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.

A Guest Post by Sarah Kades

It’s my great pleasure to host a guest blog from Adventure Romance writer, Sarah Kades today! Sarah and I used to work together at the bookstore, where (if memory serves) we were both just starting to get serious about our writing.

With the holiday season about to hit us all like a Mack truck, enjoy a post about trying to find quiet time and a short sample from one of Sarah’s stories.

Holiday Hideout, Elbowing in Quiet Time

by Sarah Kades

I want to thank Chadwick for having me as a guest on his blog, it is great to be here!

Happy Thanksgiving to our southern neighbors today. I have found a lot to support the notion that people are people wherever you go. Sure, there are cultural accents, some pretty freaking huge, but I have lived in a few different countries and there are a lot of universal experiences. The Holiday Hideout is one of them. You know what I’m talking about, it’s the holidays and you are in a house full of your relatives, maybe you have even travelled far from your home and your normal to get there. Sure you love them, they are your family, but there is a reason everyone moved out of the house. And it wasn’t just to lose the curfew, have coed sleepovers, sleep until noon, and eat Ramen noodles three times a day. Okay, the last one was more a financial decision at the time, but you get my point. We move out for freedom, to spread our wings, to fly or crash and burn. Whatever happens, we’re unfolding into who we are, which might not be the same as the family slot we’ve been assigned to. People change, we grow up, change our minds and sometimes even our ideologies or world views.

Enter a holiday. Adults with backstory congregating under one roof? Oh dear, did I pack booze? Chocolate or a good coffee works wonders for me, as well. Holidays bring out joy, but also a lot of family baggage we’ve been hanging onto for years. Did I mention the booze? I’m already into the wine. But seriously, I am excited. Maybe not for the fireworks, but in hanging out with the people I grew up with. There is a poignant soul searching that happens every time I go back home. Sitting around the table or living room and laughing so hard you think you are going to pee your pants as all the old stories come out is good, too.

In my case I tack on the added charge of marrying a dude from another country, having immigrated to said country that happens to be more liberal than the U.S. This has spurred all sorts of fantastic dinner table . . . conversations . . . heated discussions. . .  ‘er, debates?

We all need down time, time to regroup, recharge, refresh before we go back at it again with more holiday visiting. We need the Holiday Hideout. How do we hang out with the family over any length of time and keep our sanity? There are the old standbys, a thwack of football games and parades today to tune out in front of the TV or attend, card games, video games and of course the movies. There is a reason the holiday season kicks out blockbusters; we can be entertained and technically hanging out with our family, but not talking to each other for a couple hours.

One of my favorite Holiday Hideouts is nature, I find my best solace and recharge when I am outside. When I am home with my in-laws, who I adore, but still need my hideout time, I escape to Lake Ontario. It’s a big lake full of peace to share for those sitting at her shores. All the swirling energy of the day or season can be grounded by taking the time to just be outside and present at the shore. A hike or a simple walk outside help, too. Notice the smell of the trees, the crisp air, or just look up. How often do we take the time to stop and look up at the sky? I’ve also been known to run outside to savor a storm and the cleansing energy they bring, much to the confusion of my relatives.

Holidays are charged, go ground.

How about a literary ground? Curling up with a good book and exploring an engaging story can give us a welcome respite. Check out Chadwick’s book, Thunder Road, or my novella Claiming Love and discuss. Riveting dinner conversation, I promise! Who brings Norse mythology or paranormal romance to the holiday dinner table? Maybe you this year. Way to rock it! I’m posting an excerpt from my short story, Duke Out at the Diner below, to stoke the literary fires.

Ground away.

You have to wait a bit longer for my story The Cop Can Cook, and Other Christmas Miracles. I am elbowing in Holiday Hideout time to work on that this week. Fun!!

So to my fellow Americans, Canadians, and all the citizens of the world, Happy Thanksgiving. Today is a great day to reflect on all that I have to be thankful for. The list is long and fruitful with a lot of incredible people, but let me simply raise a glass in toast and say thank you to the wondrous adventure that is life, to all the amazing people I get to experience it with, and thank you to Chadwick for letting me sit around his blog hearth on this day of thanks and gratitude.

Sláinte and Happy Thanksgiving,


Sarah Kades

Adventure Romance Writer of the great outdoors, characters you want to have a beer with and usually a helicopter.

Blog Twitter Facebook Sarah Kades Goodreads Author Page

From the short story Duke Out at the Diner

It’s a terrible thing to realize you have food stuck in your teeth. Even more terrible when the shiny napkin dispenser you’re slyly using to check, points it out.

“I’m not a napkin dispenser, I’m in the thing. There’s a difference.”

“Ahhh.” Shay shrieked. “Who said that?”

Cautiously she peered around the deserted cafe. The waitress and cook had disappeared out the side door, giggling and mooning over each other. No way were they back yet.

“I have got to get more sleep.” Shay ran her tongue over her teeth in front of the dispenser’s mirrored surface, wondering if she could imagine voices because of lack of sleep.

“Your teeth are fine. Now get me out of here.”

Shay dropped the chatty dispenser onto the table and looked around in panic. I can’t be imagining that.

“I’m stuck in here, now get me out.”

Shay stared at the unassuming chrome napkin dispenser talking to her.

“I. Am. Not. A. Napkin. Dispenser.” The voice started in the tone used in talking to someone dimwitted, but ended in an enraged growl, “I just need you to get me the hell out of here.”

Shay jumped in her seat at having her mind read, but the boorish attitude and unwarranted snapping spurred her to action. Shay was sick of men treating her like an idiot. With a new-found smile, she swatted the offending chrome piece, launching it into the air. It landed with a thud on the floor and skidded a few feet.

For a mind reader, he should have seen that one coming, she thought smugly.

In that brief moment, Shay had unleashed on all the men who had hurt her in the past. A paltry thing, throwing around diner-ware, but it had felt darn good. Shay’s manners returned, though, and she couldn’t stop herself from getting up and retrieving the fallen canister. It now had a dinged corner and dirt on it from skidding across the uncleaned-floor.

With a sigh and feeling a bit self-conscious, Shay grabbed one of the napkins held within and started to rub clean the unobtrusive object. She must have been imagining the darn thing talking to her. She needed to get more sleep, work less, and regroup more. That’s what coming to this town was supposed to be about anyway. And getting away from Jerrod.

Rubbing the dirt off, Shay looked at her reflection in the chrome, remembering when her life had been normal, with nothing scarier than the calorie count on her favorite ice cream. And even that wasn’t scary, it was delicious. Life had been simple, wonderful, and then the rug had been pulled out from underneath her. Almost in a trance she rubbed the napkin holder, thinking, dreaming of how she was getting her life back on track.

“Stop that. . .  quit rubbing, that’s enough, I’m already coming-” The voice was back.

A swooshing sound rang through the empty room. She still held the chrome piece, but now an irate looking man had materialized and now lumbered over her. Broad shoulders crowded near Shay’s face. Okay, so definitely not a napkin holder. The man was gorgeous. Cranky, but undeniably gorgeous. Why had the most interesting man she’d ever seen materialize from an inanimate object? In so many ways, life was not fair. And why did he look so grumpy? He was probably an ass, like all the other men in her life.

“Out.“ Eric finished his sentence. Dusting off his jeans and running his large hands through longish dark blond hair, he glared at his rescuer.

“Nice rub-down.” He knew he spat the angry words, but he couldn’t seem to help it.

The woman had been so spunky, then caring, and then so lost. Not to mention she was clean-spun gorgeous. Eric could deal with the fairer sex, no problem. But not knock-out wholesome beauties with backstory. God help him.

The woman’s vibrant green eyes narrowed at his comment. Eric couldn’t wait to find out what she would do. This was madness, he needed to get out of here, find out how to break the curse so wouldn’t be stuck back in that damn dispenser again. But the woman before him was making it impossible to move. Eric was mesmerized and wanted to see what she would do next.

She did the unthinkable. Eyes still narrowed, she drew her leg back. Eric’s brain was registering what she was doing, but his arrogance couldn’t believe it. People gave him a wide berth, he knew it was because he looked so intimidating. But the fiery minx thrust her knee up and made direct contact where Eric was most vulnerable.