writersaurusrex: (Default)
 Anthologies are always tricky to rate and review, simply because it is not one story, it is (in this case) 16. Overall, I liked the book. I'm not entirely sure I want to buy a dead-tree version (I bought it on Kindle when it first came out); I'm leaning toward yes, but it's not a strong yes. If I weren't trying to whittle down my ridiculously large library, I more certainly would.

Snapshort reviews of each story.
"Siren Seeking" (Kelly Sandoval): Very enjoyable, it seems like it would be a good story to flesh out. I would love to see more of Thelia.

"The Fisherman and the Golem" (Amanda Kespohl): Another story I greatly enjoyed. It took a few pages for it to click what the deal was with Lucette, but I didn't see who she really was until it was too late. Well done.

"We Are Sirens" (L.S. Johnson) was fantastic. It was an excellent take on "what if the ancient Sirens were still around."

"Moth to an Old Flame" (Pat Flewwelling): Very enjoyable, and a different interpretation on what would it be like if the ancient gods were still around and up to their old tricks. The last line was a bit of a groaner, though.

"The Bounty" (Gabriel F. Cuellar): The unnamed main character was excellent, as was the story itself, and I would love to see more of her. Again, an excellent "What if?" story, and the answer is one of those "Of course!" things.

"The Dolphin Riders" (Randall G. Arnold) was rather disappointing. It wasn't a *bad* story, it just felt kind of flat. I don't think it was the writing, I just think the whole premise and setting just sealed the story's fate for me.

"Is This Seat Taken" (Michael Leonberger) was an excellent suspense story in the Hitchcockian tradition. Even though by the time the story is almost done, you know where it's going, but you still can't look away.

"Nautilus" (V.V. LeSann): Not bad. This is one of the more different stories, in that it's a science fiction tale set in the heart of the galaxy, but it held true to the theme of "sirens-but-not-necessarily-sirens" that's the book's premise. Naut is a different character, but one that you look at and think, "Yeah, that's how humans would treat him," which made him a sympathetic character. Which makes what happens even more surprising.

"Siren's Odyssey" (Tamsin Showbrook) was a very enjoyable read, but this story was also a thematic stretch. The setting was very well developed, as were the characters. The tag-team PoV narration was very well done. I finished it wanting to know what happens next with Alice and Hanna.

"Safe Waters" (Simon Kevin): Again, a thematic stretch (unless you include mermaids in your definition of "sirens"), but other than that it was a very enjoyable story. And, to be honest, I don't think I would have made a different decision than Lina did.

"Notefisher" (Cat McDonald) is the only story out of the collection that I didn't like. I think a lot of it was its heavy reliance on acid, and that was too much for me to overcome with the story that was told. 

"Experience" (Sandra Wickham) was, up until the very end, a very enjoyable story. The finale was a let-down, as it seemed very deus-ex-machina. But other than that, it was very good.

"Threshold" (K.T. Ivanrest) was, again, not a bad story. I couldn't see the connection to the book's theme, which distracted greatly and downgraded it a notch for me. All in all, it was okay.

"The Fisherman's Catch" (Adam L. Bealby) is an old-school horror story that was told very well, right down to the requisite twist ending.

"One More Song" (Eliza Chan) is far and away my favourite story in this book. Basically a variation of the hard-boiled detective story, not only are the characters fantastic (especially Mira, the main character), but the world is incredibly developed and left me wanting more. A lot more. As in "I would literally pay real money for a book of these stories."

"Homecoming" (Tabitha Lord) is a retelling of the return of Odysseus, from Penelope's point of view Not a bad story, but not particularly memorable, either.
writersaurusrex: (Default)
 Lullaby Town is not a bad book. But it's not a particularly good book either. Nor is it memorable. What it is, is predictable and formulaic.

In its defense, the story is well written, and the last few chapters were riveting. But that's like saying that a team scored two goals late in the match, when they were down four-nil in the seventieth minute. A valiant effort late, but they still lost.

All the major characters were cookie-cutters and had little depth or definition. Hard-boiled private eye who served in VietNam? Check. His partner, former special forces? Check. Movie executive who doesn't think about anyone but himself? Check. Single mother? Check. Mafia of various types? Check.

The main plot starts with the afore-mentioned movie exec who was married, had a son, got divorced, and never gave his family a second thought until ten years later when he suddenly wants to be the boy's father? The why is never really explored. The other main plot is that his ex-wife is a new life, a new name, and is involved in a money-laundering scheme with the Mafia that she wants out of. Why did she get involved in the first place? It boiled down to "I needed the money." Again, very unsatisfying.

Lullaby Town winds up being a lackluster and disappointing novel, in large part because the story wasn't bad, but with some thought and effort, it could have been so much better.

writersaurusrex: (Default)

Azure Bonds (Jeff Grubb and Kate Novak, published in 1988 by TSR)

 This book, the first in the Finder's Stone trilogy, has the potential to be a formulaic, dull "let's write up our D&D game" book. Luckily, it was very non-formulaic.

 Yes, it has a fighter-class, a wizard, a paladin, and a thief masquerading as a bard. But the fighter has no idea who she is, the wizard is quite atypical, the paladin doesn't enter into the story as such until the last few chapters, and the thief makes a very convincing bard.

 The tale follows the sell-sword Alias, who wakes up in a room in an inn with no recollection of how she got there, apparently having spent the last week sleeping off a bender, and with a set of magical tattoos on her arm that leave her baffled. As the story unfolds, the authors did a very good job in slowly revealing bits and pieces of not only Alias's past, but the connection between her and Dragonbait (a lizard-like being who bears tattoos on his chest matching the ones on Alias's arm).

 On the down side, the wizard does use material components (which are a unique feature of the D&D system), and it does distract slightly from the narrative when it's used. However, that is basically my only complaint about the story, and that's more personal preference than a slight on the story itself. And, more important, there wasn't really anything that made me go "Wait...what?"

 All in all, a good read...good enough for me to pick up the next book in the series (The Wyvern's Spur).

 I give Azure Bonds 3½ stars out of 5.

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