The 2022 To-Read List: May

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.

I’m changing how I build my to-read stacks in 2022. This year, each stack of five will have to include at least two books by women, one non-fiction book, one book by an author I know personally, and one anthology (I’m making a conscious effort to read more short stories this year). Previously my 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 those piles from my own shelves was starting to get tricky after two years, and I still plan on trying to read through books I’ve already purchased as much as possible. I’m going to add at least one book from the library by a BIPOC or LGBTQ2S+ author for every stack I build to continue trying to diversify my reading.

The library has become my go-to for keeping up on what’s going in comics, so I’m sure there’ll be a number of graphic novels (and roleplaying games) that jump the queue and end up in the piles from time to time as well.

May’s to-read stack has a few things I’ve been looking forward to for a while.

Hell Fire by Ann Aguirre, Spelunking Through Hell by Seanan McGuire, The Kaiju Preservation Society by John Scalzi, Talking About Detective Fiction by P.D. James, Water: Selkies, Sirens, & Sea Monsters edited by Rhonda Parrish.

An ambitious pile of library books also arrived just in time for me to start a fresh month’s reading.

Night of the Mannequins by Stephen Graham Jones, Blood and Circuses by Kerry Greenwood, The Kingdom of Copper by S.A. Chakraborty, Strikeforce: Trust Me by Tini Howard, A Blanket of Butterflies by Richard Van Camp and Scott Henderson, Aquaman Volume 3: Echoes of a Life Well Lived by Kelly Sue DeConnick, Star Wars Vol. 3: War of the Bounty Hunters.

And a ton of roleplaying game books also arrived very closely together!

Recent roleplaying games to arrive: Dungeons & Dragons Rime of the Frostmaiden, Ravenloft When Black Roses Bloom, Sly Flourish’s The Lazy DM’s Workbook, The Black Hack Box Set, Marvel Multiverse Role-playing Game, Basic Fantasy, The Dragon Prince Tales of Xadia.

Advanced Dungeons & Dragons Ravenloft: When Black Roses Bloom: A 2nd edition D&D module I received as a gift. Combines elements of both the Ravenloft and Dragonlance settings. As with most modules, I doubt I’d run it as is, neither Ravenloft or Dragonlance are my go-to settings, but it definitely contains elements I’d steal for some other adventure.

Strikeforce: Trust Me by Tini Howard, Germán Peralta, Jacopo Camagni, Jordie Bellaire, Miroslave Mrva, Guru-eFX: I picked this up because I really enjoyed Howard’s run on Excalibur recently. Lots of minor, or lesser known characters share the stage in this book: Spider-Woman, Angela of Asgard, Blade, Winter Soldier, Spectrum, Wiccan, and Daimon Hellstrom, the Son of Satan. It almost worked for me. Maybe if the collection had more resolution rather than leaving off on a cliffhanger I’d be interested in more, but I don’t think I’ll read volume two. I’ll keep checking out Howard’s work on other books though.

A Blanket of Butterflies by Richard Van Camp, Scott B. Henderson: Part of the Debwe series of Indigenous writers from across Canada, which is “created in the spirit of the Anishinaabe concept debwe (to speak the truth). I’ve always enjoyed Van Camp’s writing, and Henderson’s art is as detail oriented and crisp as ever. A powerful read.

Blood and Circuses by Kerry Greenwood: Another Phryne Fisher mystery. More problematic moments than I’m used to, but still an enjoyable read with caveats. If you’re sensitive to portrayals of Roma and transgender people this could be a tough read. I think the author was coming at these portrayals from a good place, but they don’t really hold up to today’s standards of representation.

Kingdom of Copper by S.A. Chakraborty: Book two in the series. I’ve really enjoyed Chakraborty’s work. Looking forward to finishing the trilogy!

Night of the Mannequins by Stephen Graham Jones: Another winner. Jones managed to play with my expectations, and surprise me pleasantly (maybe horrifically, is more accurate?) throughout the novella. At this rate, I’m basically upgrading the author to read on sight.

Aquaman Vol. 4: Echoes of a Life Lived Well by Kelly Sue DeConnick, Jordan Clark, Miguel Mendonça, Robson Rocha: Feels like a natural end to DeConnick’s take on the character. I think this was an excellent run.

Another library stack arrived!

Every Heart a Doorway by Seanan McGuire, Red X by David Demchuk, Exit Strategy by Martha Wells, X-Men Vol. 3 by Jonathan Hickman

Every Heart a Doorway by Seanan McGuire: First in McGuire’s Wayward Children novella series. It wasn’t quite what I was expecting, but in a good way. I’ll definitely be continuing on with the series.

X-Men Vol. 3 by Jonathan Hickman, Phil Noto, Brett Booth, Mahmud Asrar, Francesco Mobili, Adelso Corono, Sunny Gho: Another volume in Hickman’s revamp of the X-Men. I think I read this out of order (I believe X of Swords was the next volume chronologically). But it still read okay, despite that. My biggest complaint with Hickman’s stint on X-Men is my usual complaint about trying to follow the X-Men side of the Marvel universe is the sheer volume of titles makes it hard to keep up and keep the story straight, and reading it from the library makes that a little trickier when you time your holds poorly. Can’t blame that one on the author though!

Astonishing Super Heroes Basic Rulebook by Tim Bannock: A retro clone rules set inspired by TSR’s old Marvel Super Heroes roleplaying game (which is one of my favourite systems from my youth) and I think it does some great things, and I think fixes a few issues I’ve had when I’ve tried to run the game recently. Still, without a robust character creation element within (a download of the Beta test rules came with purchase, but still…), it feels like an incomplete game to me.

Red X by David Demchuk: A great read. Mixing horror and memoir with a backdrop of Toronto’s gay village murders. I always thought if I ever got another writer’s words tattooed on my body it would be Roger Zelazny’s “Talk is cheap, whiskey costs money” but Red X might just be the source of my next tattoo. David’s words, “I hope you have a better ending ahead than the one I would write for you” are probably going to stay with me forever.

Spelunking Through Hell by Seanan McGuire: An Incryptid novel. McGuire finally gets to the story of Alice Healy. Not a read for someone not already invested in the series, even thought it’s the first POV novel for this character. Also contains the Incryptid novella “And Sweep Up the Wood” which gives a bit more background on Alice and Thomas Price, her long missing husband.

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.

Check out my roundup of my 2021 reading here.

Check out my roundup of my 2020 reading here.