I first came to this for Charlaine Harris' story. Back-story on cousin Hadley revealed. And who doesn't love when Bubba's around? However, the story s...moreI first came to this for Charlaine Harris' story. Back-story on cousin Hadley revealed. And who doesn't love when Bubba's around? However, the story serves more as an introduction for the next Sookie novel. Those who have not read the series up to this story will not really appreciate what's going on.
Davidson's Queen Betsy story is fast paced and amusing (as is most of Davidson's writing). Ahhh, Sinclair...you sexily sinister bastard. The story also serves as a lead-in to the next novel, but I don't feel it necessitates in-depth knowledge of the series to be enjoyable.
The Anita Blake story is weak weak weak. And pointless. Begins with an interesting premise. Devolves to "must withstand Jean Claude's sexual pull and feminine clothing." And the interesting premise? The problem introduced at the beginning of the tale? Handled by Malcolm with no involvement from Anita. Weak.
The Mageverse/Angela Knight story did not entice me at all. Too many mixed genres and mythologies. While it wasn't badly written, the universe is too much of a hodge-podge for me to be interested in the series proper.
Vickie Taylor's story was too angsty for me. Didn't arouse any further interest.
My review is really of Kenyon's story. Fury-love the Kattalakis brothers. Interesting tale that hints at more unpleasantness to come for the various w...moreMy review is really of Kenyon's story. Fury-love the Kattalakis brothers. Interesting tale that hints at more unpleasantness to come for the various werehunter clans.(less)
Stories were boring and EXTREMELY amaturish. Authors need to be taught effective POV. Also, just because it's a short story, does not mean that you dr...moreStories were boring and EXTREMELY amaturish. Authors need to be taught effective POV. Also, just because it's a short story, does not mean that you drop the concepts of beginning, middle, and end.
The more accomplished stories within the anthology belonged to Rebecca York, Jenna Maclaine, Dina James (if it were part of a series), and Karen Chance (I might check out her books).
Overall, don't buy. Get it from the library if you must.(less)
I have long touted Rebecca as one of my favorite novels. It is steeped in mystery and unease, and the unseen namesake haunts the reader’s mind as easi...moreI have long touted Rebecca as one of my favorite novels. It is steeped in mystery and unease, and the unseen namesake haunts the reader’s mind as easily as she takes hold of the protagonist’s.
Du Maurier’s talents for the eerie and chilling are once again laid bare in this collection of short stories. Each tale holds a thread of the forbidden, of the wondrous, of the inexplicable, and leaves the reader ill at ease. At the same time, du Maurier’s stories speak of quietude and pleasure — a juxtaposition that makes her thrilling twists all the harder to bear, and more significant.
Of the grouping, The Birds is the most astonishing. (Although Hitchcock based his film on the short, it’s my understanding that his version is quite different; I'm now anxious to view it for comparison's sake.) An idyllic Cornwall landscape, a steady and devoted father, a loving and carefree family — all subjected to siege from an unexpected front. Throughout the story, Nat Hocken likens the situation to the bombings during the war. He sets to stocking up for the duration of the troubles, ensuring that the house is secure and his family provided for as the birds mercilessly attempt entry. While Nat’s quiet steadfastness is comforting, it brings into sharp relief the equally silent, equally determined forces at his door. The result is far more frightening than the mere idea of birds attacking: it’s the standoff, the uncertainty of it all, that inspires real terror.
Monte Verità strikes an odd chord. It begins at the end, really, with the narrator looking back on strange happenings over the course of 40 years. He’s burdened with what-ifs and living a solitary life, unmoved by the success he’s reached. He’s all too aware of the peace he might have obtained had he only the courage to “have done with the trappings of the world” and seek out the truth that called to him. Again, du Maurier places this everyday restlessness in contrast to solitude and understanding, this time using mountainous landscapes as her playground. Of particular note is the reverence with which she treats nature, her characters claiming their respect for each summit, "not as an enemy to be conquered, but as an ally to be won." Oft-repeated is the idea that the mountains require everything of a climber, a theme that follows through to the very end. At the close, the narrator evokes pity — left in a limbo of his own making, never to experience completeness, nor to have the luxury of ignorance.
The Apple Tree and The Little Photographer share a common theme with Monte Verità: dissatisfaction with the life one has chosen. In The Apple Tree, a widower likens a stooped and sickly tree to his recently departed wife. His feeling of newfound freedom is marred by this association, until the tree seems to take on a sinister sentience that haunts him daily. A strange little tale, it is nonetheless thought-provoking. Has his dutiful, weary wife found a way to nag him from the grave, or is his own guilt serving to drive him mad?
The Little Photographer presents perhaps the most reprehensible of characters: a shallow, bored woman who uses her beauty and her position to unravel an overly sensitive young man. Her cringe-worthy, condescending treatment of him leads to even greater tragedy at a seaside resort. Comforting, then, is du Maurier’s sly implication that nature will have its revenge.
Kiss Me Again, Stranger was the most straight-forward of the stories. More modern both in its voice and pacing, it showcases du Maurier’s versatility. She steps away from her more meandering style and yet the scenes still retain a dream-like quality. Speaking of young love, chance meetings, and sudden disillusionment, this is the emotion of The Little Photographer from the other side. Reading the two back-to-back fosters both hope and despair, as if du Maurier believes in love but can’t help be utterly wary of the toll it demands.
The last story, The Old Man, might be the weakest of the grouping. It seems both reality and fairytale, or perhaps the odd interpretation of a mind incapable of separating the two. Again, love is tested, and this time it wins out. But the cost seems so unbearably high to an outsider’s eyes. It leaves the reader feeling that for true devotion to survive, one must be willing to give up everything. Love demands all, just like the peak of Monte Verità.
These stories beckon me to return to Manderley once again. I’d forgotten how adept a writer du Maurier is — how she can take a setting of such beauty and grandeur and surreptitiously work to tear it all down and reveal the rotting foundation beneath. Her tales rely on the relatable, chilling notion that nothing is ever as idyllic as it seems. Horror in its most insidious form, and I look forward to experiencing more of it.(less)
"Read" is a bit of a lie. I'm holding off on finishing this until I'm ready to read Briggs' Alpha & Omega series. But, the story so far....
Eileen...more"Read" is a bit of a lie. I'm holding off on finishing this until I'm ready to read Briggs' Alpha & Omega series. But, the story so far....
Eileen Wilks' contribution is confusing. The language is stilted at times and the description of powers isn't adequate. There's potential, but the story and characters weren't very compelling. Also, as others said, the ending felt forced, hasty, and screamed "buy my book." If you want me as a reader, show that you can satisfy me!
Karen Chance's Buying Trouble lives up to her usual flair for world and character building. Telling the story of Dorina's roommate, Claire, it grants a greater glimpse into the structure of Faerie. More PNR than UF, since it does involve a HEA. Good pacing, likable characters, well plotted. To my mind, it can stand alone, but I've read Cassie Palmer and am starting Midnight's Daughter, so perhaps my perception is skewed.(less)
Enjoyable anthology, with several solid contributions-some of which have encouraged me to check out new writers.
Harris: Dracula's birthday party, host...moreEnjoyable anthology, with several solid contributions-some of which have encouraged me to check out new writers.
Harris: Dracula's birthday party, hosted by Fangtasia. I love anything Eric-related. Pam continues to be the funniest character of the series.
Golden: Eastern European folklore brings a twist to a 16 year old's life. I like Golden, but I think the story would've been better had we seen more of the character post-"big reveal".
Crider: Teenage vampire tells his tale. Trite. Ends very abruptly.
Armstrong: To live another year, a vampire must take a life-but what if she's getting weary? Well-written and interesting.
Butcher: A Harry Dresden story. I hadn't read anything of the Dresden Files before this. Harry seems a likable character. This one involves a vampire ruckus in a mall, with appearances by Thomas and Molly.
Elrod: A Jack Fleming short with a good build up. Humorous and well-written, with a satisfying ending. Compelling enough that now I want to give the series a try!
Caine: A sort of prequel to Morganville, showing how Eve ended up at the Glass House. Tight, fast-paced story that makes me now like Eve a whole lot more.
Stein: A caterer witch and a betrayed vampire find themselves much more intimate than they'd ever dreamed. Interesting, but breaks off abruptly without any resolution.
Huff: Story from the same world as her Smoke books, which I haven't read. In trying hard to make this story accessible to those who haven't read the series, Huff tends toward over-description and an info dump that prevents the story from flowing.
Haines: Mississippi Delta Series. A woman is at odds with Death. Told in the present tense. Perhaps it would make sense/be more interesting if I'd read her books? But based on this, I've no desire to!
Hallaway: Based in the same universe as Tall, Dark & Dead. Garnet is determined to prove to her vampire boyfriend Sebastian that his birthday's not cursed-so of course, everything goes wrong. Not bad.
Viets: First vamp story by a mystery writer. A betrayed wife gets a fantastic revenge against her husband.
Kelner: A vamp revists her grave to find a Jane Doe buried there. What follows is a quick and neat little mystery, as Stella and her boyfriend Mark try to identify the girl and solve her murder. (less)
I haven't yet read Mysteria, but this anthology makes me want to revisit the magical town. Davidson's and Grant's contributions were the best.
Disdaini...moreI haven't yet read Mysteria, but this anthology makes me want to revisit the magical town. Davidson's and Grant's contributions were the best.
Disdaining Trouble, MaryJanice Davidson: Another amusing tale from the master of sarcasm. The Desdaine triplets enjoy wreaking havoc, until the disappearance and reappearance of their sister seems to cause them to take pause. A ghost named Rae finds an unlikely companion in a stubborn river nymph. And a local, normal pizza guy falls in love with a highly abnormal demon-hunter. The characters are outrageous, the pace is fast, and the dialogue is acerbic and witty.
The Nanny from Hell, Susan Grant A demon with an obsession for humanity (and an unhealthy taste for cuddling) is sent on a mission to take down Lucifer's future rival. What she finds in Mysteria is unexpected--will she complete her task? Or will Mysteria work its magic on her as it's done to another demon in the past? A great story involving demons, hunters, and a baby who is a LOT more than he seems. Well-written and while not wholly original, quite amusing and fast-paced. Makes me want to look into more of Grant's writing.
A Tawdry Affair, Gena Showalter Eh. Porn. I just can't take to Showalter's writing. A witch bent on revenge uses a magical pen to get back at the man who rejected her. Unlike the first two stories, this one's plot is thin and designed to get the characters into bed. I like some story-telling with my romantic entanglements!
It's in His Kiss, P. C. Cast Summer: "He's cute beyond belief! Don't you think he looks just like Legolas?" Jenny: "I guess so, only gayer. If that's possible." A Rochester look-alike of a vampire helps a control-freak schoolteacher realize that not everything in life has to adhere to her plans. All while a Certified Discipline Nymph puts in her two cents. This is a good blend of humor and romance, but the resolution was a bit sudden and weak. (less)
An anthology with each author tackling a different kooky resident in the magical town of Mysteria. I never expect too much from anthologies, so the li...moreAn anthology with each author tackling a different kooky resident in the magical town of Mysteria. I never expect too much from anthologies, so the light-hearted fluff made for pleasant reading. It's fun to see how different authors approach the same setting.
Mortal in Mysteria by Susan Grant
Apparently it's the season for beautiful naked men to rain down on Mysteria. A pastor's plea for a "sign" is answered when a former demon appears in her yard and helps her fulfill her calling. (I'd really like to know if Great Grandma Eudora has a story somewhere, the old minx.)
Alone Wolf by MJD
A werewolf is searching for his own kind. But what's more important--finding other werewolves, or feeling like he belongs? Typical crazy characters, my favorite being the ghostly Rae. I liked seeing the triplets through Cole's eyes. The love connection was bizarre though.
The Witches of Mysteria and the Dead Who Love Them by Gena Showalter
There is something about Showalter's writing that always rubs me the wrong way. This is an overly sweet romance, and the language of her sex scenes seems too harsh by comparison. It's as though her characters become raving rough nymphos. I'm all for dirty talk, but it doesn't flow properly here.
Candy Cox and the Big Bad (Were)Wolf by P.C. Cast
The best of the four stories. Cute, sexy and amusing, this one actually brought out the sappy in me. A burnt-out school teacher takes on a passionate younger werewolf lover. Apart, they're each lacking the magic to make life fulfilling. Together, they've got the inspiration to ::snifflesniffle:: make their dreams come true. Justin is ridiculously perfect.(less)