took a lot of internal debate to last on those three. Overall, 2022 was a good reading year for me, and a lot stood out. So out of all that list, here are a few more I think you owe it to yourself to check out:

  • Nemesis Games by James S. A. Corey
    I read one of these a year, and every year, I walk away thinking it’s the best epic sci-fi series I’ve read in a long, long time. This book was one of the best.
  • The Wicked Blade by Jason Vanhee
    Beautiful and melancholy Arthurian fantasy told from the perspective of an elderly Morgan le Fay.
  • Rise of the Mages by Scott Drakeford
    A violent action fantasy with solid world-building, loads of combat, and a unique magic system.
  • Crossroads by Laurel Hightower
    Heartbreaking horror showing how far a mother would go for her child.
  • Shorefall by Robert Jackson Bennett
    A phenomenal continuation of Bennett’s Founders Trilogy, it builds on the plot from the first book and expands into a whole new direction.
  • Billy Summers
    Stephen King writes an engaging crime thriller about an assassin who is also interested in becoming and novelist.
  • Piranesi by Susanna Clarke
    A strange and beautiful fever dream about an endless house and the man who lives within.
  • Dead Silence by S.A. Barnes
    Space star-cruise horror—gripping and intense. Working salvage has never been this terrifying.
  • Parable of the Sower by Octavia Butler
    A fantastic and bleak post-apocalyptic story that explores faith and the formation therein.
  • The Book of Koli by M. R. Carey
    A fascinating look into a post-apocalyptic society faced with ecological terrors.
  • The Gone World by Tom Sweterlitsch
    Deep-space-multiverse-time-travel-adventure following a Navy Inspector hunting down a killer across time and the multiverse.
  • Razorblade Tears
    A violent and often thriller about a pair of old criminals who team up to avenge their murdered sons.

💥 Graphic Novels & 📜 Short Stories

Both comics and short stories played less of a role in my reading this year. As for comics, I’ve started running out of space to store them and switched to reading more digitally, so I hope that changes. With short stories, I find them more unsatisfying these days. It’s more the format than any writing. I always want to spend a little more time with the characters and get to know their world. They all end too soon, and I always feel a little disappointed. Since I didn’t read enough short stories or graphic novels, it’d be unfair to pick top choices. That said, I did enjoy everything on this list.

  1. Preacher: Book Four
    by Garth Ennis (Author) & Steve Dillon (Artist)
  2. Gideon Falls, Vol. 4: The Pentoculus
    by Jeff Lemire (Author) & Andrea Sorrentino (Artist)
  3. 86 Volts: The Dead Girl
    by Bryan J. L. Glass (Author) & Michael Avon Oeming (Author, Artist)
  4. Paper Girls, Vol. 3
    by Brian K. Vaughan (Author), Cliff Chiang (Artist)
  5. a quarter of an inch
    by Bill Bradbury
  6. Mayday
    by Manu Zolezzi

🎭 Poems

Ah, poetry. How I want to read more of you. I subscribed to the Poetry Foundations’ daily Poem of the Day newsletter list this year, which helped. It’s an excellent and easily digestible way to get a bit of daily poetry in your life. I didn’t record every poem I read, but standouts usually made this list. My goal next year is to double this list—50 poems in 2023. Let’s see how I do next year.

  1. “New Year’s Day”
    by Kim Addonizio
  2. “What Just Came Out of My Head”
    by John Dev
  3. To _____________
    by W. S. Merwin
  4. “Fog”
    by Carl Sandburg
  5. “The Solitude of Night”
    by Li Bai
  6. “Drink Your Tea”
    by Thich Nhat Hanh
  7. “Ashglory”
    by Paul Celan
  8. “Oread”
    by H. D.
  9. “Selected Legends of Andre the Giant”
    by Todd Kaneko
  10. “Summer”
    by Chen Chen
  11. “I want to drown in the past and call it the best decision of my life”
    by Laura Marie Marciano
  12. “The Lyric In A Time of War”
    by Eloise Klein Healy
  13. “[I met a man a dying man]”
    by Diane Seuss
  14. “The Red Wheelbarrow”
    by William Carlos Williams
  15. “The morns are meeker than they were – (32)”
    by Emily Dickinson
  16. “How it Escaped Our Attention”
    by Heid E. Erdrich
  17. “The Witch”
    by Elizabeth Willis
  18. “Proust’s Madeleine”
    by Kenneth Rexroth
  19. “Line in the Wordcaves”
    by Paul Celan
  20. “A Divine Image”
    by William Blake
  21. “Ghost-ship”
    by Christine Garren
  22. “Ode I. 11”
    by Horace
  23. “[little tree]”
    by E. E. Cummings

So, that concludes the revisit of my year in the written word. Much more good than bad. Much more enjoyable than not. When it comes to reading, I look back at 2022 with fondness and can’t wait to see what I read in 2023. Here’s to next year. Here’s to more poetry. Here’s to more graphic novels and perhaps even more short stories. Time will tell, stranger things have happened, and there’s much more to read.

How about you? What were the standout books, graphic novels, short stories, or poems you read this year? I’d love to hear about it. Leave a comment and let me know!

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 days of yore.

 2013 • 2014 • 2015 • 2016 • 2017 •

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 2023.

Dead Drop: Missives from the desk of K. M. Alexander

Want 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 →

2022 in Ten Significant Photos

Strangely, this December has felt more harried than the usual holiday hustle and bustle. I can’t exactly put my finger on why. I usually get this post done before Christmas. But life, time, and schedules made assembling this post more difficult than it should have been. But here we are; it’s happening.

This is my annual post wherein I reflect on my last year through ten photos that marked significant places in my year. It’s a tradition here. A lot has happened; looking back, I saw a year with soaring highs and pretty tricky lows. It turns out we’re all figuring out how to reemerge from the pandemic, whether it affected us or not.

The rules. Pick ten photos from my past year that are the most significant to me: positive or negative—significance can be found in either. But it can’t be more; it can’t be less. Some moments will have to fall by the wayside—that’s intentional—culling is a part of this process. It helps create a more realistic and personal picture of the year. Some years will be more complicated than others, and sometimes you’ll need to discover significance in the smaller, quieter moments. This is the way.

Let’s get into it.

The Smith Tower (Left) – Kari-Lise and our friend Roxanna Walitzki (Center) – Kari-Lise with her parents and brother (Right)

We started the year off strong, celebrating Kari-Lise’s 40th birthday! We threw a big shindig for her by renting out a portion of the Smith Tower Observatory Bar in early January. Friends and family from far and wide came to participate. It was wonderful. The night was foggy, but the vibe was excellent, and after two follow-up after-parties that lasted well into the next morning, I think we all felt like we celebrated Kari-Lise properly.

Horace, the first day

We said goodbye to Horace. This little lovely buddy had been with us since 2013 (back when Instagram filters were a thing), when he wandered into our yard and our lives. We asked the neighbors and talked to various local vets and pet shops, but no one claimed him. So he stayed with us. Letting him go was hard. He was such a fastidious little fella, the opposite of Willa in many respects, more subdued and less gregarious but always friendly and eager to cuddle. We miss him every day.

The Ring of Brodgar on the Orkney Island of Mainland

We went back to Scotland! This trip had been intended to be my 40th birthday celebration, but the pandemic delayed things by about a year. Getting away was a welcome relief, and it was great to return to one of my favorite countries on earth. (Honestly, we’d love to move there.) We spent an extended time on Islay, bummed around Edinburgh, tasted over 43 varieties of single-malt scotch, took to the mountains, and explored the Orkney Islands. You can see and read much more about our experience in my Scotland 2022 Trip Report.

A very happy Victory Sage, photo by her mother, Aischa

The streak continues; since 2019 at least one new niece has arrived, and 2022 was no different. Not long after our trip to Scotland, my brother Anthony and his wife Aisha welcomed Victory Sage, their third little one, into the world and our lives. I can’t wait to meet her. (More on that later.) Victory is my sixth niece, and I know for a fact there’s another one coming next year. SO. MANY. NIECES.

What 500 miles will do to a pair of Adidas Terrex Free Hikers

I lost weight. Over 60 pounds now. Around January 3rd, I got tired of how much weight I had gained over the last few years and took control. I started counting my calories and walking, and I walked a lot. All over my neighborhood, hundreds of times, the results slowly but surely began to show. The last time I weighed what I do now was back in 2012, and in the next year, I plan on losing more. Feels good. I wrote about my weight loss journey back in June.

Mt. Rainier viewed from the top of Mailbox Peak

I somehow convinced Kari-Lise to hike Mailbox Peak for our 19th Anniversary. It was a stunning hike and a good challenge for a guy who had just lost a bunch of weight. Unfortunately, I slipped and nearly broke my ankle on the way down. The sprain was serious, something I didn’t realize since adrenaline had kicked in and I was still six miles from the trailhead. When I got home and took off my shoes, my ankle swelled three times in size and turned purple. The injury would stay with me for a while, and it took weeks before I was back walking like I was before—a rough way to spend the summer, don’t recommend it.

A hazy view from Stingeroo ridge

This year our good friends Steve and Sarah purchased a big parcel of land in Southern Washington overlooking the town of Longview and the Columbia River. They’ve dubbed it Stingeroo (a portmanteau of their surnames.) We’ve already been down there many times, and it’s a beautiful and relaxing getaway. Steve and I even did a hazy writing retreat down there this October (which is where this photo was taken), and it was the perfect place to reconnect with my writing. Expect to see more from Stingeroo in the future.

The Moment via the Seattle Mariners Instagram Account

Drought ended. This year, for the first time since the year 2000, the Mariners made it into the postseason ending the longest playoff drought in professional sport. I was thrilled. I didn’t become a Seahawks fan until I moved to Seattle, but I was a Mariners fan since I was a kid and followed the team from the Griffy era onward. It was exciting to see them finally make it this far, and I am thrilled for their future.

Hey, it’s me in the hospital

So yeah. This happened. At the end of October, I watched an old umbilical hernia I once had repaired as a kid return. It’s weird to see your belly button rise from your stomach in real-time and turn purple. The following pain was incredibly intense and debilitating, and Kari-Lise had to rush me to the emergency room. The doctors managed to push it back, relieving me of some pain, but they thought I needed surgery ASAP. It was a hectic two days. Abdominal surgery is no joke. It took a week and a half to feel normal-ish and several more weeks for full recovery, another injury derailing my weight loss momentum. I’m back at it, but it’s been a rough year injury-wise.

Ice encasing the branches of one of our Japanese maple trees

This was supposed to be the first year I celebrated Christmas with my family since the pandemic. I was excited. I’d meet my new niece, Victory, for the first time and see my siblings and all my other niblings again. Sadly the weather changed everything. Arctic air from the North Pole pushed down into the states, and freezing rain shut down first Seattle, the airport, and then the passes making travel to my folks impossible for the holidays. It was a bitter end to a challenging year for us, and while we managed to scrape together a celebration of our own, it was tinged with sadness.

So there are my ten significant photos representing some of the bright spots and some of the disappointments of the year. This year was a mixed year for us. Life and work felt harried and unceasing, and the moments of quiet never seemed sufficient.

There was still so much to my 2022 that this post didn’t cover—a cold trip to Victoria with friends to celebrate Steve’s birthday. Island escapes. Walks around the neighborhood with other friends. Writing retreats. Moth & Myths explorations into classes and then doing an incredible installation downtown. A Valentines Day dinner on the 50-yard line of Lumen Field. Returning to the office. Becoming a Godfather. A fantastic visit from my folks. A family trip to Port Angeles. Art openings! Spooky theater shows. Spending time with Kari-Lise’s brother and his family. Backyard BBQs. Baseball and soccer games. So much more, and as with every year, this list could be so much longer.

So, how about you? What did you experience in 2022? What are your ten photos? Assemble them and leave a comment with a link! Let us all know about the significant events in your year.

I’ve been doing this since 2014, and even in challenging years, I’ve found it beneficial. Interested in revisiting my photos of past years? Just click on any link below and check out my selection from that specific year.

2014 • 2015 • 2016 • 2017 
• 2018 • 201920202021

Want 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 ensure it’s not spammy and contains interesting and relevant information. Sign Up Today →

Old Haunts: Alleyway Holiday

📍 The Terraces
🌃 Level Four
🕢 Early-Evening

“I passed under more Auseil branches and banners, and street-level window displays peppered with the Zann hymns of jubilant holiday revelers. As I walked, the lamps mounted in the ceiling above began to dim. Dusk in Lovat.”

—Waldo Bell, Red Litten World


“Good King Wenceslas” by Godfrey Malcolm & Fredrico (1943)
Other audio and video from original, licensed, and public domain sources.

This is just one of many.

You never know what you’ll discover in the twisted streets, quiet alleys, and busy warrens of Lovat. Enjoy these “Old Haunts”, a series of vignettes and visions presented in Glorious Monochrome® by Waite™ Radio Pictures, Inc.

Want 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 ensure it’s not spammy and contains interesting and relevant information. Sign Up Today →

Raunch Review – Beast Wars: Transformers

Raunch Reviews is a series about profanity. Not real profanity, but speculative swearing. Authors often try to incorporate original, innovative forms of profanity into our own fantastical works as a way to expand the worlds we build. Sometimes we’re successful. Often we’re not. In this series, I examine the faux-profanity from various works of sci-fi and fantasy, judge their effectiveness, and rate them on an unscientific and purely subjective scale. This is Raunch Reviews. Welcome.

The Authors: Larry DiTillio & Bob Forward

Work in Question: Beast Wars: Transformers

The Profanity: “Slag”

This piece of faux-profanity is interesting, being both very much faux-profanity and very much a real slur—at least if you live in the United Kingdom. But we’re going to skip out on British slut-shaming today and, instead, focus on robots in disguise.

“Slag” is a catchall Transformers profanity first appearing in the original series episode, “Return of Optimus Prime, Part 2,” but later, its use was expanded extensively within the Transformers: Beast Wars sub-franchise, in particular the Beast Wars: Transformers animated series. (Funny enough, I put this together well before the title of the upcoming Transformer film series, Rise of the Beasts, was announced. Kismet, I suppose.)

Now, I realize this is not the only profanity within the Transformers universe, “frag,” “mudflap,” “actuator,” “diode,” and many more machine-specific terms are also used within the franchise and I wouldn’t but surprised if we revisit this universe in the future. That said, “slag” is undoubtedly the most dominant, used by both Maximals and the Predacons throughout the Beast Wars series and spreading broadly in the franchises and sub-franchises that followed. It’s used as an expletive on its own or inserted into phrases such as “what the slag!” “holy slag!” and the ever-popular “I’ll blow your slaggin’ heads off!”

A slaggin’ supercut for your viewing pleasure

It’s easy to see why the mineral by-product of smelting would carry a vulgar connotation on Cybertron. But it’s odd that “slag” becomes the general expletive, especially with other profane words existing and readily available. It fits well within the universe, keeping it interesting, but the overuse holds it back. What we have isn’t a traditional censor slip, but its use within the dialog as that of a one-note go-to replacer is disappointing. This, unfortunately, lessens its impact and turns what could have been a decent instance of faux profanity into more of a joke.

Final Score: 3.0

🤬 Previous Raunch Reviews

Have a suggestion for Raunch Reviews? It can be any made-up slang word from a book, television show, or movie. You can email me directly with your recommendation or leave a comment below. I’ll need to spend time with the property before I’ll feel confident reviewing it, so give me a little time. I have a lot of books to read.