Review: Dark Flash, by @MariaHaskins

Title: Dark Flash
Author: Maria Haskins
Rating: 4/5 stars

“Eight stories of dark fantasy, science fiction, and horror. Featuring unicorns, pirates, a cat, a demon, magic, and glimpses of mythology (among other things) – there’s a pinch of everything in this collection of flash fiction! All eight stories originally appeared on R.B. Wood’s Word Count Podcast, and are now available as an ebook for the first time. (description from Goodreads)

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I’ve read some of Maria Haskins poetry and flash fiction in the past. because I’ve enjoyed it, I decided to give a collection of her flash fiction a read. I’m happy to have done so.

As with most flash fiction, it can be a hit and miss. Length is a major factor that shapes each story and what can be done within the limited word count. Haskins has more hits than misses, in my opinion. Not every story wowed me, but many did. She’s able to work a lot of “story” into each story, keep the pace fast without making them feel short, and come up with a variety of ideas that also work together nicely.

I’ll definitely continue to read Haskins’ work. Especially the flash fiction. Having finished Dark flash, I’m now also curious what Haskins can do with a longer form, whether it’s short stories or novels.

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You can grab this story from:

Amazon | SmashwordsKobo | B&N | iBooks

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About the Author:

self3Maria Haskins is a Swedish-Canadian writer and translator. She was born and grew up in Sweden, but since the early 1990s she lives just outside Vancouver on Canada’s west coast with a husband, two kids, and a very large black dog.

Her English language debut ‘Odin’s Eye’ – a collection of science fiction short-stories – was published in March, 2015. Her book ‘Cuts & Collected Poems 1989 – 2015’ was released on November 9, 2015, and includes both new poems written in English, and her own translations of her previously published Swedish poetry. She is currently writing fantasy and science fiction short stories. Two new short stories that will appear in an anthology in the Mind’s Eye Series, set to be published in 2016.

Find out more:

#NewRelease: Once Upon a Kiss, a fairy tale anthology

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Seventeen all new, magical stories from NY Times and USA Todaybestsellers and award-winning authors that will warm even the coldest hearts. Inspired by old favorites as well as lesser-known tales, find retellings of Cinderella, Beauty and the Beast, Sleeping Beauty, The Little Mermaid, Old Rinkrank, King Thrushbeard, The Princess and the Pea, and many more – all with fresh, romantic twists – just in time for Valentine’s Day!

THE GLASS MOUNTAIN – Alethea Kontis

On the way to her wedding, brave and clever Princess Sabine falls into a Glass Mountain, where she is trapped with a crotchety man she calls “Old Rinkrank.” The two form a unique, unlikely friendship while working to escape.

THE BAKERS GRIMM – Hailey Edwards

When two struggling business owners compete for the contract of a lifetime, it’s all bakers on deck. Mix in a dollop of rivalry, a tablespoon of romance, and a pinch of magic, and you’ve got the recipe for one heck of a bake-off. May the best decorator win!

GALATEA AND PYGMALION – Kate Danley

A young woman in ancient Greece is tasked with carving a new statue for Aphrodite’s temple. But what happens when she falls in love with her art?

RED– Sarra Cannon

Charlotte is searching for a cure to save her sister, but what she finds in the woods is not at all what she expects…

PRINCESS CHARMING – Yasmine Galenorn

Sometimes, the road to Happily Ever After leads a girl right past Prince Charming… into the arms of his sister.

MAD ABOUT YOU – Jennifer Blackstream

Alice doesn’t want to marry the Mad Hatter. Will an unexpected trip to Wonderland change her mind?

THE SEA KING’S DAUGHTER—Anthea Sharp

A mermaid gives up everything to be with the mortal man she loves – but can there be a happy ending when the Sea Witch intervenes?

ROMEO AND JULIET: THE AFTERLIFE – Julia Crane

Juliet enters the afterlife and discovers the truth behind her relationship with Romeo and Paris – and that their greatest challenge is yet to come.

SOOT AND STONE: A Fae Tale of the Otherworld – Jenna Elizabeth Johnson

Aisling, a young Faelorehn artist, finds herself falling for the son of one of the famed Tuatha De Danann. The only problem is, she’s unaware of his true identity, and her selfish uncle will do anything to keep her from realizing her dreams.

THE HUNTSMAN’S SNOW – Mandy M. Roth

Sometimes, a prince isn’t as charming as history would like you to believe. And sometimes, a princess needs an alpha male shifter to find her happily ever after.

RUMPELIMPSKIN – Debra Dunbar

An imp finds herself in a fairytale world without her infernal powers facing an impossible task. Will Sam barter away her firstborn? Will her angelic main-squeeze save her? Or will she come up with a devilish solution of her own?

THE GLASS SKY – Alexia Purdy

Star’s refusal of suitors lined up for her hand has her family in knots, but when the city is bombed and overthrown, she loses everything. After she’s rescued by a handsome stranger named Clyde, she sneaks away to save her parents but finds herself trapped in the new president’s clutches.

RUSH – C. Gockel

Misogyny is a beast.
When the incarnation of Creation gets angry at Rush for innocently stating his opinion, she curses him to find true love in two weeks … or else.

PERCHANCE TO DREAM – Phaedra Weldon

Her first love has been placed under a spell.

THE TOAD PRINCE – Nikki Jefford

Isabel Ivers’s stepfather will do anything to secure his place as Far North’s new ruler, even if it means marrying her off to the depraved prince of the lowlands.

CRAFTED WITH A KISS – Shawntelle Madison

Despite fighting in countless battles to bring peace to warring kingdoms, Pynnelope, a warrior maiden made of wood, knows no fear. Becoming human is all she desires until she discovers she can have so much more.

A SMALL MAGIC – Devon Monk

A cursed princess, a talking pea, and a wish that changes everything.

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You can grab a copy of this book from

Amazon | Kobo | B&N | iBooks

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About the Authors:

To find more about each author, click on their name in the description above.

Best Read in 2016: Short Stories

2016 Best Read

The other day I posted by best read list of 2016. (Click here if you missed it.) As I mentioned in that post, I would be posting a separate list of the short stories that stuck in my reading for 2016. That’s what today’s post is all about.

I gave you all the stats last time. To repeat the short story stats, I read 113 of them and they totaled 2653 pages. And those I read in audio totaled just under 22 hours of listening.

Again, I don’t like to “rank” my favorite stories. So this is list isn’t in any order. I just plucked them off my spreadsheet and the order is whatever it is. I also want to make clear that narrowing down 113 stories isn’t easy. They’re not all 5 star reads. Some 4 stars can be better than 5 stars when you recall them. Ratings aren’t always the definitive stat to go by.

One more thing: They’re not all short stories. Oops. And not oops. Because there’s no law about the length of a short story, novella, novel, etc, some stories in this list are actually novellas. Some may be marketed as a novella but feel more like a short story. I didn’t get picky. They’re just not novels. That’s fairly easy to figure out compared to story/novella. And for those authors out there reading this, this could be a good list for you to pay attention to if you have a story in need of reviews. In 2017 I’m only accepting short story/novella requests, as my review policy says right now. Just putting that out there. And for everyone else, check some of these out. Read them. Share them with others. And share your favorite stories of 2016 in the comments. I also have a poll for favorite reads of 2016 linked below. Please participate!

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The Short Fiction

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CLICK HERE FOR THE POLL

#Review: Spellbound, by @Daisy_Prescott

spellbound-prescottTitle: Spellbound
Author: Daisy Prescott
Rating: 5/5 stars

“If you don’t carve a pumpkin, it will appear ripe and perfect for months while it slowly rots from the inside out before imploding. The act of transforming a simple, ordinary gourd into something magical accelerates its downfall.

The same could be said for my life.

For twenty-one years I’ve lived quietly in the shadows, avoiding attention, and escaping notice.

I hide in plain sight.

With glasses and average brown eyes below the same dark hair sported by the majority of humans on the planet, there’s nothing extraordinary about me.

Except nothing about me is ordinary.

Not with the last name Wildes in Salem, Massachusetts.

My mother believed she could escape my fate by marrying a normal man.

My father thought he could change me by removing me from Salem and my mother’s history.

Both of them are wrong.

My fate has been sealed since the first time I laid eyes on Madison Bradbury.

She thinks she’s average, but she’s extraordinary to me.

A new love. A curse. Everything can go wrong. ” (description from Goodreads)

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I very much enjoyed Daisy Prescott’s story Bewitched. So much so that I went right out and bought this one, the sequel, Spellbound. My eagerness was rewarded by an even more enjoyable read.

Everything that I enjoyed about the first story was present in its sequel. But what made it more enjoyable for me was that the characters were able to develop more. There was also some more development in the ongoing plot points, some of which were only hinted at in Bewitched.

I also found it interesting to be inside of Andrew’s head for this story. He’s the character going through personality changes due to unknown causes. This would have been easy to write from another character’s point of view, but Prescott decided to get into the head of the one dealing with this issue first hand. And she does it well. While reading, I felt how helpless Andrew was to the changes taking place. It added a unique experience to this story that I haven’t seen anywhere else.

I would really like to read more stories from this series and I’m hoping Prescott plans on writing more. I only hope I don’t have to wait too long to read them. Though, I know however long the wait it, it’ll be worth it.

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You can buy this book from:

Amazon

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About the Author:

USA Today Bestselling author Daisy Prescott lives in a real life Stars Hollow in the Boston suburbs with her husband and an indeterminate number of imaginary housegoats. When not writing about people falling in love, she can be found traveling, gardening, baking, and reading a good book.

Her novels include the Modern Love Stories series, the Wingmen series, and several short stories. She’s also working on expanding the world of Bewitched this fall.

Find out more:

#Review: Their Natural Habitat, by @Silvia_Violet

Their Natural Habitat

Title: Their Natural Habitat (The Forestry series #2)
Author: Silvia Violet
Rating: 5/5 stars

“Dan and Parker want a nice weekend away, but bear baiters are camping in the forest where Parker works as a ranger, putting both humans and animals at risk. Dan is worried that Parker will be harmed, angry at their lack of time together, and terrified their developing relationship can’t take the strain.

This is the sequel to Silvia’s story His True Nature.”

(description from Goodreads)

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Similar to how I felt about His True Nature, I am happy I grabbed a copy of this story.

With it being a continuation from the first story, I knew what I was getting into. What I didn’t know was that the author would grab me yet again with an even better story than the previous one.

The characters and their relationship developed even further, as it should, though uncertainty is found throughout the story. There’s also a good amount of suspense in certain sections of the story that caught me off-guard. This added more enjoyment to the reading experience. It could have been a story about a struggling relationship, but instead, it wasn’t a simple quick story between two characters.

The only issue I have with the story is that I want more of Dan and Parker. If the author were to write a third story for the series, I’d be one of the first to go out and get a copy. There may be a fitting end to this one, but there’s always room for more adventure. Maybe even a longer one so I can spend more time with them.

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You can grab this story from

Amazon | SmashwordsB&N | KoboiBooks

and if you haven’t grabbed the first story, His True Nature

Amazon | SmashwordsB&N | Kobo | iBooks

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About the Author:

Silvia writes erotic romance in a variety of genres including sci fi, paranormal, and historical. She can often be found haunting coffee shops looking for the darkest, strongest cup of coffee she can find. Once equipped with the needed fuel, she can happily sit for hours pounding away at her laptop. Silvia typically leaves home disguised as a suburban stay-at-home-mom, and other coffee shop patrons tend to ask her hilarious questions like “Do you write children’s books?” She loves watching the looks on their faces when they learn what she’s actually up to. When not writing, Silvia enjoys baking sinful chocolate treats, exploring new styles of cooking, and reading children’s books to her wickedly smart offspring.

For more:

#NewRelease: An Unexpected Baby, by @SusanHatler

Today Susan Hatler releases her final story in the Treasured Dreams series. It’s number seven and the perfect time to catch up if you haven’t. Now you have an end in sight. I know some readers need all the books released before they dive into a series. For those of you who are like this, it’s your lucky day!

I’ll be reading this soon and the review will come soon after, like in the past. So be ready for that. I’m sure it won’t be easy to let these characters go, but maybe Susan has a treat for us with a future project. We’ll have to stay tuned.

An Unexpected Baby

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AN UNEXPECTED BABY is a super short and sweet contemporary romance short story (24 pages, 5600 words).

Holly’s already in over her head when she and her husband, Dave, receive an offer to adopt a baby. They make a decision on the spot, but Holly’s afraid she’ll regret their choice forever. What if it’s those unexpected moments in life that make treasured dreams come true?

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You can grab this FINAL story, An Unexpected Baby, from

Amazon | B&N | Kobo | iBooks

and if you haven’t read the first story, An Unexpected Date, yet:

Amazon | B&N | KoboiBooks

(MY REVIEW)

…or story two, An Unexpected Kiss,

Amazon | B&N | KoboiBooks

(MY REVIEW)

and story three, An Unexpected Love

Amazon | B&NKobo | iBooks

(MY REVIEW)

story four An Unexpected Proposal from

Amazon | B&NKobo | iBooks

(MY REVIEW)

story five An Unexpected Wedding from:

Amazon | B&NKobo | iBooks

(MY REVIEW)

story six An Unexpected Joy from:

Amazon | B&NKobo | iBooks

(MY REVIEW)

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About the Author:

Susan HatlerSUSAN HATLER is a New York Times and USA Today Bestselling Author, who writes humorous and emotional contemporary romance and young adult novels. Many of Susan’s books have been translated into German, Spanish, and Italian. A natural optimist, she believes life is amazing, people are fascinating, and imagination is endless. She loves spending time with her characters and hopes you do, too.

For more:

#Review: An Unexpected Joy, by @SusanHatler

An Unexpected JoyTitle: An Unexpected Joy (Treasured Dreams #6)
Author: Susan Hatler
Rating: 4/5 stars

“AN UNEXPECTED JOY is a super short and sweet contemporary romance short story (12 pages, 3200 words).

Holly’s next adventure, and she’s in for an unexpected joy. (description from Goodreads)

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Reviews of previous Treasured Dreams stories:

An Unexpected…

Date | Kiss | Love | Proposal | Wedding

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Susan Hatler’s Treasured Dreams series is almost done. This story, An Unexpected Joy, is the sixth installment in Holly and Dave’s life story. It’s also one that caught me by surprise in a few ways.

What I enjoyed about this story is that Holly was the one driving the story (and series story arc) forward. In the last few, Holly was the one in for a surprise with what was going to happen by the end of the story. Now, Holly had the chance to hold all the cards. It was a nice change of pace to have Dave be out of the loop.

From the title of the seventh story, I can tell what the focus will probably be. At the same time, there’s something unresolved (not in a cliff hanger way, don’t worry) in this story that will most likely carry over to An Unexpected Baby that I’m looking forward to reading about. That’s making me want it to be February even sooner.
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You can grab your own copy of An Unexpected Joy from:

Amazon | B&NKobo | iBooks

And the seventh Treasured Dreams story, An Unexpected Baby, you can pre-order it over on:

Amazon | B&N | Kobo | iBooks

and if you haven’t read the first story, An Unexpected Date, yet:

Amazon | B&N | KoboiBooks

…or story two, An Unexpected Kiss,

Amazon | B&N | KoboiBooks

and story three, An Unexpected Love

Amazon | B&NKobo | iBooks

story four An Unexpected Proposal from

Amazon | B&NKobo | iBooks

story five An Unexpected Wedding from:

Amazon | B&NKobo | iBooks

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About the Author:

Susan HatlerSUSAN HATLER is a New York Times and USA Today Bestselling Author, who writes humorous and emotional contemporary romance and young adult novels. Many of Susan’s books have been translated into German, Spanish, and Italian. A natural optimist, she believes life is amazing, people are fascinating, and imagination is endless. She loves spending time with her characters and hopes you do, too.

For more: