The 2021 Reading List: December

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 of my criteria from stack to stack from 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.

December started with finishing up last month’s reading list, and trying to finish off one more to-read pile before the new year hits. (And I almost made it!)

When Sorrows Come by Seanan McGuire: The latest October Daye novel. Toby and Tybalt get married (finally). Some good payoff for some series-long subplots in this one. While McGuire is great at reminding readers of what came before, this is probably incomprehensible to anyone who hasn’t read the rest of the series (which you really should if you like great urban fantasy). Also includes a novella from Toby’s POV.

The Mammoth Book of Folk Horror edited by Stephen Jones: A pretty solid anthology. I enjoyed the modern tales more than any of the classics. Neither M.R. James, Arthur Machen, or the Lovecraft stories included really grabbed me. Of those three, I had already read Lovecraft’s “The Hound” so it held up better, maybe out of nostalgia. I did, however, enjoy Algernon Blackwood’s “Ancient Lights.” The standout stories for me were Alison Littlewood’s “Jenny Greenteeth”, Michael Marshall Smith’s “The Offering,” and Maura McHugh’s “Gravedirt Mouth.” Other notables were “Sticks” by Karl Edward Wagner, and Simon Strantzas’ “The King of Stones.”

Gather by Richard Van Camp: On the joy of storytelling. A fantastic read full of advice on being a storyteller. I’ve been fortunate enough to hear Richard speak at several events, and was also lucky enough to interview him for an article, so while reading the book I could practically hear his voice saying the words.

The Canadian Werewolf Chronicle by Sean Cummings: Read from an advance reading copy so I could provide an introduction. I really enjoyed this! It brought back memories of all the fun werewolf shows I’ve watched over the years. Will probably speak on it more when the book officially releases.

Black Widow Vol.2: I Am the Black Widow by Kelly Thompson, Rafael De Latorre, Elena Casagrande: Another fine volume. Nice to see Yelena turn up. Kate Bishop too.

A Banquet for Hungry Ghosts by Ying Chang Compestine: I didn’t finish this one. It wasn’t poorly written, but I didn’t really connect with it. Conceptually really interesting though, glad I gave it a try.

My final to-read stack of 2021:

Raccoon Sky Pirates by Hectic Electron, Murder by the Book by Lauren Elliott, The Bjorkan Sagas by Harold R. Johnson, The World Without Us by Alan Weisman, Grave Reservations by Cherie Priest.

Raccoon Sky Pirates by Hectic Electron: A DELIGHT. Picked up on a whim and cannot wait to get it to the table.

Murder by the Book by Lauren Elliott: The first book in the Beyond the Page series. Took me a bit to get into, but once I got some momentum behind me, I really enjoyed it. I’ll probably read more in this series.

Star Wars Darth Vader Vol.2 Into the Fire by Greg Pak, Raffaele Ienco, Neeraj Menon: Still enjoying the latest run of the Vader comic.

Grave Reservations by Cherie Priest: Another delight. There’s a followup coming, I hear, which is very exciting. I hope this becomes a long running series.

Once & Future Vol.3 The Parliament of Magpies by Kieron Gillen, Dan Mora, Tamra Bonvillain: Another beautifully illustrated volume of what’s becoming my favourite recent bit of Arthuriana. Can’t wait to see where the series goes after volume 3’s huge cliffhanger ending.

A small year end library to-read stack:

Once Removed by Andrew Unger, Once & Future Vol.3: The Parliament of Magpies, Star Wars Darth Vader Vol.2 Into the Fire.

There were also lots of comics reread in December, consumed in individual issues: I finished the Fraction/Aja Hawkeye run, the 90s Power of the Atom, Duane Swierczynski’s Birds of Prey run, Chris Claremont’s take on Fantastic Four, a few Uncanny X-Men Annuals, and Gail Simone’s Domino run.

Sadly, I didn’t finish everything on the to-read stack as hoped, so I won’t be starting fresh in January, but that’s okay. I’m looking forward to reading them all the same, and still haven’t settled on how I want to shape my to-read stacks in the new year anyway.

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.

Here’s what I read in September.

Here’s what I read in October.

Here’s what I read in November.

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

New Year’s Eve 2021

It’s hard to get excited for a new year when you know that it’s going to start off the same way the last one ended. But, still, there is hope that this one will be better than the last. Is it a fool’s hope? Time will, as always, tell.

Stay warm, and stay safe, friends.

Years ago now, Ravenstone Books asked me to write up a list of Ted Callan’s resolutions for a blog post, and instead, I wrote a little vignette of his New Year’s Eve post-Tombstone Blues. I’m quite fond of this little piece, so here it is for you again.

New Year’s Eve

Thunder Road vignette

Outside of the hotel that had become his home, the cold bit into Ted Callan’s lungs with every breath.

What is your resolution for the coming year? Huginn asked.

Why do you fucking care? Ted shot back as he lit a cigarette.

Call it curiosity, the raven said. Everyone else seems to be making one tonight.

Doesn’t matter, they’re all bullshit.

“Cold out tonight,” a woman’s voice slurred from behind Ted.

He turned to see a middle-aged woman, shivering in her dress as she struggled to light a cigarette, and huddled under a borrowed suit jacket for warmth. He was glad that he hadn’t addressed his living raven tattoos aloud.

Ted nodded absently and muttered a yup as he lit her smoke and then went back to his own.

You could do something about this cold. Huginn’s cawing voice echoed shrilly in Ted’s mind.

I’ve done enough, he shot back.

It had been a brutal, miserable fucking winter, and it was a long way from over. The mercury had only cracked -20 twice since he’d beat back Hel’s army of the dead, and both of those times, a blizzard had chased in, nipping the heels of the warmer weather.

“What’s your resolution?” the woman asked, and then without waiting for Ted’s answer, added, “I think I’m going to quit smoking.”

They shared a chuckle, and then took a drag, exhaling plumes of smoke that coalesced in the frigid night air.

Resolutions had to be Ted’s least favourite part of the New Year, aside from his usual—and fierce—hangover. He couldn’t think of a single resolution that he’d ever kept. But at least tomorrow he wouldn’t be passed out, body half in the bathroom and his head pounding with thunder instead of his fist.

Muninn trotted out Ted’s list of past broken promises; it made quite the litany. All had been chosen spur of the moment to fulfill a cultural need, not out of any genuine desire to change, or to better himself.

Quit smoking

Take up the guitar again.

Get back in shape.

Quit smoking.

Eat better.

Eat less.

He took a drag of his cigarette, and exhaled in a long sighing breath. Quit smoking.

That one had definitely been the most common.

“Happy New Year!” the woman yelled, voice thick with drunken cheer, as she butted out her cigarette in the hotel’s sand-filled ashtray. She rushed back inside blowing on her hands as she went through the brass-edged revolving door entrance.

Judging from his chuckles, Muninn was having a grand old time continuing down the list of Ted’s failed promises.

Be more romantic.

Quit the Patch.

Travel.

Everyone is making a resolution, Huginn pressed, staring pointedly at Muninn. Thinking ahead. Forgetting the past.

Ted didn’t get why the birds were so fucking excited about resolutions, but he supposed making one was the only sure way to shut them the hell up.

“Fine,” he grumbled. “Kill Surtur. How’s that for a fucking resolution?”

Huginn and Muninn exchanged surprised quorks.

“Not good enough? What about: go to my buddy’s wedding without getting everyone killed? Oh, and maybe repair all the goddamned damage that Loki’s done to my godsdamned life.”

Ted took a last drag and mashed his cigarette into the ashtray.

The ravens waited in silence for a moment, and then together said, You would have a better chance quitting smoking.

Art by S.M. Beiko.

There’s never a bad day to listen to Tom Waits, so I may as well share one of my favourites once again.

Happy New Year!

Eligible Works Published in 2021

It’s that time of year again! If you are one of those nominating, or thinking about nominating, works for science fiction/fantasy-related awards (the Nebula, the Hugo, the Aurora, in particular), in 2021 I published the following stories:

“‘Til Death is Done,” Arcana, Poise and Pen Press, Rhonda Parrish, editor, May 2021. Read an excerpt here.

“Midnight Man versus Carrie Cthulhu,” Water: Selkies, Sirens, & Sea Monsters, Tyche Books, Rhonda Parrish, editor, August 2021. Read an excerpt here.

“Lurkers in the Leaves,” Alternate Plains, Enfield & Wizenty, Darren Ridgley & Adam Petrash, editors, October 2021. Read an excerpt here.

If you’re voting on any the various speculative fiction awards this year and want to read more of any of these stories please drop me a line, and I’ll make sure you can read any of my work that interests you. If you’re looking for more additions to your reading list Cat Rambo and A.C. Wise keep pretty comprehensive lists of who published what in 2021.

Thanks for reading, folks!

The 2021 Reading List: November

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 of my criteria from stack to stack off my own shelves, and I’m never sure when a library book will arrive to interrupt my reading. 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.

Black Widow Vol. 1 The Ties That Bind by Kelly Thompson, Elena Casagrande, Rafael De Latorre, Jordie Bellaire: A fantastic addition to Black Widow’s history. It feels like this arc is in conversation with the Mark Waid/Chris Samnee run on the character, but it’s been a while since I’ve read those issues. Definitely want to read more by this creative team.

Without a Brew by Ellie Alexander: The latest Sloane Krause beer-flavoured cozy mystery. I’m still really enjoying this series. Pity now that I’m all caught up I have to wait a year for the next volume! Might start Alexander’s bake shop cozy series in the meantime.

Gear and Sea by Clare C. Marshall: A YA novel set in the Silent Guardians universe of graphic novels from Justin Currie and GMB Chomichuk. Lots of fun worldbuilding and great characterization. I don’t read a ton of YA, but I enjoyed this one.

Digging up the Remains by Julia Henry: This one didn’t quite grab me, I’m afraid. Didn’t finish it.

Black God’s Kiss by C.L. Moore: An early sword & sorcery and weird fiction pioneer who I have somehow managed not to read until now. Moore’s Jirel of Joiry is recognized as the first female protagonist in the genre. I really enjoyed the first story, “Black God’s Kiss.” I thought it held up quite well. The following stories had diminishing returns for me, but I enjoyed Moore’s prose almost as much as Robert E. Howard’s, and more than Lovecraft’s. Ultimately, I set it aside, but I think I’ll eventually return to finish the final three stories in the collection.

On Spec #114 Vol 30 no 4: Standout stories for me were “Pastrami on Rye” by Sara C. Walker, “Treasure Hunting a Husband” by Erik Bundy, and “The Melting Man” by Gordon Linzner. A couple stories I chose not to finish as they didn’t grab me, but all in all a pretty solid issue.

I also reread about 50 issues of the ’90s run on New Warriors by Fabian Nicieza, Mark Bagley, and Darick Robertson as well as a bunch of the Matt Fraction/David Aja (along with some other fantastic artists) run on Hawkeye, and really enjoyed revisiting both.

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.

Here’s what I read in September.

Here’s what I read in October.

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

The 2021 Reading List October

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 of my criteria from stack to stack from 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.

Tiny Cthulhu by Alan Bahr: I love the Tiny D6 rules set. I backed this on Kickstarter and I think it’ll be a fun way to run a cosmic horror game. Lots of fun microsettings to choose from too, if you need some ideas of how to get a game started.

Jurassic Park by Michael Crichton: A reread because I watched Jurassic World again recently and then found this in a local little free library. It held up pretty well. I’m surprised how different and yet the same Book Malcolm is from Movie Malcolm. Crichton is not great at evoking character in other instances, but this still remains a pretty good thriller.

Hench by Natalie Zina Walschots: Great voice on this one, absolutely adored the story and the narrator. Hench deconstructs a lot of superhero tropes without ever seem to wink at the reader saying “I’m writing a serious book about superheroes” (which I hate). Lots to think about in what the aftermath of a superhero “victory” would look like. Highly recommended!

Death Bee Comes Her by Nancy Coco: A cozy mystery with a bee and honey theme. It was fun, but I didn’t really connect with any of the characters so I probably won’t continue with the series.

Once & Future Volume 2: Old English by Keiron Gillen, Dan Mora, and Tamra Bonvillain: An excellent follow up to the first volume, with Beowulf and Grendel infiltrating the modern take on Arthurian legend. Fun story with beautiful art and brilliant colours. Looking forward to reading volume 3!

Witch Please by Ann Aguirre: So much fun! I’m really looking forward to reading the next installment of the series. Interesting worldbuilding, great characters, and a super steamy romance.

The Virago Book of Erotic Myths and Legends by Shahrukh Husain: I’ve had this on my mythology reference shelves for years but never actually cracked it until now. Unfortunately it read more like a text book to me. I enjoyed a few pieces I read, but not enough to finish the book.

Dungeons & Dragons The Wild Beyond the Witchlight: Picked up on a whim. Probably not my style as a DM, but it’s full of gorgeous whimsical art, and it was cool to see some characters from the D&D cartoon and toy line turn up.

Arsenic and Adobo by Mia P. Manansala: A fun cozy mystery with a restaurant theme. Fast paced and lots of great family moments. Looking forward to reading the next one.

The Outsider by Stephen King: I haven’t read a “new” Stephen King in years. This one was a little slow out of the gate, and took a while to get to the supernatural in a direct way, but that is typical of what I remember from King. I’m glad I stuck with it, a good story with memorable characters. Might try some more of King’s newer work again down the road because of enjoying this read.

I got through my September stack late in the month, but still early enough that I wanted to build a bit of a spooky themed pile for my next to-read selections. I also had a bunch of graphic novels arrive from the library, enough to make a stack of their own.

A Night in the Lonesome October by Roger Zelazny, Gear and Sea by Clare C. Marshall, Black God’s Kiss by C.L. Moore, A Banquet for Hungry Ghosts by Ying Chang Compestine, Trick or Treat by Lisa Morton, The Mammoth Book of Folk Horror edited by Stephen Jones.
Swords of Sorrow by Gail Simone, Star Wars The Destiny Path by Charles Soule, Star Wars Darth Vader Dark Heart of the Sith by Greg Pak, The Black Ghost by Monica Gallagher and Alex Segura, Age of Ultron by Brian Michael Bendis.

Swords of Sorrow by Gail Simone, Emma Bebby, Marguerite Bennet, Nancy A. Collins, Mikki Kendall, Leah Moore, Mairghread Scott, Erica Schultz, G. Willow Wilson, Sergio Davila, Dave Acosta, Mirka Andolfo, Ronilson Freire, Francesco Manna, Rod Rodolfo, Noah Salonga, Crizam Zamora: This collection includes the Swords of Sorrow, Vampirella & Jennifer Blood, Dejah Thoris & Irene Adler, Red Sonja & Jungle Girl limited series and the Masquerade & Kato, Black Sparrow & Lady Zorro, Pantha & Jane Porter, Miss Fury & Lady Rawhide one shots. The entire crossover was spearheaded by Gail Simone, whose work I quite enjoy. Because there was so many different artists and writers working on the project it was a little uneven to me at times, but by and large was pretty fun. Outside of the main Swords of Sorrow mini series, I enjoyed Marguerite Bennet and Mirka Andolfo’s work on Red Sonja & Jungle Girl the most, but I’ve always been a sucker for a good Red Sonja story.

Star Wars Volume 1 The Destiny Path by Charles Soule, Jesus Saiz: Charles Soule’s Star Wars work has always been a lot of fun. I’ve loved Jesus Saiz’s art for a long time too. He does a great job of capturing the main characters’ likenesses without making the art seem too stiff and photo referenced. Takes place in the aftermath of The Empire Strikes Back. Looking forward to reading more.

Star Wars Darth Vader Vol. 1 Dark Heart of the Sith by Greg Pak, Raffaele Ienco: The Vader titles have always been a highlight of Marvel’s Star Wars line, this one is no exception. I liked seeing the callbacks to the prequel trilogy, and a focus on Amidala.

The Black Ghost Season 1 Hard Revolution by Alex Segura, Monica Gallagher, George Kambadais: A really fun pulp hero inspired street-level crimefighter book. Great art, and a complicated heroine. I hope there’s another volume soon.

A Night in the Lonesome October by Roger Zelazny: Returning for my annual reread. I love this book so much. Every year I find something new when I reread it. Once again I chose the read one chapter a day each day in October tactic rather than reading the entire book in a rush. I’m not sure which way of reading the novel I prefer, maybe next year I’ll try reading the book in as few sittings as possible, rather than stretching it out over the month.

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.

Here’s what I read in September.

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

Trio of Interviews

A trio of (relatively) recent interviews all landed online in a short span, so here’s a roundup:

Haley Pauls from The Uniter reached out to me and some other fine local writers about the state of the Speculative Fiction scene in Manitoba. It was a super fun feature. Check it out here.

Darren Ridgley and Adam Petrash, editors of the anthology Alternate Plains, which contains my story “Lurkers in the Leaves,” asked me a few questions about my story and writing to celebrate the anthology’s launch. Check it out here. There’s interviews from a bunch of the other contributors, all worth checking out, on the same site.

And most recently, the Geekspin Podcast had me on to talk about my writing process, musical influences in Thunder Road, and why I killed the Geekspin Podcast’s host in Too Far Gone. Check it out here.

Thanks for having me, folks!

All Cats Go to Valhalla Wins Aurora Award!

I’m still a little stunned.

I really wasn’t expecting to win, it was a strong ballot this year filled with stories I really admired.

Huge thanks to Rhonda Parrish for liking my story enough to include it in Swashbuckling Cats (both also nominated for an Aurora) and to Margaret Curelas of Tyche Books for publishing such a fun anthology. Of course, thanks to everyone who read the story and enjoyed it enough to nominate it, and to everyone who participated in voting for this year’s awards.

Thank you all for reading.

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!