READING ROUND-UP: February 2018

Being the second of my monthly reading summaries for 2018. Here’s what I read in February:



To keep my numbers consistent with what I have listed on Goodreads, I count completed magazine issues and stand-alone short stories in ebook format as “books.” I read or listened to 8 books in February: 4 in print, 1 in audio, and 3 in ebook format. They were:

1.       Help, I Am Being Held Prisoner by Donald E. Westlake. A prison break / bank robbery / military base caper /comedy of errors by a true master. There was at least a chuckle on every page, if not more, and Westlake made me really honestly laugh out loud several times. He piles the complications onto our hapless narrator, who just wants to get through it all in one piece. FULL REVIEW HERE.

2.       The Rainbow Comes And Goes: A Mother and Son on Life, Loss and Love by Anderson Cooper and Gloria Vanderbilt.  Listened to this on audio, and loved the honest interplay of emotion between son and mother as Anderson learns more about his mother’s childhood and early marriages before discussing their shared history. Very, very touching.

3.       Lightspeed Magazine #93 (February 2018 issue), edited by John Joseph Adams. The usual great assortment of science fiction and fantasy short stories and non-fiction. Favorites this issue were Ashok K. Banker’s “The Goddess Has Many Faces,” Bogi Takacs’ “Four Point Affective Calibration,” Rahul Kanakia’s “A Coward’s Death,” and An Owomoyela’s novella “The Charge and the Storm.”

4.       Teenagers From The Future: Essays on the Legion of Super-Heroes, edited by Timothy Callahan. The Legion are among my favorite comic-book super-teams (I seem to really love teams whose adventures take place in the past, like the Justice Society, or the far future, like the Legion). This book of essays spans the published history of the group.

5.       Things Fall Apart (The Africa Trilogy #1) by Chinua Achebe.  A fifty-year-old classic of African literature that I’m ashamed to say I hadn’t read before now. Sparsely written but with true poetry in the language, it captivated me from beginning to end, and inspired me to seek out the other books and add the series to my “Complete The Series” Challenge for 2018.

6.       Bone Swans by C.S.E. Cooney. A collection of five wonderful novellas that each deserves their own review. Two (“Bone Swans of Amandale” and “How The Milkmaid Struck A Bargain With the Crooked One”) are retellings of familiar fairy-tales with new twists and points-of-view (Bone Swans retells The Pied Piper with a bit of “swan princess” and “three musicians of Bremen” tossed in; Milkmaid is Rumplestiltskin with perhaps a bit of “faerie queen” for flavor). The other three are completely original tales that don’t feel particularly fairy-tale-ish but still ring out in Cooney’s inimitable style.

7.       Darkstar and the Winter Guard by David Gallaher, Steve Ellis and more. A graphic novel collecting Gallaher and Ellis’ mini-series featuring Marvel’s Russian state-sponsored super-team (and which also includes a classic Hulk tale from Peter David’s acclaimed run on the book). I really wanted to love this, given how much I loved the characters back when Darkstar debuted in The Champions and then an early version of this team appeared during Mark Gruenwald’s Captain America run … but for a variety of reasons, the story just didn’t grab me and I finished it feeling disappointed. I liked some of the newer characters, and missed some of the originals. I do wonder what Gallaher could do with the characters given a longer run.

8.       Shimmer Magazine #41 (January 2018) edited by E. Catherine Tobler.  A solid set of four spec-fic short stories by authors Sam Rebelein, Rebecca Campbell, Dee Warrick and Ian O’Reilly. I actually read the Rebelein story back in January, but read the rest of the stories this month. The Rebelein and Warrick both moved me in different ways, and the Campbell physically disturbed me (a good thing), and the O’Reilly was an excellent read as well.

So only 8 books in February, which Goodreads told me puts me six books ahead of schedule for my Goodreads Reading 100 Books Challenge.  Things Fall Apart is the only book read this month for the 2018 To Be Read Challenge, and along with Teenagers from the Future helped begin meeting the “Bustle Reading Challenge.” Only one graphic novel read in the month puts my “one graphic novel per week” reading challenge three weeks behind, and nothing I read in February helped meet any of the “Complete the Series” challenges that were on the list before I added The Africa Trilogy this month. All but the To Be Read Challenge were described HERE.

(Note: I am supposed to be posting full book reviews for the To Be Read Challenge, and have yet to post either. Longer reviews of Philip Jose Farmer’s Ironcastle (read in January) and Chinua Achebe’s Things Fall Apart (read this month) will be posted soon.



I have a goal of reading 365 short stories (1 per day, essentially, although it doesn’t always work out that way) each year. Here’s what I did read and where you can find them if you’re interested in reading them too (with some short notes for stories that really stood out to me). If no source is noted, the story is from the same magazine or book as the story(ies) that precede(s) it:

1.       “Regulation” by Seanan McGuire, from Galactic Games, edited by Bryan Thomas Schmidt

2.       “Minor Hockey Gods of Barstow Station” by Beth Cato.

3.       “Into the Green” by Seanan McGuire, from Bloodlines, edited by Amanda Pillar

4.       “The High Cost of Tamarind” by Steve Berman, from Time Well Bent, edited by Connie Wilkins

5.       “Blank” by Neil Bailey, stand-alone story e-published for Kindle

6.       “The Man With the Power to Kill With His Eyes” by Neil Bailey

7.       “Live in Brass” by Seanan McGuire, a “Patrick and Dianda” story from the October Daye-verse, self-published on the author’s Patreon

8.       “Eeny Meeny Miney Mi-Go” By William Meikle, ebook reward from the Occult Detective Quarterly Presents… Kickstarter

9.       “Black Fanged Thing” by Sam Rebelein, from Shimmer #41, January 2018, edited by E. Catherine Tobler

10.   “An Incomplete Catalogue of Mysterious Births, or, Secrets of the Uterus Abscondita ” by Rebecca Campbell

11.    “Me, Waiting For Me, Hoping For Something” by Dee Warrick

12.   “Held” by Ian O’Reilly

13.   “Filigree, Minotaur, Cyanide, Bloom” by Damien Angelica Walters, from Adam’s Ladder, edited by Michael Bailey and Darren Speegle

14.   “Ch-Ch-Changes” by Chaz Brenchley

15.   “My Father, Dr. Frankenstein” by John Langan

16.   “Swift to Chase” by Laird Barron

17.   “Faint of Heart” by Amanda Rea, from One Story #237, edited by Patrick Ryan

18.   “Zen and the Art of Starship Maintenance” by Tobias S. Buckell, from Lightspeed #93. February 2018, edited by John Joseph Adams

19.   “Jamaica Ginger” by Nalo Hopkinson and Nisi Shawl

20.   “Four Point Affective Calibration” by Bogi Takacs

21.   “The Quiet Like A Homecoming” by Cassandra Khaw

22.   “The Seventh Expression of the Robot General” by Jeffrey Ford

23.   “A Coward’s Death” by Rahul Kanakia

24.   “One True Love” by Malinda Lo

25.   “The Charge and the Storm” by An Owomoyela

26.   “Paper Trail” by Sabrina Vourvoulias, from GUD magazine, edited by Kaolin FIre.

27.   “Adrenaline, Inc.” by Mithran Somasundrum.

28.   “Life on the Sun” by C.S.E. Cooney, from her collection Bone Swans: Stories

29.   “The Bone Swans of Amandale” by C.S.E. Cooney

30.   “Martyr’s Gem” by C.S.E. Cooney

31.   “How The Milkmaid Struck A Bargain With The Crooked One” by C.S.E. Cooney

32.   “The Big Bah-Ha” by C.S.E. Cooney

33.   “Dirty Old Town” by Richard Bowes, from The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction May-June 2017 issue, edited by C.C. Finlay

34.   “Rings” by Nina Kiriki Hoffman

So that’s 34 short stories in February, more than one per day. As February 28th was the 59th day of the year, this puts me 10 stories ahead of schedule for the year so far.