The 2021 Reading List: September

Since one of my writing goals was to read more, I thought it would help to keep track of what I knocked off Mount Tsundoku. Here’s as good a place as any to post what I’ve read and what I thought of each book immediately after finishing.

Back in 2020 I decided to be a little more systematic about my reading plans. I started putting an actual to-read pile to stack on the nightstand and limited the stack to five books, which seemed doable for the month. Occasionally comics and graphic novels or roleplaying games jump the queue, but I typically tried to get through the pile in the order I stacked them. I also used this strategy to try and diversify my reading. The goal was for each to-read pile to contain at least one book by a BIPOC or LGBTQ2S+ author, one book by a woman, one non-fiction book, and one book by an author I know personally.

Creating these piles is getting a little trickier, as I’m having a bit of trouble filling all of my criteria from stack to stack, and I’m never precisely sure when a library book will arrive. Despite all of the library reading I’ve been doing I still plan on trying to read through the books on my own shelves as much as possible and reading beyond my typical fantasy proclivities.

A collection of gaming books, The Vast in the Dark, a Mörk Borg ‘zine, Feretory, Mörk Borg, Acid Death Fantasy, John Carter of Mars, Agon, and the Savage Worlds Super Powers Companion.

Velvet Was the Night by Silvia Moreno-Garcia: Fantastic neo-noir by one of my favourite authors. I do prefer her speculative fiction to her crime fiction, I think, but that’s not the novel’s fault, I just prefer spec fic to crime fic in general. I loved the comic book subplot, and Maite as narrator in particular. Highly recommended!

Savage Worlds Super Powers Companion by Pinnacle Entertainment: A fun add-on to the Savage Worlds game. I think it’s technically from a different edition of the game than the rules set I own, but it seems pretty compatible. I think Savage Worlds would do an awesome job of emulating a supers game.

The Vast in the Dark by Charlie Ferguson-Avery: I loved this little ‘zine. A cool setting, and rules for dealing with exploration and megadungeons without a ton of prep. Highly recommended! I’ll be using this in all of my D&D style games going forward.

Mörk Borg by Pelle Nilsson, Johan Nohr, and dead people: A really cool, but super-nihilistic game that I think I’d prefer playing to running. The book’s art is all gorgeous, but for me the wild layout and design, while totally fitting with the black metal sensibility of the game, took away from the experience of digesting the actual rules and setting.

Masquerades by Kate Novak and Jeff Grubb: A nostalgia reread of an old Forgotten Realms novel. I really dig Alias and Dragonbait. Not my favourite in the series, but I still enjoyed it. Bonus points for being set in one of my favourite cities in the Realms, Westgate!

Mörk Borg: Feretory by Mörk Borg Cult: A ‘zine with a bunch of additional rules and assets, and adventure for Mörk Borg. A cool supplement. Design and layout not quite as wild as the core book.

Agon by John Harper and Sean Nittner: A very cool Greek mythology inspired game, with a lot of interesting rules, but I don’t think it’s my jam as a player or GM.

Paper & Blood by Kevin Hearne: Book two of Hearne’s new series set in the world of his Iron Druid novels. I laughed out loud so often during the reading of this one (thanks Buck Foi)! I enjoy Al as a narrator which is why I was a little disappointed by the appearance of characters from the previous series (but not disappointed enough to ruin my enjoyment of the book!) I’m looking forward to more in this series.

Death in Castle Dark by Veronica Bond: A fun little cozy mystery set in a castle featuring a dinner theatre style murder mystery. I grabbed it from the library on a whim and I might read more if the plot of the second book grabs me.

The current to-read stack: Masquerades by Kate Novak & Jeff Grubb, Jurassic Park by Michael Crichton, Death Bee Comes Her by Nancy Coco, The Virago Book of Erotic Myths and Legends by Shahrukh Husain, and Witch Please by Ann Aguirre.

Here’s what I read in January.

Here’s what I read in February

Here’s what I read in March.

Here’s what I read in April.

Here’s what I read in May.

Here’s what I read in June.

Here’s what I read in July.

Here’s what I read in August.

Also, check out the roundup of my 2020 reading here.

The 2021 Reading List: August

Since one of my writing goals was to read more, I thought it would help to keep track of what I knocked off Mount Tsundoku. Here’s as good a place as any to post what I’ve read to keep me honest, and what I thought of each book immediately after finishing.

Back in 2020 I decided to be a little more systematic about my reading plans. I started putting an actual to-read pile to stack on the nightstand and limited the stack to five books, which seemed doable for the month. Occasionally comics and graphic novels or roleplaying games jump the queue, but I typically tried to get through the pile in the order I stacked them. I also used this strategy to try and diversify my reading. The goal was for each to-read pile to contain at least one book by a BIPOC or LGBTQ2S+ author, one book by a woman, one non-fiction book, and one book by an author I know personally.

Creating the piles is getting a little trickier, as I’m having a bit of trouble filling all if my criteria from stack to stack off my own shelves, and I’m never sure when a library book will arrive. Despite all of the library reading I’ve been doing I still plan on trying to read through the books on my own shelves as much as possible.

The Curse of Black Teeth Keetes by Perry Grosshans: A module written for Call of Cthulhu (Pulp Cthulhu in particular). I was offered a free copy in exchange for a blurb. Perry’s a longtime friend and we’ve gamed together for years, so I was thrilled to take a look. It looks like a lot of fun and perfectly captures The Goonies/Indiana Jones pulp spirit Perry was going for.

Fall from Grace by Wayne Arthurson: I’ve read some of Arthurson’s articles but this is my first experience with his fiction. Good for a first novel. I’d be interested in reading some of his more recent work. It took me a long time to warm up to Leo Desroches, but I liked the character by the end.

The Survival of Molly Southbourne by Tade Thompson: First time I’ve read anything by Thompson. This was fantastic.

Plastic Man by Gail Simone and Adriana Melo: Not my favourite character but Simone made it a fun read and Melo’s art really suited the character.

Heroine’s Journey by Sarah Kuhn: Another volume in Kuhn’s superhero flavoured urban fantasy series. We have a new narrator, Evie’s younger sister Bea takes over POV duties. I still thing Evie is my favourite of the series narrators so far, but I’ve enjoyed every book, and will definitely try to keep up with the series.

On Spec #113 vol 30 no 3: Part of my goal to read more short fiction. I’ll always have a soft spot for On Spec, as they published my first short story (and a couple more since). Stand out stories in this volume for me were “The Back-Off” by Aeryn Rudely, “Remember Madame Hercules” by Kate Heartfield, and “The Laughing Folk” by Steve DuBois.

Eternity Girl by Mags Vissaggio, Sonny Liew, and Chris Chuckry: A fun, trippy, and meta miniseries. My first experience with Mags’ writing. I remember Liew’s art from the Doctor Fate book a few years back. Also a shoutout to Winnipeg artist, Chris Chuckry, who did the colours.

Artificial Condition by Martha Wells: A book in the Murderbot Diaries. I really enjoyed the first book and the series continues to be great.

witchbody by Sabrina Scott: Did not finish. I liked the art but the book itself just didn’t hold me. It had an interesting aesthetic, just not my cup of tea.

On the Ice by Gretchen Legler: An interesting memoir of an author in Antarctica. I’d like to read some more recent books on living/working at the South Pole.

Deep Dark Secret by Sierra Dean: Book 3 of the Secret McQueen series. A fun urban fantasy/paranormal romance series. It’s been a while since I read books 1 and 2, so some of the backstory details were a little soft in my brain, but there was enough context for it to all make sense.

Into the Drowning Deep by Mira Grant: I’ve read tons of Seanan McGuire books, but until this one I’d never read anything under her Mira Grant pen name. An absolutely pitch perfect thriller, and a surprisingly different voice than any of her other work I’ve read. That said, I think I prefer her October Daye and InCryptid series style, but I might read another Mira Grant if the right story comes around.

The Well by Shoeless Pete Games: A recent Kickstarter reward. I really enjoyed reading the game and it has some cool rules I’d like to test out at the table. I especially enjoyed how it built its world around the concept of the dungeoncrawl and gave just enough worldbuilding details to feel like you have a handle on the setting without it being a burden of lore. A couple short stories by Cat Rambo and Bruce R. Cordell give a bit of the flavour of the world.

Late Eclipses by Seanan McGuire: Continuing my October Daye series reread. I’m digging all the foreshadowing that now makes sense in the context of the entire series.

The Murders of Molly Southbourne by Tade Thompson: I accidentally read this novella series out of order, but reading book 2 first didn’t seem to spoil much for me. I quite enjoyed it, and will probably seek out more of Thompson’s writing.

Witchmark by C.L. Polk: Book one in Polk’s Kingston Cycle series. It took me a while to get into this one, but after I did, I really enjoyed it, and want to read the rest of the series.

Hard Reboot by Django Wexler: I loved this giant robot smash ’em up novella. It’s much more than giant robots fighting, and Wexler nails every part of the story, but giant robot fights was what drew me to it.

Sundowner Ubuntu by Anthony Bidulka: Another book in the Russell Quant detective series. This one has Quant pursuing a missing person from Saskatoon to South Africa.

Here’s what I read in January.

Here’s what I read in February

Here’s what I read in March.

Here’s what I read in April.

Here’s what I read in May.

Here’s what I read in June.

Here’s what I read in July.

Also, check out the roundup of my 2020 reading here.

Guest on the Seangeek Podcast

I was recently a return guest on the Seangeek Podcast, this time talking soundtracks and music (and of course gaming). This marks the second time I’ve been on the podcast and once again had a fabulous time.

The conversation ended up being split into two episodes because we enjoy geeking out together.

Part One

Part Two

Also check out my previous appearance on the Seangeek podcast and Sean’s review of Graveyard Mind.

Thanks for having me Sean and Todd!

The 2021 Reading List: July

Since one of my writing goals was to read more, I thought it would help to keep track of what I knocked off Mount Tsundoku. Here’s as good a place as any to post what I’ve read and what I thought of each book immediately after finishing.

Back in 2020 I decided to be a little more systematic about my reading plans. I started putting an actual to-read pile to stack on the nightstand and limited the stack to five books, which seemed doable for the month. Occasionally comics and graphic novels or roleplaying games jump the queue, but I typically tried to get through the pile in the order I stacked them. I also used this strategy to try and diversify my reading. The goal was for each to-read pile to contain at least one book by a BIPOC or LGBTQ2S+ author, one book by a woman, one non-fiction book, and one book by an author I know personally.

Creating these piles is getting a little trickier, as I’m having a bit of trouble filling all if my criteria from stack to stack, and I’m never precisely sure when a library book will arrive. Despite all of the library reading I’ve been doing I still plan on trying to read through the books on my own shelves as much as possible and reading beyond my typical fantasy proclivities.

An Artificial Night by Seanan McGuire: The third book in the October Daye series, and probably my favourite of the bunch during my first read through. This was the book that gave the series momentum for me. After I read it, I was hooked. No different this time around.

The Immortal Hulk Volume 6: We Believe in Bruce Banner by Al Ewing, Joe Bennett, Tom Reilly, and Matías Bergara:

The Immortal Hulk Volume 7: Hulk is Hulk by Al Ewing, Joe Bennett, Butch Guice, and Mike Hawthorne:

This is still one of my favourite takes on Hulk in a long time. The number of pencilers to say nothing of the inkers, and colourists is making the series feel a little less coherent for me than the earlier volumes. It references a lot of the Marvel universe, but so far seems to be existing outside of Marvel’s big events. So long as that continues, I’ll likely keep reading.

The Coffin Maker’s Garden by Stuart MacBride: MacBride is a fantastic crime writer. It’s been a while since I’ve read anything by him. I devoured the first Ash Henderson novel, but found this one a little slower to get into. Probably because I missed the intervening novels in the series. Once I got into it though, I couldn’t put it down. Like a lot of MacBride’s work, it is fucking bleak.

Sunshine by Robin McKinley: A vampire novel I’ve been meaning to read for ages. So glad it was so much more than just that, and entirely unexpected.

Captain America Vol. 3 The Legend of Steve by Ta-Nehisi Coates, Jason Masters, Sean Izaakse, Niko Walter, Bob Quinn, and Lucas Werneck: I still really enjoy Coates’ take on Captain America. I’ll definitely check out more of his comic work. Izaakse’s art is probably my favourite in the collection.

Disappearing Nightly by Laura Resnick: The first Esther Diamond urban fantasy rereleased by the series’ current publisher. Really enjoyed the longer introduction to Esther’s world and cast despite knowing how it turned out from reading Doppelgangster.

Vamparazzi by Laura Resnick: I think this might end up being my favourite in the series. We finally learn what is up with Max and Lithuanians. An interesting take on vampires too.

Polterheist by Laura Resnick: A holiday themed adventure with Esther stuck working as an elf in a huge department store. It really tickled me as someone who has endlessly toiled in the holiday retail mines, even if I never had to dress up as an elf.

Curses, Boiled Again by Shari Randall: Returning to the Lobster Shack series and reading the first book in Allie Larkin’s adventures. A fun read.

Outlaw Justice by Adam Knight: Book 2 in the Overdrive series. Two-fisted action in this urban fantasy series set in Winnipeg continues. Knight is growing the world from the first book. More powers. More mysteries. The great voice for his protagonist Joe is still very evident. Gut punch of an ending.

The Misfortune Cookie by Laura Resnick: Another Esther Diamond urban fantasy. This one didn’t work as well for me as some of the others, and I find the series most successful when it doesn’t hew too closely to one culture’s folklore and concentrates on Resnick’s original worldbuilding. Still a fun read for me.

Abracadaver by Laura Resnick: Another Esther Diamond urban fantasy novel. It follows almost immediately on the heel of The Misfortune Cookie. I enjoyed it a little bit more, and am still excited for the next volume in the series.

The Immortal Hulk Volume 8 The Keeper of the Door by Al Ewing and Joe Bennett: Still loving this series.

Mongrels by Stephen Graham Jones: An absolutely fantastic werewolf novel. Stephen Graham Jones has a wonderful authoria0 voice, and I highly recommend it to any werewolf or horror fan, or even to an urban fantasy lover looking for a stretch.

Against the Claw by Shari Randall: Book 2 in Randall’s Lobster Shack series. A fun cozy mystery series despite my dislike of seafood.

Haunted Heroine by Sarah Kuhn: The third of Kuhn’s superhero flavoured urban fantasy series. Evie is back as narrator facing ghosts literal and metaphorical at her old alma mater. A very enjoyable volume in a fun series.

Cobra Clutch by A.J. Devlin: The first “Hammerhead Jed” mystery. I really dug the voice in this one. A retired professional wrestler turned bouncer/amateur sleuth. Will definitely check out the next volume in the series.

American Hippo by Sarah Gailey: Lots of fun in this collection of two novellas and two short stories imagining a hippopotamus filled American south (which wildly could’ve happened!). The first novella, River of Teeth was my favourite piece, but Taste of Marrow was still very enjoyable. The short stories “Worth Her Weight in Gold” and “Nine and a Half” work best if you’re already invested in the world and characters (which I was) in my opinion. Hard to say what my thoughts would be if I’d read them in isolation. The world Gailey created here is weird, and I enjoyed reading it, but wish I could inhabit it…like I’d love to see a roleplaying game set in this universe.

Seven Fallen Feathers by Tanya Talaga: This was a really tough read, but should be read by every settler Canadian.

Here’s what I read in January.

Here’s what I read in February

Here’s what I read in March.

Here’s what I read in April.

Here’s what I read in May.

Here’s what I read in June.

Also, check out the roundup of my 2020 reading here.

2021 Mid-year Check In

My writing goals for 2021 were pretty modest. And yet…

We’re mumble mumble months/years into a pandemic, and while there’s hope of seeing the other side, there’s been a lot of other things going on in life, the universe, and everything, so I’m trying to be kind with my progress.

Here were the goals:

  • Finish short stories I’ve started but not completed: I’m only aiming for three new stories out the door this year, but again, I’d like to write at least one of those stories for submission to the online pro markets rather than for open call themed anthologies, as is my usual way.
  • Draft and submit a novella.
  • Read more in general.
  • Read more short stories in particular.

The only thing I’m really excelling at this year is the reading. I’m absolutely crushing the book reading (I’ve already read more this year than last year). As for the short stories…not so much. I might try to make that more of a focus of the hind end of 2021.

Reading more is definitely helping refill the creative well though, so hopefully that will bode well for the rest of 2021’s creative pursuits. Being fully vaccinated for COVID-19 has also helped free up some brain space from worrying about getting sick, so that’s good too.

I’ve changed up a few process things that I used as motivators in the past, partially as a response to the pandemic, but also because they were no longer working. I used to keep all of my unfinished projects on a list near my desk, partly as motivation to finish, and partly to shame me into finishing, but that tactic stopped being useful even before COVID. Last year I tried keeping only the five or so projects in various categories (novel, short story, novella) that seemed closest to being finished on the list, but new things kept creeping onto there and I was in the same predicament: things were getting started and not finished.

My new tactic is using a Trello board to track my projects after seeing game writer Jason Pitre talk about their project management process. I took their plan and organized everything I have on the go into Now, Next, Eventually, and Potentially boards. And more importantly, only working from the list of Now projects. Not going to lie, it was a little disheartening to see so many half finished/barely begun projects and yet, I was excited by how many of those realistically only need a couple weeks of push to get from half finished into a draft I can start properly revising, and then submit.

Since making this organizational change I’ve almost crossed a couple of stories off my Now board. I’ve finished one story, added 2000 words to another fragment which I think I’ve figured out the shape of finally, and started a brand new story (oops), getting the first 2000 words down. The new process is still a work in progress, but there’s no point in denying when inspiration offers me a story beginning if I don’t spend a lot of time with it instead of my priority projects. Eventually, those projects will find a home. Once one of the stories on my Now list is finished and submitted, I’ll slide something from the Next board over to Now and keep moving through things (at least that is the plan). I expect the novel projects to linger a little while longer before I start fully wrestling with them, but having them on the Now list keeps me thinking of them.

So much for works in progress. What’s going on with things you can actually read? I’ve had one story published this year and another one on the way. I just have to get some submissions out so I’ll have something published next year.

The first published story of the year is in Rhonda Parrish’s tarot themed anthology, Arcana. I’ve been waiting patiently for you to be able to read my story, and to be able to talk about the anthology (but not nearly as long as Rhonda has! Check out her blog post about it here!

Coincidentally to Rhonda’s blog post about Arcana’s origins, my story, while it ties into some of my more recent writing, also includes some of the earliest writing I ever did after resolving to become an author. There’s bits of writing that never found a home, a protagonist, or a plot that somehow felt right when cobbled together for this story. There’s also bits of writing that were originally meant to be Thunder Road stories, there’s bits originally meant for the Graveyard Mind universe, and while they never quite fit in with those series, these disparate pieces somehow gelled together to make the whole work.

Rhonda commissioned art for each of the stories, and you can see it, and read story excerpts, here, here and here. An excerpt from my story and the sweet bit of creepy art inspired by it is here. I loved the art so much, that I purchased the original from the artist Margaret Simon.

My story is called ‘Til Death is Done and it’s inspired by The Hanged Man card. I’ve only ever had one tarot reading, so I hope I’ve done its themes justice. I want to write a book about this character someday. My Hanged Man. My Crow Knight. Hope you like him enough to give me the chance. (Buy it now on Amazon, Kobo, or Apple. Or ask your local library or independent bookseller to order a copy.)

My story “Midnight Man versus Carrie Cthulhu” is hitting shelves soon in Tyche Books’ Water: Selkies, Sirens, & Sea Monsters anthology, also edited by Rhonda Parrish. With this story I nailed my self-imposed goal of selling a story to each of Rhonda’s elemental anthologies! I’m still thrilled about that, and to have sold three Midnight Man stories! Maybe he’ll get his own book someday too.

That’s all for now. Hopefully the rest of the writing year will keep looking up.

Write on!

The 2021 Reading List: June

Since one of my writing goals was to read more, I thought it would help to keep track of what I knocked off Mount Tsundoku. Here’s as good a place as any to post what I’ve read to keep me honest, and what I thought of each book immediately after finishing.

Back in 2020 I decided to be a little more systematic about my reading plans. I started putting an actual to-read pile to stack on the nightstand and limited the stack to five books, which seemed doable for the month. Occasionally comics and graphic novels or roleplaying games jump the queue, but I typically tried to get through the pile in the order I stacked them. I also used this strategy to try and diversify my reading. The goal was for each to-read pile to contain at least one book by a BIPOC or LGBTQ2S+ author, one book by a woman, one non-fiction book, and one book by an author I know personally.

Creating the piles is getting a little trickier, as I’m having a bit of trouble filling all if my criteria from stack to stack, and I’m never sure when a library book will arrive. Despite all of the library reading I’ve been doing I still plan on trying to read through the books on my own shelves as much as possible.

The second May reading stack: Calculated Risks by Seanan McGuire, White Trash Apocalypse by Diana Rowland, Flight of Aquavit by Anthony Bidulka, Five Quarts by Bill Hayes, and Unnatural History by Chris Rutkowski

Five Quarts A Personal and Natural History of Blood by Bill Hayes: A very interesting read, if not quite what I was expecting. Obviously, the chapter on vampires was my favourite.

Unnatural History by Chris Rutkowski: A collection of Manitoba paranormal phenomena. Quite a few stories I hadn’t heard, and more new stories from some locations I thought I’d read a lot about. Particularly intriguing was Charlie Redstar, as the sightings started around my birthday and near my old stomping grounds.

Tapas on the Ramblas by Anthony Bidulka: The third Russell Quant mystery. A fun murder mystery on a cruise ship.

The June reading stack: Death on Tap by Ellie Alexander, Earthly Delights by Kerry Greenwood, Robbing the Bees by Holly Bishop, The Mummy by Anne Rice, Dungeons & Dragons Mythic Odyssey of Theros.

The Mummy by Anne Rice: A reread of an old favourite. I’ve probably read The Mummy more times than I have any of Rice’s Vampire Chronicles. It still held up pretty well for me, although as I vaguely remembered, once Cleopatra entered the story, I began to lose interest but I still finished the reread.

Death on Tap by Ellie Alexander: The first Sloan Krause mystery, recommended to me by my writing friend, Sierra Dean. A beer themed cozy mystery. I really enjoyed it! Absolutely devoured, in fact. Can’t wait to read more.

The 13th Fleet by Nathan Town: A Kickstarter campaign written by a friend of mine and edited by another friend during February’s ‘Zinequest. The game looks like a lot of fun, if not entirely my natural jam as a player (I tend to avoid adversarial style roleplay). It’s based around Blades in the Dark, Tiny D6, and a fun read, and I think would be a blast with the right group.

Dungeons & Dragons: Mythic Odysseys of Theros: I enjoyed reading this a lot more than Guildmasters’ Guide to Ravnica. A Greek mythology inspired campaign setting. It has lots of rules and monsters I’d snag for other use, but I’d probably never use the actual setting.

Earthly Delights by Kerry Greenwood: The first in Greenwood’s Corinna Chapman mystery series. I definitely prefer the Miss Fisher mysteries, but I did warm up to this one before the end. I might read more, but not immediately.

The Atrocities by Jeremy C. Shipp: I’ve been meaning to read this for a while. A fantastically creepy little gothic novella. Looking forward to reading more by Shipp.

Drawn and Buttered by Shari Randall: The third in a series, but it was very accessible for someone who hasn’t read the earlier volumes. Typically, I hate the sea and everything in it, but I found this cozy mystery very charming. I’ll probably track down the earlier volumes at some point.

Rosemary and Rue by Seanan McGuire: A reread of the first October Daye novel. I enjoyed it more than I remembered from my first read. This series really got rolling for me around book three. Glad I went back to it after getting caught up.

The Pint of No Return by Ellie Alexander: The second Sloane Krause mystery. I’m still really enjoying this series.

Robbing the Bees by Holley Bishop: A biography of honey. Fascinating look at honey and its makers throughout the years.

Beyond a Reasonable Stout by Ellie Alexander: The third Sloane Krause mystery. Local politics heating up cause Sloane and the town a lot of drama. I really enjoy Alexander’s style, and am liking the entire cast of characters and the town, so I’m really looking forward to book four.

Doppelgangster by Laura Resnick: A fun urban fantasy series starring an aspiring actress as protagonist. I’ll definitely be reading more. I enjoyed a lot of the side characters and can’t wait to see some of the series level mysteries develop.

Captain America Vol. 1: Winter in America by Ta-Nehisi Coates and Leinil Francis Yu:

Captain America Vol. 2: Captain of Nothing by Ta-Nehisi Coates and Andy Kubert:

An excellent take on Captain America. This is the first writing I’ve read by Coates other than an odd essay here and there. Looking forward to reading more of his work.

Superman Smashes the Klan by Gene Luen Yang and Gurihiru: A fun, light hearted take on Superman, despite the serious theme and topic. Inspired by a real 40s radio serial. I loved the art, and love Yang’s version of Superman and his supporting cast.

Bedfellow by Jeremy C. Shipp: An incredibly creepy and insidious story. I think The Atrocities was more to my personal tastes, but this was really good.

Once & Future Volume 1 by Kieron Gillen, Dan Mora, and Tamra Bonvillain: I’m a sucker for a good take on King Arthur, and this is one of my recent favourites. Fantastic art and gorgeous colours. Can’t wait to read more of the series.

The Monster of Elendhaven by Jennifer Giesbrecht: Lush and violent, and fantastic. This novella ended too soon, and perfectly. I’ll be keeping an eye out for more of Giesbrecht’s work.

Unsympathetic Magic by Laura Resnick: Another Esther Diamond urban fantasy. This one with a voodoo antagonist. I enjoyed it, but not as much as Doppelgangster. I think the next book might be more up my alley.

Mapping the Interior by Stephen Graham Jones: Stephen Graham Jones is becoming one of my favourite horror writers. This creepy novella about a teenager’s father’s ghost is a great read.

Stain of the Berry by Anthony Bidulka: Book four in the Russell Quant mystery series. Some answers to some old mysteries as well as Russell’s latest case. Content warnings for suicide, child abuse, and attempted rape.

A Local Habitation by Seanan McGuire: A reread of the second October Daye novel. I remember long thinking this one was my least favourite in the series. It held up better on second read then on my initial read. I’m enjoying my reread of the series.

Mexican Gothic by Silvia Moreno-Garcia: Utterly beautiful. I’ve been looking forward to this one for a long time. Every time I read one of Silvia’s books it ends up being my favourite book of the year. A gothic haunted house book set in 50’s Mexico with a dose of cosmic horror, highly recommend it.

Scene of the Crime by Ed Brubaker, Michael Lark, and Sean Phillips: I love Brubaker’s crime comics, this one was no different. Reminds me how much I miss Brubaker and Lark’s collaboration on Gotham Central. Might be due for a reread of that series soon.

Dusk or Dark or Dawn or Day by Seanan McGuire: An interesting novella. Some cool worldbuilding done in a short span. Not sure how or if it connects to any of McGuire’s other works, but a tight contained read.

The Witch’s Heart by Genevieve Gornichec: As much as I love Norse mythology, I don’t read a lot of books inspired by it these days. A friend recommended this one though and it looked fun. Absolutely adored this book! The Norse myth cycle retold through the point of view of Angrboda, the mother of Jormungandur, Fenrir, and Hel. A great take on Loki too.

Here’s what I read in January.

Here’s what I read in February

Here’s what I read in March.

Here’s what I read in April.

Here’s what I read in May.

Also, check out the roundup of my 2020 reading here.

The 2021 Reading List: May

A bit late posting this one. To be honest, I thought I already had.

Since one of my writing goals was to read more, I thought it would help to keep track of what I knocked off Mount Tsundoku. Here’s as good a place as any to post what I’ve read to keep me honest, and what I thought of each book immediately after finishing.

Back in 2020 I decided to be a little more systematic about my reading plans. I started putting an actual to-read pile to stack on the nightstand and limited the stack to five books, which seemed doable for the month. Occasionally comics and graphic novels or roleplaying games jump the queue, but I typically tried to get through the pile in the order I stacked them. I also used this strategy to try and diversify my reading. The goal was for each to-read pile to contain at least one book by a BIPOC or LGBTQ2S+ author, one book by a woman, one non-fiction book, and one book by an author I know personally.

Cocaine Blues by Kerry Greenwood: The first Phryne Fisher mystery novel. I loved the show, and the book was a lot of fun too. I’m sure I’ll read more of the series. Normally I’m not a big fan of elaborate clothing descriptions, but as I’d already watched the show, I actually had a visual impression of what Phryne’s style was, and that really helped, and kept me from skimming over that kind of detail. I still hear Essie Davis’ voice while I’m reading the character, which I’m fine with.

The House of Night and Chain by David Annandale: A Warhammer Horror novel. I really wanted to see Maeson Strock see some happiness, but I knew that was a tall order because a) this is a Warhammer novel, and b) this is a David Annandale novel. Annandale does horror so well, especially when he’s playing in a haunted house. The creeping dread he imbues in his text is palpable. Terrible, terrible, fun.

Stumptown Vol. 3: The Case of the King of Clubs by Greg Rucka and Justin Greenwood: Still really digging this series. Still hoping there will be more beyond Volume Four, which I anticipate reading shortly. I missed Matthew Southworth’s art, but Justin Greenwood did a great job of capturing Dex and the cast too.

This Is How You Lose the Time War by Amal El-Mohtar and Max Gladstone: A book that literally won all of the awards. Loved it! Every single word of this story was gorgeous.

Heroine Worship by Sarah Kuhn: The second volume in this superhero themed urban fantasy series. I really enjoyed volume one. This one features Aveda Jupiter as the POV character instead of Evie from book one. I think I prefer Evie as a narrator, but this was still a very fun read, and I’m looking forward to reading more in the series.

The Immortal Hulk Vol 1: Or Is He Both? by Al Ewing and Joe Bennett:

The Immortal Hulk Vol 2: The Green Door by Al Ewing, Joe Bennett, and Lee Garbett:

Hulk as horror story. A really fresh take, which I’m really enjoying. Alas, poor Sasquatch.

Stumptown Vol. 4: The Case of the Cup of Joe by Greg Rucka and Justin Greenwood: Justin Greenwood’s art worked a lot better for me in this volume. Either the artist hitting their stride with the characters or me getting used to the change. A fun arc and a one shot story to finish off the collection. I still really hope that Rucka decides to tell more Stumptown stories.

Flying Too High by Kerry Greenwood: The second Phryne Fisher novel. A lot of fun. I absolutely plan to keep reading the series.

The Quantum Magician by Derek Künsken: A fantastic space opera/heist mashup. Full of big ideas and fantastic characters. Highly recommend it. I can’t wait to read more of his work.

The Immortal Hulk Vol 3 Hulk in Hell by Al Ewing and Joe Bennett:

The Immortal Hulk Vol 4 Abomination by Al Ewing and Joe Bennett:

The Immortal Hulk Vol 5 Breaker of Worlds by Al Ewing and Joe Bennett:

This might be my favourite run of Hulk stories since Peter David’s epic run. Ewing is playing with a lot of classic Hulk toys and some other personal favourites of mine (Doc Samson and Alpha Flight characters). Can’t wait to read more.

The Violet Fox by Clare C. Marshall: Another friend’s book that has sat on my shelves for far too long. I don’t read a lot of YA, but I really enjoyed this. The Violet Fox is a fun Zorro type character helping her people, and I loved the worldbuilding and how Clare managed to surprise me with where some of the plot went. Looking forward to reading the rest of the series.

The Rain Barrel Baby by Alison Preston: This is only the second book I’ve read Preston, and it follows a similar structure: a mystery that unfolds over two time periods and comes together in the end. So many content warnings for this one (rape, kidnapping, dead children) which makes for a dark read. Not a bad book, just not particularly my cup of tea.

Black Magick Vol. 3 by Greg Rucka and Nicola Scott: It’s been too long since I read this series. I loved the first two volumes, and now, reading the third, I want to go back and reread what came before. Lots of layers to Rucka’s writing, and Scott’s art is absolutely gorgeous.

The Far Traveler: Voyages of a Viking Woman by Nancy Marie Brown: The non-fiction selection from my latest stack. I loved Song of the Vikings, Brown’s biography of Snorri Sturluson. This was a fascinating read. I learned a lot and there’s definitely some inspiration for some future Thunder Road stories in what I read.

The Lust Lizard of Melancholy Cove by Christopher Moore: A reread of an old favourite. It didn’t hold up quite as well as I’d hoped, but I still enjoyed it, and will likely reread at least once more somewhere do9wn the line.

Calculated Risks by Seanan McGuire: The latest InCryptid novel with Sarah Zelleby as narrator. The last book left on a hell of a cliffhanger. This one feels like it wraps up Sarah’s arc as the POV, at least for a while. I’m curious to see where the series goes next, and who will be the voice in the next book.

White Trash Zombie Apocalypse by Diana Rowland: This is a super fun series with a great protagonist voice. It took me a while to get into this third volume, because it’s been quite a while since I read books 1 and 2. Looking forward to reading more of the series.

X-Men Volume 2 by Jonathan Hickman, Leinil Francis Yu, and Mahmud Asrar: I love how Hickman is playing with what seems to be literally all the toys in the X-Men toybox, but I’m still not sure this is the X-Men take I want. Well done, though. Still curious where it’s going to go, and the core book feels stronger than most of the spin offs to me.

Savage Worlds Adventure Edition Roleplaying Game by Pinnacle Entertainment Group: A game I’ve mean meaning to try for a while because I’ve heard great things about the table experience. I’m typically not a fan of generic rules systems but having recently joined for a game on my friend’s liveplay channel, I had a blast with the game (I’m in episode three). Savage Worlds absolutely plays better than it reads. I’d love to try running a game with this system someday, and would absolutely play it again.

Flight of Aquavit by Anthony Bidulka: The second volume in Bidulka’s Russell Quant mystery series. I enjoyed it, and am looking forward to reading more about the detective who “lives a big life in a small city on the prairies.”

Here’s what I read in January.

Here’s what I read in February.

Here’s what I read in March.

Here’s what I read in April.

Also, check out the roundup of my 2020 reading here.

The 2021 Reading List: April

Since one of my writing goals was also to read more, I thought it would help to keep track of what I knocked off Mount Tsundoku. Here’s as good a place as any to post what I’ve read to keep me honest, and what I thought of each book immediately after finishing.

Back in 2020 I decided to be a little more systematic about my reading plans. I started putting an actual to-read pile to stack on the nightstand and limited the stack to five books, which seemed doable for the month. Occasionally comics and graphic novels or roleplaying games jump the queue, but I typically tried to get through the pile in the order I stacked them. I also used this strategy to try and diversify my reading. The goal was for each to-read pile to contain at least one book by a BIPOC or LGBTQ2S+ author, one book by a woman, one non-fiction book, and one book by an author I know personally.

I finished my entire March stack (plus way more, courtesy of a graphic novel rampage through the library) in March, and since April is poetry month, I decided to try some poetry collections I had around the house. Now that I’m using my local library a bit more, the actual to-read pile will be a bit more fluid, as I’ll have to prioritize anything that has a time limit.

My April 2021 to read stack: The Unkindest Tide by Seanan McGuire, Prime by Poppy Z. Brite, House of Mystery by Courtney Bates-Hardy, Black Salt By Édouard Glissant, and Trejo’s Tacos by Danny Trejo and Hugh Garvey.

I finished the stack (plus a whole lot more)!

The Unkindest Tide by Seanan McGuire: An October Daye book. I actually finished this on the 31st of March, but it has an extra novella at the end, so I’ve decided to count it for April. I really enjoy the Toby Daye books, I’m not sure what else to say about it. This deep in the series, you either enjoy what McGuire is doing, or you don’t, but she is excellent at building an ongoing series and paying off seemingly small moments from previous books when the time is right.

Excalibur Vol. 1 by Tini Howard, Marcus To, and Erick Arciniega: Part of Marvel’s House of X relaunch of the X-Men spearheaded by Jonathan Hickman. Excalibur was always one of my favourites of the X-books, back in the day, although this doesn’t share many of the characters that I loved. It was interesting to see Betsy Braddock as Captain Britain, and some Otherworld hijinks though. I enjoyed the story, and it probably has my favourite art of the House of X relaunch, because Marcus To’s crisper lines remind me somewhat of original Excalibur artist, Alan Davis, who’s probably my favourite superhero artist.

Dungeons & Dragons Candlekeep Mysteries: An anthology series of short adventures. This reads like an expanded issue of the old Dungeon Magazine. I really enjoyed it, some of the adventures I’m excited to use, some I doubt I’d ever use, but they all seem to offer plenty of ways to customize them to one’s own D&D campaign.

Trejo’s Tacos by Danny Trejo with Hugh Garvey: Recipes and stories from Los Angeles. I really enjoyed this. Both the stories and the recipes. Lots of tips to make the most of the recipes as presented in the book, too. I can’t wait to try some of these!

The Terrifics Vol 1 Meet the Terrifics: by Jeff Lemire, Ivan Reis, José Luis, Joe Bennett, and Evan “Doc” Shaner: DC clearly trying to poke at the Fantastic Four, but it’s got Metamorpho in it, so it’s got my attention. I enjoyed it. The art and the story were a good match too. I typically like Lemire’s work more on his creator owned books than I do on his Marvel and DC work, but I’m intrigued enough to keep reading.

Spire by Grant Howitt and Christopher Taylor: A roleplaying game I’ve been keen to read for a while now. I picked it up in December and have been slowly picking away at it chapter by chapter and section by section in between other books. I really like the simplicity of the rules along with the potential they evoke. I also love all of the options for player characters. Unfortunately, while I love the worldbuilding too, I doubt I’ll get this game to the table. I’d rather read novels set in this world than run the game. I’d be totally up for playing in it if someone else was the GM though.

Cyberpunk Red by R. Talsorian Games: Another roleplaying game I’ve been keen to look at even though I never played much of previous editions. As with Spire, I started reading this one back in December, and slowly picked my way through it in between other books. I typically went for Shadowrun which covered similar territory, but had a fantasy overlay on its dark future. I am really impressed with the layout of this book. I like the rules and character creation. I don’t think I’d be a good GM for this game, but I’d love to play it.

Dungeons & Dragons Tasha’s Cauldron of Everything: I was a little disappointed in this one. Not a lot of the new character class options jumped out at me as something I’d use, the Artificer class and Group Patron rules had already appeared in the Eberron: Rising from the Last War book (I didn’t compare and contrast to see if there were any serious differences between the two books), a few new spells, a few GM tips, and some puzzles. It just felt…thin. I think these days, I prefer the books that have more DM-facing content, Ah well. Can’t like them all.

Prime by Poppy Z. Brite: I think I read the series out of order, and should’ve read Prime before Soul Kitchen, it was still enjoyable, but maybe my least favourite of the three Rickey and G-Man books because I had an idea of where the plot was going as I read it. One thing I’ve noticed about these books is the endings have come all in a rush after a slow burn throughout the book. Not a complaint, just a trait they all seemed to share. Reading this series has often made me want to try cooking new things, and always leaves me hungry.

Stumptown Volume One: The Case of the Girl Who Took her Shampoo (But Left her Mini) by Greg Rucka and Matthew Southworth: I’ve long dug Rucka’s writing but this series wasn’t on my radar until I stumbled across the Stumptown tv series with Cobie Smulders, who I really enjoyed in the lead role of Dex Parios. The art perfectly suits the story, and I’m stoked to read more.

Black Hammer Volume One: Secret Origins by Jeff Lemire, Dean Ormston, and Dave Stewart: I really enjoyed this. Lots of Golden Age love and plenty of mystery and weirdness to look forward to as the story unfolds. I’ll definitely be checking out more.

House of Mystery by Courtney Bates-Hardy: First poetry collection I’ve read in years. This collection explores and transforms fairy tales. Bates-Hardy is another former CZP author and I was thrilled to have hosted her at the reading series I used to host with S.M. Beiko. I really enjoyed House of Mystery, but I also find that I prefer listening to poetry rather than reading it, and certainly reading a collection all in a short span. Not the author’s fault, I think I’m just rusty as a poetry reader. There’s definitely some poems that’ll stick with me though, and I’d recommend this to anyone interested in speculative poems.

Silver Shadows by Elaine Cunningham: Another old D&D novel reread. I forgot about the elven werewolves that were particular to the Forgotten Realms. Fun. I didn’t remember much of this one at all, I know I’ve read it, but I must not have owned it. I think I have only one of Cunningham’s Harpers series novels left to reread, which I will, whenever I’m able to track it down.

Latest library haul: A Killing Frost by Seanan McGuire, New Mutants Vol. 1 by Ed Brisson, The Terrifics Vol. 3 by Gene Luen Yang, X-Force Vol. 2 by Benjamin Percy, Pulp by Ed Brubaker & Sean Phillips, Excalibur Vol. 2 by Tini Howard, The Terrifics Vol. 2 By Jeff Lemire, Pretty Deadly by Kelly Sue DeConnick & Emma Rios, Stumptown Vol. 2 by Greg Rucka & Matthew Southworth

Killing Frost by Seanan McGuire: Another October Daye novel. A lot of big events happened in this one, but not quite the big events I was expecting. Not a bad thing. There also felt like a bit more backfill matter to remind the reader of what has come before. Also not unexpected for the fourteenth book in a series. Perhaps only notable because I read the latest two volumes practically back to back. Now I’m caught up until at least September 2021 when the next book in the series releases.

Hilda and the Troll by Luke Pearson: I love the Hilda cartoon on Netflix so much! The graphic novels it’s based upon are fun, but I think I prefer the animation style of the cartoon to the actual illustrations. I may read more, as it was a quick read, but I’m not in a rush for the next book the way I am for the next season.

New Mutants Vol. 1 by Ed Brisson, Flaviano, and Marco Failla: Another collection from Jonathan Hickman’s new architecture of the X-Men side of the Marvel universe. I preferred the other New Mutants book, written by Hickman himself. More of the classic characters I was familiar with and the conceit of using Sunspot’s narration really worked for me. Nothing wrong with this one, just not my cup of tea.

Excalibur Vol. 2 by Tini Howard, Marcus To, & Walton Santos: Another collection from Jonathan Hickman’s retooling of the X-Men side of the Marvel universe. So far this one is my favourite of the books outside of Hickman’s main X-Men book, but then Excalibur has been my favourite part of the X-Verse since it launched soooo many moons ago. I do love me some Captain Britain, even when it’s Betsy Braddock and not Brian Braddock wearing the mantle. Howard gets the tone right and the art, while not by Alan Davis, has the same clean lines that I love about Davis’ work, and makes the book feel more like classic Excalibur.

X-Force Vol. 2 by Benjamin Percy and Stephen Segovia: Another collection from Jonathan Hickman’s new architecture of the X-Men side of the Marvel universe. I’ve liked Percy’s writing in the past, but this book isn’t really clicking for me.

Marauders Vol. 1 by Gerry Duggan, Matteo Lolli, Michele Bandini, Lucas Werneck, and Mario Del Pennino: Another collection from Jonathan Hickman’s new architecture of the X-Men side of the Marvel universe. Like Excalibur, this one was another standout to me of the recent X-Men fare. I really like Kate Pryde as a pirate, the art was a good complement to the story too.

Marauders Vol. 2 by Gerry Duggan, Stefano Caselli, and Matteo Lolli: Another collection from Jonathan Hickman’s new architecture of the X-Men side of the Marvel universe. Really enjoyed this volume as well. The tiny moments of Kate interacting with Rachel and Nightcrawler also hit me in the old time Excalibur feels. I really miss seeing Rachel Summers/Grey in this new X-Men paradigm. Apparently she’s involved in the X-Factor book, which got me very excited for a moment, but (of course) sadly it isn’t available at my library.

The Terrifics Vol. 2: Tom Strong & The Terrifics by Jeff Lemire, Dave Eaglesham, Viktor Bogdanovic, and Joe Bennett: I enjoyed this volume even more than the first one. I’ve always had a soft spot for Tom Strong. I also loved all of the artists in this collection.

Spider-Gwen: Ghost Spider Spider-Geddon by Seanan McGuire, Rosi Kämpe, Takeshi Miyazawa, and Alti Firmansyah: My first time reading McGuire’s comic work. I have no particular connection to Gwen Stacy as a character; she’s been dead for as long as I’ve read Spider-Man comics. I like this alternate universe take where she got superpowers instead of Peter Parker though, and her costume design is really cool. The art was a good match for the character. I’d like to see how I react to McGuire’s comic writing with a character that is more in my wheelhouse someday.

The Terrifics Vol. 3: The God Game by Gene Luen Yang and Stephen Segovia: I didn’t enjoy this one as much as I did Lemire’s run on the book, but I’ve liked what I’ve read of Yang’s comic work in the past, so I’d probably give him another chance with these characters.

Dungeons & Dragons Guildmasters’ Guide to Ravnica: My first did not finish of the year. I did more skimming and page flipping than reading. Not much I’d use here as a player or a DM. I’ve never been more than a casual Magic the Gathering player, so most of the worldbuilding elements didn’t interest me, ditto the monsters, and the player’s options I might use were largely reprinted in another book (Tasha’s Cauldron of Everything), so I’m glad I borrowed this one instead of buying. The Guild options could definitely be interesting to some players so your mileage may vary.

Black Salt by Édouard Glissant (Translated by Betsy Wing): My second poetry read of the month. I’d hoped to read more poetry than two collections for Poetry Month, but I think reading a collection at a time is not really how I enjoy consuming poetry. This was a really interesting collection though, containing three of Glissant’s major works. His poem “Carthage” in the second of the three collections (also entitled Black Salt) was probably my favourite piece in the book, but the third Yokes, was probably the sequence that spoke to me the most. Perhaps because of editor notes to give a little more context to what I was reading. Reading this (and House of Mystery, earlier) makes me miss going to launch parties and hearing poets read from their own work. I like hearing the cadence and inflection of their words.

Pulp by Ed Brubaker and Sean Phillips: So good. I’ll read anything by this duo. A bit of a mixture of western and crime pulp. Highly recommended.

The Ballad of Black Tom by Victor LaValle: I’ve been meaning to read this one for quite a while. It was so great! Cosmic horror from a different POV and some turns of phrase that were chilling. I’ll be reading more by LaValle for sure.

Stumptown Vol. 2:The Case of the Baby in the Velvet Case by Greg Rucka and Matthew Southworth: Really enjoying this series! A fun case about a rock star’s missing guitar. Southworth packs so much intensity into his panels, and while the trick of changing page orientation during a car chase could come across as gimmicky, it really added intensity here. Looking forward to continuing with the series.

Pretty Deadly Vol. 2: The Bear by Kelly Sue DeConnick and Emma Ríos: This volume was set during the Great War instead of the Wild West. Still gorgeous art, and it’s interesting to see more of the worldbuilding unfold.

Pretty Deadly Vol. 3: The Rat by Kelly Sue DeConnick and Emma Ríos: This volume was set in ’40s Hollywood, it might be my favourite of the bunch, but I do have a weakness for weird westerns so that’s hard to say. I definitely hope this duo returns to the series.

Spider-Gwen: Ghost Spider Vol. 2: Impossible Year by Seanan McGuire, Rosi Kämpe, and Takeshi Miyazawa:

Ghost Spider Vol. 1: Dog Days are Over by Seanan McGuire, Takeshi Miyazawa Rosi Kämpe, and Ig Guara:

I enjoyed both of these volumes a lot more than I did the previous volume. Maybe more familiarity with the character and her cast, or that fact that the previous volume felt like it spun out of a crossover I didn’t read (have never been more than a casual Spider-Man reader). Both written and artistic characterization is super on point, and the book is a lot of fun.

Here’s what I read in January.

Here’s what I read in February.

Here’s what I read in March.

Also, check out the roundup of my 2020 reading here.

The 2021 Reading List: March

Since one of my writing goals was also to read more, I thought it would help to keep track of what I knocked off Mount Tsundoku. Here’s as good a place as any to post what I’ve read to keep me honest, and what I thought of each book immediately after finishing.

Back in 2020 I decided to be a little more systematic about my reading plans. I started putting an actual to-read pile to stack on the nightstand and limited the stack to five books, which seemed doable for the month. Occasionally comics and graphic novels or roleplaying games jump the queue, but I typically tried to get through the pile in the order I stacked them. I also used this strategy to try and diversify my reading. The goal was for each to-read pile to contain at least one book by a BIPOC or LGBTQ2S+ author, one book by a woman, one non-fiction book, and one book by an author I know personally.

Here’s what was on the to-read stack in February. I almost cleared them all, despite it taking me a few extra days to finish January’s pile!

The February 2021 to-read pile: Liquor by Poppy Z. Brite, City of Ghosts by J.H. Moncrieff, The Break by Katherena Vermette, Rings of Anubis by E. Catherine Tobler, and The Wave by Susan Casey.

The Wave by Susan Casey: I really enjoyed this one. I was expecting a bit more of the scientist point of view than the surfer point of view, but maybe that’s what made the book so engaging. You can feel a little bit of the ocean’s power while you’re reading it, and it brought back some happy memories of my first time swimming in the ocean (and made me even happier that I wasn’t dealing with fifty foot waves).

The to-read stack for March has six books again, because reading The Wave made me want to revisit Fluke.

March 2021 to-read stack: Fluke by Christopher Moore, The Butchering Art by Lindsey Fitzharris, Soul Kitchen by Poppy Z. Brite, Fragment by Craig Russell, Scion of the Fox by S.M. Beiko, The Bite of the Mango by Mariatu Kamara and Susan McClelland.

Fluke by Christopher Moore: A reread of one of my favourite Christopher Moore books to pair with The Wave (both have sections in Hawaii, and I don’t like reading non-fiction before bed). What worked for me in the past mostly still works for me, and what bugged me back in 2002 (yikes) when I first read it, still does, but I really enjoyed revisiting it, especially juxtaposing it with The Wave.

The Butchering Art by Lindsey Fitzharris: I’ve been meaning to read this for a while, and the timing synched up nicely with my nearing the end of a reading stack and a friend saying they’d just finished the book, and enjoyed it. This is the first read not to come from my own stacks in ages. A very enjoyable, and at times, gross, book. I’ve never been more thankful to not have been alive during the Victorian Age. Fitzharris does an amazing job of conveying the stink and squalor of the period. I’d definitely read more science/medical history from her, depending on the topic.

Batman Grendel Vol. 1: Devil’s Riddle by Matt Wagner:

Grendel Batman Vol. 2: Devil’s Masque by Matt Wagner:

Continuing my graphic novel (and my Matt Wagner) rereads. Oh man. I forgot how much I loved Wagner’s art in these two. And how dense every page is. I’d love to see a deluxe edition with a larger trim size that combines the two volumes and showcases Wagner’s page layouts, but I realize that’s not likely to happen. Anytime comic world’s crossed over in my youth was an exciting time, and having some fan arguments about who would best who portrayed was quite the treat (and usually led to more arguments). Grendel makes a great foil for Batman, and could easily sidle into Batman’s rogue’s gallery. Or vice versa. The contrasting portrayals of Batman/Bruce Wayne and Grendel/Hunter Rose make it. Wagner’s art in this series reminds me of David Mazzucchelli’s art in Batman: Year One.

Soul Kitchen by Poppy Z. Brite: Another fantastic culinary fiction read with some crime overtones. I think I liked Liquor better, as the freshness and rawness of Ricky and G-Man trying to get their titular restaurant off the ground was a bit more engaging than some of their trials maintaining it, but I love the characters and Brite’s writing, so I’m sure I’ll be adding Prime to my to-read stack soon.

Justice Riders by Chuck Dixon, J.H. Williams III, Mick Gray, Lee Loughridge: Another graphic novel reread. I think this was my first experience with the art of J.H. Williams III. I’ve always been a sucker for superheroes in the Wild West. This one mostly held up, but I kind of wish that a different assortment of heroes had been chosen to recast. I would’ve loved to have seen Zatanna, Black Canary, or Hawkwoman in the mix. Most of the Wild West takes I enjoyed, but I found the chemistry between Blue Beetle and Booster Gold to be lacking, or at least, not to my tastes, missing some of the Justice League International camaraderie.

Fragment by Craig Russell: I loved Russell’s previous work, Black Bottle Man, even saw it performed as a play. Continuing my water-themed reads, this book has a whale narrator, among the characters reacting to an Antarctic ice shelf the size of a country calving away and causing earthshaking changes to the world we know. I enjoyed Fragment quite a bit, although I think I still prefer Black Bottle Man, which is a bit more in wheelhouse, I’m looking forward to what he comes up with next.

Marvel 1602 by Neil Gaiman and Andy Kubert: Another graphic novel reread. It’s been a while since I’ve read this, and while I used to really enjoy how Gaiman weaved the Roanoke colony history and legend into this time-displaced Marvel universe, the story doesn’t hold up for me anymore. Kubert’s a fine artist, but his work as never really been to my taste. Glad I reread it before I let it go off to a new home, however.

Scion of the Fox by S.M. Beiko: The first book in Beiko’s The Realms of Ancient trilogy. Sam is an excellent friend and writer. Full disclosure that she was also my editor on Graveyard Mind. Scion of the Fox has an incredibly vivid start. I was reminded after finishing reading the opening that the first time I encountered it was when she read it aloud at an event on her phone and I was livetweeting her reading and tagging her and almost made her drop her phone/murder me. Great worldbuilding, and very evocative prose. I don’t know if it’s of interest to her, but some of the passages made me long for a Beiko-written horror story.

Seven Soldiers of Victory Volume One by Grant Morrison, J.H. Williams III, Simone Bianchi, Cameron Stewart, Ryan Sook, Frazer Irving, Mick Gray:

Seven Soldiers of Victory Volume Two by Grant Morrison, Simone Bianchi, Cameron Stewart, Ryan Sook, Frazer Irving, Mick Gray:

Seven Soldiers of Victory Volume Three by Grant Morrison, Ryan Sook & Mick Gray, Frazer Irving, Yanick Paquette & Serge Lapointe, Doug Mahnke, Billy Dallas Patton & Michael Bair, Freddie Williams III:

Seven Soldiers of Victory Volume Four by Grant Morrison, Doug Mahnke, Freddie E. WIlliams II, Yanick Paquette, J.H. Williams III, Serge Lapointe:

Another Graphic Novel series reread. Grant Morrison’s attempt to revitalize a number of minor or mostly forgotten characters in the DC stable through seven individual limited series, that when read together also told a larger story. To be honest, I’ve never been a huge fan of Morrison’s work, but this series was always one that worked for me.

Volume One has an introductory issue, and features The Shining Knight, Guardian, Zatanna, and Klarion the Witchboy. I love all the artists in this volume. I’m not sure I really dig Morrison’s take on Zatanna who is probably my favourite DC character, but the Ryan Sook art makes up for that. Volume Two continues The Shining Knight, Guardian, Zatanna, and Klarion the Witchboy. Volume Three concludes Klarion the Witchboy, Zatanna, and introduces Mister Miracle, The Bulleteer, and Frankenstein. Volume Four concludes Frankenstein, Mister Miracle, and Zatanna, and has a special outro issue that resolves the entire series. I loved The Shining Knight and Frankenstein series. Bulleteer and Zatanna were a mixed bag. Zatanna has always been one of my favourite DC characters, but I didn’t care for Morrison’s take on her, even if Ryan Sook’s art was great in that series. Where I liked the story on Bulleteer, the art got a little too cheesecake for me and felt exploitative. Yanick Paquette draws some beautiful women, but I think I preferred his art on Swamp Thing. The art for Klarion was gorgeous, but the character doesn’t do anything for me. I think Mister Miracle suffered from losing Pasqual Ferry on art in the first issue, the other artists didn’t capture the character as well, but then, I’ve never really cared for the Jack Kirby related 4th World characters, other than Darkseid as a villain.

I don’t think Morrison’s goals were met here, as none of his takes, beyond Frankenstein, who eventually got a series in DC’s New 52 relaunch, seemed to long survive the series. In the end, I was glad I reread it, but I’m also happy to let it go. I won’t be keeping it in the collection.

Spellfire by Ed Greenwood: A Dungeons & Dragons nostalgia reread snatched from a local “little free library.” I didn’t really enjoy it back when I first read it and was obsessed with the Forgotten Realms, and yet I always came back to it. While younger me didn’t like the story or the character of Elminster, I loved the banter of the Knights of Myth Drannor, who play a minor but significant role. As an adult, and a writer, I still have a number of issues with the story and pacing. For one, I completely forgot how randy this book was, and I still love the Knights of Myth Drannor, who if nothing else, feel like they come straight off the game table. It reminds me that the more the D&D novels became more traditional fantasy novels, with a single protagonist instead of an “adventuring party”, the less they reflected the game to me, and the less I enjoyed them.

I’ve decided to start making better use of my local libraries resources, so depending on when my holds arrive, it may involve shuffling my to-read stacks, but I am excited! My old hometown library got tons of use from me when I was growing up. Here’s my first library haul:

First Library Haul: Trejo’s Tacos by Danny Trejo, Invincible Ultimate Collection Vol. 6 by Robert Kirkman & Ryan Ottley & Cory Walker, Pretty Deadly by Kelly Sue DeConnick & Emma Rios, X-Men Vol. 1 by Jonathan Hickman & Leinil Francis Yu& R.B. Silva & Matteo Buffagni, New Mutants Vol. 1 by Jonathan Hickman & Rod Reis, and movie night choice, Detective Pikachu!

X-Men Vol. 1 by Jonathan Hickman, Leinil Francis Yu, R.B. Silva, Matteo Buffagni: Finally checking this out. I’m not sure if I like Hickman’s take yet, or that it’s what I want out of an X-Men story, but I am curious where it goes. Hickman seems to be playing with all the X-Men toys: Starjammers, Krakoa, Apocalypse, original and new X-Men, so that’s kind of neat. I haven’t seriously followed X-Men since Chris Claremont stopped writing them, I read a few of the major runs since then, but it was only a dip in here and there. Jason Aaron’s Wolverine & the X-Men was the last run I really enjoyed. For years, it’s felt like the X-verse was such a vast part of Marvel that you could follow it, or the rest, but not both. Maybe just me. I’m glad I’m getting these from the library, in any event.

New Mutants Vol. 1 by Jonathan Hickman & Rod Reis: Very different art style from X-Men, almost enjoyed it more than the main book, largely due to the awesome narration from Sunspot.

Pretty Deadly Vol. 1 by Kelly Sue DeConnick & Emma Rios: I love a good weird western comic. Beautiful art. Can’t wait to read more.

Invincible Ultimate Collection Vol 6 by Robert Kirkman, Ryan Ottley, & Cory Walker: I really enjoy the Invincible comics. Probably one of my favourite modern superhero launches. It probably helps having the continuity of creators that being an creator owned book allows. You rarely see Marvel or DC writers and artists spend so long developing characters. The new cartoon based on the series is looking fun too.

X-Force Vol. 1 by Benjamin Percy, Joshua Cassara, & Steven Segovia: Professor Xavier is dead. Again. Percy does some interesting stuff with it, and more of the mystery of what’s going on on Krakoa begins to unravel. The art suits the story well. Strikeforce-style black ops X-men comics still not something I particularly want though.

Fallen Angels Vol. 1 by Bryan Hill, Szymon Kudranski, & Frank D’Armata: Probably my least favourite book in the new X-Men storyline. Nothing technically wrong with it, but the characters of Cable, Psylocke, and X-23 have never really been my jam.

The Bite of the Mango by Mariatu Kamara (with Susan McClelland): Tough read, simply told, about a survivor of violence in Sierra Leone. I didn’t know much about the conflict in Sierra Leone and its aftermath, and The Bite of the Mango obviously focuses on Kamara’s story, but I’m glad I read it.

Here’s what I read in January.

Here’s what I read in February.

Also, check out the roundup of my 2020 reading here.

Short Story in Arcana!

My story “‘Til Death is Done” appears in Rhonda Parrish’s Arcana anthology! All the stories are inspired by a single tarot card, and the anthology releases May 11th. I hope you’ll check it out!

Here’s the Table of Contents:

Finders and Keepers, Its and Not-Its by Jaime Formato
Palimpsest by Kevin Cockle
Larkspur and Henbane by Sara Cleto & Brittany Warman
Lupa by Susan MacGregor
The Tale of King Edgar by L.S. Johnson
Better Angels by Angela Slatter
Thorns by Gabrielle Harbowy
Anime Gamelle by Sara Dobie Bauer
The Marriage of Ocean and Dust by Alexandra Seidel
The Hermit by Hal Friesen
The Mysterious East (Fredericton, NB) by Greg Bechtel
One More Song by Eliza Chan
‘Til Death is Done by Chadwick Ginther
Vestige by Annie Neugebauer
Gift of the Kites by Jim C. Hines
Surveying the Land by BD Wilson
Rooks by Dan Koboldt
Cold Spells by Diana Hurlburt
The Moon by C.S. MacCath
The Words of the Sun by Sarena Ulibarri
My Brother’s Keeper by Beth Cato
Age of Aquarius by Cat McDonald

Tarot cards have twenty-two major arcana, filled with symbolism and imbued with meaning. Explore the greater secrets and ideas behind those cards with the stories and poems of Arcana.

Discovery awaits in tales such as: a grasping king struggling with his legacy; a soldier receiving messages from the sun; an alchemist setting a golem out on a message of revenge and a woman finding what she didn’t know she was looking for.

Each story is like drawing a card from the deck–you never know what it might reveal.

Reserve your copy now

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There will be a paperback version available on release day.

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Cover art and design by Philippe McNally and featuring interior illustrations by Marge Simon.