Sunday, February 7, 2010

Short Stuff

Some weeks run like a well-oiled machine. I'm reading good stuff, I have a review or two scheduled ahead of time, maybe something for a publisher plus something from my own list. Another one that I knock out in real time. Maybe a T-13 or a Lazy Post or a contest plug for variety.

Yeah, this is not one of those weeks.

Short Story Saturday is back here at Alpha Heroes for February, after taking its January turn at Literary Escapism. I've taken the bold step this week of rigging pre-populating Mr. Linky with a couple of anthology reviews that I noticed around, so if one of those belongs to you, I hope you'll a) forgive me b) check around on the other links and c) come back next Saturday with another one. As a fledgling meme, SSS is not getting a lot of lift. If you want it to stick around, your links are appreciated!

I have been trying with the short pieces this week. The lovely Book Smugglers pulled my name from the internet version of a hat and send me a faboo package of contemporary fiction, including several anthologies.

Hot for the Holidays
'Member this cover? Sure you do. I almost bought the book JUST for the cover. I mean. That spot right there by his thumb? Is one of my favorite spots-- and I don't like peppermint. I'm sayin'.

Anyway. The stories, right. *opens kitchen window* That's better. Where was I?

Yeah, so this is one of the books that the Smugglers sent me, and I am familiar with most of the authors. I started with Anya Bast, because I wasn't in the mood for Leigh's forced-mate/weird penis Breed stuff or Knight's kooky mages, and I liked Bast's offering for the What Happens In Vegas anthology a couple years ago quite a lot. And so far, Sweet Enchantment is OK. However, I, uh, have fallen asleep twice and gone onto different books, but I have come back to it and I do want to finish it. I've been pretty tired lately... but still. Fell asleep twice. That's the closest I've got to a review so far.

Wrapped In Seduction
You know, I don't review erotica. It's too hard for me to analyze what I like about it without giving a lot of context about what I like in bed, which is TMI. For you, and for me.

Fortunately, this particular anthology is more just piping hot romance than erotica, I think; in what I think of as true erotica, it's the exploration of sex and sexuality that is the center of the story. In this little trilogy, there is some serious steam but they really are love stories. Overall, three decent stories about three sisters finding love in their hometown. As a whole, the stories fall prey to the general weakness of a novella -- not much conflict and they read very fast, as in over before you hardly know what's happening. I found only one or two scenes truly scorching, but that might just be me. It's a small town Christmas theme, so that may factor into when-- or whether-- you'd be in the mood for it.

Blood Lite
OK, I'm not very far into this one but I'm loving it. I do not know if the title is a play on "Bud Lite," but I suspect so after sampling a few stories.

So I've been really trying to avoid paranormals for awhile. I feel really burned out on them and have been enjoying a stroll through historicals and contemps for the last month or so. I have a feeling that that break made these stories just that much more entertaining.

People have been telling me for awhile now that I need to try Jim Butcher's Dresden Files series, and I finally believe them after reading Day Off, a scant 30-odd pages in which Harry finishes a [thinly disguised D&D game in which actual wizards and weres are playing wizardy, warrior-ish characters. A debate about how a magic firebomb spell would work possibly gives some insight to the author process of "how 'real' do I need to make this magic stuff, anyway," which I could easily see becoming one of those tangents that take a long time to come back from.

Ooo, speaking of tangents. Anyway, after the game, Harry encounters some teenage goth "Darth Wannabes" with Harry Potter accoutrements and a faux pipe bomb, an inept apprentice who keeps blowing up his basement lab, and a swarm of insect-sized magic parasites... all before he can go on his big date. It's mostly very funny, though you could see how some elements might turn more serious in a full-length story, and it really made me want to read more. Which is about the highest praise I can give a short story.

In other stories, Kelley Armstrong's Ungrateful Dead was a cute little character sketch of a necromancer who leverages her talents into seances and spiritualism shows that are mostly completely faked. I was enjoying the ride, but I felt like it ended too fast -- I was just getting into the world-building and the characters and BOOM, the end.

Following that act is a creepy story titled Mr. Bear, a bizarre imagining of what happens when a mild-mannered traveller is caught up in the orbit of an anthropomorphized, English-speaking, cigar-smoking, booze-guzzling Smokey the Bear. Complete with the hat. Oh yeah, and he's utterly sociopathic. Can a bear be a socio-path? Good question. Gitchyer black humor here (by Joe R. Lansdale).


Chris said...

The Dresden Files are really good - one of the few series I can think of that's gone on for so many books and I'm still reading it.

Hee hee - I have multiple posts in my Misadventures in Stock Photography series about "Candy Cane Guy", who is on a truly amazing number of book covers!

Nicola O. said...

I saw that over at Chaos! that it's a cover-repeater, but this is the only one I've actually seen with my own two eyes.

Maybe it will be a Dresden kind of summer. It can be fun to glom onto a nice long series, but I have to pace myself or I'll end up hating it for no fault of the author.

Chris said...

I think all the others are ebooks.

Definitely pace yourself with the Dresden Files, because it would be a shame to burn out on them. :)


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