Review | The Girlfriend’s Guide to Gods by Maria Dahvana Headley

Gods won’t save you. Gods will break you. Nevertheless, you will persist. And become anew.

Rating: 4 out of 5.

I don’t usually like things that are written in 2nd person, or as kind of stream of consciousness, but I really enjoyed this short story. It hit so many points at once while also tying in themes from different relationships in mythology and proving that a woman can make herself happy more than any other person can. It was uplifting and inspiring while also being a bit tongue in cheek. I really enjoyed Headley’s writing style and may definitely check out more of their work in the future.

Happy reading!

Review | Two Truths and a Lie by Sarah Pinkser

Stella thought she’d made up a lie on the spot, asking her childhood friend if he remembered the strange public broadcast TV show with the unsettling host she and all the neighborhood kids appeared on years ago. But he does remember. And so does her mom. So why doesn’t Stella? The more she investigates the show and the grip it has on her hometown, the eerier the mystery grows.

Rating: 3 out of 5.

Most of this story I spent not really knowing where it was going, but I did enjoy how the different pieces fell into place. I didn’t quite feel the ending suited it, but I think that was the result of what often happens with short stories – you end up wanting more. Whether it be more background, more foundation or just more plot to the story. I would have liked to delve more into who the Uncle Bob character was and find out the why of how things were, but I understand the author’s motivation in leaving such things out. At its core this is a psychological story and some of the elements are left open for the reader’s interpretation.

Happy reading!

Review | Beyond the Dragon’s Gate by Yoon Ha Lee

Former Academician Anna Kims research into AI cost her everything. Now, years later, the military has need of her expertise in order to prevent the destruction of their AI-powered fleet.

Rating: 4 out of 5.

I wasn’t exactly sure what I was getting into with this story, but I knew I wanted to check out some of Yoon Ha Lee’s writing. I loved how we got dumped right into the middle of the story, and got little snippets of information about the ongoing conflict in the world from the main character’s perspective. I would definitely read more from this specific character’s view, but I did finish the story wanting a little bit more. Maybe a little more backstory, a little more fleshing out – but for a snapshot of a single concept/issue, this was a great read.

Happy reading!

Review | The Night Cyclist by Stephen Graham Jones

I have really been enjoying the original short stories that are available and was super happy to see a couple by Stephen Graham Jones out there. Make sure you check out some of the short stories available as so far they are wonderful!

“The Night Cyclist” by Stephen Graham Jones is a horror novelette about a middle-aged chef whose nightly bicycle ride home is interrupted by an unexpected encounter.

Rating: 4 out of 5.

After loving previous works by Stephen Graham Jones, I was thrilled to find some of his short stories available. I picked up a couple of them but The Night Cyclist was the first one I decided to read. Since the synopsis was very brief I didn’t know just what to expect, but as always I really enjoyed his writing style. It was really atmospheric especially when he was describing the scenes while the main character was cycling. There was just enough darkness to keep me in suspense until the climax of the story.

Happy reading!

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!