Sunday Shorts: 3 Mini Reviews (08.12.19)

Good evening all and welcome back to Sunday Shorts! I’ve decided to try and run this section of the blog bi weekly and see how I get on. This week I have another novella, short story and a graphic novel for you all. And before you ask, yes. Neil Gaiman is in this one too.

In the wake of his infant daughter’s tragic death, Steve Brannigan is struggling to keep himself together. Estranged from his wife, who refuses to be inside the house where the unthinkable happened, and unable to work, he seeks solace in an endless parade of old sitcoms and a bottle of bourbon.
Until one night he hears a sound from his daughter’s old room, a room now stripped bare of anything that identified it as hers…except for her security blanket, affectionately known as Blanky.
Blanky, old and frayed, with its antiquated patchwork of badly sewn rabbits with black button eyes, who appear to be staring at the viewer…Blanky, purchased from a strange old man at an antique stall selling “BABY CLOSE” at a discount.
The presence of Blanky in his dead daughter’s room heralds nothing short of an unspeakable nightmare that threatens to take away what little light remains in Steve’s shattered world.
Because his daughter loved Blanky so much, he buried her with it.
  • Title: Blanky
  • Author: Kealan Patrick Burke
  • Genre: Contemporary horror

    After reading Sour Candy for the last round of Sunday Shorts I thought this would be the best follow up to reading Kealan Patrick Burke. Unfortunately this was a bit meh for me and it was a slog to finish. One aspect of the book is the discussion of grief and particularly the death of an infant. I do think that was handled very well but the story itself was not as good as I expected and the plot lacked in places. I still intend to read more of Burke’s work but this one was not for me.

★★★/5

In this standalone short story by N. K. Jemisin, author of The Fifth Season, the winner of this year’s Hugo Award for Best Novel, New York City is about to go through a few changes. Like all great metropolises before it, when a city gets big enough, old enough, it must be born; but there are ancient enemies who cannot tolerate new life. Thus New York will live or die by the efforts of a reluctant midwife…and how well he can learn to sing the city’s mighty song
  • Title: The City Born Great
  • Author: N.K Jemisin
  • Genre: Science Fiction/Fantasy

    This was a nice story and a bit of a different work than what I’m used to from Jemisin. This is set in a modern day as opposed to a further future that we saw in her Broken Earth trilogy for example and it is wonderful. For such a short work there is a great discussion of homelessness ,racism and police brutality towards black men. This is the shorter work that has beget Jemisin’s new novel due out in 2020, The City We Became and I can’t wait to see how she continues it.

★★★★/5

THE SANDMAN: THE DREAM HUNTERS is a comics adaptation of Gaiman’s original prose novella by the same name illustrated by Yoshitako Amano. This graphic novel was illustrated by the legendary P. Craig Russell. A humble young monk and a magical, shape-changing fox find themselves romantically drawn together. As their love blooms, the fox learns of a devilish plot by a group of demons and a Japanese emperor to steal the monk’s life. With the aid of Morpheus, the fox must use all of her cunning and creative thinking to foil this evil scheme and save the man that she loves.
  • Title: The Sandman: The Dream Hunters
  • Authors: Neil Gaiman, P.Craig Russell
  • Genre: Graphic novel, fantasy, horror

    This is an obvious fact by now that The Sandman is my favourite series of all times in terms of comics and this one is the latest I have read in order to have the entire universe read and covered this year. This story, will hurt you. I cried like I did when I read The Kindly Ones and this story isn’t even about Dream. This story focuses on the characters that Morpheus just happens to find in his realm and as usual, what his duties really entail which we all know is making tough decisions.

★★★★★/5

That’s it this week for Sunday Shorts! Maybe next time I may have a few more works since I plan on introducing single issue comics to this too and I have a MASSIVE comics TBR at the moment. Tell me some of the shorter things you have read recently! I’d love to hear what I could read next.

Neverwhere-Neil Gaiman Review

‘ I mean, maybe I am crazy. I mean, maybe. But if this is all there is, then I don’t want to be sane.’

Good evening and apologies for my absence! I have been work busy, a bit exhausted and had an impromptu weekend away which was well needed. This book, is shockingly, the only Neil Gaiman book I have never read. And I dragged reading this book out for an entire week.

Richard Mayhew’s life takes an unexpected turn after a small act of kindness. After saving the life of an injured young woman named Door, Richard is suddenly confronted with the fact that the London he knew is not the only London. There is a London with rat speakers, angels, vicious assasins and train stations that never existed. When Richard is left with very little choice to go to this London Below, he is left with one option. Survive.

The alternate London trope in fantasy is a favourite (a post on this someday) and noone does it better than Neil Gaiman. Neverwhere is the original alternate London story. London Below is a place that belongs to various baronies and duchies and is littered with people, streets, trains and other things that have just been forgotten. It is very interesting that the people of London Above don’t see or remember anyone of London Below. This initially being how Richard ends up in London Below. The relationship between those above and below is so close to the approach people have towards the homeless that I even began to question my own attitude towards this too. Very relevant today I think.

Gaiman can write characters that will both walk with you, comfort you and put you in great danger after you leave the book on the shelf. Richard Mayhew has some very similar traits to Shadow Moon but he does use his voice a lot more and speaks his mind quite often. His development and character arc is very much that of an unlikely hero but there are some questions about him that are never answered that really work in the novels favour.

Door is very interesting but I did much prefer Hunter and of course, the Marquis de Carabas. Hunter is a woman that is known, feared and respected by many of London Below and her past especially that associated with Serpentine is hinted at heavily. I’m hoping it is addressed in the eventual sequel. The Marquis is a man who is two steps ahead at all times an wears a very wonderful coat. An unlikely semi anti hero figure who deals in favours he is fun as he is captivating.

I can’t not mention Mr Croup and Mr Vandemar. They. Scare. Me. Neil Gaiman always manages to brew a character that freaks me out long after I have put the book down. Before it was the Other Mother, Mr World and Tiger. Now I can add this murderous pair.

This book is following a journey. The journey of Door trying to find out who murdered her family while also being that of Richard as he see’s the true nature of London Below. The plot is a constant walk with many stops along the way. Many places are literal translations of the locations within London Above that will delight and frighten many. How many times will you look at Black Friars now and wonder where the friars are?

There was no surprise that I loved this book and that I am always slightly biased toward Gaiman’s work. But I am not lying when I say this book is such a good starting point for reading his books and a great gateway into fantasy. Again, it is getting a sequel which Gaiman doesn’t do so if you do love it stay tuned.

★★★★★/5

Sunday Shorts: 3 Mini Reviews (24.11.19)

Welcome to a new segment on my blog! Short and Shorter is going to be a selection of 3 works of short fiction that I do small quick reviews of so I can discuss them with everyone. I’m going to be including graphic novels some times in here too but I will still continue to review them as standalone works.


At first glance, Phil Pendleton and his son Adam are just an ordinary father and son, no different from any other. They take walks in the park together, visit county fairs, museums, and zoos, and eat together overlooking the lake. Some might say the father is a little too accommodating given the lack of discipline when the child loses his temper in public. Some might say he spoils his son by allowing him to set his own bedtimes and eat candy whenever he wants. Some might say that such leniency is starting to take its toll on the father, given how his health has declined. What no one knows is that Phil is a prisoner, and that up until a few weeks ago and a chance encounter at a grocery store, he had never seen the child before in his life
  • Title: Sour Candy
  • Author: Kealan Patrick Burke
  • Genre: Contemporary Horror

    Mt first time reading Kealan Patrick Burke and wow. Just wow. This is a novella that explores the horrors of sudden parenthood. I read this one morning in bed when my boyfriend went to work and I was blown away by the writing. The sheer creepiness of the story and this child who pulls as full Midwich Cuckoo and shows up makes for a great read. There is also some mild body horror with visceral descriptions of sour candy.

    ★★★★★/5
The coat. It was elegant. It was beautiful. It was so close that he could have reached out and touched it.

And it was unquestionably his.
  • Title: How the Marquis got His Coat Back
  • Author: Neil Gaiman
  • Genre: Fantasy

    I read this directly after finishing Neverwhere. This was a nice way to slowly exit the world after completing the novel and avoid a book hangover. The Marquis de Carabas is my favourite character from the book so it was nice to know he was up to his old tricks. I do think it was a good follow up to Neverwhere but does suffer from the 1.5 book syndrome where it leaves you with more questions than answers. Still I would recommend reading directly after finishing Neverwhere.

    /5
THE SANDMAN: ENDLESS NIGHTS will be a delight to fans of Gaiman’s work and newcomers to the graphic novel. Whether haunting, bittersweet, erotic or nightmarish, the seven stories in this book – one for each of the Endless siblings – reveal strange secrets and surprising truths. Each story is illustrated by some of the greatest comic artists from around the world.
  • Title: The Sandman: Endless Nights
  • Authors: Neil Gaiman, Glen Fabry, Milo Manara, Miguelanxo Prado, Frank Quitely, P. Craig Russell, Bill Sienkiewicz and Barron Storey
  • Genre: Graphic novel, fantasy, horror

    I love the Sandman series very much. So much I have a Sandman tattoo. So this year I reread the entire main series and this is the first volume after the conclusion of the last volume. This is short stories that follow each of the Endless and is illustrated by 7 different artists. The stories were great but the art left me down in places. Especially Manara’s since his art has always made me feel a bit…. ick. But still overall, good read and great to go back to that world.

    /5

So that’s it! This was nice to rattle off some smaller reviews of shorter works. Do you like short reviews? Do you think this is a handy way to talk about recent reads? Please tell me below! That’s all for this week and until next time happy reading!

Audiobook Recommendations for Newbies

I only got into audio books last year when I worked a hectic job and found no other time to read. My history with audio books wasn’t great prior to then. I distinctly remember being bored to total tears in primary school when our teacher put on a tape (yes. tape) audio book of The Hobbit. It was AWFUL.

So to counteract that terrible start to audio books in my life I’ve made a list of the absolute best I have read so far.

  • The Left Hand of Darkness by Ursula K Le Guin: This was the book that started it all, for both Le Guin and audio books overall. This book was so good this has gone on to be one of my favourite books of all time. This books details the mission of human male Genly Ai. Ai is an agent for the Ekumen, an intergalactic counsel and has been tasked of convincing the planet Gethen (or Winter) to join the council. Gethenians have no gender, choosing to be male or female once a month during a period known as ‘kemmer’ and we follow Ai on his mission to both learn and navigate his way on Gethen. This is quite obviously a sci fi book and it stole my heart. It is full cast which suits such a broad spectrum of characters. The cast also are wonderful at handling the voicing of chracters that don’t display obvious gender attributes. Overall it really sets a cold, winter vibe that this book really benefits from.
  • Anansi Boys by Neil Gaiman: Out of all Neil Gaiman’s books this was my least favourite. Then I listened to the BBC radio 4 production. The book follows Fat Charlie Nancy as her learns of the death of his father Anansi, the spider god, and of the existence of his brother, Spider. Charlies life takes a sudden turn after both of these things happen and he suddenly has to make a decision that incurs the wrath of the Gods themselves. This book is so funny it actually makes me smile to think about it but it paints such an amazing set of characters due in part to the casting. Lenny Henry is perfect as Anansi. This is also a full cast production (you will see a trend). One thing I really loved while reading this was you felt like you were in the places of the book. London sounded like London, the Caribbean sounded like a sunny place, anywhere else just felt and sounded so real it felt like I was actually there. If you struggled reading the book physically, definitely try the audio.
  • Nevernight by Jay Kristoff: Mia Corvere wants to avenge her father, who she witnessed being executed as a child. Mia wants to be an assassin to achieve her vengeance. She must journey to the Red Church and become an acolyte of the goddess Niah in order to complete her training. That is of course if she survives. If you somehow haven’t heard of this series, fair play now read it. Honestly I read this on audio for the simple reason being I was busy and wanted to read it at last. The audio is perfect for both those reasons, the narrator Holter Graham does a fantastic job for all the voices particularly Mia and Mercurio. His voice for Mia took a while to get used to but by the time I listened to the sequel, ‘Godsgrave’, it had either improved or I embraced it. Either way I highly recommend it on audio especially if you don’t have time to sit down and read the actual book. You also get to avoid the footnotes.
  • Pet Sematary by Stephen King: The Creed family move from Chicago to the town of Ludlow in order for Louis Creed to get a job at the University of Maine. The house sits beside a road that is used heavily by large trucks. After the death of a pet in the family Louis learns of a piece of land that can reanimate the dead and begins to wonder what else it can do. This is my favourite Stephen King book for many years and listening to it on audio hasn’t changed that. The book is narrated by Michael C.Hall from the TV show Dexter and oh my god is his voice chilling. I knew what was coming but still dreaded every second as the story went on. Also, bonus if you are a Dexter fan!
  • American Gods by Neil Gaiman: Yes this is also on the list. I’m sorry. Shadow Moon has just gotten out of jail. Shadow Moon has also just found out his wife is dead. Then he meets Mr Wednesday who offers him a job as a body guard. Shadow has no idea what he has let himself in for. This is my favourite book of all time and yet I had never read it on audio before this June. There are 2 versions, the full cast production and a single narrated version. Definitely check out the full cast (surprise) version, simply for Neil Gaiman’s narration of the Coming to America stories.
  • Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them by J.K Rowling: Based on the Harry Potter in verse text book of the same name details the discoveries of Newt Scamander and his discoveries about different beasts and advice on how to handle them. Obviously the movie is loosely based on this book but the audio is narrated by Eddie Redmayne who plays Scamander and its so lovely. He puts every bit of the soft loveliness he has on screen into the book. There are even background effects for each creature, the dragons being my favourite. I did hear from a friend of mine that he thought this one was pointless if you’re not into Harry Potter so maybe heed his advice if you’re not a fan. Or ignore him and listen to the lovely man talk about pretty creatures.

I hope this list is helpful to anyone sitting on the audio book fence. I honestly think audio books are very subjective, based totally on the readers taste and experience but narrators and cast vs no cast does make a huge difference I feel. Spotify, Borrowbox (for Irish readers) and Scribd are other options to Audible as well if you want to try audio books while still being cautious. Until next time guys, take care!