Book Review: Imagine Anthology

RATING OVERVIEW: (7) 5 Stars, (1) 4 Stars, (7) 3 Stars (some were 3.5), (1) 2.5 Stars, and (1) 1 Star

Author: There are multiple different authors. Each are listed in the below review

Genre: Several fantasy, some dystopian, and some contemporary. Some include romance.

Publisher: Teen Writers’ Nook Publishing

About the Book

It’s time to imagine…


Such a small word for such a huge impact it has. Every great story begins here—at that moment after the idea but before the story is completed. The spark. The vision. The idea that will expand into a story that clings to readers’ hearts for a lifetime. An author’s story is limited only by his imagination, and how far he is willing to go to breathe life into characters. To build the foundations of another world. To see the struggles and envision the victories. To search for the magic burning in the darkness.

Teen Writers’ Nook presents a collection of short stories and poems from talented young authors that will take you beyond the boundaries of your mind. From snarky protagonists to the tear-jerking sacrifice. From mystical fantasy worlds to indescribable sci-fi stories. Thrilling adventures, daring choices, inspiring messages, heartfelt romances, and everything beyond. Maybe—just maybe—these tales will have you journey past reality and to the depths of your imagination. Will you take the risk and embark through the pages of this book?


Overall, a 5 Star. Individual ratings are listed in the below review.

RATING OVERVIEW: (7) 5 Stars, (1) 4 Stars, (7) 3 Stars (some were 3.5), (1) 2.5 Stars, and (1) 1 Star

First, a very (over a year…oops) belated congratulations to Issabelle! And congrats to the participating authors.

I wrote my thoughts as I read each individual short story. As with every collection, there are bound to be a few you aren’t all that fond of. I really enjoyed a vast majority of them, can’t recommend two of them, and have found new-to-me authors I will be looking into posthaste.

My thoughts and individual ratings for each short story are as follows:

Cursed by Grace A. Johnson

Rating: 1 Star

Wasn’t a fan of the writing style at all–too rambling and jumping all over the place–but that’s not what merits the single star. Yes, I know this is a fantasy world, but some things are unacceptable no matter the genre. In this short story others receive the deceased’s souls. That is downright creepy and just wrong. Plus, there are no such things as ghosts and being truly soulless. It just…no. Nope. It reeks of a weird mix of Kind-Of-Catholic Purgatory, other unBiblical beliefs, and the Hinduistic reincarnation. It is EXPLICIT in the Bible that after you die you don’t just wander around aimlessly (plus, how could you when you don’t have a soul, which is apparently this character’s problem?). You go one of two places. I don’t care if this was fantasy. We can’t allow false theology and unBiblical teachings, truths, and doctrines at all. And we definitely cannot use any particular genre as an excuse to include those incorrect elements.

This was a hard, absolutely-not nope for me. I do not recommend it at all.

Shape-Shifter’s Code by Allie Jo Andersen

Rating: 5 Stars

I’ve not read anything else by Andersen, and I’m going to rectify that. Such a fun story! The clever “worldbuilding” (regarding shape-shifting; what would you call that? Shape-shifting-building?). The humor was natural and I enjoyed the story. I hope it will someday be expounded upon. (And was I shipping Maisy and Spencer? Just a wee bit.)

Love, Lilly by Alaine Darkwood

Rating:5 Stars

I don’t know if I can put into words how poignant and touching this…this letter, really, is. That’s really all I can say. It reminds you how precious life is, how valuable loyalty is, and how deadly the actions of our consequences can be.

Living Tapestries by Faith Elizabeth

Rating: 4.5 Stars

This is a gentle poem about the goodness of God, really, and how He can turn us from broken into whole and from slogging in sin to one of His own saved through faith.

A Dragon’s Choice by Chloe B. Christensen

Rating: 3 Stars

This was a fun story, and of course I liked that dragons were included.

Visionaries by Linyang Zhang

Rating: 3 Stars

Zhang has a good writing style and her incorporation of wry wit and humor made me snort in amusement. The story felt confusing as it went on, though, and I get why the kids wanted harmony and peace, but that will never happen, especially for Christians. We’ll forever be at odds with the world until Christ returns.

The Chest of Lost Worlds by Lorelei Angelino

Rating: 5 Stars

Ah! This was such a good short story! A little rushed, obviously, due to the word count (short stories are 5,000 words or less), but still quite clever and intriguing. I’d really like to see this expanded into a longer novella or, possibly, a series. I’d read that. Totally would read that.

Evil Queen by V.L. Smith

Rating: 5 Stars

Admittedly, I’m not a poetry person. At all. This poem is one of the few I think are written well. With an interesting take on a character from Snow White, it imparts a lesson everyone needs to take to heart. The poetry itself is also quality, which is not something I think regarding most poems. Well done, Smith.

Sparks by Alexa Peterson

Rating: 3.5 Stars

This is a good reminder about how everyone, no matter how insignificant they view themselves, can make a difference. The other theme is to never let your anger win–as in, don’t hold grudges and let the sun go down on your anger.

Hidden Magic by Penelope Rugan

Rating: 3.5 Stars

The premise was ingenious, the worldbuilding intriguing, and the way the personalities clashed hilarious. The story ended too abruptly for my preference, though that probably won’t bother others. Anyway, I needed the sequel a week ago please and thank you.

Illusionist by Lissa Johnson

Rating 3

Okay. Johnson has a solid writing voice and included some absolutely hilarious snippets. And that plot twist. Chilling. Who-ee. I was not expecting that end. Not really sure what to think of it, really, since I’m still recovering. My primary beef was the liberal inclusion at the beginning. I almost DNF’d it for that reason but wanted to know how this story ended.

Beloved Lorelei Angelino

Rating: 5 Stars

*Clapping* A short poem that beautifully reinforces John 3:16.

Angel by Grey S. Park

Rating: 3 Stars

I’m not into Korean culture–music, literature, drama–at all, so it took a little for me to adjust to this. I really did like the heavy emphasis on quality familial ties and bonds, though. We don’t see that near enough in fiction these days and it was refreshing to read about.

To Risk the Truth by Victoria Crooks

Rating: 5 Stars

I always appreciate authors who are unafraid to include faith in their works, and Crooks is one of those. Weaving a captivating tale filled with dystopian hints, strong faith, and a woman struggling to be the best leader for her world, To Risk the Truth portrays the importance of sharing our faith. I will be looking into more of Crooks’ books in the near future.

Memories Returned by Selah Sigmon

Rating: 3.5 Stars

I was all ready to give this a five star rating until it ended. No. I need more. I need to know what happens. Please? You can’t just leave me at that unexpected revelation!

Though He Brings Grief by Faith Elizabeth

Rating: 2.5 stars

Faith Elizabeth can really weave a heartbreaking story. I liked the Bible verses. What I did not like was how Jesus appeared in dreams and spoke to a character. That is too much like the unBiblical “Heaven is Real” farce and all that malarkey. Dreams, visions, and actually being spoken to (I’m not talking about verses being impressed upon the heart) do not occur in the Western world. I believe God may use that approach in Muslim countries and other areas closed off to Christianity, but that’s a different topic.

Faith Elizabeth can write. I just can’t agree with how Jesus appeared and literally spoke to a character.

Gift of Hope by Lorelei Angelino

Rating 5 Stars

“Scattered pieces of the sun…” What a beautiful picture! Angelino can paint with words. That’s all I can really figure out what to say.


I really liked several, liked some, and heavily disliked one. Overall, Imagine is an entertaining collection, and I would like to see more books like it (hint, hint, Issabelle). I think there’s at least one story in here for everyone, and I encourage you to read this anthology. Some especially really hit hard for me because I just learned of a death. So I read this in God’s perfect timing.


The Refrain Within

Title: The Refrain Within (Music of Hope, Book Three)

Author: Liz Tolsma

Genre: Christian Historical Romance

Publisher: Gilead Publishing

Length: 320 pages

Available: Wherever books are sold


To save a life, would you betray everyone you love?

Hungary in 1944 is a dark place. The Nazis have invaded and turned the country upside down, their evil making its way into every life.

Clarinetist Eva Bognar is engaged to conductor and composer Patrik Kedves, happily planning her wedding. At first she doesn’t think the war will affect her directly; everyone around her can be trusted to do the right thing. Then her Jewish best friend and sister-in-law Zofia goes missing–and instead of the Gestapo being to blame, a friend says it was Patrik who led Zofia away. Has he betrayed Eva and everything the family stands for?

When the rest of the family’s lives are directly threatened, Patrik’s secrets must come to light. The Bognars flee for the border in hopes of getting out of the country to the safety of Palestine. Eva must put her life and the lives of everyone she loves in the hands of the very man who betrayed her–and they may not all make it out of the war alive . . .

Positive Elements:

Characters risked their lives to save others.

Negative Elements:


Spiritual Elements:

Characters pray; a character does her best to trust God; characters put their faith in God’s hands and discuss hoping in God; God using Rahab is mentioned; a passage from Revelation is quoted.


It is mentioned Jews are being rounded up en masse; characters are roughed up, beaten, injured, and interrogated; cities are bombed with injuries sustained and lives lost; it is mentioned characters are taken to Auschwitz; a character is kidnapped; innocent lives are taken; a character is struck by a car; it is mentioned a minor character was involved in two rapes and murders; one character’s torture and another’s suicide are described in a non-gruesome manner; it is implied a character is executed.


Characters kiss; characters lie to protect others and get Nazi officers drunk.


5 Stars.


Be prepared to be teary-eyed during certain parts of this book. Excellently written, powerful, and heartbreaking, The Refrain Within evokes emotion with sympathetic characters and plot. For the reader who recognizes the parallels between current events and WWII, The Refrain Within is not only an emotional read, but a chilling one, as well. Liz Tolsma is a master weaver of words and did an excellent job. This book is a must read.