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.

Guest Post: Clare C. Marshall on Writing the Bad Guy

Please welcome back to the blog, Clare Marshall!

It’s been a year since her first YA novel, Within, was published, and I’m a part of her celebratory blog tour. Today, Clare talks about writing the bad guy:


It’s not every story that we get to hear from the bad guy.

If you’ve never heard of my book before, here’s a brief synopsis. It’s about a girl named Trinity who gets in a car accident, and as a result, has brain damage. But then she starts uncontrollably writing a novel, streamlining the consciousness of a murderer who turns out to be very real. It’s up to Trinity’s boyfriend Zack, and Trinity’s best friend Ellie to determine who the murderer is before he finds them—and he’s closer to home than they realize. Plus, the book takes place in the very real city of Halifax.

Within is written in third person with multiple POVs, and one of those POVs is the psychotic murderer, named Edmund. Now, Edmund fancies himself a clever man, and in many ways, he is quite clever. He likes to prey upon the weak-minded to help him with his schemes–aka, murdering those he considers to be impure–ethnic minorities and homeless people especially. He makes up a fake god named Omnus, who demands sacrifice, and grants power to his followers for each kill. In reality, during the convoluted killing ritual that Edmund has concocted, he serves wine laced with a powerful hallucinogenic to his followers.

But why, you might be asking, why would it be necessary to have Edmund go through all this song and dance just to kill people? Why can’t he just stab his victims in an alleyway? A couple of reasons: first of all, that would be too boring for him. It’s about the chase: picking out his victims according to his specific code of twisted ethics, and capturing them, taking them to his secret lair beneath the Halifax Common. The Commons (as it’s locally known) is a park in Halifax that you really don’t want to go around at night. Or at least, when I lived in Halifax, it wasn’t a place you wanted to be after dark, alone.

It’s also about the control Edmund has over the people gullible enough to buy into his charade. His followers become addicted to the feeling of power that he gives them. His dark rituals take place in caverns beneath the Commons, so he can hide his face from the public and practice his guilty pleasures. The more involved his devotees become, the more they have to lose.

And because Edmund prefers this kind of chase, this kind of control, he needs his followers to help him kidnap his victims and get rid of their remains. The more complicated the scheme, the more loose ends there are.

Will these loose ends be Edmund’s undoing? Well, you’re just going to have to read it and find out!

Read more about Within at Faery Ink Press (, and enter the giveaway to win a physical copy (open internationally!)

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Clare Marshall grew up in rural Nova Scotia with very little television and dial up internet, and yet, she turned out okay. She has a combined honours degree in journalism and psychology from the University of King’s College, and is a graduate from Humber College’s Creative Book Publishing Program. She is a freelance editor, designer and website manager, and enjoys publishing books through her publishing imprint, Faery Ink Press. When she’s not writing, she enjoys playing the fiddle and making silly noises at cats.