Edited by: Faith Hunter and Kalayna Price
Reviewer: B., Gikany & Una, Jen Twimom
Rating: B+ individual ratings listed below
Kicking It is a collection of nine short stories/novelettes by nine wonderful urban fantasy authors. We’ve listed each story with a brief review and rating. This book can be read and enjoyed without having read any of the books in the associated series.
Forked Tongues by Rachel Caine
A Holly and Andrew story
Gikany and Una enjoyed this short story by Ms. Caine. Although Una has only experienced The Morganville Vampires series and Gikany has not experienced Ms. Caine’s work, we both enjoyed Forked Tongues. Although we are not sure which of Ms. Caine’s series this glimpse is from, we are eager to find out and pick it up. We follow the story of Holly and Andrew, two witches living in Texas (even though their community wants them to move) who seem to be the object of persecution. They are known witches, and it makes them pariahs. A cross burning in their yard, another small gesture of warmth from their community, turns into an investigation into the death of another witch in this town. The background between Holly and Andrew is fascinating and we are only given a glimpse. But what you do glean is enough to make you want to track down this series and get more. We would love to have the story of how Andrew came to be back. Both Holly and Andrew are witches, but it seems in this world, witches are not just jack’s of all trades in magic…they have specialties. Following them as they track down and stop a demon was gripping and exciting. Gikany and Una thoroughly enjoyed this offering of Ms. Caine’s and we think you will too.
Rating: A (Review by G & U)
Stolen Goods by Shannon K. Butcher
Marcus Brighton has a magical touch when it comes to crafting items out of leather, but for his current objective, he needs more than just the specialized tools of his trade. He needs a master thief. Simone Solange has been many things in her life: a grieving widow, a survivor, and a temptress, to name a few. She also happens to be one of the most dangerous thieves alive. In the face of a cruel and insidious foe, these two strangers will have to learn to trust one another if they are to succeed, or all of humanity will fall.
This story was a lot of fun to read. The author provided enough background information on the characters that I could easily understand their motivation. Ms. Butcher does a great job keeping the main characters’ relationship realistic, as well, thereby ensuring that both seemed more solid and capable of succeeding in their endeavor. While the premise is horrific, it is also quite interesting, and I was fully engrossed by the time the main action in the story arrived on the page.
Rating: B+ (Review by B.)
The Girl with No Name by Chris Marie Green
A Vampire Babylon story
Waking up with no idea where she is, nothing to indicate who she is, and wearing a freaky pair of boots that seem to have, literally, grown attached to her, Lilly Meratoliage has certainly had better days. Or, maybe not, since she can’t really remember anything—at all. From the moment she emerged from her “borrowed” hotel room in New Orleans, she’s been on the run from an unknown evil, having to rely on the dubious assistance of a handsome seer and a white witch in the bayou in order to stay alive. But, as truths are uncovered and enemies are revealed, she learns that things aren’t what they seem, and that everything has a price.
A large portion of The Girl with No Name is told from the perspective of a character who is struggling through an amnesic blur, which left me feeling confused at first. Being unfamiliar with the Vampire Babylon series, I missed most of the clues left by the author that would have made the story a fun puzzle to work through. Although I liked The Girl with No Name anyway, going back and researching the series as a whole before reading the story again made it even more enjoyable. The “downside,” though, is that the entire series seems to be very interesting, and, thanks to this short story, I’ve added it to my TBR list.
Rating: B (Review by B.)
The Devil’s Left Boot by Faith Hunter
Jane Yellowrock #6.5
When their old high school nemesis enters the Seven Sassy Sisters Café and Herb Shop seeking their help, twin witches Liz and Cia Everhart are hard-pressed to put the past behind them and hear her out. But, as the case takes them in an ever darker and more precarious direction, the twins uncover a mystery that the local vampires will do most anything to keep secret. Faced with a psychotic vampire and a nearly drained human to rescue, the twins have no choice but to call in the only person they know who could possibly handle a situation like theirs: Jane Yellowrock.
As a fan of the Jane Yellowrock series, I was very happy to get a glimpse into the twins’ world. Cia and Liz handle themselves quite adeptly throughout the story, only seeking outside help when the situation escalates beyond their abilities, which I thought were highly impressive in their own right. The twins are not only powerful in The Devil’s Left Boot, but funny as well, and the ongoing theme of footwear in this collection shines particularly brightly here. Snarky and quick-witted, yet understanding and compassionate, Liz and Cia are wonderful characters who have helped endear this series to me even more.
Rating: A (Review by B.)
High Stakes by Chloe Neill
Chicagoland Vampires #8.5 (A Luc and Lindsey story)
Luc is Captain of the Guard of the Cadogen vampire House and Lindsey is their top guard. Recently, before this short began, something happened between the long-time friends that moved them to “more than friends.” While Luc is pushing forward, Linds is reluctant after being his subordinate, friend, and comrade for so many years. Told from the POV of Lindsey, we learn of her sordid past as a young, wild vamp in New York. Now someone from her past is looking to kill her.
Overall, this is a touching and entertaining tale. As someone that’s never read the series, I had no problems whatsoever following Luc and Lindsey and enjoying their love story. In fact, for a story so short, I felt completely emotionally invested. Knowing the pair has a history helped a lot. It was just enough information to understand and make connections.
Rating: B+ (Review by Jen Twimom)
The Parlor by Lucienne Diver
A Latter-Day Olympians story
The story revolves around a supernatural PI with gorgon blood. She has limited powers. She is hired to find out if a husband is cheating, but instead ends up in a deadly web. The owner of the club where the husband frequents is a deadly creature of myth. The story is short and straight forward. I enjoyed it, but it was harder to get into the story than the other two. I had enough information to read it as a stand alone, but it was clear I was missing out on background information. The fact that I didn’t even know the main character’s name until halfway through the story was a little frustrating. However, with that said, the mythology that was presented intrigued me, and I certainly am interested in finding out more about this series. I enjoyed the main character’s humor and snark.
Rating: B- (Review by Jen Twimom)
Red Really Isn’t My Color by Christina Henry
Black Wings #2.5
Agent of Death, Maddy Black, is sent on a mission by her many-greats grandfather, Lucifer,to retrieve the mythical Red Shoes. These shoes will force the person wearing them to dance non-stop. They are currently in the possession of Sammy Blue, ambassador for Maddy’s newest foe, faerie Queen Amarantha.
Love Beezle’s dry wit and obvious sarcasm. And for readers of the series: it is nice to see Maddy not so jaded and filled with her dark powers. She is a younger, more innocent woman in this book than in the current series (which just released book 6).
The story is quick and fun with a small but entertaining twist. It can easily be enjoyed by newbies and series fans. It showcases all that is great from the series: humor, action, and the struggles of a human with the legacy of Lucifier’s power. The short flows well and is enjoyable.
Rating: B+ (Review by Jen Twimom)
Snakeskin by Rob Thurman
Out of the three stories that Gikany and Una read from Kicking It, we feel that Snakeskin was the weakest. Not that the story wasn’t intriguing and fascinating, only that the identity of the main character being kept a secret until the end was unnecessary. We feel that the story would have been stronger for us, if the nature and identity had been known from the beginning. Snakeskin was still an eerie, and enthralling story reminiscent of a Twilight Zone episode. We did enjoy it over all, but felt it could have been stronger. The nuances and narration of the main character unfolded in a genteel and flowing manner making it a very quick read. Due to the mysterious characterization that shrouds our point of view, the narration had a light feel and is only stronger when you look back after completing the story. It is one of those short stories that warrants discussion with someone else because of the nature of the writing. We may not have felt this way if we had been followers of the Trickster series. Gikany and Una are familiar with a different series of Mr. Thurman’s. However, after reading this short, we are intrigued by this series and are interested in checking it out.
Rating: B (Review by G & U)
Ruby Red by Kalayna Price
Alex Craft #4.5
Gikany and Una enjoy the Alex Craft series and were delighted with Ms. Price’s offering of Ruby Red, classified as a Darque Files story. Since the Alex Craft series is told solely from Alex’s perspective, it was fun to see a different aspect of this world and from the eyes of someone different. Ruby Red follows Briar Darque, an investigator for the Magical Crimes Investigation Bureau. We experience a case that takes place right before Briar and her partner, Derrick Knight, go to investigate Alex Craft (which occurs in the upcoming novel, Grave Dance). We thoroughly enjoyed Ruby Red. The dynamic between Derrick and Briar was fun – they make a very interesting team. Derrick’s character is almost tragic, his gift is almost a disability in that he is truly unable to touch anything because he will glean the memories from the object. For example, they are staying in a hotel room – he must bring his own sheets, towels, he won’t touch anything without gloves to protect himself… he cannot even use the silverware in restaurants. We found Derrick’s character to be utterly fascinating, reminding us of the somewhat tragic character from The X-Men, Rogue. However, Derrick proves to have a keen sense of humor in spite of it all, and his relationship with Briar was enchanting. Speaking of Briar, we love her take-no-prisoner attitude and all around kick-butt-ness. She is a tough heroine that will do anything to do her job and bring justice. We look forward, now having this insight into them, to seeing them through the eyes of Alex, as they investigate her. If you haven’t experienced the Alex Craft series, please do and make sure to read this short story as well!
Rating: A (Review by G & U)
New York Times bestselling author Rachel Caine has modern-day potions witches Holly and Andrew facing off against a firebrand politician who wears literally killer boots in a Texas-sized rodeo of trouble.
Boot-loving Cadogan vampire Lindsey must team up with off-again, on-again vampire partner Luc when a woman from her past is targeted by supernaturals in New York Times bestselling author Chloe Neill’s all-new adventure.
And New York Times bestselling author Rob Thurman features Trixa Iktomi from her Trickster series dealing with magical vengeance and magical footwear.
Taking kick-ass urban fantasy literally, USA Today bestselling authors Kalayna Price and Faith Hunter bring together the best of the genre to once again prove when you’re fighting supernatural forces, it helps to keep your feet on the ground.
Release Date: December 3, 2013
Genre: Urban Fantasy, Anthology, short story format
Format(s): Paperback (368 pages), e-book, audiobook CD
Book Source: Publisher/Publicist/NetGalley
Kicking It Anthology
During the blog tour for Kicking It, the book publisher, ROC/Penguin, and the authors are hosting an awesome giveaway! Prizes include signed books, swag, and even hand-made jewelry! Winners will each receive one of the prize packs, and every pack includes a copy of Kicking It! To enter the giveaway, fill out the Rafflecopter form, below (you may need to click a link). The giveaway is for US mailing addresses only (no PO Boxes) and is open until December 13, 2013.
The giveaway is hosted and run by the publisher, ROC/Penguin, and the authors. This blog, its owner, and reviewers are not responsible for the content of the giveaway or running of the contest.
Here is a little bit about one of the nine great authors featured in Kicking It:
Chloe’s next release:
HOWLING FOR YOU, a Jeff and Fallon e-special, will be released on January 7, 2014. The next full-length Chicagoland Vampires novel, WILD THINGS, will be released February 3, 2014. There are a lot of shifters in the future of the Chicagoland Vampires!
Since Merit was turned into a vampire, and the protector of Chicago’s Cadogan House, it’s been a wild ride. She and Master vampire Ethan Sullivan have helped make Cadogan’s vampires the strongest in North America, and forged ties with paranormal folk of all breeds and creeds, living or dead…or both.
But now those alliances are about to be tested. A strange and twisted magic has ripped through the North American Central Pack, and Merit’s closest friends are caught in the crosshairs. Gabriel Keene, the Pack Apex, looks to Merit and Ethan for help. But who—or what—could possibly be powerful enough to out-magic a shifter?
Merit is about to go toe to toe, and cold steel to cold heart, to find out.
Please stop and visit other stops on the Kicking It Book Tour.