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1 Star Couldn't finish the book 2 Stars Didn't really like the book, but was interested enough in the story to finish (Skipping great chunks) 3 Stars The book was okay, finished it and will consider reading more from the author 4 Stars Really enjoyed the book, will check out others by this author 4 1/2 Stars Loved the book, will immediately check out others by author, if asked will recommend book 5 Stars LOVED the book, will immediately check out all others by author, will pre-emptively recommend book to ALL my book friends
I thoroughly enjoyed this book and will be checking out more from the various authors.
I would have bought this for the Patricia Briggs story alone and counted that a win as it’s a good one. However the other stories are just as good in their various ways and I will certainly be following up on some of these authors.
I was hoping for an anthology that would contain stories that were a bit more uplifting. that doesn't mean I expected them to be happy all the way through but I didn't think that they would be quite as depressing as they were. Did anyone really think that Grendel story was hopeful? This was a showcase for new writers for the most part from what I could tell. They were decent but I probably won't be buying their books. There are a couple specific things I'd note about this anthology.
I love Sharon Shinn, but I generally prefer her novels and that's the case here. Her story in this was too short to contain all it needed to.
Pat Briggs is an amazing writer and when I started reading her story you could feel the talent and experience coming through. I hate werewolf stories but I loved this one because she can pretty much make me love anything she writes.
There were a few writers that I've never run across before whose stories I enjoyed. I'm not saying these were literary marvels but rather stories that did what they came to accomplish, which is a lot harder than people think. Kudos to Larry Correia, Jonathan Maberry, Kaey Ezell, Griffin Barber and William McCaskey. The McCaskey started a little weak but ended with probably the strongest finish in the book. Barber's story makes me want to read more of that imaginative universe, so as soon as I finish this review I'm going to go off and look for other books of his.
I looked at this book because even though I’ve been struggling with my interest in Anita Blake, I’m trying to get back into her now that I feel the series is starting to move more plot back in, and this has a new Anita story in it. Then I saw there was a new Patricia Briggs story in it, and I snatched it up fast! I can maybe resist one, but not both of them.
When I read the foreword from Laurel K. Hamilton, I was really glad I snatched it up. She writes about how hard it is to get a start in the writing business these days and how she’s hoping this book will become a series that can showcase a mixture of new and old writers and I LOVE that idea. It used to be there were a bunch of sci-fi and fantasy magazines that could help authors get their start but sadly, that’s no longer true.
Anyway once I got it and flipped through the contents I saw a few other authors I recognized, but a lot I didn’t so I really had no expectations about the book except that there were enough reliable authors that I knew I would enjoy a good part of it. Well, I can’t say I loved every story, but I can say I liked every single one. Some I loved and some were just decent entertainment, but I read them all without considering jumping ahead instead of finishing. I’m not going to go over every story but some highlights for me:
Mr. Positive: The ending was almost predictable but not quite and I won’t say more than that. The characters however were perfect together and I laughed several times. There was a little bit of nerd fantasy fulfillment going on with the author I suspect by the end, but it doesn’t matter it was still good. No Greater Love: Woof. I mean that literally. There was a lot going on here but I loved it and knowing it was loosely based on a real event in history made it soooo much cooler for me.
Broken Son: This story felt a bit out of place here. Most of this book is fantasy, supernatural or paranormal while this is straight up sci-fi but I found it a really nice change of pace. If there was a full book available about the Broken character, I think I would buy it because it made me very curious.
Heart of Clay: Now this is an author I remember from way back. I’ve read some of his Star Wars books so I was expecting sci-fi here, but they did a switch on me and it’s straight up fantasy. Parts of it dragged a bit mostly because I was confused. I felt like I was reading an excerpt from a larger book and missing some important bits (Maybe it is?) What I really loved though was the idea of a renfaire that’s really filled with all the magical things that people dress up and pretend to be at renfaires. It was such a clever idea that I really got into that part, and I kinda dig the mixing of horror ‘creatures’ like vampires with fantasy creatures like dragons.
Asil and the Not-Date: Of course, this story is one of the reasons I bought the book so I’m well familiar with the author and she didn’t disappoint. I’ve been fascinated with the character of Asil for a while and I was afraid we wouldn’t see much of him since it felt like his character arc was kind of wrapped up in the last book. I was so excited that he got a short story. The ending wasn’t what I expected. I really thought it was going to go a whole different way but it was so much better!
In the Dust: A new author (to me at least) and I struggled a bit with this in the beginning but then it started to pick up and when it did it went quick! I binged the whole thing and wanted more when I was done. Funny the author’s first name is Robert because I got a really strong Heinlein juvenile vibe from this and it’s also one of the few sci-fi stories in the book, though you don’t realize it immediately.
Ronin: Ohhhhh It took me a couple pages to realize what I was reading and I outright gasped. The mention of the Tiger should have clued me in, but once I figured it out, I love the idea. So creative! And then the story took a dark turn… in a good way, if that makes sense. It addressed some problems that really need a light on them. So, thank you for this story and how it was presented.
Zombie Dearest: A new Anita Blake story, but not a modern one. We fall back to when Anita was just becoming a marshall and was still doing a lot of animating work. I miss this Anita so much so it was great to have a flashback to the good old days. Definitely worth reading and it’s got me thinking it’s time to do a re-read of the series.
All in all the compilation was a good book with moments of greatness which is really all you can expect when you combine such varied stories and authors. There are stories I would give a 5 and stories I would give a 3 so I'm averaging it to a 4.
#1 The only good stories were Hamilton & Briggs . Never heard of the other authors & wouldn't buy anything from them again. #2 It was printed on the cheaper paper and doesn't feel good in your hands (I bought the paperback).
There were some interesting stories and not my cuppa stories in this anthology. I only reviewed the two that I bought the book for:
Asil and the Not-Date by Patricia Briggs
Asil’s well meaning friends have set him up on a few blind not-dates. There’s a few...stipulations (he is a grumpy old wolf), a betting pool, and some really wacky end results! Asil’s dating life has become a highlight in these novellas, but I wasn’t expecting the twist in this one at all!
Not In This Lifetime by Sharon Shinn
This short reminded me of The Age of Adeline; except Sasha dies and comes back in each life, while remembering those she left behind. Add a bit of suspense with a killer and mild comic relief with great cast of characters to help Sasha out and boom! Great story.
Absolutely loved this book, but have to admit I love Laurell Hamilton. Blurb stated that it was compiled to give hope, and it does deliver. I really like anthologies for 2 reasons, new authors and short stories. Since I've always had a terrible time putting down a book, anthologies give me a chance to finish a story in a small fraction of time. Love that these are new stories, and especially liked Twilight Falls by Jonathan Maberry (made me think of today's COVID-19 pandemic), Reprise by John G. Hartness, and Asil and the Not-Date by Patricia Briggs, one of my very favorite authors. Had no idea that Asil had been the recipient of more than one date, I'd read of another of his date nights in an earlier anthology. Now I have to see if I missed the other 3 since I really like that old wolf! Working Conditions by Patrick M. Tracy made me rethink an employee/employer relationship, and Ronin by William McCaskey, the co-editor, gave me a new appreciation of my old Teddy Bear. Laurell reminded me how important follow-up is in her Zombie Dearest. All in all, this collection made me think, and really did offer hope in today's world. And yes, I now have more "new" authors and looking forward to more hope!!
I might read the Briggs story but bought it for the Anita Blake story and consider that I got my money's work. There's character work and growth of the mythos in these few short pages and it's excellent. Too wordy like most of Hamilton's latest stuff but that doesn't detract here any more than in the full sized outings...
I've read many of the authors featured in this anthology before, some of them many, many times before. Needless to say, I enjoyed reading new stories by some of my favorite authors. I also enjoyed reading the stories by authors that were new to me.