Review: The Mammoth Book of Paranormal Romance, edited by Trisha Telep

The Mammoth Book of Paranormal Romance The Mam­moth Book of Para­nor­mal Romance by Trisha Telep

My review

rat­ing: 4 of 5 stars
I’m extreme­ly sur­prised by how much I enjoyed this anthol­o­gy! I picked it up intend­ing to just read the sto­ries by authors I know I like—Kelley Arm­strong, Ilona Andrews, Car­rie Vaughn, Hol­ly Lisle, Jeaniene Frost, Maria V. Sny­der. I had nev­er heard of some of the oth­er authors. A few names I remem­bered see­ing in oth­er antholo­gies and not enjoy­ing their work.

I did, how­ev­er, delib­er­ate­ly put myself in a tol­er­ant mind­set: this is a book of romance sto­ries. It would­n’t be fair to judge them as any­thing else.

That worked rather bet­ter than it has in the past. I still got a lit­tle annoyed at hav­ing so much of each sto­ry ded­i­cat­ed to cou­ples (and all het/mono cou­ples, at that!) rather than some intrigu­ing world ideas, but man­aged to stay on track.

In the end, I only skipped one story—I just don’t like the Weath­er War­dens stuff at all. I found a cou­ple of oth­ers sub­stan­dard, but all in all, Telep chose very well. I def­i­nite­ly rec­om­mend this book to any­one who enjoys para­nor­mal romance (maybe even those who usu­al­ly stick to just romance), and most urban fan­ta­sy fans.

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Review: At Grave’s End by Jeaniene Frost

At Grave's End (Night Huntress, #3) At Grave’s End by Jeaniene Frost

My review

rat­ing: 4 of 5 stars
Cat is def­i­nite­ly com­ing into her own now, and her rela­tion­ship with Bones is por­trayed far more health­ily than most in the para­nor­mal romance cat­e­go­ry. I love the fact that she demands that he per­mit her to stand as his equal, rather than treat her like a del­i­cate thing to be protected.

The plot is more inter­est­ing than I recall in pre­vi­ous excur­sions, while build­ing on the ear­li­er books. I know there’s anoth­er vol­ume either planned or on the shelves, and I plan to read it. I was­n’t so sure after the last book, but I’m glad I gave this one a chance.

I still con­tend that the cov­er art, no mat­ter how love­ly, shows a woman in a posi­tion that can­not be obtained by any human who wants to walk again. Cat is sup­posed to be half-vam­pire, but that has­n’t been said to give her more flexibility—increased strength, speed, and heal­ing pow­er, yes, but not this sort of odd­i­ty. Yes, it’s a minor nit to pick, but it has bugged me since the first time I saw the cover.

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Review: Unusual Suspects, edited by Dana Stabenow

Unusual Suspects: Stories of Mystery & Fantasy (Sookie Stackhouse, #8.1) Unusu­al Sus­pects: Sto­ries of Mys­tery & Fan­ta­sy by Dana Stabenow

My review

rat­ing: 3 of 5 stars
Anoth­er uneven anthol­o­gy. I still have it in my hands, so I’ll try to hit each sto­ry briefly.

“Lucky” by Char­laine Har­ris — Sook­ie is much eas­i­er to take in short form. I can’t help it, the woman grates on me (in the TV show even worse than in the books). The oth­er char­ac­ters keep me reading.

“Bogie­man” by Car­ole Nel­son Dou­glas — Delilah Street does more than grate on my nerves in long form. She’s more palat­able in short form, too, but there are reminders of why I don’t intend to read more in that series.

“Looks are Deceiv­ing” by Michael A. Stack­pole — If I’ve read any of Stack­pole’s work before, it’s been in antholo­gies, and I don’t remem­ber it. I did won­der if this short sto­ry is set in a uni­verse he uses in longer works, though. It was­n’t bad at all.

“The House of Sev­en Spir­its” by Sharon Shinn — I loved this sto­ry! And how often do you say that about a haunt­ed house tale? I must track down and read some of Shin­n’s nov­els. Any suggestions?

“Glam­our” by Mike Doogan — The Peas­antry Anti-Defama­tion League might be after Doogan if he isn’t care­ful at least, rep­re­sen­ta­tives of the male peas­antry). The sto­ry was cute, and it did make me laugh.

“Spell­bound” by Don­na Andrews — This is anoth­er author whose books are going on my (groan­ing) to-read shelf. The sto­ry hit a few clich&eaute;s, but was fun enough to get away with them.

“The Duh Vice” by Michael Arm­strong — Ugh. A lit­tle too preachy, and way too much anti-fat prejudice.

“Weight of the World” by John Stra­ley — Where does San­ta Claus go in the off-sea­son? That’s the biggest ques­tion answered in this piece. The “mys­tery” was “solved” near­ly as soon as it was discovered.

“Illu­mi­na­tion” by Lau­ra Anne Gilman — Bon­nie’s back sto­ry! I think a bit of this sto­ry is used in the first chap­ter of Gilman’s first PUPI nov­el, but I’ll know more when I get my hands on it. It’s a must-read for fans of the Cosa Nos­tradamus uni­verse, though.

“The House” by Lau­rie R. King — could we maybe call a hia­tus on the abused-kid sto­ries? Maybe I’m hyper­sen­si­tive, but I’m tired of them.

“Appetite for Mur­der” by Simon R. Green — anoth­er dark Night­side sto­ry. I don’t think I’ll ever need to read more in that universe.

“A Wom­an’s Work” by Dana Stabenow — I’m an unabashed Stabenow fan­girl. Despite that, I was­n’t sure how she’d do in a fan­ta­sy set­ting. She proved her­self, cer­tain­ly. I can only hope that we’ll see longer fan­ta­sy works from her in print at some juncture.

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Review: Blue Diablo by Ann Aguirre

Blue Diablo (Corine Solomon, Book 1) Blue Dia­blo by Ann Aguirre

My review

rat­ing: 5 of 5 stars
I can’t think of a thing that was­n’t right in Blue Dia­blo. I can think of one thing that made it stand head and shoul­ders above much of what I’ve read late­ly: Aguirre knows that sex­u­al ten­sion can be much sex­i­er than explic­it sex scenes! That is such a relief!

I’m look­ing for­ward to read­ing more about Corine and Chance. I’ve been wait­ing for more of her Grim­space series, so now I’m torn. Just give us more, Ann!

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‘Partners in Necessity’ by Sharon Lee & Steve Miller

ETA: This oth­er­wise cryp­tic post was a response to a Plinky prompt that asked what book I’d take if I were called to jury duty today. I can’t imag­ine why their “share with blog” func­tion does­n’t include the prompt!

I would­n’t wor­ry too much, as I can be fair­ly sure that I’ll nev­er be PICKED for jury duty. Last time, they asked, “Does any­body here have any prob­lem with uphold­ing ANY law?” I said yes (there are some real­ly stu­pid laws on the books!) and was imme­di­ate­ly dismissed.

Part­ners in Neces­si­ty is long, and it’s good “com­fort read­ing” for me (one of the few books I ever re-read).

If I were ever actu­al­ly put on a jury, though, I don’t think I could pos­si­bly car­ry enough books with me unless I had a Kindle.

Review: Skin Trade

Skin Trade (Anita Blake, Vampire Hunter, #17) Skin Trade by Lau­rell K. Hamilton

My review

rat­ing: 3 of 5 stars
I kept say­ing I was giv­ing up on Hamil­ton’s books, then giv­ing her just one more chance as each nov­el came out, hop­ing that at some point she’d give up the porn and write real nov­els again. With this vol­ume, the effort is final­ly vindicated.

Don’t get me wrong–there’s def­i­nite­ly sex in Skin Trade. Sex with yet more new men, even! But it does­n’t start hap­pen­ing ’til well into the book, and when it does occur there’s a lot more jus­ti­fi­ca­tion for it than at some times in the past. It’s still explic­it, and there are still like­ly to be more than two peo­ple in any giv­en bed at a time, but if any of that squicked you, you would­n’t be read­ing any of her work.

The book near­ly earned four stars, but there were a few plot holes that both­ered me too much to for­get them.

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Review: Mean Streets

Mean Streets (Roc) Mean Streets by Jim Butch­er

My review

rat­ing: 4 of 5 stars
Mean Streets is one of the best antholo­gies I’ve read in a while. It only has four dif­fer­ent pieces in it, but they’re all novel­las, and all by strong, expe­ri­enced writ­ers. I don’t think any of them are here rid­ing on some­one else’s name on the book cover.

Jim Butcher’s “War­rior,” the first piece, is very good. It fol­lows Har­ry and the Car­pen­ter fam­i­ly after they expe­ri­enced some major changes in the last Dres­den nov­el. I could have stood a lit­tle more Mol­ly, but Har­ry and Michael were the focus char­ac­ters and they worked out some things that real­ly need­ed to be dealt with. I’m glad I read this before the next Dres­den nov­el, because I feel there’s impor­tant char­ac­ter devel­op­ment. I seri­ous­ly rec­om­mend this book to all Dres­den fans.

I haven’t read any of Simon R. Green’s nov­els, though I’ve heard of the Night­side series and thought about pick­ing one up. If “The Dif­fer­ence a Day Makes” is typ­i­cal, though, I may not both­er. He is a good writer, so I’m not sure what it is that both­ered me so much. I know that some­thing framed as one of the nas­ti­est things peo­ple could choose to do in this piece isn’t even in my top 10, but I feel there’s some­thing else that I just can’t quite artic­u­late yet.

I’ve read all three of Kat Richard­son’s Grey­walk­er nov­els and enjoyed them enough that I plan to keep read­ing. “The Third Death of the Lit­tle Clay Dog” is my favorite piece of her work, hands down. There’s more light, some­how, and that’s impor­tant to me.

“Noah’s Orphans” is my first expo­sure to Thomas E. Sniegos­ki, as far as I can recall. It was an inter­est­ing piece. I found myself won­der­ing about Remy Chan­dler’s past, about how the char­ac­ter has devel­oped. If there are nov­els fea­tur­ing that char­ac­ter, I may give them a read. In any case, it brought up some inter­est­ing ques­tions about faith and obe­di­ence. I think it would have been more per­son­al­ly rel­e­vant to me about 20 years ago, though.

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Review: Blood From Stone

Blood from Stone (Retrievers, No. 6) Blood from Stone by Lau­ra Anne Gilman

My review

rat­ing: 5 of 5 stars
It feels like a spoil­er, but since Gilman says this at the front of the book, I sup­pose it isn’t: Blood From Stone is the last Retriev­ers nov­el, at least for a time. She’s mov­ing on to focus on oth­er char­ac­ters in the Cosa Nos­tradamus uni­verse. I was­n’t hap­py to read that, but after read­ing the book, I’m okay with it.

Blood From Stone def­i­nite­ly isn’t a book to start with if you’re new to Gilman’s work. The Retriev­ers series real­ly does need to be read sequen­tial­ly. If you have read the rest, you know that Gilman has devel­oped a very inter­est­ing uni­verse and some very well-devel­oped char­ac­ters in the series. Book 6 does­n’t dis­ap­point at all, and brings the major plot threads to a very sat­is­fac­to­ry close. I can’t be more spe­cif­ic with­out real spoil­ers, though!

I’m def­i­nite­ly look­ing for­ward to read­ing the next nov­el in the uni­verse, which will focus on Bon­nie and the PUPIs (Pri­vate, Unaf­fil­i­at­ed, Para­nor­mal Inves­ti­ga­tors). I adore CSI, Bones, NCIS and the like, so I’m curi­ous as to how foren­sics will work in urban fan­ta­sy set­tings. Jes Bat­tis’ A Flash of Hex is sup­posed to be wait­ing for me at the library, so by the time I get to Hard Mag­ic I’ll have some­thing else to com­pare it to.

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