Give me magic, gadgets, monsters, zombies, everything that seems impossible, and throw in some tough chicks with swords. That's the stuff.

Saturday, March 17, 2012

Reviews: 2 Shorts and an Antho

So, you know I love short stories. Sometimes, when I have just a bit of time, I like to read a novella versus just reading a tiny bit of one of the books I have on the pile. It's a little break, and I like it. I also like reading anthologies, not just because many of my favorite authors contribute stories, but also to get a taste of an author I haven't read before. Today I have a novella featuring one of my favorite supporting characters, an interesting short with dragons, and an anthology featuring some kickass women, monsters and guns.

Note: I usually don't give a whole lot of story details in my reviews, because, well, I think that's part of the fun of reading a book. When it comes to shorts, I give even less story info - otherwise I'd give away all the good stuff!

Devil's Luck (The Disillusionists #3.5) by Carolyn Crane

It's a very short romance, but I really enjoyed it because it featured one of my favorite supporting characters from the Disillusionists - Simon!

It's Simon the Disillusionist gambler meeting up with Fawna the prognosticator. He hates everything about her highcap power, and the reason why he is as reckless as he is was just heartbreaking. Fawna has also been through hell and back. She hates her power as much as Simon does, yet feels powerless against fate. Except for when she's around a certain gambler who doesn't play by the rules.

I really enjoyed this. It was quick, but good. If you are a fan of the Disillusionists series, you should like this. If you are new to the series, you will likely be confused by a few things.

The 19 Dragons by S. M. Reine

I liked it, but it's one where I really wanted some more. Sometimes shorts are too short.

Each "chapter" is about one of the titled "19 Dragons" interspersed with tiny bits on calamitous happenings in the world.

The book blurb mentioned that there are blank pages on purpose - so keep clicking until you reach the 100% done on your eReader. Sometimes I had to click through more than one blank page. Luckily that was mostly at the end. If the whole story had been like that I would not have been happy.

The mythology with the dragons and the steampunk references kept my attention. There is a lot of imagination here. I just wanted more, especially when it came to the motivation for why everything was going to hell.

I got this as a freebie, but it definitely did its job as I will be looking to see what else the author has published.

A Girl's Guide to Guns and Monsters, edited by Martin H. Greenberg & Kerrie Hughes

The stories in this one are pretty short, but overall I enjoyed it.

The Drifter by Jane Lindskold: set in 1800s American West with werewolves, skinwalkers, and family ties. Really liked it. Near the top of my list for this antho.

Our Lady of the Vampires: it's the Depression and something strange is happening in a home for girls. It was all right. I did enjoy the end.

Best Friends by Lilith Saintcrow: a standalone, not part of any other series that I know of; young love, protecting those you love, and making the most of what you have. Note: I've read a good number of Saintcrow's shorts and I really like them. This one is no exception. One of my favorites in this antho.

Elizabeth & Anna's Big Adventure by Jeanne Stein: This one was all right. It's part of the Anna Strong series, not that you need to be caught up on it to get the story, but I think if I was more familiar with the characters I would like it more.

Lupercalia by Anton Stout: a woman who has had more than her share of heartbreak goes on a manhunt for the god of love. I really liked this one. Another one of my favs in this antho.

Murder She Workshopped by Kristine Kathryn Rusch: This story is a big reason why I love reading anthos. I've never read anything by this author, but I really liked the story & I'll be looking to see what else Rusch has written. Murder, monsters and mystery at a writing workshop. Good stuff.

Heart of Ash by Jim C. Hines: I really liked this one. Unexpected heroine - a Nymph who fights monsters. Bittersweet, but I liked it.

Jiang Shi by Elizabeth A. Vaughan: I kind of liked this one. Very odd, with a middle-aged woman who thinks the magic has gone from her life, who with the help of an amulet finds more than she bargained for. It has a talking mouse, ninja rats, an evil possum and more. It worked, but I feel like I was missing a bit too much to really enjoy it.

No Matter Where You Go by Tanya Huff: Part of the Vicki Nelson series; some kids open a portal and Vicki jumps in to save them. It was a quick, action-fueled story.

Signed in Blood by P.R. Frost: A Tess Noncoire story. I've never read the series, but the short was meh. Not enough happened to make me want to find more. Anti-climatic.

Broch de Shlang by Mickey Zucker Reichert: It started interesting, with snakes and a family curse, but fell apart at the end. I get where the author was going, but something that traumatic cannot be glossed over.

The Wooley Mountains by Alexander B. Potter: Set in a world where there are magic species interacting with humans. There's Sasquatch and evidence of a dragon. I liked this one. I liked the old monster hunter and the new guard (although I would call them more monster conservationists, really). One of my favs.

Invasive Species by Nina Kiriki Hoffman: Set on a spaceship, where something has been chewing on the metal. There's lots of odd happenings, and a light touch, as our heroine dons her exterminator gear to get to the root of the problem. I liked it.

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