A regular feature to my blog, Sunday Book Review, is simply a review of the book (or books) I read during the previous week on Sunday. While on Goodreads and Amazon, I give books a star rating, I don’t do stars here. I just say what I liked and didn’t like. You will notice that some will be independent titles, some will be mass market books, others will be classics. I write a review on whatever I read that week. I get most of my books from conventions from the author or bookstores, but as per FCC regs, I do mention if I received a book for free.
This week both books are anthologies, but that is the only thing they had in common.
Women in Practical Armor is an anthology from Evil Girlfriend Media of short stories about seasoned women warriors. Full discloser: I help fund this anthology on Kickstarter and I did receive an early review copy which is the version I am basing this review on.
Here is what I didn’t like: As with all anthologies there were stories I liked better than others, but in this case all the stories were well written. My only problem with is anthology was the order of the stories.
I first picked up this book when I received my ARC, but the first story Attrition had a depressing tone, so I put the book down. I didn’t feel like reading the rest. (Judith Tarr’s prose is lovely, but the tone of the story was not an opener. It would have been better between two action-packed stories or as the ender.)
Then I received my real copy, and since the real copy would be a great gift for a certain friend of mine (which is why I funded the Kickstarted in the first place!) I figured I better finished my ARC.
What I liked: I loved the cover artwork. It is always interesting to see how different authors approached the theme.
And now that I finished the anthology, I can say I DID enjoy the stories. The playful prose of The Family Business by Kristy Griffen Green sang like the smith’s hammer she opened her story with. It was just delightful.
I think my favorites were Stone Worken by Crystal Lynn Hilbert and The Ravens and The Swans by Amy Griswold. The reason I loved these two stories specifically is the characters. Hilbert’s depiction of sister-kings. And Griswold’s elf queen (She is not the protagonist, she does have the protagonist’s life in her hands) is just cool and collected.
This is a great anthology for lovers of epic fantasy.
My husband picked up Fifty Shades of Slay at Crypticon from the publisher.
I liked this anthology as a whole, but I didn’t like every story. Most of the stories ended just as they were about to get scary. The writing was decent, but some styles felt a little amateurish and rushed. (Since this is horror thought the author might have been going for that.)
What I didn’t like: I am not interested in rape/incest horror stories and there are a few of those in this anthology.
However, there is a standout in this category that I did think was exceptional in its writing style. Child of Hate by Jay Helmstutler is the story of two insane people who have a baby/thing. The father abuses the mother, they both abuse the baby. They mistreat until it grows big enough to fight back.
I also have to admit I am not crazy about the book design. They change fonts and font size for every author. For me that was distracting.
There were plenty of stories that I thought were okay. Veronica Smith’s Sunday Morning was supposed to be a thriller with mistaken identity, but felt very Lifetime movie or NRA propaganda.
I enjoyed The Confessional by Lisa Vasquez. It felt like an old Tales from the Crypt episode with its overt morals. Unfortunately the main character was no more than a caricature of vanity.
On to a few that I really liked:
While I saw the ending to Veronica Smith’s The Cat Lady, it was still a great story with rising tension throughout the narrative. The feeling is comparable to Ray Bradbury’s The Veldt.
I felt deeply unsettled during the harrowing narration of a 13 year old girl Tom Breen’s Mom’s New Boyfriend.
My recommendation is if you like the many types of horror including slasher, body horror, paranormal, ghost stories, psychological, and intelligent cats, check out this anthology. You will probably have favorites and some you won’t like, but that’s the nature of the beast.