Review | Killian’s Dead by Josie Jaffrey

Love is for losers.

Jack doesn’t care about anything except music. All she wants to do is find a decent gig, stand by the speakers and let the bass roll through her. It’s the only reason she gets out of bed.

Until she meets Winta. In the space of a second, everything is different. Winta knows what she wants and for one night, what she wants is Jack. It feels like the start of forever.

Then Winta disappears and Jack faces a choice: should she go back to her life, or track down the only girl who can change it beyond recognition?
One things’ certain: Jack has no idea what she’s getting herself into.

Rating: 4 out of 5.

I was super excited to pick up this short story introducing us to Jack Valentine before diving into May Day, and I’m glad I did. This was a great introduction to Jack as a character as well as some motivations I have a suspicion will come up in the future.

As with any short story, you do sometimes wish for a little more background information, but there’s only so much an author can provide. With Killian’s Dead I feel like Jack’s internal monologue sometimes helps fill these holes and reveal why she is the way she is. Reading this story definitely got me hyped to continue on with May Day and see what happens to Jack in the future!

Happy reading!

Review | Yokai Stories by Zack Davisson

Beware the trickster Yokai of ancient Japanese mythology. In these contemporary, original stories, young narrators must outfox the supernatural shapeshifters.

I originally picked up this title when I went to the 2019 Portland Book Festival. I would have loved to pick up other titles from this publisher as a few of them sounded interesting to me, but I was trying to keep myself to a budget. I was immediately drawn to this one from its description and the artwork so it was the one I picked up, and I managed to score a signed edition which made me even more excited.

Rating: 4 out of 5.

I wasn’t sure what to expect when I picked up Yokai Stories, but I like anything having to do with Asian folklore/mythology/etc. so I know I wanted to give it a read. What’s inside is a number of reimagined stories, some which take from source material some which are inspired by the Yokai and their legends. The artwork included by Eleonora D’onofrio was a perfect companion to these short stories. Though the stories may not be 100% the original legends/folklore, I really loved the modernization and reimaginings that were applied to these creatures, making them accessible for people today.

Happy reading!

Review | Go Fish by Ian Rogers

A team of psychic investigators are assigned to examine the grisly death of a night watchman in an abandoned fish processing plant.

Rating: 4 out of 5.

As soon as I heard the synopsis of this short story I knew I wanted to read it. Pretty much anything to do with ghosts or paranormal will at least get me to look at it, throw in paranormal investigators and I definitely have to pick it up. That being said, I really enjoyed this story as a very unlikely trio worked together to figure out the secrets in an empty warehouse they were visiting. The characters that were featured in this story were definitely characters I would read about again as I enjoyed their interactions and banter. All it all it was a really fun story.

Happy reading!

Review | St. Valentine, St. Abigail, St. Brigid by C.L. Polk

I’ve really been enjoying the originals that I picked up recently as they are fun, quick reads that are great palette cleansers. Plus – these types of short stories are a great way to get exposed to author’s you may not have read works from yet.

All magical requests come with a price. A girl with witchcraft, no friends, and only her mother’s bees to confide in will pay whatever’s necessary to keep the girl she loves safe.

I enjoyed the fact that this story had a very short blurb, which served a dual purpose – not a ton was revealed about the story and it’s just enough to intrigue you and get you to read it.

This is the first thing I have read from C.L. Polk and I LOVED the writing style. At first it’s like you’re entering the middle of the story, but Polk very quickly weaves the world and characters into a fully shaped story. This story has a ton of magic and mysticism, and looks at the lengths people may go to protect those they love, without realizing the consequences.

Happy reading!

Review | Red as Blood and White as Bone by Theodora Goss

Red as Blood and White as Bone by Theodora Goss is a dark fantasy about a kitchen girl obsessed with fairy tales, who upon discovering a ragged woman outside the castle during a storm, takes her in–certain she’s a princess in disguise.

I found a bunch of the originals and so many of them sounded good, so I picked up a selection of them and so far am not disappointed. I really enjoyed Theodora Goss’ writing style in this story and while the contents itself were a little predictable, it was a well rounded take on a fairy tale, and the danger in believing them. The main character, Klara, also goes through quite a transformation throughout the story as she learns some hard lessons and grows to become a strong woman, her personality shaped by what she experienced.

Happy reading!

Review: The Red Coat

In these nine heart wrenching stories, Vidhipssa Mohan explores the lives of Indian women and the problems they face and have been facing through the ages. These women are caught between who they really are and what society expects them to be. The stories are poignant, suffused with joy, pain and suffering.

In the title story, “The Red Coat”, a young student understands the price you have to pay for your dreams when you come from poverty. In “Going Home”, a young girl understands what home really is. In “Noises”, the father of a young bride understands what it means to be a woman in the 18th century India.

In this collection the author tells the story of a number of different characters in varying situations, but always illustrating many of the challenges Indian women have faced in the past and continue to face today. It is obvious that some of these subjects are dear to the author as there is real life within some of the stories.

The writing was very simplistic at times and sometimes didn’t flow as well as I would have liked it to, but there were also some passages and paragraphs that were beautifully descriptive and had real emotion woven into them. This was especially evident in the moments when we are getting the internal thoughts of the characters.

Overall the collection was insightful and in some ways a heart wrenching read. It really was a glimpse into some of the struggles that not only Indian women but women in general can face.

Thank you again to the author for reaching out to me and giving me the opportunity to read her book. Happy reading!

Review: The Last Conversation

What’s more frightening: Not knowing who you are? Or finding out? A Bram Stoker Award–winning author explores the answer in a chilling story about identity and human consciousness.

Imagine you’ve woken up in an unfamiliar room with no memory of who you are, how you got there, or where you were before. All you have is the disconnected voice of an attentive caretaker. Dr. Kuhn is there to help you—physically, emotionally, and psychologically. She’ll help you remember everything. She’ll make sure you reclaim your lost identity. Now answer one question: Are you sure you want to?

This is the last story from the Forward collection I had left, so I was excited to get to it. Since it is so short I don’t want to say much about it since it would likely be a spoiler. This was my first experience with Paul Tremblay’s writing though I’ve heard tons of great things about it in the past so I was eager to see if I liked it. I did really enjoy the writing and the language used – plus the twist at the end was really good and surprising. The story itself speaks to a number of things regarding science, morals and the lengths that people will go to. I felt that the story could have been much longer and kinda wished it was, but I still really enjoyed it.

Happy reading!

Review: Randomize

In the near future, if Vegas games are ingeniously scam-proof, then the heists have to be too, in this imaginative and whip-smart story by the New York Times bestselling author of The Martian.

An IT whiz at the Babylon Casino is enlisted to upgrade security for the game of keno and its random-number generator. The new quantum computer system is foolproof. But someone on the inside is no fool. For once the odds may not favor the house—unless human ingenuity isn’t entirely a thing of the past.

I had very high hopes for this story, mostly because I’ve heard great things about Andy Weir’s other works, but it just didn’t really hit the mark. I felt like it was a scene more than an actual story and just didn’t fully see the point of it.

The writing itself was good, I have no complaints regarding the writing, but it’s telling when the most interesting character was one of the minor characters (the IT guy). I felt like the story started off with a bang with him, but then swiftly faded. Perhaps it was meant to be a closer look at human greed and what motivates people, but it just wasn’t enough.

Happy reading!

Review: Dark Carousel

A balmy summer night in 1994. Four teenagers out for an evening of fun on the boardwalk take a ride on the “Wild Wheel” – an antique carousel with a shadowy past – and learn too late that decisions made in an instant can have deadly consequences. What begins as a night of innocent end-of-summer revelry, young love, and (a few too many) beers among friends soon descends into chaos, as the ancient carousel’s parade of beasts comes chillingly to life to deliver the ultimate judgment for their misdeeds.

After reading this I may never look at a carousel the same way. This was my first foray into Hill’s writing and I was not disappointed. It was the right mix of descriptive language, dark subject matter and a good dose of lingering fear for the narrator.

Since this is a short story I don’t want to say too much as almost anything beyond the blurb would be a spoiler, but it’s an interesting look at what a cursed carousel and its animals may do to those it feels has wronged it.

If you’re looking for a dark story that is a quick read, pick this one up.

Happy reading!

Review: The Case of the Missing Bubble Gum Card

Jarvis Mann is a private detective, whose business thrived on the mundane: paying the bills by shadowing cheating spouses, getting in the middle of messy divorces and working for the fat-cat insurance companies running down false claims.

On a Winter’s Sunday afternoon, a young man graces his office steps. His words coaxing with the simple declaration of “Please” convincing Jarvis to help find a valuable missing Ernie Banks rookie baseball card.

With a dry sense of humor, Jarvis tours the Denver neighborhood with the lad door to door, friend to friend, until a clue leads to a surprising discovery. A young man’s personal pain revealed witnessing a friend’s act of self-sacrifice both teenagers teaching Jarvis a life lesson that will shape him with new hope and resolve.

I’d never read anything by this author in the past, but had the opportunity to pick this one up and it sounded intriguing so I thought I would give it a try. I thoroughly enjoyed it as a beginning or prequel of a series. It provided a great way to get to know the main character, Jarvis Mann, and some of his motivations in life.

Though it was brief you gain a great image of Jarvis in the way he thinks and the way he interacts with other characters. The mystery itself is pretty simple and more of a story of morality and doing what is right than a true mystery, but it was still super enjoyable and fun.

Happy reading!