Saturday, January 16, 2010

Why Read Anthologies? Thoughts & Reviews

I always thought of short stories as short books that were wrapped up by the end like the Edgar Allen Poe classics. In the world of paranormal romance and urban fiction I think of them more as a hodge podge, a buffet of paranormal goodness. Readers can try out new authors they haven't read before to get a taste of their style or you can go back and read favorite authors who may have given side characters from their books their own little story. Some authors will write prequels to one of their series as a short story as well. A reader can't go wrong picking up a good anthology! In the last week and a half I've picked up two new anthologies: Inked and Bitten by Cupid. Let's start with Inked.

Paperback: 448 pages
Publisher: Berkley; (January 5, 2010)

I bought Inked the week it came out because it had three authors I already liked: Karen Chance, Marjorie M. Liu, and Yasmine Galehorn. Eileen Wilks, the fourth author, is new to me.

Karen Chance's Skin Deep: This is a story about Lia, a feisty, sarcastic gal who has to find her boyfriend Cyrus against the odds since she is recovering from injuries which have made her magic act wonky. I love Karen Chance's writing and her characters. This short story takes place in the same world as her books, so it will give you a glimpse into her writing, her books and her humor. I loved the story, but wondered if Lia was featured in one of her books I hadn't read yet. The answer is in this blurb from her website.

It follows the adventures of Lia, the half-werewolf war mage from our previous short stories "Rogue Elements" (in the Wolfesbane and Mistletoe anthology published last October) and "Vegas Odds" (in the Strange Brew anthology).

Marjorie M. Liu's Armor of Roses is set in the world of her Hunter Kiss books, of which I had recently read the first one, and reviewed it here. This story has Maxine going back in time to her grandmother's generation and we experience The Boys, her demon helpers, in duplicate. It takes place during WWII, and gives a glimpse into a young Jean who is more alone than Maxine; more cynical and dark. I think the story is better after reading the Hunter Kiss books, rather than as in introduction to that world. This is dark fantasy, which for me, always makes me ponder life and the difference we make in our own existence.

Yasmine Galenorn's Etched in Silver is the story of Camille and Trillian meeting for the first time. They partner up to find a bad guy, who's name I've forgotten because I was thinking of Trillian and my mind wandered to words like "sizzle, hot, protective, more sizzle, erotic...". I think you get my meaning. This story is a fantastic introduction to Yasmine's Otherworld series.
Eileen Wilk's Human Nature is set in the world of her Lupus series, which I have not read. The story is about Lily and Rule, weres who are newly mated and need to solve a murder mystery. I loved the story and the characters. Lily is a kick-ass gal and Rule is an alpha who wants to protect her at all costs. I'm buying the Lupus series as soon as I recover from my holiday spending. I can't wait to read the books after being introduced to Lily and Rule!

Inked was just released in January, and it was well worth the money and the read. The stories are urban and/or dark fantasy, mixed with paranormal romance. Fans of the authors involved will love this anthology. If you aren't familiar with these writers, Inked will serve as a great introduction to their writing.

Bitten By Cupid
Mass Market Paperback: 384 pages
Publisher: Avon; Original edition (January 12, 2010)
Authors: Lynsay Sands, Pamela Palmer, Jaime Rush

I'll have to confess that I haven't read any of the authors in this anthology, but the cover grabbed me and I bought it. The first story by Lynsay Sands was cute, and funny. For some reason I thought it would be a bit darker, so I kept wait for death and destruction, which weren't part of the equation. I know that fans of her Argeneau vampire series will love this story which features Mirabeau LaRouche and Tiny McGraw. It was a nice introduction to that world, and I'll move the series up on my TBR list.

Pamela Palmer is the author of the Feral Warriors books, which I haven't read. You can take a peek at them on her website. Her story in Bitten by Cupid is a paranormal romance with mystery, romance and sizzle. There are a few glances of the warriors in the story, which is about Julianne and Zeeland. I loved the story and will be running out going out to get her series as soon as possible.

Jaime Rush's contribution to Bitten by Cupid is a fast paced, paranormal romance with a couple who both have a secret, and find themselves drawn together to solve a series of crimes. I really can't give any hints as to the plot without spoilers. Let's just say I loved both characters, the romance sizzled, and fit perfectly with the plot. The world is from the author's Offspring series which has two books that were released in 2009. I really liked the story, and from looking at her website I think it's a good introduction to her other books. Her characters are quirky, and she really drew me into their situation. I will be reading her other books as soon as I can place a massive book order after finding all these new authors!

Bitten by Cupid is a great Valentine's Day themed read. All you need to go with it is bubble bath, wine, chocolate and romance:)