Smiling Exercises, and other stories: A collection of flash fiction by Dan Malakin

About the Book:

Smiling Exercises, and other stories: A collection of flash fiction

An apocalypse of fish.

The politics of holding open an office door.

A man wakes to find a secret vagina in his armpit.


Each story is 1000 words or less, perfect to start the day/end the day/enjoy on the toilet/put off that suicide for another three minutes.

This collection includes two stories shortlisted for the Bridport Prize, as well as others first published by Litro, decomP, Word Riot, Mad Swirl, Cricket Online Review, Everyday Fiction, Metazen, Space Squid, nthposition and many more great magazines!

My Thoughts:

This is perhaps one among three or maybe four books that I have read that is in this style of writing. I was swept away by the concept of flash fiction and the stories. They are indeed short and to the point. The entire plot is put out there in 1000 words or less and it is simply amazing. It’s quite difficult to write stories this short and convey the entire message.

Many of the stories are thought provoking, some are horrifying and some will just bring a smile to the face. The stories will bring a myriad of emotions into the mind of the reader. This book is a quick read, but it can also be read slowly, one story a day or however is convenient. The author has a brilliant way of writing and sometimes the reader will need to pause and think about what they have read.

The author has mastered the art of crafting and delivering these thought provoking, everyday events turned into short stories which are a delight to read. There are many a story that I am sure the reader will be able to relate to. This is definitely worth picking up!

Book Review: Jesper Jinx’s Best Friend (Jesper Jinx #6) by Marko Kitti

About the Book:

Jesper Jinx's Best Friend (Jesper Jinx, #6)

Jesper Jinx is eleven, and probably the unluckiest person in all of Puffington Hill. Everything he touches seems to end up in sweet disaster. Hence his nickname ‘Jinx’.

Every great hero needs a sidekick who’s ready to laugh at their silly antics. And Oliver has been just that for Jesper on countless pranks since the day they were born. But now Jesper’s sister Melinda has set her sights on Oliver and even worse, he doesn’t seem to mind.

Add to this horrible dilemma the fact that there is a heatwave in Puffington Hill. The air is now so hot that birds are falling from the trees and grandpas and grandmas are forced to wear bikinis. It all adds up to sweet disaster for Jesper.

How far is he willing to go to save his friendship with Oliver?

My Thoughts:

Our very own SOS (Silly Old Scribbler) is back with a new story chronicling another part of Jesper’s life. However, I must warn you, there is a twist to this tale. We, along with Jesper, are given some extremely shocking news, Oliver and Melinda, together, on the same side, dating????? I will leave the plot description there and allow you fellow fans to contemplate! What is going on? They are all involved, somehow.

Written in his usual casual, carefree style, the author once again brings Jesper and his best friend Oliver to life. This story focuses more on their friendship, giving us a glimpse into how, once upon a time, they became friends. Beginning with the day they were born and progressing until we reach the current day, we are also taken on a short stroll down memory lane, as Jesper remembers all the pranks the boys pulled together.

The story has a different tone to it which sets it apart from the rest. It might seem a little mellow at first, but persist and I assure you that you will not be disappointed. We see the boys as children, but we do forget that they are growing and learning new things everyday, having new experiences.

Sometimes even I wonder how the Scribbler manages to get all these stories out of Jesper, but hey! I’m not complaining. These are extremely entertaining stories and there is even the hint of the next adventure. There sure is a lot happening at Puffington Hill! So please put down your phones and anything that may distract you and read yet another interesting chapter in the life of Jesper Jinx!

Walking down memory lane

Let’s take a walk down memory lane and check out some really good books to read during your childhood. This post will be restricted to a few of my favorite books. I will do a follow-up post later to add on more books or else this will be a never-ending list. The books are mentioned in no particular order.

Books by Enid Blyton:

Enid Blyton is definitely my favourite childhood author. I have read almost all the books written by her and can pick these books up, even now and read them all over again. They are filled with fun, light humour, adventure and so much happiness. They are delightful and she created so many characters, that it is difficult not to fall in love with at least some of them.

Find out more about her books at

Here are a list of series that are strongly recommended from the very bottom of my heart –

  • The St Clare’s series – A series of books chronicling the lives of girls studying at the boarding school St Clare’s. The books follow them through different years of study and the mischief they get up to brings out many a laugh. The main protagonists are the O’Sullivan twins.
  • The Malory Tower’s series – Similar in concept to the St Clare’s series, this is also a series about a boarding school. This series however follows the life of Darrell river’s as she works her way through each year of schooling along with the various kinds of girls she meets. A whole load of mischief awaits.

The above two series talk a lot about friendship, being truthful, faithful, finding oneself and growing up to be who you were meant to be.

  • The Famous Five – I am sure that most everyone knows of the Famous Five. Just mentioning the name of the series here should be enough of a memory trigger.
  • The Mystery Series (Five Find-Outers and Dog) – A series similar in style to that of the Famous Five, this series is still quite different. It consists of more adventure, disguises, investigation. If you haven’t read it yet, it is never too late!
  • The Adventure Series – A series of books about 4 children and the various adventures they end up on, though similar in the basic theme to the above two series, is once again quite different.
  • The Magic Faraway Tree – This book as well as the Folk of the Faraway Tree, is quite different from Blyton’s other books. These talk about various kinds of people who live in the tree and is quite enchanting to read. It will enhance a child’s imagination to a higher extent.

The Nancy Drew Mysteries by Carolyn Keene:

A famous series about a young girl, in her teens, interested in solving mysteries. She is accompanied by a group of friends and her boyfriend Ned. A rather charming set of books, this is definitely a series that one should have grown up with.

The Hardy Boys series by Franklin W. Dixon:

A YA series about two brothers in their late teens involved in solving mysteries, this counts for quite a fascinating read.

The Three Investigators by Robert Arthur Jr.:

 A YA series about three boys, friends, who are vastly different in their abilities, come together to start an investigating agency complete with visiting cards for them all.

The Princess Diaries by Meg Cabot:

A YA series about a girl who learns that she is a princess and has to deal with the responsibilities that come with the same. Written in the form of diary entries, this is a fun filled read.

Look out for the next post which will have more books. In the mean time, add on to this by sharing the various books you have read in your childhood and would like to recommend to me and to others.

Review: Two Graves by Zoe Kalo


Title: Two Graves (Retribution Series #1)

Author: Zoe Kalo

Genre: Dark Psychological Suspense

Audience: New Adult/Adult

Word count: 18,000 words – 70 pages (short novella)

Launch date: October 1st 2016


Purchase on Kindle:

 About the Book:

A Dante-ish descent through a sinister world of decadent shadows and woeful souls…

Seven years ago, he shattered her life. The town eventually forgot the headlines and the nightmares. But 23-year old music student Angelica hasn’t forgotten.

For the past seven years, she’s contemplated payback with as much intensity and unwavering faith as she puts into her violin playing. Finally, all the pieces are in place. Over the course of one night, disguised for a masquerade ball, Angelica orchestrates a journey of revenge.

About the Author:

A certified bookworm, Zoe Kalo has always been obsessed with books and reading. Reading led to writing—compulsively. No surprise that at 16, she wrote her first novel, which her classmates read and passed around secretly. The pleasure of writing and sharing her fantasy worlds has stayed with her, so now she wants to pass her stories to you with no secrecy—but with lots of mystery…

A daughter of adventurous expats, she’s had the good fortune of living on 3 continents, learning 4 languages, and experiencing a multicultural life. Currently, she’s working on a Master’s degree in Comparative Literature, which she balances between writing, taking care of her clowder of cats, and searching for the perfect bottle of pinot noir. She is the author of the YA fantasy series CULT OF THE CAT.

Connect with Zoe Kalo on the web: / Facebook / Twitter / Goodreads

My Thoughts:

I was given a free copy of this book in exchange for my honest review. I have previously read and reviewed Zoe’s Daughter of the Sun novel and I loved it immensely. So it only seemed fitting that I read this new book!

This fast paced novella is short and to the point. The plot is shrouded in darkness and sets the pace and tone right from the start. Angelica, the protagonist, is out to exact revenge and the story is set over the course of one day. A very accomplished violinist, she has the perfect plan or so she thinks. There are many references to Dante’s Inferno and the masquerade ball seems to be following the theme.

I found the story a tad bit difficult to follow when the author touched upon the past. That part of the story is a little unclear. It’s clear that something happened to the protagonist seven years ago for which she wants retribution now. However, the rest of the story is a well-written novella filled with some psychological suspense.

I loved the way the author sets the tone of the story and maintains it wonderfully throughout the book. It is easier to lose track of a plot line or plan in a novella as compared to a complete novel, but the author manages to keep on track. With all the pros and cons brought out, I do recommend this novella for all who like a good thriller. This is indeed a short read.

Review: Broken Angels by Gemma Liviero

About the Book:

Broken Angels

A Nazi doctor. A Jewish rebel. A little girl. Each one will fight for freedom—or die trying.

Imprisoned in the Lodz Ghetto, Elsi discovers her mother’s desperate attempt to end her pregnancy and comes face-to-face with the impossibility of their situation. Risking her own life, Elsi joins a resistance group to sabotage the regime.

Blonde, blue-eyed Matilda is wrenched from her family in Romania and taken to Germany, where her captors attempt to mold her into the perfect Aryan child. Spirited and brave, she must inspire hope in the other stolen children to make her dreams of escape a reality.

Willem, a high-ranking Nazi doctor, plans to save lives when he takes posts in both the ghetto and Auschwitz. After witnessing unimaginable cruelties, he begins to question his role and the future of those he is ordered to destroy.

While Hitler ransacks Europe in pursuit of a pure German race, the lives of three broken souls—thrown together by chance—intertwine. Only love and sacrifice might make them whole again.

My thoughts:

How would you feel to be imprisoned in a Ghetto with the bare minimum amount of food and clothing provided? How would you feel to be on the other side which is inflicting all this pain and horror?

How does one hurt people in the name of science and research? How did it feel to be a Jew or a German at the time of the Holocaust?

The above are just a few of the questions that the author has chosen to address in her book Broken angels. The story has 3 main protagonists and it is divided into chapters from each of their points of view. This heart-wrenching story, filled with raw emotions, touches on the topic of the lives of Jews and Germans alike, set in the time of the Holocaust. The three protagonists are brought together through various circumstances which alters their lives forever. The various people we meet along the way add some color to the plot and complement the setting.

A riveting story, this tells a tale of love, loss, heartbreak, sacrifice, death and cruelty among various other emotions.

The heinous acts by German doctors, justified as medical experimentation on women in Auschwitz was difficult to read about. The vivid and graphic descriptions of the reality of the situations and the kind of life people led, made the story darker and all the more chilling.

To be honest, I had to put up a fight with my sane self (or conscience) to read the book and at times I had to pause for a while to let go of the emotions that were building up while reading. Sometimes the plot sows down, but the author does justice in the way she has described each scene and the setting of the story.

I enjoyed this book immensely in-spite of  everything it portrays and I strongly urge you all to give this book a chance. It will be worth spending time on this book, it is truly about Broken Angels!