Sacrificial Oath by Terri Rochenski An impetuous act unwittingly makes Alesuela the fulfillment of the Sovereign's Blood Oath to their Goddess. In five days, she'll be forced to make the greatest choice of her life: become the virginal sacrifice already promised, or force the man she loves most to die in her place. With an impossible choice in front of her, she searches for ways to undo the oath, and in her quest, finds not everything in her life is as she expects.
The Amulet of Ormisez by J. Keller Ford There is only one way to save Elton Fletcher's brother from an insanity-ridden death. After years away from home, fighting for his people, Elton returns to discover his only sibling, Cayden, possessed by greed and malice, and responsible for malicious, unthinkable deeds. Cayden, though, isn't the only one afflicted by the Amulet of Ormisez, and Elton finds himself in yet another battle, where the price of failure could be his own life.
Birthright by Lynda R. Young Christa can mask the pain and hide the scars, but running from a birthright is impossible. She's tried to escape her grief by fleeing to a small town in Florida. Much to her frustration, the locals think they recognize her even though she's never been there before. To make things worse, a man named Jack spouts outrageous theories about her. Both spur Christa to bolt, to start fresh yet again, but there's something about Jack that intrigues her enough to stay. The only problem? Someone else wants her to leave, and they won't stop until she's dead.
Petrified by Kelly Said A mysterious storm has replaced summer with winter, devastating crops and smothering Castle lands in snow. Prince Sterling August stands alone as a leader, lost in personal grief as well as a desire to help his people but with an inability to do either. The answers he needs await him, but without Lochlyn, a woman who's just as isolated as Sterling, he'll never see what stands before him, cloaked in illusion.
Last Winter Red by Jennifer M. Eaton Emily is a Red, a woman whose sole purpose in life is to produce offspring. When her husband dies and leaves her childless, she risks her life and forsakes the safety of Terra-a disease-free city born after the nuclear holocaust. Beyond its boundaries, she knows, survives a man with whom she can be properly paired. The Outside, though, holds secrets the government struggles to keep, and what Emily discovers on her quest for a mate will change her life forever.
Escort to Insanity by J.A. Belfield From a charity auction, to a stroll in the park, to the craziest night of her life. Nicole Harrington can't help but wonder how a simple event went so drastically wrong. Of course, the male escort she booked is wholly to blame. Not only charming but shrewdly intelligent, Benjamin Gold drags Nicole into a platoon of unimaginable problems-ones from which she'll have to find the courage just to survive.
MAKE BELIEVE is a magical collection of short stories. Just the right size for someone like me who falls into bed too late every night and doesn't have much time (or energy) left to read! It was a pleasure to escape into so many diverse fantasy worlds, some completely different from our own, others familiar but with a dash of the paranormal. All the stories were well-written, but I think my favourite was LAST WINTER RED, followed by BIRTHRIGHT. Those two captured my attention the most, and kept me clicking through the pages when I should have been switching off my light and sleeping! Overall, an enjoyable escape from the real world. Fantasy-lovers should definitely check this one out.
Sacrificial Oath by Terri Rochenski 4.5/5 The quickest read of the group but a great opener. Totally hits the mark on that cover. Love that in the face of self-sacrifice, that the woman gets far more than she thinks she deserves.
The Amulet of Ormisez by J. Keller Ford 4/5 Family connections are really strong in this one - to the point they make the story. Love the fantasy world setup in this and the mix of otherworldly creatures, too.
Birthright by Lynda R. Young 4.5/5 This one has a LOT more story that could be written. It's got romance novel written all through it with a powerful beginning, though the connection to complete the story as is is there, too. Very cryptic, I know! Love the mix of contemporary with paranormal and how Christa finds herself.
Petrified by Kelly Said 4.5/5 Magic. Mystery. Mayhem. This one IS the cover, to me. Oddly, here is the best depiction of it in all the stories - like this one wrote what is written in the cover. Another self-sacrifice story with a wonderful end and not exactly what you think, either.
Last Winter Red by Jennifer M. Eaton 4/5 Another self-sacrifice story, but one mixed in with selfishness (on some people's parts) and a totally different world in a futuristic, post-apocalyptic setting. I liked that this was totally different than the rest with its settings and purpose.
Escort to Insanity by J.A. Belfield 5/5 I love how J.A. Belfield writes, and I'm so connected with her Holloway Pack, I would have read this no matter what! She, however, breaks off a little, but not as 'little' as we think and brings into play a totally new set of critters—I mean people—to introduce us to. Wondering, wondering, wondering, if there will be more to this one.
A wonderful, wonderful anthology, perfect for a snuggle up by the fire. Each story is a quick read making it perfect for one sitting or six.
(Full review posted on my blog, The Reader's Commute) I was lucky enough to receive, courtesy of J. Taylor Publishing, an ARC of a new anthology: Make Believe.
This paranormal romance / fantasy anthology will be released as an e-book on December 3, 2012, so you don't have long to wait! Around fifty-or-so pages each, here are a little bit about the stories included in Make Believe:
"Sacrificial Oath" by Terri Rochenski
My Thoughts: I envisioned the book cover as I read this story. There are some beautiful visuals here, particularly the use of the color red. The crushed red poppies, the flowers of death, are a very strong and present image as Alesuela journeys towards Craesor Mountain. At the heart of this story is the love between a father and daughter, and that was most compelling to me. I do feel that the pacing was a bit off as I got closer to the climax of the story - there was a lot of build-up to that point and then very little satisfaction afterwards. I think this is something that is always difficult to balance out when writing a short story (particularly one in a built world). However, I do think that this was a beautiful opening to the anthology and it primed me for more "make believe."
"The Amulet of Ormisez" by J. Keller Ford
My Thoughts: In "The Amulet of Ormisez," I was initially very confused by how the amulet came to be in Cayden's possession. The explanations offered really tangled me up and I had to do a few rereads. The character of Felicity is charming, and her personality really stood out to me in this piece, more so than Elton. As a protagonist, Elton was not the most memorable. The introduction of the selkies was new to me; I have never read a story involving selkies. Very intriguing. I love that they carry their skins with them. The payoff at the end of this story was quite satisfying.
"Birthright" by Lynda R. Young
My Thoughts: This was one of the easiest stories for me to follow; I believe this has to do with the fact that it takes place in Florida (which is, in fact, part of a world I know quite well). Like I said earlier, I found it hard to follow along and immerse myself in a whole new world in under one hundred pages. Reading a story that took place in Florida (albeit, a magically-charged Florida) was a welcomed respite. Christa is an interesting main character, although the enigmatic Jack really takes the spotlight. His enthusiasm for his museum and Christa is exciting. I could easily read a novel-length version of this piece.
"Petrified" by Kelly Said
My Thoughts: This is another story that really evoked the cover image for me. I found "Petrified" to be incredibly well-written and very beautiful. I found it hard to pick just one protagonist here, so I'd like to call it an "ensemble piece" (if that's allowed). I was interested in the actions of all of the characters present - Sterling, Lochlyn, Elexus, and Estes. The passages including Estes are especially beautiful, and her affection towards Lochlyn is very moving. This was the piece in the anthology that had the best pacing, in my opinion. I did not feel rushed to immerse myself in the world, nor did I feel that the climax happened too soon. While I would, like the majority of the stories in Make Believe, enjoy reading a novel-length version of "Petrified," I felt that it was complete as a short story.
"Last Winter Red" by Jennifer M. Eaton
My Thoughts: This was such a great premise for a story! "Last Winter Red" had a significant dystopian feel that was not present in the other pieces, and so it stands out in my mind. While Emily is a bit whiny as a main character, her personality is completely justified: her upbringing has her believing that she is entitled to a certain way of living, and a certain caliber of privilege. As she leaves the boundaries of the Red and enters the world of the Gray, she is faced with the fact that she is "different," and not cut out for the hardened Gray lifestyle. The twist in this story was very well-done and I enjoyed it immensely.
"Escort to Insanity" by J.A. Belfield
My Thoughts: Oh, what a humorous piece! Nicole (or Cole, as she is called by her friends) is a fantastically funny narrator. Her train of thought is quite amusing to follow. However, there's a realness to her that I found refreshing, as she struggles with her own feelings and her feelings towards her family. Benjamin Gold is the sort of swoon-worthy fictional man that I feel embarrassed admitting that I really like (but now you know I like him, so I guess that's that). Aside from his good-looks and great wit, there's heart there, too. I was charmed by the premise of Belfield's story and I would definitely like to read more from her soon.
Once again, I want to thank J. Taylor Publishing for sending me a copy of Make Believe in exchange for a review. While I may not always think that fantasy / paranormal premises work well in a short story format, I think that these stories were perfect glimpses into magical worlds.
I recieved an eARC of this book from J. Taylor publishing to read for an honest review. This in now way has influenced my point of view on this book. I want to thank them for providing me with this ARC.
This book is a compilation of six magical short stories from various authors who are published or will be published under the J. Taylor label. Each author took you into a new world, past, present, future, fantasy, dystopian, paranormal, etc. It was nice to be able to watch each story come to life in the span of such a few short pages.
I really loved reading these little stories from the authors. I have not read anything by any of them up until now. All their writing styles are unique. I particularly enjoyed these three stories the most: Petrified by Kelly Said, Last Winter Red by Jennifer M. Eaton and Escort to Insanity by J.A. Belfield as they captured my attention and kept me wanting to read to find out what was happening. I can also see how all the stories in this anthology can be expanded upon and made into novels of their own!
The first two stories, Sacrificial Oath and The Amulet of Ormisez, as well as Petrified, are set in more of a fantasy world. These stories reminded me of movies such as The Hobbit or The Princess Bride, maybe even Lord of The Rings. You probably get the idea. Fantasy, long flowing dresses on the women, men on tall steeds, the works. The characters for these stories were interesting and the visuals really pulled me into the time and place. Each had a good amount of world building to them. I found Sacrificial Oath to be a bit on the slow side, but the story was interesting, nonetheless.
Birthright was interesting as it takes place in modern times, but has a hint of the paranormal surrounding it throughout. Until if finally climaxes and you realize the main character is not at all who you think she is. This story had mystery written all over it. I loved the overall witch theme. This particular story was quite mysterious and I would love to see where it might go as a full length book.
Last Winter Red was probably my most favorite story. I am really into dystopian literature and this definitely had that underlying theme. I loved the world building that went on. And I liked the separation of the "classes" in the two different worlds, which is something you see in all dystopian novels. I could definitely see this story sprouting into a book or even a series. And I loved the twist to this story, it was one I was not expecting!
The final story, Escort to Insanity, had the best writing of the six short stories. Belfield drew you and and pushed you along so you wanted to know what was happening next. I loved the underlying paranormal theme, and with creatures I never would have guessed about! The characters in this piece were quit witty and sarcastic, humor I am all too familiar with and enjoy immensely. The main heroine was touch and could definitely hold her own. She kind of reminded me a bit of a female James Bond! And the hero is definitely swoon worthy. I loved the romance that budded, although I did get the "insta-love" factor a bit, which I don't normally like.
All in all I very much enjoyed reading these short stories. I would love to see each of these stories expanded upon to see where they would go! They were just the right length that I could read one right before bed, without falling asleep! It was nice to have an anthology such as this to read. Thank you J. Taylor for the opportunity to read and review this piece of work.
Make Believe is a delightful anthology of fantasy short stories. The opening tale "Sacrificial Oath" by Terri Rochenski had great emotional build up with a fairy tale ending. Personally, I looked for something more explosive at the end. "The Amulet of Ormisez" by J. Keller Ford has a great plot that is almost lost due to an over abundance of characters. The introduction of the talisman and its effect (no spoiler here) is genius! Read carefully or you may miss something. "Birthright" is a solid story and I really enjoyed the theme and plot. Developing suspense in a short story that carries a reader through to a satisfying end can be difficult but Lynda Young did this quite well. "Petrified" was a most enjoyable read for me. Albeit, the ending was a bit abrupt for my taste. I would love to see the little Wicca in future stories and adventures. Congrats to Kelly Said for a story well told. "Last Winter Red" was a solid cross between fantasy and Sci-Fi for me. Well written by Ms. Jennifer Eaton. I am a guy and like the action versus the love story. "Escort to Insanity" gets my top vote as the all-round story in this Anthology. Author Belfield creates intrigue and suspense while addressing the social lines between cougars(older women) and young lions(oops). I thought the tempo of the story and its drive to the finish offers the reader a rare treat of a complete and fulfilling short story from start to finish. Congrats to all of you who dared to share your writings. We appreciate your efforts and hope that you continue. My last note and request in this review is to ask about any updates on Lochlyn - I would like to know what happens in her next adventure!
Make Believe is a short story anthology of paranormal fantasy/fantasy/sci-fi/dystopian etc. The writers were asked to base a story around the cover picture as long as it was not Little Red Riding hood based and had a happy or near happy ending.
Overall the anthology was good, a quick read with well balanced and varied stories.
Sacrificial Oath by Terri Rochenski
This was an interesting story. We have a simple act that brings severe consequences. I like the exploration of character as a girl figures out how to deal with her own impending death. The character study is good, the nobility is as well, the ending was wrapped up a little to neatly and conveniently, but overall a decent read with a good build up to the conclusion.
The Amulet of Ormisez by J. Keller Ford
This story had the feeling of a gothic romance with the prodigal son returning to the family home and winds up being a story of selkies and an evil amulet. This wasn't one of the strongest stories because it had a lot of plot holes and chronological errors that distracted from it. I like the selkie angle, but the plot errors were distracting.
Birthright by Lynda R. Young
I found this to be the most interesting of the stories. A girl trying to escape her past flees to a small town in Florida for the holidays. Once she gets there, weird things occur that bring to light a mystery of the girls past. This one appealed to me because of the plot twists, the mystery and intrigue.
Petrified by Kelly Said
This story was alright if overly predictable. I do like the idea of a healer class and the magic associated with them. This is basically just a standard fantasy tale with nothing to really make it stand out.
Last Winter Red by Jennifer M. Eaton
This was an interesting story. It reminded me a little of Brave New World. We have to civilizations living apart from each other both thinking the other is diseased and living a strange lifestyle. This follows a girl that is moving from one civilization to the other and the discoveries she makes about her life and herself. This is one of the top stories in the anthology.
Escort to Insanity by J.A. Belfield
I liked this story mainly because of the were creatures, but it also had a lot of plot holes. We never really know why the main were character is working as an escort. The reader can assume he needs the money, but that whole thing was never explained. Then we have the case of insta love with the woman who hired him. Overall this was a run of the mill story. It is leaning on its paranormal creatures to carry the tale and the plot gets neglected.
Overall this is a readable anthology with interesting stories. If you like fantasy short stories, this is a decent anthology to read.
I was really looking forward to reading Make Believe after having followed the build-up to it via some of the author's blogs, and it certainly lived up to my expectations! I don't generally read anthologies because I prefer to live with characters for longer than you can in a short story, but I do look at anthologies as a good opportunity to sample some authors that I haven't read before and/or some genres than I wouldn't usually choose. This book ticks both of those boxes. I also love the idea that they all wrote a story from the same picture prompt; it's really interesting to see the different interpretations on the same picture.
When I do read an anthology, I always read the stories in the order they are presented. I figure somebody probably spent a long time deciding on the order so as to take the reader on a particular journey, and I like to respect that. So this is the journey I went on...
(I haven't outlined the stories here, these are just my thoughts on them).
Sacrificial Oath by Terri Rochenski:
A great choice as the first story. It catapulted me instantly away from my daily life into a delicious fairy tale for grown-ups. A roller coaster of hope and hopelessness. This is a perfect example of trying something different for me that works; it's the type of story that I wouldn't usually go for, and yet ended up resolving to read more of this type!
The Amulet of Ormisez by J. Keller Ford:
J. Keller Ford is a true storyteller. There is a confidence about the world and characters she creates here that makes you believe she lived amongst them. The confidence in the writing gave it the feel of a legendary story that has been handed down through generations, and then given a fresh new lease of life.
Birthright by Lynda R. Young:
After the historical fantasy world of the first two stories, I was taken aback at first by this modern, down-to-earth setting. For me, it felt slightly out of place in this anthology; of course that's not the author's fault, they each wrote their stories independently without knowing what else would be in there. I can't quite put my finger on why it doesn't quite work here for me; it was a good solid story, but maybe it seemed more of a YA than an adult. However, it certainly wouldn't put me off reading other stories by this author.
Petrified by Kelly Said:
A great story. This somehow had the feel of an epic novel for me, with a lot of different elements, but yet there was space for it all so it didn't feel squashed. It took me a little while to get into it and at one point I was thinking I would have to start it over to understand what was happening, but it all came together in the end. The world that was created here should definitely be used again.
Last Winter Red by Jennifer M. Eaton:
This dystopian tale was definitely my kind of story. I love twists, I love stories where there is hope amongst gloom. Very clever and very well written. Out of all the stories in the anthology, this is the one I would have liked to have written! Really enjoyed it, and could definitely see it expanded into a full novel.
Escort to Insanity by J.A. Belfield:
With this story being the headline act as it were, I knew it would be good, and it didn't disappoint. To me, this was written for the screen, I don't mean it doesn't work as a story to read, I just mean that I could totally visualise it as if I was watching some kind of modern day Twilight Zone tale.
In summary, Make Believe is a truly wonderful bedtime storybook.
Make believe is a collection of 6 fantasy and paranormal short stories. The content and feel of the stories are varied; from Terry Rochenski’s tale of a girl forced to sacrifice herself to a goddess to save her father, to Jennifer M Eaton’s interesting fantasy dystopian crossover about two civilisations that both believe the other to be diseased.
Sacrificial Oath by Terri Rochenski – I thought this was a beautiful, well written story. Showing a girl whose mistake means she must be sacrificed to a goddess live her final days this is a tale about love and someone willing to give up their own life for someone else.
The Amulet of Ormisez by J. Keller Ford - This story had a nice idea but it felt very rushed, nothing seemed to be explained particularly well and the ending in particular felt very hurried. I think this probably would have worked much better as a longer novel.
Birthright by Lynda R. Young - Birthright was an interesting tale but I didn’t find it to be particularly memorable and it was overshadowed by all the other excellent stories in this anthology.
Petrified by Kelly Said – I thought Petrified was a lovely little fantasy story. It has a fairy tale quality to it that made it unique and I loved the concept about Wiccae and I think this world would make a great basis for a longer book.
Last Winter Red by Jennifer M. Eaton – This was probably my favourite story; it is just so intriguing. The idea behind it is brilliant and Jennifer is clearly a brilliant writer. She perfectly portrayed someone who is learning that their entire life has been a lie and leaving behind everything they have ever known.
Escort to Insanity by J.A. Belfield – J.A.Belfield is an excellent writer whose books are always amazing so I had high expectations for Escort to Insanity and it did not disappoint. It was funny, tense and action packed all at the same time. Definitely a story to read.
Whilst I prefer reading longer books, short stories in an anthology like this give you an opportunity to sample the writing style of several authors and you might just find some that you love. My two favourite stories in this anthology were Last Winter Red by Jennifer M Eaton and Escort to Insanity by J A Belfield. Whilst I have read and enjoyed many of Belfield’s books already, I have not read anything of Eaton’s but after how good her short story was I definitely intend to read other books she writes in the future.
I always struggle at reviewing anthologies, which is why I usually try not to. I know that most people review each of the stories individually but I'm not going to do that because if I'm purchasing this book, I'd want to know if it's worth buying (as a whole), so here goes..
I can confidently state that Make Believe is written by a group of talented writers. All the stories have paranormal elements and the feel of forming part of a full length novel. They have strong story lines, despite their short length. For the most part, these stories are all enjoyable; the premise is interesting and worth reading if you're looking for a quick and entertaining read, especially if you're a paranormal fan. However, I will say that some of the stories have common/seen-before tropes such as with Sacrificial Oath by Terri Rochenski. Don't get me wrong, the story definitely draws you in, but there's nothing out of the ordinary. The virginal sacrifice is intriguing but I kept waiting to find out how she'd get out of it and the end kind of fell flat for me.
My only disappointment is with The Amulet of Ormisez by J. Keller Ford. The plot itself isn't bad but I'm not fond of the dialogues. The story is set at medieval period and the conversations between the characters kept jumping from normal talk (like how we would speak) and you know, 'ancient' talk. I'm not sure if I'm doing a good job of explaining myself; what I'm trying to say is that the dialogues didn't make me feel connected to the book. However, it may just be me because over all, the story is engaging.
Birthright by Lynda R. Young is interesting and takes a surprising turn, which is impressive for a short story.
That being said, these stories do have the potential and quality to become full length novels. If you're someone who likes reading short stories, this book is definitely worth buying!
Man oh man can I just tell you that I have read a lot of Anthologies but this one by far had me on the edge of my seat. It has six short stories that left me wanting more and more. It is so hard to do this review because I don't want to spoil anything for anyone. This is one book you have to read to appreciate the stories.
Sacrificial Oath by Terri Rochenski
What would you sacrifice to be with the one you love? Would you lay down your life or would you sacrifice the one you loved? This is the question Alesuela must answer and what she decides will surprise you.
The Amulet of Ormisez by J. Keller Ford
Can you imagine an amulet taking control over you and your mind? Well for brother Cayden and Elton this is their reality. They will have to fight the amulet or risk being destroyed.
Birthright by Lynda R. Young
Christa is trying to escape her past and move on. She does this but as she comes to find out sometimes running is not always the answer. Sometimes you have to stand up to the bully who is harassing you.
Petrified by Kelly Said
Sometimes we want to help others and sometimes things happen for a reason. Good bad and ugly things happen to this Prince and he needs to look past his grief in order to move on to his future.
Last Winter Red by Jennifer M. Eaton
Can you imagine your soul purpose in life is to bear children? The only downfall is that your husband has died and left you childless. What do you do? Well Red goes in search for a man to give her children. What will she finds when she leaves the security she knows?
Escort to Insanity by J.A. Belfield
Having an escort for a Charity function should come with a warning because Nicole's date is a nightmare. Will she survive the function and her date or will she be embarrassed and left all alone?
The gorgeous cover won me over and the stories did not disappoint.
My favourite was Lynda Young's 'Birthright'. Christa was a wonderfully developed character with many layers and complexities that sometimes even baffled her. Beautiful descriptive language, the settings became reality for me. The title was also cleverly chosen and not what I first thought it was about. I started off thinking this would be a story of finding love, but it was more... it was magical.
Honestly, I wanted to read this anthology just because I really enjoy J.A. Belfield’s writing (and she rocks, Go Julie! Lol) but was pleasantly surprised when I ended up loving the other stories as well. With mystery, deceit, fate, grief, greed, romance, and action each story has its own engaging elements but all are sprinkled with a morsel of magic. Definitely a great read!
At A Glance I liked four stories out of the six. Though not all were for me I do believe that many people will enjoy this anthology.
The Good Sacrificial Oath I loved the concept of this story. The idea that the Sovereign's daughter is to be made a virginal sacrifice to appease a Goddess because of an unhappy accident is interesting. Alesuela takes the news as you might expect. She is sad and depressed but she tries to stay positive for her father. Her father is just as heartbroken. This was a very sad story until the very end but I was enthralled the whole time. The lead up to the sacrifice was nail-biting.
The Amulet of Ormisez This story had so much potential. The idea that an amulet can turn people greedy and malicious was fascinating. I think if this story was expanded on and lengthened it would have been great.
Birthright Another great concept. It was spooky at first which kept my interest. I didn't know were the story was going to go until the author wanted me to.
Petrified Now this story I liked. Once I got my head around what was happening, I was pulled in. The characters were well developed in such a small time frame and the mystery was excellent. I was genuinely surprised by the end. This was a really well written story.
Last Winter Red Now this is the story to read. I would buy this book just for this story. If the author decided to expand on this story by turning it into a full novel, I would be all over it. The concept was both eerie and complex. Nothing is as it seems. Emily has lived a life separated from other societies. All she knows is that she was made to birth healthy babies, free of the disease that ravages the Outside.
Emily is so naive it's sad. People take advantage of her and all she wants to do is be an active part of her society. But on the Outside she finally learns the truth about the world and the people she grew up with. Along the way, she finds a few friends who grow to love her as much as she loves them.
I loved the twists in this story. I was genuinely surprised by what was really going on. I only wish there was more to read.
Escort to Insanity This one is a whole bunch of insanity. This story has everything one would want: action, flirting, shapeshifters, and naked men. Nicole thought getting an escort for another one of those horrible charity events would make things run smoothly. No such luck. Benjamin is not just a escort, he is a whole lot more. Unwittingly, Benjamin drags Nicole into his world, one with violence and shapeshifters. And when the bad shapeshifters take Nicole's roommate as hostage, Nicole finds the courage to take matters into her own hands.
I really had fun reading this story. The characters were cute and funny. The action was superb. And the drama was constant. I would also like to see this story turned into a full length novel.
The Bad Sacrificial Oath I think the ending was a little too convenient for my taste.
The Amulet of Ormisez This story needed more substance. It needed to be longer. It felt so rushed and it was confusing the way it was written. It spent too much time on the little things and not enough time on the action and drama.
Birthright There was so much potential but I just didn't enjoy the story in the end. It was somewhat awkward and didn't have enough going on to make me want to read the second half.
Petrified The story confused me at first. It took me a little while to figure out what was going on.
Last Winter Red There is nothing bad about this story. I loved it all.
Escort to Insanity I just have one thing to say: Benjamin better pay Nicole back because that's not right for her to lose that much money because of his problems.
The Snuggly We get some sexual situations but no sex scenes. I did like the potential romances that bloomed in many of the stories.
Final Thoughts I enjoyed enough of the stories in this anthology that I would definitely suggest it to other people. The last two stories are pretty much a knock out. If only they were longer so I could enjoy more of them. Recommended.
Quotes I followed him when he headed for the rear of the car, trying hard not to get distracted by the sweet, sweet curve of his bum as it tick-tocked with each step. "I swear I've seen you without clothes more than with."
"And she says that like it's a bad think," Kellie piped up from her seat.
"Tracing family trees is harder than you think. I've marked each point of change where the women have moved to a new point of origin, but I've not been able to find the reason behind the change. Not all women stay in that place. They'll live somewhere and return when they're ready to settle. Salmon do a similar thing. When they're ready to spawn, they'll return to the place they were born."
"You're comparing me to a fish?"
"A tasty fish." His eyes sparkled in the low light.
I don't read anthologies very often, but I do like to pick them up when I don't have a lot of time to read. That way I can read one short story for a bit and not feel rushed to keep reading. The Make Believe anthology was great for this. I read it sporadically during the final weeks of the school semester and while on study breaks between my finals. Each story stands on its own, but they all share one similarity...in all of them a woman or girl is in a red cloak at one point or another, just like on the cover. They also shared one more thing...I wanted them all to be longer! ;D
"Sacrificial Oath" by Terri Rochenski was interesting, and as the first story in the anthology it quickly lets you know that these worlds are going to be different from our own. Similar, but slightly different all the same. Alesuela's story was heartwrenching, but she was such a strong character. I really enjoyed how Terri Rochenski managed to give Alesuela so much strength, and I thought that it was a wonderful opening to the anthology.
"The Amulet of Ormisez" by J. Keller Ford was intense! Elton just spent years battling, and he comes home and has to face something even crazier. This short story was fairly dark, and it packed quite a punch. It brought in some very interesting backstories, and through Elton, the reader sees the destruction that the Amulet of Ormisez can cause, and I found it to be a very compelling short story.
"Birthright" by Lynda R. Young was short and sweet. The story had a mystery element, and the narrator was trying to cope with her past. Unfortunately, she managed to arrive in a place where her past, or rather the past, was something that she was going to have to face. I really enjoyed how the mystery involved in this story was revealed, and I although it was just a short story, I really enjoyed the characters, too.
"Petrified" by Kelly Said was very mysterious. I enjoyed that there was magic invovled, and liked getting glimpses of the whole magical backstory that seemed to revolve around the world that this short story was set in. I felt like I could've read a whole series on it and would've still been interested. :D "Petrified" also alternated between two narrators, Prince Sterling and Lochlyn, and I thought that it was a great choice for this particular story because they both brought such different perspectives to it.
"Last Winter Red" by Jennifer M. Eaton was very dystopic, and I loved that! I love dystopians and this short story was no exception. Emily was the perfect dystopic citizen: clueless to the truth, and in major denial of the truth once she knew of it. I loved that even though this was a short story, Emily actually faced quite a bit...she didn't start any revolts or anything, but she still faced the desolate truth about her world as she knew it. I found that I really liked getting to see just a flash of a dystopic world. Jennifer M. Eaton did a great job with characterization, and I was very fascinated with Emily's world...I also totally wouldn't turn down getting to read more about it.
"Escort to Insanity" by J.A. Belfield was the last story in the anthology, and it was definitely my favourite! I loved the characters, and I absolutely loved how the author brought in paranormal elements. I'm not going to tell you what she brought in...but it was fantastic! I'm kind of hoping that she'll pick up these characters again some time because I would love to read more about Nicole and Benjamin! They were amazing characters, and I definitely wanted to see a lot more of them...haha and I mean that both in the dirty way that it sounds, and because I want to read more. ;D
Overall, this was a fantastic anthology! Each of the stories was entertaining on its own, and together they became a wonderful collection of short stories that left me wanting more!
Have you read the Make Believe anthology? Would you like to? Also, are you a fan of anthologies in general? If you are, do you like specific kinds?
I found all six short stories in the anthology Make Believe to be fast, fun reads. Each author took the same picture and created six totally different stories with interesting characters and exciting plots. 1. Sacrificial Oath by Terri Rochenski A king and his men are trapped by their enemy and face certain death, forcing the king to make a blood oath to their Goddess. Little does he know the sacrifice will end up being his own daughter. This made a great opening story. The love father and daughter felt for each other came through to the reader. Tension builds as the time for the sacrifice draws closer. A great story about the power of love.
2. The Amulet of Ormisez by J. Keller Ford I haven’t come across many stories where Selkies held the starring role. The lesser known of shifters, the Selkie needs to have their seal skin in order to change forms. This story is also centered around family. Elton Fletcher returns home after two years of fighting to find his once loving brother a changed man. He has become arrogant and cruel, even going so far as to lock his wife alone in a chamber of their castle. Elton’s brother made a mistake when he put the Amulet on. Made by the Selkie queen, only she can take it off him, but can Elton convince her to do so before it’s too late?
3. Birthright by Lynda R Young When Christa loses her whole family she decides to move from New York to a small town in Florida. The odd part is that everyone seems to already know who she is. Of the six stories I had the most difficulty making a connection to the main character here. I wanted a slower pace and time to get to know Christa better and what she learned about herself and her family. I feel this would have been an excellent novel, but didn’t work quite so well as a short story.
4. Petrified by Kelly Said Locklyn is a young Wiccae, a healer, who has just lost her mentor. Sterling’s father is in the grip of a strange affliction that has left his body stiff and twisted. The land is stuck under the cold of winter when it should be springtime and sunny out. Sterling calls for a new Wiccae to come and try to find the answer to both problems, but when Locklyn answers his call, Sterling will be shocked by what she has to say. This was a fun story and another one where I wanted to learn more about them, the Wiccae and the power they wield, though I found the ending satisfactory.
5. The Last Winter Red by Jennifer M Eaton Emily makes her home behind the walls of a city, where she feels safe. But Emily is a compassionate soul and knows the people outside the walls need medicine only she is willing to risk bringing to them. Paul lives outside the walls and doesn’t want to care about Emily, but once he gets to know her he can’t seem to help himself. I easily slipped into the story, characters, and setting. Of the six stories this one was my favorite, everything coming to full 3D life. In a dangerous land, where suspicion and fear ruled, Emily’s character screamed out compassion and innocence, making a real connection with this reader.
6. Escort to Insanity by J.A. Belfield Cole decides to hire an escort to take her to a party she doesn’t want to attend. Ben is the handsome escort, but turns out to be far hotter than Cole bargained for when she hired him. I’ve loved all of J.A. Belfield’s writings and this one is no exception. It’s a fast, fun story with bigger than life shifters involved, everything I’ve come to expect from her work. A few questions were raised that I wish I’d been given answers to, like why Ben would risk taking Cole across the park when he knew there could be trouble. But it wasn’t enough to take away from my enjoyment. I’m curious whether they might have anymore escorts like Ben available to hire. I might have to check it out. :)
All in all Make Believe was a great anthology, written by a diverse and talented set of writers. I’ll look forward to reading more by each of them.
Sacrificial Oath by Terri Rochenski Genre: YA Fantasy Rating: * * * My Review: This is a retelling of an old fable and I enjoyed the author's take on it. We see everything from Alesuela's perspective which adds a great deal to the mystery and suspense. I loved how Terri Rochenski used the color red symbolically throughout the story. Overall, the story did fall short for me as I didn't really connect much with the main character, so I wasn't emotionally invested, but it still was an entertaining start to the anthology.
The Amulet of Ormisez by J. Keller Ford Genre: Fantasy My Rating: * * * * My Review: This is a well-told and creative story that had me hanging on the author's every word. I loved the world that J. Keller Ford created and grew attached to the characters immediately. My only real complaint is use of the names of places got confusing and I wasn't always sure at first where the characters were supposed to be. I was also little confused on the hows and whys of Cayden's and the Queen's final situation, but not enough for it to ruin the story for me.
Birthright by Lynda R. Young Genre: Paranormal Romance/Urban Fantasy My Rating: * * * * * My Review: I was very much wow-ed by this story. It's super suspenseful with a unique and creative supernatural element. I found it easy to connect with the characters and totally felt the Jack-Christa connection. It didn't feel rushed or insta-love-ish even though it all happens quickly. Birthright is a crazy cool read and I really hope author takes this to the next step with a full novel.
Petrified by Kelly Said Genre: YA Fantasy My Rating: * * * * My Review: Petrified was a real treat of suspense and mystery. Sooo much of this story has you asking why and who and can he/she be trusted??? I loved how Kelly Said built her world and our knowledge of each character slowly throughout the story, only bringing all the elements together near the conclusion. Both Lochlyn and Sterling are great characters; I loved Lochlyn's tenderheartedness. I wish their romance was built-up a bit more; I felt they were a bit touchy-feely with one another considering they were pretty much strangers. I think if there had been more acknowledgement of attraction in their thoughts and maybe more time on the romantic elements at the conclusion, I'd been better satisfied. Regardless, this was a really great story!
Last Winter Red by Jennifer M. Eaton Genre: Dystopian My Rating: * * * * * My Review: Wow! This was a fantastic read! First off, its amazing to see a well-written dystopian in short story form; I believe it difficult to world-build a dystopian society with so few words, but Jennifer M. Eaton does it and does it fabulously! I loved the world, the characters and the budding romance!!! Last Winter Red was so perfectly done! It was like a chocolate truffle. Perfectly satisfying, yet bite-sized!
Escort to Insanity by J.A. Belfield Genre: Paranormal Romance/Urban Fantasy My Rating: * * * * * My Review: It's no secret I'm a huge J. A. Belfield fan. I must admit I was curious, though, to see what her writing would be like without the Holloway Pack. Would I still love her writing with Jem and Sean??? And the answer .... YES, ABSO-FREAKIN-LOUTELY, YES!!! Escort to Instanity was so amazing! There was so much suspense and action and romance in those few pages ... holy cow! .... how did she manage that??? I'm so hoping that this is the take off of a new series for her. That would rock because I'm loving me some Benjamin Gold! Yum!
The Make Believe anthology features short stories with paranormal themes that will make minds ponder impossibilities. While not as emotionally in depth as J. Taylor Publishing's previous anthology, Tidal Whispers, Make Believe's fairy tale-like essence will capture readers' attention from the first suspenseful story of sacrifice.
Terry Rochenski's Sacrificial Oath was an excellent portrayal of faith and love. When an impossible oath is laid before a young woman, faith in her goddess and love for her father are the only causes of motivation. The connection between Alesuelah and her father was powerful and a great focus point for the plot. Following is J. Keller Ford's Amulet of Ormisez, which is surely the most mysterious of the six stories. The story is detailed and features a less commonly written about creature, the selkie. The plot excitingly unfolds bit by bit as readers are introduced to Elton who returns home to a changed brother and a web of events to unravel. I love that Ford managed to weave a little romance amid all the action!
Lynda R. Young's Birthright and Kelly Said's Petrified by far the most unique stories with unfamiliar story lines. Birthright glimpses into the life of a grieving woman who only wants to get away from bustle of the city. The small town she chooses to settle holds more than the key to recuperation as she discovers the powers her mother and sister once warned her about, her birthright. Petrified changed the pace of the anthology by bringing on two perspectives. The story opens with Sterling, a son looking to solve the mysteries of his father's illness and his kingdom's strange weather, and then introduces Lochlyn, a healer of sorts who has just lost her mentor. The plot is interesting and though-provoking, which makes Petrified one of the six stories that stood out the most for me.
The last two stories of the anthology: Jennifer M. Eaton's Last Winter Red and J.A. Belfield's Escort to Insanity were a little longer and felt to be the lighter stories. I say with certainty that Last Winter Red has the best setting. I was pretty much in awe at Eaton's thorough conception of the post-apocalyptic type of world in which Emily believes that inside the borders of Terra, the Reds are safe. Outside the wall are the Grays and a dangerous, contagious sickness. All angles were covered: disease, less than perfect living conditions, an untruthful Council, death, betrayal and little romance, too! Escort to Insanity provided the strongest connection to its main character. Cole had a big personality, even when she felt constricted by the demands of her father. One classy function with a paid-for escort, though, changes her perception of the world, herself and her relationship with her father and gives this story a twist I did not see coming!
While I wish every story had as strong a character background as Cole's, Make Believe turned out to be a hit anthology that I can't wait to revisit! The wonderful authors who contributed will definitely force readers to feel the cold, while enticing them to believe in the unimaginable.
*eARC won from publisher in exchange for an honest review* Also published on Lovey Dovey Books
I was so excited to get a chance to read this amazing collection early in exchange for an honest review.
This is a great collection of short stories. They are short enough to read one a night but engaging enough to plow through all at one time depending on how you like to read. I really enjoyed all of them.
Escort to Insanity by J.A. Belfield
This story was the main reason I wanted to read this book. I fell in love with the Holloway pack and couldn't wait to read a new story line from J.A. Belfield. I gobble up her writing as fast as I can get a hold of it. She cannot write fast enough for me!
With that being said, of course I had to start with Escort to Insanity, which happens to be the last story of the book. “Save the best for last” is definitely true in this book! I loved “Escort to Insanity”. Nicole (Cole to her friends) purchases Benjamin to escort her to a charity event. They have an immediate chemistry, especially considering how they first meet. Benjamin is a strong lead character and quickly shows Cole that he’s not just yummy arm candy but also a thoughtful guy that is determined to give Cole more than her money’s worth! Cole is also a well written character and cares deeply for her friends.
If you’ve read Ms. Belfield’s Holloway Pack Series, this one is not about wolves, but I promise, you won’t be disappointed! My only complaint was that it was too short. I know this was a short story but I would love to hear more from these awesome characters, maybe a new series, hint hint. ;)
Sacrificial Oath by Terri Rochenski The blurb says Alesuela must be the” virginal sacrifice or watch the man she loves most die in her place.” I assumed we were talking about a couple in love; I was surprised that we were talking a daughter’s love for her father.
The Amulet of Ormisez by J. Keller Ford This one was interesting with the Amulet’s creation/story. It showed what greed can do to a family, but also that love will triumph in the end. I liked the Selkies, even though the ending seemed predictable to me.
Birthright by Lynda R. Young Christa has been through so much in the past six months and Jack is just what she needs to heal and move on.
Petrified by Kelly Said This is a perfect title for this story about two grieving souls that find peace, together. This was my other favorite out of this anthology, and again too short! While the story ended nicely, I can also see more tales coming about Sterling and Lochlyn.
Last Winter Red by Jennifer M. Eaton I really liked this story. The whole premise that Emily’s sole purpose is to have children was ‘thought provoking’. The world that Emily escapes to is so different from what she’s used to, yet so perfect for her. You could tell where the story was headed several times but that was ok.
Selkies, witches, shapeshifters, and more come to life in the short story collection MAKE BELIEVE by Terri Rochenski, J. Keller Ford, Lynda R. Young, Kelly Said, Jennifer M. Eaton, and J.A. Belfield.
Alesuela discovers her impetuous behavior comes at a high price in “Sacrificial Oath” by Terri Rochenski. Elton is running out of time to save his brother in “The Amulet of Ormisez” by J. Keller Ford. Christa finds she can’t run away from some things in “Birthright” by Lynda R. Young. As his kingdom suffers under a strange magical winter, Sterling must find the one who can save his cursed land in “Petrified” by Kelly Said. Emily’s world is about to turn upside down in “Last Winter Red” by Jennifer M. Eaton. Whoever knew hiring an escort could be so dangerous in “Escort to Insanity” by J.A. Belfield.
The authors of MAKE BELIEVE rose to the challenge to create stories based off the cover. Each story is different, endearing, and heartwarming. Although these are short stories, the characters and world leap off the pages and incite the reader’s imagination. I loved the ancient world where goddesses and oaths still hold sway in Rochenski’s “Sacrificial Oath.” Ford’s “The Amulet of Ormisez” excites with the magical lands and a kingdom of selkies. Young pulls the reader into the conflicted heart of Christa, who can run but not hide from who she is, in “Birthright.” Said’s short story is classic fantasy, and the world is beautiful and fantastical. It made me want to read more about the wiccae in “Petrified.” Eaton’s “Last Winter Red” introduces an intriguing dystopian society, and I would love to read more about the Reds and the Grays. I loved the voice of the protagonist Nicole Harrington and the hot chemistry between her and Benjamin Gold in Belfield’s “Escort to Insanity.”
MAKE BELIEVE by Terri Rochenski, J. Keller Ford, Lynda R. Young, Kelly Said, Jennifer M. Eaton, and J.A. Belfield has something for every fantasy lover. Each story I read I wanted to proclaim my favorite of the collection!
I absolutely love short stories and this collection of fantasy was no exception. Each of the six stories gave me just enough of the wow factor and I loved that the red cloak featured on the cover was entwined into each of the tales.
Sacrificial Oath by Terri Rochenski An impetuous act unwittingly makes Alesuela the fulfillment of the Sovereign’s Blood Oath to their Goddess. In five days, she’ll be forced to make the greatest choice of her life: become the virginal sacrifice already promised, or force the man she loves most to die in her place. MY REVIEW A really great start to the anthology, this story has a mythical edge in that the people in the book pray to the goddess. Alesuela's father, King Amant is away at war, so she is praying to the goddess for his safe return, whilst somewhere in the heat of a battle, the King is making a blood oath to the goddess in return for the safety of him and his men. The King Amant swear 's he will sacrifice the first virgin he sees upon his return to the castle. Fate plays quite a mean hand in that it creates a no win situation for King Amant and his beloved only daughter, Alesuela. What will they choose to do? Go against the goddess, try to haggle a different bargain with the goddess, or go through with the blood oath? I really enjoyed this one, it flowed well and though short had plenty going on and plenty of little twists and turns and discoveries to be made. I will definitely be checking out more titles by this author! So to score out of 5 as I usually do with anthologies......5/5! loved it!
The Amulet of Ormisez by J. Keller Ford There is only one way to save Elton Fletcher’s brother from an insanity-ridden death. After years away from home, fighting for his people, Elton returns to discover his only sibling, Cayden, possessed by greed and malice, and responsible for malicious, unthinkable deeds. Cayden, though, isn’t the only one afflicted by the Amulet of Ormisez, and Elton finds himself in yet another battle, where the price of failure could be his own life. MY REVIEW This short story has two brothers in it, Elton (the eldest) who has been away at war against the selkies and Cayden the younger brother who stayed behind, with his parents and fianceé. Elton return to a very changed Cayden. Cayden has married Marsali de Ceara as his parents and previous fiancee died from a disease that could not be healed. The story revolves around an Amulet that Cayden wears. Since he began wearing it he has become gradually worse, greed etc There's lots happening in this story but to say much more would reveal too much of the tale. I also enjoyed this tale very as I have not read a great deal about selkies. I would look out for other books by the author and dependent on blurb seriously consider reading them. So I would give 4/5
Birthright by Lynda R. Young Christa can mask the pain and hide the scars, but running from a birthright is impossible. She’s tried to escape her grief by fleeing to a small town in Florida. Much to her frustration, the locals think they recognize her even though she's never been there before. To make things worse, a man named Jack spouts outrageous theories about her. Both spur Christa to bolt, to start fresh yet again, but there’s something about Jack that intrigues her enough to stay. The only problem? Someone else wants her to leave, and they won’t stop until she’s dead. MY REVIEW This tale has a contemporary edge to it. a woman has basically run away from Christmas, her mother and sister are dead and she wants to be alone and sort of forget all about Christmas and what it entails. People keep asking Christa questions about her family and saying she look familiar and that she must see the "Williams" family tree in the museum. The museum owner is Jack. Who happens to be rather..."dishy" boyfriend material. There is also a danger aspect for Christa as someone wants her to leave or else....Of course Christa is by now so attached to Jack she wants to stay...what happens? Again this was an interesting story, fairly slow paced in comparison to the other tales in the book, but still a good read. So taking all into account 3/5
Petrified by Kelly Said A mysterious storm has replaced summer with winter, devastating crops and smothering Castle lands in snow. Prince Sterling August stands alone as a leader, lost in personal grief as well as a desire to help his people but with an inability to do either. The answers he needs await him, but without Lochlyn, a woman who’s just as isolated as Sterling, he’ll never see what stands before him, cloaked in illusion. MY REVIEW The King Silverus is in his bed unbeknownst to his subjects he is frozen in a "petrified" way and seems in much pain. His son Prince Sterling has to try and work out why in the time of year that should be summer they are having orrendous winter conditions, animals and plant life are dying as his father seems to be too. The House Wiccae Elexus is trying to help the King but it seems to no avail. Sterling sends for another Wiccae. He sends a falcon with a message to come to Castle Kestrel. The bird find Loclyn a homeless now alone wiccae who longs to belong somewhere and who is still sad and grieving her companion and teacher wiccae Estes. Loclyn immediately sets off to Castle Kestrel and upon arriving tries to sort out the mystery illness the King has as well as the strange winter conditions, What does she discover? Can she help? I really enjoyed this one even though I usually don't go for the whole Castle, Kings and Princes type of books. I loved the Wiccae element and would like to read more about Loclyn, or even Estes as a younger Wiccae. This tale is a little like a jigsaw, first we read of Loclyn becoming alone and her longing to belong somewhere, then we have the King and Prince's need for another Wiccae. Then the pieces come together into the tale. So for this one 4/5
Last Winter Red by Jennifer M. Eaton Emily is a Red, a woman whose sole purpose in life is to produce offspring. When her husband dies and leaves her childless, she risks her life and forsakes the safety of Terra—a disease-free city born after the nuclear holocaust. Beyond its boundaries, she knows, survives a man with whom she can be properly paired. The Outside, though, holds secrets the government struggles to keep, and what Emily discovers on her quest for a mate will change her life forever. MY REVIEW This one is a kind of dystopian tale in that Terra is surrounded by a wall to keep out the "diseased", the people inside are known as Reds. Reds are supposed to marry and have many children to increase the population as they all seem to die young. Outside the people are known as Grays, or vermin. The two are not supposed to mix ever. There's a "red" doctor trying to help the grays and give them health care as they seem to be living to older ages and have age related ailments that need medical help. Emily is a Red besotted with the doctor who ferrys the doctor supplies from Terra to Outside. Emily's husband died before they have children so she now needs to find a new husband and begin having children to contribute in Terra and be considered a good valued Red. I enjoyed this as the dystopian genre is one of my favourites. I would also love to read more about these characters too. Maybe this short story could be the start of a series? So I would give this story a 5/5 I want more!
Escort to Insanity by J.A. Belfield From a charity auction, to a stroll in the park, to the craziest night of her life. Nicole Harrington can’t help but wonder how a simple event went so drastically wrong. Of course, the male escort she booked is wholly to blame. Not only charming but shrewdly intelligent, Benjamin Gold drags Nicole into a platoon of unimaginable problems—ones from which she’ll have to find the courage just to survive. MY REVIEW As you may know I am a biiiig fan of this author's Holloway Pack series so I approached this short tale with high expectations and also wondering what it would be about.... So the main character is Nicole Harrington, or as her friends call her Cole. Cole lives a good life in that she has plenty of money. She needs it when she is summoned by her father to attend a charity auction in his place. Cole doesn't have a suitable date to take her so at her lodger Kellie's suggestion, she hires an escort. When the escort arrives he is everyting that Cole would say the ideal man is. He rescues her multiple times during the charity auction from her fathers stuffy friends and her awful ex- boyfriends. Finally they leave the auction and head to a donut place that Benjamin raves about only they get accosted as they take a shortcut through the park. Then things just go from bad to worse for Cole. So I loved this book so much I really want more, more, more, could this be the beginings of a whole series, or vaguely end up linking into the Holloway pack somehow. hmmm I'd love a new series... So 5/5 and more more more please!
So after reviewing this anthology I guess I should give an overall comment too. This anthology is brilliant. I loved J Taylor Publishing's last anthology Tidal whispers and I love this one too! When's the next one?? This anthology has a really great mix, with something for everyone, not just the paranormal fans! I would love to see some of the short tales in this anthology become part of their own series. I enjoyed all the authors in varying degrees, and there were none that I would say I wouldn't want to read again
After reading the entire anthology, I really feel this story is the perfect place to start out from. The story has a strong fable feel to it and I can definitely see where the cover image inspired the story. Some great references to the red so prevalent in the image throughout the tale. The well-written story follows the MC, Alesuela as she comes to grips with the sacrifice she has to make for the good of her father, the King, and their people. I don't do spoilers in my reviews, so I wont give more plot detail than that, but I will say the internal conflict was well done, and Alesuela's emotions really shine through. Overall, I would have preferred a bit more "action", but this tale seemed to be more morality "fairy tale" based than most fantasy, which was a nice change of pace.
The Amulet of Ormisez - J. Keller Ford (4 Stars)
As most of you know, I am a huge fan of selkie tales, so I had a special place in my heart for this story. Like the opening tale, this one was set in a more traditional historical fantasy backdrop and focused on the story of two brothers, Elton and Cayden Fletcher. The author does a tremendous job with the characterizations of the two brothers, and as a reader, I felt drawn into the conflict unfolding and invested in the characters and their journey. The ending sweet and the potential relationship for Elton was a nice touch, though I did feel everything worked out a little too perfectly and fortuitously. Overall, a satisfying little story.
Birthright - Lynda R. Young (4 stars)
The third story in the anthology was decidedly different from the previous two, with a more "supernatural" feel to it, which was a nice surprise for me. The story held my attention and I was intrigued by the mystery of Christa's heritage from beginning to end. I did feel some of the events in the story went a bit too quickly for me to really "believe" it, and I think I might have liked this one a little more had it been a bit longer and the story more drawn out. The author could have easily made this one into a satisfying novel, in my opinion.
Petrified - Kelly Said (4.5 Stars)
I really enjoyed this tale snuggled at the center of the anthology. Kelly Said does a wonderful job of drawing the reader into the world of her main character, a young healer named Locklyn. Here is another story in the anthology I think could have easily been made longer, mostly because the world building was so strong, the intrigue so intense, I wanted to know more about the world the author introduced to us here. I also felt the romantic relationship progressed a bit swiftly for my tastes, but the way the rest of the story was weaved more than made up for that small shortcoming. Plus, I just love me a strong female lead :)
Last Winter Red - Jennifer M. Eaton (5 Stars)
I think this has to be my favorite story in the book. I really enjoyed the more dystopian feel to this one, and I found the twist up at the end to be just perfect for the tale. It is rare to find a good dystopian in short form as there is generally so much world building necessary to really pull it off well. In this instance, I found the back story to be just enough to keep me intrigued and wondering while not boring me with useless details for the sake of story length. I would be interested in reading more about this world Ms. Eaton creates for us in this one.
Escort To Insanity - J.A. Belfield (5 stars)
The final tale in this anthology comes from the author of the Holloway Pack series, J.A.Belfield, and the story contains all the things I have come to expect from Ms. Belfield's writing. The main character, Cole (short for Nicole) decides to hire an escort to take her to a party she doesn't really want to attend. While this short does not involved the famed Holloway pack, it does involve shifters. The action and suspense were nicely peppered throughout the story and the voice is spot on. I really enjoyed this one despite thinking I would miss the focus of the story being on Jem and Sean from the Pack. A great ending to the anthology!
I must be honest - the cover picture is what caught my attention. It is breathtaking... quite literally... I had no idea, until the third or fourth story, that the woman in the red cloak was the inspiration for this collection. Now I'm not a fan of the fantasy genre, and didn't know what to expect when I started reading. However, I believe that you must keep an open mind, and try something different from time to time, in order to stretch the boundaries of your reading experience.
I must say that the stories are well-crafted and quite entertaining. Sacrificial Oath was a pleasant surprise, I really enjoyed Last Winter Red, but my personal favourite is Escort To Eternity. A theme of magic is the common thread interweaving these six stories. A variety of elements such as grief, greed, sacrifice, romance, deception and adventure can also be found in this collection, which will undoubtedly be a hit with lovers of the fantasy genre.
An enchanting anthology of short stories, each different from the next in style and plot, but each as fantastic and entrancing as the others. I could not possibly pick a favorite. I look forward to reading more from each author who contributed to this wonderful collection.
I typically don't read fantasy, so I was planning on simply reading one short story in support of the author (my very talented cousin, Terri Rochenski!) ...but I couldn't put it down after that! I did especially like the triad of stories by Belfield - a common character archetype is found in the three stories. Short stories don't get into character development often, so I enjoyed the 'archetype development' happening, if you will, possible with that sort of collaboration between the three.