Short Stories, Bonus Content, and Bookish Misc of 2022; Part One

Title in white on orange skyline

There definitely seems to be a trend emerging for what ends up in this “misc round-up” posts. While there are some short story ebooks and bonus chapters (etc) among the items, mostly these posts contain the bonus material included as part of pre-order campagins.

I love digital pre-order campaigns. They make it available to everyone, rather than having geographic restrictions (either due to cost or who is running the body and thus there being copyright laws getting in a tangle.) Plus it adds a layer of understanding to a world or lets you spend more time with characters you aren’t ready to say goodbye to.

I think these posts are certainly settling down to be once a quarter. There’s something very neat about it, and it helps these posts not get too long.

FIRST ONE TO DIE, by Cynthia Murphy

Genre: Horror/Thriller
Age Range: YA
Star Rating: 3 stars
Series: yes - prequel short story
Book cover for LAST ONE TO DIE: title in white and pink on blue-lit balconies

The pre-order campaign for WIN LOSE KILL DIE was a (very) short story set before LAST ONE TO DIE. It’s 16 pages and definitely not something to read before LAST ONE TO DIE as it completely gives away the ending (and makes it very hard to talk about here!)

FIRST ONE TO DIE goes a bit more into the killer’s motivation, showing the key event behind why he’s killing women. It’s something we only hear about in the book, so seeing that was nice, made it more immediate. It also leans into the paranormal aspect of the ending, which I wasn’t the biggest fan of in the book.


Genre: Fantasy Romance
Age Range: Adult
Star Rating: 4 stars
Series: epilogues to first in companion series
Book cover for SECOND STAR TO THE LEFT: title in gold on blue image of a fairy above an island

Yes, epilogues plural. SECOND STAR TO THE LEFT came with two epilogues – one as part of the pre-order campaign and one for those signed up to the newsletter.

The first, available to newsletter subscribers, shows the immediate aftermath of the finale for some characters who were on the other side, giving a hint to what they might do next. It also brings in more elements from Peter Pan, almost as if it were trying to bridge the gap between that book and the world of SECOND STAR TO THE LEFT.

The second is the pre-order incentive (or part of it, anyway!) and follows the leads as they head back to Hook’s home after the battle is over and tie up a few loose ends about the crew, and give them all a chance to relax after everything they’ve gone through.

GALATEA, by Madeline Miller

Genre: General
Age Range: Adult
Star Rating: 4 stars
Series: standalone
CW: sexual assault
Book cover for GALATEA: title in gold on white statue of a woman

This is a short story based on Ovid’s Pygmalion, about a woman carved from stone who’s then brought to life to fulfil the sculptor’s desires. It’s fiercely feminist, giving a woman who is nothing more than a compliant object of a man’s sexual fantasies in the original, a voice, a chance to fight back and take control of her own life.

It doesn’t quite feel in the same world as CIRCE and THE SONG OF ACHILLES, mostly because it is so sparse on description, so it ends up feeling like it could be any time – very old or very modern. There are those descriptive details that lock those books into the Ancient World. That lack of time shines a light on the constant presence of men who see women only as the fulfilment of their desires throughout time.


Genre: Fantasy
Age Range: Adult
Star Rating: 4 stars
Series: yes - #0.5
Book cover for A RIVER ENCHANTED: title in white in a blue paper-cut esque river with purple flowers around it

To celebrate the publication of her adult debut, A RIVER ENCHANTED, Rebecca Ross put together a digital packet of goodies – lettered quotes, annotated chapter, and a bonus chapter.

It is not the short sort of scene you’d normally expect, but one over 6k, set before the events of the book. It details Sidra and Torin’s wedding day, their fears, hopes, and reasons for marrying (to look after Maisie rather than love.) It was really nice to see such a pivotal event written out, and also see the seeds planted of where their relationship progresses in the book.

PEAK PERIL, by Sharna Jackson

Genre: Mystery
Age Range: MG
Star Rating: 4 stars
Series: yes - 2.5

PEAK PERIL is a world book day book, a little novella that can be bought for £1 (or with the voucher kids get on World Book Day from their schools.) It is a companion to HIGH RISE MYSTERY and MIC DROP, set after both of them, though I have yet to read MIC DROP. It doesn’t spoil either mystery, which is nice.

Nik and Norva are on a holiday in the Peak District designed to get city girls out in the countryside, but when rumours reach them of hidden treasure and someone slide a map under their door, they are on the case.

It was a fun little read, taking the girls away from their comfort zones. I liked seeing Norva’s city-orientated mindset baffled by the hills and lack of signal, and the change let Nik’s boundless knowledge shine as she had the skills they needed to deal with the orienteering course.

What bonus material have you enjoyed in the past three months?


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