Another Month Of Stories

mailboxes in a row.

Latest newsletter is out. It is thin on writing news but there are plenty of book chat. We have some romance, a speculative fiction read by TJ Benson, a short story collection, a western, and even a cosy mystery.

a skull with no lower jaw sits on top of a stack of antique books. A sliver pistole is in the foreground, and a cloak behind.

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Everything is Beautiful by Eleanor Ray

clay pots of various sizes crammed next to one another
Cover has a Tiffany-blue background with an envelope stuffed with flowers and bottles and other knick-knacks spilling forth.

~It really was too much. Amy’s colleagues were nice enough, in their way, but she’d spent all the working week with them. Surely on Friday evening she should be free to go home, take off her shoes and relax on her sofa. Alone.~

~Many of the bottles lounged empty on the floor, still waiting for a purpose.
A second chance.~

~Even broken, the shards had beauty.~

~She didn’t like post; it certainly wasn’t treasure.~

~Broken down and remade. Reborn. Just because they didn’t stay in their current form didn’t mean that they wouldn’t be happy.~

~We all have baggage…No one travels lightly any more.~

~Real life needed space to grow.~

The Spymaster of Baghdad: The Untold Story of the Elite Intelligence Cell that Turned the Tide against ISIS by Margaret Coker

A crumbling old style un-smart Nokia cell phone.
Red and black cover depicting a war zone with a sniper "scope" zeroed in on one unidentified person.

~The Falcons are absent from these annals, as they are from later newspaper reporting covering the period from 2011 to 2013, when Al Qaeda’s leaders regrouped under the helm of Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi into a new formidable force called the Islamic State in Iraq.~

~They know who you are, she said. This means you no longer can be who you were.~

~The fact that both the new Iraqi leaders and the American coalition authority had left Iraq’s holy sites vulnerable to attacks by Al Qaeda was an epic intelligence failure.~

~Few societies have experienced the raw anarchy that followed the American invasion of Iraq – when police forces disappeared, bureaucrats who oversaw the simplest of government functions had no offices or managers to report to, and Americans raised in small towns in Ohio and California attempted to create provincial budgets for a country they had never been to and where they didn’t speak the language.~

~Within the CIA, meanwhile, the bulk of the agency’s staff in the country weren’t there to tackle the network, which was rapidly becoming Al Qaeda’s most deadly branch office. Instead, they were hunting the nonexistent stockpiles of weapons of mass destruction to justify the rationale that sent America to war in the first place.~

~The two Iraqi leaders lived off the grid, never used phones or email for communication, and relied solely on couriers delivering handwritten letters. The Americans, who had been using their high-powered electronic surveillance infrastructure to vacuum up data from Iraq’s telecommunications networks, knew the two leaders had no digital footprint. For four years they had been trying in vain to find them.~

~So it was that after all her preparation and anticipation, Abrar found herself dressed from head to toe in a black polyester robe, in a full face veil, talking through a screen to the man who would decide whether or not to accept her into the ranks of the caliphate’s weapons research team.~


If I Tell You the Truth by Jasmin Kaur

Cover is two purple hands, one holding the other at the wrist. Instead of arms, there are butterflies spreading out.

~some stories
bury themselves so deep
within the flower bed of the mind
that the earth trembles. throbs.
when they are dug out.~

~babies begin to dream at twenty-six weeks
and i wondered what could cross her mind
before she had encountered this world~

~and i wondered how long
we must distract
and paint
and survive
until our sorrow would finally and forever
wash away.~

~you feel guilty because you think your art
is a burden. when another job will bring
more money. but i have lived long enough
to know that the greatest burden is an
unfulfilled heart.~

~this world is
too heavy

can i put it
down somewhere?~

~women like me
don’t end up on tv
like heroes.

we hide ourselves away
but we’re never out of reach~

~what would happen if shame no longer kept us in line?~

The Bees by Laline Paull

Cover is black with blue sketch of foliage with yellow hexagons scattered throughout.

~Worship to His Maleness!~

~The kindly recall that variation is not the same as deformity.~

~A flora may not make wax, for she is unclean; nor propolis, for she is clumsy; nor ever may she forage, for she has not taste; but only may she serve her hive by cleaning, and all may command her labors.~

~Only the Queen may breed.~

~From Death comes Life Eternal.~

~Accept, Obey, and Serve.~

~Filled with consecrated anger at every insult and humiliation, every wasted forage and sullied passageway, they avenged themselves on the wastrel favorites, the sacred sons who did nothing for their keep but grab and eat and show their sex to those who must only labor for them and never be loved.~

Seven and a Half Lessons About the Brain by Lisa Feldman Barrett

The cover is this frothy wave of blue, with organic like laced design, in a sea of orange and reds.

~The triune brain is one of the most successful and widespread errors in all of science.~

~Scholars usually discuss this issue in terms of nature versus nurture – which aspects of humanity are built into our genes before birth and which ones we learn from our culture. But this distinction is illusory.~

~Society is quick to blame genes when poverty endures across generations for a group of people. But it’s plausible that those little brains are being molded by poverty.~

~Your actions today become your brain’s predictions for tomorrow, and those predictions automatically drive your future actions. Therefore, you have some freedom to hone your predictions in a new directions, and you have some responsibility for the results. Not everyone has broad choices about what they can hone, but everyone has some choice.~

~If all individual humans had to figure out everything themselves without copying, our species would be extinct.~

Fragile Monsters by Catherine Menon

Two nearly identical girls with black bobs stand back to back. It is an illustrated cover, and the one girls dress is yellow with black starburts and sash, the other white.

~They’re not a lost generation, because lost implies finding, lost implies the possibility of a happy ending. The left-behinds, on the other hand, have been completely erased.~

~Stories twist through the past like hair in a plait. Each strand different, weaving its own pattern and ducking out of sight just when you’re following it. Like category theory, in a way. Like families. They don’t stay put either.~

~She’s no postman, but she knows that bad news takes up less space than good, and nearly always comes typewritten.~

~You can’t lie in mathematics. A lie gets you nowhere; tangles you up in your own proof and dumps you out again at the beginning. In mathematics, lies are pointless. In stories, of course, it’s different. Lies are practically required.~

~This is how last resorts happen, I think, the happen in hot milky sunlight under yellow angsana trees. They happen on ordinary days, to ordinary women and mathematicians.~

News Of The World by Paulette Jiles

News of the World tie-in cover shows a grey bearded Tom hanks in black cowboy hat and black jacket with a blond ten year old girls with freckles on her nose staring into the distance.

~He had born in 1798 and the third war of his lifetime had ended five years ago and he hoped never to see another but now the news of the world aged him more than time itself.~

~A slow dullness had seeped into him like coal gas and he did not know what to do about it except seek out quiet and solitude.~

~She had been laced into a thing that she could only imagine was for magical purposes, meant to confine her heart and her breath in a sort of cage to hold her forever like a shut fist that would never open.~

~You can put her in any clothing and she remains as strange as she was before because she has been through two creations…To go through our first creation is a turning of the soul we hope toward the light, out of the animal world. God be with us. To go through another tears all the making of the first creation and sometimes it falls to bits. We fall into pieces. She is asking, Where is that rock of my creation?~

~Maybe life is just carrying news. Surviving to carry the news. Maybe we have just one message, and it is delivered to us when we are born and we are never sure what it says; it may have nothing to do with us personally but it must be carried by hand through a life, all the way, and at the end handed over, sealed.~

~It has been said by authorities that the law should apply the same to the king and to the peasant both, it should be written out and placed in the city square for all to see, it should be written simply and in the language of the common people, lest the people grow weary of their burdens.~

~He thought about how Johanna was being filed down and her sharp edges ground away.~

The Fur Person by May Sarton

The cover shows a ginger cat looking over his shoulder. His tail has a white tip.

~When he was about two years old, and had been a Cat About Town for some time, glorious in conquests, but rather too thin for comfort, the Fur Person decided that it was time he settled down.~

~Every cat knows that the ideal housekeeper is an old maid, if possible living in a small house with a garden.~

~The most remarkable thing about the two kind ladies was that they left him to eat in peace and did not say one word.~

~If a Gentleman Cat spends the night, it is a kind of promise.~

~This was the meaning of the word “altered” which, with the word “hospital,” haunted their conversation. And Tome Jones knew these must be dangerous words because they always looked at him so commiseratingly when they used them, and gave him extra pieces of roast beef, as if they had told him a lie and were feeling rather guilty about it.~

~It was a great relief to dash up a tree and down again, with no one at all to watch or applaud. It was a great relief to be a cat and nothing but a cat, and to be busy with his own affairs.~

~But the Fur Person learned then and there that it is better to be a philosopher than to be a king and that, all thing considered, wisdom was to be preferred to power.~

May Sarton on Wikipedia

To The Edges Of The Earth by Peter Pickford

A rocky desert landscape with yellow-brown rocky mountains in the background. In the foreground is an old school LandRover built for the wild, not city streets, with a man standing ontop holding a camera.

~I know that it can be argued that wild is actually beside us all the time: in the sapling that pushes up through the pavement cracks, in the owl that raises its chicks in an abandoned shed, in the wolf packs that patrol the deserted streets of towns around Chernobyl – it is there, waiting to reclaim its sovereignty. But everywhere men are more and when men occupy land what is wild is the first to retreat.~

~The penguin cannot taste the fish that it is eating, but the fish can taste the penguin that is eating it!~


~If I have learnt anything on this voyage around these cold, snowbound islands, which less than two hundred years ago teemed with life, it is that by shrugging off what is obviously wrong, as either not our concern or beyond our capacity, or too late, what we harvest is silence.~

~’How would you describe [the call of woodswallows]?’
‘Like a chandelier in the wind.’~

~The experience I have had has been remarkable but my photography is the voice with which I speak of it to those who will never come here, and tonight that voice has failed me.~

~If one is to interfere in the lives of other people, then what is required is a lifetime commitment, not a once-off visit.~