Tag Archives: genre: anthology

Beyond the Woods: Fairy Tales Retold by Paula Guran (Ed.)

Beyond the Woods

Beyond the Woods: Fairy Tales Retold by Paula Guran (Editor)

Published by: Night Shade Books on July 5, 2016
Rating: 4 stars (★★★★☆)

Who didn’t love fairy tales as children? And for many of us that fascination has never died. There’s something about the possibilities and the lessons that these stories provide. And even when we’ve heard a story time and time again, it can still keep all its magic.

In this anthology, Paula Guran has collected some of the best re-tellings of our favorite fairy tales in recent memory. These twists on old standards and adaptations breathe new life into these classic stories. You’ll find yourself lost in the pages of this book, and it will be well worth it when you come out on the other side.

[Disclaimer: I received a copy of this book from the publisher via Edelweiss in exchange for an honest review.]

Boy Meets Boy Meets Boy by J.L. Merrow & Josephine Myles

Boy Meets Boy Meets Boy

Boy Meets Boy Meets Boy by J.L. Merrow & Josephine Myles

Series: Mad About the Brit Boys, Book 4
Published by: Self-Published on March 15, 2016
Rating: 3 stars (★★★☆☆)

A trio of trios! (Or should I say a threesome of threesomes?) In this three-story anthology from J.L. Merrow and Josephine Myles, they assemble previously published stories with an M/M/M flair. And there’s definitely a lot of flair in this book. Featuring a shy guy working in a gym, a birthday celebration, and a trip to the dentist, there’s quite the range here. And not a single one of the stories disappoints.

Includes:

  • Kit Bag by J.L. Merrow
  • Unwrapped: The Birthday Gift by Josephine Myles
  • Getting a Filling by J.L. Merrow

These two authors are ones who always put together unique and fun stories. These shorts are prime examples of their ability to do just that. Even though they’re all previously published, I hadn’t read any of them before. And I’m glad I finally got the chance to do so. This is part of the Mad About the Brit Boys collection, and I’ll definitely be seeking out more of those books after reading this…

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

Hunting Under Covers by Various Authors

20572629Title: Hunting Under Covers
Author: Aimee Brissay, Shayla Mist, Kaje Harper, M.E. Sanford, J. Vaughn, Katies Crewman, Kathleen Hayes, and Others
Published: January 15, 2014
Pages: 349
Publisher: Divergent Publishing
Publisher Website: link
Rating: ★ ★ ★ ☆ ☆
Review:

Hunting Under Covers is an m/m romance anthology inspired by the Goodreads M/M Romance Group’s Scavenger Hunt Challenge in 2013. The anthology contained everything to be found on that list in a single book (quite a feat). Even with that lofty feat, it also serves up an interesting array of stories by a number of different authors.

Living Out the Fantasy by Aimee Brissay
A short but sweet read. Anthony is at a conference in Las Vegas and missing his boyfriend, Robert – so much that he almost thinks he sees him. When he gets back to his hotel room, however, he finds a stranger waiting for him. There’s an intensity here that I appreciated and that managed to come through despite the length of the story.

Thank God for Games Saga by Shayla Mist
Rich is a game designer who was just offered his dream job, right at the time things are really starting to get serious with his boyfriend Eric. There’s definitely a fair amount of angst here as they work through the idea that they will likely need to break up as neither thinks a long distance relationship is the right choice. It struck me as a little anticlimactic as the situation could have been resolved much differently (and earlier), but I still enjoyed it.

Changes Coming Down by Kaje Harper
Will, Casey, and Scott are in a polyamorous relationship in a small town. Add about seven layers of complication to that and you’re there. I really liked the characters and the relationship, but the story itself was way too long. There’s really like three or four different stories here; just when the plot resolves, guess what – there’s a new conflict. This was an excellent story idea, though, and I would be interested to see it expanded into a series with each bit split out with more time to develop each one.

A Capricorn Tale by M.E. Sanford
It took me a moment to get into this one – it’s a fantasy/sci-fi tale with amphibious creatures that also end up interacting with humans. I’m still not entirely sure I understand all of the issues surrounding their society/culture, but it was something different and refreshing to read.

Pierced by J. Vaughn
This was probably my favorite bit of the anthology, though it was also probably the most difficult one to read. Paul finds Kyle in the shower of his college dormitory after he’s just been assaulted. After working to try to comfort Kyle and convincing him to report the incident to the police, the two form a connection that seems like it could be the start of a relationship. But knowing Kyle’s attackers are still out there keeps them both on edge. Some tough subject matter, but very well-written.

Demons, Time Travel and Bacon, Oh My! by Shelby, Marc, Raganna, Filipa, K., Astrid, Eepa, Danielle, Susan, Amanda, Pamela Su, Brandilyn, Teresa, Fehu, Jamie, Kaje, and Jay
I don’t know that I’ve ever read a story by this many authors before. While it did seem a bit disjointed and choppy in places and as a result had moments where it was just confusing, overall this was a creative story.

Trevor and Jace have accepted a dare to spend the night in a reportedly haunted house. Unbeknownst to them, it really is haunted by a demon who pulls them into his game. But they soon learn the demon is motivated by a force much stronger than evil – and it’s that force that they end up finding together.

I know this was a sci-fi/fantasy tale, but some of the twists were rather jarring and just didn’t seem to fit with the story. And the final showdown with the witch was anticlimactic and extremely unrealistic. But I did find it interesting, overall.

There Are Worse Things by Katies Crewman
Frank has been invited to attend a Halloween party by his roommate, Nick, on Nick’s family private island. Although Frank and Nick are both gay, they’ve never really pushed their relationship past friendship, though they clearly share a connection and go to great lengths for each other.

This one had me going and engaged until the plot twist involving Nick-from-the-future showing up and adding all sorts of unnecessarily complications to the story. A number of additional layers and warnings of future doom are tossed out and then just quickly dispensed with as though they weren’t plot points at all. I did like the two main characters and would have liked to see more about them and their relationship and how it grows.

Home by Kathleen Hayes
When Angus, a Scottish highlander, was born, there was a prophecy made about finding his true love on his 30th birthday. And on that day he finds himself thrown forward through time right into Brian who is being attacked on the street. After Angus saves him, Brian invites Angus back to his place and offers him a place to stay. But Angus is stuck trying to figure out how all of this fits into the prophecy and if the man he just met is, in fact, his true love.

There are a few time jumps in this story that sort of threw me off and disappointed me because those gaps are where I think the most character and relationship development could have taken place. I found it difficult to truly engage with Angus and Brian because all we got to know about them and their relationship was high-level surface facts and nothing very deep.

Poetry by the Scavenger Hunt Teams
These were creative and interesting.

Content warning – This book deals with a few issues that some might want to be warned about: rape/sexual assault, violence, male pregnancy, cross-species (humanoid) relationships

Magic & Mischief by Megan Derr

8952053Title: Magic & Mischief
Author: Megan Derr
Published: August 2010
Pages: 255
Publisher: Less Than Three Press
Publisher Website: link
Rating: ★ ★ ★ ☆ ☆
Review:
I typically enjoy Megan Derr’s work and am all about m/m romance fantasy stories, so this anthology of stories sounded like it would be right up my alley. And while it was okay overall, I feel like it fell short of my expectations. Several of the stories take place in the same universe – separated by other stories in between – but there wasn’t any clear way this was indicated so it was confusing at times to go “oh that’s the same name – wait, this is the guy who was mentioned in the background three stories ago”. I also was thrown by some obvious typos and one of the stories where the name of a character was used interchangeably causing further confusion about who was who.

The Dragon’s Treasure
Tate is a dragon who works for Mad Finnegan, a magician. When the demon Tate is pining over, Macklin, asks Tate to help him track down a treasure, he, of course, agrees. I didn’t really have strong feelings about this story, one way or the other.

The Seklie No One Wanted
Kelp is a Selkie who is very unlike any of his kind. He doesn’t see himself as appealing because he’s never had someone let him know they thought him so. When he stumbles across a fisherman in need of assistance and helps him, they become fast friends. But the fisherman doesn’t know Kelp is a Selkie, and Kelp doesn’t know what will happen if he finds out. This one was really confusing to me – I felt like there wasn’t enough set up for this world to make sense.

The Spawn
Amenico is a demon who comes across a baby in his lands. Delwyn is a knight who comes to rescue the child and Amenico tries to convince him that he didn’t kidnap the baby. While I think the setup here definitely limits what can be done, there just wasn’t much in terms of the relationship between the two by the end.

Mad Finnegan
The story of Mad Finnegan finding his love – and be forewarned, it’s with a family member. I didn’t think the way it’s presented here was particularly gratuitous, but even so I felt like the chemistry was lacking.

Dragon Stew
This one was also very confusing at first, but once I got a handle on what was happening, it was one of the most enjoyable stories in the anthology. There was a build to the relationship, the characters were dynamic and had great chemistry, and there was a little twist at the end to keep it all the more interesting.

The Innkeeper’s Story
This was another highlight. It probably had the best dynamic between the characters and I felt a strong connection to each of them. I’d love to see more of the characters in this one.

Quest
Here we get a story involving Becket, the brother of Macklin from the story that opened the anthology. While the concept is interesting, it’s another one where there is little development of one of the characters in the couple and basically no development of the relationship.

Spellbound
Talis steals things for Hex, a magician that he has a bit of a crush on. Hex has no idea until it ends up coming out right in their faces. This one did hold my interest a bit more than a few of the other stories.

As I finish the review, I’m wondering why I gave this three stars, but I think the two that were really good were just so good that they balance the others out.