Saturday, 26 September 2015

Reviews: The Short of It

Been playing catch up with reading and reviewing. I’m 33 books behind schedule. Goodreads said so. Why should I care about what Goodreads say? You see, I joined the 2015 Reading Challenge and pledged to read 80 books, which translates to 6.66 books per month (I’m glad I’m not superstitious).  

Easy peasy, right? No. It’s September and I’m still struggling to get halfway through the challenge. I’m still convinced I could do it, but I’m going to need a strategy of some sort.  I realised that I could probably pull this one off by reading all the short stories and novellas on my TBR list.

It’s not cheating. Just slightly devious planning.

Two women, memory loss, a dead man, and a psychic. Everything else are fragments. This is a bizarre story that I quite frankly did not get the first time I read it. So I had to read it again. I like to believe I got it the second time around. Or probably not. It’s like the movie “Inception”. People think they got it, but they probably don’t.

The truth is it’s a mystery right to the very end. I don’t care if I don't get it  right because I enjoyed the writing, the build up, and the intrigue. This is not spoon feeding. You have to think. Think until it hurts and you beg for more.  ★★★ 4/5 

Andrew O’Sullivan is a medium and spirit photographer called on by Detective Angus Mallory to help investigate the gruesome murders that shook Beacon Hill. It’s Sherlock meets CSI meets ghost hunter in 1800s steampunk Boston.

This is more than just a murder mystery; it also introduces us to the young Caitlin O’Sullivan. If you’ve read The Boston MetaphysicalSociety webcomics, the last few pages of The Devil Within will certainly have an impact. If not, that’s quite all right, there’d still probably be an “aah” moment, if you were paying attention. There, I’ve avoided spoilers. ★★★ 5/5 

Children’s book writer turned crime fiction writer Marnie Riches shows her versatility with The Love Potion. Why was I reading a Valentine’s Day e-short, you ask? I think I have a compulsive completist disorder**

It’s wickedly funny and naughty and cruel. But it’s a love story.
It’s also a cautionary tale: Don’t date a pharmacist if you’re a lying, cheating bastard. 

As a bonus, you’d probably find a cure to what ails you.  ★★★ 5/5 
**A personality quirk that compels its victims to complete collections. In this case, books written by the same author.

This is the (short) prequel to Demons & Pearls. Having read the two books in the series made me feel that this is quite basic as an introductory piece. We meet the young Ivory Shepard and her cousins as they try to protect themselves and escape from men who have set their eyes on the prize.

To me, the two books are sufficient. This is just a bonus.

But this I can assure you: If you read Ivory Dawn, you will want to read all the books in the series. ★★★ 4/5 

How hard is it to kiss the girl of your dreams? Terribly hard if you’re a teenage boy named Scott. A desperate boy who wanted to be the first to kiss Clarisse.

So it’s a race against time and against Jay (who is God’s gift to teenage girls in Nowheresville, apparently). Dreams may just come true if you’re armed with a cunning plan and plenty of mints.  ★★★ 4/5

Sunday, 20 September 2015

Nonlocal Science Fiction Issue 1: Not short on entertainment

Reviewing a collection of short stories is always tricky; more so if they are written by different authors. The chance of liking all the stories is slim, though not impossible. There’s probably 2 to 3 remarkable stories and a few mediocre ones, and the rest, forgettable.

I believe this one was done right.

Nonlocal Science Fiction Issue #1 is a 10-story strong collection that’s perhaps the closest you’ll get to having that “dream” sci-fi short story anthology. It’s evident that it had gone through a stringent selection process. The stories are a wonderful mix of hardcore sci-fi, old-school, offbeat, edgy, and weirdly good speculative fiction.

Though my personal favorite is Shoot The Devil by Nicholas Rossis, I enjoyed reading the other stories. It’s one of those collections where the good stories outnumber the not-so-good ones. It’s a fantastic start with a lot of  sci-fi promise. ★★★ 4/5 


In January 2015, I had a conversation over milk & cookies with author and publisher Daniel J. Dombrowski of 33rd Street Press. He was then running a Kickstarter campaign for the Nonlocal Science Fiction Magazine. It was a successful campaign and I ended up with a free copy of the magazine (thanks, Dan!). Fast forward to September 2015, the magazine is now on its third issue! I'm playing catch up, but the reviews will come.

Saturday, 19 September 2015

IMMERSED: Steampunk Wrapped in Bacon

Everything’s better with bacon.

Immersed is steampunk wrapped in bacon. That’s how good this novella is.

There’s a new badass heroine in 1850s Chicago and she’s not to be messed with. Melusine DorĂ© slays monsters and beasts for a living and does so without breaking a sweat. The rough and tough exterior conceals a past that defines her present. She’s unbreakable. Or is she?

Rival monster-hunter Levi Cannon seems a worthy opponent but a profitable offer forces them to work side by side; an opportunity that has some dire repercussions.

The chemistry between Melusine and Levi is unmistakable – from the playful banters to the accidental contacts to the sexual tension. They’re quite a pair.

Author Katie Hayoz has this incredible knack for perfectly timed plot twists. She knows how to tease and knows when to astonish.

Immersed is steampunk with soul. ★★★ 5/5