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 2020 Reading List: August

Since one of my writing goals for 2020 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 in 2020 to keep me honest, and what I thought of each book immediately after finishing.

I’ve decided to be a little more systematic about my reading plans. Now I’m pulling out an actual to-read pile to stack on the nightstand. I’m limiting the stack to five books, which seems doable for the month, even though odds are I won’t get through them all each month. Occasionally comics and graphic novels or roleplaying games might jump the queue, but I’m trying to get through the pile in order I stack them. The first time I did this, I basically grabbed the first five shinys to catch my eye, but for my next stack, I plan on adding some criteria to diversify my reading a bit. My intention is 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’ve accumulated a lot of these over the years, and I’ve been a bit slower to get to many of them than I’d like. Sorry, friends!).

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August:

A Once Crowded Sky by Tom King: I don’t often enjoy superhero novels, and yet, I almost always seek them out to read them. I’ve enjoyed what I’ve read of Tom King’s comic work, so I had high hopes for this one going in. A Once Crowded Sky includes comic panels featuring its heroes as well as script pages. It was a bit more meta than I typically want to see from superhero fiction, but that’s pretty common when superheroes turn up in literary fiction. My minor personal taste complaints aside, King did a good job deconstructing superheroic storytelling.

Heroine Complex by Sarah Kuhn: I hadn’t intended to follow up one superhero novel with another, but that’s the way things worked out. This one read more as an urban fantasy style than superhero to me, but it was so much fun. Grabbed me immediately the way other UF series by Kevin Hearne, Seanan McGuire, and Patricia Briggs have in the past. So glad there’s more books available in the series.

Amuse Bouche by Anthony Bidulka: The first Russell Quant mystery. Russell’s a gay P.I. based in Saskatoon living a big life in a small city. I enjoyed Russell as a character, not the typical complete asshole PI that usually end up reading about. Somehow I’ve managed to collect the entire series except for book 2, so it might a be a while before I continue with it, but I’d happily read more.

The Sword-Edged Blonde by Alex Bledsoe: The first Eddie LaCrosse novel. Fun little sword and sorcery mystery with noir flavour. I got this one in my book bag when I attended World Fantasy Con, and Alex was in attendance, so I was lucky enough to get it signed. I’d read more of Eddie’s adventures!

In for a Pound by SG Wong: The Second Lola Starke novel. It’s been a while since I read the third book in the series, which was my introduction to Lola, but I think In for a Pound is my favourite. SG Wong hit my reading sweet spot with the pacing on this one, and I just burned through it. Also, when you know a character is going to die because the back cover tells you so, but you still want them to stick around and make the protagonist happy, the author has really got you with a short number of pages. I’m sad I’m done with the series, but I think there’s a few short stories set in Lola Starke’s Crescent City, which I’ll be seeking out.

Grizzlyville by Jake MacDonald: One of the reasons I wanted to read this one, other than bears are neat, is that I bought a copy for my dad years ago and he liked it. Less a book about bears as a book filled with stories about the people who live around, and seek out, the bears of North America. In three separate sections featuring grizzlies, black bears, and polar bears, MacDonald displays an impressive raconteur voice. I feel like some bits of the book might not have aged well in the years since publication, but the whole of it was still enjoyable.

I made it through the inaugural reading stack in the same month I chose it! I honestly wasn’t expecting that. I feel like this was my best reading month of the year so far in 2020.

Looking forward to building the to-read pile for September. What are you reading right now?

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.