Gustav Gloom and the People Taker, by Adam-Troy Castro

I really enjoyed this book. Gustav Gloom and the People Taker is the first of a series by Adam-Troy Castro.

Gustav is thought to be the saddest boy in the world. He lives in a dark house and has only shadows to keep him company, at least until the What family moves into the house across the street.

It’s an adventure that takes place in a big, scary house where nothing makes sense at all. I laughed a lot while reading this book. I’d say the Gallery of Awkward Statues was my favorite chapter.


I’m going through my to-read list, and looking up the titles on Amazon. It looks like some of these books are not available in Kindle or any other ebook format.

Reading paperbacks and hardcovers and whatever else comes out in print, that has always been hard for me. Even when I was kid. I would strain my eyes when reading books. I probably would have read more if that wasn’t the case.

At some point, I started using magnifying glasses and that made reading easier, but it’s still a pain holding a magnifying glass while reading a book. It’s hard to get comfortable that way. I read George R. R. Martin’s A Storm of Swords with a magnifying glass and that’s a huge book.

Then I discovered ebooks and my reading really picked up. With ebooks, I can resize the font and make it clearer. I usually read Kindles, but I’m open to other ebook formats.

As much as I want to read one book or another, if it’s only available in print, I’m not likely to buy it, unless it becomes available in an ebook format. There are still some publishers that don’t release titles in ebook formats and I really wish they would. I feel like I’m missing out on some books, but I don’t want to struggle to read them.

The Apocalypse Ocean, by Tobias S. Buckell

In my review of Sly Mongoose, I said “I’m guessing Buckell had a better grasp on the craft, or at least the series, when he went to work on Sly Mongoose.” But now that I think about it, that’s probably not it. It’s probably not so simple to pinpoint what it was that made Sly Mongoose come out so well. Sometimes the writer just does better than he does other times and sometimes one story works better for the reader than another story. It could be either and it could be both.

Well, I just finished The Apocalypse Ocean. I feel The Apocalypse Ocean and Sly Mongoose weigh pretty even on my scale of what’s good and what’s great.

The Apocalypse Ocean is the fourth book of Tobias S. Buckell‘s Xenowealth series.

The Doaq is terrorizing Placa del Fuego. Kay, the leader of a criminal organization, wants the Doaq gone because its undermining her power. But the Doaq is a powerful creature with a wormhole for a mouth and even Pepper has to run from it.

Far as I can tell, The Apocalypse Ocean is the last of the Xenowealth novels and I don’t know if Buckell plans to continue the series. I know there is a collection of short stories set in Xenowealth. I’ll probably pick that up if I start missing Xenowealth too much.

I think Xenowealth is the first series I ever finished. I’ve been reading books my whole life, but I’m not sure that I ever got to the end of any multiple book series. At least I can’t recall any that I have finished. I read a few books of Stephen King’s Dark Tower. The last Ice & Fire book I finished was A Feast for Crows. I read the first two Harry Potter books.

Nope, I don’t think there’s any other series that I’ve finished.

That yielded quite a bit

I’d been dropping change into this house-shaped coin bank for years. Today I got it all out and put it in rolls, because it’s all going into a savings account. The coin bank yeilded a lot more than I expected.

Oher news: I’m watching Gran Torino and making spaghetti.

Downed Line

My friend Dan, who is a deputy sheriff, posted this video the other day. I almost walked into a downed line a little while ago and this video immediately came to mind. I was taking my garbage out to the road. I stepped out through the gate and there’s a line hanging out of the sky and going across the driveway. Scared the shit out of me. Two more steps and I would have walked into it.

DTEwas just here. Turns out it’s a phone line. I thought it might be, but I can’t tell the difference. The guy from DTE rolled the line up and took it away. Though it was a phone line, it could have been a power line.

Remembering Pam Markgraf

Well, tonight is a night of many beers and loud music. I started with Poison’s Nothing But A Good Time and that went into Nirvana’s Smell’s Like Teen Spirit, and then some Bon Jovi and AC/DC. Now I’m on The Cars and pretty much sticking with them. I may have mentioned before that The Cars are the first band I ever got into. I don’t know what my first words were, but I wouldn’t be surprised if they were “Here sheee COMES AGAIN!!!”

The Cars, man! They’ve been a favorite band of mine since I was a toddler.

For the last hour or so, I was thinking to blog about The Car tonight. I was working it up, getting the words in my head, putting together the best way to tell you about The Cars and why they are so special to me.

But then my thoughts drifted to Pam Markgraf. Maybe it had something to with Benjamin Orr dying from cancer in 2000. Or maybe it’s because I once showed Mrs. Markgraf a song I’d written that was OBVIOUSLY inspired by Just What I Needed. She’d thought it was the funniest thing.

So, I guess I’ll blog about The Cars another time. Tonight I want to remember Pam Markgraf.

Who was Pam Markgraf?

Probably none of my friends who went to Lapeer West know who the hell I’m talking about. Pam Markgraf was sort of a special education teacher at West. Most of my friends from West, who I still have contact with, didn’t have Special Ed classes.

I never did figure out what was so special about Ed or why the whole class was named after him, but a few of my classes during my first and only year at West were Special Ed classes. I was at West for my ninth grade year only. The next year I went to Michigan School for the Deaf.

Pam Markgraf taught the Special Ed classes I was in at West. I credit her as the reason I’m still writing stories and novels. She was very supportive of my work. Before she was a teacher, she had worked as an editor for a publisher.

First, she had one of my stories published in this analogy the school put together each year. Then she had The County Press publish something I’d written. I didn’t even know the thing was in the newspaper until my dad’s cousin Greg called our house to talk about it.

I don’t remember what the piece in The County Press was, but I remember my dad showing it to me after he talked to Greg. I probably downplayed it, as if it weren’t a big deal. But you know The County Press goes a long way. Though it targets the multiple thousand people in Lapeer County, I heard people as far as Texas subscribe to The County Press.

Though I’m embarrassed that my first novel was read by anyone, Mrs. Markgraf was the person who read it. She made a lot of notes in it. I’d written the thing during my ninth grade year. It was what I did instead of homework. It sucked, but now I kind of wish I hadn’t burned it.

My fondest memory of Pam Markgraf was few years later. She was one of the founders of a program called Teamwork, a program that’s purpose was to help people get jobs. I was on board with the program. I’d done some janitor work and stuff like that.

One day I was in Mrs. Markgraf’s office. She was telling me that it’s important for me to look people in the eye. when I talk to them. I was explaining why it’s so hard for me to look people in the eye, and then I remembered a joke that my brother had made at some point. I said to Mrs. Markgraf, “Looking people in the eye is like-” I lifted my head and looked her directly in the eye “–Oh, hi!”

For about fifteen minutes she was laughing out of control. She was actually pounding on her desk in effort to get her laughter under control.

And I remember the time I was in the kitchen. It was probably not long before I moved out of my mom and dad’s house. My mom came in and told me Mrs. Markgraf died from cancer.  

Pam Markgraf had been a very lively person and she had a great sense of humor. I think she’s the reason I keep this train on the track. It was nice having someone like her believing in me.