Tag Archives: short story

Twisted Reveries Volume II: Tales From Willoughby by Meg Hafdahl Review

I received a free copy of this book in exchange for a fair and honest review. All opinions are my own.

Author Meg Hafdahl takes readers on a twisted and macabre journey into the secretive town of Willoughby in “Twisted Reveries Volume II: Tales From Willoughby”, the sequel to Twisted Reveries. 

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The Synopsis

Suspense author, Meg Hafdahl, delivers another collection of spine-tingling stories in this second volume of the Twisted Reveries series. Inspired by the first book’s Willoughby and Moira Kettlesburg stories, Meg takes us on a journey into the mid-western town of Willoughby where forgetting is a way of life. Delve into its macabre history and origins. Explore the strange and unsettling events that plague Willoughby’s unsuspecting citizens in this new collection of thirteen horrifically outstanding tales. 

The Review

This was a truly incredible, emotional yet terrifying collection of short stories. The horror genre is alive and well in this collection, with threats and dangers that sway from monstrous beings hiding in the shadows to more sinister and everyday human evils that the town of Willoughby draws towards it. Although this is my first foray into the author’s work and the Twisted Reveries series of short stories, the author does an amazing job of crafting narratives that feel both isolated and well contained on their own while also connecting to a more broad and small-town vibe and mythos.

What stood out to me as a reader was the well-balanced and captivating protagonists found within the story. Each story had characters that readers could either get behind and cheer on to stop the threat they were facing, or grimace as the tables turned and the protagonist quickly became the antagonist. The complexities of each story’s protagonist and their backstory felt worthy of a short film or television anthology, and the twists and turns these stories take will have readers talking long after the final page drops.

The Verdict

Gripping, exhilarating, and thoughtful in its approach, author Meg Hafdahl’s “Twisted Reveries II: Tales From Willoughby” is a must-read collection of horror short stories that readers are not going to want to miss out on. The overall theme permeating this collection follows how every small town, every city, and even every person, no matter how beautiful and picturesque they may appear on the outside in the light of day, has the potential to hide great darkness and hardship within their foundation, which waits for night to descend to roam free to draw others into its web. A truly haunting collection of stories, this is one short story read you won’t want to miss. If you haven’t yet, be sure to grab your copy today!

Rating: 10/10

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About the Author

Bram Stoker Award nominated Meg Hafdahl is the creator of numerous stories and books. Her fiction has appeared in anthologies such as Eve’s Requiem: Tales of Women, Mystery and Horror and Eclectically Criminal. Her work has been produced for audio by The Wicked Library and The Lift, and she is the author of three popular short story collections including Twisted Reveries: Thirteen Tales of the Macabre. Meg is also the author of the three novels; The Darkest Hunger, Daughters of Darkness, and Her Dark Inheritance called “an intricate tale of betrayal, murder, and small town intrigue” by Horror Addicts and “every bit as page turning as any King novel” by RW Magazine. Meg, also the co-host of the podcast Horror Rewind and co-author of The Science of Monsters, The Science of Women in Horror, The Science of Stephen King, The Science of Serial Killers, and the upcoming The Science of Witchcraft lives in the snowy bluffs of Minnesota. 

https://www.meghafdahl.com/

Fancy Shop by Valeri Stanoevich Review

I received a free copy of this book in exchange for a fair and honest review. All opinions are my own.

In author Valeri Stanoevich’s “Fancy Shop”, the author takes readers on a journey through the lives of a wide cast of characters as each seeks something personal, whether it is the pursuit of a dream, redemption, or paradise. 

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The Synopsis

Short Story Collection.

The stories contain features of fantasy, urban legends, mystery, magical realism, penetration in the deepness of the human soul.

The characters are different: knights, anonymous people, dreamers, outsiders, crazy ones, technocrats, cockroaches, holders of secret knowledge. They crave for another world of dreams come true, inexpressible truths and oases of redemption of past guilt. On the way to their new identities, they move freely between reality and fantasy. They are in constant conflict with themselves, and the front line is the line dividing the two hemispheres of their brains. The stories are very short but each has a complex plot, provocative suggestions and a surprising end. Without in any way denying the traditional concepts of good-evil, simple-profound, they lead the reader into worlds in which paradox is a synonym of universal meaning.

The Review

This was such an engaging and creative collection of short stories. Told in a very abstract tone, the author really captured the theme of change that we all seek in our lives through a very wide range of different genres. From Gothic and magical realism to pure fantasy, the author highlighted the sometimes painful path to change.

What stood out was the wide array of characters each story used. Not only were many of the characters relatable and complex, but the theme of change with this rotating cast of characters really shows that no matter who a person is or what their place in the world is, we all dream of change, and for a wide variety of reasons as well.

The Verdict

Heartfelt, thought-provoking, and engaging, author Valeri Stanoevich’s “Fancy Shop” is a must-read collection of short stories. The breathtaking imagery, intense situations, and gripping tales of magic and wonder that accompanied these very personal and thoughtful character developments that explored the heart of all change in life made this a collection that readers will not soon forget. Be sure to grab your own copy today!

Rating: 10/10

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About the Author

Valeri’s is a moody and particularly well written book.  His prose is eloquent and artistic, as he shares his intriguing tales of mystery, melancholy and perhaps macabre.  Despite a wide variety of genres, which seem to range from horror to sci-fi to historical fantasy, there is a common style throughout, and at times, as he moves from one narrative to the next, it becomes a little difficult to discern between them.  That said, each of these little anecdotes is a distinct work of art and character.

He is a gifted author, with a talent for atmosphere.  This collection of short stories is best read of an evening, ideally by candlelight, while fully immersed; in any other setting, the metaphorical and philosophical feel of it may be a touch more difficult to engage.  They deserve no less than to be absorbed and indulged, and to do that you really need to get onto the author’s wavelength, which can best be described on occasion as abstract.  I realized very quickly into the first tale that there was concentration and commitment required to optimize the full experience of this wonderful piece of work. 

There is a sense of the very old and the yet to come in this anthology; future and past combine, feeling like they converge continuously – of course, that observation is a subjective feeling, rather than a statement of fact relating to any particular aspect of Valeri’s writing; it is just how this book made me feel. 

https://www.instagram.com/valeristanoevich/

https://www.linkedin.com/in/valeri-stanoevich-30bbb81b7/

Things Happen by Christopher Acker Review

I received a free copy of this book in exchange for a fair and honest review. All opinions are my own. 

The desperate search for answers we all desire takes center stage in four incredible short stories from author Christopher Acker in the collection, “Things Happen”. 

The Synopsis

In these four stories, things happen.

A mother loses her son to a magic trick gone horribly wrong. Now a Google Maps car is trying to erase the last tangible memory she has of him.

Michelle lands her first big role in Hollywood as a prostitute in a Sam Cooke biopic. But her chance at stardom is jeopardized when riots break out after an innocent black man is murdered by the LAPD.

Everyone in St. Louis knows about the Salazar House of Horrors where a teenage girl was tortured and imprisoned. The prosecution asks Brandon—a model railroad enthusiast—to make a miniature replica of the infamous dungeon. The goal is to persuade the jury to put the monster behind bars forever. But constructing such degradation at 1/12th scale with his wife and two daughters lingering over his shoulder pushes Brandon and his family beyond their limit.

Disgraced journalist Alexander Reynolds is knee-deep in depression. Just about the only thing he can muster these days is slithering to his couch to watch The Maury Povich Show. In a sudden stroke of genius, a path out of his humiliation falls into his lap: he will fake his way to being a guest on Maury. There’s only one problem. He’ll need to convince his wife—the Oscar-winning filmmaker—to play a co-starring role.

The characters here are bruised, battered, and just plain exhausted. They’re like us. And like us, not everything works out for them. It’s this humanity that’s at the heart of this unforgettable collection.

THINGS HAPPEN offers a poignant yet highly entertaining portrayal of people desperately looking for answers in a time when truth and facts are more elusive than ever. The themes of infidelity, unresolved grief, identity, redemption, and racial injustice are woven throughout, lending these short stories a degree of resonance every reader can connect with. And to keep things interesting, a celebrity or two might even make an appearance.

Above all else, THINGS HAPPEN reflects what’s going on in this country right now:

A whole lot of something. 

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The Review

This was such a compelling and engaging read. The author expertly crafted each story to represent an important representation of today’s issues facing our nation, from racial injustice to grief and loss and everything in-between. The characters in each story felt real and gripping as their stories developed over time, and their struggles touched upon so many issues that have always been there but seem to have intensified and become more prevalent in the last couple of years during this pandemic.

What stood out to me was the pacing the author took with each story. With each story being a short story or novella, the reader may have expected the narratives to feel rushed or details to have been missed, but honestly, after reading this collection I felt like the author perfectly elevated the tension and built up the atmosphere in a natural way without sacrificing the theme or characters in any way. 

The Verdict

A memorable, thought-provoking, and entertaining read, author Christopher Acker’s “Things Happen” is a remarkable and relatable must-read collection, and the perfect book to pick up this fall. Emotional storytelling, haunting atmosphere, and perfectly built-up tension allowed this collection to shine brightly, and I was truly enthralled with each story’s narrative. If you haven’t yet, either preorder or pick up your copy of this book today!

Rating: 10/10

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About the Author

Christopher Acker is a husband, father, and full-time clinical social worker living in Bridgewater, New Jersey. His fiction has appeared in Change Seven, Crêpe & Penn, New Reader Magazine, Junto Magazine, The Ocotillo Review, Thing Magazine, Subtle Fiction, The Raven’s Perch, Inwood Indiana, Fictive Dream, Spelk, Firefly Magazine, The Molotov Cocktail, and No Extra Words. His work has also been featured on Wandsworth Radio in the UK.

www.facebook.com/christopherhowardacker

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Ékleipsis: the Abyss by Tamel Wino Review

TRIGGER WARNING: SOME STORIES MENTION OR INCLUDE THEMES OF SUICIDE, ABUSE, AND BODILY HARM. READER DISCRETION IS ADVISED.

Author Tamel Wino returns with six new stories of desperation and destruction as humans find themselves nowhere to turn other than downward in the upcoming short story collection, “Ékleipsis: the Abyss”. 

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The Synopsis

The seed of evil has been planted …

What will happen when its roots take hold?

Ékleipsis: The Abyss is the second short story collection by the award-winning author.

Tales of depravation and insanity are woven together with unrelenting style and depth, scrutinizing human nature’s degeneration when compromised by tragic, vicious circumstances.

These complex, wretched individuals and the irremediable conditions they are desperate to claw out of—or into—invoke the unfathomable question: What devastation are we truly capable of when left with no way out but down . . . into the obscurity of the abyss?

The Review

Such a fascinating and engaging read. The author has done a brilliant job of following up the first collection of short stories with new tales of darkness and desperation that really delve into the darkest parts of human nature. The author’s ability to draw out this theme in each story while maintaining a healthy dose of haunting atmosphere and emotional character development was amazing to read. 

The twists and turns the author employs throughout this narrative are what will really wow readers. Each story features a truly gripping and gut-wrenching narrative that shows just how far people who are pushed to the brink are willing to go to fight and claw their way out of a situation. These stories are not the rise and victory of a hero, but instead a reflection of the chilling world we are living in today, and how unexpected meetings and moments in life can take truly drastic turns.

The Verdict

A brilliant, chillingly creative, and entertaining yet haunting read, author Tamel Wino’s “Ékleipsis: the Abyss” is a must-read collection of horror and thriller reads. Perfect for the arrival of the fall/spooky season, readers will be both emotional and enthralled by the author’s creativity and passion that radiates throughout each story. If you haven’t yet, be sure to grab your copy today!

Rating: 10/10

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About the Author

Tamel Wino is a Canadian fiction writer from the resplendent British Columbia whose works focus largely on degeneration of sanity and morality. He studied Health Sciences and Psychology, which only furthered his interest in human nature.

With inspirations including Alice Munro, Chuck Palahniuk, Cormac McCarthy, Stephen King, Margaret Atwood and Edgar Allan Poe; Tamel’s expositions are strongly grounded in traditions of dark fiction. Yet, with his bold narrative voice and incisive plot construction, Wino is paving a new movement within the space.

When he’s not reading or scribbling away on his laptop, Tamel loves listening to jazz, rewatching good ol’ classic shows and traveling.

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/ekleipsis29/

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Twitter: https://twitter.com/ekleipsis29

Website: https://ekleipsis.ca/

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Melody of Your Heart by Renley N. Chu and Tiffany Chu Review

I received a free copy of this book in exchange for a fair and honest review. All opinions are my own.

A short collection of short stories take center stage as themes of love, loss, and hope come alive in co-authors Renley N. Chu and Tiffany Chu’s “Melody of Your Heart”.

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The Synopsis

Melody of Your Heart is a short story anthology that we wrote together. They are stories with themes of love, loss, and connection, exploring different kinds of love.

The Review

What a compelling and moving short story collection. This group of stories really does an amazing job of weaving together stories of love lost, love found, and the hope we find in the wake of loss. The chemistry between the authors and their writing style is felt in every tale, highlighting their shared experiences while also delving into the bond they built with one another.

One story, in particular, stood out to me right off the bat, and that was Walls. The story of a man sent to prison suddenly and forced to be separated from the person he loves, only to feel her slip away and the world starts to forget him entirely, really did an amazing job of highlighting the walls we often force ourselves into or are forced into when fighting for love. We try so desperately to hold onto what we had, that sometimes we lose sight of who we’ve become until you are the only one left behind in a world that moved on without you long ago. It’s a thought-provoking and mesmerizing tale that touches just the tip of the iceberg in this collection. 

The Verdict

An engaging, heartfelt, and thoughtful collection of short stories, authors Renley N. Chu and Tiffany Chu’s “Melody of Your Heart” is a must-read collection. The passion and eloquence with which the authors approached the narratives within these stories really showed the depth and love that the two authors brought from their own lives and into the tales. If you haven’t yet, be sure to grab your copy today!

Rating: 10/10

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About the Author

Author of Cryptic Clockwork, an autographical collection of prose and poems, and Melody of Your Heart, a short story anthology about life, love, and loss. These works were compiled after his death by Tiffany Chu, in hopes they bring hope and encouragement to anyone going through dark times.

Born in England as Leonel M. M. Santiago on May 14, 2003, Renley lost both his parents in a fire that permanently damaged his vocal cords and lungs at the age of five, leaving him unable to speak. He became Justin Steele at the age of eight when adopted into the Steele family.

Through a shared love of writing, Renley met Tiffany Chu in 2020 and they formed a close friendship. At the beginning of 2021, even as his health rapidly deteriorated, he prepared to move to the U.S. and become part of the Chu family.

On May 18, 2021, he changed his legal name to Renley Nicolas Chu.

About a week after his eighteenth birthday, Renley suffered a severe attack leading to lung and heart failure; he passed away on the morning of May 25, 2021, three days before he would have left for the U.S.

Renley’s last wish to come home was fulfilled on June 1, when his ashes were brought to San Diego and scattered at Los Penasquitos Canyon.

He left behind numerous samples of his writing, both personal as well as fictional. Each piece he wrote exudes the rawness and authenticity of his heart, his emotions, his experiences. His style tends to be stream-of-consciousness and metaphorical with a sense of immediacy and strong emotion.

Rest in Peace, Renley Chu (May 14, 2002 – May 25, 2021) 

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https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/58298765-melody-of-your-heart

https://linktr.ee/renleynchu.author

SHORT STORY A MONTH: MAY 2021

Hi everyone! I am going to start sharing some of my own work here on my website, something long overdue here. I have been participating in the short story a month challenge for authors online this year, and I wanted to share my story for May 2021. It is called Doorway, and is the first part of a duology. The second short story in this “miniseries” is coming in June 2021, and will focus on the main character’s adventure in two new worlds. This is a fantasy and sci-fi story that is acting as a tie-in for two of my own series, Nightmare Wars and The Legend of Electric Fusion, which I plan to tie together in the years to come. I hope you enjoy this little short story, and be sure to follow me on Wattpad to read more of my work. If you like what you read, please share and like my stories online. Thank you guys!

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Season of Love – A collection of four, seasonally-themed short stories by Kristine Raymond Review

I received a free copy of this book in exchange for a fair and honest review. All opinions are my own.

Author Kristine Raymond brings readers four original short stories exploring romance in the various seasons of the year in the hit short story collection, “Seasons of Love”. 

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The Synopsis

Four couples. Four seasons. A lifetime of love.

Dogwoods in Springtime

Still in mourning three years after her husband’s death, Caroline Ballard’s solitary life in rural Kentucky is disrupted by a broken water line, of all things. As if the lack of running water wasn’t bad enough, her immediate attraction to plumbing contractor Rick Spencer unearths emotions long thought buried. Opening her heart to love for a second time, a malicious lie told by his ex-wife threatens to end the budding relationship before it begins.

Seashells in Summer

Having adopted her four-year-old daughter, Lily, at birth, Taylor Brightman is suspicious when former Marine Sergeant Grant Cutler appears on her Nantucket Island doorstep claiming to be the girl’s biological father. Wary of his motives, his good looks and charming personality win her over, but can she trust that she won’t lose custody along with her heart?

Aspens in Autumn

Ramsey Fiorentino is having a bad day. On the run for her life after witnessing a murder, she’s being pursued by none other than Bishop Hamilton, a private investigator hired by the person who committed the crime. When he catches up to her and the truth comes out, they flee to the mountains of Flagstaff, Arizona to hide, but it’s only a matter of time before their newfound romance is tested in the wake of a deadly confrontation.

Snowflakes in Winter

When New Hampshire State Trooper Alex Ballard becomes stranded during a blizzard in the middle of the night, he seeks refuge at a local bed and breakfast, surprised to discover the owner, Chloe Mancuso, is the sole occupant. A passionate night spent in each other’s arms ignites feelings neither thought possible, but there’s someone else with his eye on Chloe and he’s not willing to share.

The Review

A truly fantastic collection of short stories, the author has done a wonderful job of creating well-rounded characters and evenly-paced stories that really capture the reader’s attention. The interesting thing about this collection is not only how the stories end up connecting to one another, but how each story incorporates various genres into the narratives, ranging from drama and loss to mystery and suspense, all against the backdrop of romance. 

The really interesting thing however comes in the use of seasons for the narrative of each story. Utilizing this storytelling device, the author has found a way to make the seasons themselves not only part of the tapestry of the narrative but characters themselves. The writing does a great job of navigating the subtle nuisances of each story’s narrative, ranging from building tension to passionate romance and so much more.

The Verdict

An emotional, heartfelt, and enrapturing read, author Kristine Raymond’s “Seasons of Love” is a must-read short story collection. Perfectly written for those who love romance stories that incorporate many other genres into their narratives and romantic pairings that draw the reader in immediately, be sure to grab your copy of this incredible collection today!

Rating: 10/10

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About the Author

It wasn’t until later in life that Kristine Raymond figured out what she wanted to be when she grew up, an epiphany that occurred in 2013 when she sat down and began writing her first novel. Over a dozen books in multiple genres later, there are a multitude of ideas floating around in her head thus assuring she’ll never be idle. When a spare moment does present itself, she fills it by navigating the publishing and promotional side of the business. When not doing that, she spends time with her husband and fur-babies (not necessarily in that order) at their home in south-central Kentucky, gardens, reads, or binge-watches Netflix. To find out more, please visit her website at www.kristineraymond.com

https://www.instagram.com/author_kristine_raymond/

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https://www.bookbub.com/authors/kristine-raymond

Torrents of our Time by Christian Fennell Review

I received a free copy of this book in exchange for a fair and honest review. All opinions are my own. 

Author Christian Fennell showcases his mastery of short stories in his latest collection, “Torrents of our Time”. 

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The Synopsis

Christian Fennell’s debut book, Torrents of Our Time, brings together a collection of 22 stories, most of which have appeared in international literary journals and anthologies. A gifted storyteller with a wide ranging audience, Fennell challenges the weakness in the heart of all our “truths”, while illuminating our dreams and our fears. These are stories that reside in the broken places of us, a stunning dance between our flaws and the beauty and joy of who we are, in this place now. Taken as a whole, Torrents of Our Time is a lyrical and page-turning narrative of love, loss, and pain.

The Review

This was a fantastic short story collection. The author has a superb way with words that is both poetic and thought-provoking. Each story is written in a way that allows the reader to interpret and feel their own emotions about the narrative rather than a straightforward story with a beginning, middle and end. 

One story in particular that I enjoyed as a paranormal and magick enthusiast is The Witch in the Woods, which plays on childhood fears and storytelling and the concept of bravery in the face of that fear. The elements involving the “witch” were great to see and the story ends on a shocking note, but the grander concept of false narratives blinding us to the truth and how stories can grow and take on a life of their own really resonated with me. The author’s expert use of imagery and character growth in such a short span of time really added to the thoughtful nature of each story being told. 

The Verdict

Overall, this was a must-read collection. The author’s work is profoundly impactful and really draws the reader in. Each story has something for every kind of reader, and the author’s writing really is creative and emotionally powerful in its delivery, making this a one of a kind read that cannot be missed. Be sure to grab your copies today!

Rating: 10/10

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About the Author

Christian Fennell writes literary fiction and essays. His short story collection, Torrents of Our Time, is scheduled to be released by Firenze Books, October 6, 2020. His novel, The Fiddler in the Night, January 2021.

Christian’s short stories and essays have appeared in a number of international magazines, literary journals, and collected works, including: Chaleur Magazine, Litro Magazine, XRAY Literary Magazine, Dreamers Magazine, Spark: A Creative Anthology, Kind Writers Anthology, Liars’ League London, Wilderness House Literary Review, and .Cent Magazine, among others.

Christian was a columnist and the fiction editor at the Prague Revue. He is currently working on his second novel.

https://www.christianfennell.com/

https://www.instagram.com/christianfennell_/

https://www.facebook.com/Christian-Fennell-103446968171343

Were We Awake by L.M. Brown Review

I received a free copy of this book in exchange for a fair and honest review. All opinions are my own. 

A series of short stories illustrate the world people thought they knew is not what it appeared in author L.M. Brown’s novel “Were We Awake.”

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The Synopsis

In each story of this collection, events make the characters understand that their world is not as it seemed.

In Hidden, the discovery of an affair between her father and aunt is only the start of finding hidden secrets for Hazel.

What it Means to Be Empty-Handed is narrated by a fourteen–year-old daughter of an alcoholic. Her denial and elaborate imagination starts to disintegrate when she lies to the wrong person.

In Crashing, a middle-aged woman lives a life of servitude until she hits teenage boy with her car.

A thirty-year-old murder takes its toll on the victim’s family in Walking A Country Road.

The stories are set in Boston and Ireland.


The Review

Author L.M. Brown does it again, creating a wonderful collection of stories that are both connected and illustrate the way life constantly throws people curve balls, turning the world they knew into a completely new one. A collection that showcases that things are never simple or what they appear. 

One of the truly engaging stories of the collection has to be Hidden, which delves into the complex family life of Hazel when she discovers her father and aunt are having an affair. Yet as her family life implodes, new secrets reveal that things are not as simple as they first appeared. The story is a prime example of how life is often lived in shades of grey, with people often living complicated lives in an attempt to find peace and happiness. The author beautifully illustrates the pain, the shock and the confusion that comes from having a person’s world turned upside down, and perfectly taps into the emotion and complexity of humanity as a whole. 


The Verdict

A fairly average length read with completely dynamic characters and stories that feel both personal and connected, this collection of stories is truly unique and wonderfully captures the author’s unique writing style and voice. A collection that honestly showcases the ever changing landscape of the world we live in, both the world at large and the world we create for ourselves. A dramatic journey through life’s greatest challenges, this is a fantastic collection readers will not want to miss, so be sure to grab their copy of Were We Awake by L.M. Brown today!

Rating: 10/10

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About the Author

L.M Brown is the author of the novel Debris. Her stories have appeared in numerous literary magazines. She grew up in Sligo. Ireland, but now resides in Massachusetts with her husband, three daughters, a dog and a bearded dragon.

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