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.

Reading Round-Up: January 2018

Reinstating what I intend to be a monthly summary of everything I’ve read, since I’m not reviewing every single book or story the way I used to try to do on Livejournal. Here’s what I read in January of 2018:



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 14 books in January: 11 in print, 2 in audio, and 1 in ebook format. They were:

1.       Lightspeed Magazine #92 (January 2018 issue), edited by John Joseph Adams. The usual fine assortment of sf and fantasy short stories and novellas. This month’s favorites for me were Catherynne M. Valente’s “Golabush, Or Wine-Blood-War-Elegy,” Sarah Pinsker’s “The Court Magician,” and José Pablo Iriarte’s “The Substance of My Lives, The Accident of Our Birth.”

2.       Aristotle and Dante Discover The Secrets of the Universe, by Benjamin Alire Saenz.  A wonderful first-person gay coming-of-age story about two Latino boys in the Southwest in the 80s, endearingly read on audio by Lin-Manuel Miranda. I didn’t quite get the sense that Ari was as angry as the cover-copy made him out to be (conflicted yes, over-the-top angry not so much).

3.       Wonder Woman ’77 Meets the Bionic Woman, by Andy Mangels, Judit Tondora and others. Fun, fun, fun team-up between two of my favorite 70s TV icons. Mangels skillfully melds bad-guys from both shows into a formidable menace, and there are lots of great nods to both shows’ supporting casts (especially the female members). But there’s also an sub-plot that’s never resolved, indicating Mangels expected there to be a sequel mini-series/trade paperback. And Judit Tondora’s art is just wonderful to look at.

4.       Beneath The Sugar Sky (Wayward Children #3), by Seanan McGuire.  The story of the portal-children at Eleanor West’s Home for Wayward Children continue, this time with a quest into a Wonderland-like candy world that could have dire consequences for several members of the cast. What I love about these novellas is that you don’t have to have read the previous installments at all: McGuire tells you everything you need to know in each installment. But of course, reading them (in or out of order) gives you a much bigger picture to absorb.

5.       Sherlock Holmes and the Green Lama: Heir Apparent, by Adam Lance Garcia. Love Holmes pastiches, love the “modern pulp movement.” Not overly familiar with the pulp history of The Green Lama, but that didn’t affect my enjoyment of this crossover which draws on both the Lama’s and Holme’s overlapping experiences in Tibet. The tension is well-spooled-out, the action sequences well-done. I’m sure I missed some of the nods towards other pulp characters and settings.

6.       The Squirrel on the Train (Oberon’s Meaty Mysteries #2), by Kevin Hearne.  Another fun novella in the Iron Druid Chronicles narrated by everyone’s favorite Irish wolfhound, Oberon. The IDC novels and short stories told from the human characters’ perspectives are fun and exciting, but the voice Hearne gives Oberon is more endearing and intimate and just plain joyful.

7.       Binti: The Night Masquerage (Binti #3), by Nnedi Okorafor. The Binti trilogy of novellas concludes as solidly as it started: with amazing poetic prose, beautiful descriptions of people and places, action propelled by characterization, and at least one story twist I personally did not see coming. Folks whose first exposure to Afrofuturism was the Marvel movie Black Panther really need to check out this series.

8.       Lumberjanes Vol. 7: A Bird’s Eye View, by Shannon Watters, Kat Leyh, Carey Pietsch, Ayme Sotuyo, Maarta Laiho. After a couple of volumes where I felt the story had slowed or the art wasn’t quite up to the standard of the first few, I feel like Volume 7 is both a return to form and a departure, with several new interesting supporting characters introduced and other supporting characters returning and being given more depth – all without shirking development for the core cast. I hear there might me a television version in development, and I hope none of the spark and strength of these girls is lost in adaptation.

9.       Ironcastle, by Philip Jose Farmer, adapting J.H. Rosny Aine.  It’s taken me way too long to get around to reading this Farmer classic. I enjoyed it. There will be a longer review sometime next week, since this is one of the books I read to meet this year’s To Be Read Challenge, which requires an individual review to be posted.

10.   Superman: The Phantom Zone, by Steve Gerber, Gene Colan, Tony DeZuniga, Rick Veitch, Bob Smith and others.  I loved this four-issue mini-series when it was published in the early 80s, before DC’s Crisis on Infinite Earths, as goofy as the story is. Gerber told a great story (although the follow-up story in DC Comics Presents was a bit more convoluted upon re-reading than I remembered). Colan’s art here is not necessarily his best compared to Tomb of Dracula, or even the Silverblade and Nathaniel Dusk minis he was drawing for DC around the same time, but it’s still fun. The man was a master of shadow and fluidity of movement.

11.   Kiss Me Like A Stranger, by Gene Wilder.  I can’t believe I haven’t read Wilder’s memoir before now. It’s become my habit to listen to, rather than read, memoirs if they’re read by the author, and I feel like I got a better sense of what Gene was trying to say (and what he was shying away from saying) by listening to him. I think, especially when it comes to the estrangement from his adopted daughter, he had blinders on as to what the problem actually was, but then again it’s very easy to judge from the outside things that aren’t as obvious when you’re in the middle. And his love for Gilda as well as the woman he married after her passing are very very strong and clear.

12.   Iceman Volume 1: Thawing Out, by Sina Grace, Alessandro Vitti, Edgar Salazer, and others.  I really intend to write a longer blog-post about this eventually. As I said on Twitter, I felt like Grace really captures the act of coming out “later in life” (a subjective term, to be sure, but I think Bobby Drake coming out as gay in his late 20s, after having “come out” as a mutant in his teens, qualifies), and the different pressures and roadblocks that come with it. Bobby’s journey in these few issues very much matches my own coming out in my late twenties after years of trying to convince myself I was straight and having lots of failed relationships with otherwise wonderful women, many of whom are still good friends.

13.   Cry Your Way Home, by Damien Angelica Walters. A wonderful short story collection by one of my favorite authors, about which I don’t want to say too much here because my full review will be forthcoming at Strange Horizons in about a month.

14.   The Ship of the Dead (Magnus Chase and the Gods of Asgard, Book 3), by Rick Riordan.  I have not been as captivated by the Magnus Chase books as I have by the Percy Jackson and Kane Chronicles series, but this concluding volume of the first trilogy (which features a short guest spot by everyone’s favorite son of Poseidon as well as Magnus’ cousin Annabeth) grabbed me. A slightly slow start gives way to a fast-paced adventure that resolves all of the extant main and sub-plots and gives us more depth to the supporting cast of Magnus’ hotel-mates.

So fourteen books in January, which Goodreads told me was a few ahead of goal for the month/year. Ironcastle is the first book read for the 2018 To Be Read Challenge. Four graphic novels meets my “one graphic novel per week” reading challenge, while nothing I read in January helped meet any of the “Complete the Series” challenges, nor the “Bustle Reading Challenge.”  Those Reading Challenges were described HERE.


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.       “The Streets of Babel” by Adam-Troy Castro, from Lightspeed Magazine #92 (January 2018 issued), edited by John Joseph Adams.

2.       “Golabush, or Wine-Blood-War-Elegy” by Catherynne M. Valente

3.       “The Eyes of the Flood” by Susan Jane Bigelow

4.       “Someday” by James Patrick Kelly

5.       “Auburn” by Joanna Ruocco

6.       “The Substance of My Lives, the Accident of Our Births” by Jose Pablo Iriarte

7.       “Divine Madness” by Roger Zelazny

8.       “The Court Magician” by Sarah Pinsker

9.       “A Thousand Nights Till Morning” by Will McIntosh

10.   “Written in Water” by Seanan McGuire, a Patrick-and-Dianda story, on the author’s Patreon page.

11.   “Guerilla Marketing” by Sanjay Agnihotri, from One Story #236, edited by Will Allison

12.   “Our New Lives” by Helen Coats, from One Teen Story #53, edited by Patrick Ryan

13.   “Trouble Comes” by Neal Bailey, stand-alone ebook available on Kindle

14.   “Tooth, Tongue and Claw” by Damien Angelica Walters, from her collection Cry Your Way Home, edited by Leslie Connor.

15.   “Deep Within the Marrow, Hidden In My Smile” by Damien Angelica Walters

16.   “On The Other Side of The Door, Everything Changes” by Damien Angelica Walters

17.   “This Is The Way I Die” by Damien Angelica Walters

18.   “The Hands That Hold, The Lies That Bind” by Damien Angelica Walters

19.   “Not My Circus, Not My Monkeys: The Elephant’s Tale” by Damien Angelica Walters

20.   “The Judas Child” by Damien Angelica Walters

21.   “S Is For Soliloquy” by Damien Angelica Walters

22.   “The Floating Girls: A Documentary” by Damien Angelica Walters

23.   “Take A Walk In The Night, My Love” by Damien Angelica Walters

24.   “Falling Under, Through the Dark” by Damien Angelica Walters

25.   “The Serial Killer’s Astronaut Daughter” by Damien Angelica Walters

26.   “Umbilicus” by Damien Angelica Walters

27.   “A Lie You Give, And Thus I Take” by Damien Angelica Walters

28.   “Little Girl Blue, Come Cry Your Way Home” by Damien Angelica Walters

29.   “Sugar and Spice and Everything Nice” by Damien Angelica Walters

30.   “In The Spaces Where You Lived” by Damien Angelica Walters

31.   “How The Marquis Got His Coat Back” by Neil Gaiman, the full-cast BBC Audio production available on Audible.

32.   “The Way Home” by Seanan McGuire, an Alice Healey /Tom Price “Incryptid” story, on the author’s website

33.   “The Lay of The Land” by Seanan McGuire

34.   “Target Practice” by Seanan McGuire

So that’s 34 short stories in January, more than one per day, putting  me exactly on schedule for the year so far.

2017 Reading By The Numbers

In which I analyze exactly what I read, in what formats and genres and such-like. (I like my personal counts to match my Goodreads page, so I count fully-read magazine issues and individually-published short stories and novellas as “books.”)



I exceeded my Goodreads initial goal of 100 books, and my updated Goodreads goal of 125. I did not attempt “To Be Read” Challenge this year.



·         Anthologies: 8

o   Horror: 1

o   Christmas: 1

o   Weird West: 1

o   Transgender Spec Fic: 1

o   Pulp Adventure: 1

o   Science Fiction 2

o   Crime: 1

·         Chapbooks: 2 (both pulp adventure)

·         Single-Author Story Collections: 10

o   Horror: 1

o   Christmas: 1

o   Crime: 1

o   Mystery: 5

o   Science Fiction: 1

o   Mythology: 1

·         Graphic Novels: 37

o   Super-Heroes: 17

o   Horror: 8

o   Crime: 2

o   Comedy: 1

o   Fantasy: 2

o   Urban Fantasy: 2

o   YA Urban Fantasy: 3

o   YA Comedy: 1

o   Pulp Adventure: 1

·         Magazines: 12 (all Lightspeed)

·         Novels: 38

o   Alt-History Fantasy: 2

o   Christmas: 2

o   Fantasy: 8

o   YA Fantasy: 2

o   Urban Fantasy: 4

o   Historical Fantasy: 1

o   Steampunk: 2

o   Science Fiction: 5

o   YA Science Fiction: 1

o   Crime/Mystery: 5

o   Super-Heroes: 1

o   Horror: 3

o   Adventure: 1

o   YA Literary: 1

·         Novellas: 19

o   Christmas: 2

o   Alt-History Fantasy/Romance: 1

o   Science Fiction 5

o   Fantasy: 3

o   Mystery: 2

o   Horror: 2

o   Urban Fantasy: 3

o   Historical Fantasy: 1

·         Short Stories: 5

o   Romance: 1

o   Pulp Adventure: 1

o   Urban Fantasy: 2

o   Alt-History Fantasy/Romance: 1




·         Memoirs: 7

o   Alison Arngrim

o   Carrie Fisher (x2)

o   Debbie Reynolds

o   Joel Grey

o   William Daniels

o   Dick Van Dyke

·         Book of Essays: 1 (Neil Gaiman)





SHORTEST READS: 20 pages (A Very Merry Blue Christmas; Caesar’s Children; In Sea-Salt Tears)

LONGEST READ: 459 (Magnus Chase and the Gods of Asgard: The Hammer of Thor)

FIRST BOOK READ IN 2017: Locke & Key Vol 1: Welcome to Lovecraft, by Joe Hill, Gabriel Rodriguez & others

FINAL BOOK READ IN 2017: The Bazaar of Bad Dreams by Stephen King






·         Audio:27

·         Ebook: 26

·         Hardcover: 21

·         Softcover: 65





I exceeded my goal of 365 short stories. I did not really track how many in each genre this year.





·         Anthologies: 14

·         Single Author Collections: 9

·         Magazines: 10

·         Author Websites/Patreon/Self-Pubbed: 17


First Story Read in 2017: “Rate of Change” by James S.E. Corey, in Lightspeed #79

Final Story Read in 2017: “Pups” by Kate Folk, in One Story #235