Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Chicks Kick Butt edited by Rachel Caine and Kerrie L. Hughes

This anthology is dedicated to chicks who kick butt, bigtime. The thirteen stories within, written by female authors, feature protagonists far tougher than their appearances would indicate...

"Shiny" is a story set in Rachel Caine's "Weather Warden" universe. Joanne Baldwin and her lover, the Djinn David, take the day off to go to the beach, but on their drive, stumble on a Djinn named Whitney who is pretending to be a model in a bikini made of diamonds and shooting an ad for the Bugatti Veyron. But when Whitney ditches the shoot to steal the car, it's up to Joanne and David to go after her and find out what she is *really* up to.

"In Vino Veritas" by Karen Chance has Dhampir Dory attracting the attention of a new gang come from the East, the Leaping Tigers. When they send an assassin after her, Dory kills him and goes seeking information on why she is so wanted, and what this might have to do with Lord Cheung, a past foe. But when a duel of weapons turns into a drinking contest of fey wine, can Dory keep the potent liquor from affecting her, and what secrets and truths might she spill under its influence?

In "Hunt" by Rachel Vincent, Werecat Abby's camping trip with her friends and roommates is interrupted by an attack on their camp, and a group of men who want Abby. But why? And do they know about her being a Werecat? But most of all, can Abby save her roommates and herself from a bunch of men who want to hunt her to death?

In "Monsters" by Lilith Saintcrow, Eleni, a Preserver vampire, seeks vengeance for the death of the humans she was protecting and sheltering. But when she runs into another man, a strange survivor of the same ones who killed her family, she discovers that he is more than just a lucky human- he's a werewolf and the enemy of her kind. But can they form a new family and get her vengeance on those who wronged her?

"Vampires Prefer Blondes" by P. N. Elrod stars Bobbi Smythe, the love of Elrod's vampire character Jack Fleming. While on tour, Bobbi discovers that another one of her fellow performers is on the run from an abusive husband. Bobbi, a blonde, looks similar to this girl, which makes her the subject of an attack. But when her husband was revealed to be a vampire, she ran. Can Bobbi help this girl escape her husband, and put an end to his taking over the town she came from, all without the assistance of another vampire?

"Nine-Tenths of the Law" by Jenna Black has Morgan Kingsley, an exorcist, called in to help a couple whose daughter has been possessed by a demon. But Morgan senses a rat when she figures out that the mother is a member of a Church known as God's Wrath, a group of fanatical demon-haters. They don't stop at exorcism, but burn the formerly possessed, and Morgan senses that the mother is the kind who would burn her own daughter. But can she save the girl from her parents when she runs away, and her parents track her down and try to kill her?

"Double Dead" by Cheyenne McCoy stars Nyx, a Drow or Dark Elf, who is also a tracker, a supernatural dedicated to seeing that the Metamorphs, a set of paranormal creatures who can take on any shape, keep from taking over human society. Captured by Metamorphs pretending to be her boyfriend, she discovers that the Metamorphs have a plan to destroy the Council that directs the paranormal society of races. But, poisoned by an herb deadly to Drow, can she escape and recruit enough allies to keep the Metamorphs from carrying out their plan?

"A Rose by Any Other Name Would Still Be Red" involves Red, servant to the High Baron, who must bring down a rich nobleman who is trafficking in slaves, which is against the laws of the High Baron. But the orders from her Lord include the chance of mercy if any of the guards will accept it, a hard task when everyone wants to kill her. But can Red accomplish her mission on her own, or can the new slaves that have just arrived somehow help her in her task?

"Superman" by Jeanne C. Stein has Anna, a vampire and the Chosen One. She is in conflct with Chael, a vampire who would elevate vampires to the top of the food chain and make humans no more than herd animals. But when she receives a message from her human ex-boyfriend, Max, asking for her help, she reluctantly decides to go see him. He is tracking a vampire who is feeding on Mexican immigrants who want to escape to America. But can Anna, so newly made, defeat the other vampire, and what will happen between her and Max?

"Monster Mash" by Carole Nelson Douglas has Delilah Street, paranormal investigator, contacted by Sansouci, a werewolf enforcer to expose a problem with someone killing CinSims- Cinema Simulations, or a look and personality overlaid on the bodies of Zombies that the visitors to Vegas can interact with. CinSims use the look and personality of famous old movie stars and characters. But now one of them seems to have gone crazy. Can Delilah track down the one responsible and take care of him or her before they become even more of a problem?

"Wanted: Dead or Alive" by L.A. Banks has Tanya, a bounty hunter, contemplating the end of her career. After being the best bounty hunter of Supernaturals, her own career was ended by her last target, who turned her into a vampire. But when former associates of her target decide to kill her, can she somehow bond with her own assassin to be and save herself from the vengeance of the undead?

"Mist" by Susan Krinard, chronicles the story of Mist, Valkyrie. After Ragnarok, she was one of the few survivors along with Valli and Vidar. Now, she lives a life among the mortals, teaching combat. But when she is attacked by a giant, a Jotunn, looking for one of the treasures that she guards, she discovers that Loki survived, and that for some reason, he wants the spear that she is guarding. But can she ally herself with an Alfar or Elf, she believes is a traitor to the Gods, to find out what is really going on?

"Beyond the Pale" by Nancy Holder has Meg, an American with the Sight who has joined the Magical House of Knights, Haus Ritter, in Germany, to patrol the Black Forest against the forces of the Erl King. But when Meg realizes she may have been lied to about the Erl King and what he does with the human infants he steals, can she turn her back on what she thought she knew and choose a new path?

I really enjoyed most of these stories, and even the ones I found less than successful were still rather interesting to read and provided me with some strong female characters. I really enjoyed "Shiny", "In Vino Veritas", "Hunt", "Vampires Prefer Blondes" and "Mist".

The best part about this anthology is that none of the stories felt out of place, wrong, or not thematically in line with the rest of the stories. While each character might exhibit different examples of strength, each of the female characters presented do kick, both literally and metaphorically.

I enjoyed this short story collection very much. Many of the stories were extremely good, and they were all interesting to read. I'd definitely recommend this book to anyone who enjoys action books with strong women. Highly recommended.

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