Tag Archive | Anthology

Review: Strange Waters Anthology (Phoenix Fiction Writers)

I’m excited to share with y’all a review for this anthology of sci-fi and fantasy stories from the Phoenix Fiction Writers!

Title: Strange Waters

Authors: the Phoenix Fiction Writers

(E.B. Dawson, C. Scott Frank, Janelle Garrett, Hannah Heath, Nate Philbrick, K.L. + Pierce, J.E. Purrazzi, Kyle Robert Shultz, Beth Wangler)

  • Date read: January 30, 2020
  • Rating: 5 stars
  • Genre: Sci-fi / Fantasy / Short Stories / Anthology
  • Year pub: 2019
  • Pages: 302
  • Source: The publisher
  • Notes: I received a free e-copy of this anthology from the publisher. I was not required to write a positive review. All opinions are my own.
  • Links: GoodreadsAmazonAuthor’s Website

(5 stars to the collection overall! The stories might have different ratings, but most of them are 4’s or 5’s, definitely!)

STRANGE WATERS features nine sci-fi and fantasy stories from nine different authors. These tales range from intense to all the feels to hilarious and they’re all original and well-written!

A couple of them were too scary for me personally, but kudos to all these authors for writing such captivating stories in such a short space, all incredibly different even though they all feature the image on the cover! I had a blast reading this!

Here are some brief thoughts on each story. 🙂


Backpack Boy – by Nate Philbrick

Wow, talk about good writing. O_O I haven’t read a story like this before but it was sooo interesting and well-written. I loved the backpack boy and how things weren’t as they seemed and the sheer imagination of it. There were definitely feels, and I love how everything slowly got revealed. So original and yet classic-seeming, and like a definition of childhood.


Finer Things – by C. Scott Frank

Whoa! I loved this one! It’s very sci-fi, and sci-fi has to work hard to make me like it, but I was intrigued the entire time, on the edge of my seat, and I really liked the characters and their lively banter! Soren is my fave. They’re adorable. I love it! Fabulous and one of my favorites. ^_^


Roanoke – by J.E. Purrazzi

This one is set on an icy planet and I felt sooo cold reading it, so I guess it succeeded. XD Intense and exciting and unique! I liked the time element, and I was on the edge of my seat the entire time, rooting for our heroine Ketera! I’ve found myself thinking of this one several times since I read it and sometimes feel like I watched a movie of it instead of reading a short story.


Kamynosa’s Labyrinth – by Beth Wangler

I absolutely loved the islands and nautical feel of this one! Princess Kamynosa was a fierce part of this competition. XD I especially loved Jadairos! He was my favorite. 🙂 It’s told like a history, which meant it took me a minute to get into it, since we feel a little removed from the story at first, but was also a really cool touch in another way. And everything was so vivid!


Barnaby Brown and the Glass Sea – by E.B. Dawson

THIS ONE! Oh my word. XD I’ve adored every E.B. Dawson short story I’ve read so far, and this one was so, so much fun! This unorthodox archaeology professor and his snark, though! I love Barnaby Brown so much. XD I kept wanting to quote the whole thing. Throw in unlucky Oliver and some shenanigans and problems and it’s just a riot. I love it so much! The idea of an archaeologist on another world/planet is so cool, by the way. And the ending was suuuper intriguing! Aaahh! Plus, fabulous banter. I love banter and humor and this one totally has a ton of both. 😀 One of my favorites!


Through the Lens – by K.L.+Pierce

This one was really fascinating, if a little scary, and I really liked the mind elements to it. It felt sort of quest-like and I was really curious to see what was going to happen, because I had no idea! I was confused a couple of times, but got straightened out, and a couple of the twists I did not see coming at all. o.o So yes, great suspense, and intriguing!


Ric Vayne and the Curse of Ghoul Nebula – by Kyle Robert Shultz

Disclaimer: I edited this one. But it’s absolutely hilarious and I love it so much. XD Ric Vayne, a space wizard, gets turned into a space ship, and shenanigans ensue. His dry narration, the humor, and the hilarious way that Ovo (the bird-like alien character) speaks totally made this story. I kept laughing. XD Another favorite!


The Underground – by Janelle Garrett

This one was SUPER INTENSE and I’m pretty sure I didn’t breathe the entire time I was reading it! *nervous laughter* It was terrifying, dystopian-ish story, with a good blend of fantasy and sci-fi feel. Oh, and I really liked Kef! It was just a bit too creepy for me, personally (I don’t do well with scariness or dystopian feels!), but certainly super well-written, and I never knew where it was going to go next. I’m sure many readers will enjoy it. ^_^


This Pain Inside – by Hannah Heath

This one was super fascinating and intriguing! I had similar problems with it as with the previous one, because, again, I’m just not a dystopian/post-apocalyptic person — sorry! It was really intense and scary and full of feels. But the writing was awesome, and the message, and the ending, and everything was very vivid. The under-the-sea stuff was intriguing, and I loved the mermaid tails. So, too scary for me, but that’s just me. XD But I definitely couldn’t put it down! Wow. Oh, and I liked how music was a part of it!


Overall, my favorites were Barnaby Brown and the Glass Sea and Ric Vayne and the Mystery of Ghoul Nebula, because I love funny stories, and they were both just so much fun. XD But all of the others were super good too (even the scary ones!) and I really enjoyed the collection as a whole! Definitely check this one out! 🙂


A Few Favorite Quotes

“You don’t think they’ll come looking for us down here? They never come down here. They’ve never had a good enough reason.”

Soren smiles mischievously. “I’m afraid I may have given them one.”

— Finer Things (C. Scott Frank)


“But you haven’t told me much about this expedition,” Oliver said. “Maybe we could talk about that. What’s this exciting find?”

“Well, you remember when Folger discovered the ancient city of Telia Cross?”

Oliver’s face brightened a shade. “Yes.”

“Well, it won’t be like that,” Barnaby muttered.

Oliver’s face fell. “Probably just as well. I’m allergic to dust.”

“We’re investigating the origin of a strange marking on a two-inch piece of potsherd,” Barnaby said.

“That sounds a little more likely.”

***

“I had no idea archaeology was so dangerous,” Oliver said.

— Barnaby Brown and the Glass Sea (E.B. Dawson)


Everything was worse in the middle of the night, including sarcasm.

— The Underground (Janelle Garrett)


I also want to quote the entire Ric Vayne story (it’s by Kyle Robert Shultz; of course it’s quotable and hilarious), and more Barnaby Brown, but I will leave readers to discover them instead. XD


You may also like . . .


Thanks for reading! 🙂

How To Be a Savage and Other Tales by Daley Downing

This is a lovely little collection of short stories which I really enjoyed! I adore Daley Downing’s work, which always has a heart and turn of whimsy which I absolutely love. Her fantasy novels are fantastic, and I really enjoyed these contemporary short stories!

The first three stories touched my heart and were absolutely gorgeous, while the third one was super exciting. They’re all so good.

The first one (How to Be a Savage) is a longer short story, and it’s my favorite in the collection! It’s an #OwnVoices tale about an autistic protagonist who is a mother and writer, about her day-to-day life. Also, I love how, despite being a contemporary, there were still fantasy references, and the main character is a writer. It was just utterly charming and beautiful and it made my heart happy! ^_^ With warm humor–which sometimes made me laugh, particularly the flashback when they were driving on a dark road and joking about werewolves, and the shenanigans of the main character’s children–and down-to-earth writing and events somehow infused with so much heart and a smile and the author’s signature spin on all her stories, which I can’t describe but I love it!

The two middle stories (In the Rain, and Last Day) are flash-fiction and full of feels and strong emotions. Gorgeous writing.

The fourth one (Zombie Apocalypse Survival) was so exciting and surprising and had a lot of twists–it’s a zombie story, which isn’t usually my thing, but it was very interesting and intense. It’s the debut of Daley Downing’s teen son! Which I think is super awesome. 😀

The stories (particularly Savage itself) made me laugh sometimes and relate several times and made my heart smile. ^_^ (Well, the zombie one made it panic, but in a good way. XD) I would have loved to see more of each story, but the short and sweet length was part of the charm. 🙂

Disclaimer: I copyedited this anthology, but I wanted to share my honest review because it’s a delightful little book and made me happy! I totally recommend checking out this author’s work. 🙂 (Currently available in paperback through B&N’s website.)

LINKS

You may also enjoy . . .

 

Thanks for reading! 🙂

Strange Waters: New Phoenix Fiction Anthology!

Just a quick announcement to share that the new short story collection from the delightful Phoenix Fiction Writers is releasing TODAY! *applause and confetti*

I’m so excited to read Strange Waters (you’ll hear from me again with a review once I do) and you can read on for more about these sci-fi or fantasy stories from a group of talented authors! 😀

(I did read the one by Kyle Robert Shultz, which I edited — it’s hilarious and space fantasy and yes you need it in your life. I can’t wait to read the others!

Links

THE STORIES

Here’s more about each individual story that’s collected under the gorgeous cover above!

Backpack Boy by Nate Philbrick (www.natephilbrick.com)

Pirates have kidnapped Mum and taken her to the cave across the island.

The boy with the red backpack has everything he needs to rescue Mum: a map, a wooden sword, a book about pirate adventures, and a ham sandwich. Most importantly of all, he has his elephant.

But wooden swords and ham sandwiches might not be enough for the boy with the red backpack to face the truth he’s afraid of the most.

And the island starts to crumble…

Finer Things by C. Scott Frank (www.scottfrank.com)

Soren Tallweather and Tabitha Courtney are madly in love with each other and furiously in hate with the society that says they can never be together. They could escape, if only they had the means to buy anonymity. If they can get their hands on the right merchandise, that can certainly be arranged.

It was supposed to be in and out, but no job ever goes according to plan. Now it’s a race against the clock to get to safety with an all-too-familiar enemy on their tails. But justice, it seems, picks the most inopportune times to show up.

Everything they thought they had is at stake as Tabitha must settle the war within herself: what’s more important? Her own freedom or those less fortunate than her?

Roanoke by J.E. Purrazzi (www.jillanepurrazzi.com)

How far would you go to save your enemies?

The invention of trans-time communication has locked Ketera’s bloodline into a single destiny. A destiny that Ketera has been preparing her whole life to fulfill. While her friends mapped out their hopes and dreams, she mapped her voyage across the stars–a voyage to a lost colony on a dangerous water-covered planet that will one day declare war on Earth.

Two ships have been sent: one negotiating for peace, the other prepared for war. If Ketera’s mission as ambassador fails, the warship following in her wake will take whatever measures are necessary in order to protect the future.

But the road ahead of Ketera is dangerous, and her mission will take her away from everything familiar, across a planet of violent extremes, and into the frozen, sunless expanse. And all to save her enemies.

Kamynosa’s Labyrinth by Beth Wangler (www.bethwangler.com)

Princess Kamynosa doesn’t need anyone’s help. Anyone could see she will be quite capable of being the Archipelago’s Archon on her own.

But her parents haven’t noticed that. No, they have called for a Labyrinth.

Disgruntled and eager to prove she can do it alone, Kamynosa commandeers a boat and joins the Labyrinth to win herself. She has every confidence that she will soar past the other competitors on the sparkling seas.

Yet Captain’s Heir Jadairos obnoxiously stays close in her wake.  Even worse—he has a hero complex.

Proving that Kamynosa doesn’t need anyone just got a bit more challenging.

Barnaby Brown and the Glass Sea by E.B. Dawson (www.ebdawsonwriting.com)

An unorthodox professor of archaeology sets off to find his own answers about an unusual archaeological find, accompanied by an accident-prone student in need of extra credit.

The Archaeological Society of Catalan has pieced together a long and rich history for the planet of Illiana, based on a revolutionary dating system. But Dr. Barnaby Brown has his doubts about the accuracy of the procedure, which tends to give out false readings. His private findings seem to suggest that nothing on the planet is more than 500 years old–a hypothesis which, if proven true, would shake the very core of society.

When a set of incongruous new artifacts turn up, Barnaby learns they are inextricably linked to an old legend surrounding the Glass Sea. With an accident-prone student in tow, he sets out to find answers for himself and embarks on an adventure he never bargained for.

Through the Lens by K.L.+Pierce (www.klpiercebooks.com)

Viatem is here…and Dion does not have a gift for his younger sister.

Thankfully, he has a backup plan: a telescope that can see into the next galaxy.

But when completing the telescope means breaking into an enemy military installation, Dion will have to look within himself, and decide whether cutting through the shadows of his sister’s world is worth the price.

Ric Vayne and the Curse of Ghoul Nebula by Kyle Robert Shultz (www.kylerobertshultz.com)

Any wizard can fly a spaceship. Hotshot pilot Ric Vayne can fly one better than most. But just as he’s about to land a job that could finally pay off his bar bill, he finds himself pressed into service by a deranged captain.

That wouldn’t be so bad…except that Ric isn’t expected to fly the ship. When he wakes up after getting kidnapped, he discovers that he is the ship.

Which is a bad thing for many reasons–including, but not limited to, the fact that Ric no longer has fingers to hold his spellblaster. If Ric is ever going to get his soul out of a computer core and back into his body, he’ll have to be very clever about it.

But he’ll also have to work fast…because he’s headed for Ghoul Nebula, a place of pure chaos magic. And no pilot–or  ship–gets out of there alive.

The Underground by Janelle Garrett (www.janellegarrettwriter.com)

What if everything you believed was actually true?

His whole life, Kef has been told he is too idealistic. His older sister, Hiya, insists the Deep is a lost memory. It disappeared from the Raized Domains centuries ago.  Kef wants to believe the Domains haven’t been abandoned, but everything points to the contrary. Their parents mysteriously vanished. People keep turning up dead or missing.

And then, Hiya is taken by the feared Dragons.

Kef will stop at nothing to rescue her, including traversing to the Underground itself to take on the Dragons. What he finds there will change the whole sphere: but will he be too late to rescue Hiya?

This Pain Inside by Hannah Heath (www.hannahheathwriter.com)

The Poison that destroyed the surface has come to claim the deep. It is severing electricity lines, imploding underwater houses, and destroying the solar power rafts humanity uses as its energy source. The Neons, people who act as hosts for a magical force, are fighting an ever-losing battle to keep the Poison at bay.

But that isn’t any of Charlie’s business. All Charlie can think about is finding a cure for her chronic pain. After all, she is too tired and too weak to help fight the Poison. If she can just make the pain go away, maybe then she’ll be worth something. Maybe then she’ll become useful enough and strong enough to join the fight.

But when the Poison begins to threaten what little family she has left, Charlie may just have to rethink her views on pain, worth, and what makes a person strong.


There you are! I hope you’re looking forward to it like I am! Happy birthday to Strange Waters! *throws confetti*

Do you like anthology collections? I’m often hit or miss on short stories but I’m definitely looking forward to these!

At the Corner of Elm and Main by H.L. Burke (Mini Review)

Hallo, my page-dreamers!

I’m back for one last mini review on the Tales of Ever After blog tour! (Scroll to end for giveaways, which are ending TONIGHT, so hasten!)


At the Corner of Elm and Main

by H. L. Burke

 

What an utterly charming and perfect story! ❤

GAH. *clutches heart* *clutches this story and hugs it* At the Corner of Elm and Main is SO ADORABLE. I love it so much! ❤ I’m having a hard time explaining it, but how cool is the idea of a sentient lamppost? It makes me think of a Pixar short or something. Which of course is perfect. 🙂

I love the setting and “feel” of this one, feeling somewhat shadowy and cold with (probably) cobblestone streets and rain and a lamplighter going around lighting lamps, including our hero, Abner.

Abner the lamppost is MY FAVORITE THING. He’s wonderful. I loved reading the story from his perspective. And I loved the mysterious old woman who sits on the bench, too.

This is a positively delightful original fairytale type story, with SO much heart and charm. It’s a joy to read, but also has depth to it, and unexpected feels. Everything was so vivid and the delightful writing drew me right into it. It’s going to sound weird but I really related to the lamppost character. ^_^

I’m definitely going to be reading this one again sometime. It lit a light in my heart and made me smile. 🙂

I can’t say anything else without spoiling it, but basically, you need this adorable story in your life ASAP! Go forth and read it and have your heart melted like mine was! ❤


If you missed them, you can read my review for two other short story in this collection, Believing Fairytales (by Arthur Daigle) and Cinders (by Kendra E. Ardnek).

Check out the rest of the stories in this anthology! It’s free on all ebook platforms! (See links below.)

Tales of Ever After

Rescue a princess, meet a mermaid, win your reward.

The authors of the Fellowship of Fantasy tackle fairy tales from once upon a time to happily ever after. Explore twists on old tales and brand new magical stories. Meet feisty mermaids, friendly lampposts, and heroes who just might be monsters themselves.

This fourth anthology from the Fellowship of Fantasy will lead you on a quest for entertainment and storm the castle of your imagination. So make a wish and enter the deep dark woods to find stories that will make you laugh, shiver, and maybe even fall in love.

LINKS

Amazon • Books2Read Universal Link • Goodreads


Tour Schedule

Check out the blog tour schedule HERE.


GIVEAWAY!

And now it’s time to enter a delightful giveaway the Fellowship of Fantasy authors are hosting — there are 3 giveaways! (Rafflecopter hates me so you’ll just have to click the links. XD)

U.S. Only Giveaway:

(All books are paperback, and possibly signed)

***LINK***

International Giveaway:

(All books are ebooks of the winner’s file format of choice)

***LINK***

Comment Giveaway:

The person who leaves the most comments across the blog tour will receive the chance to read special sneak peaks from several of the authors’ upcoming works!


Do you like stories featuring inanimate objects who are more than they seem? I love them — they’re so adorable! Are you going to check this one out? 😉 Thanks for reading! 🙂

Believing Fairytales by Arthur Daigle: Mini Review (+ Featuring Me Squawking About Jayden Because #Excuses)

Welcome to the Tales of Ever After blog tour! 🙂

I’m here today to share a mini review of one of the short stories in this NEWLY RELEASED anthology of fairytale retellings (and original fairytales) from the Fellowship of Fantasy! It released yesterday; I’m really excited. 😀

And don’t forget to scroll through to the end where there’s a giveaway. 😉


Believing Fairy Tales

by Arthur Daigle

Tagline: Some fairy tales are true. The dangerous ones are partly true.

*cue Deborah O’Carroll’s review*

 

Short stories are hard to review without spoiling, and I really don’t want to spoil this one because it has an excellent plot twist, but I’ll do my best. 😛

Arthur Daigle is one of my new favorite authors I’ve discovered this year, due to just a couple of short stories in previous Fellowship of Fantasy anthologies. (Those two short stories featured one of my favorite-ever dynamic duos, Dana Illwind and Sorcerer Lord Jayden.)

So I was excited to review this short story! Despite not having said two favorite characters in it, this short story does contain Mr. Daigle’s signature humor, fantastical setting (including monsters), twists, and a snarky main character who stands up for himself, as well as a mischievous goblin.

Nestor is a boy who spends his time keeping the shrine of the Brotherhood of Righteousness clean and reading old manuscripts — and Gibber is a little goblin who loves to annoy him and prank people. Their relationship was fun. XD

Enter some problems in the form of some villains, a lot of hilarious conversations (with snarky lines like: “I would have lost my faith in humanity if I’d ever had it.”) and a plot twist that I started slightly guessing at (and had me going “OOH!”), and it’s overall a delightful original fairy tale type story. 😀

I loved the bits about people not getting fairytales right. XD

This story was a lot of fun, and the setting and humor reminded me of Terry Pratchett’s Discworld books. It’s slightly scary (just fantasy violence) but awesome overall, and I loved it! I’m excited to read the rest of the stories in this collection, as well as more of Arthur Daigle’s work!

Fantasy that makes me laugh is my favorite, and this absolutely qualifies! ❤


While You’re Here…

Not 100% related to the story I just reviewed, but I’m not going to finish a post featuring Arthur Daigle without mentioning how you can check out the short stories that made me fall in love with his writing.

If you’re curious to read about Dana Illwind and Sorcerer Lord Jayden (since I’ve mentioned them a few times and LOVE THEM SO MUCH. Ahem.) you can find a story each about them in previous Fellowship of Fantasy anthologies, Hall of Heroes and Mythical Doorways — which are FREE and have other delightful stories in them as well! (And did I mention free?)

Or if you just want to meet Jayden NOW (I don’t blame you) you can read said short stories on Arthur’s Booksie account here, here, and a NEW ONE that just came out (*shrieking* I’m so excited!) here.

I’m sorry, but I’m also TOTALLY NOT SORRY because Jayden is my fave. 😀

(And I really need to check out this author’s Goblin books someday… I believe all his works take place in the same world. Which is awesome.)

Okay, I’m done derailing this post, now. *cough*

This has been a public service announcement. Carry on.


Check out the rest of the stories in this anthology!

Tales of Ever After

Rescue a princess, meet a mermaid, win your reward.

The authors of the Fellowship of Fantasy tackle fairy tales from once upon a time to happily ever after. Explore twists on old tales and brand new magical stories. Meet feisty mermaids, friendly lampposts, and heroes who just might be monsters themselves.

This fourth anthology from the Fellowship of Fantasy will lead you on a quest for entertainment and storm the castle of your imagination. So make a wish and enter the deep dark woods to find stories that will make you laugh, shiver, and maybe even fall in love.

LINKS

Amazon • Books2Read Universal Link • Goodreads

(The ebook should be free most places, and if it’s not yet — say, on Amazon *cough* — it WILL be… soonish… So keep an eye out. Or you can get it for 99 cents which isn’t bad; or buy the paperback because it looks shiny.)


Tour Schedule

Check out the blog tour schedule HERE.


GIVEAWAY!

And now it’s time to enter a delightful giveaway the Fellowship of Fantasy authors are hosting — there are 3 giveaways! (Rafflecopter hates me so you’ll just have to click the links. XD)

U.S. Only Giveaway:

(All books are paperback, and possibly signed)

***LINK***

International Giveaway:

(All books are ebooks of the winner’s file format of choice)

***LINK***

Comment Giveaway:

The person who leaves the most comments across the blog tour will receive the chance to read special sneak peaks from several of the authors’ upcoming works!


Do you enjoy funny fantasy too? Have you met Jayden yet? Are you curious to read this story or the rest of the anthology? ISN’T THAT TALES OF EVER AFTER COVER GORGEOUS?? Let me know in the comments, and thanks for reading!

Five Poisoned Apples Cover Reveal!

Hey everyone!

I’m super excited for TWO awesome cover reveals today — so I have one here and the other on my other blog. 😉

Today I’m pleased to help reveal the cover, theme, and title of the fourth and final Rooglewood Press fairytale creative writing contest!

I haven’t read the third collection, but I enjoyed most of the stories of the first two collections (particularly all-time-favorites Broken Glass and Stone Curse! <3), and I know the whole blogosphere has been holding its breath to find out which fairytale this fourth one will feature, and to see its cover and title, so without further ado, I now present…

The Cover

Cover model/photography: Wynter Clark. Cover design: Julia Popova.

Isn’t it stunning? *collapses* I LOVE IT. ^_^

So yes, Five Poisoned Apples is its title, and it will indeed be retellings of Snow White (as I suspected!). 😀 (I even totally called the title in a comment earlier this year. XD)

I will likely not be entering myself, but I did enter the contest last year, which was an interesting experience, and I wish the best of luck to anyone who decides to dive in and write a story to submit to the contest! 🙂

Maybe I’ll end up reading one of your stories someday. 😉

All the contest details are available on Rooglewood Press’s website, HERE.

So what think ye? ISN’T IT SO PRETYYYY?? ^_^ And are you excited about a Snow-White-themed collection? And do you think you’ll try entering the contest? Tell me all in the comments!

Thanks for reading!

Dream away in those pages . . .

~ The Page Dreamer