Book Review: “All Systems Red” by Martha Wells

Martha Wells’s All Systems Red—gifted to me by my good friend, Leander, for Christmas—is my third read of the year.

At 150 pages long, All Systems Red (Murderbot Diaries #1) is a lean book. And boy, Wells makes use of those pages.

The series’ titular Murderbot is hilarious, enigmatic, and loveable. We learn on page one that this bot has hacked its governor module, gone rogue, and dubbed itself Murderbot. Yet, Murderbot is trying to pass under the radar, so it continues working for its assigned humans. But, of course, that’s only the setup.

Wells crams so much world-building and character development in this little book. She does more than some authors achieve in three times as many pages. Thus, I can give it an emphatic recommendation.

I will check out the next instalments of the Murderbot Diaries soon.

‘Don’t Let It Feed’: My entry for the December #BlogBattle!


Well, here we are! Another month, another #BlogBattle! This is the final one of 2019! I can’t quite believe it… Well, here’s to 2020, and the stories we will tell!

The prompt for December was ‘innocent’. I knew exactly the kind of story I wanted to tell… I just struggled to keep it within the 1,000 word limit! You have to really cut away the fat when the story is this short.

The title for my story is Don’t Let It Feed, and you can read it here!

Ernest Kirby didn’t die in vain. The soft-spoken 73-year-old with painful arthritis and an inoperable tumour somewhere in his bowels saved twelve others on that bleak night in early December.

Continue Reading

I hope you enjoy the last #BlogBattle entry for the year! As always, please be sure to check out some of the other short stories, when they get posted! There’s always something for everyone over at the #BlogBattle!

Bite-Sized Halloween #23: “If I Ever Get Back Home…”


He was still between worlds. He could feel neither the warmth from the sun nor the blades of grass beneath his hands. The child suffered no panic; only resignation.

Charlie lay down between the headstones – not experiencing the cold morning dew dampening his clothes – and rested his head on his hands. He was tired. He didn’t think he’d ever been as weary in his life. Slowly, his eyelids began to close.

Just before sleep took the boy, he thought he heard a voice – his father.

“Charlie, where are you?”

And then a whisper. “I’ll keep him safe,” said Marion.


This is the final part of a larger story for Halloween. All sections are in the form of a 99-word story. Check out the links below for previous parts!

Previous parts:
#1 | #2 | #3 | #4 | #5 | #6 | #7 | #8 | #9 | #10 | #11 | #12 | #13 | #14 | #15 | #16 | #17 | #18 | #19 | #20 | #21 | #22

Bite-Sized Halloween #22: The Cold, Grey Light of Day


The final BONG! reverberated through his skull, moments before he burst from the crypt. Charlie exploded out into the fresh air, just as the door slammed shut behind him with seconds to spare.

Charlie collapsed to his knees in the grass, eyes wide, hair wild, gasping for breath.

The sun was peaking over the horizon. He could see the sky fading from its inky blackness to the cold, grey November morning that was lethargically advancing.

Charlie watched the sun rise, laughing. But a nasty thought was nagging at the back of his mind. His smile faltered.

Something was wrong.


This is part twenty-two of a larger story for Halloween. All sections are in the form of a 99-word story. Check back tomorrow for the final part!

Previous parts: #1 | #2 | #3 | #4 | #5 | #6 | #7 | #8 | #9 | #10 | #11 | #12 | #13 | #14 | #15 | #16 | #17 | #18 | #19 | #20 | #21

Bite-Sized Halloween #21: Barriers Between Worlds


The pumpkin hit the case behind The Collector. THUD! THUD! THUD! The rows of shelves began falling like dominos, glass orbs shattering as they hit the floor, freeing the trapped beings.

A tornado of souls began whirling about the witchdoctor. His scream sliced through Charlie’s ears. “Help. Me,” grimaced The Collector, reaching for Charlie. The boy dodged past the witchdoctor, running for the staircase.

He leapt up the stairs, hearing the man’s death throes.

BONG! A clock was chiming. BONG!

What time is it? he thought, as he frantically ran up the steps, two at a time.

Too late.


This is part twenty-one of a larger story for Halloween. All sections are in the form of a 99-word story. Check back tomorrow for part twenty-two!

Previous parts: #1 | #2 | #3 | #4 | #5 | #6 | #7 | #8 | #9 | #10 | #11 | #12 | #13 | #14 | #15 | #16 | #17 | #18 | #19 | #20

Bite-Sized Halloween #20: The Library of Souls


The staircase opened out into in a library. The shelves held no books. The endless rows of glass orbs were full of things crying for help.

On the far side was The Red Door. Charlie could feel the heat. Could smell the sulphur.


The boy spun around, heart in his throat.

“Do you like my collection,” said The Collector, gesturing at the overflowing shelves, “of souls?” He grinned madly.

“Please, just leave me alone!”

“Now, now. Why be alone, when you can join them?

Never!” screamed the child as he threw the jack-o’-lantern at the witchdoctor.

He missed.


This is part twenty of a larger story for Halloween. All sections are in the form of a 99-word story. Check back tomorrow for part twenty-one!

Previous parts: #1 | #2 | #3 | #4 | #5 | #6 | #7 | #8 | #9 | #10 | #11 | #12 | #13 | #14 | #15 | #16 | #17 | #18 | #19

Bite-Sized Halloween #19: A Descending Stairway



“This must’ve been what Marion was talking about…” said Charlie to nobody. “He told me to hide.” He pushed the crypt door open and took a step inside. A spiralling staircase lit by candles. A whiff of smoke. And… was that a scream?

He began his descent. Round and round. Deeper he went, the smells of rot and decay filling his nostrils.

Charlie thought he must be nearing the bottom when a voice called out from above. A voice that sounded like crunching gravel.

“I’m coming for youuuuuu, Charliiieeee!”


This is part nineteen of a larger story for Halloween. All sections are in the form of a 99-word story. Check back tomorrow for part twenty!

Previous parts: #1 | #2 | #3 | #4 | #5 | #6 | #7 | #8 | #9 | #10 | #11 | #12 | #13 | #14 | #15 | #16 | #17 | #18

Bite-Sized Halloween #17: Marion Faces His Fears


“No more!” roared Marion, puffing his fleshless chest out. “You shall harm no more children!”

“What’s one more, Marion? How many did you not save?”

Marion yelled and lunged with his sword. The Collector dashed forward, ducking easily beneath Marion’s clumsy swing. With a swipe of his scythe, he sliced the skeleton in half. Marion didn’t even manage to scream.

A few of the dead who had gathered to watch the scene tittered laughter.

Far away, deep in the darkness of the cemetery, Charlie sat down with a thud as a shadow passed over his heart. “Marion?” he whispered.


This is part seventeen of a larger story for Halloween. All sections are in the form of a 99-word story. Check back tomorrow for part eighteen!

Previous parts: #1 | #2 | #3 | #4 | #5 | #6 | #7 | #8 | #9 | #10 | #11 | #12 | #13 | #14 | #15 | #16

Bite-Sized Halloween #16: The Collector


“He what?” hissed The Collector.

“Hhheeeeee tooooollllld thhheeee booooooyyyyy—”

“Yes, I got that! My God, you lot talk slowly!”

“Wwweeeeee caaannnoooottt—”

“Enough. Where did he take him?”

The ghost pointed further into the cemetery.

“That damned skeleton… I knew I should have—” But he didn’t get to finish his sentence, for that was when Marion jumped out of the shadows, brandishing an ancient broadsword.

“En garde!” cried the skeleton, as he struck a battle pose. “This is one child whom you shall not consume!

The Collector burst out laughing. “You never learn…”

He drew his scythe.


This is part sixteen of a larger story for Halloween. All sections are in the form of a 99-word story. Check back tomorrow for part seventeen!

Previous parts: #1 | #2 | #3 | #4 | #5 | #6 | #7 | #8 | #9 | #10 | #11 | #12 | #13 | #14 | #15

Bite-Sized Halloween #13: Marion


“Oh no! Not again! Oh no, oh no!

Charlie was frozen to the spot, staring at the thing in front of him. He’d gone mad. Surely, he had, for this… thing couldn’t exist.

It was a skeleton. With eyes. They rolled in their sockets as the bone-man strode back and forth, muttering.

“You can’t be here!” hissed the skeleton. “They’ll—oh, no!

Screeeeee! Charlie knew that sound: the gate.

Somehow, the skeleton’s eyes widened. “The Collector! He’s here! Quickly, my boy! This way! Follow me!”

Charlie didn’t budge.

“Didn’t you hear? He collects their souls!

That got him moving.


This is part thirteen of a larger story for Halloween. All sections are in the form of a 99-word story. Check back tomorrow for part fourteen!

Previous parts: #1 | #2 | #3 | #4 | #5 | #6 | #7 | #8 | #9 | #10 | #11 | #12