Wednesday, 12 October 2016

#bookreview: The short story edition

I was planning to do a full review of Smiling Exercises, and then I realised it would be a really short post!

Smiling Exercises, and other stories: A collection of flash fictionSmiling Exercises, and other stories: A collection of flash fiction by Dan Malakin
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This is a very fun, very short read.
Even if you don't like any of the stories (and there were some which made me go, uhhh, what?) they're all flash fiction so it ends pretty quickly and then you can head on to the next one.

Just the kind of break that I needed. :)

[Wasn't that short?]

In Sept, I also finished reading the first three editions of the Insignia series - mainly because a short story of mine was accepted for the fourth edition! Here they are: 

Insignia: Japanese Fantasy Stories (Insignia Anthology Series #1)Insignia: Japanese Fantasy Stories by Kelly Matsuura
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

I'm not quite familiar with Japanese mythology (despite using some in my writing) so this was quite an interesting read.

As a whole, I preferred Part I: Young Adult/Adventure Tales, which really shows you what my reading style/preference is like. Of these, I liked Kitsune by Heather Jensen the best, though Kelly Matsuura's tale of magic, ninjas, and love in Moon Shadow is a close second.

The stories turn a little darker in Part II: Adult/Literary tales. Restoration by Chris Ward was beautifully haunting - and is probably the only one worth mentioning in this second half. The stories are well-written, but just not to my taste.

Insignia: Chinese Fantasy Stories (Insignia Anthology Series #2)Insignia: Chinese Fantasy Stories by Kelly Matsuura
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

As a whole, I think I preferred Insignia: Japanese Fantasy Stories to this one. It felt as if there hadn't been enough submissions for this, so Kelly and Joyce ended up writing multiple stories to bulk it out.

Set in an alternate Singapore which has dragons and phoenixes and foxes, Looking for Trouble (Joyce Chng) was probably the most to my taste in Part I. The Great Qilin (Kelly Matsuura) wasn't half bad as well - though it feels a little like a prelude to something else.

The most impressive from Part II is Black Smoke and Water Lilies by David Jon Fuller. The timeline jumps around a little in this - I had to read the beginning carefully a few times before I really got into it, but it plays out really well.

Insignia: Southeast Asian Fantasy (Insignia Anthology Series #3)Insignia: Southeast Asian Fantasy by Kelly Matsuura
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This was definitely my favourite of the three.

Part I: Adventure/Folktales began with the impressive Horse Feet by Celestine Trinidad. I loved the Filipino flavour to this - and of course, a new mystical creature (at least to me) is something I cannot dislike. Melvin Yong's The Island was a creepier than I would like, but extremely absorbing.

Part I bulked out most of this anthology - which isn't a bad thing in my opinion. I'm just not a big fan of Part II: Adult/Literary Tales, I guess. The most I'll say about this was Never Seen (Kelly Matsuura) was pretty okay. Everything else was just dark and grim and scary.

View all my reviews

Do go check them out! I'm looking forward to #4. ;)


  1. I don't often read short stories, but why not? Southeast Asian fantasy... That's definitely not a genre I've tried. Maybe I should, eh?

    1. It's a good try if you like fairy tales/folk tales! :)