Saturday, 12 December 2015

Echoes of Winter

Echoes of Winter

by Various

5 out of 5

Synopsis
Thirteen never before seen YA short stories just in time for the holidays!

Book 1: Twelve Days to Christmas by L.A. Starkey
Book 2: Christmas Seasoning by DB Nielsen
Book 3: Merry Chris Witch by CK Dawn
Book 4: Wrapped in the Past by Chess Desalls
Book 5: Butterflies in the Snow by D.E.L. Connor
Book 6: The Darkest Night of the Year by Tim Hemlin
Book 7: Cold Hearth by Kelly Hall
Book 8: Code X by W.J. May
Book 9: Good Saint Nick by Lu J Whitley
Book 10: Soaring by K.K. Allen
Book 11: A Spirit’s Last Gift by Kathy-Lynn Cross
Book 12: Winter Trials by K.S. Marsden
Book 13: The Edge by Fleur Camacho

((Amazon - Take a peek inside the cover to read the synopsis for these great YA short stories!))

These stories have never been published before and were written specifically for this anthology. Hope you enjoy this wintery adventure!!



Review
A selection of Christmas and Winter themed short stories from thirteen current YA authors. 

OK, maybe twelve exceptional writers, and one that's still kidding herself ;)
I loved this collection. I know that I might be a bit biased, but what impresses me most is what a wonderful variety of stories these authors have managed to create. It seems like they planned to take a different element to write about; but after witnessing the process, I can only conclude that it must be magic.

Anyway, I digress. Let's get to the mini-reviews...

Book 1: Twelve Days to Christmas by L.A. Starkey
Starkey kicks off with a story about a girl who hates Christmas. Jessie isn't a people person, which makes the overly jovial Christmas period a tortuous few weeks.
Jessie is a fun character, she's not afraid to speak her mind, and doesn't care about keeping friends. I definitely felt some empathy for the girl.
The friendship between Jessie, her brother and his best friend, Jason was really sweet and kept you hoping until the end.
I enjoyed the take on the Jack Frost story; it was fun, mischievous and had a very satisfying end.

Book 2: Christmas Seasoning by DB Nielsen 
Ellie has yet to process that her big brother is getting married, but she is soon swept up by a hive of wedding activity by Celina the Bridezilla.
This story focusses on the importance of family - whether it's the family you have, or the one that you choose. It was really quite sweet in places, and I love some of the interactions between Ellie and Beth.
There is a rather quick infatuation with Simon, when he gives her an escape from the overwhelming wedding preparations.

Book 3: Merry Chris Witch by CK Dawn
Chris is a bright witch, perhaps too bright for his own good. He often clashes at school, and struggles to follow the strict rules at home.
When Nichole comes along, he finds a like soul, which leads to quite the adventure.
This was a fun joyride over Christmas, and I want to get the cupcake recipes!

Book 4: Wrapped in the Past by Chess Desalls
This is a short story based on Desalls' Everywhen series. It's a nice treat for fans, but I think people new to the series will easily pick up the history and rules of this world.
Making the most of time travel by getting a much closer look at the first Christmas, Shirlyn and her parents explore the old world. It's a lovely sci-fi twist on a traditional story.

Book 5: Butterflies in the Snow by D.E.L. Connor 
This is possibly the darkest story in the collection. Still suitable for a YA audience, it follows Rose as she finally finds the courage to face the source of all the pain in her life. It wasn't so much a story with a beginning, middle and an end, with an overall answer. I felt that it was briefly joining Rose's journey, as she finally embraces life.

Book 6: The Darkest Night of the Year by Tim Hemlin 
Bobby and Angelina are embracing the magic around them as the Winter Solstice and Christmas draw close.
This is a short story accompaniment to Hemlin's new YA series, which gives the world a very deep and well-rounded feeling.
I loved the tradition with the Christmas tree and the pixies. And my favourite character had to be Jax, no matter how brief his appearance.

Book 7: Cold Hearth by Kelly Hall 
Yes for the return of Dahlia and Dominic! They were my favourite characters from the Darkness Echoes collection. If you haven't already, I would recommend reading that first, just so you can appreciate the full gravity of the twists that Hall has written for these characters.
This second instalment doesn't read as a standalone as well as the first. Don't get me wrong, it gives some amazing answers, but leaves you with a whole bunch more questions!

Book 8: Code X by W.J. May 
I really enjoyed this thriller. It is one of the least Christmas-related stories in this collection, with Witney the computer-genius and hacker, showing the darker side of the internet. She investigates the disappearance of a fellow-hacker and goes down the rabbit hole.
It was really enjoyable, with bad guys, revenge and a lot of questions over existence. It definitely feels like an introduction to a bigger story.

Book 9: Good Saint Nick by Lu J Whitley 
This was a very interesting take on the origin of Saint Nick (insert regional variation here).
To begin with, I found the central character Nicklaus was somewhat bland. He is the only human living amongst elves, and he spends his time keeping head down and toeing the line. It's only when Edie comes into his life, that Nicklaus becomes something more.
It's really sweet, and there's lots of little nods to various legends. Oh, and there's reindeer, which is never bad.

Book 10: Soaring by K.K. Allen 
Emma is on an Alaskan cruise with her parents when she meets a guy who dares to push her, to see there's more than her comfortable lull.
This is another wintery story with plenty of twists. It hunts at the truth, but keeps you guessing throughout. I kinda don't want to say anything, because I don't want to spoil the revelation! It's a combination of a sweet romance, and a spooky ghost story, and it works very well.

Book 11: A Spirit’s Last Gift by Kathy-Lynn Cross 
Juslynn has been in love with her best friend Carter for years, only she won't admit it, not even to herself. Unfortunately, her time on earth has run out.
I wasn't sure what I was expecting when I started this - I kinda thought it'd be ghosts from the start, but instead it tells the story of Juslynn in the last days of her life. Being with her friends and family, doing very normal things. I'm not a huge fan of the manicures and shoes, so skimmed those conversations, getting back to the main focus.
There's an emphasis on redemption and it was such a lovely scene that Juslynn could help heal her loved ones from beyond the grave.

Book 12: Winter Trials by K.S. Marsden 
You're not getting a review of this one, that would just be weird. So here's the synopsis instead:
"With Midwinter just around the corner, Mark's Nanna decides that it is time he learnt more about his family heritage. Learning witchcraft shouldn't be too difficult, right?
Balancing school, magic, and the distractions of the gorgeous new guy, should make this a very interesting winter."

Book 13: The Edge by Fleur Camacho 
The final story is different in that it's main characters are in their early-twenties rather than teenagers, but it's still suitable for a YA audience.
There's a lot of action in this short story, as Laura meets a mysterious guy who is running from someone or something and they are running from the start. You get the feeling that there is a danger chasing them, although it isn't until the end that the enemy becomes clear.

Goodreads link
Amazon.co.uk

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