Book Review: Places to Be, People to Kill edited by Brittiany A. Koren & Martin H. Greenberg

Posted by Cyn | Posted in Book Reviews, Reading | Posted on 23-07-2012

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Places To Be, People To KillPlaces To Be, Peo­ple To Kill by Brit­tiany A. Koren
My rat­ing: 3 of 5 stars

I enjoyed this anthol­o­gy more than one might expect from a col­lec­tion of sto­ries about killers, but then I’ve read a cou­ple of vol­umes edit­ed by Brit­tiany A. Koren and Mar­tin H. Green­berg now, and I trust the pair. (Green­berg has turned out so many antholo­gies that I don’t assume any­thing at all when I see his name.)

I had to explain to my fam­i­ly why I kept laugh­ing while read­ing “Exact­ly” by Tanya Huff. I’m a long-time fan of her work, so was already famil­iar with sib­ling assas­sins Vree and Ban­non from Fifth Quar­ter and No Quar­ter. While all of Huf­f’s work includes some humor, this sto­ry is par­tic­u­lar­ly fun­ny.

“Breia’s Dia­mond” by Cat Collins was a mem­o­rable low in the book. In addi­tion to the inap­pro­pri­ate and inept use of romance clichés, it’s all too obvi­ous ear­ly on that the mer­ce­nar­ies are being paid far too much for too lit­tle work by the necro­mancer. That isn’t fore­shad­ow­ing, it’s foreshouting—or just plain stu­pid­i­ty on the part of the mer­ce­nar­ies. They are mur­der­ers for hire, noth­ing else, and I’ve nev­er felt any sym­pa­thy for such. Why would I start now, sim­ply because a sto­ry is told from their point of view?

Bradley H. Sinor’s “Mon­ey’s Worth” has the feel of some­thing excerpt­ed from a larg­er work. It’s good and I enjoyed it, but I think I would have enjoyed it far more in its prop­er con­text.

The only oth­er sto­ry that is mem­o­rable enough to sin­gle out is “The Hun­dredth Kill” by John Mar­co. It is a love­ly jew­el of a sto­ry, one that stands for itself, leav­ing lit­tle to be said oth­er than “read it.” I don’t believe that I’ve read any of Mar­co’s nov­els, but obvi­ous­ly I’ve missed out on some­thing very good. I intend to rem­e­dy that omis­sion short­ly.

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Review: Hotter Than Hell

Posted by Cyn | Posted in Reading | Posted on 04-07-2008

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Hot­ter Than Hell, the lat­est “Hell” anthol­o­gy is edit­ed and has an intro­duc­tion by Kim Har­ri­son. I don’t know if the sex­i­er trend is her choice, a response to mar­ket demands, or some­thing else again.

The anthol­o­gy is thick­er than most, with longer pieces–short novellas?–by each of the 13 authors. I read a copy from the library, but it’s one of the few antholo­gies that I’d con­sid­er worth the $7.99 cov­er price.

I Have Done More Than Twittering!

Posted by Cyn | Posted in Family, Health, Kvetching, Needlework, Reading | Posted on 23-12-2007

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For one thing, I have sev­er­al draft posts sit­ting around here, but I haven’t been able to stay focused long enough to fin­ish any of them.

Sam caught some kind of flu-like crud, which Katie and I both caught, of course. Now he seems to be get­ting it again, which is gross­ly unfair. Poor bear!

The girl is final­ly feel­ing a wee bit bet­ter, but she still had a fever last night. We aren’t with my fam­i­ly today, because we’re too wor­ried about get­ting the twins sick. They’re still so tiny!

I should be stitch­ing. I want to be stitch­ing. Unfor­tu­nate­ly, it seems that I need to add a good mag­ni­fi­er to my Ott Lite, and maybe get my eyes checked/glasses changed, too. My eyes go all wog­gly every time I try to focus on the linen now. Very annoy­ing!

One of the few things I have fin­ished late­ly is lots of library-enabled read­ing. That has includ­ed Bone of Con­tention and Chains of Fol­ly by Rober­ta Gel­lis, the third and fourth books in her Magde­lene la Bâtarde series. Magde­lene is a whoremistress in medieval Eng­land whose House is reg­is­tered on the tax rolls an Embroi­dery shop. She and her women do, in fact, pro­duce and sell fine needle­work, but that isn’t their main source of income.

This is one of two series I learned about when I was read­ing rec.crafts.textiles.needlework. I’m glad, as would have been very unlike­ly to run across them with­out the rec­om­men­da­tion.

I have some­thing to con­fess: I am guilty of judg­ing some books by their cov­ers. And if I’d seen Chains of Fol­ly first, with­out already know­ing that Gel­lis is a good author and I enjoy this par­tic­u­lar series, I would­n’t have had any rea­son to pick it up for a look. I might have tak­en it for a text­book edi­tion of some­thing fre­quent­ly assigned to lit­er­a­ture class­es (read: bor­ing!), but not the lat­est vol­ume in a good series by an estab­lished, award-win­ning author. Tor/Forge pub­lished the first three, and they were of much high­er qual­i­ty than what Five Star Books has put out.

That Tor/Forge did­n’t buy book four tells me that Gel­lis prob­a­bly had a con­tract for a tril­o­gy, but it did­n’t sell as well as the pub­lish­er hoped, so they weren’t inter­est­ed in more of that tale. Still, I loved the first two books, and was def­i­nite­ly pay­ing atten­tion to see if there was a third, but did­n’t hear that it was actu­al­ly out until recent­ly. It was pub­lished in 2002! I know that Gel­lis is one of the authors I put in my Ama­zon “Eyes” list (which seems to have stopped work­ing at some point), and I did­n’t hear a thing. I have to won­der if the pub­lish­er just did­n’t both­er to mar­ket the book at all.

These days, Gel­lis is bet­ter known for co-author­ing fan­ta­sy books with Mer­cedes Lack­ey. That’s too bad, as her his­tor­i­cal fic­tion is rich­ly detailed and authen­tic. Lack­ey’s name has been used to sell so much crap that I just don’t both­er any more, even if I like what the co-author has done on her own. Any­thing Lack­ey has touched in the last decade, at least, is for­mu­la­ic and trite. There were some good points in some of her ear­li­er books, which I might even be able to re-read some day—but after the first few trilo­gies they were just too pre­dictable.

I also read two books by Vic­ki Pet­ters­son this week, the lat­est book in Tanya Huf­f’s Con­fed­er­a­tion series, and Her Roy­al Spy­ness by Rhys Bowen. That last jumped off the new book shelves at me because of the cute name and nice cov­er. I don’t know that I’ll read any­thing else by Bowen, but it was an inter­est­ing depar­ture for me.

I’ve got sev­er­al books of poet­ry and some non-fic­tion in the mix, as well. I tend to read those in lit­tle nib­bles, as I like to think about the poems rather than rat­tle on through them. I’ll share some of that soon.

Review: Carpe Demon by Julie Kenner

Posted by Cyn | Posted in Health, Humor, Needlework, Reading | Posted on 09-12-2007

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Cover of Carpe DemonI’m way behind on book reviews, so I’ll try to do one each day for a bit. Empha­sis on the try. I’ve read some great stuff late­ly that deserves the atten­tion!

I’ll start with the most recent book, Carpe Demon by Julie Ken­ner. It’s the first book of the Demon-Hunt­ing Soc­cer Mom series. I don’t actu­al­ly remem­ber any soc­cer games, but yep, Kate Con­nor is def­i­nite­ly a soc­cer mom in the sense that Clin­ton used the phrase.

I can’t remem­ber if it was Michelle Sagara West or Tanya Huff who said it, but either way, I agree with her that the best way to sum up this series is to imag­ine that Buffy the Vam­pire Slay­er grew up, got mar­ried, and had kids, but did­n’t tell her fam­i­ly any­thing about her past. Kate works for the Vat­i­can instead of the Watcher’s Coun­cil, has an Ali­men­ta­tore rather than a Watch­er, and isn’t the Cho­sen One—there are sup­posed to be many demon hunters. Unfor­tu­nate­ly, the youth of today aren’t as easy to recruit, accord­ing to the Church, and an old demon hunter is usu­al­ly a dead demon hunter.

Kate and her part­ner, Eric, had retired and moved to a place they iden­ti­fied as hav­ing very lit­tle demon activ­i­ty. They had a child, and after Eric died (we don’t learn how in this vol­ume), Kate remar­ried. Stu­art Con­nor is an attor­ney with polit­i­cal ambi­tion. Remem­ber how Sab­ri­na had so much trou­ble pre­tend­ing to be a nor­mal exec­u­tive’s wife in Bewitched? Take it up sev­er­al notch­es, and you know where some of the book’s humor comes from. The nov­el is def­i­nite­ly a nice depar­ture from the para­nor­mal romances that have a lot more romance than action, although I have yet to fig­ure out why Kate would ever have set­tled for Stu­art. And yes, I’d have to say she set­tled.1

I’ve put the next two books, Cal­i­for­nia Demon and Demons are For­ev­er, on my wish list. I’m look­ing for­ward to find­ing out how Ken­ner devel­ops the char­ac­ters, and whether Kate starts fill­ing her kids’ water bot­tles with holy water (I would). I’m not a big enough fan to put the rest of her books on the pile, but I haven’t ruled it out yet.


1 Of course, so did Sab­ri­na.