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Review: Hex Appeal - Anthology edited by P.N. Elrod, including stories by Ilona Andrews, Jim Butcher and more

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Hex Appeal (Phoenix Chronicles; The Shadowfae Chronicles, #4.5; Kate Daniels, #5.6; The Dresden Files, #11.9)Hex Appeal by P.N. Elrod

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This was a very good anthology. The stories were longer, allowing a lot more space for plot development and explaining the systems of magic in each world. I'm not generally a big short story fan, I don't usually find them to be satisfying, but these were, I actually really enjoyed all of them except for one. I generally think anthologies are just a tool for introducing authors to fans. I get them out of the library just in case there's a story from one of the series that I'm following that I don't want to miss. But this one might be worth reading even if you aren't following some of the famous series.

Ilona Andrews - Takes place in the same world as the Kate Daniel's stories, but in Philadelphia, and about Saimon's cousin Adam. It was a smart way to capitalize on the familiar world that the author's had created and the already established rules of magic and science that they've spent years writing about, but no familiarity is needed for readers unfamiliar with the stories. It's a very strong story, as all of their short stories are; along with Butcher they're among the most consistent when it comes to short stories, something that few authors can pull off.

Jim Butcher - Great, as always. The third of the Harry Dresden/Irwin/River Shoulders stories. Irwin is in college now and got himself involved with a very dangerous lady. Action, humor, romance, danger, romantic love, familial love, obsessive love, and more, all in 51 pages. The guy really does just write great short stories.

Rachel Caine - A very good story. Different characters and situations than anything I've read from her before, in fact half way though I had to check to see who the author was and was very surprised it was her, I thought maybe it was one of the romance authors I've been meaning to try or something. It was also a good enough story that I was anxious about what was going to happen and wanted to read the end to get spoilers, that's very rare from a short story. It was a very substantive story with a clear plot, a lot of emotion and strong characters.

Carole Nelson Douglas - I'm a fan of the Delilah Street series. As usual, I find the lighter tone a good break in pace in a an anthology. But it was weird that she kept claiming to despise "loathe-hate" Snow since it took place after the road trip book where they had such a push-pull relationship. It was also weird that it has a major reveal about Snow in a story that a lot of fans of the series might not read; maybe it will be repeated in the next book. I always wonder how people who aren't fans of the series will react to her stories, I figure they'll either love them or hate them. They're certainly different from anything else you'll come across.

P.N. Elrod - A very good story. I've never been that into her Vampire Files books, but I look forward to trying her new Steampunk series.

Simon R. Green - Heavy-handed, as usual with his Nightside stories. If he'd just cut out 20% of the unnecessary characters and side stories and focus on the main plot, I'd like these stories and books better. But it was ok.

Lori Handeland - This one I didn't like at all. It seemed really promising until the end gutted it and made the woman into a spineless idiot. This is the kind of romance I have no respect for, where the women rationalize excuses to be used and abused.

Erica Hayes - I wasn't a huge fan of the first Shadowfae book because it was so heavily weighted toward romance more than urban fantasy, but I did like the dark world that Hayes created. This story with the same background was a better fit for my taste.

Carrie Vaughn - A good story about Odysseus Grant, a reoccurring character in the Kitty Norville books.

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Review: The Red Pyramid: The Graphic Novel by Rick Riordan

The Kane Chronicles, The, Book One: Red Pyramid: The Graphic NovelThe Kane Chronicles, The, Book One: Red Pyramid: The Graphic Novel by Rick Riordan

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

This was definitely a graphic novel, it's very wordy. I'm not sure it converted very well to the action format, it just required too many words to get the story across. Or maybe the author just wasn't willing or able to edit it enough to fit the graphic novel format, because it's really a very true telling of the story in the original novel. But there were some cool visuals, like the great room in the New York nome. And having Carter's comments in blue and Sadie's in yellow was a good touch that tried to convey the back and forth narration style of the book. But I don't think it managed to get the point across sufficiently that Carter and Sadie were telling this story, it's a really important foundation of the books and only becomes completely clear at the end of this graphic novel that they were telling this story.

Plus the humor and banter that was in the book, and was conveyed best of all in the audiobook format, just didn't end up in this format at all. Even though some of Sadie and Carter's inner monologues were included, none of the banter and wit ended up in this book. It was just so serious. There was very little to show how Carter and Sadie were becoming friends and people who could count on each other. There were lots (and lots) of words for the historical and mythological aspects of the story but the relationships were neglected. In an attempt to make sure that every step of the plot in the original book was included and explained fully, the spirit of what made the book special seems to have been left out. What makes Riordan's YA books work so well is the balance of exciting adventure, emotional depth and humor. I got a bit of the emotions with the kids' feelings about their parents and about Bast. But somehow the adventure on this one was often dry, and the humor got left out.

I often find graphic novels to be a great way for reluctant readers to get introduced to wonderful books that they might not read otherwise. And maybe when they're adaptations of novels then they might get intrigued enough to dive into a text series that they never would have tried as well. But I'm not sure that this one is the going to do that job, it's just too text-heavy and too much like a novel. I'm sad to say that I think that if I was a kid reading this for the first time, don't think I'd be excited about this series. I still recommend the audiobooks for this series, they're by far the best format to best convey the humor and adventure in these books.

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