Review: Snapshots by Don Tassone

Review by Dee Lorraine

Cover for Snapshots by Don Tassone

Life, death, and the stuff in-between: that’s SnapshotsDon Tassone’s fifth short story collection, published by Adelaide Books and available on Amazon. Exploring five themes: Hope, Fantasy, Nostalgia, Shadow, and Light, these 75 tales reveal their characters’ growth through ordinary and extraordinary events.

Tassone opens with the creative non-fiction drabble “Theo,” articulating happiness during the COVID-19 pandemic. In “Reconciled,” a widowed war veteran confronts his long-standing prejudices while waiting at an auto repair shop. “Final Dream” follows a young girl coping with her supernatural ability to foresee disasters as she sleeps.  

Snapshots gives 100-word-story lovers plenty of thought-provoking scenarios. Longer tales include “The Essence of Friendship,” “Free,” and “Ransom,” a 2,612-word thriller. “The Nature of Grace” leaves readers with a happy outcome while regretting the 176-page adventure is over. But don’t worry: Tassone’s next book, Collected Stories, debuts mid-March 2022. 

Dee Lorraine writes fiction, non-fiction, and poetry, some of which can be found in Agape ReviewFriday Flash Fiction, and Midwest Book Review. Dee’s YouTube channel, “Superfast Stories”, features her videos of writers’ drabbles; “Provoke Unto Love” promotes a Christ-centered permanent solution to the USA’s homelessness crisis.

Review: In Bed with Melon Bread by Leonie Rowland

Review by Laura Besley

Cover for In Bed with Melon Bread by Leonie Rowland

In Bed with Melon Bread (Dreich Shorts, 2021) by Leonie Rowland is a chapbook tantalizing in its sweet tanginess that I devoured in one sitting.

Within each of these eight stories, there is a depth of alone- and loneliness. From the girl with cats painted on her nails watching a man in a booth on the other side of the restaurant, to the woman in a glass-walled teahouse, to the girl who “started visiting the cinema alone in preparation for death.”

The characters’ despair is underscored with a touch of quirkiness, making the stories even more palatable. In the title story, the protagonist receives slices of toast in paper packages, crumbs spilling all over the floor.

Rowland’s prose is bold and confident, not a word out of place and In Bed With Melon Bread will merely whet your appetite, leaving you hungry – No, ravenous! – for more.


Laura Besley is the author of micro fiction collection, 100neHundred (Arachne Press, 2021), and flash fiction collection, The Almost Mothers (Dahlia Books, 2020).  
She has been listed by TSS Publishing as one of the top 50 British and Irish Flash Fiction writers. Her work has been nominated for Best Micro Fiction and her story, To Cut a Long Story Short, will appear in the Best Small Fiction anthology in 2021.
Having lived in the Netherlands, Germany and Hong Kong, she now lives in land-locked central England and misses the sea. 

Review: Flirting with the Past by Reyes Cárdenas

Review by Christian Garduno

Sepia-tinged nostalgia lures everyone in eventually. It’s tempting to skip back over bridges burned so long ago we can’t remember which one of us even held the match anymore. Everyone has plenty of emotional blind-spots. But how do you validate a memory when the one who holds the other half of your recollection is gone forever? Reyes Cardenas’ newest collection oscillates between themes of ageing out of childhood and returning to a place that no longer exists. He’s adopted a swift couplet-style, which is perfect because Cardenas’ meter is quick bursts of expressive, combustible imagery. If the Barrio Gods allowed the 12-year old you to peek behind the curtain and speak with the 60-year old you, would you ask what happens to Dad- to Lupita- to Pete with the Honda bike? Most likely, you’d find “sometimes your past and your future / meet up with each other to destroy themselves.”

Editor’s NoteYou can also find Christian’s review as a blurb on Goodreads.

Christian Garduno’s work can be read in over 75 literary magazines. He is the recipient of the 2019 national Willie Morris Award for Southern Poetry. Garduno is a Finalist in the 2020-2021 Tennessee Williams & New Orleans Writing Contest. He lives and writes along the South Texas coast with his wonderful wife Nahemie and young son Dylan.

The Tuesday Chirp

releases we’re excited about

Looking for distraction in the dog days of summer? Look no further than these new releases.

Cover for Appleseed by Matt Bell

Appleseed, Matt Bell

Described as “[p]art speculative epic, part tech thriller, part reinvented fairy tale,” this CliFi new release has been on our radar for a while.

A Psalm for the Wild-Built, Becky Chambers

This first book in a new series by Hugo-award-winning Chambers looks quirky, big-hearted, and delightful. Centuries after robots gained sentience and “wandered, en masse, into the wilderness, never to be seen again,” a robot returns to check in and ask the humans what they need.

Cover for Ghost Forest by Pik-Shuen Fung

Ghost Forest, Pik-Shuen Fung

An exploration of sorrow, intergenerational dynamics, and family. This one looks gorgeous.

Cover for Embassy Wife by Katie Crouch

Embassy Wife, Katie Crouch


A- look at that cover, and B- the summary for this one casually mentions such plot points as secret CIA operatives, international conflict, and governmental drama. All told through the lens of two wives serving alongside their emissary husbands.

Cover for Such A Quiet Place by Megan Miranda

Such A Quiet Place, Megan Miranda

A locked-room whodunnit, but with an interesting twist on the genre: after a murder in a quiet neighborhood, the residents find that they can’t sell their homes. This means that they’re stuck when the suspected murderer returns and once again becomes their neighbor. 

new in paperback

Vesper Flights, Helen Macdonald

Nature-based essays from the author of H is for Hawk.  


Cover for Vesper Flights by Helen Macdonald

Review: 100neHundred by Laura Besley

Review by Laura Stamps

Cover for 100neHundred by Laura Besley

Laura Besley has compiled 100 of her best micro fiction stories, each only 100 words in length, into a stunning, superbly written collection. In many ways this book reminds me of the verbena in my garden. A small 8” cutting of verbena planted in the ground in the spring will quickly blossom into a big, sprawling bush covered in thousands of lavender flowers by the end of the summer. This little book blossoms in a similar fashion, just like a verbena: 100 small stories, 100 different plots, 100 different situations, 100 different themes, over 100 characters. Each story deceptively small, yet together they encompass as much emotion and meaning as 100 different novellas. What an endless source of entertainment! No wonder I look forward to reading a few stories from it every day. You will too.

Laura Stamps is the author of several chapbooks and books, including IN THE GARDEN, CAT DAZE, and TUNING OUT. Her book THE YEAR OF THE CAT won the Muses Prize. She is also the recipient of 7 Pushcart Prize nominations. Her poetry and flash fiction have appeared in The Penwood ReviewSledgehammer Lit, Boston Poetry Magazine, Amethyst Review, The Pittsburgh Quarterly, Crush Literary, and more. You can find her every day on Twitter at @LauraStamps16. 

Review: God Emperor of Dune by Frank Herbert

Review by Lindsey Pucci

Cover for God Emperor of Dune by Frank Herbert

Science Fiction is the weirdest of the genres. Dune is a weird entry in the sci-fi canon. Emperor of Dune is the weirdest book in the series. Let me tell you: I was here for every minute of it.

I loved it. It’s bizarre, bent, hilarious, and definitely one of a kind. Stay and pontificate with a 10,000 pound worm god/man about socioeconomics, philosophy, and history. I’ll say that again: A 10,000 POUND WORM SLASH GOD SLASH MAN. 

Much as I loved this book, I can only recommend to hard core Dune fans. It’s just way too much otherwise.

My last question for those who have read it is….why Duncan Idaho?

Lindsey Pucci has a degree in Art Education from U.W. La Crosse. Her work has been published by Simply Syndicated, Nightingale & Sparrow, and Parliament. She teaches and lives with her husband and young son in Minnesota.

The Tuesday Chirp

releases we’re excited about

After a couple of weeks off (hey, it’s summer), we’re back with our list of a few of the brand-new releases that make us want to take vacation, drive to the bookstore, and spend all day reading.

Cover for Blush by Jamie Brenner

Blush, Jamie Brenner

Described as “an ode to the blockbuster novels that have shaped generations of women,” this gorgeous novel features a vineyard, three generations of women at a crossroads, and a “trashy” book club.

Cover for Blackout (an anthology)

Blackout [anthology]

Six of YA’s most celebrated authors join here to create this collection of interconnected stories about Black love, all set over the course of a summer-night blackout in NYC.

Cover for Daughters of Sparta by Claire Heywood

Daughters of Sparta, Claire Heywood

A reimagining of the siege of Troy from sisters Helen and Klytemnestra’s perspectives. (!)

Cover for Skye Falling by Mia Mckenzie

Skye Falling, Mia Mckenzie

This story of a tumbleweed-carefree woman in her 40s meeting “the egg” she donated in her 20s looks to be quirky and bighearted, just how we like ’em here at The Birdseed.

Cover for Darling by K. Ancrum

Darling, K. Ancrum

A reimagining of Peter Pan, in which Peter is a boy who whisks Wendy off for a night in Chicago’s underground.  The juicy tagline: “Not all lost boys should be saved.”  

Cover for The Secret Keeper of Jaipur by Alka Joshi

The Secret Keeper of Jaipur, Alka Joshi

The sequel to last year’s The Henna Artist.

new in paperback

The New Wilderness, Diane Cook

THIS BOOK. This was our EIC’s favorite read of 2020. It’s gorgeous and brutal, and it’ll stay with you. 

Cover for The New Wilderness by Diane Cook

The Lightness, Emily Temple

This novel explores a teenager’s coming of age, set at a summer mediation (levitation?) camp

Cover for The Lightness by Emily Temple

Tokyo Ueno Station, Yu Miri

The 2020 National Book Award Winner in Translated Literature features a ghost haunting Tokyo Ueno Station and a powerful connection to the Olympics–pick this one up before the Olympics start.

Cover for Tokyo Ueno Station by Yu Miri

The Birdbath

Five of our favorite eBook (Nook) deals, updated every weekend.

This week, it’s all about Pride!

Cover for Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe by Benjamin Alire Sáenze

Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe, Benjamin Alire Sáenze

The Stonewall and Printz-Honor-winning stunner.

Cover for Camp by L.C. Rosen

Camp, L.C. Rosen

With an adorable cover and fantastic tagline (“Putting the ‘out’ in the great outdoors”), this B&N monthly pick looks wonderful.

Call Me By Your Name by André Aciman

Call Me By Your Name, André Aciman

The bestseller that inspired the Oscar-winning adaptation.

Cover for The Black Flamingo by Dean Atta

The Black Flamingo, Dean Atta

Another Stonewall award-winner, The Black Flamingo explores identity and belonging.

Cover for Like a Love Story by Abdi Nazemian

Like A Love Story, Abdi Nazemian

A Stonewall-winner about being true to yourself and navigating friendship and love.

Review: The Binding by Bridget Collins

Review by Katharine Blair

The Binding by Bridget Collins left me exhilarated, wrung out, and livid that the person I most wanted to share it with did not need to read Collins’ upsettingly well-crafted depictions of assault. That’s a compliment. This book has an audience that needs to see itself reflected more often. It’s about PTSD. It’s about having your mental health “managed” by outside forces. And it’s about giving readers a chance to read a queer book where parental homophobia is framed clearly as an abuse.

Collins employs a clever structuring of time in this story. My favourite moment in a novel comes at 60-70% when you’ve met everyone and you find yourself on the brink of the Big Something. The Binding tantalizingly brings you there thrice. I’m sorry, I know that’s not a helpful explanation but I’m hardly going to spoil it for you. Read it yourself and find out.

Katharine Blair (she/her) is a queer Canadian poet in California. She tweets @katharine_blair and fumbles the rest on instagram @kat_harineblair.

The Tuesday Chirp

releases we’re excited about

Welcome, June! Today we’re celebrating a new month and PLENTY of new releases. We’re featuring highly anticipated new books from much-loved authors, as well as debuts and retellings of beloved stories. If the rest of June is anything like today, we have a lot of delicious reading to do.

The Chosen and the Beautiful, Nghi Vo

A retelling of The Great Gatsby from Jordan Baker’s perspective. One twist. Other twists? Jordan is Vietnamese and queer. More twists? There’s MAGIC.

Cover for One Last Stop by Casey McQuiston

One Last Stop, Casey McQuiston

Brand-new from McQuiston, who penned the much-loved Red, White, & Royal Blue! This one looks just as swoon-worthy, fresh, and adorable.

Cover for Golden Girl by Elin Hilderbrand

Golden Girl, Elin Hilderbrand

Hilderbrand’s 25th novel combines her trademark summer escapism with a life-beyond-the-grave mystery/drama.

You don’t need to have read Hilderbrand’s other books to enjoy this one, but if you want a Hilderbrand guide, try this and this.


Cover for Malibu Rising by Taylor Jenkins Reid

Malibu Rising, Taylor Jenkins Reid

The follow-up to Jenkins Reid’s 2019 Daisy Jones & The Six and the final book in the “California trilogy” (The Seven Husbands of Evelyn HugoDaisy Jones, and Malibu Rising) looks to have the same strong sense of place and voice, and it takes place over just one day.

Cover for Seven Days in June by Tia Williams

Seven Days in June, Tia Williams

Two authors re-meet in NYC fifteen years after a weeklong love affair, and come to terms with the fact that “they’ve been secretly writing to each other in their books through the years.” (!)  

Cover for For the Wolf, by Hannah Whitten

For the Wolf, Hannah Whitten

This debut is a magic-strewn retelling of Little Red Riding Hood.  We here at The Birdseed LOVE fairytale retellings, so this is right up our alley.

Cover for Palace of the Drowned by Christine Mangan

Palace of the Drowned, Christine Mangan

In this “elegiac thriller” set in 1966 Venice, an author confronting her anxiety about being a one-hit-wonder escapes to Venice, where she meets an admirer who is not what she seems.  

new in paperback

Owls of the Eastern Ice, Jonathan C. Slaght

This part-adventure, part-conservationist’s-cry, part-field-notes has a long list of awards (and a cute cover-owl). 


Cover for Owls of the Eastern Ice by Jonathan C. Slaght

Florence Adler Swims Forever, Rachel Beanland

A tale of family secrets, tenuous relationships, and swimming the English Channel. 


Cover for Florence Adler Swims Forever by Rachel Beanland

The Space Between Worlds, Micaiah Johnson

A multiverse, plenty of twists, and commentary on social inequities, this looks to be SciFi at its best. 


Cover for The Space Between Worlds by Micaiah Johnson