Monthly Round-Up

February 2021 Round-up and Short Fiction Focus

A short month, but no lack of quality. Rounding-up my February reads and posts.

Short Stories

February Favorite

  • The ThoughtBox” (2020) by Tlotlo Tsamaase. An emotionally abusive boyfriend brings home a device that allows the couple to hear each other’s thoughts. It doesn’t go well. Really gripping story that always has another layer.

Strong Contenders

  • The Pill” (2020 Novelette) by Meg Elison. It’s hard to call this a favorite, because it was deeply uncomfortable, both with the gross elements and the terrifyingly plausible dystopia. This is about weight, but I can’t help but being reminded of real-world efforts to eliminate Down Syndrome. At any rate, it’s uncomfortable, but powerful.
  • Metal Like Blood in the Dark” (2020) by T. Kingfisher. Two gigantic, powerful sentient machines programmed to be naive learn about real life. I’m beginning to think that everything I read by Kingfisher is going to be extremely compelling.

Other February Reads

I liked the vast majority of what I read this month, so if a description sounds interesting, give it a look!

  • Juvenilia” (2020) by Lavie Tidhar. A woman looking for work after the war takes a job in a British mansion where nothing is as it seems. This is a fun one.
  • Escaping Dr. Markoff” (2020) by Gabriela Santiago. A mind-bending story about. . . an evil scientist? Like I said, it’s mind-bending. But interesting.
  • The Translator, at Low Tide” (2020) by Vajra Chandrasekera. A downer about a particularly unpleasant vision of the near future.
  • Things Boys Do” (2020) by ‘Pemi Aguda. A horror story with creepy babies. Again, I’m not usually a horror reader, but it had me uncomfortable but also wanting to know what happened so maybe that’s good horror?
  • And This is How to Stay Alive” (2020) by Shingai Njeri Kagunda. Starts with a teen suicide and then somehow pushes into a more hopeful direction, as the title suggests.
  • Of Course You Screamed” (2021) by Sharang Biswas. Very short, intentionally disjointed story about an innocent left for dead on an island.
  • Rat and Finch are Friends” (2020) by Innocent Chizaram Ilo. A touching story about self-discovery and dealing with societal disapproval.

Novels and Novellas

Reviews Posted


  • The Time of the Dark (1982) by Barbara Hambly. DNF at 42%. Some of the plot points about societies in crisis certainly have stood the test of time, but it’s distractingly 80s, and I never felt the tension when terrifying monsters were about.

Other February Reads

  • Amari and the Night Brothers (2021) by B.B. Alston. A middle-grade novel with a world that seemed inspired in equal parts by Harry Potter and Men in Black. It has its flaws, but the protagonist is really easy to cheer for, and it’s just a whole lot of fun. Full review to come.
  • Transformation (2000) by Carol Berg. Very much late 90s/early 00s fantasy, with kingdoms threatened by supernatural evil, ancient prophecies, and descriptive prose. I also found it tough to put down, and there’s an absolutely wonderful pair at the center of it all. Full review to come.


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