The primary reason that lured me to this book was Ilona Andrews' Magic Tests. The fact that there was a Sookie Stackhouse short story in this compilation was just icing on top. So my rating of this book was solely based on these two pieces of work as I hadn't read any of the others.Magic Tests - by Ilona Andrews - 4.5 stars
Admittedly, I have always been a huge Kate Daniels fan, so anytime a new book/story became available, I'd go out of my way to get my hands on it. This one was no different. I was ecstatic when I got this book from the library and was able to temporarily sate my thirst for the Kate-universe.
This short story was told from Julie's POV. Julie was Kate and Curran's ward, and had been a important side character from early on in the series, but she had never taken centre stage until now. Julie had no real offensive/combative abilities - not that she really needed it because no one would touch her with a ten-foot pole due to her connections to Kate & Curran and the Atlantic Pack. She was never a favourite character of mine, simply because I always considered her to be too bratty for my taste. I was enlightened by her character in this story because we got to see a slightly different side.
Julie was given a test by Kate (and a prospective school principal), to find a missing student at the said school. One thing to note was that her skill lied in her ability to see/sense magical auras around people and things - kind of like a human magic detector. Although this skill was really rare and valuable, it was effectively useless in fighting/life-threatening situations. Despite all this though, Julie demonstrated her investigative skills by using her smarts and outwitting the culprits. Given this, I wasn't surprised if she'd be employed as a full-time employee at Cutting Edge (Kate's private investigation business) sometime in the future.
One noteworthy item was the introduction of the chinese dragon-shifter, Yu Fong. (view spoiler)[If my recollection was correct, Yu Fong should be the dragon-shifter that Dali rescued in the story Magic Dream, although I couldn't be 100% certain. (hide spoiler)]
Yu Fong, or dragon-shifters in general, was intriguing and I'd expect to see more of him and further interactions involving him and Julie in future works, assuming Julie would be attending the same school now.
This short story was a must-read for hardcore Kate Daniels fans (like myself)!!! Too bad that it was over so quickly!!! Playing Possum - by Charlaine Harris - 2.5 stars
This short story featured Sookie Stackhouse visiting her telepathic nephew, Hunter, at his school. Coincidentally, a psycho showed up at the school looking to kill the secretary who was an ex-girlfriend, and Sookie was caught cross-fire.
Besides being a telepath, Sookie was usually pretty defenseless most of the time. It was actually kind of fun to see how she'd react in such a hostile situation, where a madman was pointing a gun and randomly shooting at people/things. The build-up of action and suspense was adequate for the short span of pages. There was also an adequate resolution to the conflict presented in the story, and the people at the school all survived, albeit some minor injuries suffered in the process.
I thought this was a good addition to the main series, and probably could be read as a standalone, although I wouldn't really feel like I was missing out on things if I completely skipped it though.