I read cozy and historical mysteries, a bit of Paranormal/UF, and to mix it up, I read science and gardening books on occasion.
I bought this book for the single purpose of reading the story by Chloe Neill, a novella taking place in the Chicagoland Vampire 'verse. When I received it, I was pleasantly surprised that Kalayna Price had a story in it too, as I'm a big fan of the Grave Witch series.
Of course I had to read the whole book, and I didn't allow myself to jump ahead to my stories of choice - good things come to those that wait, and all that. 9 stories/novellas centred around kick ass shoes/boots, I found almost all of them entertaining and a lot of fun. The ones that I didn't care for as much weren't because of bad story building or writing, merely subject matter I didn't find to my personal taste.
My overall rating for the collection is 4 starts, but below is a quick and dirty review/rating for each story.
Rachel Caine - Forked Tongues - ★★★1/5: Resurrection witches go up against a man with a powerful pair of boots. I liked the story, although some background info was withheld long enough that the story started off confusing for this first time reader. It's explained, but not right away, so references made at the beginning were a bit obscure. I didn't like it enough that I'd seek out this particular series, but I really liked her writing style, so I'll check out her other series to see if their themes peak my interest.
Shannon Butcher - Stolen Goods - ★★★: A professional thief and a crafter of 'unique' items, both with a past tragedy in common, team up to stop an invasion of what I can only guess are meant to be an alien of some type. If you like your UF on the true fantasy side of things, this story might be more up your alley (it's sorta Dr. Who-ish). I'm not into aliens or alien life form fiction (space bores me stupid). That third star is for an excellently told and well written tale, even if I had to force myself to finish it because - again - aliens.
Chris Marie Green - The Girl with No Name - ★★★: An intriguing story about a girl who wakes up in a hotel room with no memory of who she is, how she got there or where she got the wicked-strange boots she's wearing. This story felt like an interlude between two bigger stories and it was very well done. Although I enjoyed the story, it's not one that interested me enough to seek out the rest of the author's work.
Faith Hunter - The Devil's Left Boot - ★★★★: 2 sisters, one recovering from a magical battle and both recovering from the death of a loved one, are hired by their high school nemesis to find her missing mother. I really liked this one and I loved the pygmy goat - it had me giggling a bit. A well written story that is obviously a novella that happens between other full length novels, there was still enough information gracefully provided (no info dumps) that I didn't have any trouble keeping up. I'll be looking more closely at Ms. Hunter's body of work.
Chloe Neill - High Stakes - ★★★1/2: Well, this is the story that I bought the book for and Luc and Lindsey are amongst my favourite characters. Lindsey has a niece in Chicago who comes home to a disturbing message for Lindsey. You may be wondering at the rating, but I have to say, while the story was good, it was not Ms. Neill's best. The Chicagoland vampire series is full of the most delightful dialog and snark, with Lindsey and Luc both delivering more than their fair share of it throughout the series. But this short story fell flat with both. Disappointing. The story, however, was a good one; we learn more about Lindsey's past and we see the evolution of their relationship take a bit of a leap forward. Worth reading, but didn't live up to my expectations.
Lucienne Diver - The Parlor - ★★1/2: A P.I. on a cheating-husband case makes a surprising discovery. This one ties with the aliens for my least favourite of the book, but again, it's down to personal preference. This one is based on a greek mythology series and the plot line is just a little too fantastical for even this lover of vampire lore. It lost the half star the aliens got because I figured out the plot line as soon as the club owners name was revealed. Again, though, readers of mythology-related fantasy may like this story quite a bit.
Christine Henry - Red Really Isn't My Colour - ★★★★: An agent of death is tasked by her great-many-times-grandfather on a task to retrieve a special pair of shoes. I really liked this one and I'll be checking out Ms. Henry's work. I like the way she's melded different mythologies into a cohesive world, and I love the MC's pet gargoyle. A well-told story that didn't leave me scratching my head because I'm not a current reader of a series. The main character feels like a complex, intelligent person I'd be interested in reading more about. She has snark too, and that's always a plus.
Rob Thurman - Snakeskin - ★★★: A problem solver and giver of wisdom takes on a request from a customer. Be careful what you wish for. I sort of have to leave it at that so I don't give anything away. This was not a favourite either - the mythology didn't appeal to me. It's also told in an unusual way; it's first person POV, but in a narrative style that's a bit choppy and doesn't necessarily flow well. It works for the story though; it perfectly encapsulates the personality of the MC.
Kalayna Price - Ruby Red - ★★★★: This story takes place in the Grave Witch universe but in a different city with different characters. It's a mini-mystery surrounding the sudden catatonic states of several citizens of NYC (sort of). No previous knowledge of the series is necessary to enjoy this tale of witchcraft and it's cost and I really liked the MC, she's the strong, resourceful, enforcer of a two-member team. Her partner, (whose name I forget because I'm at work and don't have the book with me), he's the one that is forced to stay back and do research and assist, as he is "gifted" with the ability to 'read' any person or object he touches. He doesn't get out much. The author doesn't make any mention of this role reversal from the typical stereotype but upon reflection, it's a nice touch. The story ends with some serious foreshadowing of what to look forward to (or not) in the next Grave Witch book.
Overall, one of the better anthologies I've read in awhile - I even enjoyed reading the ones I didn't enjoy, if you get what I'm saying. A fun way to introduce yourself to new writers, catch up with favourite series, or both.