Lucid Dreaming: A Review of The Dreamcatchers

Book cover for The Dreamcatchers by Ignat Drozdov. Image on cover is a painting of a blue-skinned, blue man who has a lightbulb installed in his head. You can see a cross-section of it and his head. The lightbulb is emitting a yellow glow, and the man has a pensive expression on his face. Title: The Dreamcatchers

Author: Ignat Drozdov

Publisher: Self-Published

Publication Date: January 10, 2023

Genres: Science Fiction

Length: 10 pages

Source: I received a free copy from the author.

Rating: 4 Stars


On Jay’s first day at a new job he’s thrown into the murky business of lucid dreaming. He feels that it’s a fresh start and a chance to get away from his own nightmares, but not everything is as it seems.


Content Warning: Assault, battery, needles, and injections.

Imagine the joy of reliving the same dream as often as you wish.

Being able to control your dreams sounds incredible to me. I was eager to discover what this process would be like from the perspective of workers who were paid to medically guide clients through it without fully understanding the science behind it all. Most stories tend to write such a thing from the point of view of the scientist who invented it or the person experiencing it. Allowing characters who are only slightly more knowledgable about the topic than the reader was to narrate it opened up so many opportunities for extrapolating what might happen next or trying to piece the limited number of clues together before the twist. It was enjoyable for me as a reader to have this time to compare my perspective to that of the main character, and I’ll be keeping my eyes out for more from this author.

I would have liked to have more opportunities to explore Jay’s difficult past given how important it was to who he was when the audience first met him. There were hints about what sorts of bad memories he might be trying to avoid as he adjusted to his new job, but it would have been helpful to see them coalesce together more firmly by the final scene.

With that being said, the ending made me gasp. I ended up rereading the entire tale over again to see if could find additional clues about what happened in that final scene and why Jay ended up with the fate he did. Science fiction thrives when authors take risks with what they write in my opinion as both a reader of and writer in this genre, so I commend Mr. Drozdov for putting so much faith into his audience’s ability to figure out what was happening without overloading us with clues about what was to come.

The Dreamcatchers was creative and thought provoking.


Filed under Science Fiction and Fantasy

Wednesday Weekly Blogging Challenge: Criticize Your Favourite Book, Show, or Movie

Hosted by Long and Short Reviews.

Click here to read everyone else’s replies to this week’s question and here to see the full list of topics for the year.

Poster for the tv show The Last of Us. Poster shows the two main character, Ellie and My favourite pieces of media can shift a lot over time, but I will follow the rules and only give one answer this week. 😉

One of the shows at the top of my list is The Last of Us. You’ve all probably heard of it already, but if not it was a science fiction zombie show based on a video game that came out last winter.

The first zombies in this universe were created when they ate food made from (or were otherwise exposed to) flour that was contaminated with the cordyceps fungus (This was strongly hinted at in the first episode, so it’s only a mild spoiler).  In the real world, certain types of this fungus really do infect ants which still scares me a little.

Here are my criticisms of this show:

1) Normal human body temperature is too high for cordyceps to survive in. Some people literally eat this fungus as a dietary supplement or food, and it has no ill effect on them.

2) It’s rare and difficult for an organism like a fungus to learn to jump species, especially ones that are as wildly different as humans and ants. They would have probably had to learn how to infect many other species between us before people were ever in danger, so the characters should have had many generations to notice this was happening and stop it.

3) Given that the vast majority of people do not eat raw flour or raw dough, how did the cordyceps surviving the scorching heat of baking process and manage to infect so many folks nearly simultaneously?

4) The mycologist in one of the first episodes of this show say there are no treatments for fungal infections, but that’s false. Yes, some fungal infections can be difficult to treat, but this isn’t a completely new and unknown pathogen by any means. We currently have many different anti-fungal medicines, after all.

Basically, I wanted the scientific explanation of the origins of this disease to be more accurate. Apparently, I can believe that cordyceps could take control of the human mind and turn folks into mindless zombies in this universe, but I can’t suspend disbelief when to comes to the idea of anything surviving being baked in an oven for an hour. Ha!



Filed under Blog Hops, Science Fiction and Fantasy

Top Ten Tuesday: Mainstream Popular Authors that I Still Have Not Read

Hosted by That Artsy Reader Girl

A close-up photo of a typwriter. Someone has typed the phrase “something worth reading” on the white sheet of paper that has been put into the typewriter. Thank you to Rissa for submitting this week’s topic.

I used this Wikipedia page to compile my list of mainstream popular authors that I still have not read.

These authors have not published anything that appeals to my taste in books so far, but obviously there are a lot of people out there who do love their work!

If they do ever happen to publish stories that fit my reading interests, I’d be happy to give them a try.

1. Tom Clancy

2. Dean Koontz

3. James Patterson

4. Barbara Cartland

5. Harold Robbins

6. Georges Simenon

7. Eiichiro Oda

8. Akira Toriyama

9. Corín Tellado

10. Masashi Kishimoto


Filed under Blog Hops

Winter Worries: A Review of Driving in the Dark

Book cover for Driving in the Dark by Jack Harding. Image on cover shows a dark country road from the perspective of someone driving on it at night. You can just barely make out the road, the pine trees on either side of the road, and the starry night sky above. It is all very, very dark as if this is set in a very rural area where few people drive. Title: Driving in the Dark

Author: Jack Harding

Publisher: Self-Published

Publication Date: December 6, 2021

Genres:  Psychological Horror, Paranormal, Holiday, Mystery, Contemporary

Length: 24 pages

Source: I received a free copy from the author.

Rating: 3 Stars


It’s the most wonderful time of the year, and 29 year old analyst Riley Coupland has just wrapped-up work for 12 whole days. There’s something in his bag. Something silver, something shiny and glittering with hopes and dreams of a bright and beautiful future. The only thing standing between him and his soon to be fiancée Emma is his arduous, mind-numbing drive home.

But something isn’t right. His phone, his hearing, the music, the traffic, everything just seems out of sync and off, and Riley can’t quite put his finger on it.

All he has to do is keep his eyes on the road…

All he has to do is take it slow…

In this brooding and deeply moving short story by Jack Harding, buckle up and settle down for a journey that will stir your senses and pull on your heart strings, keeping you guessing right until the end of the road.


Content Warning: Car accident.

There’s no better feeling than finally getting to rest after weeks of hard work.

Riley’s character development was handled nicely. There were times when I connected with him and other scenes when I was irritated by how distractible he could be. Yes, it’s understandable to lose focus on a long drive home after working all day, but as an experienced driver he knew that this was one of his faults and that a cold winter night is not the best time for daydreaming. Characters don’t have to be perfect to be memorable, though, and I’ll certainly remember him for a long time.

I thought there were too many clues about what was going on during Riley’s long, lonely ride home as his Christmas vacation began. Anyone who is already familiar with certain horror tropes will probably figure out the twist pretty early on. As that was a major part of what made this story so interesting, I would have loved to been challenged to figure it out with less foreshadowing. This was especially true near the beginning when there was a throwaway line that all but told the audience exactly what to expect.

With that being said, this was a great example of why psychological horror can be so effective at frightening its audience. Sometimes all you need to feel fear is to imagine driving down a quiet winter road at night when hardly anyone else is out and the night sky looms overhead menacingly. There are plenty of ways such a journey can go wrong without any classic horror antagonists showing up, and I though the author did a good job of showing how sometimes the most ordinary experiences in life can also be the most horrifying ones.

Driving in the Dark was chilling.


Filed under Science Fiction and Fantasy

Wednesday Weekly Blogging Challenge: Something You Believed But Found Out Wasn’t True

Hosted by Long and Short Reviews.

Click here to read everyone else’s replies to this week’s question and here to see the full list of topics for the year.

When I was seven, my parents moved our family a few thousand miles away from where we had previously been living. Since we were homeschooled at the time, my siblings and I didn’t have to say goodbye to classmates or teachers. We couldn’t bring all of our friends and relatives with us, though, so that was still an adjustment.

Cartoon image of a little girl who is holding a green umbrella and yellow satchel and wearing an orange raincoat. The wind is blowing against her so hard that her umbrella has been turned inside out!

Image credit: cromaconceptovisual

After we moved, I thought about my maternal grandmother a lot. In my WWBC karma post last month, I talked about how much everyone loves her.  She was (and still is) the quintessential grandma: gentle, kind, soothing, adores children, and will feed you warm, homemade chocolate chip cookies if you like them.

I was allowed to play or read as I pleased after our daily lessons were finished, so I had a generous amount of time to try to figure life out.

Sometimes when I missed my grandmother terribly and it was windy enough to carry sound* I’d stand on a local hill and yell loving messages to her.** I thought that maybe she could hear the faintest whisper of my words if I yelled loud enough and if the wind was blowing especially fast that day.

I imagined her bent over in her large, friendly garden harvesting corn or picking strawberries only to pause and wonder if she’d really heard her granddaughter yelling her name or if she was just imagining it. Perhaps she’d smile and blow me a kiss or yell back her own message, too.

It took another year or two for me to learn enough from my science textbooks to realize sound doesn’t work that way, but it was a comforting thought while it lasted.

*At that age I thought wind could somehow carry sounds long distances if you made your words strong and loud enough to last the entire journey. Don’t ask me how that was supposed to work!

** I apologize to any neighbours who may have been terribly confused by why a kid was loudly yelling “I love you, Grandma” and “I miss you, Grandma”  over and over again outside. Those messages were intended for her ears only.

(We moved back to her area several years later, so this tale has a happy ending).



Filed under Blog Hops, Personal Life

Top Ten Tuesday: Book Titles That Would Make Great Newspaper Headlines

Hosted by That Artsy Reader Girl

Thank you to Cathy @ What Cathy Read Next for coming up with this topic. It’s a unique one.

I’d sure want to read all of these newspaper headlines. Many of them could easily appear in a regular newspaper, while others would work best if written by a reporter who lived in a speculative fiction universe.

Some weeks I can only come up with four or five answers, so this time I’ll happily be going over the limit to help make up for that.

A black man sitting at a table and reading a newspaper. He has a serious, thoughtful expression on his face and has just looked up to make eye contact with the reader when this shot was taken. He’s sitting bedside a large picture window that has the blinds drawn, but it’s such a sunny day that you can still see lots of light pouring into the room. 1. The Secret Life of Bees by Sue Monk Kidd

2. 5 Very Good Reasons to Punch a Dolphin in the Mouth and Other Useful Guides by Matthew Inman

3. I Kissed a Zombie, and I Liked It by Adam Selzer

4. Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? by Philip K. Dick

5. By the Time You Read This, I’ll Be Dead by Julie Anne Peters

6. The Lake of Dead Languages by Carol Goodman

7. The Spiders of Allah: Travels of an Unbeliever on the Frontline of Holy War by James Hider

8. 15 Days Without a Head by Dave Cousins

9. How to Say Goodbye in Robot by Natalie Standiford

10. The Butchering Art: Joseph Lister’s Quest to Transform the Grisly World of Victorian Medicine
by Lindsey Fitzharris

11. Making Mummies, Shrinking Heads: And Other Useful Skills by Pat Murphy

12. First You Write: The Worst Way to Become an Almost Famous Author And The Best Advice I Got While Doing It by Joni Rodgers

13. Great Gals: Inspired Ideas for Living a Kick-Ass Life by Summer Pierre


Filed under Blog Hops

Making the Best of Things: A Review of The Burning Land

Book cover for The Burning Land by Jeff Brackett. Image on cover is a painting of a wooden ship sailing on a sea that is bathed in yellow light. Title: The Burning Land

Author: Jeff Brackett

Publisher: Self-Published

Publication Date: October 3, 2016

Genres: Science Fiction

Length: 26 pages

Source: I received a free copy from the author.

Rating: 4 Stars


Arik is Kapin of “The Serpent”, a sailing ship on a far-away world of green skies and orange seas. And though technically the leader of their expedition, he knows the true power on board lies in the hands of his only passenger – the Seer, Uson Grogor. Arik and Uson lead the crew across the vastness of the ocean, risking the lives of the crew as they sail past the point at which their supplies might still get them home, all based on the visions of the old Seer.


Content Warning: Pregnancy, deaths from animal attacks, and a fatal spaceship accident.

Failure is a stepping stone to success.

Now this is an example of how to write a memorable dual-perspective story! I don’t want to give away too many details about how a ship sailing across the ocean could be related to a spaceship travelling through space to a new planet, but I loved the way the author connected these two storylines. The parallels between them were evident almost immediately, and I only became more curious about how they might intersect as I  grew closer to the conclusion.

I would have liked to see more character development. While I wouldn’t expect to see as much of it in something this size as I would in a full-length novel,  it would have been nice to have more examples of how the characters grew and changed as a result of their experiences. This is something I’m saying as a reader who otherwise loved this tale and would have given it a five-star rating if I knew the characters better and could point out their personal development over time in clearer ways.

The world building was exciting and well done.  I learned more than information about the Earth-like world the explorers landed on in order to picture it clearly in my mind, but I also found myself wishing the author would write a sequel to explore things in even greater detail. The differences in the flora and fauna in this world made me smile, and that’s not even to mention the many different ways people reacted to these new life forms.

The Burning Land made me yearn for more.

Leave a Comment

Filed under Science Fiction and Fantasy

Wednesday Weekly Blogging Challenge: A Celebrity People Say I Look Like

Hosted by Long and Short Reviews.

Click here to read everyone else’s replies to this week’s question and to read everyone else’s replies to this week’s question and here to see the full list of topics for the year.

Ooh, this is a fun topic!

Can I assume that you all know who Shirley Temple, the beloved 1930s child star, is?

A photo of Shirley Temple when she was a little girl, maybe 6 years old. She’s grinning and wearing a blue dress with white lace trimming the collar and front portion of the dress. She has a cute little blue bow tied up around her curls, too.

For anyone who might not know her, this is what she looked like as a little girl.

This is what I looked like as a little girl:

A 1980s photo of two young siblings, ages about 4 and 2, who have been posed for a professional photo. The older girl child is me, Lydia. She has short, very curly brown hair and is wearing a light purple dress that has a large white collar with red trim on it. The little boy is my brother. He has short, straight, blond hair and is wearing a collared shirt that has a rainbow pattern.

(That sweet little boy next to me is one of my brothers. I’ll leave it up to him to identify himself further if he wishes to).

I have memories of older women stopping my mother in department stores to coo over my curls and tell us how much they thought I looked like Shirley Temple.

And, yeah, I can see the resemblance.



Filed under Blog Hops, Personal Life

Top Ten Tuesday: Things I Love About Halloween

Hosted by That Artsy Reader Girl

Happy Halloween to everyone who celebrates it! This is my favourite holiday of the year, so I’m thrilled to see October 31 come around again on the calendar.

In previous years, I’ve blogged about My Favourite Halloween Treats, Halloween Picture Books, and Halloween Things I’ve Never Done  for Top Ten Tuesday’s Halloween Freebie post.

This time I’m going to talk about why I love this holiday so much, especially since I wasn’t allowed to celebrate it as a kid as I’ve mentioned before.

So what’s so fantastic about this holiday?

1. Presents Aren’t Needed

It’s a relief to celebrate without being expected to give or receive gifts. I have a lot of mixed feelings about that tradition.

Two white people are each holding up a sugar cookie that has been decorated for Halloween. One cookie is shaped like a ghost and the other one a skeleton. 2. Candy and Baked Goods

Halloween candy and baked goods are delicious. If I receive something I can’t eat for allergy reasons, there are a lot of other people who can eat it and who wouldn’t mind taking it home.

3. Free Expression

This is the only time of year when it’s socially acceptable for adults to dress in costumes (unless you’re going to a comic conference or something). I love having the freedom to be anyone I want for that night…even if, truth be told, most Halloween nights find me no longer dressing up at all.

4. You Can Eat Anything 

I enjoy cooking, but I do not like the pressure that can come on other holidays like Thanksgiving or Christmas to follow a rigid menu and make all of the dishes the exact same way every time. There is no set menu for Halloween. You could eat pizza, samosas, Pad Thai, or a nice, big salad if you wish!

5. Halloween Music

Don’t tell anyone, but I start listening to Halloween playlists in September. I love jumping around from lighthearted kids’ songs to the season finale song of Supernatural to all sorts of other spooky music.

6. Autumn Is Gorgeous 

I love walking through crunchy leaves in the park and seeing the brilliant red, yellow, orange, and occasionally purple leaves still clinging to their trees or bushes.  Halloween is often pretty close to peak colour here in Toronto, so this is yet another reason why I love this holiday.

7. Ghost Stories 

Whether I’m going on a ghost tour, reading a ghost story, or watching a paranormal film, I think it’s interesting to explore the spirits’ motives for haunting a particular location.

A jack-o-lantern is sitting in a patch of glass. There is a candle inside of the lantern that is making it glow orange and yellow. It’s dark outside, so few other details can be seen other than the lush grass it is sitting on. 8. Carving Pumpkins

Am I good at it? Not really, but it’s still amusing. When else are you going to have permission to play with food? (Or potential food, rather).

9. Acknowledgement of Death

A friend of mine died in a car accident when we were in high school. One of the weirdest parts of that experience for me was how quickly people stopped talking about him. We were all grieving, and of course I respected everyone who found it too hard to discuss him or his accident. Halloween is a relief to me because it’s one time of year when more folks are willing to broach such topics and remember the dead.  Yes, there is pain in those moments…but over time there can also be so much joy to be found in retelling funny or touching stories about those who are no longer with us.

10. Fear Is Fun In Small Doses When You’re Not Really In Danger

Wow, that was a wordy sentence! But, yeah, I do see the value in feeling a little fear from a spooky movie or ghost story when you know that it is 100% fiction. This is such a different feeling than being afraid of something or someone who could actually harm you.






Filed under Blog Hops, Personal Life

A Review of Wilhelmina Quigley – Monkey See, Monkey Do

Book cover for Wilhelmina Quigley - Monkey See, Monkey Do by Liese Sherwood-Fabre. Image on cover shows a drawing of a blue and green stuffed toy monkey sitting on a jack-o-lantern. The monkey is wearing a black scarf and a black witch’s hat that has a gold buckle on it. Its left arm is raised as if to wave a friendly hello to the audience. Title: Wilhelmina Quigley – Monkey See, Monkey Do

Author: Liese Sherwood-Fabre

Publisher: Little Elm Press (Self-Published)

Publication Date: June 5, 2023

Genres: Middle Grade, Fantasy, Contemporary

Length: 32 pages

Source: I received a free copy from the author

Rating: 3 Stars


A young witch with unpredictable powers. A complex transformation spell. What could possibly go wrong?

Following a magical mishap, Wilhelmina Quigley accidentally transforms her classmate, Fynn, into a monkey. With a frightened Fynn running from those who could help him, Wilhelmina sets off on an extraordinary adventure to recapture and transform the monkey back to a boy. From incantation blunders to misfired spells, each step along the way brings laughter, surprises, and valuable lessons about self-discovery.

“Wilhelmina Quigley: Monkey See, Monkey Do” is a captivating short story that will whisk readers away to a realm where anything is possible and where the most important lessons are learned when you believe in your own abilities. Join Wilhelmina on her extraordinary quest and prepare to be spellbound by the enchantment that unfolds page after page.

If you enjoy humorous fantasy stories about young witches, get this story now.


Embarrassment is part of life.

Wilhelmina was a well-written and amusing protagonist. She talked and behaved exactly how a kid her age should, and some of the things she did made me shake my head as I remembered my own middle school blunders that were horribly embarrassing at the time but that I can now find the humour in. It can be difficult to capture that awkward, in-between stage of life accurately, so I have to commend Ms. Sherwood-Fabre for pulling it off.

I would have loved to see more world building in this short story. For example, Wilhelmina‘s teacher struck me as a rather exasperated and impatient person. Was this because the teacher was having a bad day, the magical society they lived in was not very forgiving of honest mistakes due to the high stakes of misused magic, or that bad moods were a side effect of spells going horribly wrong? I could see arguments for any of these explanations and a few more besides them, but the text never explained what was going on here. Having that answer could have helped fill in some holes for me about how their culture was different from all of the non-magical ones out there.

With that being said, the humor and low stakes here were delightful. So many of the fantasy and Halloween stories I review have high stakes and bloody battles that it was refreshing to sit back and see how a young witch learned from her mistakes and tried to make them right again. Not everything has to be about saving the world, after all! Sometimes trying to turn a classmate back into a kid again before the school day ends  is all the tension one needs to enjoy a plot.

Wilhelmina Quigley – Monkey See, Monkey Do was a gentle little Halloween-themed tale that both kids and adults can enjoy.


Filed under Science Fiction and Fantasy