My Reading List for 2020

My Reading List for 2020

It’s no secret 2020 has been a challenging year. While upon reflection, I found it to be surprisingly full, like many of us, I still spent the majority of my time at home. One benefit of our new socially-distant stay-at-home culture was the amount of reading I managed to accomplish. Just like previous years, I’ve compiled a list of the books I’ve read over the last three hundred and sixty-six days, and as always, I want to share them with everyone.

This year was hit-or-miss for me reading-wise. There were books I loved and many books I ended up loathing. I found books I know I will re-read and proselytize, but they were often mirrored by other books I hate-read. I also found myself reading a few histories for pleasure, not something I normally do, and I dipped into science fiction much more than in previous years. Audiobooks (🎧) used to be the mainstay of my daily commute, and this year they became the soundtrack to housework. Not a bad tradeoff. Oh, and as always, I beta-read a couple of great books, and I’m excited to see where those go in the future.

This list correlates with my Goodreads 2020 Reading Challenge, but it always includes a few extra since Goodreads doesn’t let me count beta reading, and I don’t list comics or short stories or poetry (new this year!) over there. Remember, this 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 my favorites in each category. However, I’d invite you to follow me on Goodreads, where I occasionally leave other reviews.

New for this year: with a few exceptions, most links now go to IndieBound instead of Amazon—2020 has been rough on small businesses, and now more than ever, be sure to support your local bookstore. When possible, I am now linking to each author’s personal 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. Trail of Lightning (The Sixth World #1)
    by Rebecca Roanhorse
  2. Gideon the Ninth (The Locked Tomb #1)
    by Tamsyn Muir
  3. City of Bones (The Mortal Instruments #1)
    by Cassandra Clare
  4. Prosper’s Demon
    by K.J. Parker
  5. The Crimson Campaign (The Powder Mage Trilogy #2) 🎧
    by Brian McClellan
  6. Jade War (Green Bone Saga #2)
    by Fonda Lee
  7. Artificial Condition (The Murderbot Diaries #2)
    by Martha Wells
  8. Say Nothing: A True Story of Murder and Memory in Northern Ireland 🎧
    by Patrick Radden Keefe
  9. The Field of Blood: Violence in Congress and the Road to Civil War 🎧
    by Joanne B. Freeman
  10. They Mostly Come Out at Night (Yarnsworld, #1) (Link goes to Amazon)
    by Benedict Patrick
  11. Frank on a Gun-Boat
    by Harry Castlemon
  12. A Head Full of Ghosts
    by Paul Tremblay
  13. On Basilisk Station (Honor Harrington, #1)
    by David Weber
  14. The Reign of the Kingfisher 🎧
    by T.J. Martinson
  15. RADIO
    by J. Rushing
  16. Neuromancer (Sprawl, #1)
    by William Gibson
  17. The Fireman 🎧
    by Joe Hill
  18. The Cipher
    by Kathe Koja
  19. The Mist
    by Stephen King
  20. Control Point (Shadow Ops #1)
    by Myke Cole
  21. Blood Standard (Isaiah Coleridge #1)
    by Laird Barron
  22. City of Miracles (The Divine Cities #3)
    by Robert Jackson Bennett
  23. The Iron Ship (The Gates of the World #1)
    by K.M. McKinley
  24. Vita Nostra (Metamorphosis Cycle #1) 🎧
    by Sergey & Marina Dyachenko
  25. Thieftaker (The Thieftaker Chronicles #1)
    by D. B. Jackson
  26. BETA READING (Literature)
    by REDACTED
  27. Circe
    by Madeline Miller
  28. Terrier (The Legend of Beka Cooper #1)
    by Tamora Pierce
  29. Red Storm Rising 🎧…. again.
    by Tom Clancy
  30. The Only Good Indians
    by Stephen Graham Jones
  31. Clutter: An Untidy History
    by Jennifer Howard
  32. The Half Killed
    by Quenby Olson
  33. The Toll
    by Cherie Priest
  34. Jurassic Park …again.
    by Michael Crichton
  35. Seveneves  🎧
    by Neil Stephenson
  36. Night of the Mannequins
    by Stephen Graham Jones
  37. In the Valley of the Sun
    by Andy Davidson
  38. Foundation (Foundation #1)
    by Issac Asimov
  39. Consider Phlebas (Culture #1) 🎧
    by Iain M. Banks
  40. BETA READING (Historical Horror)
    by REDACTED
  41. The Worm and His Kings
    by Hailey Piper
  42. Wake of Vultures
    by Lila Bowen
  43. Metro 2033 🎧
    by Dmitry Glukhovsky

🏆 Favorite Novel of 2020

In the Valley of the Sun

by Andy Davidson

This sun-baked vampire horror set in Texas unexpectedly became a new favorite. A surprisingly tense, character-focused narrative. Brutal. Anguished. Tormented. Bloody. Lyrical in ways that remind me of Cormac McCarthy without the weight. It’s not shy of confronting the cracked ugliness of humanity and finding the beauty between the fissures. Davidson is an incredible writer, and I immediately purchased his more recent novel after finishing In the Valley of the Sun. We need more horror like this.


🏅 Favorite Novel Runners-up of 2020

RADIO by J. Rushing

RADIO

by J. Rushing

A jazz-infused, opium-soaked, historical fantasy that explodes from the opening chapter and never relents until its final pages. A thoroughly fresh debut that’s unlike anything I’ve read before. Rushing brings his unique, well-researched world of 1920s Paris to life with a captivating voice. Don’t expect a saccharine overly-romantic version of Paris; this is a stained, broken, and bloody place—a welcome addition to modern fantasy literature. Jim’s a friend of mine, so be sure to read my interview with him.


City of Miracles

by Robert Jackson Bennett

In recent years, the Divine Cities have become one of my favorite urban fantasy series, mostly for its fresh approach to the genre, atypical characters, and serious exploration of themes oft-ignored within mainstream fantasy. With City of Miracles, Bennett wrapped up the trilogy with a heartbreaking yet thoroughly satisfying ending. This story is a bit tighter and more focused than the previous two while wrapping up various loose ends rather nicely. It’s rare to find a final book in a series that resonates with me as much as City of Miracles did—it’s easily my favorite book in the trilogy.


🎈 Honorable Mentions of 2020

I started doing Honorable Mentions in 2018 so I could highlight some of the other standout novels from my year of reading. Below you’ll find many more excellent books, I’ve listed them in order of reading.


📜 Short Stories

  1. An Inhabitant of Carcosa …again.
    by Ambrose Bierce
  2. And Now His Lordship is Laughing
    by Shiv Ramdas
  3. How the Trick is Done
    by A.C. Wise
  4. The Yellow Sign …again.
    by Robert W. Chambers
  5. Ten Excerpts from an Annotated Bibliography on the
    Cannibal Women of Ratnabar Island

    by Nibedita Sen
  6. Give the Family My Love
    by A. T. Greenblatt
  7. The Dead, In Their Uncontrollable Power
    by Karen Osborne
  8. The Masque of the Red Death …again.
    by Edgar Allen Poe
  9. The Repairer of Reputations …again.
    by Robert W. Chambers
  10. Paper Menagerie
    by Ken Liu
  11. Seasons of Glass and Iron
    by Amal El-Mohtar
  12. Tideline
    by Elizabeth Bear

🏆 Favorite Short Stories of 2020

The Dead, In Their Uncontrollable Power

by Karen Osborne

Generation ship! Class struggle! Religious ritual! Rebellion! Murder! Control! The complexity told within this genre-mashup was astounding. Such a rich world crafted in a way that feels effortless while maintaining a rich narrative was impressive. It’s no secret I’m drawn to stories that are hard to pigeon-hole into a specific genre, and that is fully represented here. Well worth a read.


🏅 Favorite Short Story Runners-up

Paper Menagerie

by Ken Liu

This heartbreaking story about magical origami, cultural identity, and family was the first piece of fiction to win a Hugo, a Nebula, and a World Fantasy Award. And after reading it, it was easy to see why. Touching and reflective. A masterwork of speculative short fiction.


💥 Graphic Novels

  1. Preacher: Book One
    by Garth Ennis (Author) & Steve Dillon (Artist)
  2. Saga, Vol. 8
    by Brian K. Vaughan (Author) & Fiona Staples (Artist)
  3. Preacher: Book Two
    by Garth Ennis (Author) & Steve Dillon (Artist)
  4. Once & Future, Vol. 1
    by Kieron Gillen (Author), Tamra Bonvillain (Artist), & Dan Mora (Artist)
  5. American Vampire, Vol. 2
    by Scott Snyder (Author) & Rafael Albuquerque (Artist)
  6. Paper Girls, Vol. 2
    by Brian K. Vaughan (Author), Cliff Chiang (Artist)
  7. Preacher: Book Three
    by Garth Ennis (Author) & Steve Dillon (Artist)
  8. Die, Vol. 2
    by Kieron Gillen (Author) & Stephanie Hans (Artist)

🏆 Favorite Graphic Novel of 2020:

Preacher: Book One

by Garth Ennis (Author) & Steve Dillon (Artist)

I didn’t expect to like Preacher. I bounced off the series hard when I was younger, writing off Ennis as a “blasphemous shock jock” and nothing more. But revisiting it as a middle-aged adult revealed a different sort of comic. The offensive transgressive material is still there, but beneath it is something much more—a book with more heart and humanity than one would be able to judge by its surface and laced with merciless satire that still rings relevant twenty-five years later.


🏅 Favorite Graphic Novel Runner-up of 2020:

Paper Girls, Volume 2

by Brian K. Vaughan (Author), Cliff Chiang (Artist)

Volume 1 nearly made my runner-up list last year. On the surface, it’s a time-jumping story about a group of friends caught in the middle of a future war. But beneath those sci-fi trappings, there is so much more here. It’s a book about being a kid and the expectations therein, complications with friendship, and the complexities of growing up. The characters are fantastic, and the story moves along at a clip, making it impossible to put the trade down. I’m ready for volume 3.


🎭 Poems

So this year, I’m including some of the poems I read in 2020. I hinted at doing this last year. But this is really a trial run. In reality, I read more poems than listed below, but I didn’t do an outstanding job keeping track of them. Because this is the first time for poetry on this list, I’m going to skip picking a favorite. Hopefully, I’ll be back on track next year.

  1. Small Kindnesses
    by Danusha Laméris
  2. The Peace of Wild Things
    by Wendel Berry
  3. Beneath the Sweater and the Skin
    by Jeannette Encinias
  4. The Woods
    by Melanie Batista
  5. I Confess
    by Alison Luterman
  6. The Waste Land …again.
    by T. S. Eliot
  7. Near a Raven
    by Mike Keith
  8. Insha’Allah
    by Danusha Laméris
  9. We Lived Happily During the War …again.
    by Ilya Kaminsky
  10. Christmas Greetings to Felis …again
    by H. P. Lovecraft …again.
  11. Passing Solstice
    by Ken Hada
  12. Winter Solstice
    by Hilda Morley
  13. Childhood Memory from the Old Victorian House on Warner
    by Beth Cato
  14. Raw With Love
    by Charles Bukowski

So that’s my reading list for 2020. It’s been an interesting year in reading for me. As promised, we now have a poetry section, and I hope to expand that in the future. There are some great poems there, so be sure to explore them further. Despite my ups and downs, I’m overall quite happy with the books, stories, graphic novels, and poetry I read over the last twelve months. They were excellent distractions from the chaos of the year, and it was refreshing to lose myself in other worlds. 2020 will be behind us soon, and I am looking forward to the worlds I’ll discover in 2021.

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 old.

 2013 • 2014 • 2015 • 2016 • 2017 • 20182019

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 2021.


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 →

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 2019:

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 2019:

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 →

The Bell Forging Cycle

Buy My Books, Leave Reviews, and Tell Your Friends

I’m nearing the end of draft zero for Gleam Upon the Waves, (note the significant update to the tracker in the sidebar) and as a result, I’ve been thinking a lot about the Bell Forging Cycle as a whole. I’m immensely proud of the series so far, and I think you’ll be surprised where it’s about to go.

I don’t do nearly enough self-promotion these days—mainly because I find self-promotion boring and I like to keep the stuff I post here as interesting as possible. But occasionally I feel it’s important for me to remind everyone that I write rad books and you can buy them pretty much anywhere. It would be swell if you did. It supports me, my work, and the series.

To make it as easy as possible I’ve included direct links to purchase below.


Book I: The Stars Were Right

The Stars Were RightPaperbacks: Amazon • Barnes & Noble • Powell’s • BAM! • Direct
eBooks: Kindle • Kobo • Nook • iBooks • Google Play • Direct
📖 Click here to read the first chapter!

Book II: Old Broken Road

Old Broken RoadPaperbacks: Amazon • Barnes & Noble • Powell’s • BAM! • Direct
eBooks: Kindle • Kobo • Nook • iBooks • Google Play • Direct
📖 Click here to read the first chapter!

Book III: Red Litten World

Red Litten WorldPaperbacks: Amazon • Barnes & Noble • Powell’s • BAM! •  Direct
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📖 Click here to read the first chapter!

If you’ve bought and read my books, please take five minutes and drop me a review on Amazon or Goodreads—positive or critical. Reviews help me out a lot, and they help out your fellow weird-fiction readers as well. It’s one of the most beneficial things you can do to aid a writer, novel, or series you appreciate.

Be sure to spread the word by telling your friends about my books as well. (Heck, send ’em a link to this post.) Post about them on social media. Share links on Reddit. Talk about them on your blog. Word of mouth is the best way to assure the success of the stuff you love. That goes for me and my work as well as anything else you appreciate.

If you have already read, reviewed, and spread the message of my series: thanks! You’re helping make these books possible and you’re the reason I’m able to write the next book in the series. I’m excited to wrap up Gleam and get it in your hands as soon as I can, it’ll be worth the wait.


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 2018

My Reading List for 2018

2018 draws to a close, and I can’t really say I’ll miss it. However one of the best highlights from the last year was reading so many amazing books. Every year I compiled a list of the novels I’ve read over the last 365 days. Everything I this list was pleasure reading, I tend to skip listing research books.


“If you don’t have the time to read, you don’t have the time or the tools to write.”
—Stephen King

This list correlates with my Goodreads reading challenge but is always a few books longer since I can’t list the books I beta read on Goodreads. Overall, I’m pleased with myself this year. I surpassed my goal (thirty-five) and ended up reading the most books in a single year I’ve ever read.

Since this list is always enormous, l forgo reviews. However, follow me on Goodreads where I do occasionally leave reviews. 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.

Okay, to the list!


📚 Novels

  1. Last First Snow (Craft Sequence #4)
    by Max Gladstone
  2. Those Across the River
    by Christopher Buehlman
  3. Six of Crows (Six of Crows #1) 🎧
    by Leigh Bardugo
  4. Caliban’s War (The Expanse #2)
    by James S.A. Corey
  5. Railsea …again
    by China Miéville
  6. Foreign Devils (The Incorruptibles #2)
    by John Hornor Jacobs
  7. Outlander (Outlander #1) 🎧
    by Diana Gabaldon
  8. Beta Reading
    by REDACTED
  9. The Etched City
    by K.J. Bishop
  10. The Force: A Novel 🎧
    by Don Winslow
  11. Mr. Penumbra’s 24-Hour Bookstore
    by Robin Sloan
  12. Xenos (Eisenhorn #1)
    by Dan Abbet
  13. Lexicon
    by Max Barry
  14. Red Seas Under Red Skies (Gentleman Bastard #2) 🎧
    by Scott Lynch
  15. Poor Man’s Fight (Poor Man’s Fight #1)
    by Elliott Kay
  16. Side Life
    by Steve Toutonghi
  17. Heart of Darkness
    by Joseph Conrad
  18. Rencor: Life in Grudge City
    by Matt Wallace
  19. Scourge of the Betrayer (Bloodsounder’s Arc #1)
    by Jeff Salyards
  20. The Stone Boatmen
    by Sarah Tolmie
  21. The Ballad of Black Tom
    by Victor LaValle
  22. Oathbringer (The Stormlight Archives #3) 🎧
    by Brandon Sanderson
  23. All the Birds in the Sky (All the Birds in the Sky #1)
    by Charlie Jane Anders
  24. Sip
    by Brian Allen Carr
  25. Vurt (Vurt #1) 🎧
    by Jeff Noon
  26. The Hike: A Novel 🎧
    by Drew Magary
  27. Fates and Furies
    by Lauren Groff
  28. The Twilight Pariah
    by Jeffrey Ford
  29. City of Stairs (The Divine Cities #1)
    by Robert Jackson Bennett
  30. Random Acts of Senseless Violence (Dryco)
    by Jack Womack
  31. Borne: A Novel 🎧
    by Jeff VanderMeer
  32. Blackfish City
    by Sam J. Miller
  33. A Song for Quiet (Persons Non Grata #2)
    by Cassandra Khaw
  34. Lost Gods: A Novel
    by Brom
  35. Hyperion (Hyperion Cantos #1) …again 🎧
    by Dan Simmons
  36. Between the Shadow and Lo
    by Lauren Sapala
  37. The Haunting of Hill House
    by Shirley Jackson
  38. Titus Groan (Gormenghast #1) 🎧
    by Mervyn Peake
  39. The Eye of the World (The Wheel of Time #1)
    by Robert Jordan
  40. The Sea Dreams It Is the Sky
    by John Hornor Jacobs
  41. Adulthood Rites (Xenogenesis, #2)
    by Octavia E. Butler
  42. Artemis 🎧
    by Andy Weir
  43. Senlin Ascends
    by Josiah Bancroft

🏆 Favorite Novel of 2018:

Vurt by Jeff NoonVurt
by Jeff Noon

A wild trip of a ride. A cyber-punkish exploration of addiction and depravity, but told through the technicolored language of beauty and desire. I was stunned. I couldn’t put it down and months later I still find myself hankering for a jam fix and dreaming of feathers.


🏅 Favorite Novel Runners-up of 2018:


A Note: This was so hard. I mean seriously, picking two runners-up was nearly impossible this year. I read that many good books. That said, while Vurt eventually won out there were two others in serious contention.


The Sea Dreams It Is the Sky: A Novella of Cosmic Horror by John Hornor Jacobs The Sea Dreams It Is the Sky
by John Hornor Jacobs

A masterpiece of modern cosmic horror that grounds itself in humanity. The setting and characters are captivating and unique to the genre. The result is a surprisingly deep novella that recasts cosmic horror’s themes with raw originality. I was enthralled.

Side Life by Steve ToutonghiSide Life
by Steve Toutonghi

Any attempt to encapsulate Side Life in a small review will ultimately do it an injustice. It is a book of facets, and each reflects a theme as varied as the realities explored within its pages. A study on love, loss, and family, an introspection on humanity, reality, and self-identity. Utterly tragic and yet ultimately hopeful.


🎈 Honorable Mentions

This year was different than previous years so I have a few other Honorable Mentions. These are books that resonated with me long after I had finished them and they deserve a little callout. In no particular order…

  • The Ballad of Black Tom by Victor LaValle
    A modern retelling of The Horror at Redhook.
  • Lexicon by Max Berry
    Language as powerful mind-twisting magic.
  • Sip by Brian Allen Carr
    A post-apocalyptic tale where people drink and become addicted to shadow.
  • The Force by Don Winslow
    A dirty cop tries to navigate his web of lies while protecting his city.
  • Lost Gods by Brom
    A lost soul discovers that purgatory is a dangerous place to live.
  • Between the Shadow and Lo by Lauren Sapala
    A young alcoholic struggles to find hope in the rainy streets of Seattle.
  • City of Stairs by Robert Jackson Bennett
    A spy struggles to solve a murder in a city where dead gods once reigned.

💥 Graphic Novels:

Normally I list the graphic novels I’ve read over the year here.

But… uh, I didn’t read too many graphic novels.

In fact, I read only a handful.

I finished the latest in Matt Nelson’s Catbeard series (Book Five is out! Go buy it, I wrote the forward) and completed my reading in Lars Brown’s Penultimate Quest. (Go buy that as well.) So you get a few recommendations here but no real list. Sorry, perhaps next year?


So, that’s my list! Overall, I’m content with my reading for the year. It’s been a blast to lose myself in so many imaginative worlds and discover new and fresh perspectives on life and humanity. Books are a gateway and one I am eager to step through—so thanks, 2018. Here’s to more books in 2019!

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 • 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 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 →

2018 in Ten Significant Photos

In our ever increasing world of social media, we all share a lot. But how often do we take a moment to look back? If you’re an Instagram user, then I am sure you’ve seen people share their “top nine.” If you haven’t seen these, here’s how they work: the Top Nine app goes through your feed and selects your “top” photos based on the numbers of likes and builds a grid-collage with those photos. It’s always bothered me. A “like” is worthless. It holds no value. It’s applied to photos of new babies and on pics of brunch with equal abandon. Using this as a metric, Top Nine ignores the most meaningful events one’s life in exchange for the false reality of pseudo-engagement.

This ritual is different. By personally selected the ten significant photos that matter the most to ourselves we are forced to reflect—that reflection requires thought and contemplation. We’re forced to choose what mattered and by doing so, we select moments of meaning over moments of popularity.

The rules are simple, pick ten photos from your year that are the most significant to you: positive or negative. Some moments will fall by the wayside, that’s intentional. Culling is important. Focus on what is essential. I’ve been doing this publically for five years now and I look forward to it every year. It puts things into perspective.

Enough talk! Let’s take a look at my 2018 distilled into ten significant photos.


The beginning of 2018 marked a small achievement for us. Kari-Lise and I have lived in Seattle for a decade—I think that makes us locals. I’ve never regretted moving. Much of my year was spent in my city—and I often found myself reflecting on its current challenges and how despite ups and downs living here has changed my life for the better. This town has captured my heart in a way no other place has, and it’s truly become home.


I didn’t attend too many conventions this year. But I did manage to join my friend and fellow writer Steve Toutonghi and attend ECCC 2018 here in Seattle. Overall, it was a great experience to come together with so many and celebrate the stuff we love, be sure to read my con debriefing where I go into more details.


One nice thing about living in the PNW is how easy it can be to escape from the constant rush of urban life. I’d even say it’s a critical part of living here. Mid-spring Kari-Lise and I joined some friends and headed out to the Washington peninsula—we traversed some of our favorite locations in Olympic National Park, Cape Flattery, and along the Strait of Juan De Fuca Highway. I love it out there.


I read a lot this year—Goodreads tells me I’m over 14k pages (and there’s more piling on even as this post goes live.) As usual, my full reading list along with my favorites will be coming after Christmas. It’s been a banner year for me and books, I read so many that I absolutely loved, so many in fact that it’s going to be nearly impossible to choose.


Last year, in my last photo, I talked about unexpected change—for us, it came in the form of our backyard garden plans being completely upended by a fallen tree. This year, we began to work on rebuilding. After a busy summer and fall, most of the structure is in place for something exciting. I can’t wait to see where we end up in a few years. I think it’s going to be something special. (That enormous beast in the foreground is Willamina, our English Lop.)


This summer, Kari-Lise and I celebrated fifteen years of marriage. I’m forever grateful for a partner like her who stands beside me and supports me, and I can’t imagine spending my life with anyone else. She’s an incredible person, and my days would be empty without her. We celebrated by heading up to Whidby Island and spent a long weekend hanging out and exploring. Read the trip report and see more photos here.


Toward the end of summer, Kari-Lise and I flew to New England to attend her brother’s wedding in New Hampshire. Afterward, we extended out Anniversary celebration and took a small road trip to Maine and Acadia National Park, Lovecraft Country (the area not the book,) and then Salem. It was my second visit to New England, and we saw much more of the country than we had before. It’s really a special place. Read the trip report and see more photos here.


Kari-Lise debuted a new project as part of the Lush Life 6 show during the resurrection of Roq La Rue Gallery here in Seattle. Venerate is an ongoing series focusing on modern women artists working today and the connections to pioneering women artists of the past. You can find out more on her site. It’s been exciting to watch her engage with these themes, and I cannot wait for you to see what’s going to happen in this series.


We traded in our two old cars in for one new car—partially to help reduce our carbon footprint but also because we really don’t need more than one car. It’s our first new vehicle in nearly fifteen years, so it’s been a shift. A week and a half after driving it home, the car was hit by a van while parked in a parking lot. So, for the last several weeks, it’s been getting repaired. Thankfully no one was hurt, and insurance covered everything. Still, that’s not exactly what you want to happen to your new car.


Well, I might as well announce this now. Kari-Lise and I are recruiting a crow army, and they work for peanuts. It started this summer with a family of four—two parents and a few fledglings. But it has grown, considerably. Now when we wake up in the morning there’s a whole murder waiting for us. Things are going exactly as planned. Consider yourself warned 2019. We’re coming.


In Conclusion

I changed the title of this series. I thought “significant” carried more weight than the often overused “awesome” and it hits closer to what this ritual attempts to capture. This is, after all, about reflection.

It was harder than I expected to find my ten photos. Usually, I have an abundance, but this year a lot of my experiences were closer to home. There were many circumstances where I kept my phone in my pocket and skipped photo documentation. Instead, I chose to live in the moment. Overall, I think that’s a step in a positive direction, and it’s something I want to keep encouraging in my life.

How about you? What did you experience in 2018? What are your ten?


Want to revisit photos of past years? Click on any of the links below and check out my photos from that specific year. It’s interesting to watch subtle changes year over year.

2014 • 2015 • 2016 2017


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 →

National Author’s Day 2018

National Author’s Day

Today is November 1st, which means it’s National Author’s Day! Hooray! No matter how successful the author, the act of writing can be a lonely gig, and this day (Established in 1949) is here to commemorate authors you love and help make their day just a little bit brighter. How can you do that? Here are a few easy ways:

  1. Buy their books. (I mean, it’s a given, but still.)
  2. Leave a review for their books on Goodreads, Amazon, your blog, or wherever.
  3. Tell your friends. Heck, buy a few books for your friends.
  4. Ask for your local library to stock your favorite author’s books.
  5. Talk about their books on social media.

Any or all of those simple things will go a long way to encourage the authors you love and make their day a bit better. If you want to spread the love on social media, consider using the hashtag #NationalAuthorsDay.

Have an author whose work you love? Share their work in the comments!