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Cu's Reviews

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Paranormal Anthology with a TWIST - Cynthia Shepp,  Rene Folsom,  Michael Loring,  Bart Hopkins,  Jon Messenger,  Anthony Lance,  Jason Brant,  Nicki Scalise,  Magen McMinimy,  S.L. Dearing,  Eaton Thomas Palmer, Penelope Anne Bartotto Since this is an Anthology This review will be slightly different. As Anthologies are a comprised of more than story, it would do the book as a whole a great injustice to review and rate the book as such. This review I image will be quite lengthy as I'm going to break down and review each individual story within this book's covers...

1) Voices of the Soul (Soul Seers #1) by Rene Folsom

The start of this didn't come as a total surprise. It seems to be the current fad to have the main character come into or learn that have some special ability. Though Orella's is a bit different than I've encountered recently.
The fact that her mother was able to convey the message and a small amount of what Orella can do, is a touching moment that will make a lump form in even the strongest of people.
While Jonah isn't suprised that he and Ella share the same gift.. Ella's reacting is priceless! I cried from laughing so much.
About the only thing I didn't care for in this story was Jonah. I mean as a characer he's great.. his vocabulary could use an upgrade. The lines he uses on Ella come off as being staged, like he's reading the script for a cheesy 19th century romance.
The ending of this however isa good one. It's quite unexpected and a great start to the Soul Seers Series.
I give this one 5 of 5

2) Number 18 by Michael Loring

I'd like to start with..Hell Yeah!!! I absolutely loved the start of this story. The cold fear and adreline coursing through Robert's veins pulses through the readers as he stalks and attacks his prey. I'm sure if he'd known what he was up against he'd have changed his mind, but that wouldn't make the story interesting.
I wish this story had been a bit longer. There's not enough to really grasp the reader. The story does hold a lot of potential. The main characters are well thought out and you can picture the grey area between good and evil in which they dwell. I feel however that because it really isn't more than a piece of flash fiction, there isn't enough detail given to the moment. Because of this I can't accurately give the story a strong rating.
I hope Michael Loring will consider lengthening this teaser story into something I can give a justified rating to, but for now...
I give this one 3 of 5

3) Sweet Lenora by Bart Hopkins

This story has a historical feel to it. I can't quite place the time though it would have to be the year of or slightly after the new car Lenora's mother bought, though the feel is older than that. Lenora and especially her mother conduct themselves as if they lived in the Victorian era.. Though I suppose that could be due to how close to that era's end this story takes place and Lenora's mother's illness and detachment from the world around her.
This story is vividly descriptive. Every nuance forms in your mind's eye and before you're even aware you're no longer reading a story but watching it on a screen on you can see. Bart Hopkins has a way with words that so few do, the ability to capture his audience even with works as short as this.
There's one thing that confuses me about this story and prevents me from giving a 5 rating. How long was Lenora's mother as it was discovered at the end? And why had Jakob been so cruel for absolutely no reason? With these questions in mind, I hope the author will consider prehaps lengthening the story a bit just so the confusion is no longer there.
I give this one 4 of 5

4) Truth or Dare by Jon Messenger

This story starts out strong. Each character's persona is clearly marked within the first chapter. When the kid gloves come off during their game of Truth or Dare, that's when the this story takes is pludge into the darkness. It was smoothly done and flowed like it would have had the characters been real people. I liked that a lot.
This story is beautifully written.. However, it is also predictable. I give kudos to the Author for the research done on this though. 1) The knowledge that a spirit is bound to the place it died, and 2) Spirits see the living as we see them. I have to ask though, at the end, where was Brent?
As familiar as this story is, it was still enjoyable. It felt like seeing an old friend after many years apart.
For the beautifully written writing and the memories it inspired, I give this one 4 of 5

5) Suburban Zombie by Anthony Lance

I've read my share of zombie stories.. None are as creative as this one is. This is the funniest story I've read yet. The fact of a bunch of zombie women sitting around talking about health risks made me laugh until my ribs hurt!
Now before anyone starts complaining about the use of Mormons being the "zombies" in this parody.. You really need to evaluate. There is no other religious sect that could have been put in that role. Every non mormon at one point or another has been hounded by a mormon or a two. They don't care when you tell them you aren't interested in what they say, they come back numerous times until you're scared to leave your house.
I applaud this Author for being brave enough to take something we all think and twisting it into this hysterical story... Even if he thinks those of us that aren't zombies are just brainless zombies.
5 of 5

6) All I Want for Christmas by Jason Brant

The fact that a man can pull off a typical thirteen year old girl at the start of puberty is impressive. This thirteen year old "adult" has all the cocky "I know it all and should get to whatever I want" attitude down.
I also liked the simplicity of this story. It's the diary of an adolecent girl. You don't see many stories written as journals anymore. This was a nice treat for me.
However there's a few things I'd like to point out.. A LOT of the Pagan community may throw a fit over this story.. It's about the most inaccurate thing I've ever read. Luckily I'm not like most pagans.
I do feel the need to put in some corrections. 1) Witches don't celebrate Christmas, they celebrate Yule (december 21) 2) Witches do not eat people (or animals)
Inaccuracies aside, this story was charming and I always give honest reviews so 4 of 5

7) In the Eyes of the Beholder by Penelope Bartotto

I absolutely loved Betty... This story is very descriptive. The writing style is excellent. You see and feel everything the two main characters do.
I Wish there had been more to it though. To me this seemed to a romantic suspense rather than paranormal. The only element of Paranormal I really came across was Betty Lou. Even if I feel the story did not fit the nature of this anthology like it should, it was still captivating.
It's a well written piece of work, though the end confused me a little bit. Due to the nature of the Anthology itself I can not give this story a 5 since I feel it doesn't fit with the others.. I did love it though and so I give it a 4 of 5

8) Little Tchotchkes by Nicki Scalise

This was a beautifully written piece of art. I thoroughly enjoyed it and the twist honestly caught me off guard. The detailed descriptions allow the reader to not only see everything but to feel it as well
The last line brought a smirk to my lips. It was a very clever touch to such a twisted story. Though I almost pity Marc in his psycosis, his little friend though, I think she should make a come back in another story.
I really liked the characters and while I can't even begin to touch on the madness and darkness they each held, this was a good read for any paranormal fan
I give this one 5 of 5

9) I Am Serna by Megan McMinimy

This story disappointed me. It had a good strong start, but then it just ended. I can't help but feel like a chunk of this story is missing.
The writing style at the end of the story was nowhere near as strong as it had been at the beginning. I would love to read this story in its entiredy.. However, if this is all the story has to offer before editing was done, the author should consider filling in the chunk that seems to have been ripped from it
I give this story 3 of 5

10) Bloodlines by S.L.Dearing

This story is as old as time itself. This version was amazingly written. Descriptive enough to feel and see and hear everything as you read.
You can feel poot little Sascha's heart and how brave Eduard tried to be.
The time line is not commonly used, which is another added bonus. I thoroughly enjoyed this story and look forward to reading other works by Ms. Dearing.
I do hope the author will consider expanding on this piece and let Sascha and Eduard have many more adventures for her fans to read and look forward to.
I give this one 5 of 5

11) Metronome by Eaton Thomas Palmer

This final story in the anthology was very predictable. I reminded me of an old episode of the twlight zone I'd seen when I was little. Where a reader likes description, I found this story to be a bit too descriptive.
It was almost as if the author were trying to fill in gaps with descriptions that didn't need to be there. I feel that because of the excessive amount of description in the story, the reader is almost robbed of the experience of watching the main character slowly lose his grasp on sanity because of IT.
I did however enjoy the irony of the end. That was amusing. Almost like a just desert.
I give this one 3 of 5

As for the anthology as a whole, I think it's wonderful. And while I didn't completely like all the stories within the pages, other people will. I think some of the stories had too much spliced out of them which caused them to lose their hold of a reader, but with anthologies that's to be expected due to the needed size of each story.
I enjoyed reading the stories and I give a big kudos to each of the eleven authors that compiled this book. As for the stories I rated a 3, I'd love to read some longer works those authors have as I'm well aware that some people do much better with longer works where they don't have the "fear" of needed things being cut out.
I thank each of you for allowing me a taste into your minds.. and a big thanks to Cynthia for allowing me to review this.
I give this book 4 of 5 and can't wait to read the next one if Cynthia opts to gather some more.. or even these same authors to make a volume 2.