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 #12

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 or small press published and worth reading, which means you’ll only see mini-reviews of 3 stars and up on this feature!
 

Z is for Zombie by Philip Hansen

Publisher:  Self-published

Genre:  Horror

This 21 page story is available as an ebook from Amazon.  More reviews can be found on Goodreads.

It’s the end of the world as we know it… and nothing is fine.

Mack, Skinny, Navarette and El Tee are Echo Squad, soldiers on the frontlines of the zombie war. Faced with an army of zombies that hungers for all flesh to be eaten their tiny group must survive deadly decap zombies and wicked clever roamer zombies in time for an aerial assault that will change the face of the battleground against the living dead.

Z is for Zombie is an action-packed gun-porn short story in the world of the living dead.

This is a man’s story.  A story worthy of a man cave and the story to read between Halo 3 matches.  I wasn’t surprised to learn that the author is an avid gamer (as am I) and the utter pwnage of the characters over the zombies in the novels was epic…like purple epic…like I just beat the hidden cow level epic.  Okay, okay.  Seriousness.  This is a story about soldiers…in a zombie apocalypse.  They talk like soldiers and there is quite a bit of military jargon used in the story.  I loved the dialogue.  The descriptions are so vivid.  The pacing and action is super fast.  The plot and characters feel so authentic and intense that I just have a need to read the story out loud – and then I realize that I probably shouldn’t in front of my kid.  I don’t want to explain what “headshot” means.

Warning:  excessive cursing  violence, and gore.

I do have one complaint – the text is in a stupid font and non-adjustable.  Besides that, this is a pretty awesome short story.

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

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

Short Story Saturday #2

This week’s short story is for all my dark fiction lovers who are tired of reading stories about ponies and unicorns and magic beans to their children.  Here is a very adorable tale about a young zombie who tries to tell his parents about a human in his closet.  His parents don’t believe him until it is too late.  The lesson in this book is for the parents – believe your little zombies.  It is currently FREE on Amazon.  Buy your Kindle copy HERE.  I would purchase a board book version in a heartbeat, but unfortunately it is only available on ebook.

There’s a Human in my Closet by Ryan Leach and Mike Bombon

Summary:

This is the story of young little Zed
An interesting boy who is very undead.

Like little boys, he sometimes tells lies
And sooner or later he’ll learn that’s not wise.

Crying wolf, is what human boys do,
But for zombie boys, they cry about me and about you.

Short Story Saturday #1

Short Story Saturday honors short story indie authors of Amazon.com that are worth a damn.  I shuffle through the grime and find you a couple gems to check out if you’re looking for a quick read.

Lilah’s Ghost by Deb Logan

Currently $2.99 on Amazon.

A MG paranormal short story about a girl who’s best and only friend is a ghost who can’t leave the house.  It’s a cute story about friendship and selfishness in a paranormal setting.  A bonus short story entitled Angelic Voices is included as well, which is a contemporary MG story about jealousy and karma.  Perfect for fans of MG that want a quick read.

Summary:

Twelve-year-old Hannah Barnes is just like all the other girls in her small Georgia town, except for one little detail: Hannah’s best friend – make that her only friend – is a ghost. When the annual Sweet Pea Festival arrives, Hannah discovers the secret to freeing Lilah from her earthly bondage. Hannah has a decision to make. Will she help Lilah move on, or will she hold on to her best friend?

Severance by Tom Doolah

Currently $0.99 on Amazon.

The worst part about this story is the tacky name of the main character.  The writing itself is anything but.  I enjoyed the quick pace and vivid descriptions of the assassin at work.  The author has two other short stories available to read if you like this one too.

Summary:

Severance had a job to do. As an assassin she was required to detach herself from her target. But this one was personal, as well as professional. And there was a good chance she may not survive the job.

Would her preparations be enough to carry her to a new dawn? Was she up to the task of taking on the most famous and mystery-shrouded assassin in the world? There was only one way to find out