Category Archives: Science Fiction and Fantasy

A Review of The Gift

Book cover for The Gift by Eleazar Guzman. image on cover shows a a blurry and distorted pink and blue fluorescent sign through a windowpane that is heavily streaked with rain. Title: The Gift

Author: Eleazar Guzman

Publisher: Self-Published

Publication Date: September 15, 2022

Genres: Horror, Paranormal, Contemporary

Length: 11 pages

Source: I received a free copy from the author.

Rating: 4 Stars


An unexpected gift changes the life of a hopeless woman.


Content Warning: Cancer, grief, death, and the termination of a life-threatening pregnancy. I will only discuss grief in my review.

If it’s meant to be, it will happen.

The opening scene provided such a detailed sketch of how grief can spill over into one’s ordinary routines at the most inopportune times. This wasn’t something I was expecting to find in this genre, and it piqued my curiosity about where Erica was going and what she hoped to find once she arrived there. I immediately had sympathy for her and hoped things would get better for her. She was such a sweet and gentle character even in the middle of her unfathomable pain.

I did find myself wondering why Erica wasn’t thinking critically about what was happening to her. She was offered something that sounded too good to be true and accepted it while barely asking any questions about it at all. That struck me as odd, and I would have gone for a full five-star rating if she’d dug deeper into how the mystical nature of it was supposed to work and what she should be doing to get the most use out of it. Even something as simple as the narrator explaining that Erica had never been into the speculative fiction genre and wasn’t aware of certain tropes from it would have been enough for me to nod along in understanding and keep reading.

With that being said, the ending was so fabulous I settled on a four star rating. Obviously, I can’t go into much detail about it without sharing spoilers, but it pushed everything that happened earlier to their logical conclusions in ways that don’t always happen in these sorts of tales. I appreciated how much effort the author put into this frightening final scene and will be keeping an eye out for what he comes up with next. He clearly has a vivid imagination and isn’t afraid to use it!

The Gift was beautiful.


The Science of Vampirism: A Review of Serotonin

Book cover for Serotonin by Joshua Scribner. Image on cover shows a campfire burning outside against a pitch black sky. Title: Serotonin

Author: Joshua Scribner

Publisher: Self-Published

Publication Date: March 2, 2019

Genres: Science Fiction, Fantasy, Horror, Contemporary

Length: 15 pages

Source: I received a free copy from the author.

Rating: 5 Stars


A vampire story with historical references and a strong science fiction component.


Content Warning: Stalking, imprisonment, a discussion about why one character is a cannibal (but no actual cannibalism happens in this tale), and a vampire’s finger being cut off. I won’t discuss any of this in my review.

Sometimes there are no good guys.

I almost stopped reading halfway through this short story due to how violent certain passages were, but the two charismatic antagonists made me curious to see which one of these bad guys might win. Neither of them was someone I’d ever want to meet in a dark alley, but I couldn’t deny that they were both intelligent and quick-witted. It was amusing to see how their ominous energies interacted with each other.

What ultimately convinced me to go for a five star rating was how terrifying vampires are in this world. I’ll leave it up to other readers to learn for themselves why this is the case, but it was refreshing to see an author take a more traditional approach to this lore and make the main character someone who truly feels like a menace to human society. This is a great option for readers who like being scared and who would rather have their vampires without a single ounce of romance or sentimentality.

The world building was fantastic. Given how short this was, I don’t want to share too many details about how vampires or their abilities work in this universe. All you need to know is that they choose their victims carefully and that there are things humans can do to increase and decrease the odds of being selected as someone’s dinner option. There doesn’t seem to be such a thing as a random vampire attack here. That made me want to learn more about how it all worked.

Serotonin was an excellent example of what horror should be.

A Review of The Old Man at the End of the World

Book cover for The Old Man at the End of the World: Bite No. 1 by AK Silversmith. Image on cover shows a lime green silhoutte of a zombie who has a thought bubble above its head that has a human brain in it. The zombie is shambling towards a black silhoutte of a man who is leaning on a black and white can and whose hat is popping off of his head in surprise. Title: The Old Man at the End of the World

Author: AK Silversmith

Publisher: Self-Published

Publication Date: February 15, 2017

Genres: Science Fiction, Horror, Humour, Contemporary

Length: 67 pages

Source: I received a free copy from the author.

Rating: 3 Stars


The end is nigh…. and Gerald Stockwell-Poulter has had quite enough of it already. Pesky business altogether. All this hiding and running about. Makes Brexit look like a doddle.

After 87 largely well-behaved years as a model citizen, less than four hours into the ‘zompocalypse’ and he has already killed a neighbour, rescued a moody millennial drug dealer and forged an unlikely allegiance with a giant ginger Scotsman. And it isn’t even tea time.

Join Gerald as he and his newfound allies navigate the post-apocalyptic English countryside in their hilarious bid to stay off the menu.


Content Warning: Blood, gore, and (obviously) zombies. I will be discussing these things briefly in my review.

This isn’t the quiet retirement Gerald was hoping for.

The character development was well done. Gerald’s default emotional range fell somewhere in the vicinity of various shades of grumpiness, and he certainly had a lot to be annoyed about about here when the plot gave him opportunities to express his feelings. I enjoyed contrasting his reaction to the sudden appearance of zombies with how other people reacted, especially since Gerald didn’t pay attention to the news and had no idea what was happening in the first scene. It was amusing to see him essentially shrug his shoulders at such a momentous shift in human history and get on with his life as best as he could.

It would have been helpful to have more plot development. I started this not realizing it was the beginning of a serial, so it came a surprise to me to see how long it took anything to happen and how abruptly everything ended. Yes, serials need to end on an exciting note in order to keep their readers hooked, but in this case the storyline evolved so slowly that I struggled to remain interested even though I was initially thrilled by the thought of describing a zombiepocalypse from the perspective of someone in their 80s.

I chuckled at the dry British humour in this novella. Gerald and his allies were far less afraid of zombies than most characters are in this genre. If anything, it was a nuisance for them to have to run away from such creatures on such a beautiful day when there was so much gardening to do. They often didn’t have strong emotional responses to what was happening to them, and that lighthearted exaggeration of British culture worked nicely with the text. It certainly helped them make logical decisions in the heat of the moment as well.

The Old Man at the End of the World was an intriguing introduction to this series.

Making Things Right: A Review of Have You Seen Jeffrey

Book cover for Have you Seen Jeffrey? By C.Y. Stewart. Image on the cover shows a person’s hand pressed up against a frosted glass window pane in a room filled with light. Title: Have You Seen Jeffrey

Author: C.Y. Stewart

Publisher: Cold Ridge Publishing (Self-Published)

Publication Date: July 14, 2020

Genres: Paranormal, Contemporary

Length: 34 pages

Source: I received a free copy from the author.

Rating: 4 Stars


It has been a month since it happened. At first, Steve and I talked about it every day. In the mornings, while sitting on our balcony, drinking coffee and looking down at the lush green valley below, our thoughts and discussion would manage to drift back to the mystery of what happened to Jeffrey. I checked the news every day. Among the media coverage of all the craziness happening in the world, I searched and searched, seizing onto the hope that I’d see a small, obscure, local article somewhere providing an update, or at least a clue, about Jeffrey. But no, nothing. As days went by, I feared that at some point, I would start doubting if it had happened at all, or if it was all in my imagination.

Imagination or not, Jeffrey is gone. I have no idea where he is. Here, please let me tell you what I still remember. Maybe you can make sense of this…

Before we start, please allow me to ask you to please keep an open mind. There’s no other way to approach this story.


Content Warning: Murder and a few brief references to the early waves of the Covid-19 pandemic in April of 2020. No characters caught covid, though, and I won’t discuss any of this in my review.

True friendships are rare but precious gifts.

Some of my favourite scenes were the ones that included Carrie and Jeffrey reminiscing about their childhood in China. Not only did it give readers a chance to get to know both of them better, it was interesting to compare their opinions of western media and culture as children to what they thought now that they were both adults living in the United States. I also enjoyed hearing about what they missed from those early years as that can also be an excellent way to figure out what a character values in life.

I would have liked to see a little more character development, especially for Carrie due to how many warnings she ignored about the possible consequences of helping Jeffrey. Yes, he was a good friend, but she knew something was odd about the way he contacted her in the first scene. I always liked her as an individual, but I didn’t always understand why she kept pushing past the many hints that everything was not as it seemed. Had this been explained better, I would have happily chosen a full five-star rating.

The plot twist at the end was exciting and well done. There were plenty of hints included early on about what was to come, but solving the mystery wasn’t as important as understanding why this mattered to Carrie and how far she was willing to go to reach her goal. As much as I wish I could say more about this, it would be too easy to accidentally give away spoilers if I did. Just know that she was a determined woman who wasn’t going to let anything stop her even after the big reveal was shared.

Have You Seen Jeffrey made me wish for a sequel.

Whimsical Winter: A Review of Memoirs of a Snowflake

Book cover for Memoirs of a Snowflake by Joe Vasicek. The cover is a pretty light purple colour, and it has four large snowflakes, four medium sized snowflakes, and dozens of tiny little snowflakes falling down on what I presume is a night sky on it. It gives the feeling of standing outside and feeling the snow fall onto your face and hands during an early morning or sunset snowstorm. Title: Memoirs of a Snowflake

Author: Joe Vasicek

Publisher: Self-Published

Publication Date: March 22, 2011

Genres: Fantasy, Contemporary

Length: 9 pages

Source: I received a free copy from the author.

Rating: 4 Stars


The life and times of a December snowflake.

Every death is a rebirth. Every end is a new beginning. Though I do not know what awaits me as I leave my cloud-mother, I am not afraid.


Snowflakes have feelings, too!

This was such a creative take on sentient snowflakes and what might really go on in a snowstorm if it were comprised of millions of individuals who all have strong feelings about where they end up as they fall from the clouds above. I found myself smiling and nodding along as I followed the main character’s journey from their cloud-mother to their destination on the land below. There’s not much else I can say without giving away spoilers, but I enjoyed the plot twist once it arrived.

I found myself wishing that a bit more time had been spent explaining snowflake society. For example, do snowflakes get to be reborn as water droplets during the warm months of the year? How are they born already knowing so much about their short lives and what awaits them once they melt? A few more pages of exposition would have convinced me to go for a full five-star rating as I loved everything else about this tale.

The metaphysical portions of the plot played a big role in making this such an unforgettable read. The cycle of life and death and how we should all respond to it weren’t topics I would expect a snowflake in the fantasy genre to think about, much less use to guide them during their brief life. The juxtaposition of xenofiction and philosophy here was delightful, and it has encouraged me to keep an eye out for more of Mr. Vasicek’s work in the future.

Be sure to read the author’s notes about how he came up with the idea for this story as well. They were included after the final scene and provided yet another layer of meaning to the plot.

Memoirs of a Snowflake was a peaceful metaphysical adventure.

No Whimsy in This Winter: A Review of St. Aymon

Title: St. Aymon – A Canadian Horror Story Author: George Gordon Publisher: Self-Published Publication Date: November 7, 2018 Genres: Horror, Paranormal, Contemporary Length: 43 pages Source: I received a free copy from the author. Rating: 3 Stars Blurb: Welcome to the village of St Aymon. An Englishman moves to his wife’s home in the Canadian… Read More

A Review of The Cybernetic Tea Shop

Title: The Cybernetic Tea Shop Author: Meredith Katz Publisher: Soft Cryptid (Self-Published) Publication Date: July 30, 2019 Genres: Science Fiction, LGBTQ, Romance Length: 118 pages Source: I borrowed it from the library. Thank you to Berthold Gambrel for reviewing it and bringing it to my attention! Rating: 4 Stars Blurb: Clara Gutierrez is an AI… Read More

Threatening Forest: A Review of Over the River and Through the Woods

Title: Over the River and Through the Woods Author: Evan Camby Publisher: Self-Published Publication Date: June 21, 2016 Genres: Horror, Paranormal, Historical Length: 28 pages Source: I received a free copy from the author. Rating: 3 Stars Blurb: Old Settler’s Woods is haunted. Evil. A place Ellie swore she would never set foot again. It’s… Read More

A Review of The Future Is Female! Volume Two, the 1970s

Vintage Science Fiction month takes place every January, and has a few guidelines:  – read, watch, listen to, or experience something science fiction / fantasy that was created in 1979 or earlier  – talk about it online sometime in January  – have fun If any of my readers are interested in participating\ use the hashtag… Read More

Vintage Storytellers: A Review of The Future Is Female

Vintage Science Fiction month takes place every January, and has a few guidelines:  – read, watch, listen to, or experience something science fiction / fantasy that was created in 1979 or earlier  – talk about it online sometime in January  – have fun If any of my readers are interested in participating\ use the hashtag… Read More