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.

Short Story Mini Review: Five Arrows (2015)

Five Arrows by Heinz Insu Fenkl

“Bury me where this arrow falls.” And he let the arrow fly with a loud whoosh of air torn by string and wood, and the arrow blurred high up into the blackness. If Big Uncle had told me then that he had hit the eye of the moon, I would have believed him.

This is quite an evocative short story published in the New Yorker. You can read it here. A young boy, Insu, goes to visit his uncle, who lives in a cave in the forest. When Insu’s friend Yongsu leaves, Insu spends the night with Big Uncle and listens to his stories. Fenkl has a wonderful way with words and the imagery is brilliant. Definitely recommend. 

Two Short Story Mini Reviews

Everything’s Fine by Matthew Pridham

Eric swallowed his tears and looked down at their clenched hands. “We’re fine,” he said, “everything’s fine.”

Ooof, this was a whooper. I was not expecting … any of what I just read. But I think that made the read all the more hard-hitting. So I recommend just diving straight in. But beware of lots of gore. Read it here.

All Votes Will Be Counted (We Promise) by Paul Crenshaw

He looked at the sky and wondered if the drones were coming. If the satellites would fall, or if, possibly, his vote would be read and counted.

This short is part of Apex Magazine‘s 119 issue and oh my word. To say that this one sent chills up and down my spine would be an understatement. Read it for yourself here.

Short Story Review: We Are Where the Nightmares Go [2018]

We Are Where the Nightmares Go and Other Stories by C. Robert Cargill was reprinted in the latest issue of Lightspeed Magazine: May 2020, #120 and is available online here. Cargill’s story is originally from We Are Where the Nightmares Go and Other Stories. Also, I love absolutely in love with Lightspeed‘s latest cover. GORGEOUS.

The door is at the end, but there’s not only one path to it. Every way you walk is a path, and all of those paths lead to the door. Some of them just take much longer than others. Some of them are more difficult than others. There are some paths so scary, even I never wander them. This is a land of lost children, filled with children who never find the door and those who have lost themselves trying to find it.

This blew my mind, oh my gosh! It’s so creepy and nightmarish and poetic. I absolutely loved it. A little girl crawls into a door under her bed and is transported to the land where nightmares go and has to find her way back out again. She employs the help of a frightening clown whom she dubs Siegfried, and together they go from nightmarish locale to nightmarish locale, trying to outsmart The Thing on the Other Side of the Door, who won’t let the girl (or anyone else) out of the nightmare land.

Most dreams fade into nothing, drifting away like wisps of smoke. But some dreams, they last. They take root in the soul and hold strong against the tide. The nightmares that survive, the ones that come from the darkest places of your heart and refuse to fade away, they have to go somewhere. So they end up here, cast out like the trash, dumped where no one knows where to look, in the dark space beneath your bed.

For a horror story, it really reads so wonderful. The prose is beautiful and evocative. I’m definitely going to be reading more by C. Robert Cargill.

Mini Reviews & Reading Roundup [23/05]

Today I finally finished Gold Rush Manliness. It was really good, I just kept getting sidetracked. It was a great examination of how race and gender impacted the gold rushes in California and British Columbia. This line really stuck with me: In short, the notions of white manhood established in the nineteenth century persist today, and their legacies can be seen everywhere, from the least-threatening practical joking to the most menacing expressions of white male superiority. There were loads of things in this examination that really wow’d me. Definitely recommend!

I also read Warm Up, which is a prequel story to V. E. Schwab’s Villains and Vengeful. I really liked it! If you’re curious, the book is available on Tor, here. It was dark and eerie and very well done. I loved this quote: It didn’t catch fire. Nothing ever actually caught fire. No, it all simply burned.

Beyond the Dragon’s Gate by Yoon Ha Lee is a new Tor original. Read it online, here. I quite liked it! The new issue of Uncanny Magazine is also out and I’ve started with poetry this time!

Girl, you best stop setting yourself on fire,
you may be the phoenix,
but these bones aren’t kindling
to keep others warm—

Ali Trotta, ‘Athena Holds Up a Mirror to Strength’, here.

Currently reading;

Still working through Everything You Love Will Burn, Agnes Grey and A Small Revolution in Germany, all of which I’m liking, although Everything You Love Will Burn is something I have to listen to in small doses. I also started Cage of Souls. It’s my first Adrian Tchaikovsky. He’s such a big name in the science fiction genre, so I’m glad to have finally picked up one of his. I’m also about halfway through Louise O’Neill’s Almost Love. The prose is really good and the storyline sucks you in, but I’m having trouble liking the main character.

What’s everyone else reading? Have you read any of the above? What’d you think?