Kisses and Curses (Short Story Collection)

Kisses and Curses

edited by : lauren burniac

pages : [paperback] 400

featuring : marissa meyer, leigh bardugo, marie rutkoski, and many more!

summary :

A fabulous collection of short stories from your favorite Fierce Reads authors, perfect for fans and new readers!

Beloved of readers and booksellers, our Fierce Reads program has garnered tons of enthusiastic fans since its inauguration in 2012. Now, the authors you know and love are coming together in one book! With standalone short stories from a handpicked set of FR authors, this fabulous collection will include a mix of original content and popular favorites, and will often feature characters or worlds from existing Fierce Reads books. Extended, personal introductions from each author will make this a must-buy for fans as well as a fantastic portal for engaging new readers with the program. With a wide range of genres and subject matter, there will be something here for everyone!

review :

I LOVE short story collections! I grabbed up this one as soon as I spotted it in the store because it had Marissa Meyer, Leigh Bardugo, and Marie Rutkoski included. Three of my favorite authors! I immediately sat down to read this and hit an unfortunate snag. Although all of these short stories can, technically, be read on their own, all except one are inspired by these authors’ well-known series. This is less annoying when, as in the authors I mentioned above, I knew the context these stories were going into and could enjoy the extra insight into the characters or world these little bits provided. For other stories that I haven’t yet had the chance to get to the series . . . It was frustrating. These snippets would rarely have a conclusion and in one instance I couldn’t even read the story because I was warned it would spoil the book. Who knows if I’ve managed to spoil something else for myself already?

I wouldn’t say there was any one story in this I didn’t like. Overall, the writing was pretty solid (after I got over the whole blow about none of the stories being original). The one unique story was told in a twitter exchange between two authors, which was a surprisingly entertaining way to read the unconventional Sasquatch love story. If that isn’t enough to convince you to try this collection, I don’t know what else could.

I had to rate this collection lower than I wanted to (because I LOVE these authors and know that there are other favorites in here just waiting to be discovered when I actually read the series’ I just spoiled). The stories weren’t satisfying on my own. I feel like they would have been better suited in their own domain rather than this bind-up. Hopefully, I won’t get tricked into a collection like this again.

3/5 stars

Review: My Mother She Killed Me, My Father He Ate Me

My Mother She Killed Me, My Father He Ate Me

edited by: kate bernheimer

pages : [paperback] 576

summary :

The fairy tale lives again in this book of forty new stories by some of the biggest names in contemporary fiction.

Neil Gaiman, “Orange”

Aimee Bender, “The Color Master”

Joyce Carol Oates, “Blue-bearded Lover”

Michael Cunningham, “The Wild Swans”

These and more than thirty other stories by Francine Prose, Kelly Link, Jim Shepard, Lydia Millet, and many other extraordinary writers make up this thrilling celebration of fairy tales—the ultimate literary costume party.

Spinning houses and talking birds. Whispered secrets and borrowed hope. Here are new stories sewn from old skins, gathered by visionary editor Kate Bernheimer and inspired by everything from Hans Christian Andersen’s “The Snow Queen” and “The Little Match Girl” to Charles Perrault’s “Bluebeard” and “Cinderella” to the Brothers Grimm’s “Hansel and Gretel” and “Rumpelstiltskin” to fairy tales by Goethe and Calvino and from China, Japan, Vietnam, Russia, Norway, and Mexico.

Fairy tales are our oldest literary tradition, and yet they chart the imaginative frontiers of the twenty-first century as powerfully as they evoke our earliest encounters with literature. This exhilarating collection restores their place in the literary canon.

review :

This collection of fairy tales fully consumed me as I read through the book.

With a plethora of contemporary authors adding their retold fairy tales to this anthology, there’s definitely a story in here for anyone. While I’m not sure that all will enjoy every story (that’s a rare thing, to really love every installment in a collection like this) there are so many different styles present and takes on the well-known tales that there’s a good thing for anyone here.

I particularly enjoyed (and expected to love) Neil Gaiman’s ‘Orange’. He’s one of the few authors I immediately recognized by name from the list of those who contributed to this work–for others, I know their stories better than their names.

Because I had to read this for school, I didn’t have as much time to sit and think on each story as I would have preferred to do, should I have read this collection in my free time. I could spend hours on each one, to be frank, going on about what did or didn’t work for me, what I loved about the individual writing styles and what I detested about the fairy tales chosen to be retold. Unfortunately, not having the time for that kind of involvement, I was left instead with vague impressions of the stories I’d read one after the other. So if you happen to read this anthology, I would recommend taking the time to enjoy it, rather than speeding through it. Not only is it a fairly hefty volume, the text inside is so dense with wonder and symbolism that you simply need to focus on it rather than the end goal of finishing the book.

I loved how some of these stories are influenced by more remote and less well-known tales, some more gruesome or heartbreaking than others. While I do love my Americanized classics, there are still so many folk tales and mythologies out there left to be explored and understood by the masses so I was ecstatic (though not particularly surprised, judging by the fabulous array of authors) to see the variety there!

I would highly recommend this collection to anyone interested in fairy tales, modern writing, and short stories. I think that this is something I’ll return to again, to reread favorite stories and linger over those I still need to puzzle out.

4/5 stars

The Bloody Chamber & Other Stories by Angela Carter

The Bloody Chamber & Other Stories

author : angela carter

pages : 126

memorable quote:

She herself is a haunted house. She does not possess herself; her ancestors sometimes come and peer out of the windows of her eyes and that is very frightening

summary :

From familiar fairy tales and legends – Red Riding Hood, Bluebeard, Puss-in-Boots, Beauty and the Beast, vampires, werewolves – Angela Carter has created an absorbing collection of dark, sensual, fantastic stories.

review :

I had to read this collection of fairy tales for an independent study I’m doing. While they weren’t my favorite retellings, I think that these stories are not only well-written but also thought provoking. They’re tales that will leave you to think. You won’t just ponder the connection to and differences from the original story and Carter’s version. You’ll also think through your own interpretation of the endings, as well as the symbolism that crops up in each story.

Though this collection was short, it’s sure to stand out. The stories are bloody. Many of them aren’t happy. But that seems to be a trend, not only in modern retellings but in the original stories themselves! All of us like to hear a good story with a happily ever after but things don’t always work out that way. Carter doesn’t seem foreign to that concept, though she does put her own spin on the idea of a ‘realistic’, unhappy ending. There’s no tragedy simply for the sake of it. It’s impressive, the way she weaves her words together and makes even the smallest of instances in her stories seem to have the biggest share of the impact.

I’d recommend this collection to anyone with an avid interest in fairy tales. While there are other retellings that I’ll pick up to read over and over again, I’m not sure that this collection will be among them even though it is very well-done. I think that it’s worth at least one read and many will like it even more than I did.

3/5 stars

My True Love Gave to Me edited by Stephanie Perkins

My True Love Gave to Me: Twelve Holiday Stories

edited by : stephanie perkins

writers : holly black, ally carter, matt de la pena, gayle forman, jenny han, david levithan, kelly link, myra mcentire, stephanie perkins, rainbow rowell, laini taylor, & kiersten white

pages : [hardcover] 320

favorite stories : “The Lady and the Fox”, “It’s a Yuletide Miracle, Charlie Brown”, “The Girl Who Woke the Dreamer”

summary :

If you love holiday stories, holiday movies, made-for-TV-holiday specials, holiday episodes of your favorite sitcoms and, especially, if you love holiday anthologies, you’re going to fall in love with MY TRUE LOVE GAVE TO ME: TWELVE HOLIDAY STORIES by twelve bestselling young adult writers, edited by international bestselling author Stephanie Perkins.

review :

I absolutely LOVED this collection of holiday short stories. I don’t often buy anthologies but when I saw that this had stories featuring some of my favorite authors (including Laini Taylor, my all-time favorite author!) I just had to get it. I’m so glad that I did and decided to read it during the holiday season!

Honestly, it was difficult to choose my favorite stories in this collection because there was something that I liked about every story in here. Of course I really loved that romance played such a big part in most of the stories. Who doesn’t love the idea of, well, love during the holidays? It’s kind of a romantic time of year. And all of these stories were so well-written that even the faster romances don’t seem that terrible insta-love (which can sometimes kill a book, in my opinion). Instant attraction is another thing, and one that is entirely realistic and typically well-written in these tales.

I also loved the variety. There are a few Jewish main characters, one gay narrator, one celebrating the Solstice, one who calls on the ancient spirit of an island during the holidays. Some stories incorporated fantastical elements; others were entirely realistic. I did tend to like the fantasy more, but thankfully the contemporary stories were written by some of my favorite names in contemporary young adult stories so I ended up enjoying a little bit of everything.

If you have to read one thing during the holiday season, pick this collection. There’s something in it for everyone and it saves the best story for last. You’ll love these characters, the holiday setting, and the romance. You’ll be left wanting even more!

5/5 stars


Full Dark, No Stars by Stephen King

Full Dark, No Stars

author : stephen king

pages [hardcover] 368

summary :

A new collection of four never-before-published stories from Stephen King.

The story opens with the confession of Wilfred James to the murder of his wife, Arlette, following their move to Hemingford, Nebraska onto land willed to Arlette by her father.

Big Driver
Mystery writer, Tess, has been supplementing her writing income for years by doing speaking engagements with no problems. But following a last-minute invitation to a book club 60 miles away, she takes a shortcut home with dire consequences.

Fair Extension
Harry Streeter, who is suffering from cancer, decides to make a deal with the devil but, as always, there is a price to pay.

A Good Marriage
Darcy Anderson learns more about her husband of over twenty years than she would have liked to know when she stumbles literally upon a box under a worktable in their garage

review :

I love reading Stephen King books because they’re really starting to get me into horror as well as bringing me into the mindset that both YA and adult books can be enjoyable and the reader doesn’t have to prefer one or the other. King does a fantastic job of creating his stories, drawing the reader in and allowing them to feel along with the character what is happening. There’s a certain skill in his slow build-up of tinier details that can be appreciated just as much if not more so than in your face gore and scare tactics.

I love how in each story a different character is presented. A murderer, a victim, someone who stands aside while another’s life is destroyed, the relative of a victim. Literally as soon as I would finish one of the stories and think to myself that I’d like to here something from some generic character perspective, it would be there right in the next tale. The differences between all of them as well as the qualities that link them together make each story captivating and different.

My favorite had to be Fair Extension, though it was also one of the harder ones for me to read. The cruelty of it got to me more than flat-out murder did, which was completely unexpected for me and a show of great writing on King’s part.

I recommend this both to fans of short stories and Stephen King fans. This isn’t my favorite work of his but as I’m expanding my horizons and looking into more of his books, it has me looking to read more.

4/5 stars

The Curiosities by Maggie Stievater, Tessa Gatton, & Brenna Yovanoff

The Curiosities

a collection by maggie stiefvater, tessa gratton, & brenna yovanoff

pages : [hardcover] 304

summary :

From acclaimed YA authors Maggie Stiefvater, Tessa Gratton, and Brenna Yovanoff comes The Curiosities: A Collection of Stories.

– A vampire locked in a cage in the basement, for good luck.
– Bad guys, clever girls, and the various reasons why the guys have to stop breathing.
– A world where fires never go out (with references to vanilla ice cream).

These are but a few of the curiosities collected in this volume of short stories by three acclaimed practitioners of paranormal fiction.

But The Curiosities is more than the stories. Since 2008, Maggie, Tessa, and Brenna have posted more than 250 works of short fiction to their website Their goal was simple: create a space for experimentation and improvisation in their writing—all in public and without a backspace key. In that spirit, The Curiosities includes the stories and each author’s comments, critiques, and kudos in the margins. Think of it as a guided tour of the creative processes of three acclaimed authors.

So, are you curious now?


I love anthologies, but I think I enjoy more conventional ones than this one about writing and experimental writing. The three authors work together and against each other to create stories that sometimes seem half-finished, because they don’t have the regular polish of editing or a longer period of work. This isn’t to say that I didn’t enjoy this, I just think that I was hoping for something a little more.

I liked the little comments that all three put in each others’ stories as well as their own; that made things more interesting. I also liked the little explanations of how a story came about or what idea the author latched onto that really inspired them to write that story. While not many of them stuck out to me after reading, I could appreciate the writing process and all of the tips throughout the collection. I think that this book would be valuable for anyone who is looking to better their writing or is wondering what to do when they find themselves stuck for ideas or writing that they’ll like.

I really recommend this collection for aspiring writers. Being able to see into the creative process of three writers who’ve already made names for themselves is definitely what makes this unique and useful.

4/5 stars

Steampunk: Poe

Steampunk: Poe

Written By: Edgar Allen Poe

Illustrated By: Zdenko Basic & Manuel Sumberac

pages: 264

memorable stories: the spectacles, the raven


If you combined clockwork gears, parasols, and air balloons with Edgar Allan Poe, what would you get? Steampunk: Poe! This is the first collection ever of Poe stories illustrated with the influence of steampunk. Running Press Teens has selected some of the most popular, thrilling, and memorable stories and poems by the classic 19th century American writer whose literary talent continues to open the mind to countless interpretations.Every Poe story and poems is fully illustrated with steampunk-inspired art—from 1920s aviation gear to elaborate musical instruments—creating a fresh perspective on his work containing bizarre characters of madmen and mystery. Just in time for Halloween, Steampunk: Poe is the perfect classic horror choice with a haunting steampunk twist!


I was soooo extremely ecstatic when I walked into my library and spotted this book! I first noticed it on Goodreads and thought that it would turn out to be one of those books I’d admire from afar but would never get the chance to get my hands on. Little did I know that someone out there saw fit to supply my local library with a copy, making me happy and hopefully introducing others to Poe’s work through the wonderful illustrations, as steampunk is so popular right now. Though I never would have thought the two would go together.

I have a sort of love/hate relationship with Edgar Allen Poe because I either really enjoy his stories and poems or detest them entirely. And I have no idea why this is. The same was true for this collection; I’d already read a handful before, but wanted to re-experience them complete with the pictures, anyway. Sometimes the images fit in wonderfully, making it all the more gruesome or mysterious. At other times I think that it would have been better had other scenes been selected for illustration because the panels didn’t fit in quite as well.

I found a few new favorite works by Poe, as well as had the opportunity to revisit some old ones. There were a few that I was very, very tempted to abandon and skim through . . . But I managed to resist that impulse. This book took me longer to read than I thought that it would because of that.

I’d recommend this book for fans of classic horror stories, Edgar Allen Poe (obviously), steampunk, pictures, literature, classics . . .


(Or should I say . . . Poe-fully? Heh.)