Review Roundup

Masquerade Season by ‘Pemi Aguda [short story]

This one really made me think and it hit me harder than I anticipated. Actually, Masquerade Season reminded me of The Giving Tree, honestly. One of those stories where the message makes you ache and it leaves you deeply melancholy.

The Sea Is Salt and So Am I by Cassandra Hartt [fiction]

I got a chapter sampler version, so I’m only reviewing the couple of chapters I read, but I really, really like the prose in this one. There’s a very distinct voice, which is so nice to find. The set up is very intriguing, and I’m really curious to see how it’s going to wrap up.

Thank you Netgalley for the ARC-excerpt. Excited to read the full book!

Dust Bowl Venus by Stella Beratlis [poetry collection]

Woe be unto us: We thought dancing did not matter.

I really do have, like, a thing for poetry. I truly do. Poems are so fly, and these ones are awesome.

Thank you Netgalley for the ARC.

A Peek at Beaks: Tools Birds Use by Sara Levine [children’s books]

This is such an informative and awesome kid’s book! It’s interactive, which is great for teaching kids and getting them engaged with the material, and there are so many different birds that are described herein. It also delves briefly into how evolution and Darwinism work. A lovely, colourful book for young readers!

Thank you Netgalley for the ARC.

Winter Soldier Vol. 1: The Longest Winter by Ed Brubaker [graphic novel/comic books]

I’m gonna admit, I picked this up because of the show. It’s awesome to finally have the focus on Bucky’s character, who I’ve always found interesting. This comic was quite compelling and I really liked the artwork. I was a bit confused? I feel like there was backstory I didn’t have, but maybe it’s just because I’m so used to the show/films universe. Like, I wasn’t expecting Bucky and Natasha to be so close! I liked them together, I was just a bit thrown. That said, I liked it overall. Definitely going to read a few more Winter Soldier tales. 

Mika and the Dragonfly by Ellen Delange [children’s books]

Do you need a spoiler warning for a kid’s book? It’s only 17 pages, so I have no idea! But, uh, spoilers? Haha. The artwork in this is absolutely lovely, and there’s a good message about being kind to insects and making friends. I’m a little unsure about the method of resolution, though: the dragonfly’s wing fell off and the kid ends up gluing it back on.

Adults don’t take kid’s books literally, of course, but I’d just be sure to tell the kid you’re reading this to not to attempt gluing a dragonfly’s wing back on. I really worry about the dragonflies, okay?! That’s my only nitpick, though. Overall it’s a very sweet little book and definitely worth picking up.

Thank you Netgalley for the ARC.

New Indie Magazine: Indie Bites

A new indie magazine has launched and the stories are free to read online! The stories are vampire/voyage themed and all under 5000 words, so please consider giving them a chance.

(I submitted a short story to the collection, yay! I’m so happy to share this story with everyone. ^_^)

Add on Goodreads

Short Story Review: Termites by Neha De Alwis

I love discovering new literary magazines and new authors in one fell swoop! Totally delightful! I stumbled across Kill Your Darlings (no, not the Daniel Radcliffe movie) this morning after seeing the name in a Goodreads sidebar. (Hey, recs work!) It’s an Australian based literary magazine that offers short stories and essays and more. I clicked on a story at random and was blown away.

Termites (2020) by Neha De Alwis won the 2020 KYD School Writing Prize and I must say, the story is well worth reading!

You are a thief of many things, and about half of those things you keep in your pocket. The rest, the things you can’t hold, you keep in a constantly growing mental inventory.

The story focuses on OCD and was very well written! I’m looking forward to more by this author.

3 Mini Audiobook Reviews: The Legend of Sleepy Hollow (1820), Nick and Charlie (2015), Serpentine (2020)

The Legend of Sleepy Hollow by Washington Irving

It is remarkable that the visionary propensity I have mentioned is not confined to the native inhabitants of the valley, but is unconsciously imbibed by every one who resides there for a time. However wide awake they may have been before they entered that sleepy region, they are sure, in a little time, to inhale the witching influence of the air, and begin to grow imaginative, to dream dreams, and see apparitions.

Oooooh, at last! What a perfect October read. I’ve seen the film, of course, but I haven’t ever got around to the book. So glad I finally did. I also recommend the audiobook. The narrator’s absolutely class and it’s a great hour-long Gothic horror bit of escapism. 

Nick and Charlie by Alice Oseman

This was my first Alice Oseman read and now I’m going to have to start all of her others asap! ♡

Serpentine by Philip Pullman

I read the original His Dark Materials so long ago that I don’t remember as much as I’d like, so getting back into the world of Lyra with this short story was really nice. I definitely want to reread the whole series again, as well as finally getting to La Belle Sauvage. The note at the end by Philip Pullman is really nice, too. ♡

Short Story Review: Blood Brothers by Josie Jaffrey (2021)

Blood Brothers by Josie Jaffrey

This short story is tied into Jaffrey’s Sovereign and Seekers vampire series. Be sure to check them out!

I really liked this one! Adewale and Alastair are great characters and I’m really curious to learn more about them after this. I think I should probably have read more of the books in the series first (I’ve only read The Gilded King so far, but the rest are on my list!), as I was a little confused by some things, but overall a great read! Definitely got me in the mood for more vampire books. I’m really looking forward to the rest of this series!

I received an ARC in exchange for an honest review.

Short Story Review: The Kingdom That Failed by Haruki Murakami, Translated by Jay Rubin (2020)

The Kingdom That Failed by Haruki Murakami

“To see a splendid kingdom fade away,” it said, “is far sadder than seeing a second-rate republic collapse.”

I’ve never read anything by Murakami and this was definitely a great introduction. I’m not really sure how to describe this one: a man sees someone he used to know and watches the man while remembering how he used to be. It’s quite short, yet engaging and with great prose!

It’s published in The New Yorker if you want to check it out. I definitely recommend giving it a go!

Short Story Review: An Indelible Day (2020)

An Indelible Day by Cairo Marques (2020)

“We just weren’t compatible. Still, we’re going to exist within one another eternally. We’ve created indelible memories together.”

An Indelible Day is quite an interesting short story that makes for a quick, thought provoking read. The story is divided into three sections and each one is framed around conversations the main character, John C., has with three other people. The main characters are not given last names, only initials, which was an interesting stylistic choice. I think the last time I saw that was in classics, which is cool. The monologues of the characters and the way the story is framed reminded me of older stories, too, like Salinger’s style in Franny and Zooey, just having two characters engaged in a long conversation. It definitely flowed well.

I will say that I would’ve liked a bit more characterisation to really get to know each character and perhaps some backstory, and I do wish it had been expanded a little bit, with perhaps a bit more detail, but overall it made for a very interesting and engaging read.

I received a free ARC from the author in exchange for an honest review. Cross-posted to Goodreads.

Short Story Mini Review: The South Asian Speakers Series Presents the Archeologist and Adventurer Indiana Jones

I’m awful at keeping up to date with all the different places I find short stories, so I’m glad this one popped up on my Twitter feed because it was a great short read about my favourite archaeologist and makes some very valid criticisms about one of the movies.

The story follows Indiana Jones at a talk with students where he’s confronted with the events of The Temple of Doom and chastised for his behaviour.

Hadn’t every object he’d ever loved finally eluded him, vanishing even further into the vault of history? Quietly he said, “I’ve never put anything in a museum.”

I really love Indiana Jones, but there are so many valid criticisms of the storylines, especially The Temple of Doom, so I appreciated this story. I maybe would have preferred a bit more length, but it’s to the point and well written.

“Can we agree, Indy, that India was a misstep? That you should stick to fighting Nazis?”

Hear hear, fight the Nazis, Dr Jones.

Read it here

September TBRs

There are so many books on my list that I’m eagerly awaiting reading and these are just the start! Some great finds, though. Of these four, the first is an ARC to read and review, the second was gifted to me by a friend, the third is a new short from Tor (I really do love their short stories!), and the last is a new nonfiction book on the Korean War that I got pretty much the day it came out. I really respect Charles J. Hanley’s previous work, so I’m definitely going into this one ready to be well informed. If you haven’t read it, definitely check out The Bridge at No Gun Ri.

The Wolf and The Water by Josie Jaffrey

Some secrets are worth killing for

The ancient city of Kepos sits in an isolated valley, cut off from the outside world by a towering wall. Behind it, the souls of the dead clamour for release. Or so the priesthood says.


Kala has never had any reason to doubt their word – until her father dies in suspicious circumstances that implicate the city’s high priest. She’s determined to investigate, but she has a more immediate problem: the laws of the city require her mother to remarry straight away.
Kala’s new stepfather is a monster, but his son Leon is something altogether more dangerous: kind.


With her family fractured and the investigation putting her life in danger, the last thing Kala needs is romance. She would rather ignore Leon entirely, however difficult he makes it. But when she learns the truth of what really clamours behind the wall at the end of the valley, she faces a choice: share what she knows and jeopardise her escape, or abandon him to his fate along with the rest of the city.


If she doesn’t move fast, then no one will make it out of the valley alive.

A Good Girl’s Guide to Murder by Holly Jackson

Everyone in Fairview knows the story.

Pretty and popular high school senior Andie Bell was murdered by her boyfriend, Sal Singh, who then killed himself. It was all anyone could talk about. And five years later, Pip sees how the tragedy still haunts her town.

But she can’t shake the feeling that there was more to what happened that day. She knew Sal when she was a child, and he was always so kind to her. How could he possibly have been a killer?

Now a senior herself, Pip decides to reexamine the closed case for her final project, at first just to cast doubt on the original investigation. But soon she discovers a trail of dark secrets that might actually prove Sal innocent . . . and the line between past and present begins to blur. Someone in Fairview doesn’t want Pip digging around for answers, and now her own life might be in danger.

This is the story of an investigation turned obsession, full of twists and turns and with an ending you’ll never expect.

Wait for Night by Stephen Graham Jones

Wait for Night by Stephen Graham Jones is horror story about a day laborer hired to help clean up a flooded creek outside of Boulder, Colorado, who comes across what could be a very valuable find.

Ghost Flames: Life and Death in a Hidden War, Korea 1950-1953 by Charles J. Hanley

A powerful, character-driven narrative of the Korean War from the Pulitzer Prize-winning writer who helped uncover some of its longest-held and darkest secrets

The war that broke out in Korea on a Sunday morning 70 years ago has come to be recognized as a critical turning point in modern history, as the first great clash of arms of the Cold War, the last conflict between superpowers, and the root of a nuclear crisis that grips the world to this day.

In this vivid, emotionally compelling and highly original account, Charles J. Hanley tells the story of the Korean War through the eyes of 20 individuals who lived through it–from a North Korean refugee girl to an American nun, a Chinese general to a black American prisoner of war, a British journalist to a US Marine hero.

This is an intimate, deeper kind of history, whose meticulous research and rich detail, drawing on recently unearthed materials and eyewitness accounts, brings the true face of the Korean War, the vastness of its human tragedy, into a sharper focus than ever before. The “Forgotten War” becomes unforgettable.


In decades as an international journalist, Hanley reported from some 100 countries and covered more than a half-dozen conflicts, from Vietnam to Afghanistan and Iraq. 

What’s everyone else looking forwarding to reading this month?

Review: Ring the Bell (2020)

Ring the Bell by Josie Jaffrey

It’s everyone for themselves in Unterstrom, and despite our efforts to convert them to our way of thinking, our neighbours won’t listen. They argue that the Surge serves a purpose, that the sick and old are a burden on the community, which is exactly what the masters in Overstrom want us to think. They argue this because it’s the accepted truth, but the real truth is more selfish.

Ouch, right in the dystopian feeeeeels. Ring the Bell follows Mia and Ari, two residents of Unterstrom who live in dire poverty and suffer at the mercy of those in Overstrom. Every five years, the Surge comes, but the first one to the bell tower buys their family a new life. Let the race begin …

This is such a good short story and it left me craving a badass sequel with Ida. I definitely, definitely recommend this.

I received an ARC in exchange for an honest review. Cross-posted to Goodreads.