Book Review: Two and Twenty Dark Tales (Anthology)

Two and Twenty Dark Tales:  Dark Retellings of Mother Goose Rhymes

Edited by:  Georgia McBride and Michelle Zink

Publisher:  Month9Books

Genre:  Horror

This anthology is available as an ebook and paperback from Amazon and Barnes & Noble.  More reviews can be found on Goodreads.

In this anthology, 20 authors explore the dark and hidden meanings behind some of the most beloved Mother Goose nursery rhymes through short story retellings. The dark twists on classic tales range from exploring whether Jack truly fell or if Jill pushed him instead to why Humpty Dumpty, fragile and alone, sat atop so high of a wall. The authors include Nina Berry, Sarwat Chadda, Leigh Fallon, Gretchen McNeil, and Suzanne Young.

It’s always hard to decide what to rate anthologies.  Some stories are amazing and others bore me.  So, I decided to to highlight the short stories that were dark, disturbing, and make this anthology worth buying.  5/23 lived up to their promise to be haunting.  These 5 stories were A+++.

Clockwise by Leah Cypress – A retelling of the hickory dictory dock rhyme.  Amarind was a princess transformed into a mouse and only the magic of a clock switched her back to a human.  She has to unravel the mystery behind the enchantment with the help of a witch.

Boys and Girls Come Out to Play by Angie Frazier – Bronywn tries to save her sister from the Beckoning, but she soon learns that you can’t deceive the witches in the woods.

Life in a Shoe by Heidi R. Kling – She can’t understand why her mother keeps getting pregnant when there’s no money to feed the children she has.

The Well by K.M. Walton – Jack and Jill are the only two left alive after a deadly virus kills everyone else in the world.

The Wish by Suzanne Young – Lauren hates her life so much that she makes a deadly wish upon a star.

A copy of Two and Twenty Dark Tales was provided by the publisher (Netgalley) in exchange for an honest review.

Since there are so many authors, I’m only going to spotlight the ones from the stories I loved in this anthology.

Leah Cypress – website  |  Changelings – a FREE collection of short stories  |  Mistwood –  A Kirkus 2010 Best Book for Teens

Angie Frazier – website  | Everlasting – YA historical fantasy  |  The Midnight Tunnel – first in a MG mystery series

Heidi R. Kling – website  |  Witch’s Brew – YA active fiction paranormal story

K.M. Walton – website  | Cracked – YA contemporary about bullying

Suzanne Young – website  |  A Need So Beautiful – YA angel book  |  My reviews of A Need So Beautiful and A Want So Wicked  (Can you tell I LOVE this author?)

Advertisements

Short Story Saturday #11

Welcome to this week’s edition of Short Story Saturday, where I find books 100 pages or less on Amazon that are both self-published/small press published and worth reading, which means you’ll only see mini-reviews of 3 stars and up on this feature!
Sorry about the late posting.  It’s been a crazy weekend. 

After the Darkness (Episode One) by SunHi Mistwalker

Publisher:  Self-published

Genre:  Dsytopian

This 27 page story is available as an ebook from Amazon.  More reviews can be found on Goodreads.

Even in a world of never-ending winters and permanent darkness, fourteen-year-old Nadia Comani has everything she could ever want: power, privilege, a loving family and most importantly warmth. But her family’s refusal to compromise their values changes everything. Nadia is cast down from her pedestal of power onto the trash heap of the lower classes. No longer guaranteed a life of ease, Nadia faces a future of servitude. Branded as powerless and deviant, will Nadia muster the strength to save herself and what remains of her family?

This dystopian short short is descriptive to the point where the metaphors and imagery does slow the pacing of the story.  I would recommend that you read this story without distractions and truly let yourself be absorbed by the world the author paints with her images.  Not much is known about Nadia’s “normal” life in the beginning of the story, as she is abducted along with her sister within the first couple of pages.  The situation is bleak for Nadia and the people treat her more like a slave than a princess.  For someone who enjoys “darker” stories, I enjoyed the beginning chapters of Nadia’s tale.  I did notice one missing word from a sentence (72%)- but besides that both the formatting and grammar are good.  And as a warning, Episode One does end on a cliffhanger.

Note:  The cover was recently redesigned.  I think the new one looks awesome.

About the author:

Author of dystopian and post-apocalyptic fiction. Mistwalker enjoys writing books about how societal collapse can change individuals and families. She specifically explores class, economics, environmentalism and state sponsored oppression within post-apocalyptic and dystopian futures.

Website  |  Twitter  |  Facebook  |  Goodreads

Book Review: Fire Baptized by Kenya Wright

I originally agreed to review this book back in August and expected to get to it on my TBR list last month.  Had I known how much I would of liked it, I would have read it the instant the author sent it to me.  I suppose that one good thing about waiting is that the sequel The Burning Bush released September 28th, so I don’t have to wait long before finding out what happens next with Lenore.  You can check out more information on Burning Bush (Habitat #2) on Goodreads.  I haven’t had much luck with Urban Fantasy books, but Fire Baptized changed my mind about removing that genre from the list of books I review.  Check out my review below and then make sure you pick up your own copy.

And dare I say this….I’ve had amazing luck with books this week.  I think I’ve loved every single one of them!


Fire Baptized (Habitat #1) by Kenya Wright

Publisher:  Dragonfairy Publishing

Genre: Urban Fantasy

You can buy it on ebook or paperback Amazon or Barnes & Noble.  More reviews available on Goodreads.

Review:

Overview:  I was seriously done with urban fantasy and paranormal romance.  I’ve began to feel like it’s the same old characters with the same old problems and they all end the same.  Urban fantasy in particular has disappointed me lately and I admit that it took me much longer than it should have to finally read this book.  After reading the first chapter of Fire Baptized, I KNEW that this was special and different.  First off, this main character is not a detective or in law enforcement.  Secondly, Lenore is not your average female.  Thirdly, this book is much darker and more disturbing than most urban fantasies.  This book never scared me but there were several disturbing and gory scenes that gave it a horror feel at times.  Fourthly (is that a word?), Lenore is part of the underclass and the segregation and class differences/lack of rights is really compelling.

Characters:  There is a love triangle, but this is no love triangle you’ve ever read before.  Lanore has two male companions who both want to be with her.  She refuses to be exclusive and instead chapter by chapter she alternates between the two men becoming more and more involved with each one.  This drives MeShack and Zulu crazy with jealousy, but they only pursue her further.  In other words, Lanore is a playa.  This role, usually reserved for males, makes for a very entertaining read.  I couldn’t guess which one she wanted and I’m guessing that she would have been happy with both – had the guys agreed.  There are some awesome lines in this book:

“I don’t need your protection.”  I extended my hand to the side, pushed a large fireball out of my palm, and said, “Wow, look at that.  Isn’t that amazing? I did it all by myself. I can dress myself and wipe my own ass, too.”  – Lenore to Zulu.

Plot:  The book begins with Lanore witnessing a murder and the murderer knows.  Lanore notifies the police but she’s unsatisfied with being idle and searching for the identity of the murderer on her own.  Be careful which characters you get attached to in Fire Baptized, but the murderer is not satisfied with killing only one person.I appreciated the details the author made to make this fantasy world seem authentic.  There were several references to historical events that she put an urban fantasy spin.  Like, the black panthers were actually black panther shapeshifters.

Ending:  The mystery of who the killer is (and who Lenore will be with) is solved, but Lenore (and the reader) gets a glimpse of something at the end, which will change everything she thought she knew.  It’s a decent end to this part of her life, but I’m so thrilled that the next book is already released so that I don’t have to wait too long before finding out what happens in her life next.

Book Description:

Since the 1970s humans have forced supernaturals to live in caged cities. Silver brands embedded in their foreheads identify them by species: a full moon for Vampires, a crescent moon for Shifters, a pair of wings for Fairies, and the list goes on, for each supernatural species has been tagged and categorized by humans.

Lanore Vesta is marked with a silver X, the brand of Mixbreeds, second-class citizens shunned by society. She stays to herself, revealing her ability to create fire only during emergencies. All she wants to do is graduate college and stop having to steal to survive. But when she stumbles upon a murder in progress, she catches the attention of a supernatural killer. Now all she wants is to stop finding dead bodies in her apartment.

Enlisting help from her Were-cheetah ex-boyfriend MeShack and a new mysterious friend named Zulu, she is steered through the habitat’s raunchy nightlife. But their presence sometimes proves to be more burden than help, as they fight for her attention.

While the corpses pile up, and the scent of blood fills the air, Lanore is left wondering: will she find the psycho or die trying?

Rating:  A

An urban fantasy containing a love triangle with almost too much love.

I received a copy of this book from the author in exchange for an honest review.

About the Author

Kenya Wright always knew she would be famous since the ripe old age of six when she sung the Michael Jackson thriller song in her bathroom mirror. She has tried her hand at many things from enlisting in the Navy for six years as a Persian-Farsi linguist to being a nude model at an art university.

However, writing has been the only constant love in her life.

So here we are Kenya is publishing her first book, Fire Baptized, the urban fantasy novel she always wanted to read. This novel is the first book in a series.

Will she succeed? Of course.

For she has been coined The Urban Fantasy Queen, the Super Iconic Writer of this Age, The Lyrical Genius of Our Generation. Granted, these are all terms coined by her, within the private walls of her bathroom as she still sings the Michael Jackson thriller song.

Kenya Wright currently resides in Miami with her three amazing, overactive children, a supportive, gorgeous husband, and three cool black cats that refuse to stop sleeping on Kenya’s head at night.


Short Story Saturday #10

Welcome to this week’s edition of Short Story Saturday, where I find books 100 pages or less on Amazon that are both self-published/small press published and worth reading, which means you’ll only see mini-reviews of 3 stars and up on this feature!

Nordic Fairies by Saga Berg

Publisher:  Self-published

Genre:  Fantasy

This 36 page story is available as an ebook from Amazon and Barnes & Noble.  More reviews can be found on Goodreads.  Nordic Fairies is currently FREE!  Download your copy today.

What would you do if your lover since a thousand years back in time reappeared after two years apart as a famous movie star, and you couldn’t get to him?

Svala and Viggo have spent a hundred lives together over the last thousand years. As Liosálfar, Nordic light fairies, their job is to do good and to uphold a balance in the mortal world. A balance, often compromised by the Döckálfar, Nordic dark fairies.

In this life, Svala turns on her TV and learns that Viggo has become a popular movie star. This is not only highly unexpected, it indicates something is wrong and that Viggo is attempting to contact Svala before their assignments are carried out, an action which is strictly forbidden.

Svala seeks him out, but not without breaking a few rules of her own, and learning that things are not always as they seem.

This is the first part of the Novella Series Nordic Fairies. The second part Freja (Nordic Fairies, #2) was released in March 2012 and the third part, Döckálfar (Nordic Fairies, #3) will be released during the summer 2012. So far, a total of five parts are planned in the Nordic Fairies series.

Nordic Fairies is a low fantasy novella series with a new concept of fairies where Saga Berg introduces Nordic light and dark fairies, Liosálfar and Döckálfar in a contemporary setting. The series has been very well received by readers in all ages with high ratings and amazing reviews on Amazon.

This is the first part in a series, so be forewarned that the end of this part is far from the end of the story.  It’s a fun story but a teaser.  If you haven’t read anything by Saga Berg, then take advantage of Nordic Faeries #1 free download right now.  But, don’t be surprise when you find yourself clicking the buy button on part 2 and 3 because you NEED to find out what happens with Svala and Viggo.

About the author:

Saga Berg was born in Sweden during the snow storm of 1979 and knew already at the age of seven that she wanted to become a writer. She studied English and Communication at the University of Malmö, then took her Bachelor in Marketing- and Communications at the same University.

After working a few years as a Marketing Manager, Saga Berg started writing the novella series Nordic Fairies, her first published story. The Nordic Fairies series is a low fantasy novella series with a new concept of fairies and introduces Nordic light and dark fairies, Liosálfar and Döckálfar fighting for balance in a contemporary world. The series has been very well received by readers in all ages with high ratings and amazing reviews on Goodreads, Amazon and Barnes & Nobel.

Three parts of the series is currently published, Nordic Fairies (Nordic Fairies, #1), and Freja (Nordic Fairies, #2), Döckálfar (Nordic Fairies, #3) and Daughters (Nordic Fairies, #4). So far, a total of six parts are planned in the Nordic Fairies series.

Website  |  Twitter  |  Facebook  |  Goodreads

Book Review & Giveaway: A Need so Beautiful by Suzanne Young

A Need so Beautiful by Suzanne Young

Publisher: Balzer and Bray

Available in ebook and paperback.

I purchased this book on a whim and it was the best spontaneous buy all summer.  I honestly can’t stand books that have a guaranteed happy ending and midway through A Need so Beautiful, there were two plausible endings to the book and both were bittersweet.  Instead of the typical instant-love-triangle mess of many YA novels, the heroine starts out already involved in the boy of her dreams.  Charlotte’s problems with her boyfriend arise because of her “Need” to do good things for other people.  As these compulsions become more frequent, she finds it harder to hide it from other people.  I really connected to Charlotte.  Although she liked doing good things for others, she really wanted to have a chance to live her own life.  As the book progresses, Charlotte discovers that she may end up with no life at all.

I can’t say that the characters were unique, as Charlotte’s best friend, Sarah, is a shopaholic who only wants to be loved by her father.  Charlotte’s boyfriend, Harlin, is pretty tame and quiet, since he’s still getting over the murder of his father a few years ago.  I can’t say that I’m a fangirl, but I can see where his sensitive nature can be attractive.

As for the ending, apparently a chapter was added at the very end to transform this stand alone book into a series.  I like the book better without the epilogue, but I also enjoyed reading the second book…so whatever.  It wasn’t a cliff-hanger (well, maybe it was a “bridge-hanger”…you’ll understand after reading) so I’m satisfied.

If you love YA fantasy with a melodramatic twist, this is an awesome book to check out.  The concept of angels “Forgotten” are unique and the book will keep you engaged until the last word.

Characters 4/5

Concept 5/5

Pacing 5/5

Grammar 5/5

Ending 4/5

Summary:

 We all want to be remembered. Charlotte’s destiny is to be Forgotten…

Charlotte’s best friend thinks Charlotte might be psychic. Her boyfriend thinks she’s cheating on him. But Charlotte knows what’s really wrong: She is one of the Forgotten, a kind of angel on earth, who feels the Need—a powerful, uncontrollable draw to help someone, usually a stranger.

But Charlotte never wanted this responsibility. What she wants is to help her best friend, whose life is spiraling out of control. She wants to lie in her boyfriend’s arms forever. But as the Need grows stronger, it begins to take a dangerous toll on Charlotte. And who she was, is, and will become–her mark on this earth, her very existence–is in jeopardy of disappearing completely.

Charlotte will be forced to choose: Should she embrace her fate as a Forgotten, a fate that promises to rip her from the lives of those she loves forever? Or is she willing to fight against her destiny–no matter how dark the consequences.

Grade: A-

This book appeals to fans of YA fantasy, who enjoy a new twist on angels.

If you’re interested in purchasing this book, you can buy it from Amazon or Barnes & Noble.  More reviews are available at Goodreads.

This book was purchased because I saw that the author was doing a book signing near me.  I loved the books so much, I decided to purchase second copies at the book signing.  You can win signed copies of both A Need so Beautiful and A Want so Wicked by clicking HERE or on the image below:  (Ends July 28th)

Cover Reveal: The Last Degree by Dina Rae

I’m not huge on thrillers, but I adore conspiracy novels.  The dirtier the conspiracy, the more I relish it.  The Last Degree promises to be a good read and there’s a bonus!  For two days, it is FREE to download.  Nothing wrong with free, right?  Try out this book and if you like her or love her, check out her other works.  Let me say it again:

The Last Degree will be FREE July 14th & July 15th only!


Title: The Last Degree

Series: Book #1

Author: Dina Rae

Genre: Action, Adventure, Crime, Paranormal, Political, Suspense, Thriller, Christian

Publisher: Dina Rae

Ebook format only

Words: 93000

Purchase for only $1.99:  Amazon

 

Summary:

The Last Degree is a fictionalized account of how Freemasons and other secret societies set up the world for takeover. Ancient writings foretell a ‘Shining One’ who emerges as the world’s prophet. A murder of a Most Worshipful mason resembles a secret oath. A cop gets too close to solving the crime. Paranoid preppers go underground, preparing for war.

Headlines such as the Norway massacre, meltdown of the European Union, unscrupulous media, animal die-offs, Middle Eastern unrest, andU.S.shrinking power make the plot relevant to present day. This book is an ode to Christians, Birthers, 2012ers, Truthers, preppers, and/or other conspiracy junkies who enjoy Dan Brown, Jesse Ventura, Brad Meltzer, Alex Jones, Jerry Jenkins and Tim LaHaye.

Excerpt:

Dwight took off his crown, signifying he was no longer playing King Solomon.

“Sacrifice is expected for ones that you love.  Do you love me?” Dwight shouted.  “Then bow down before me and offer praise!”

Everyone knelt and laid their head down to the floor, chanting ‘Most Worshipful,

Most Worshipful’ several times before Dwight commanded them to get up.

In a manic energetic state, Dwight vociferated, “Et vitam impendere vero!”  All repeated, with the three new pledges joining in.  Minutes later, he began to calm down.  “To sacrifice life for truth – that is what we must always do!  You must trust me as your Most Worshipful and sacrifice at my command!  Are you prepared to do this?”  All three pledges nodded.

Dwight pulled the content baby out of Arthur’s arms and threw it high into the air.  As the baby began to descend, Dwight took his sword and hacked through its neck, decapitating it before it hit the floor.  Only the three pledges shrieked in horror.  He sinisterly smiled as he picked up the head and body, revealing it was only a doll.

“Don’t believe with your eyes, but believe with your knowledge.  We are his chosen and will soon be exalted.”

The three men looked down at their hands and tried not to scream.  They were covered in blood.

“Sacrifice, my brothers, sacrifice.  I will teach you well.  You are all Chiefs of the Tabernacle!  Let us go and celebrate!” Dwight gleamed.

Check out The Last Degree Prequel as well—Be Paranoid Be Prepared!  Currently .99 cents.

 

About the Author:

Dina Rae is a new author here to stay.  As a former teacher, she brings an academic element to her work.  Her two novels, Halo of the Damned and The Last Degree, weave research and suspense throughout the plots.  Her short story, Be Paranoid Be Prepared, is a prequel of sorts to The Last Degree, focusing on the James Martin character.  Dina also freelances for various entertainment blogs.

Dina lives with her husband, two daughters, and two dogs outside ofChicago.  She is a Christian, an avid tennis player, movie buff, and self-proclaimed expert on several conspiracy theories.  When she is not writing, she is reading novels from her favorite authors Dan Brown, Anne Rice, Stephen King, Brad Thor, George R.R. Martin, and Preston & Childs.

Find the Author:

Website | Blog |