This is my second reading of Red [joining Jaye & her fans for GRRR Gonna Re-Read Red) Month:], and I think I actually enjoyed it more this time ar...moreThis is my second reading of Red [joining Jaye & her fans for GRRR Gonna Re-Read Red) Month:], and I think I actually enjoyed it more this time around.
The characters are well developed and engaging, and the story is filled with action, humor, and a smattering of romance. I especially like that there's an even balance of quiet character interaction moments and fight sequences along the way as the story ramps up to the final confrontation.
I am really looking forward to reading the next installment in the Sabina Kane saga: The Mage in Black.(less)
I never would have suspected that I would enjoy reading about Ancient Roman war maneuvers, but Butcher's inge...moreYet another great novel from Jim Butcher.
I never would have suspected that I would enjoy reading about Ancient Roman war maneuvers, but Butcher's ingenious twist of adding that style to an alien planet and then tweaking it by adding fantasy/magical creatures as their opponents makes this series exciting and different.
I cannot wait to read the final novel in the series when it is released on November 24th.
A great ending to a terrific series. I never anticipated that I would enjoy a series based in the world of Roman battle strategy. By adding strange cr...moreA great ending to a terrific series. I never anticipated that I would enjoy a series based in the world of Roman battle strategy. By adding strange creatures & magic elements to an alternate world similar to that of the height of the Roman Empire, Butcher managed to suck me in with the coming of age, romance, and political intrigue plots.
As is the norm with Butcher, there's a healthy dose of humor and the supernatural to lighten up what could have been just another bloody war story. Which means that it is so much more. (less)
No surprise that I thoroughly enjoyed Jim Butcher's short story "The Warrior". A fast-paced tale, centering on Michael Carpenter, his family, and his...moreNo surprise that I thoroughly enjoyed Jim Butcher's short story "The Warrior". A fast-paced tale, centering on Michael Carpenter, his family, and his connections within the church many months after the events in 'Small Favor'. One of the reasons why I enjoy Butcher's stories is that his novels are filled with character development and lots of action. We don't get 3+ pages of unnecessary description about the scene, and if the description goes on for more than a paragraph, it's because it's important to the characters or the scene itself. This is also why his novels are so tough to put down once started.
I also easily fell into Kat Richardson's Harper Blaine story "The Third Death of the Little Clay Dog". A 'Greywalker' story centered around a third party client's bequest in their will to place a clay dog statue on someone's grave during the Day of the Dead celebration in Oaxaca, Mexico. I found the mystery to be intriguing and the characters engaging. I have the first 2 novels of the 'Greywalker' series, and I planned to get around to reading them eventually. However, I enjoyed this story so much that I'm bumping them up to "next" after I finish Butcher's 'Turn Coat' and 'Princep's Fury'.
To a lesser degree, I enjoyed Thomas Sneigoski's 'Remy Chandler' short story "Noah's Orphans" -- particularly his conversations with his Black Lab Marlowe (who reminded me of Shadow, the dog I grew up with). The story was well-written, interesting, and I liked Remy & Marlowe, but the battling of fallen angels and tracking of Noah's killer is just not interesting subject matter for me.
It is rare that every story in an anthology speaks to the reader. "Mean Streets" does pretty well in that I enjoyed 3 of the 4 stories presented. The final short story "The Difference A Day Makes" by Simon R. Green was the dud for me. John Taylor is a private investigator in The Nightside ("the longest night in the world, where the sun has never shone and never will") where anything dark, sick & twisted that can be imagined can be found. Taylor is a paranormal version of the hardboiled detective Philip Marlowe with the dialogue sounding exactly like Humphrey Bogart's characterization. I never connected with any of the characters, and the mystery was unappealing to me. Way too formulaic in style and plot, and too much overblown description about things I could care less about. I found the story to be boring and trite, and it was a struggle to read the entire tale and not just stop reading after the first chapter.(less)
This novel is a short story following Thomas, Harry Dresden's vampire half-brother, as he attempts to get Harry out of danger without letting him know...moreThis novel is a short story following Thomas, Harry Dresden's vampire half-brother, as he attempts to get Harry out of danger without letting him know what's really going on.
While not as fulfilling as a full blown Dresden File, this is still a fun Jim Butcher story. It was cool to jump into Thomas' head and view a sticky situation through his eyes. (less)
Now this is what an anthology should be! MY BIG FAT SUPERNATURAL WEDDING succeeds as much as BLOOD LITE failed. To be fair, since we're dealing with 9...moreNow this is what an anthology should be! MY BIG FAT SUPERNATURAL WEDDING succeeds as much as BLOOD LITE failed. To be fair, since we're dealing with 9 vs 21 short stories, I shouldn't be surprised. Here the stories are more like novellas so they have sufficient time to develop character and plot. MY BIG FAT SUPERNATURAL WEDDING also showcases IMO the cream of the urban fantasy crop. As is indicated by the anthology's title, all of the stories deal with supernatural weddings.
Again, my draw to the book was knowing a Jim Butcher Dresden File was within. The fact that Charlaine Harris and Lori Handeland contributed stories too was just icing on the Wedding Cake! Even better, I like 6/7 stories this time!
L.A. Banks' "Spellbound" -- Take the infamous Hatfield/McCoy feud, throw in a little Romeo & Juliet romance, then add the supernatural. Not the strongest tale, but sweet little romp.
Jim Butcher's "Something Borrowed" -- Werewolves Billy & Georgia are getting married and Harry's the best man. As is always the case, something is keeping things from running smoothly. Georgia's not acting like herself, and Harry has to call in Murphy to help him save the day. Another high action winner from Butcher. One of my favorites of his short stories.
Rachel Caine's "Dead Man's Chest" -- I really enjoyed this tale too. A twist-filled tale that I thought would be a (yo) ho-hum story at first, but bloomed into a fun, romantic adventure. It even made me look forward to her continuation story in MY BIG FAT SUPERNATURAL HONEYMOON.
P.N. Elrod's "All Shook Up" -- Definitely the weak link of the book. A pre-cog caterer meets an Elvis impersonator at a wedding; a great premise that fails to deliver. Perhaps she should stick to editing because she did a great job assembling this anthology.
Esther M. Friesner's "The Wedding of Wylda Serene" -- This story was also less enjoyable to me, but at least the ending ramped up the action and consequences of Greek Gods meddling in human affairs.
Lori Handeland's "Charmed by the Moon" -- Creepy and romantic. I'm new to Lori's novels and haven't read her Nightcreature series yet, so I can't say how it falls into the existing series, but I like the story enough to put them on my "To Read" list.
Charlaine Harris' "Tacky" -- I've yet to read her Southern Vampire novels (waiting on availability through my library), but I love HBO's "True Blood" and her short stories are fun and amusing. This tale deals with the delicate wedding details when a vampire bride stoops to marrying a werewolf.
Sherrilyn Kenyon's "A Hard Day's Night-Searcher" -- Again, I'm unfamiliar with the author's Dark-Hunter series, so I can't comment on whether or not this short story fits the mold. My only complaint is that it didn't really define the world enough for those who don't follow the series. However, I found it to be an enjoyable story about Dark-Hunter whose naive squire publishes a magazine story that too-closely resembles his Dark-Hunter's life. When another more Type-A female squire comes to arrest his bumbling squire, the Dark-Hunter makes a deal hoping to win her affection and save his squire.
Susan Krinard's "... Or Forever Hold Your Peace" -- I liked this tale set in a Victorian alternate universe where magic is inherited along with one's title. An imaginative concept to comment upon societal class struggles when a bride is kidnapped at her wedding.
The "sequel" to MY BIG FAT SUPERNATURAL WEDDING, this anthology was pretty successful, although I enjoyed fewer stories than in its predecessor. That'...moreThe "sequel" to MY BIG FAT SUPERNATURAL WEDDING, this anthology was pretty successful, although I enjoyed fewer stories than in its predecessor. That's not unusual for anthologies, but giving that I liked all but one previously, I had higher hopes for success.
As one suspects from the title, this time around all of the short stories are centered around honeymoons.
Also, it should be no surprise that yet another of Jim Butcher's Dresden File stories brought MY BIG FAT SUPERNATURAL HONEYMOON to my attention.
Kelley Armstrong's "Stalked" -- A stalker livens up a werewolf couple's less than exciting honeymoon. Soon the stalker becomes the stalked and the couple revel in the chase. I'm not familiar with her Women of the Otherworld series, but these characters and the story was so engaging that I'm looking forward to adding them to my "To Read" list.
Jim Butcher's "Heorot" -- Marcone's Ms. Gard helps Harry rescue a bride kidnapped before her honeymoon. Great melding of Beowulf lore into the Dresden world, and we discover who/what "Amazon" Gard really is in the process. Plus, courageous and lovable Mouse is featured! My new favorite Jim Butcher short story.
Rachel Caine's "In Roman Holiday, or SPQ-arrrrrr" -- Taking off where her story from MY BIG FAT SUPERNATURAL WEDDING left us. More pirate adventures with newlyweds Cecelia & Captain Lockhart. This time other cursed sea captains are out to capture Cecelia believing that she can break their curses as well.
PN Elrod's "Her Mother's Daughter" -- Once again this author's story does little to move me. Although I will admit this one was better than the one in MY BIG FAT SUPERNATURAL WEDDING. I can safely say that I won't be reading any of her novels anytime soon.
Caitlin Kittredge's "Newlydeads" -- An uninspiring mess of a story about people going missing at a resort due to being sacrificed to sea monsters. It was a chore to slog through this story.
Marjorie M. Liu's "Where the Heart Lives" -- This is a lovely story despite never having read this author's Dirk & Steele series. Two sad and beautiful love stories surround what appears to be a haunted woods. The reader easily gets drawn into the mystery and the characters. A definite highlight to this anthology.
Katie MacAlister's "Cat Got Your Tongue?" -- A fun, jaunty tale about one living and two ghostly couples in a haunted castle. Again, the characters are engaging, and the story is filled with humor and a few twists. Another bright spot.
Lilith Saintcrow's "Half of Being Married" -- A charming story of newlywed vampire hunter Kat and werewolf Mitchell. Both haven't told the other about their supernatural secrets -- secrets that they worry will destroy their marriage when their quiet honeymoon in a small town is interrupted by a nest of vampires. Lots of action and characters that you like from the start.
Ronda Thompson's "Wulf in Groom's Clothing" -- An okay story about a mismatched couple honeymooning in the forest. Laura pretends to like roughing it to please her new hubby Sam, an avid nature lover. Sam, as his surname Wulf suggests, is a werewolf and his cabin in the wild is his way of coping with the 3 days each month that he changes. He's hoping that consummating his marriage will finally break the curse, but things don't go as planned. I didn't feel that this was much more than a standard romance formula with werewolf thrown in to make it seem different. Unfortunately, that idea is pretty prevalent (and has been done better) in urban fantasy.
I liked 6 of the 9 stories contained within. Definitely worth borrowing from a friend or library, but I wouldn't bother buying this one -- despite LOVING Butcher's story. I will simply hope that someday all of his short stories will be compiled.(less)
The Stepsister Scheme is the first book in Hines' Princess series that takes our traditional beliefs about the tales of the Prinecesses Cinderella, Sl...moreThe Stepsister Scheme is the first book in Hines' Princess series that takes our traditional beliefs about the tales of the Prinecesses Cinderella, Sleeping Beauty, and Snow White and gives them a new, old twist. Basing the princesses' backgrounds on the darker Grimm's versions, rather than the Disney-ified versions most of us grew up with, he then gives these ladies the strength of character to fight against their personal injustices and protect their loved ones.
The story is told from the viewpoint of Princess Danielle (de Glas) Whiteshore – more commonly known as Cinderella – who is having trouble adjusting to her new life as wife to her charming Prince Armand and seeing herself as a princess, not a servant. I was concerned that Hines would just expand on the sword-wielding, take no-nonsense Danielle from one of my favorite films Ever After, but I like that this Danielle isn't imbued with self-confidence and still defaults to acting subservient from years of being treated as such by her stepmother and stepsisters. Unlike Ever After, this Cinderella retains her ability to communicate with animals – albeit mostly telepathically.
After narrowly avoiding being assassinated by her stepsister and told that her husband has been kidnapped, Danielle soon discovers that her mother-in-law Queen Beatrice has a habit of taking in stray princesses and protects her kingdom behind the scenes through the use of secret passageways, an enchanted map, and the talents of warrior Princess Talia Malak-al-Dahshat (Sleeping Beauty) and sorceress Princess Ermillina Curtana of Allesandria (Snow White). Queen Bea (love that little wink!) encourages Talia and Snow to let Danielle help rescue Prince Armand. The girls reluctantly agree and soon discover that while Danielle might not be a skilled swordswoman, her determination and ingenuity are an asset to their quest to infiltrate the lands of fairy and retrieve the Prince.
The Stepsister Scheme does a great job of allowing the princesses to show their strengths and faults, lets them to learn from one another, gives them worthy adversaries to fight, and allows them to struggle with failure. All in all, it's a well-balanced, action adventure with interesting and well rounded characters that you root to succeed. I appreciated that the girls earlier life struggles differ from the happily-ever-after versions, and therefore, color how they act now that they are in control. There were a few parts of the story that dragged a bit, but given that this is the first novel in a series, I chalked that up to information that may play out in subsequent novels. Over all I'd say that Hines did a terrific job of meshing lightness and darkness to bring to life princesses that are more worthy of emulation than their Disney counterparts. (less)
The Mermaid's Madness is definitely not the Disney version of The Little Mermaid. This novel is more in line with Hans Christian Andersen's original t...moreThe Mermaid's Madness is definitely not the Disney version of The Little Mermaid. This novel is more in line with Hans Christian Andersen's original tale and is even darker than The Stepsister Scheme, Hines' first book in the Princess series.
Again told from the viewpoint of Danielle (Cinderella), Queen Beatrice, Princess Ermillina (Snow White), and Princess Talia (Sleeping Beauty) sail the newly christened ship the Glass Slipper to meet with King Posannes and his daughter, the new Queen Levanna, along with the rest of their Undine (mere folk) tribe. But what begins as a traditional royal ceremony between the nation of Lorindar and the Undine for safe passage across the seas, quickly devolves into the accidental stabbing of a royal, and a declaration of war on all nations by the Undine.
Again, Hines manages to craft an engaging story of darkness and betrayal where only Danielle, Snow, and Talia can save Lorindar and its neighboring kingdoms from certain war. We quickly discover that like Snow and Talia, Lirea's dream of happily-ever-after with her human prince ended in betrayal and the act of murdering her beloved has driven her to madness. Aided by yet another princess rescued by Queen Bea, Lirea's younger sister Lannadea, and Captain Hephyra and the crew of Queen Bea's fairy ship the Phillipa, the princesses set sail to locate the Undine witch Morveren, in the hope she will give them the answers they need to succeed against Lirea.
This novel is much more fast-paced than its predecessor, which avoids the lulls that distracted me while reading The Stepsister Scheme. Refreshingly, Hines continues to allow the princesses to show their flaws and learn from their mistakes. He also is adept at creating "villains" that are shades of grey –so much so that their motivations for acting opposed to our heroines can be seen as rational. And while the Princesses get to save the day, Price Armand, King Theodore, and Father Isaac contribute where they can given the circumstances (which includes the fact that being a matriarchal society, the Undine don't recognize men as leaders – King Posannes is leader only in that Levanna was their Queen-in-training).
The novel isn't all doom and gloom, and Hines sprinkles in humor and lightness via Snow's flirtations with the crew, Danielle's interactions with her husband and son Jakob, and Talia's jealousy toward Snow and her bond with Jakob. I was also tickled by some humorous telepathic conversations between Danielle, the sharks, and the kelpies.
The Mermaid's Madness aptly builds upon The Stepsister Scheme's foundation and leads the reader toward the next adventure in this series entitled Red Hood's Revenge. Bring it, Red, bring it! :) (less)