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Songs of Love and Death: All Original Tales of Star Crossed Love Hardcover – Bargain Price, November 16, 2010
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This month's Book With Buzz: "The Lying Game" by Ruth Ware
From the instant New York Times bestselling author of blockbuster thrillers "In a Dark, Dark Wood" and "The Woman in Cabin 10" comes Ruth Ware’s chilling new novel, "The Lying Game." See more
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"A wonderful anthology." -- Library Journal (starred review)
About the Author
George R. R. Martin is an American author and screenwriter of fantasy, horror, and science fiction. He is best known for his epic A Song of Ice and Fire series. --This text refers to the Paperback edition.
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On to the specifics! I read every story in the anthology, so without making this an epic I'll try to give some thoughts on each:
"Love Hurts" by Jim Butcher (3.5/5) - This is a spin off short story from his Dresden Files series, starring Harry and Karin Murphy. It's a great little short story and I enjoyed it. If you're familiar with the series it's always nice to visit with old friends and if you haven't read the series it's still a good story (also, you should go read the Dresden Files!). It wasn't earth shaking, but it was an enjoyable read. I believe this short story is also printed in Butcher's Side Jobs.
"The Marrying Maid" by Jo Beverly (2/5) - This wasn't for me. It felt very short on plot to me, fated love with some references to A Midsummer Night's Dream. It seemed a little old fashioned and rapey in the way that historical romances from the 80s often were. There is not an actual rape in the story though, so don't take that comment the wrong way. Hopefully that makes sense to anyone reading the review!
"Rooftops" by Carrie Vaughn (3/5) - Also not my favorite. It's a strange little superhero story. I don't really care for the superhero genre so this didn't do it for me. I have read Carrie Vaughn's first-in-a-series novel, Kitty and the Midnight Hour (werewolf radio talk show host, no superheroes), which I really liked! Since I'd read her full length novel already I expected to like the short story a bit more than I did.
"Hurt Me" by M.L.N. Hanover (4/5) - This is a horror/romance? crossover. It's not very romantic though, as another reviewer said. Still, I thought it was nicely atmospheric and I liked this one even though I'm not much of a horror fan, so that says something positive about it! The ending was a nice confirmation of a sort-of twist the author had foreshadowed.
"Demon Lover" by Cecilia Holland (2.5/5) - Another one that didn't really grab me. It plunges you into the story and then works backward a bit to explain what's going on. Most of the story is spent with the heroine feeling very threatened/imprisoned in a magical castle. It just didn't appeal to me.
"The Wayfarer's Advice" by Melinda Snodgrass (5/5) - This was so off my radar and I loved it!! Highly recommended. I would absolutely buy a full length novel about the same characters/setup. This was a space opera type story and I thought it was fantastic with a bittersweet ending. It reminded me greatly of Becky Chambers' novel A Long Way to a Small, Angry Planet which I read recently and also enjoyed quite a bit.
"Blue Boots" by Robin Hobb (3/5) - This was not a bad story by any means, but I had high expectations for a Robin Hobb story. Also, the story was fairly awash in cliches, which I will admit, did detract from my enjoyment. Not terrible, but not great to me either.
"The Thing About Cassandra" by Neil Gaiman (5/5) - I loved this story so much. Fantastic twist ending that totally got me. I'm very hit or miss with Gaiman, but I seem to enjoy him in shorter formats more and I think this was a great story.
"After the Blood" by Marjorie M. Liu (4.5/5) - Another of the stories I really enjoyed in this anthology. This was an author I wasn't familiar with but would like to become more familiar with now, thanks to this story! The story itself had an interesting dystopian world setting. How many stories can reference both the Amish and vampires and make it make sense?
"You, and You Alone" by Jacqueline Carey (4/5) - I was super excited to read this story since I'm a huge fan of the Kushiel series by the same author. This short story is a spinoff in the Kushiel universe from Anafiel Delauney's point of view. The story itself is poignant and fantastic. The disappointment for me was that I'd read it before - either the whole story or the vast majority of it must appear either as bonus material in one of the later Kushiel books or in another anthology or something. I can't find anything specifying that it's been reprinted somewhere, but I'm positive I'd read at least the majority of the story before (maybe in the Kushiel's Legacy books?).
"His Wolf" by Lisa Tuttle (3/5) - This was an ok werewolf story to me. The main character was a very young professor, but honestly the plot fell apart for me right near the beginning where she seems to be ok going off for a drive with a shady looking character after meeting his wolf-dog.
"Courting Trouble" by Linnea Sinclair (4/5) - This was another short that was more SF than F - space station opera in this case. Interesting aliens, fun adventurous plot. I would read more of these characters/this universe without a problem. The only thing that felt a little weak to me was the main characters seemed to reference playing a video game together more than necessary, as if it was the only point of reference between them. For two characters that were supposed to have a deeper relationship, it made it ring a little hollow.
"The Demon Dancer" by Mary Jo Putney (4.5/5) - I like urban fantasy and this had a great urban fantasy premise, I thought. Supernatural Guardians in a big city (New York) that also had real life jobs that their extra abilities assisted with. The Guardians all had different powers. What I liked the most was the heroine was an older lady (pretty uncommon in this genre) who had a really rich past that was hinted at in passing. I would 100% read a novel that was about her earlier life, referenced basically as a spy behind enemy lined in WW2. I think that could be a hit! The ending was a bit trite, but I really liked the setup getting to that point.
"Under/Above the Water" by Tanith Lee (1/5) - I think I just don't care for Tanith Lee's writing. I had read her Secret Books of Paradys series previously and was lukewarm about it. This short story hit those same "meh" notes for me. Not a lot of clear explanatory prose of what's going on, lots of atmospheric description. Basically this is a reincarnation story and it takes the two main characters a lot of tries in different times to get it "right". I never had a connection to either of them so I just didn't connect with the story. It wasn't for me.
"Kaskia" by Peter S. Beagle (3.5/5) - Near-future (or present) SF. This wasn't bad but it wasn't fantastic for me. It felt a little dated even though I couldn't put my finger on why I got that feeling. The main character's obsessiveness just didn't work for me. I know it's practically heresy, but I couldn't get into The Last Unicorn either, so maybe it's just that I don't connect with Beagle's writing very well.
"Man in the Mirror" by Yasmine Galenorn (4/5) - This was another author I wasn't familiar with but ended up enjoying the story a great deal. Atmospheric and a little horror-tinged, I would have read a longer length version of this story with more room for development. The ending felt rushed, but I really enjoyed the character development up to that point. There were also some great mysteries that hadn't been explained even at the end that I'd read more about if given the chance.
"A Leaf on the Wind of All Hallows" by Diana Gabaldon (4.5/5) - This is a spin-off from Gabaldon's Outlander series. Apparently if you've read as far as Book 7, Echo in the Bone, this will resonate with you even more. I've only read through Book 5, but I still was familiar with some of the base parts of plot and pieced together some of the connections to the books I'd already read. Even without the familiarity with the larger series this was a lovely short story/novella well worth reading. If you're a fan of the Outlander series, then it's even better.
There are 17 stories, with a reading time of about 11 hours for the book. Readers can enjoy one a day, if they wish. The authors have a proven track records and each offered something worth reading. The stories get better and better as the book progresses. The only tale I had read previously was Jo Beverley's "Marrying Maid," one I liked the first time and again in this book. That one is placed early in the book, but the final, very well done stories were contributed by luminaries like Tanith Lee, Peter S. Beagle and Diana Gabaldon.
There is something for everyone, but that also means not every story will engage every reader. One person's favorite is another person's dud.
Some tales take place in an imaginary past and seem like fairy tales, compete with faery folk and evil wizards. Some take place in our current time, with the addition of ghosts in mirrors, a transforming wolf or succubus. A few are set in the future. Some involve time travel or reincarnation and have two settings. And I'm not sure how to classify a post-apocalyptic zombie/Amish setting!
The endings of some of the tales can be predicted from the first pages, but others (Peter S. Beagle's intergalactic-
Walter Mitty entry in particular) keep the reader guessing.
Some of the stories that especially captured my imagination are Linnea Sinclairs' "Courting Trouble," a Star Wars-inspired adventure that kept me riveted through the cat-and-mouse maneuvering and Diana Gabaldon's "A Leaf in the Wind" with its charming characters.
There are some great book bargains around. This is one of them.
I bought the collection Songs of Love and Death a couple of years ago; it might have been an early buy on my Kindle. I was eager to read the prequil ish. The Kushiel series by Jacqueline Carey is moving and resonating. She creates a universe of poetry filled with people who live by poetry. Terre d’ Ange is one universe I would make great sacrifices to be a part of.
This gift of a story takes fans of the Kushiel series back to the luminscent Anafiel Delaunay, Anafiel de Montreve who dies within the first half of the first book of the first Kushiel trilogy. In a quick read, Carey provides readers with the backstory to the tragic but evocative love affair between Anafiel Delaunay and Prince Rolande de la Courcel. In swift efficiency she takes us through the pair’s university days, first battles, a courtship, the death of a loved one, a marriage, and the birth of a child.
Through snippets of dialogue and episodes, Carey’s Delaunay de Montreve reminisces in a language full of crisp descriptions, conveying a beauty of feeling in prose to rival any of Shakespeare’s.
It never fails to make me cry. It’s the kind of bitterweet tragedy that’s not overly self- indulgent and the knife-edge of pain it that much finer and sharper for its restraint.