Category: Short Stories or Essays

Non-Fiction Book Review | “Looking to the Stars from Old Algiers and Other Long Stories Short” by Jan Risher

Posted Saturday, 29 December, 2018 by jorielov , , , , 0 Comments

Book Review badge created by Jorie in Canva using Unsplash.com photography (Creative Commons Zero).

Acquired Book By: I was selected to be a part of the blog tour for this unique collection of stories hosted by iRead Book Tours. I haven’t been reviewing or hosting iRead authors in quite a long while – for most of the year, outside of the fact I did host the Marilyn Wilson blog tour as it was her second release. I couldn’t find stories which excited me to read and/or there were a heap which I felt would fit other readers better than they would my own readerly inclinations. When I came across ‘Old Algiers’ I thought it was such an interesting collection of personal history, experience, reflective insight and philosophical enquiry – it was something I was keenly looking forward to reading.

I received a complimentary copy of Looking to the Stars from Old Algiers direct from the author Jan Risher in exchange for an honest review. I did not receive compensation for my opinions or thoughts shared herein.

On why I was eager for this book & how life interfered with my plans in

reading ‘Looking to the Stars from Old Algiers’:

When I first learnt about this collection of stories – I thought it would be wicked interesting to read which is why I was excited about signing on for the blog tour! I had wanted to read the stories and curate a conversation with the author to coincide with my review, however, a few things ended up derailing all my lovely plans for this blog tour – which is in effect, why I am posting off-tour instead. In fact, I’ve been attempting to get this review put to order since a week ago Friday, except to say, my physical unwellness has been a bit extreme these past three weeks ever since I came down with a beast of a Winter virus. Secondly, my father had a medical emergency where we spent 4+ hours in the ER which rattled my nerves and my emotions never did quite settle down that particular week until the start of the next one. My father, is fine – thankfully, the fall was not serious but we had to ensure it was nothing major as Thanksgiving weekend marked his 2nd year past his stroke.

To return back into reading, I had to wait til a) my health was less stricken and b) my mind could re-attach into reading and blogging. It wasn’t until Sunday (last weekend) where I felt well enough to resume where I had left off with a lot of different stories but my return has been slow going which is why my posts are populating at a bit of an odd rate of progression. This review is one I wanted to finish earlier in the week, but I’ve literally been plagued with health issues and honestly, it took extra time to compose.

Having said that, I decided to make my journey into this book a bit uniquely different than most readers might have approached it. I knew in my heart I couldn’t traditionally read this start to finish, as I just didn’t have the capacity to do that right now – therefore, I hope you’ll enjoy the notes, ruminative reflections and takeaways I am sharing on behalf of Old Algiers!

Likewise, I am hoping my note of apology reached the author – somehow, for whichever reason, life became a bit of a determining factor of how I was unable to release this review in step with the blog tour itself whilst I had to realise also, the conversation would have to remain unknown as just to get this featured before the New Year I felt was more priority after having missed the blog tour.

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Non-Fiction Book Review | “Looking to the Stars from Old Algiers and Other Long Stories Short” by Jan RisherLooking to the Stars from Old Algiers
Subtitle: And Other Long Stories Short
by Jan Risher
Source: Author via iRead Book Tours

Jan Risher took the long way to get from Mississippi to Louisiana with stops in between in Slovakia, Mexica, China, Burkina Faso and more than 40 other countries. Since moving to Louisiana, she has been a Sunday columnist for The Daily Advertiser and has written a column every single Sunday since 2002.

Looking to the Stars from Old Algiers and Other Long Stories Short is the collection of columns written over 15 years. Arranged in chronological order, the collection creates a narrative of one woman's aim to build her family, build up her community and weave the stories and lessons learned from the past into the present.

From her family's move to Louisiana, adoption of a daughter from China, covering Hurricane Katrina, travels near and far, author Jan Risher attempts, sometimes failing and sometimes succeeding, to do her small part to make the world a better place.

Places to find the book:

Add to LibraryThing

ISBN: 9781946160331

Genres: Anthology Collection of Short Stories and/or Essays, Biography / Autobiography, Non-Fiction, Short Story or Novella


Published by Lafayette Press, Sans Souci Books, University of Louisiana

on 11th September, 2018

Format: Trade Paperback

Pages: 312

Published by: Sans Souci Books

an imprint of the University of Louisiana at Lafayette Press

Formats Available: Paperback and Ebook

Converse via: #NonFiction & #ShortStories

About Jan Risher

Jan Risher

Jan Risher is an award-winning journalist and investigative reporter. She was managing editor of The Times of Acadiana. Before and after her time as a full-time journalist, she was an English teacher. She has taught English near and far, in its most basic and most lyrical forms. She continues her career as a freelance writer and now owns Shift Key, a content marketing and public relations firm. She, her husband and their two daughters have made their home on the banks of the Vermilion River.

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Posted Saturday, 29 December, 2018 by jorielov in Anthology Collection of Stories, Bits & Bobbles of Jorie, Blog Tour Host & Reviewer, Daily Devotions of Inspiration from Life, Equality In Literature, Indie Author, iRead Book Tours, Memoir, Mother-Daughter Relationships, Motherhood | Parenthood, Non-Fiction, Orphans & Guardians, Philosophical Intuitiveness, Publishing Industry & Trade, Short Stories or Essays, Sociological Behavior, Sociology, Stories of Adoption, Travelogue, Vignettes of Real Life

#SpooktasticReads Book Review | “Shifty: Tales from the world of SAGE” (anthology) by Marian Allen

Posted Sunday, 21 October, 2018 by jorielov , , 0 Comments

#SpooktasticReads banner created by Imyril (@imyril) Photo Credit: Unsplash Photographer Mark Tegethoff. (Creative Commons Zero) Used with permission.

The following selection is part of the stories I am reading for #SpooktasticReads – which are curated to route me through the following genres of interest: Dark Fantasy, Cosy Horror, Paranormally inclined stories inasmuch as stories of Suspense, Thriller and Cosy Mysteries. 13 days to read the spooktacular stories we’re drawn inside leading into Halloween!

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Acquired Book By: One thing I love about being active in the bookish side of the twitterverse is being able to interact with authors. Ms Allen is one of the authors I first crossed paths with when I first started to interact with the authors and friends of Seventh Star Press back in Autumn of 2013 and the first six months of 2014 – when I was a 1st Year Book Blogger. Over the years, I have happily been following her writerly career, however it wasn’t until I accepted for review an anthology called: Gifts of the Magi from an author who I also knew of via Seventh Star Press (RJ Sullivan*) gave me the chance to become properly introduced to the collection of stories and the writers who wrote them a few years ago. I wasn’t able to review the anthology until January 2017 – giving my first introduction to the world of SAGE writ by Ms Allen.

(*) On my connection to Mr Sullivan and Ms Allen: 

I have reviewed stories by Mr Sullivan whilst hosting for Seventh Star Press via Tomorrow Comes Media or directly for the author himself. His writing style is one of the ones I happen to love reading and without being able to host blog tours for Seventh Star Press, I am unsure if I would have discovered his writings, Ms Chris (Garrison), AshleyRose Sullivan or Stephen Zimmer’s as well. They are one of my favourite Speculative Fiction publishers in the Indie market.

My path in the twitterverse crossed a few times with Ms Allen, especially in regards to events attached to Seventh Star Press, The Star Chamber Show or the Imaginarium (an annual writer’s convention); however, despite our paths crossing over the past five years since I first went on Twitter, I sadly haven’t had the chance to seek out one of her stories to read. Reading her short story “The Warmth of Midwinter” from the anthology ‘Gifts of the Magi’ was my first introduction to her craft of writing Fantasy fiction and from there, a conversation emerged between us how I could re-enter the world of SAGE.

I am disclosing this, to assure you that I can formulate an honest opinion, even though I have interacted with Ms Allen or Mr Sullivan during bookish events online or in convos via Twitter. I treat each book as a ‘new experience’, whether I personally know the author, whether I am reading a book by them for the first time or continuing to read their series in sequence of publication.

Closer to the time I released  my review for ‘Gifts of the Magi’, Ms Allen and I were in communication and she offered for me to receive ‘Shifty’ the anthology of stories which also takes place in her world of SAGE. This anthology was released in print and thereby was a good option for me to continue reading her stories. I had fully intended to read this close to the time she sent it to me, however, for most of 2017 I was still adjusting to the first year of healing my father was undergoing after his stroke and for most of 2018 I was transitioning through my own set of health afflictions and issues. Autumn 2018 became the first time I could honestly focus on reading the stories within this anthology and I am so very thankful I could feature them during my co-hosted event called #SpooktasticReads which is an extension of my co-hosted event #WyrdAndWonder (@WyrdAndWonder) which celebrates the world of Fantasy.

I received a complimentary copy of “Shifty” by the author Marian Allen in exchange for an honest review. I did not receive compensation for my opinions or thoughts shared herein.

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Re-Visiting my Introduction to the world of SAGE:

I liked how Ms Allen pre-empted her story by asking the question ‘does time truly matter when it comes to stories that encircle your mind?’ to which I would aptly reply: not really!

What was quite stirring about this short, is how wicked interesting the world was where Ms Allen set her tale! To have food magically appearing in cookpots and having a hen produce eggs which whip up the delights of your foodie senses upon cracking them? Or rather, upon first crack of an egg – what you truly need might not even be food? It could be something dearly necessary (i.e. clothes) by which somehow your thoughts of willing an object or item to be ‘hatched’ is stirred inside the egg and thus, the egg produces what is needed. Who wouldn’t want to live there!? It would be a foodie’s dream or a baker’s delight – imagine if you could cull the magic to help you bake everything ‘right’ the first time you attempted a new recipe!? How fetching the aromas would be in that kitchen! Not to even mention how all the rudimentary necessary items would no longer be a worry because you’d always have exactly what you need!? I am sure there is more to this kind of magic, but on the onset of learning about it, how lovely it would be to know by cracking an egg, at least one immediate worry is dissolved?

There are two rather eccentric characters at the heart of this story – an elder man of unknown years and his equally elder grandmother; she is a bit more interesting because she’s attending the scene peripherally rather than centre-focused. You gather this man wouldn’t be housed in this particular part of his realm if circumstances hadn’t exiled him. From his grandmother, you sense he should be thankful for what he has now and not bitter about what he has lost in the past. They have an interesting duality to them.

The beauty of the tale is one of finding the moral ground to walk in a life of duty and honour, where the fine line between what is right or wrong might not be as clearly visible. It’s a good story to read at the holidays because of the truthfulness in being humble and forgiving; to err your wrongs and to find ways to affect other people’s lives for the good. You get so caught up in this short piece of literature, the ending comes far too soon!

I’d love to find out if this was a one-off or a connected story to one of Ms Allen’s series. I’m thinking it’s a one-off addition as per each story in the anthology, there is a footmark of where to ‘read’ next if you wanted to continue your appreciation of the author’s collective works you’ve been treated to viewing. This is how I knew about the series attached to the other authors and why I think this might be a gem of an extra rather than an inclusive piece to a series. Knowing that – the other question that sparked to mind, is which series should I seek out first after having appreciated this short!?

-quoted from my review of Gifts of the Magi (anthology)

As you can see I felt immediately connected to this world and how crafty Ms Allen was with the fantastical bits which were so dearly stitched into the heart of the story! You almost felt this short was fuller in scope than its short delivery allowed it to feel as there was a lot of world-building happening in the background! As this short is included in Shifty I won’t be re-reviewing it but I will be re-reading it as I move through the collection! I happily wanted to re-share my thoughts as a precursor to explain why I was so dearly excited about receiving Shifty and why Ms Allen’s fantastical style appealed to me in the first place!

This is why I will always contend the best way to feel introduced to a new writer is to seek out anthologies as the shorts and novellas contained within them have a depth of joy awaiting you! I realise not everyone feels this way, as over the years of declaring this joy of my own, other readers have found this to be a bit hit/miss for their own reading tastes. All I can say is that you just never know when you’ll find an anthology which will speak to you and within it, there is a chance a writer will capture your heart and your imagination. I hope we all get to continue reading those writers who ignite a joy of happiness through their shorts with longer works of fiction as they are developed and released! I know I have a long #mustread list myself now as a fifth year book blogger!

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Shifty
Subtitle: Tales from the world of Sage
by Marian Allen
Source: Direct from Author

Whether you've read Marian Allen's SAGE trilogy (The Fall of Onagros, Bargain with Fate, Silver and Iron) or not, you can dive right into these stories set in the same world. Some feature settings and characters from the trilogy, some explore lands and people only hinted at in the novels, but all are filled with strong characters and Fantasy.

Places to find the book:

Add to LibraryThing

ISBN: 978-1942166207

Genres: Dark Fantasy, Fantasy Fiction


Published by Per Bastet Publications

on 25th November, 2016

Format: Trade Paperback

Pages: 131

Published by: Per Bastet Publications (@PerBastetBooks)

Converse via: #DarkFantasy, #Fantasy and #HighFantasy

About Marian Allen

Marian Allen

Marian Allen was born in Louisville, Kentucky and now lives in rural Indiana. For as long as she can remember, she has loved telling and being told stories. She writes science fiction, fantasy, mystery, humor, horror, mainstream, and anything else she can wrestle into fixed form.

Allen has had stories in on-line and print publications, including multiple appearances in Marion Zimmer Bradley’s SWORD AND SORCERESS anthologies. Her latest books are the SAGE fantasy trilogy, her science fiction comedy of bad manners SIDESHOW IN THE CENTER RING, her YA/NA paranormal suspense A DEAD GUY AT THE SUMMERHOUSE, her collection of science fiction stories OTHER EARTH, OTHER STARS, and SHIFTY, her collection of fantasy stories set in the world of SAGE, and LONNIE, ME, AND…. her collection of humor, all from Per Bastet Publications.

She is a member of the Southern Indiana Writers Group.

Allen is married, with three step/adopted daughters and one birth daughter.

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Reading this book contributed to these challenges:

  • #SpooktasticReads 2018
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Posted Sunday, 21 October, 2018 by jorielov in Anthology Collection of Stories, Blog Tour Host & Reviewer, Dark Fantasy, Earthen Magic, Earthen Spirituality, Fantasy Fiction, Folklore, Folklore and Mythology, Good vs. Evil, Haunting & Ethereal, High Fantasy, Indie Author, Short Stories or Essays, Supernatural Creatures & Beings, Sword & Scorcery

#WyrdAndWonder | Short Story Review of “Ethical Will” by Kaki Olsen part of the UNSPUN: A Collection of Tattered Fairy Tales (anthology)

Posted Thursday, 31 May, 2018 by jorielov , , , 1 Comment

Book Review badge created by Jorie in Canva using Unsplash.com photography (Creative Commons Zero).

Acquired Book by: My path originally crossed with Kaki Olsen whilst participating on her blog tour via Cedar Fort Publishing & Media for her debut novel: “Swan and Shadow” (see also Review) in [2016]. Since her blog tour, in the years since our paths first crossed, we’ve kept in communication and a friendship organically grew out of our conversations. Therefore, when she started to publish Speculative Fiction stories such as “Ethical Will” in the UNSPUN: a Collection of Tattered Fairy Tales and her story involving an android and a dragon in the Iron Doves Charity Anthology – I have happily been able to feature her on jorielovesastory.com sharing our mutual passion for Speculative Literature.

I received a complimentary PDF copy of “Ethical Will” direct from the author Kaki Olsen in exchange for an honest review. I did not receive compensation for my opinions or thoughts shared herein. I also received permission to print a copy of this story in order to read in full due to the fact I cannot read stories in electronic form due to my chronic migraines. I appreciated the kindness of the author who allowed me to find a way I could read her story.

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On why this anthology first appealed to me & why I look forward to having a copy:

As you might already be aware of – I have a serious ADDICTION to Speculative Fiction anthologies! So much so, they are amongst my *favourites!* to be reading outside of the INSPY Lit novella or short anthologies which are read with equal passion! When it comes to #SpecFic though, the best joy of my heart is getting caught up inside another writer’s vision of their world – of seeing how they pull together an anthology theme of purpose and how they chose to carry this vision through the shortness of their story! I am forever impressed by those who can pen shorter fiction as it is a struggle for me, as a writer to do the same! I just do not feel as free to write a story in short formats as I have the tendency to write better in ‘length’. Hmm. does that really surprise my readers of Jorie Loves A Story!? I think not! lol

In recent years, I came to garnish an affection for ‘altered fairy tales’ and variant re-tellings on stories of lore – it began with different adaptations in novel-length and then, I started to find myself across the genre spectrum finding myself motivated to see how a writer might re-cast a familiar story against a newer impression of shifting the tale into either a different genre of interest or through a new thread of Speculative possibilities!

Thus, this is how I came to itch to read this particular collection – as much as I want to still gather a copy of the first anthology Iron Doves which features the quirkiness of an android and a dragon who have the fate of the world in their hands in outer space! For those who have been following me for awhile, you know I had a healthy convo about this story during [2017]’s #RRSciFiMonth.

Ahead of reading this review of mine, you might want to visit the convo I had with Ms Olsen about the key components of how she wrote this tale & a bit more about her writing style in general!

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On my connection to Ms Olsen:

I happily have had the pleasure of interacting with Ms Olsen whilst hosting her blog tour “Swan and Shadow” and in the years since it was released. Our friendship grew out of a mutual passion for reading, researching our stories and the many mutual interests we each share whilst finding ourselves randomly conversing on Twitter. We have enjoyed keeping in touch sharing our bookish and writerly lives whilst appreciating a fascination with the world of Fantasy.

I am disclosing this, to assure you that I can formulate an honest opinion, even though I have interacted with her ahead of reading her novels. I treat each book as a ‘new experience’, whether I personally know the author OR whether I am reading a book by them for the first time. This is also true when I follow-up with them on future releases and celebrate the book birthdays that come after their initial publication.

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#WyrdAndWonder | Short Story Review of “Ethical Will” by Kaki Olsen part of the UNSPUN: A Collection of Tattered Fairy Tales (anthology)Unspun
Subtitle: A Collection of Tattered Fairy Tales
by Kaki Olsen
Source: Direct from Author

Whatever happened to “happily ever after”?

Heroes search for happiness, villains plot revenge, and nothing is as easy as it once seemed. Gretel suffers from post-traumatic stress disorder, an orphan girl questions Rumpelstiltskin’s legacy, a monster cat searches for a child to eat, and the pied piper realizes stealing a hundred and thirty children may not have been his smartest idea.

Fairy tales have endured for centuries even though—or perhaps because—their conclusions are often more unsettling than satisfying. In Unspun, eleven storytellers come together to challenge and explore a few of those classic tales. Unexpected twists are sure to provoke both thought and laughter.

Gorgeous illustrations by Ruth Nickle accompany each piece.

Places to find the book:

Add to LibraryThing

Find on Book Browse

ISBN: 978-1986727877

Also by this author: Unspun

Genres: Anthology Collection of Short Stories and/or Essays, Fairy-Tale Re-Telling, Fantasy Fiction, Re-telling &/or Sequel, Urban Fantasy


Published by After Ever After Publishing

on 4th April, 2018

Format: ePub | PDF Chapter Sampler

Pages: 50

Formats Available: Trade Paperback, Ebook

Read more about ‘Ethical Will’ on the Author’s Site

Previous releases by kaki olsen:

Swan and Shadow by Kaki OlsenIron Doves: A Charity Anthology

I had the pleasure of being on the blog tour celebrating the release for “Swan & Shadow” – you can find my review and my interview as well as Ms Olsen’s Guest Post attached to the tour happily celebrated on Jorie Loves A Story. Previously, I had plans to discuss the short story within the “Iron Doves: Anthology” for ‘Wyrd and Wonder’, however, I will now be doing so in a special feature I’m creating called: #EnterTheFantastic where I showcase stories of Fantasy between ‘Wyrd and Wonder’ events throughout the calendar year wherein I continuously read fantastical stories!

About Kaki Olsen

Kaki Olsen

Kaki Olsen has published stories about swan maidens, space-faring dragons, dying astronauts and shape-shifting sorcerers.

Her articles in AuthorsPublish cover a variety of craft topics. She is also known for her academic papers on everything from Anakin to Zuko for Life, the Universe, and Everything. In her spare time, she travels excessively and reads voraciously.

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Reading this book contributed to these challenges:

  • #WyrdAndWonder
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Posted Thursday, 31 May, 2018 by jorielov in #WyrdAndWonder, After the Canon, Anthology Collection of Stories, Blog Tour Host & Reviewer, Cultural Heritage, Dark Fantasy, Death, Sorrow, and Loss, Debilitating Diagnosis & Illness, Equality In Literature, Fairy Tale Fiction, Fantasy Fiction, Folklore, Inspired By Author OR Book, Inspired by Stories, Judiasm, Mother-Daughter Relationships, Re-Told Tales, Realistic Fiction, Short Stories or Essays, Speculative Fiction, Spirituality & Metaphysics, Terminal Illness &/or Cancer, Twitterland & Twitterverse Event, Urban Fantasy, Women's Health, World Religions, Yiddish Words & Phrases

#WyrdAndWonder Book Review | Hero’s Best Friend: an Anthology of Animal Companions {edited by} Scott M. Sandridge

Posted Sunday, 20 May, 2018 by jorielov , , , , 0 Comments

Book Review badge created by Jorie in Canva using Unsplash.com photography (Creative Commons Zero).

Acquired Book By: I am a reviewer for Tomorrow Comes Media and Seventh Star Press – whilst I participated on the blog tour in [2014] for this title, I was unable to read the stories for review until this year [2018]. I received a complimentary copy of “Hero’s Best Friend” direct from the publisher Seventh Star Press in exchange for an honest review. I did not receive compensation for my opinions or thoughts shared herein.

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What originally drew me into wanting to read this lovely anthology:

Hero’s Best Friend

What I appreciate the most about this particular collection of stories is having each of them capture the essence of a genre-bending sphere of literary delight! They are representative of their actual genres, but they sound as though they give a bit more than what those branches of literature might usually encompass at the very same time! I love fiction that takes on new meanings and new depths, whether I am soaking into a book, a short story, or even whilst immersed into the latest Doctor Who episode I am discovering for the very first time! I find that the series is the epitome of ‘genre-bending’ and brilliance of execution on captivating a person’s attention at the jump-start beginning!

Sandridge and I share a common ground for appreciating animal companions, as his top three choices match my own, as I quite literally rented “Benji: the Hunted” from the rental shoppes so often they nearly gave me the VHS tapes for free! I say ‘nearly!’ as they never could seem to get permission from corporate to do so! Oy! I was simply captivated by Benji, for the same reasons I loved “The Adventures of Natty Gann” in which Natty’s companion is a wolf; “The Neverending Story” who as the wickedest dragon on the planet! (another film in common, he mentions this elsewhere on the tour!); the Mountain Family Robinson trilogy where Crest protected the family; previously I have mentioned my affection for “Pete’s Dragon”; and many others I am failing to draw to memory today! What I appreciate about Jack London is his ability to get your heart attached to a wolf in a way that is different than Natty Gann but is a bit similar to “Due South”; a tv series which features a deaf wolf who takes interest in protecting a Mountie!

From our beginnings of noting animal companions and animals in fiction, we differ a bit on our paths after childhood because I am suspecting the video games are not the ones I’d personally play myself! I’m always going to have half a step and foot on the family and children side of the ledger, not only because I’m a future foster-adoptive Mum, nor even because I’m an Auntie at present, but because I tend to like the innocence in stories for younger generations. I’d wrap myself into a family film far quicker than I would an intense video game! I am a gamer, a title I apparently acquired at three, as I’ve been playing games on the computer since I first started using one! Wayy back when Atari was all the rage and long before Nintendo or the ability to borrow my neighbourhood friend’s Sega Genesis so I could play with Sonic, the quirky hedgehog!

The best news of all, no matter how we gather our passions for animal companions, nor where we wander to find the companions that mean the world to their masters, we each have our own ‘coveted niche’ in the genres we appreciate reading and watching! And, I for one will always celebrate the uniqueness of our individual passions if we can sometimes draw a common thread towards each other and celebrate the love of story-telling which ignites a fever pitch passion for our imaginations!

-quoted from my Spotlight on behalf of Hero’s Best Friend

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#WyrdAndWonder Book Review | Hero’s Best Friend: an Anthology of Animal Companions {edited by} Scott M. SandridgeHero's Best Friend: An Anthology of Animal Companions
by (Editor) Scott M. Sandridge, Herika R. Raymer
Illustrator/Cover Designer: Enggar Adirasa
Source: Direct from Publisher

How far would Gandalf have gotten without Shadowfax? Where would the Vault Dweller be without Dogmeat? And could the Beastmaster been the Beastmaster without his fuzzy allies? Animal companions are more than just sidekicks. Animals can be heroes, too!

Found within are twenty stories of heroic action that focuses on the furries and scalies who have long been the unsung heroes pulling their foolish human buddies out of the fire, and often at great sacrifice-from authors both established and new, including Frank Creed, S. H. Roddey, and Steven S. Long.

Whether you're a fan of Epic Fantasy, Sword & Sorcery, Science Fiction, or just animal stories in general, this is the anthology for you! So sit back, kick your feet up, and find out what it truly means to be the Hero's Best Friend.

Places to find the book:

Add to LibraryThing

Find on Book Browse

ISBN: 978-1937929510

Also by this author: , Hero's Best Friend: An Anthology of Animal Companions, Gifts of the Magi

Series: Anthologies from Seventh Star Press


Also in this series: Writers Workshop of Science Fiction & Fantasy, , A Chimerical World, Hero's Best Friend: An Anthology of Animal Companions


Genres: Fantasy Fiction


Published by Seventh Star Press

on 12th February, 2014

Format: Trade Paperback

Pages: 472

Published By: Seventh Star Press (@7thStarPress)
Available Formats: Trade paperback & Ebook

Genres: Short Story | Fantasy | Animals in Fiction

Converse on Twitter: #HerosBestFriendAntho & #7thStar

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Stories inside: Hero’s Best Friend:

Joy Ward: “Toby and Steve Save the World”

Frank Creed: “Dusk”

Cassie Schau: “The Hunter’s Boy”

Steven Donahue: “Grit”

Jason Cordova: “Hill 142”

Herika R. Raymer: “Dook”

Essel Pratt: “Brothers”

Lisa Hawkridge: “Ezra’s Girl”

S. H. Roddey: “Look What the Cat Dragged In.”

Steven S. Long: “The Wolf Sentinel”

Laura Anne Ewald: “Memorandum”

Cindy Koepp: “The Hat”

Ian Hunter: “Scarheid in the Glisting”

Steven Grassie: “The Masterless”

David Wright: “Wind of Change”

Renee Carter Hall: “The Emerald Mage”

Nick Bryan: “The Violet Curse”

Lillian Csernica & Kevin Andrew Murphy: “The Restless Armadillo”

Douglas J. Ogurek: “Stuck on the Squigglybounce”

Sheila Deeth: “Passage”

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About (Editor) Scott M. Sandridge

Scott M. Sandridge Photo Credit: Stephen Zimmer, taken on a book convention floor.

Scott M. Sandridge is a writer, editor, freedom fighter, and all-around trouble-maker. His latest works as an editor include the Seventh Star Press anthologies Hero’s Best Friend: An Anthology of Animal Companions, and the two volumes of A Chimerical World, Tales of the Seelie Court and Tales of the Unseelie Court.

Photo Credit: Stephen Zimmer, taken on a book convention floor

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Reading this book contributed to these challenges:

  • #WyrdAndWonder
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Posted Sunday, 20 May, 2018 by jorielov in #WyrdAndWonder, Action & Adventure Fiction, An Editor Point of View, Animals in Fiction & Non-Fiction, Anthology Collection of Stories, Blog Tour Host & Reviewer, Bookish Convention, Bookish Discussions, Fantasy Fiction, Genre-bender, Imaginarium, Indie Author, Indie Book Trade, Reader Submitted Guest Post (Topic) for Author, Science Fiction, Seventh Star Press, Short Stories or Essays, Speculative Fiction, The Writers Life, Tomorrow Comes Media, Twitterland & Twitterverse Event, Writing Style & Voice

#ChristmasReads Book Review | “A Cup of Christmas Cheer” a collection of Historical Short Stories (Vol. 3) by Guideposts Books (2014)

Posted Monday, 18 December, 2017 by jorielov , , 0 Comments

Book Review badge created by Jorie in Canva using Unsplash.com photography (Creative Commons Zero).

Acquired Book By: Long before I was a book blogger, I was an active blog commenter on a variety of blogs – especially group author blogs such as The Word Wenches, Heroines Heroes & History as well as visiting INSPY Fiction authors I enjoyed getting to know such as Julie Lessman (following her on her blog tours), Debbie Lynne Costello (of whom I met through HHH), Brenda S. Anderson (the author of my beloved Coming Home series) and a few others of whom I enjoyed getting to know throughout the book blogosphere. My commenting days grew numbered the more I started to focus on developing my own blog here at Jorie Loves A Story – which is in part why I am re-focusing myself in the New Year 2018 to re-take up the joy of commenting on blogs (per a commenting challenge).

Whilst I visited all these lovely authors – many of whom write between Historical & Contemporary INSPY Fiction of a variety of sub-genres or threads of interest – my path happily kept crossing with Ms Costello. I enjoyed getting to know her as a fellow writer and cheering for her whilst she worked on having her dreams of being published could be realised. In [2014] a blogger hosted a bookaway for the anthology “A Cup of Christmas Cheer” which includes her short story “The Letter”. I was overjoyed when I learnt I had won the book – as I personally love reading Christmas stories! Due to a variety of reasons – I was never fully able to focus on reading this lovely collection until December, 2017.

Although, I did win a complimentary copy of “A Cup of Christmas Cheer” Vol. 3 direct from the author Debbie Lynne Costello I was not obligated to post a review. I decided to share my thoughts after reading the stories within this collection for my own edification and to share those thoughts with my readers who might enjoy the same kinds of stories. I did not receive compensation for my opinions or thoughts shared herein.

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Why I love reading Christmas stories & Short Stories in INSPY Literature:

I am starting to garnish a collection of ‘bride’ short stories & novellas as my parents love to surprise me with INSPY anthologies – I have quite a lovely stack of them to read throughout 2018, whilst also marking the year I get to return to focusing on making a dent in my reading queue for my own *70 Authors Challenge* which is about celebrating INSPY Literature overall!

The main reason I love reading short stories – irregardless of the genre or literary style is because you get to gather a proper sense of a writer’s sensibility and their personal take on the craft of writing stories. To me, short stories and novellas are little kernals of insight towards undestanding the larger breadth of a writer’s career – you get to tuck into these little shorter stories first, as a preview of what you will find in their longer stories whilst appreciating the respite for enjoying shorter fiction, too! I love stories – in all forms, shapes and sizes, but one thing as you might have observed is I truly love ANTHOLOGIES. (as previously blogged about during the A to Z Challenge; despite having reviewed a fair amount of anthologies since then!)

Christmas stories at their heart are a delight to read because they embrace everything I love about the Season overall – secular or INSPY holiday reads are lovely to find because they talk about the things in life which sometimes are overshadowed by stress, woe and health crises – the joys, happiness and romance of a well-lived life where you can enjoy the blessings of Winter, the elements of a changing season and the festive cheer of Yule where everyone is getting ready to dress their tree, sort out their gifts for their Christmas morning surprises and curate their family traditions – from food, to games to home parties and the gathering of friends. It’s the time of year for Christmas Midnight Mass, candle light caroling and the smell of fresh trees lingering in the air whilst the twinkle lights make you smile every chance you see them.

Honestly what is not to love!? I do yield on reading Romances and/or Family Dramas – of finding all the goodness of the holiday but a bit of dramatic back-story as well threading into the stories I gravitate towards! A lovely romance is wicked awesomesauce no matter which time of the year you find it to read but Christmas, oh, Christmas is a delightful Season of it’s own. I sometimes wish we could ‘hold fast’ to the spirit of Christmas & Yule – long past New Year’s and into the middle bits of every year where the toils of life and the stresses of work nearly deplete the joys you try to seek out to re-balance your days.

Yes, Christmas is a special time of the year – and for me, that means a lovely array of new #ChristmasReads – INSPY and secular alike, dramatic or historical, contemporary or romantic – short, long, stand-alone, serial, part of an anthology or multi generational saga. All of them are appreciated which is why this year, I am thankful I can take more time to highlight the kinds of stories I love to be #amreading during this wicked sweet time of the year!

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Notation on Cover Art: The artwork for this series is wonderfully illustrated – these are pocket editions in hardcover which I also appreciate because you can hold them in your hands, curl inside the stories and feel yourself drift into the lives of the characters. Each writer had her own approach to play off the ‘theme’ of each volume but the illustrations which accompany the stories themselves I felt was a special ‘added’ treat! Isn’t this just lovely to look at and feel like your part of the scene!?

#ChristmasReads Book Review | “A Cup of Christmas Cheer” a collection of Historical Short Stories (Vol. 3) by Guideposts Books (2014)A Cup of Christmas Cheer, Vol.3
Subtitle: Heartwarming Tales of Christmas Past
by Debbie Lynne Costello
Source: Direct from Author

Although this collection has within it a total of eight stories - which are as follows:

* The Christmas Scarf by Liz Johnson
* A Bracelet for Christmas by Jacqueline Wheelock
* The family Quilt by Mona Hodgson
* Special Delivery by Susan Page Davis
* The Plum Pudding Phenomenon by Kae Noyce Tienstra
* Finding Something Precious by Pam Hanson & Barbara Andrews
* The Letter by Debbie Lynne Costello
* A Father's Gift by Keli Gwyn

I only have the synopsis to share with you about "The Letter" by Ms Costello as she gave me permission to share the Press Materials connected to this release featuring her short story.

A recent WWII widow receives a mysterious letter seeking reconciliation with her in-laws, but when she goes for a visit only her father-in-law seems to be interested in mending fences. But as the days pass mother-in-law and daughter-in-law learn a little about themselves and the true meaning of forgiveness.

Places to find the book:

Borrow from a Public Library

Add to LibraryThing

Genres: Anthology Collection of Short Stories and/or Essays, Christmas Story &/or Christmas Romance, Inspirational Fiction & Non-Fiction, Short Story or Novella


Published by Guideposts Books

Format: Hardcover Edition

Pages: 233

Published by: Guideposts Books Page for this Series (@GuidepostsBooks)

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The volumes of this series which are available: *full list

NOTE: I look forward to gathering the rest of the series!

Tales of Faith and Family for the Holidays (Volume One)

Tales of Joy and Wonder for the Holidays (Volume Two)

Heartwarming Tales of Christmas Past (Volume Three)

Heartwarming Tales of Christmas Present (Volume Four)

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Get to know Ms Costello a bit better via her Interview on Ms Anderson’s blog!

Formats Available: Hardcover & Ebook

Converse via: #ChristmasReads, #INSPY &/or #ShortStory

+ #HolidayReads or #INSPY w/ #Christmas

About Debbie Lynne Costello

Debbie Lynn Costello

Debbie Lynne Costello has enjoyed writing stories since she was about eight years old. She raised her family and then embarked on her own career of writing the stories that had been begging to be told. She and her family live in upstate South Carolina.

Debbie Lynne has shown and raised Shetland sheepdogs for eighteen years and still enjoys litters now and then. In their spare time, her and her husband enjoy camping and riding their Arabian and Tennessee Walking horses.

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Reading this book contributed to these challenges:

  • 2017 Historical Fiction Reading Challenge
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Posted Monday, 18 December, 2017 by jorielov in 20th Century, Animals in Fiction & Non-Fiction, Anthology Collection of Stories, Balance of Faith whilst Living, Bits & Bobbles of Jorie, Blog Tour Host & Reviewer, Cats and Kittens, Childhood Friendship, Debut Author, Historical Fiction, Inspirational Fiction & Non-Fiction, Mother-Daughter Relationships, Short Stories or Essays, Siblings, the Forties, the Nineteen Hundreds, The World Wars