The Gods Must Clearly Smile review

A review of The Gods Must Clearly Smile, by Aaron Christopher Drown

Note: I received an ARC and this is an honest, voluntary review.

Aaron Christopher Drown has made an art form out of subverting expectations. From the opening story of The Gods Must Clearly Smile, it was obvious all the quirky plot twists I could want would be in this collection, which features everything from aliens and demons to superheroes and meta-fiction as topics.

Path of an Arrow, one of the longer stories, was one of only two short stories in the collection that just didn’t work for me. Though the concept was interesting, with so many clever stories surrounding it, its heavy use of back story (and an unlikely calm and methodical reaction from a woman whose house was broken into while she slept), stood out in an otherwise well-executed collection. There were also noticeably fewer female characters than I would’ve expected, with none appearing as a protagonist until a third of the way in.

The Gods Must Clearly Smile book cover

Some of the stories, like the namesake of the collection and The Milkshake Story, really kept me thinking long after I finished them. In the case of The Gods Must Clearly Smile the short story, I wanted more world-building details, because the murky beginning led to concepts that were absolutely fascinating. If the same world and setting existed in additional works I’d grab them in a heartbeat because I wanted to know more.

Overall, these stories ran the gamut of speculative fiction in a totally unique collection, full of clever twists and thought-provoking concepts. Sci-fi fans may especially appreciate this one.

My rating:

To learn more about this author, visit

April promos!

April Promos

Now that the third of three BookFunnel promos I’m participating in this month has begun, I thought I’d collect everything in one place!

I’m finally building a newsletter, so it makes the most sense to change how I tell you about these promos. From now on, I’ll be including links to current promos at the bottom of my normal blog entries just like I will my newsletters (and yes, there is a normal blog coming this weekend. My review of Thorn will appear tomorrow).


I just finished reading  Nghi Vo’s The Empress of Salt and Fortune. What a beautifully written, imaginative book! I’ll be sure to pen a review as soon as possible. I had plenty of highlights in this one (that being said, the ending felt a bit rushed and climax lacked the emotional punch it should have, given Rabbit’s stakes in what happened.

A full review is forthcoming, possibly for May at this rate.

A New Promo

Best Heroes – Fantasy & Science Fiction With Awesome Hero(in)es (April 10-May10, 2021)

This promo is for sci-fi and fantasy works only, so there’s plenty to find! All entries require a giveaway, too, so free content for all!

Other April Promos

Otherworldy Promo April '21

Otherworldy Beings is a sales promo for books in the romance, fantasy/sci-fi romance and fantasy/sci-fi genres. Time to look for your next favorite read!

Under the Surface Sci-Fi and Fantasy Giveaways

Another all sci-fi and fantasy genre promo! It’s a newsletter builder, too, which means giveaways.

That’s all for now!



New and Awesome Promo: Women Warriors

This promo could not be more perfect!

Bree Yardley is hosting this BookFunnel book promo in honor of International Women’s Day (March 8th), and it’s all about women taking charge! (And maybe kicking a little butt along the way.) The Women Warriors promo has 141 participants, with titles in the categories of sci-fi, fantasy, romance, action and adventure.

It also features a free sample of Girl of Shadow and Glass, and a title highlighted in the Indie Book Spotlight on my blog, Sylvia Mercedes’ action-packed Daughter of Shades, the first book in the completed Venatrix Chronicles [find my review of Daughter of Shades here].

This promo is such a good fit for GoSG. Kith starts out unable to do just about anything without being told she can’t or shouldn’t. No matter how extraordinary a life she leads (learning from the shadows in another world and all that), she’ll always be a fragile shade-child. It’s high time Kith starts taking charge…and she’s about to do just that.

What I’m reading

The Road to Farringale (Modern Magic Book 1), by Charlotte E. English. So far this entertaining book feels like a quirky combo of Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy and Harry Potter. Trolls and a magical house, and MC’s Cordelia Vesper’s delightful narration (and hair) are the highlights so far.

What I’ve just read

Icedancer (Pler Trilogy Book 2), by Anna Velfman. How can there only be one book left?! Icedancer was every bit as good as I was hoping, and then some. It was also refreshing in a lot of ways. The handsome emperor doesn’t get a pass just because he shows he cares and has plans to help the world. There’s so much more to powerful and cultured Ashioto, and Velfman (and formidable MC Lanna) never give in to girlish fancy. A full review is forthcoming!

But first…

What I’m reviewing next

Twelve Days of Faery (Shards of a Broken Sword Book 1). Another fun read to brighten a gloomy winter’s day! A beleaguered king gets caught up in the dangerous realm of Faery when a peculiar enchantress arrives, claiming she can break the curse on King Markon’s son.

That’s all for now!



Free and 99c Sci-Fi & Fantasy is here!

Hi guys!

The first 9 chapters of Girl of Shadow and Glass will be available as a free download through BookFunnel and this awesome sale…


The promo begins today (Feb. 19th) and ends March  1st. Check it out and let me know if you make any great new discoveries! I’ve found some interesting authors through BookFunnel, and it’s used by a lot of the great indie authors I review here, too.

Giant Coffee Mug on Books

What I’ve been reading lately

Twelve Days of Faery, by W.R. Gingell. A quick and joyful read, with Gingell’s unique brand of enchantress as a prominently featured character. I highly recommend it! The full review, though, is forthcoming.

Tapestry of Night, by Elm Vince. Just. Right. I loved all the plot elements, intrigue and especially the alchemist. Another review forthcoming! On a side note, the cover is pretty darn awesome.

What I’ve Been Working On

Comics! Princess Disasterface is in the works, and I can honestly say I’d be done by now if I was sticking with my old program. Sigh…time to go back I think.

What I’ve Been Crafting

Tunisian crochet mask extenders, for the whole family! If you don’t know what Tunisian crochet is, it’s like crochet with a very long hook and a knitting needle-style stopper at the end. And if you don’t know what a crochet hook is…I guess I can’t help you! (On a side note, there’s no shortage of Tunisian crochet patterns and stitch tutorials on Pinterest!)

Cheers and be well,


Riveting Reads Promo (KU and 99c Books)

I’m pleased to share a book promo with 90+ titles with you, each in Kindle Unlimited or for 99c. (Yup, I said 90!)

Included genres are action, adventure, mystery, suspense, sci-fi and fantasy. And yours truly is a part! I’ve extended the 99c sale price for Girl of Shadow and Glass until March just for this fun promo. Check it out!


What I’m reading: Anna Velfman’s Icedancer, at last! The sequel to Snowblind, a previous Indie Book Spotlight, has been high on my TBR list since it came out. And now it’s time!

Sign up for C.K. Beggan's newsletter