Review on a story by story basis.
Lucky- Charlaine Harris
It's a story set in the world of Sookie and it seems to take place right before the most recent book. Anyhoo, there is an absence of Eric which sort of made me go "aw man" but there is a Bill appearance. This is not a Sookie romance nor strictly a Sookie Vampire story, it explores Sookie's powers and it teams her up with Amelia.
It's a decent story, nothing amazing, nothing that pops up and grabs you but a decent read for those of us who are Sookie fans. If you aren't a Sookie fan, well, this is going to be a boring read and you may in fact skip over it.
In keeping with the vein of Mystery and Fantasy- I give this story -- 3 magic bullets
Bogieman - Carole Nelson Douglas
Ok, this one had promise but I confess it confessed the heck out of me after the first paragraph. I nearly skipped it. And up until two minutes ago had no idea it was from a larger book (that coincidentally I keep looking at in the bookstore and shaking my head, thinking I'll hate it. So from the pov of someone who has not read the books:
It's about Delilah Street, a former reporter who is now a Paranormal Investigator in Las Vegas. Her specialty is her connection with silver and the ability to glean (and maybe manipulate??) things with silver in them. Vegas in 2013 is crawling with CinSims - Cinematic Simulations that are an amalgamation of both an actor and the character. In this case, Sam Spade as played by Humphrey Bogart has been murdered. The question becomes can you really kill a simulated human who is really nothing more than a dead person who has been reanimated?
Ok, so again, this has a promising premise - something like the movie Blade Runner with a combination of Jenna Black's Morgan Kinsley with the balls of Simon R. Green's John Taylor. However, things just go downhill from the second page. World Building is a very difficult thing to do it can be even more difficult when you only have 20 pages to do it. Backstories are confusing and it isn't much helped by Delilah's first person POV which have her living in the present with no exposition whatsoever (or no clear exposition) on her relationship with the Police Chief, Cocaine/Christophe/Snow and how she can do what she does.
I'm going to give this three magic bullets just because I liked the idea of where this story was going. Maybe in a larger format it would make more sense?
Looks are Deceiving- Michael A. Stackpole
This story is ok. Nothing great, nothing to really rave about. Felt like the author admires Jim Butcher a lot but I would prefer to read a Dresden story in that case.
The House of Seven Spirits - Sharon Shinn
An excellent ghost story. It felt like it was building up to something really awesome, perhaps a full-length?? I'd definitely read this story.
A woman moves into a haunted house in which seven murders have taken place. There is one extremely violent ghost who started the whole cycle by killing his wife and her lover and then he dies. The story is not what you think it is and the woman sets out to figure it out so that the ghosts living in her house, all the ghosts, can be free.
The other ghosts are geriatric sisters Victoria & Charlotte who died in the house and they take care of the nine year old that died of disease.
There is also the most annoying ghost named Edison who swears he was pushed down the stairs by the first ghost.
So, the cast of characters is well-rounded and interesting and makes you wish the story was longer. The added bonus is that it is a genuine mystery and it gets solved in a satisfactory manner as well as their being some twists and turns.
Glamour - Mike Doogan
I really didn't read this and I tried. I read the first three pages and then had to stop. The accent that the author had the character speaking in translated to the page. While that may be a compliment in certain instances. This is not one of them. You can only take so much garbled language before you think you're reading Chaucer and then are having flashbacks of Brit Lit I when you desperately wished you were reading Beowulf.
Spellbound - Donna Andrews
I really adored this story. It had a Harry Potter feel to it. Lemme explain.
Gwynn is one of the few female mages in training. She is studying under Master Justinian who is youngish, highly distracted and clever. Think Sherlock Holmes minus the drug problem. Anyway, Gwynn is very clever herself and when one of Justinian's old flames comes to town, Gwynn immediately dislikes her. She doesn't know why exactly (uh-huh, admit Gwynn, you've got the hots for the genius mentor) but she does find out that Ms. Former Flame is up to know good and looking to get Justinian back. So, Gwynn does what a good Mage In Training does and protects her Master by ridding his office of the spells that Ms. Former Flame is leaving. There's a very good scene in which one of the origami animals is actually a spell that Gwynn accidentally picks up and there's a very....sensual/sexual experience to follow.
There is more to this story than just the Former Flame. There is a mystery abrewing. Like, why does one of the jackass teachers - gunning for Headmaster - suddenly disappear? There's more than meets the eye in the story and it's enjoyable.
Unfortunately there isn't a novel based on Gwynn so this is about all you get with her.
The Duh Vice- Michael Armstrong
This story was.....eh. More sci-fi than mystery and gotta be honest, didn't finish it. It was sorta like an X-Files episode (and I loved the X-Files) meets a B-Sci Fi flick.
Weight of the World -John Stanley
Santa Claus is on small break before he has to start rolling out the toys again. Unfortunately one of his helpers ends up dead. Who dunnit?
Entertaining read. It has a Christopher Moore feel to it and is a very locked-door mystery.
I won't spoil it, but you get to see Santa in a different light.
Illumination - Laura Anne Gilman
For those fans of her "Retriever" series (like me) you will be interested to know that this story takes place in that world and the main character is none other than Wren's friend Bonnie, P.U.P extradordinaire. This is her origin story or as much of an origin story as you're going to get.
Her father is missing, maybe dead. Has he reneged on his word with a dragon or is something else afoot? Bonnie has to use her powers and exercise knew techniques as she gets to the bottom of this. She may not get along with her father but hell, he is her father. Right?
Not only that, there's a voice in her head. Who's pinging her? Why?
There is no Wren in this story but it's a good enough story to whet the appetite for the upcoming Bonnie Spin-off.
You don't have to have read the "Retriever" story to understand this but as always, it's an added bonus.
The House - Laurie R. King
Let me be honest. Couldn't get past the first paragraph.
Appetite for Murder- Simon R. Green
A story set in the Nightside without John. He's referenced a few times.
So now that's out of the way. What happens when the top detective in all of the Nightside starts getting old, losing touch and has such stiff competition as John Taylor and Oblivion?
Well.....you'll find out. :)
A Woman's Work - Dana Stabanow
What disappointed me about this story is that it is set in a world that is already established but it is not an actual full-length story :(
I liked the characters even if I didn't completely enjoy the plot. In fact, at some point I felt it should have been in the "Queen in Winter" anthology that came out a few years back.
Anyhoo - so we have the King's Sword and the King's Seer - partners and friends and suddenly stuck with a mission that they don't necessarily like but they are nothing if not duty-bound. Sharynn, the Seer, is the more compassionate of the two and quick to state her opinion. Crow, the Sword, is more reserved and observant and has a little secret that is truly interesting to find out about.
The mission is to listen and judge a woman who has been convicted of murdering her own nephew. Women have no rights in this town and magic, especially held by woman is considered a bad thing. But, is this woman, the Viscountess, guilty of such a horrible crime? Only Sword and Seer can know.
Joining them on the ride is the Bard. He's an interesting character...and he may be part of the surprise.
A good story. Just wish it was longer.