Anthologies are always hit or miss for me. It is rare that I like all the stories or am able to finish the entire book, especially when the authors ar...moreAnthologies are always hit or miss for me. It is rare that I like all the stories or am able to finish the entire book, especially when the authors are new to me. Dates From Hell is not one of those anthologies. I loved the stories.
Dates From Hell has stories by Kim Harrison, Lynsay Sands, Kelley Armstrong, and Lori Handeland. Two authors that were familiar to me, and two authors that I had not yet read. Each story explores dating in the paranormal/supernatural world.
Undead in the Garden of Good and Evil by Kim Harrison This story takes place immediately before Dead Witch Walking and introduces Ivy and Kisten, living vampires. Ivy is struggling with her job and a boss that holds a promotion over her head for a price. Kisten is Ivy's love interest. Kisten is a little flat in this story. Ivy is portrayed with both vulnerability and ingenuity as she plans revenge against her boss. 4/5 stars
The Claire Switch Project by Lynsay Sands This is a very cute story about a girl who becomes a lab experiment by mistake. The result? She is able to shape shift into any person merely by looking a photo. A very sweet look at love and a fun twist at the end. 3.5/5 stars
Chaotic by Kelley Armstrong Clearly, my absolute favorite story in this book. This story introduces Hope Adams and Karl Marsten. Hope is a half demon who thrives on chaos. Karl is a werewolf that specializes in jewelry theft. I never really enjoyed Hope's stories in Personal Demon; Hope was never one of my favorites. I really liked this story. It was action packed, it kept me on the edge of my seat, and it had a lot of sexual tension between the main characters. 5/5 stars
Dead Man Dating by Lori Handeland Here's a good reason not to look for dates on the internet: Poor Kit - Her dates keep wanting to suck the life out of her through sex. As one of the few remaining virgins in New York City, Kit is a target for a demon and Chavez the demon hunter must protect her. I liked this story. Kit is one normal girl. She wears glasses and doesn't have a perfect figure. She has a normal job and she doesn't like it. Her protector, Chavez is mysterious but is attracted to her because she is well read. 3.5/5 stars
This anthology was a fun read. I got to enjoy two stories by Kim Harrison and Kelley Armstrong where I got some background into their characters. I hope to start reading other books by Lynsey Sands and Lori Handeland.
As I was reading this book, I felt like I was back with some old friends. Two summers ago, I tore through Kelley Armstrong’s Women of the Otherworld s...moreAs I was reading this book, I felt like I was back with some old friends. Two summers ago, I tore through Kelley Armstrong’s Women of the Otherworld series. I love the books. I can’t get enough of my favourite characters. I want more!
I did get more. I got more Clay and Elena, more Paige and Lucas, and more of the rest of the great cast of characters that inhabit this world. This is a collection of 8 stories featuring these characters. My one and only criticism is that a few of the shorter stories ended a little abruptly. Aside from that, I was in Otherworld heaven.
I have two favourite stories: Beginnings and The Case of El Chupacabra. For Elena and Clay fans, Beginnings is the story of how Clay and Elena met. It is actually quite a beautiful love story when you overlook Clay’s stalker tendencies. Clay was completely smitten by Elena and his protective side really comes out. I liked how you really get an insight as to Clay’s thought processes. This is also a glimpse of a younger Elena, pre-werewolf. Some of Elena’s background is revealed as well.
The Case of El Chupacabra involves a whole cast of characters. Paige and Lucas are hired by Sean to solve a murder at a gay bar. I liked a lot of things about this story, notably the Cabal politics and the inclusion of Benicio Cortez. I would love to see more Benicio stories in the future. Cassandra and Aaron are also in this story to give us a vampire perspective. I enjoyed the portrayal of Savannah in this story – she’s growing up and becoming a very intelligent and beautiful young woman.
What I love about Kelley Armstrong's world is the diversity of characters. They are vampires, werewolves, witches, sorcerers, demons. They come from all walks of life and all colors and backgrounds. I can’t wait to read more books in this series. (less)
Here are a few things that I did like about this anthology:
1) Each author had a short introductory paragraph outlining their biography and their work....moreHere are a few things that I did like about this anthology:
1) Each author had a short introductory paragraph outlining their biography and their work. What a great idea. I now have a few authors to look into.
2) The vacation theme was kind of fun. I liked all the different takes on vacation stories.
3) There was a nice mix of authors. I recognized Jeaniene Frost, Charlaine Harris, and Katie MacAlister. The rest were new to me authors and some I will definitely look up.
My favorite stories in this anthology were:
1) One for the Money - Jeaniene Frost. I've missed Cat and Bones, the sexy, loving, happily married, Cat and Bones. Loved them in this story and I now have high hopes for the next book.
2) Safe and Sound - by Jeff Abbott. This is a "new to me" author and I really enjoyed his story about a boy who goes missing on an island vacation. Very well done.
Honorable mention goes to Charlaine Harris' story Two Blondes. I didn't really like it for a Sookie story, but I enjoyed it for Pam's character. Katie MacAlister's story The Perils of Effrijim was also entertaining and makes me want to start reading the Aisling Grey series.
This is an anthology of 5 stories that have prom night as the theme. Authors are Meg Cabot, Lauren Myracle, Kim Harrison, Michelle Jaffe, and Stepheni...moreThis is an anthology of 5 stories that have prom night as the theme. Authors are Meg Cabot, Lauren Myracle, Kim Harrison, Michelle Jaffe, and Stephenie Meyer. I was excited to see these authors together in one book.
I found that most of the stories rated about 3 out of 5 stars.
Honorable mentions go to Kim Harrison's story - Madison Avery and the Dim Reaper. This was an original story, with a well developed character.
The other story I liked was Kiss and Tell by Michelle Jaffe.
The Madison Avery story continues in Kim Harrison's Once Dead, Twice Shy.(less)
Love is Hell is an anthology of 5 short stories by young adult authors: 2 of whom were familiar to me - Scott Westerfeld and Melissa Marr. The other 3...moreLove is Hell is an anthology of 5 short stories by young adult authors: 2 of whom were familiar to me - Scott Westerfeld and Melissa Marr. The other 3 authors, Laurie Faria Stoloz, Justine Larbalestier, and Gabrielle Zevin were new to me.
I enjoyed all of these stories and managed to read the book in one day. The stories were original and well paced. I fell in love with all of them. I can't even choose a favourite story. All of the stories kept my interest. Warning - not all of the stories end in a happily ever after.(less)
Oh the dreaded anthology. We all buy them (or if we are lucky - borrow them) with great hopes and expectations for the one story or one author we love...moreOh the dreaded anthology. We all buy them (or if we are lucky - borrow them) with great hopes and expectations for the one story or one author we love. I personally believe that I need to read all the stories in an anthology – my own personal OCD trait, whereas I see others read just one story. And that’s fine with me.
I picked up Unbound because it had three authors I was familiar with: Kim Harrison, Melissa Marr, and Jeaniene Frost. The other two authors were Vicki Petersson and Jocelyn Drake. I was pleasantly surprised which stories became my favorites – I really didn’t see that coming.
Ley Line Drifter by Kim Harrison 2.5 stars I love Kim Harrison’s Rachel Morgan/The Hollows series and Jenks is one of my favorite characters ever, but I was really disappointed by this story. Jenks and Bis the gargoyle get a story on their own and I was saddened that Jenks could not hold a story on his own. I actually missed Rachel.
Reckoning by Jeaniene Frost 3 stars This is Bones’ story, before he meets Cat. Bones is in New Orleans and is chasing two killer ghouls. Marie makes an appearance as well. I was so looking forward to this story. Bones is one of my favorite characters but this story did not do him any justice. There just wasn’t any delicious sexual tension.
Dark Matters by Vicki Petersson 4 stars I had read a Vicki Petersson story in another anthology and I really disliked it. I was seriously contemplating skipping this story but I am so glad that I didn’t. Such a beautiful love story between light and shade. Loved the story, loved the characters, loved it all.
The Dead, The Damned, and the Forgotten by Jocelyn Drake 2 stars Not a memorable story for me. I can’t even remember it.
Two Lines by Melissa Marr 4 stars This is one of the surprise stories. I was expecting a story about the fae and I got something completely unexpected. And – I truly enjoyed the story. Absolutely wonderful.
I’m glad I took the time to read all the stories. I’ve discovered a new author for me to explore – Vicki Petersson, and I was impressed with Melissa Marr’s story. (less)
Dead After Dark is an anthology of four stories. I initially picked up this book because of the J.R. Ward story "The Story of Son." Personally, this w...moreDead After Dark is an anthology of four stories. I initially picked up this book because of the J.R. Ward story "The Story of Son." Personally, this was the best story in the book. The other authors were new to me: Sherrilyn Kenyon, Susan Squires, and Dianna Love.
Shadow of the Moon - Sherrilyn Kenyon - 4 stars There was an abundance of characters in this book. I have not read her series yet and I was a little confused. All sorts of weres - were-wolves, were-bears, and were-lions. Some sexy scenes. I think I may pick up a book by this author and give her a try.
The Story of Son - J.R. Ward - 5 stars I love J.R. Ward so for me, this was the best story in the collection. It takes place in Caldwell, so maybe these characters could make an appearance in the Black Dagger Brotherhood series. (I would love that!) Claire is an attorney. She makes a house call to one of her richest customers. They drug her and when she wakes up she is with Son, a vampire. She is trapped with him for the entire weekend. Doesn't sound like much, but I enjoyed it.
Beyond the Night - Susan Squires - 2 stars Could not get into this story although it did have a few bright moments and a few good lines. I just could not connect with the characters.
Midnight Kiss Goodbye - Dianna Love - 2 stars Meh. Could not get into this story either.
So there you have it. 2 good stories. 2 meh stories. (less)
Anthologies are always hit and miss for me. I'm usually happy if one story makes an impression. I picked up Holidays Are Hell because of the Kim Harri...moreAnthologies are always hit and miss for me. I'm usually happy if one story makes an impression. I picked up Holidays Are Hell because of the Kim Harrison story. Surprisingly, it was my favorite story in the book.
Here is my breakdown: Two Ghosts for Sister Rachel by Kim Harrison - 4 stars This is the story of an 18 year old Rachel Morgan. It takes place before Dead Witch Walking, before Rachel joins the I.S. and before she meets Ivy. We learn more about Rachel's illness as a child, her talents as a witch, and her family. Some surprise character appearances as well. Great story.
Run, Run, Rudolph by Lynsay Sands - 2.5 stars It's a cute story, really. This story is a continuation of a story The Claire Switch Project in the Dates From HellAnthology. Yes, they can be read on their own, however, they make way more sense when they are read in order. The story continues with the destabilizer now in Claire and Kyle's basement. The destabilizer turns people into shape shifters. Jill gets zapped and Jill spends the day getting chased by one of Kyle's old associates. It's a cute love story and probably the first time I've ever encountered a "make-out" break. Like, you are being chased by a scientist that wants to slice and dice you, you don't have time to make out! Cute story, not great.
Six by Marjorie M. Liu - 2 stars This story starts with the longest sentence ever. Over 300 characters. I know this because I put it in one of my updates. It's a vampire story set in China. Very different. Quite original. I just could not get into this story.
The Harvest by Vicki Pettersson -2.5 stars A story about Light and Shadows. Zoe Archer is trying to protect a premature baby. The baby disappears and Zoe must find her. Interesting concept. I thought that the resolution was just too simple. Again I could not get into this story.
So there you have it. One good story and probably because I like Kim Harrison's Hollows series. Borrow from the library. (less)
Charlaine Harris, Nalini Singh, Ilona Andrews, and Meljean Brook make a nice combination in this anthology about hellhounds. The major draw for me was...moreCharlaine Harris, Nalini Singh, Ilona Andrews, and Meljean Brook make a nice combination in this anthology about hellhounds. The major draw for me was Magic Mourns by Ilona Andrews. I must say that I enjoyed all the stories in the book and I am glad to have discovered some new favorite authors and series to explore.
The Britlingens Go to Hell - Charlaine Harris I found this to be the weakest story in the anthology. It’s nothing like the Sookie Stackhouse series. I did like Clovache and Batanya the main characters but they were a little bland. Overall assessment 3/5 stars
Angel’s Judgement - Nalini Singh What an interesting world that included angels, vampires, Guild Hunters, and slayers. I loved the interaction between the two main characters Sara and Deacon. I’ve now added Nalini Singh’s books to my to-read list. My rating 4/5 stars.
Magic Mourns - Ilona Andrews Andrea and Raphael get their own story. I love Ilona Andrew’s sense of humor. I loved the combination of Ilona Andrew’s world of magic waves and Greek mythology. The banter between the two main characters was entertaining as well. Rating 4/5 stars
Blind Spot - Meljean Brook I haven’t read Meljean Brook’s Guardian series yet, but it has moved up the list. I really enjoy Meljean Brook’s writing style. She writes believable characters, engaging dialogue, and interesting worlds. I really liked Sir Pup the Hellhound in all of his incarnations. A hellhound with character - 4/5 stars. (less)
Into the Woods is a collection of short stories from Kim Harrison’s Hollows series. The author has included four new stories from outside this world a...moreInto the Woods is a collection of short stories from Kim Harrison’s Hollows series. The author has included four new stories from outside this world as well. The first six stories have been published before, either in anthologies or as bonus material at the back of mass market paperbacks. The author adds a note at the beginning of each story providing background to the story and where it was originally published.
In rating these stories, I just couldn’t help myself. I am a hopeless fan girl of this series. While Rachel can be whiny and annoying, I still love her and all of the colorfully eccentric characters that surround her. I’ve rated this anthology a solid 4/5 Stars. I enjoyed most of the Hollows stories equally.
Here is a rundown of the stories and my thoughts: 1.The Bespelled First published in the mass market paperback edition of The Outlaw Demon Wails. This is the story of everyone’s favorite demon Al and how he seduced Ceri to the Ever After. Al is deliciously demonic and Ceri, no innocent herself, proves that if you play with fire (or demons) you WILL get burned.
2.Two Ghosts for Sister Rachel. First published in the anthology Holidays are Hell. This is the story of a much younger Rachel, prior to her becoming a runner for the I.S. It’s a nice background story and it gives insight into Rachel’s illness. The story also introduces some characters that appear in later books, like Tanaka and Pierce the ghost. Pierce has some humorous observations about modern life in this story.
3.Undead in the Garden of Good and Evil. First published in the anthology Dates from Hell. This is Ivy’s story. Ivy and the men of her life: Piscary, Art, and Kisten. It is kind of a survival story, detailing Ivy’s abuse at the hand of master vampire Piscary, then later on her boss/partner Art. I loved her relationship with Kisten – he was her safe place. Mia the Banshee is introduced in this story. She’ll make an appearance in Black Magic Sanction. Lesson learned from this story: Don’t mess with Ivy – she gets even.
4.Dirty Magic. From the Hotter than Hell anthology. Mia the Banshee is one scary character. Banshees are kind of like a psychic vampire, draining psychic energy from their victims. Factor in a mama banshee out to feed her extremely rare offspring, and you have a very scary character.
5.The Bridges of Eden Park. The death of a much loved character (I’m not spoiling) was a surprise even to the author. This story appears at the back of the mass market paperback edition of For a Few Demons More. In this story, Rachel and Kisten help out Kisten’s sister Chrissie in her ongoing custody battle with Sean. This story kind of felt like a Western standoff (cue the music from The Good, The Bad, and the Ugly) involving witchcraft and vampires.
6.Key Line Drifter. From the anthology Unbound. This story is perfect for fans of Jenks the pixy and Bis the gargoyle. Ivy places a supporting role in this story, almost a “straight man vampire.” This story gives a lot of insight into the perils of pixy life, their high immortality rate, and their dedication to family and gardens. This story also includes paranormal creatures such as a dryad and nymph.
7.Million Dollar Baby – This story takes place during the events of Pale Demon where Trent and Jenks go off on an Elf Quest. Trent and Jenks head off to rainy Washington State to retrieve Trent’s 3 month old baby daughter Lucy from the bitchy Ellasbeth. Reading this gave me a renewed respect for Trent, as well as a respect for Jenks’ non-stop running commentary about life in general. If I ever need to rescue someone, I’d want someone like Jenks on my side.
Stories from Outside the Hollows – Not exactly my favorites, but entertaining nonetheless. The remaining stories are paranormal in nature and involve a different take on vampires, dryads, and a girl with special powers.
1.Pet Shop Boys. This story seems like a cross between vampire and fae lore. It reminded me a little of another vampire story with redheads, only these redheads changed hair color once they fed. A pet shop employee is invited to a party at Gateways, a wildly popular club. There is something sinister about the club and most of the patrons are redheaded. Neat twist at the end.
2.Temson Estates The first of two stories about dryads. In this case, the dryads are just spirits in the wood. When a young man inherits the woods and intends to sell, he is convinced to do otherwise because of the spirits in the trees.
3. Spider Silk Another story about dryads, though in this story, the dryad is an evil spirit who lures young girls away from their families. Surprising twist at the end.
4.Grace – This is the story of a woman with special powers, charged with collecting others with similar powers for her agency, The Strand. Interesting story with potential to become a full length novel.
Into the Woods is an enjoyable anthology. Fans of Kim Harrison’s Hollows series will love having all the short stories in one place. Recommended.
Thank you to Edelweiss and Harper Voyager for a review copy of this book.
Hex Appeal is a collection of 9 short stories. While anthologies are not usually my favorite reads, I found this anthology to be a quick and enjoyable...moreHex Appeal is a collection of 9 short stories. While anthologies are not usually my favorite reads, I found this anthology to be a quick and enjoyable way to spend a freezing cold Sunday. While most of the stories ranked in the 2 - 3 star range, 3 stories stood out for me:
RETRIBUTION CLAUSE by Ilona Andrews I'm beginning to think that there is probably not a book or story of the writing team Ilona Andrews that I wouldn't like. I mean, who would think to combine the urban fantasy world of Kate Daniels and something as innocuous as insurance adjusters? Retribution clause takes place in Philadelphia, in a world where magic wreaks havoc. The murdered wife of a lawyer had a retribution clause attached to her life insurance policy and Adam and Siroun are sent to "collect". 4/5 stars
BIGFOOT ON CAMPUS by Jim Butcher Figures that Harry Dresden would know Bigfoot aka River Shoulders. Harry explains the mayhem and destruction at a campus dorm to a campus cop. Oh, and there are vampires of the White Court involved. How I have missed Harry. 4.5/5 stars
THE ARCANE ART OF MISDIRECTION by Carrie Vaughn Julie, a Las Vegas card dealer witnesses a cheater. She then sees something completely out of the ordinary and follows Grant out of the casino. A clever take on magic and illusion. 4/5 stars
HOLLY'S BALM by Rachel Caine So when is a zombie not a zombie? When he has been resurrected by a witch. This short story is about a serial killer who resurrects his victims and kills them again. Nicely done. 3/5 stars
The other stories were not to my taste but fans of those authors may enjoy those stories.(less)
’Til the World Ends is an anthology of three novellas about a post-apocalyptic world. I was excited to read this anthology most...moreReally good anthology.
’Til the World Ends is an anthology of three novellas about a post-apocalyptic world. I was excited to read this anthology mostly because of Julie Kagawa’s story Dawn of Eden, the prequel to her highly successful Blood of Eden series. I’ve enjoyed Ann Aguirre’s Sirantha Jax series and Karen Duval was a new to me author.
Dawn of Eden by Julie Kagawa Easily my favorite story in the anthology, or perhaps it was because I was familiar with this world. Dawn of Eden is the story of the aftermath of the Red Lung virus and the beginnings of the scary vampire-human zombie like creatures that rule the night. This story focuses on Kylie, a Red Lung virus survivor and Ben Archer. Ben is headed home to his estranged family. The story is exciting and the pacing is frenetic. Some interesting revelations are made about the hybrids. There is also the appearance of a mysterious character, identified only as K. Well done and darker than The Immortal Rules. Recommended that The Immortal Rules be read BEFORE this novella.
Rating: 4 stars
Thistle and Thorne by Ann Aguirre I’m not really sure if this story fits into any of Ms. Aguirre’s series. This is an interesting take about a corrupt world set in the future after some world changing chemical spills. The world is lacking in resources and the main character resorts to theft in order to feed her younger siblings. She pairs up with an enforcer and the two of them work to unseat an incredibly bloodthirsty and corrupt official. I loved how this unlikely couple worked together. Nicely done.
Rating: 4 stars
Sun Spots by Karen Duval I’ve never read anything by Ms. Duval, but I think I may need to look up some of her books. Sun Spots takes place after a devastating event called The Bell Ringer. The sun sends down deadly sparks that can kill most humans. Our heroine Sarah is able to predict these storms and makes it her purpose to warn people to take shelter when these storms arrive. She meets Ian who is able to control the weather. They soon realize that their powers are complementary and seek out government officials because Sarah has a premonition of a catastrophic end of the world. Sun Spots was an interesting story that held my attention throughout.
Rating: 4 stars
Overall, this was an enjoyable anthology and I am looking forward to reading more books by these authors.
Thank you to NetGalley and Harlequin books for a review copy of this book.