One of my 2023 resolutions (though I honestly don’t like calling them that) was to be more active in my creative pursuits. Instead of passively letting things happen, I wanted to be more direct in what I choose to write about, read about, and create. This is one of them.

A list of my 2023 books. I use GoodReads, like any good reader on the internet, logging my books and sharing my star ratings like they have any impact on the overall enjoyment of the book. However, as the front-facing popular side of the internet decides to use 2023 as the Year of Public Digital Self-Immolation, burning away all the goodwill they had, I want to use this website to keep the things I know might become lost some day.

Books and book quotes are some of them.

Here are the first three books of the year:

Long Live the Pumpkin Queen, Shea Ernshaw

“Everyone else in Halloween Town seems to think I am someone entirely new-a girl with a royal title whose hair should be like the silken threads of a spider’s web, with coffin-straight posture and a crown of feathers atop her head. But I am not these things.”

Nightmare Before Christmas is a touchstone film for me, and not least because of the production company that released it. It means something to me. Yes. I’m one of THOSE NBC fans, who feels the film on a different level.


The book, from Sally’s POV, is a dreamy, lost in the landscape kind of wonder. It’s my first experience with Ernshaw’s writing, but she does a great job leading you in but never quite showing you where you’re going.

Sally and Jack have just gotten married, and while finally being with the one she loves most should be everything Sally wants, she finds the life of the Pumpkin Queen to be exhausting, uneasy, and leaving you with a total lack of private time. She wishes for things to be different, though she still loves Jack.

Then something comes back. Something from a dark part of the forest with the doors in the trees. You know the one.

It’s a story of dealing with the present, handling the past, and understanding that the happiness we’ve always wanted comes from nowhere but us. Brilliant work and definitely makes me want to read more from Ernshaw.

Long Live the Pumpkin Queen (B&N)

Justice League of America: The Tornado’s Path by Brad Meltzer, Ed Benes

“This is a story about history, and destiny.

And love and coming-of-age.

And friendship. And passion.

My name is Red Tor-0

My name is John Smith.

And this is the story of my life.”

2006/7 was an interesting time for me in the comic book world. I was just rediscovering modern comics after not reading them for some time. Most of my early comic book experience was late 70s, 80s, early 90s stuff. DC had just gone through the Infinite Crisis, which if you don’t know, happens every couple of years. The Multiverse blows up, planets die, worlds survive, and heroes are made.

Same old, same old. I started reading DC again with this story as it was being serialized. Picked up this copy at Bookmans, Arizona’s massive used bookstore.

Batman, Superman, and Wonder Woman are trying to put the Justice League back together, all the while other heroes including Green Lantern, Black Canary, Black Lightning, Vixen, and Red Tornado deal with a mystery that delves deep into the DC lore. It never loses you, though, as Meltzer does a great job setting everything up and paying everything off. Each character gets their time to shine.

It’s a testament to Meltzer, really, that he can write a book with 10 different characters and each one feels unique, focused, and on point. You know who each of these characters are with a few words. That’s impressive. Study this if you’re writing stories with lots of voices in it.

Benes, whose art has always been known for its, lets say, “stacked” men and women, is up to audience taste. However, you cannot deny the story-telling chops on hand Benes brings to the book. His layouts, his closeups, and his fight scenes are all brilliant and it’s a shame his work is left off more Best Artists of the Year lists.

Maybe my favorite JLA origin story?

The Tornado’s Path (Amazon)

Magic: Volume Three by Jed Mackay, Ig Guara, Jacques Salomon, Mariano Taibo, Kath Lobo

“There are many reasons adventure parties delve into the ancient ruins of empire that infest the wild plane of Zendikar.

Wealth. Lore. Esoterica. Adventure.

Cunning rogues and daring warriors. Shrewd wizards and stalwart clerics. Armed with the knowledge of those who came before, skills hard0earned, equipment dearly purchased.

For to enter such a deathtrap as the Sky Ruin Emeria, even so prepared, so equipped, is dangerous enough.

To enter without such preparations is tantamount to suicide.

No one told Garruk, Niko, or Chandra this.”

I’m a big Magic the Gathering player, but not so much a reader. My experience with the Magic story involves a few e-books from the 2012 release of “Return to Ravnica.” So when I was given the first volume in this series as a gift, I wasn’t sure what to expect.

And I loved it.

Planeswalkers are the beings who can travel the multiverse, visiting different worlds with their unique powers. Three Planeswalkers, Chandra, Garruk, and Niko, have stumbled across one another in the grand Multiverse. But something is wrong. The ability to travel from world to world isn’t working like it used to, and they can’t access Ravinca, the center of growing hostilities. What follows is a found-friendship story, as the three work to unravel the mysteries of their new foe.

Sounds like a lot, right? But like with Meltzer in the Justice League before, Mackay never lets you go on your own. He guides through this immense world(s) and always makes sure you know who is who and where is where. Magic is a game with 30 years of history. That’s a lot to be thrown into, story wise, and he does a great job of condensing things down.

The artwork, normally handled by Guara solo, is given to a few different artists this book who all bring their own flare to it. Guara, who I’m most familiar with, is dynamic, fast-paced, and expressive. The faces are what I remember most, which I find interesting with characters who I spend hours looking at in card form.

All in all, play the game? Like fantasy? Like magic? Check it out.

Magic: Volume Three (Amazon)

Thanks for reading,

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