Following on from last year’s first IndiePride (mostly on Twitter, but also here and on Goodreads), where we had lots of author interviews, promo posts, recs and a Goodreads list going around, this year we’re having daily prompts!

All the info is here on my Twitter page. Also on Instagram, Spoutible, Tumblr and BlueSky.

Do join us for the Pride Month fun! And please do tag me on Twitter if you’d like your post boosted.

The Goodreads list for #IndiePride2 is here.

Book Review: The Guard of Woestynn (2023)

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The Guard of Woestynn by E.M. McConnell

I had no idea what to expect diving into this one! I was kindly sent a few of the author’s books and just dove straight in. I think that works really well for this one.

It’s a very short little novella and follows Ford, a prison guard newly arrived on a dust ridden planet where the prisoners of the gravest crimes in the galaxy are dropped off and have to earn the right to be let inside the prison. The way to earn that right is by collecting ore and selling it back to the prison. At the same time, there are some prisoners who have no desire to be in the prison and have adapted to the harsh environment and put the new prisoners in danger. (There are also dangerous creatures the prisoners have to contend with.) When Ford witnesses this, he tries to come up with a way of protecting the prisoners outside the prison so that they have the time to find the ore and gain entrance to the prison.

I thought the questions the novella posed were quite interesting, and I could really visualise the setting and the scenes. A very thought provoking story!

Thank you to the author for sending me a paperback edition to review!

Book Review: Thinly Veiled (2023)

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Thinly Veiled by Eliza Modiste

Escape. It was always a word that daunted me, but I supposed that was because it’s more of a relative term than anything.

I’ve been reading so much fantasy lately that it was nice to switch it up a bit with a modern day romance! I flew through it, too. A lovely read for a sunny day!

Thinly Veiled follows Claire and Zoey when they leave their hometown for a fresh start in Salem, Virginia. The lucky ladies manage to find jobs almost immediately and quickly fall in with the locals: Luke, the barman and Liam, the neighbour. And then James later on, Luke’s brother.

From the get go, it’s clear that Claire wants to forget her past with her ex, Colton, and the secrets she’s keeping about her family situation, and the things she had to do to get out. So she is firmly in the past? What’s that? mode upon arrival in Salem and no matter how many questions Luke asks as they get to know each other, she remains pretty tight lipped. And Zoey, as her best friend, is only too happy to help her do so. (Random aside: It’s actually funny, now that I think about upon finishing the book, how that’s the first thing Claire notes about Liam – not talking about his past – yet she does the same thing! And then tells Zoey that it’s why she has some doubts about him. And whilst she doesn’t trust him, in retrospect he totally had the the right to feel the same way.)

I must say, I really like how the relationships developed between the four (later five). I do think Luke was a little too harsh on Liam, though. Like, from the way he was acting, I totally thought Liam was going to end up being WAY WORSE, but he ended up being one of my favourite characters and he really did nothing wrong. Like, not once. (Liam and Zoey were darn right heroes, honestly.) It honestly took me by surprise when he ended up being so cool? Luke’s reaction to Liam’s mere presence at the start made it seem like he was going to be a nightmare, lmao. So, that definitely took me by surprise. Diversionary tactics!

I really liked James when he came along, too. He was a fun character and I wanted to see more of him and Luke, and him and Zoey. (James and Zoey follow up book, yes yes?)

Claire and Luke’s relationship was very cute from the onset. Their chemistry was great and their romance was very believable. I really liked where the story ended up, too. I don’t want to spoil anything, so I’ll just say that I liked how everyone was just really determined to have everyone else’s back and actually listened to each other.

Definitely gonna keep an eye out for more books from Modiste!

Thank you to the author for sending me a paperback edition to review!

Book Review: Orphan Planet (2023)

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Orphan Planet by Rex Burke

Dervla: most likely to discover aliens, if there are any out there.
Karlan: most likely to eat an alien.
Manisha: most likely to be eaten by an alien.
Poole: most likely to arm-wrestle an alien, no question.
Bryson: most likely to spot an alien and start running.
Dana: most likely to be an actual alien.

Oh my gosh this book is just very fun. It reminds me of The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy meets Red Dwarf meets Avenue 5. We follow our listless, hapless and very confused protagonist, Jordan, after he’s brought out of cryosleep seventeen years or so after signing up for a mission to New Earth, funded by billionaires desperate to get off Earth as climate change wreaked havoc on Earth. As Earth is still liveable, just plagued by storms and floods, the list of volunteers amounts of everyone who was willing to trade the guarantee of a life on Earth for a possible life out in space. Jordan, who’s disenchanted with his life and has no one left after his parents died and his girlfriend broke up with him, signs up to go.

Ostensibly, he’s going to be the historian on New Earth once they arrive. But he’s been woken up early by the crew to do something none of them want to do – and something he certainly never intended on doing – and that is raise the crew’s children. Six children who were conceived on accident when the crew failed to work out birth control on board during the first year in space. And none of the parents want to take care of any of the children – the AI on board posits that something may have dampened their emotions. But what it amounts to is there are six children and, after the teacher who was woken up before Jordan to raise them is now gone, Jordan’s next up.

Reeves was a great character. Bloody hilarious. He’s the AI who runs the ship and steers/navigates, and who’s picked up sarcasm during the last seventeen years. His primary function is to keep everyone safe and alive, and though he snarks and sasses at every turn, he does his job perfectly. His banter with Jordan and the kids had me giggling out loud.

I thought Sam was a great character, even if we only meet her through recordings. She really was such a kind heart.

I will say, the crew’s disinterest in the children was really upsetting. Like, it’s kind of explained, and obviously there are people who truly just don’t want to be parents, but the fact that there were, like, two hundred crew members and the only ones who gave a shit about the kids were Juno and Gerald made me feel so awful for them. Like, fair play to Sam and Reeves for ensuring that those children grew up capable of love and kindness, because they certainly weren’t shown any by their biological parents. Bless Sam, Jordan, Juno, Gerald and Reeves for giving them something like parental support/mentoring.

I honestly loved Jordan and the kids, all six of them. Not one of the kids was unlikeable or annoying. They were all just utterly endearing. The whole book is basically one big found family trope and I adored every single page of them bonding, bantering and bickering.

This book is honestly funny (so funny) and fairly wholesome and uplifting. It’s a laugh-out-loud romp in outer space as poor Jordan tries to figure out how to bond with the teenagers who have never had anyone other than Reeves, the AI, and Sam, their previous teacher, show even the remotest bit of love for them. And then, just as Jordan is starting to figure things out, unforeseen events force him to really step up in the Dad Mode role. (I loved how he came to view them as his kids. Truly such a good egg our Jordan.)

I completely, wholeheartedly recommend this gem of a book and I can’t wait to read the next one and see where the mysteries and adventures take Jordan and the kids.

Thank you to the author for providing a paperback edition for review.

Check out my master list of book reviews here, and my indie book reviews with the genres labelled here.

Book Review: Haiku (2023)

Haiku by E.M. McConnell

The world quiets slow
As the call to write beckons
Another world looms

I think this is my favourite of McConnell’s poetry collections so far! I really enjoy haikus and this collection had so many wonderful ones. It must also be noted that this book is just pretty. The little pictures placed on every section divider were so lovely and really helped situate each series of themes focused on by the haikus. I’m very big on poetry with aesthetics and I simply adored this one. It made for a very easy, very pleasing light read and I wholly recommend haiku and poetry fans check this collection out!

Thank you to the author for a paperback edition of this collection for review.

Check out my master list of book reviews here, and my indie book reviews with the genres labelled here.

Nonfiction Book Review: The Bridge at No Gun Ri (2001)

Cover for The Bridge at No Gun Ri: A Hidden Nightmare From the Korean War by Charles J. Hanely, Sang-Hun Choe and Martha Mendoza. Winners of the Pulitzer Prize. 

Quote at the bottom: A truly heart-warming tale of survival and heroism ... This is an inspiring book - storytelling at its very, very best. Read it. - Doug Stanton, author of In Harm's Way

The Bridge at No Gun Ri by Charles J. Hanley, Sang-Hun Choe, Martha Mendoza

An Associated Press reporter, flying overhead, reported that Yongdong “no longer exists as a city. It looks like Nagasaki after the atom bomb…. Yongdong has probably been here for 4,000 years—and never known such silence.” The fires raged into the night. (p. 136)

A harrowing, horrifying, heartbreaking event from the first summer of the Korean War. The brutality inflicted against innocents is simply shattering and I cried a lot reading this one. A truly important read, but a hard one, to say the least.

I just want to highlight a few (of the many, many) lines that I underlined whilst reading.

In late June, MacArthur’s headquarters ordered indiscriminate bombing behind North Korean lines by the U.S. Air Force, including areas where South Korean civilians still lived. Then in July, the U.S. military went further, ordering the strafing of refugee columns moving down roads toward U.S. Army units. This violated the laws and customs of war. (p. 74)

“Word came through the line, open fire on them,” Wenzel recalled. “They were running toward us and we opened fire.” The Koreans seemed, “confused,” he said. “We understood that we were fighting for these people, but we had orders to fire on them and we did.” (p. 126)

For all July, more psychiatric casualties would be evacuated than seriously wounded men. (p. 132)

He remained weak, too, and his brother had to carry him for months. Koo-hun found two civilian doctors doing relief work in Yongdong, and he lifted his brother onto his back and walked there every day for a month to have the wound checked and antiseptic applied. It would be months before Koo-hak could walk, and years before the young man who lost half a face, but found an unbreakable brotherly bond, could face the world. (pp. 194-195)

The book itself reads very well, with descriptions of everything from the heat of the summer of 1950, to the details of what the survivors were wearing. It’s little things like that which make the whole thing so easy to visualise while reading. The authors trace both the narrative of the soldiers who arrived in South Korea from Tokyo, to the villagers of Chu Gok Ri and Im Ke Ri, whose stories converge on the road towards the bridge at No Gun Ri.

The research is massive. I am so impressed by how much the authors compiled, not just from the testimonies, but the national archives material, newspapers, historical texts, etc. I’m impressed, deeply, by how much the survivors put together – and carried in silence – themselves. That they carried their story for decades, each in their own way, fearful to bring it up for years due to political instability until, at last, they could, only to be turned away at every turn, is so heartbreaking and infuriating. I’m so glad that the journalists were able to bring forward the story of No Gun Ri at last, but my heart aches for every survivor – and for the survivors of other atrocities whose stories remain unheard.

Recommended reading 100%.

Nonfiction Book Review: Beyond the Shadow of Camptown: Korean Military Brides in America (2002)

book cover for beyond the shadow of camptown: korean military brides in america by ji-yeon yuh

Beyond the Shadow of Camptown: Korean Military Brides in America by Ji-Yeon Yuh

This book reminded me of The Feminine Mystique, although it took me a while to realise why. Both focus on women during and after the 1950s and the changes that impact them in their daily lives. But where The Feminine Mystique focuses on women unhappy with their lives in the domestic setting, Beyond the Shadow of Camptown traces the lives and experiences of Korean women who married US military men and then began their lives in the United States and are thus plunged into that setting.

Many of the women Yuh interviews were the first and, for a long time, only Korean in their new neighbourhoods in the US, and often their lives had to conform around their husbands’. Everything from their daily language to their friendship circles to their homemade meals changed. [The chapter where American meals and Korean meals are compared and examined was fascinating (and made me really hungry!).] But it was truly eye-opening and heartbreaking to read women often found that they could not cook freely in their own home, and so they cooked meals for each other and found ways to recreate their favourite Korean dishes in towns where there were few ingredients to find.

A deep loneliness resonates through the pages; I think that’s why it made me think of The Feminine Mystique. The women Yuh interviews describe being often utterly lonely in their homes, emotionally and linguistically unable to fully communicate with their husbands, and sometimes even unable to properly connect with their children as a result. Many of them describe being used and sneered at by their families despite sending money home or caring for their children due to how much stigma surrounded their marriages. Many were ostracised not only from their family, but their former friends and even other immigrants for their choice to marry a military man due of the assumptions made by others of the circumstances surrounding their marriages (assumptions which stemmed from the camptowns mentioned in the title).

But there is also a coming together of the women that is beautiful. Yuh also discusses the burgeoning women’s groups these women start and the cross-country connections they make to bring each other together and help future generations of military brides begin their new lives abroad. I found myself utterly amazed by their perseverance and courage.

This is a truly fascinating, heartfelt and ultimately kind book. Highly recommended.

Book Review: Sul: From Gold to Iron and Rust (2023)

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Sul: From Gold to Iron and Rust by Jacqui Davis and Katy Grierson

They had to go, these strangers, before they dug their claws into Cydric’s land.

I got a hardback copy of this and it’s absolutely STUNNING. The design is lovely and the colours are rich and vibrant. There’s a lovely map on the inside and several coloured illustrations throughout. I really loved all the artwork. You get to see the various characters and the scenery and the creatures. I loved the drawings of Aysel especially. Her eyes were super cool. (I was reading this alongside The Way of Kings, which has illustrations throughout too, and side by side they made for a beautiful set.)

Right, so Sul follows several characters: Aysel, Cydric, Elmes, Margo. There’s also Enoch and Damien, Ululani and Solomon. Each one is very different. Aysel is a demon usually in wolf-ish form; Cydric the priest, is deeply religious and protective of his homeland, and also best friends with Solomon, a vampire; Elmes is an arrogant colonialist and newly crowned king; Margo is a young royal who is drawn into the chaos because of her family’s wealth and position.

I thought the worldbuilding and religions and character dynamics were fascinating. It really reminded me of Sordaneon, actually. The opening of both is a murder in the royal palace and the MC becoming a successor. Both are viewed as magical, all powerful kings. (Side note: If you haven’t read Sordaneon, I definitely recommend it!) In Sul, Elmes is ‘given’ a territory by his uncle. After his uncle is murdered, he ventures north to claim the land and make it his own. He even names it after himself. When he arrives, the locals – namely Cydric – help him, but he quickly turns on them and casts them out of their own home. Elmes drove me up a wall, honestly. He’s very much a colonialist ruler, but thankfully the storyline doesn’t let him sit in charge throughout. Cydric, Aysel and others plot to overthrow him.

I thought the inclusion of vampires, demons and angels in an earth-world fantasy was really fascinating. It’s not a mashup I’m used to and it was a really original take on the genre. I’m very curious to see where book two takes the characters because the ending was such a cliffhanger! I can’t wait to find out what happens to Cydric, little Terrin and Aysel especially!

Thank you to the authors for a hardback copy of the book.


– The terminology is a little confusing for me, but that also happened with The Bone Season and Sordaneon, so I’m sure once I sink into it, it’ll all make more sense! I’m slow to understand epics at times, ha! (The use of never instead of no/not when it’s Elmes’ POV definitely took some adjusting to, although that could just be a me-thing.)
– The book is so thick my hands actually hurt reading it lmaoooo. But I don’t mind 😉
– I’m not sure I trust Ululani at all. She seems like she’s going to betray Elmes.
– I feel bad for Enoch.
– The characters seem to worship the sun (Sul), and call the king ‘His Radiance’, but they also talk about angels, which is interesting. It’s like a mixture of real world stories and fiction. Very interesting! And the names are also angelic: Enoch, Metatron, etc.
– I’m wondering what the implications are going to be for the people living in the lands that Elmes feels entitled to. Surely they’re not going to be happy?
– Enoch knowing a woman named Damien who can control demons took me by surprise.
– I’m finding Aysel and Cydric’s sections very enjoyable, but I’m really struggling with Elmes. His arrogance and ‘worship me’ and colonialist vibes are just maddening. Expecting Cydric and Solomon to treat him like a king when THEY RESCUED HIM and WELCOMED HIM INTO THEIR HOME?!!? And then he STEALS THEIR HOME?! Like fuck you, Elmes. You’re the actual worst.
– Aysel is probably my favourite so far. And I love the artwork of her! So cool!

Check out my master list of book reviews here, and my indie book reviews with the genres labelled here.

Book Review: Gryphons Don’t Celebrate Shavuot (2023)

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Gryphons Don’t Celebrate Shavuot (Loveable Monster Holiday Book #3) by Michelle Franklin

Just like Shavuot, Gryphons understand about having many different names. Shavuot is called ‘the festival of weeks’, ‘the festival of reaping’, and ‘the day of the first fruits’. Shavuot is also called Shavuos, which is just the word Shavuot but if you kicked the syllabic emphasis and the T about a bit*. Gryphons don’t mind which pronunciation you use, because they’re used to being called griffons, griffins, or gryphons since no one can make up their minds about the spelling. They are also accustomed to being called ‘hey, you!’ but not by one person for very long.

Michelle Franklin has become one of my all time favourite authors. Her Loveable Monster Holiday Books are just so charming and sweet, and it’s so wonderful to see new Jewish books for kids! We don’t have nearly enough. As with her previous books, I adored Gryphons Don’t Celebrate Shavuot. (We’re even getting a few recurring characters, like beloved Bubbeh Yenta!!)

Bubbeh Yenta is also good at counting, because she counted how many grey hairs you’ve given her and always counts how many pieces of noodle kugel you’ve left on your plate.

There’s so many cute gryphons (and gryphons mixed with other breeds, like the gryphon/pigeon character, the grygeon. SO FREAKING CUTE!) and as usual Jonathan Burrello’s art renders each one perfectly. This duo is clearly unstoppable together – a tour de force in children’s literature, in my humble opinion. I loved all the bits of Jewish tradition and religion that Franklin managed to pack into fun, wholesome little passages.

Bubbeh Yenta calls the pilgrimages ‘the three big schleps’. She calls Shavuot ‘the big schlep and schvitz’, because it happens in summer when the humidity does a number on her hair.

It’s such a light, cute, fun read and yet very informative.

I honestly can’t recommend Franklin’s books enough, for kids and adults. I can’t wait to see what the next one is!

Thank you so much to the author for a review copy.

My review of Werewolves Don’t Celebrate Hanukkah is here.
My review of Dragons Don’t Celebrate Passover is here.
My review of The Orc Who Saved Christmas is here.

Thank you to the author for a review copy.

Check out my master list of book reviews here, and my indie book reviews with the genres labelled here.

Book Review: Onyx and Ivory (2018)

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Onyx and Ivory (Rime Chronicles, #1) by Mindee Arnett


Honestly this book is everything I want in a fantasy. And definitely a case of why didn’t I read this sooner?! Good romance, friends who work together, an interesting magic system, ALL THE HORSE LOVE. You can really tell the author is an equestrian – her horse love and knowledge shines through the pages. I loved Kate and Corwin’s relationship so much. It was healthy and wholesome and so satisfyingly done. I loved Kate, Signe and Bonner’s adorable friendship. I loved Dal and Corwin’s friendship. I loved Dal just throwing his hat in with Kate, Signe and Bonner, no hesitation at all. I loved how Corwin stepped up at the end. Just, amazing. So satisfying.


– Love Kate from minute one. She’s amazing and her ability to talk to horses (and other animals) is so cool.
– Corwin’s pretty groovy. I feel quite bad for him so far.
– These two are like instant OTP material honestly.
– Dal is great.
– Bonner and Signe are great.
– The magists give me Children of the Light vibes.

Check out my master list of book reviews here, and my indie book reviews with the genres labelled here.