REVIEW: The Soulless Shoe

Today’s poetry collection reminded me of a struggle I have with book reviewing – ratings.

Rating books that are quite personal to the author: where do you stand? On one hand, you can have your own thoughts and feelings about a book. On the other, it is someone else’s life that we are rating, or maybe the portrayal of it. It feels strange to give it a number, as if we are right to decide.

Where do you stand on this topic? I’d love to hear your thoughts.

The Soulless Shoe
by Mehak Goyal


It is a chapbook on poetry divided into 3 parts: tattered, stitched and adorned.

The first section deals with the agony of heartbreak.
The second section focuses on healing and recovering.
The third section captures the desire to fall in love clouded by the doubts of being broken again.


Rating: 3 out of 5.

*An e-copy was given by the author in exchange for an honest review.

The Soulless Shoe is a short poetry chapbook, good for a quick read that you’re able to finish in one sitting. It is divided into 3 parts covering despair, hope, and finally being mended back together, and it begins with a poem that illustrates the scene, and the following poems after that enhances it.

It seems like a whole story told through 21 poems, however, because of how there wasn’t any clear indication that there were separate poems, it could be just 3 very long poems and that is very impressive.

In terms of the design and layout, a line art accompanies every poem, and the layout was unlike any other that I’ve read. Traditionally, poems would either be centered in the middle, or aligned left, but there’s variation throughout the pages which I really liked. It’s extremely rare to see a poem aligned to the right, but for all 3 layouts in one book? That’s new.

It feels strange to write a review of this collection. On one hand, it is only 36 pages from cover to cover, on the other hand, it is so personal to the author. For someone to write poems as perhaps a form of catharsis, it is difficult to give it a number rating (but in the end I did).

For the sake of a review, from a reader’s perspective, I appreciate the hope, joy and strength towards the end of the book. Other than that, it is quick and sweet, but left more to be desired.

REVIEW: Halcyon (The Perfect Circle Trilogy, #2)

I reviewed the first book (Nimbus) in the Perfect Circle Trilogy a few years ago. I really enjoyed it then and it was personally one of the better reviews I’ve written. It was an instant five stars.

The second book came at a different time in my life. It took me 2 years, 2 months and 5 days to read.

*I suggest reading my review of Nimbus before diving in, or at least reading the summary of the two books. There will be references, but no spoilers of course.

by A.C. Miller

get it here


It’s been three months since the events that transpired in Nimbus. Three months in which Sam, Sean, and Elise have tried to get over the nightmare that wanted to kill them; the same nightmare that ended the lives of those they loved. Now, time is up—somewhere else is calling them; somewhere else desires to test their strength.

A new place beckons for Elise to learn its ways.

It pleads for Sam not to shy away from the horrors he may experience.

It begs Sean to show his strength when he least believes he can. And the longer they wait, the stronger the call becomes; the more it dares to make them suffer until they find and answer it.

In Halcyon, Sam, Elise, and Sean search for a new world, a new home by leaving everything they’ve ever known behind. With no clue what lies ahead, will they discover a new society and a new way of living, or will their haunted pasts catch up with them?


Rating: 4.5 out of 5.

*A physical review copy was given by the author in exchange for an honest review.

“You have to acknowledge the pain and use it as fuel to keep you moving forward, to keep you from ending up in the same spot.”

– A.C. Miller, Halcyon

When reading Halcyon, half the time you’re confused, the other half you’re terrified. You’re transported into the story, and just like the characters, no one knows what is going on or what is ahead. However, just like them, you need to continue forward.

Following the events of Nimbus, Sam, Elise, Sean and the other survivors that they’ve found have nowhere to go. Until Sam and Elise begin to experience strange nightmares that tell them of a new place. They’re compelled to follow the strange voice that is guiding them, and that’s how they reach Halcyon – the next circle.

If I were to describe this book, it’d be a dark, dystopian thriller. It is not an easy read, its filled with anxiety and it’s kinda creepy. Yet there were moments I felt extremely relieved and relaxed, thinking Halcyon seems nice, only to be proven wrong, multiple times. There were so many twists and turns in the story. One moment they are drinking a chocolate soda (is that a real thing?), the next moment they are threatened to have their pinky cut off. You know a story is good when the villain is disturbingly evil, yet at some point, you feel compassion for them.

The story switches between the 3 POVs of Sean, Elise and Sam. It is written in short chapters, which makes reading a 317 page book rather easy. I know I took 2 years to read this, but once you get into the groove, you’re able to go through 30 or 40 pages very quickly. I really enjoyed how there was a lot of wisdom spilled on these pages. I often find myself wanting to take pictures of it whenever I came across them, but sometimes, it’s better for people to read it for themselves.

Towards the end, it felt a little rushed, yet if I were in that position, I would’ve done the same thing. I guess, as a reader, after seeing the amount of torment they’ve gone through, I became a little sceptical of anything positive going their way. I guess that’s what Halcyon does to you.

REVIEW: A Lens Without a Face

I’ve been reading a lot of poems since May last year, when I realised my inbox was flooded with poems. It still is, but I’m reading one every month to get it to a manageable amount. So far I’m trying to diversify the genres I read so there’s a little bit of variety, but I’ll be doing Poetry Jan, where I read poetry throughout January and hopefully find a few favourites.

Feel free to join me!

A Lens Without a Face
by Maddisen Alexandra

get it here


Reflection is the best medicine for soothing the pain life deals. To dance with the forgotten ideals society so selfishly disposed of means to be free. I have a colorless lens waiting for someone to see through…101 lenses to be exact. Each one craves exploration. Each one requires a personal narrative to breathe.



*An e-copy was given by the author in exchange for an honest review.

I can’t compliment this book enough.

A Lens Without a Face is a poetry collection with 101 poems, and all the poems are numbered instead of given a title. The author stressed time and time again to reflect, and even left a page blank after every poem for reflection, notes, or drawings to challenge the reader to be creative.

The titles for each poem was revealed at the end which was something new to me. It creates a sense of mystery, and lets the reader read and consider the poem instead of judging it because of its title. I really appreciate how it makes you try to understand where the author is coming from by reflecting on your own experience. Just as how the author intended.

I really can’t write a review that does this collection justice. Almost every poem makes my jaw drop in awe. All I can is that Maddisen Alexandra is a very skilled poet and a writer.

The poems had a very artistic way of showing our society. It is very visual and heavy on imagery, yet somewhat delicate in its way of choosing words. There were so many brilliant lines and great technique. For most poems I’ve read, I admire it for their flowery words and fun rhymes, but this, each line was crafted carefully. I don’t think I’ve read any as good as this.

One thing is certain, is that the poems feels very personal as if I’m reading a diary, and sometimes I don’t even know if I should be reading it. It deals with mental illness, observations of the world, pain, divorce and hope. Towards the end, there were the list of titles, and some of these titles are the best titles I’ve heard. It really shows the poet’s fun personality with titles such as ‘Peace Out My Homeskillet Biscuits’ and ‘*Cue Epic Mic Drop*’. It was a great way to end the collection.


Graphic novels should be for everyone, regardless of age. It’s a great palate cleanser after a heavy book, great introduction to reading after a slump and it’s a great thing to read if you want to reach your reading goals.

I was in one of my rare moods of wanting to read a graphic novel. Whilst browsing NetGalley, I found this gem, and it’s by a New Yorker cartoonist. I’ve never clicked on it faster. I’ve always admired the artwork on the New Yorker magazine. Sometimes I wish I could purchase the magazine, cut out the cover and frame it.

I could go on and on about my love for the magazine covers, but that’s a topic for another day.

by Will McPhail


A poignant and witty graphic novel by a leading New Yorker cartoonist, following a millennial’s journey from performing his life to truly connecting with people

Nick, a young illustrator, can’t shake the feeling that there is some hidden realm of human interaction beyond his reach. He haunts lookalike fussy, silly, coffee shops, listens to old Joni Mitchell albums too loudly, and stares at his navel in the hope that he will find it in there. But it isn’t until he learns to speak from the heart that he begins to find authentic human connections and is let in—to the worlds of the people he meets. Nick’s journey occurs alongside the beginnings of a relationship with Wren, a wry, spirited oncologist at a nearby hospital, whose work and life becomes painfully tangled with Nick’s.

Illustrated in both color and black-and-white in McPhail’s instantly recognizable style, In elevates the graphic novel genre; it captures his trademark humor and compassion with a semi-autobiographical tale that is equal parts hilarious and heart-wrenching—uncannily appropriate for our isolated times.



*A review copy was given by NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.
t/w: sex, nudity

The perfect balance of an interesting storyline, gorgeous illustrations and a brilliant use of colour. This book is a work of art.

‘It’ is a funny graphic novel by New Yorker magazine illustrator Will McPhail, and it is snarky, creative and reflective. The dialogues were hilarious and comedic without trying too hard, and the characters were likeable. It has been a long time since I’ve read something as good and memorable as this.

The story follows Nick, a 21st century ‘woke boy’ who spends his days in and out of cafes, working a job he hates and often times could be heard exciting himself through the walls and listening to Joni Mitchell right after. He struggles with emotional intimacy, and often has internal monologues about keeping a façade in a world where people commonly engage in small talk.

Then enters Wren, a wry and outgoing oncologist that he met at a bar while he was reenacting the common ‘sad guy at a bar’ scene from a ton of movies (he reference movies quite a bit throughout the story, most of the references fly past my head but I can still appreciate it). They hit off almost immediately and form an interesting relationship with plenty of sarcasm, teasing and emotional moments. She’s my favourite part of this book.

A big chunk of the book was on Nick trying to have conversations that matter with the people around him, and trying to know the person before it becomes too late. I also loved how McPhail left hidden messages in the scenes, especially the names of bars and hipster cafes. A reflection of society and businesses. It’s clever and always a joy to read. He writes in a way that is holding a mirror towards the audience and reminding them to reflect and form better relationships, encased in satire.

Colour is use very wisely in this graphic novel. Most of the pages are in black and white, heavy on the shading, but there are instances where colour is used, commonly to portray the explosion of emotions and happiness when there’s a connection or vulnerability. It is literally a burst of colour, and it is beautiful. Some scenes even looked like photographs.

It’s amazing.

REVIEW: Fights

Today’s book is a graphic novel, maybe an emphasis on ‘graphic’ since there’s a ton of trigger warnings and it is far from a lighthearted read. Regardless, I do hope you will pick it up because it is an important read.

by Joel Christian Gill


Fights is the visceral and deeply affecting memoir of artist/author Joel Christian Gill, chronicling his youth and coming of age as a Black child in a chaotic landscape of rough city streets and foreboding backwoods. 

Propelled into a world filled with uncertainty and desperation, young Joel is pushed toward using violence to solve his problems by everything and everyone around him. But fighting doesn’t always yield the best results for a confused and sensitive kid who yearns for a better, more fulfilling life than the one he was born into, as Joel learns in a series of brutal conflicts that eventually lead him to question everything he has learned about what it truly means to fight for one’s life.


A review copy was provided by NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

t/w: dead animal, death, blood, physical violence, profanity, abuse, sexual assault, racism

This is a memoir written in the form of a graphic novel about a light-skinned black man from a poor family, raised with violence all around him.

Nothing about this book is light. If you’re looking for a light, fun and easy read, this is not a book you should pick up now, but I do recommend that you save it to read in the future.

This book sheds light on how trauma affects everyone and how children, especially, absorb the behaviour of their surroundings. It is definitely a wake up call, especially when violence, bullying and abuse cases are going up everywhere in the world.

In this book, the author uses a kindling fire above the characters as a visual representation of anger, of course, but I also understood it as events that eventually add together to cause someone to burst.

From a stylistic point of view, it does a great job in censorship, especially the scenes of sexual assault since it is a graphic novel. It is handled carefully, with a pitch black scene and speech bubbles.

Although this book is a memoir, some characters were not exactly real but a combination of different people in the author’s life. Though the ending was heartbreaking for me, since I really, really appreciated the character. But it also emphasised on the importance of checking up on our friends, especially those who were always the calm, levelheaded one in most situations.

It isn’t a preachy book, but it does make you reflect, especially when you see children bullying one another and picking up abusive and harmful behaviours from their parents. It’s definitely our duty to heal from our traumas so we won’t pass it on to anyone else.


When I was younger, I considered becoming a freelancer. It made sense to me, since I was studying graphic design but I knew it was going to be tough, maybe even too tough for me to handle, so I dropped the idea of it. Few years down the road, I’m now a freelance copywriter (since it comes to me more intuitively than design) and this book couldn’t have come at a better time.

The pandemic has made us realise that we are easily dispensable. I’ve heard many stories about people being fired from their jobs without any notice, many companies going bankrupt and severe pay cuts. If you’re considering freelancing, this book will help you out.


by Palle Schmidt

get it here


If you’re planning to build a freelance career in an artistic industry, SOLO is the perfect field guide for creative entrepreneurs at every level. Whether you’re starting out, or a seasoned professional, this book will give you the tools you need to push forward on your journey to building your brand and becoming a sought-after commodity.

Drawing from his own experiences as a twenty-year professional in the comic book and commercial art industries, author Palle Schmidt guides you through the process of transitioning from amateur to creative professional with an emphasis on longevity, sustainability and happiness in whichever field you’ve chosen. Complete with real-life examples, pre-written forms and psychological business strategy, SOLO will be the book you reference throughout your career for advice and inspiration as you turn your brand into an empire.

SOLO is written for people who believe in creative living on their own terms, who want a sustainable career, mixing freelance work with creating and selling their own art. Diving into the tactics and strategies of this book will help you find a clearer vision to strike out your own path.


*A review copy was given in exchange for an honest review.


“We are our own worst enemy that way, always looking for stuff to beat ourselves up with.”

– Palle Schmidt, SOLO

As I read this book, all I could think about was how much I didn’t know about the freelancing industry. Yes sure, I know embarrassingly little, and I wouldn’t have thought about it until I read this book.

As a person working in the creatives, SOLO carries a lot of invaluable advice. Schmidt has spent more than 20 years as a freelancer, and he explains the ins and outs of the freelancing industry. I’ve heard again and again about the importance of self-discipline (although I am still lacking), budgeting and time management (once again, I am still lacking) as a freelancer. However, this book made me realize that I had no clue about the entrepreneurial side of it.

Believe me, it was eye-opening to hear that as a freelancer, you have to have a registered company (I feel so ashamed to admit that I didn’t know it), apply for tax-deductible business expenses (which is great because Adobe software isn’t cheap) and the many opportunities for networking and help within the freelancing community. I’ve never heard any of these things when others discuss freelancing!

In SOLO, he not only gives advices, but also shares his experience as a case study, provide many email templates for different situations such as for when you need to pitch your ideas or when you’re looking for a mentor. It’s a gem.

I had to read this book twice. The first time, I’ve yet to begin my freelancing career, but I did wish I took down notes. The second time around, I am taking down notes and trying to apply it wherever I can.

If you’re interested in freelancing, I highly recommend this book. I’ve also found an unabridged version of SOLO on Spotify, read by the author himself, that you can check out! It’s an overall enjoyable read that motivated me to get my life together, and I hope you will enjoy it too.

REVIEW: Now You See Her

Now You See Her
by Mark R. Harris

get it here


15-year-old Luke Gray is in shock—his girlfriend Lonnie is moving, and he can’t follow her. Before she leaves, he gets her to promise to wait for him until they are 18. With Lonnie gone, Luke falls into a whirlpool of depression and fear. He tries to stay afloat via sarcasm, 1970s music, and fantasy. 

And then a new girl appears on the scene, Sherry, who seems perfect. Without giving up on Lonnie, Luke begins dating Sherry, and she keeps him on this side of insanity. His parents, though, notice disturbing changes in his behavior… and eventually Luke realizes that his relationship with Sherry has limits they can’t move beyond. So he befriends Julie, a clever, down-to-earth girl he quickly grows to love. But when Julie finds out that Luke has never let go of Lonnie, he’s forced to either try to find Lonnie or turn his back on her forever.



*A free PDF copy of this book was given in exchange for an honest review*

Meet 15-year-old Luke who spiralled into a land of music and talking to the radio after his girlfriend Lonnie had to move away. It was a struggle for him to be without and he was constantly reminded of her every day. Then, came Sherry, a girl from his church, who caught his eye. Perhaps she might be able to take his mind off Lonnie. And there was Julie, who he was interested in too.

I’ve wanted to venture into the land of romance and young puppy love but now I found out that it isn’t for me. I could not relate to the obsession that Luke had over Lonnie and how he needed someone by his side, every day. I also faced culture shock during some parts of the story like when Sherry could stay the night over at Luke’s. It was so foreign to me.

I didn’t like the first half of the book. I’ve had no interest in his love life with Sherry as it just doesn’t feel genuine. They had their love for music in common, they went to the same church, but overall, I wasn’t fond of it. Despite this part of the story being a little dry, it played a role in the story, emphasising how Luke still wasn’t able to get over Lonnie.

The second part of the book became much more interesting. Luke tries to find someone new who can take his mind off Lonnie. He eliminates from a list of girls who he was interested in and then settles on the girl who took notice of him, someone he has a chance with – Julie. She is by far my favourite character in the book. Although, I was disappointed that she changed so much after Luke admitted his feelings to her.

What I do find that was interesting was Luke’s faith in the Lord and how he often relied on signs for his love life. I like how this incorporates relying on the Lord in our lives, especially in choosing a life partner or a girlfriend/boyfriend as it is extremely important.

REVIEW: The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time

The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time
by Mark Haddon

get it here


Christopher John Francis Boone knows all the countries of the world and their capitals and every prime number up to 7,057. He relates well to animals but has no understanding of human emotions. He cannot stand to be touched. And he detests the color yellow.

Although gifted with a superbly logical brain, for fifteen-year-old Christopher everyday interactions and admonishments have little meaning. He lives on patterns, rules, and a diagram kept in his pocket. Then one day, a neighbor’s dog, Wellington, is killed and his carefully constructive universe is threatened. Christopher sets out to solve the murder in the style of his favourite (logical) detective, Sherlock Holmes. What follows makes for a novel that is funny, poignant and fascinating in its portrayal of a person whose curse and blessing are a mind that perceives the world entirely literally.



I was given this book by a friend who said this was her favourite book. It has become one of my favourites too.

15-year-old Christopher is extremely logical, doesn’t get metaphors and is autistic. He hates being touched, he doesn’t like being around strangers and he does not relate to human emotions. It is interesting to read how people with autism perceive things, and it really opens my eyes and makes me understand more.

This book was written like a diary and instead of chapters, it has numbers that separate each day and incident. It was different from many other books and I really love that. It comes with diagrams and equations and things that you don’t normally see in a book. It was refreshing and new. 

Christopher faces many difficulties in life. The biggest obstacle being his unfamiliarity with people and places hinder him from doing a lot of things. There were many incidents in this book that strongly emphasized how the way Christopher perceived things was so much more different from the way most people do. He hates the colour yellow and carries a bottle of red dye with him and he doesn’t understand what a high-five is, just to name a few.

In this book, Haddon writes of how a dysfunctional family tries to raise an autistic son. It is a book that touches on family feud, social disability and the best part, a murder case. There will be many unexpected twists along the way and how Christopher narrates it in an extremely logical way ties the story together, making it an enjoyable read. 

If there’d be any way that you can understand how a person with autism would perceive the world, this would be a simple start.

REVIEW: Declutter Your Mind Now – 22 Simple Habits To Declutter Your Mind & Live A Happier, Healthier And Stress-Free Life: Easy Ways To Eliminate Worry, Anxiety & Negative Thinking

Declutter Your Mind Now – 22 Simple Habits To Declutter Your Mind  & Live A Happier, Healthier and Stress-Free Life: Easy Ways To Eliminate Worry, Anxiety & Negative Thinking by Vic Carter

get it here


Declutter Your Mind Easily 
Are You Interested In Feeling MORE RELAXED, HAPPY & HEALTHY? 

In this book, I tell you about how you can get more peace, happiness and clarity into your life just like I did. I have gone through the process of decluttering my mind and practice the habits and techniques outlined in this book. 

I used to often feel overwhelmed, anxious and stressful prior to using the techniques in this book. I remember the days when I used to feel anxious about my work, stressed about different things in my life, and overwhelmed in general. I learned about and started practising the strategies listed in this book to ensure that I feel better and take care of my overall health. 

So, I have filled this book with step-by-step information, practical tips and useful suggestions to help you to declutter your mind, and live a MORE RELAXED, HAPPY & HEALTHY LIFE. 

This book, ‘22 Simple Habits To Declutter Your Mind & Live A Happier, Healthier And Stress-Free Life’ will show you how to: 
· Declutter your mind of negative thoughts and emotions 
· How to be free of worry, anxiety and stress 
· Be happier, more relaxed and stress-free 



When I first received a copy of this book, I was thinking to myself “Wow, it is such a short read!”, to which Carter addressed in this book that he does not wish to clutter this book with unnecessary information. It is true, in less than 70 pages, you’re able to learn how to declutter your mind and this time, you will definitely be able to finish this self-help book.

22 Simple habits, all tried, tested and true to be able to help you declutter your mind. Some of them I’ve heard of before, some I’ve tried myself and it works. Some of the suggested ways may be a little bit difficult to start, like exercise or perhaps taking up a new hobby, but there are more ways that can be applied in day to day life. 

I do believe in the content as it has worked for me. In Declutter Your Mind Now, there are simple steps like being in the now, listing 3 positives for 1 negatives and choosing happy thoughts can be easily incorporated into our lives. It may seem difficult at first, but it should be cultivated and then it can come naturally.

Carter has also attached some more reading materials in every chapter for further reading if you wish to understand more. As for his book, only the basics of the ways to declutter your minds and benefits are provided.

REVIEW: Tributaries

Tributaries (American River, #1)
by Mallory M. O’Connor

get it here


In the mid-1800s, three immigrant familiesIrish, Japanese, and Mexicansettle along the American River in Northern California. A century later, only one family remains.
Owen McPhalans Mockingbird Valley Ranch is still a thriving family business in 1959. But when his wife, Marian, leaves Mockingbird to follow her dream of becoming a successful artist, she ignites a firestorm that impacts the descendants of all three families. As artists, musicians, writers, and politicians inherit their immigrant parents’ hopes, they are torn apart by ambition, prejudice, and deception while struggling through the turbulent 1960s. From the concert halls of Europe to Kyoto’s ancient avenues, and Manhattan’s artists’ lofts to San Francisco’s North Beach, they each learn the price they must pay in order to realize their dreams. But just as the river is drawn to the sea, they eventually find themselves pulled back to the place that forged the original link between their destinies is a place called Mockingbird.

American River: Tributaries follows three California families as the descendants of Irish, Japanese, and Mexican immigrants embark on unique journeys to pursue their dreams amid an unsettled 1960s world.


*A free PDF copy of this book was given in exchange for an honest review*

I wanted the story to be a surprise for me but I should’ve read the reviews first. Little did I know that it would contain a few explicit materials and would not have picked it up.

Right off the bat, I was confused about what was happening. There was a list of characters and their roles at the start which I loved but it was difficult to keep on scrolling back and forth to find out who was who. This made reading the first few chapters a little bit tough.

I love the way the relationship between the three families and how their paths intertwined, especially between the McPhalan and the Ashida’s. It was very creative, albeit a little disappointing that their role was being servants for the McPhalans. I especially love the storyline of the Morales’ family. There’s so much drama!

It was difficult for me to continue reading this story. One of the main reason was that I didn’t find the storyline to be interesting for me. This, of course, varies from one individual to another so do pick it up if you love drama. I, unfortunately, am not a big fan of it. Another reason was the fact that there were quite a handful of sexually explicit parts which I would tend to scroll past. I’ve decided to drop the book since I can’t do it justice.

American Rivers: Tributaries had tons of unexpected twists. There were some parts which I found to be a little problematic that could be overlooked in the story, after all, it is there to add to the drama. Overall, it was a well-written book that explored the lives of three families from different backgrounds and how their lives intertwine.