Sunday, July 29, 2012

This n' That: Vacation, Hex Appeal edited by P.N. Elrod + Reading Update

Hey everyone! It sure has been slow around here lately... sorry about that... but, I'm getting ready to go on vacation and have been going a bit nuts cleaning up at work and getting ready for my little bit of summer sunshine and relaxation.

I have been reading, don't get me wrong! I've been relaxing as much as possible in between the craziness. Plus, I've been doing my regular summer young adult reading with the kids in the family. So far, I've re-read Harry Potter and the Sorcerer Stone, Book #1, and Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets, Book #2 by J. K. Rowling, with the young ones and following up the books by watching the movies. It has been fun!

Besides the fact that these books are so much fun to read along with the kiddies, I guess what really strikes me about those two books is how age appropriate they are, and how the writing changes, becoming more complex as the characters grow older. But those first two books are perfect for 9 and 11 year old kids.

But those two are not the only books that I've been reading that contain magic or magical beings. I finally finished the Hex Appeal Anthology edited by P.N. Elrod. Here's the summary for the book:

Fall under the intoxicating spell of their hex appeal…

In the magical world that lies hidden beneath our own, witches and conjurers play deadly games. They know just the right spell to kill a man with one kiss—or raise him back again. And they’re not afraid to exact sweet revenge on those who dare to cross them. But what if you’re the unlucky soul who falls victim to a conjurer’s curse? And if you had the power to cast a magic spell of your own, would you use it?

In this bewitching collection, nine of today’s hottest paranormal authors tell all-new, otherworldly tales. Spellbinding stories featuring bigfoot, albino vampires, professional wizards, resurrected boyfriends and even a sex droid from the twenty- third century named Silicon Lily. But as our conjurers are about to discover, it’s all fun and games until someone gets hexed. And sometimes, even the best spun spells can lead to complete and utter mayhem.
This anthology really turned out to be a wonderful read. It includes stories from Ilona Andrews, Jim Butcher, Rachel Caine, Carole Nelson Douglas, P. N. Elrod, Simon R. Green, Lori Handeland, Erica Hayes, and Carrie Vaughn. They are all about characters who have been hexed. My favorite stories are:
Retribution Clause by Ilona Andrews, a story set in the same world as the Kate Daniels' series, but one that introduces new characters and a new city. I absolutely loved this short story, and the characters. The main character is Saiman's cousin -- also of the same species -- but much nicer partners a fascinating, feline-like powerful witch with lots of secrets. The story is scary, full of action with some understated sexual tension between the two main characters and a good ending. I would love to read more about these characters and this city because as it often happens with these writers and this world a short story is never enough for me.

Jim Butcher's Harry Dresden character appears in Bigfoot on Campus. He is another character that so far I seem to love in short stories although I have yet to read the series. In this one, Harry helps Bigfoot, Strength of a River in his Shoulders, by saving his son who is in danger from his vampire girlfriend. Of course there is more to this story! Narrated in the first person, this one is exciting and a bit on the sweet side.

How do you feel? by Simon R. Green. This is a Nightside story that covers Dead Boy's backstory. I really loved this nightmarish, dark story of betrayal and revenge with a touch of futuristic love. A speculative fiction short story that might not be for everyone, but is perfect for me!

Outside the Box by P.N. Elrod was a tale of vampires and the witches who help them. I really liked this one, but wish... oh how I wish that these two characters had their own continuing tale told in the future. They need follow-up. :)
Although those were my favorite stories, all the stories more or less fit the anthology's theme and they were all worth reading. Grade B-.

What am I reading right now? Well, I'm still reading Sexual Revolutions in Cuba: Passions, Politics and Memory by Carrie Hamilton. That book is a trip and a half. I keep swinging from anger to disbelief in some sections, but overall I'm really enjoying it and I'm reading it slowly and only when I can really concentrate. This is a book that will probably be read by my brothers as well as a few personal friends because it's such a great study.

However, in between, I've picked up a few category romances (because of the length) and other contemporary or romance suspense reads.

What books am I taking on my vacation? My Kindle with tons of books in case I get the chance to read. (Yeah, right!) And in print, You Will Meet a Stranger Far from Home: Wonder Stories by Alex Jeffers and 2012 Wilde Stories edited by Steve Berman. Those two books have short stories that I'll be able to read in between other activities. :)

Hope you all have a great week!


  1. I hope you have a good holiday!

    I finished HEXED a while ago too - skipped the Lori Handeland, IIRC, but mostly enjoyed the rest. Simon Green's writing veers towards the horror side of the line, IMO - he delivers good story, but it tends to be grimmer than a lot of other UF.

    1. Thanks, Li! I read all the stories and enjoyed most of them (some are weaker than others). I agree that Simon R. Green's stories are more spec fic/horror than your run of the mill UF, but yeah! I liked his story a lot. That touch of futuristic was a welcomed touch. I'm going to look into his work. :D

  2. Thanks for the reminder about Hex Appeal. I've got it but keep forgetting about it. The Andrews is the only I'm really interested in but after reading your review I'll give the others a try too!

    1. This is an enjoyable anthology, Leslie. I think you'll enjoy the Andrews and want more too. :) But really, there's no reason to skip the other stories, they're all rather enjoyable on their own. I loved the Jim Butcher story with Harry Dresden, and there were a few others that I really liked too. Try it, particularly if you already have it in your TBR. :)

  3. I read a couple of stories in Hex Appeal. I liked Retribution Clause - I thought the whole thing about insurance in this world was interesting LOL. I definitively wouldn't mind reading more about him... and his partner's story seems to have a lot of potential :)

    I loved Bigfoot on Campus! It was such a great story!! And I loved the humor injected in it! :P LOL. You definitively need to give the Dresden Files series a try, Hils. Everyone who has read it in my entourage has loved it. I also think you can skip to the 4th book. Especially since you have a bit of knowledge of the characters and series already. I'll answer all your question and you can read what you need in wiki LOL.

    1. Nath, Retribution Clause was wonderful... certainly both characters were intriguing to me, as well as the whole insurance thing. Lots of potential! And yes! Bigfoot on Campus was SO enjoyable! I mean... every time I read a short story with Harry Dresden I swear I'm going to begin the series (because I love his character), and then I get all intimidated by how long that series is!

      I actually have the first book in my TBR (It has been there since 2009). That's the longest a book has been in my TBR!!!

    2. Would be good to read it for the TBR challenge :P Just saying.


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