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Kitten Tiger and the Monk by Carolyn Crane

I love when you read a novella with absolutely no expectations what-so-ever. And then find that you just can’t put it down. That it is impossible to forget. And introduces you to a world you didn’t know you wanted to be a part of. For me, this was that kind of novella. It made me want to go straight out and buy the rest of this series. But I didn’t, because I need to learn some form of self-control… not something I’m admittedly enjoying at this point.

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Words Like Pale Stones by Nancy Kress

Rumpelstiltskin is one of my preferred fairy tales. There is just something about it that I love, and the fact that it was has been used across many of the different retellings and TV series that I have watched makes it even more thrilling. Which meant that having a Rumpelstiltskin story to open the collection Black Thorn, White Rose made me really happy. It was a great, slightly darker start to these adult fairy tale retellings.

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The Wildflowers by Dorothy Koomson

Surprisingly, I really enjoyed this short story. Most of the stories in this collection have been really interesting and engaging. But not the type of story that I would generally consider “enjoyable”. Which meant that I was incredibly surprised when I enjoyed this so much. There was just a level of sweetness and romance to it that the rest of the short stories in this collection quite frankly don’t have.

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Academy Field Trip by Donald Harstad

It was surprising to read a cop story in this collection. Mostly because it’s a collection that is surrounded by ideas of school and teaching. And well, cops aren’t normally what I would associate with such a topic. Having said that, it was still a thoroughly fun and exciting journey to be taken on. And probably a little more enjoyable because it was such a surprise…

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Uncle Bob Visits by Caroline Stevermer

It fits that a trickster story would take place in a children’s classroom. After all, children are really good vessels of chaos. So having a bunch of the little darlings all crowded into one classroom would surely attract some kind of poltergeist to wreak a little havoc on our daily lives. Although I enjoyed this story, I did feel incredibly sympathetic towards the teacher. Not only does she have to try and corral a bunch of children who just aren’t interested in grammar. But she also has to contend with a poltergeist who is definitely not interested in grammar.

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The Wild Card by Sandra Newgent

At the beginning I really loved this story. And I even loved it in the middle. The end though was just a little too open for me. It meant that I could imagine a happily ever after, but I still wanted just a little bit more to cement that idea for me. Something that made me understand a few of the plot holes and made me feel that sense of happy anticipation that I felt at the very beginning of this tale.

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The Radium Girls by Kate Moore

There are books that will completely change your world. Reconfigure everything that you think, believe and feel and make the whole world slot into a new form. That’s what this book was for me. When I bought this book, when I first started reading it, I was fully expecting an intriguing tale. One that would be about some amazingly strong women in the past. But not anything beyond a really good read. I was wrong. I felt like my entire reality was shattered and then remade as I read this.

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Flotsam by Caitlin R. Kiernan

I found this tale a little hard to get through. Which was a little weird when I considered that so far, I have loved every Kiernan short story that I’ve read. And then I realised that this entire story was a single block of text. No paragraphs or breaks of any kind. Just a big wall of sentences and text that reflected the vastness and overwhelming sense that the ocean provides.

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In Lieu of a Thank You by Gwynne Garfinkle

At the beginning of this story, I knew that things would be a little bit different than expected. Or at least, that’s how it seemed to me. She’s saying you should be thanked, but it kind of comes across as incredibly angry and sarcastic. The spitfire attitude of the woman made me immediately like her. Her slightly tenacious and sarcastic ways in which she recounts those moments are in very much the tone that I would use for a moron (which I’m assuming her fiancé is) and I love that she eventually rides off into the sunset alone.

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Oh Have You Seen the Devil? by Stephen Dedman

This is an incredibly easy Jack the Ripper story to read. A lot of the literature, mythos and understanding around the man is kind of convoluted. A little bit confusing. And a lot bit intense. This was a much easier short story to deal with. It was more approachable, written in a far more current form of language, and actually incredibly relatable. So it was a nice change of pace compared to the other stories in this collection.

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