Monday, October 15, 2012

"SOMETHING WICKED COMES" HALLOWEEN GIVEAWAY HOP: Stroke of Midnight Anthology, by Sherrilyn Kenyon, Amanda Ashley, L.A. Banks, and Lori Handeland







Welcome to my first post for the
"Something Wicked Comes"
Halloween Tour/GiveawayHop,
hosted by
Rainy Day Ramblings
&
Babbling About Books!! 
 
 
This is a month-long Halloween event!  Every day during the month of October, each participating blog will be featuring a favorite paranormal/urban fantasy book, along with a giveaway!  You can check out the post schedule at either of the two hosting blogs shown above.

I have decided to feature a great supernatural anthology I've recently read.  You will find my review and giveaway Rafflecopter below!



 
 

Mass Market Paperback, 368 pages
St. Martin's Paperbacks
November 2, 2004
Paranormal Romance,
Urban Fantasy

 
 
My Review

 
This is a wonderful collection of paranormal romance stories by some of the most popular authors in the genre.  Each story presents a different supernatural species – vampires, were-panthers, one werewolf, and a skinwalker (this creature is a human who can turn into a specific animal by wearing the animal’s skin and using magic to complete the transformation).
The first story, “Winter Born”, by Kenyon, has a very unique setting – a science fiction convention in Atlanta, Georgia (USA).  The plot develops amid a motley crew of aliens and other strange creatures from films and books, which lends a humorous backdrop to the story.  The main characters, Pandora and Dante, are natural enemies, although both are were-panthers.  They can’t help but become lovers, however, and then find out they’re irrevocably mated. 

Along with the main story, Kenyon provides some background for the world inhabited by her characters.  Dante’s brothers, Mike and Leo (they’re named for Michelangelo and Leonardo da Vinci), are funny and lovable secondary characters who unwittingly manage to introduce Pandora and Dante to each other.

This story is a delightful little romp with bittersweet overtones.  The plot is very well-handled; Kenyon keeps the action going. In spite of the 'instant attraction’ aspect, I really enjoyed it!  I give it five stars!

The second story is a more serious take, titled "Born of the Night", by Ashley.  It presents a familiar plot idea - that of two warring families whose offspring fall in love - with a new twist: one of them is a werewolf, cursed by a witch.  Lady Shanara of the House of Montiori is captured by her father's enemy, Lord Reyes of Black Dragon Keep.  Her father had killed his several years before, so the two families have been at war ever since.

Originally intending to use Shanara to force her father's surrender, Reyes finds himself falling for her instead.  She, too, falls in love with him.  When she finds out he's a werewolf, she reacts with compassion, something he had not expected from her.

This is a beautiful story!  It's also beautifully written, with a descriptive, flowing style.  Moreover, the angst is not overly done.  Although the two main characters do fall in love fairly quickly, it's believable, under the circumstances.   I've always enjoyed reading Ashley's work.  She creates interesting, well-fleshed out characters, and strong story lines.  I give this story five stars!

The third story is my absolute favorite of the anthology!  Titled "Make It Last Forever", it was written by the late L.A. Banks (whose books I really must put on my TBR pile).

Tara and Jack are two of the most compelling characters I have ever come across in paranormal fiction!  I like them so much I do wish Banks had decided to write further stories about them - book-length stories, that is!

Of the four stories collected here, I found this one to be the bewt in terms of atmosphere, characterization, and the overwheliming feeling that these two lovers, who were obviously meant for each other, just had to say together.  Furthermore, this particular story could classify as literary fiction because of its style, which I found strongly reminiscent of Hemingway's.

The year is 1979.  Tara, a Native American, is traveling by bus from Oklahoma to her grandmother's reservation in New Mexico, where she hopes to be able to undo the effects of a vampire bite.  On the way there, she meets, Jack, a free spirit, who is traveling with his gang of biker buddies to a motorcycle race in California, with the goal of winning some prize money.

Through a strange, unforseen set of circumstances, the two are thrown together in a desperate attempt to escape from certain death.  Tara rides away with Jack, and, throughout the rest of the story, does everything in her power to avoid biting him, as her transformation into a vampire unfolds.

This story is obviously a sort of prologue to the author's Vampire Huntress series, since it turns out that Jack is destined to become a Guardian, fighting to rid the world of vampires.  As I've already said, I wish Banks had continued with these two characters, whom I absolutely love, instead of using them as an infroduction to her now-fmous series.  I know I'll never forget these two!

If it were possible, I'd give this story ten stars!!  It's just so evocative, so poignant and sweet...

The fourth and last story is, indirectly, about a skinwalker - in this case, a wolf.  Here we have another Native American character, but an evil one.  He stalks writer Maya Alexander, whose life until that point had been unremarkable in the extreme.  In fact, she thought of herself as 'the safety girl'.  Suddenly, her cabin hideaway in Arizona is up in flames, and she's been abducted by a devastatingly handsome special forces agent, Clay Philips, who informs her that she has been 'chosen' by the skinwalker for his own nefarious purposes.  It is Clay's job to protect her. 

This story, "Red Moon Rising", by Handeland, presents a very fascinating, if scary, mythology - that of the skinwalker and his inhuman powers.   I'd love to know what kind of research the author did for this one, since she mentions that the skinwalker is a Navaho. 

The love story between Maya and Clay was, I thought, a bit forced.  These two are a very well-matched couple, nevertheless.  I guess I was expecting a romance between a paranormal creature and a human, so, in that respect, this story was a bit disappointing for me.  It was well-written and pretty exciting, but I can't say I enjoyed reading it as much as the other three.  I give it four stars.

I definitely recommend this book!  The characters and the events surrounding them do keep the pages turning.  Besides, thanks to L.A. Banks’s story, I am giving this volume the highest rating!


MY RATING:





And now for the giveaway!
One lucky winner
will receive a paperback copy
of this book,
courtesy of The Book Depository!
Please make sure they
deliver to your country.
To find out, just click HERE.
Good luck to one and all!


 


17 comments:

  1. Loved the review. Also these are some of my favorite authors especially Sherrilyn Kenyon :)
    Thanks for the awesome giveaway!

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  2. Hi, Cassandra!

    Thanks for your compliment! Sherrilyn Kenyon is always a favorite!

    You're very welcome for the giveaway, and thanks for participating!! : )

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  3. Thank you so much for being a part of Something Wicked. I added your post to my FB page and I will twitter it as well, I know Rafflecopter has been extremely glitchy as of late. I have no idea what is going on with it, but I don't worry too much....I love your new header btw...very cute. As far as the book and review.
    I don't tend to read too many anthologies but this sounds like a good one. I am very interested in that story Make it Last Forever. The two characters sound very compelling and I could tell you really loved it so I am so sold! Hope you are having a good Monday!

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  4. Wonderful review Red Moon Rising and the skinwalker has me curious. i love collections like this..awesome giveaway!

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  5. Hey, Heidi!

    You're very welcome for my participation in "Something Wicked Comes"! And thank YOU for inviting me to be a part of it!

    The Rafflecopter situation really freaked me out this morning! Here I was, with my post ready to go, and their site crashes! I took my small laptop to work, and checked out what was going on while I answered phones at the front desk. Thankfully, everything was already back to normal!

    I'm so glad you're interested in getting this book, based on my thoughts about "Make It Last Forever". If you win the book (or if you buy it somewhere), you'll see just how GREAT this story is!!

    I just got home from work. I had a pretty good Monday, except for 'the glitch scare' this morning. Lol.

    Thanks for your wonderful comment!! : )

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  6. Hi, Kimba!

    Thanks for the compliments!! This is indeed a TERRIFIC anthology! Hope you decide to enter the contest! Who know? You might win the book!! : )

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  7. P.S. to Heidi:

    How could I forget? Thanks for complimenting my header!! It's a free wallpaper download I found on Google. All I did was to include my blog's name in it. I did that with Picasa.

    Of course, this is a temporary header. I will go back to the regular one when Halloween is over. Then, as Thanksgiving approaches, I'll put up another header for that holiday. The same thing goes for Christmas! : )

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  8. What a fabulous review! You made me want to read this anthology. It sounds awesome. I really appreciate the giveaway! Thanks!
    ~Jess

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  9. Hi, Jess!

    Oh, thank you!! Yes, this is indeed a great anthology! I know that anthologies are not that popular, but readers should really give them a chance, because there are some terrific ones out there. And this is one of them!

    You're very welcome for the giveaway. Thanks for entering!! : )

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  10. Thank you for the review. I like how you feature each story and give a detailed synopsis without giving away the entire plot! =)

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  11. Hey, Pixie!

    Thanks for the compliment!! I always try not to give away the entire plot.

    You're very welcome for the review!

    Thanks for participating, and good luck to you!! : )

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  12. This was a really great review...each story was commented on and a brief rundown given and best of all focused on the positive! thanks!

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  13. Hey, pc!

    Oh, this is a TERRIFIC read!! Thanks for the compliment, as well as for participating in the giveaway!! Good luck to you!! : )

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  14. This was precisely the answers I'd been searching for. Amazing blog. Incredibly inspirational! Your posts are so helpful and detailed. The links you feature are also very useful too. Thanks a lot :)

    ReplyDelete
  15. Well, you're very welcome, Anonymous! You do sound like a spammer, but, since you haven't left any obvious spam links, I have decided to publish your comment. After all, why would I reject a compliment or compliments?

    Still, be forewarned! I don't know who you are, but any comments containing links obviously meant for spamming purposes WILL be deleted. That is, if they somehow manage to get past Blogger's spam filters.

    Thanks again, and have a nice day!! : )

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  16. I am a big SK fan and I've already read her story, unfortunately it wasn't my book so I didn't have time to read the others. Your review really makes me regret that I haven't read them all :) Thanks for writing it.

    Thanks for making the giveaway international :)

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  17. Hey, Aly!

    As you know, my very favorite story is "Make It Last Forever". If you don't win this book, do yourself a favor, and buy it. You will REALLY enjoy this story, although the others are good, too. But this one is EXTRA special!!

    Thanks for the compliment on my review! Glad it convinced you to enter the contest, for which I also thank you! : )

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THIS IS NOW AN AWARD-FREE, AND TAG-FREE BLOG. Thanks for the compliment, though! : )

Thanks for your thoughts on my posts! I always reply here, as well as comment back on your blog. Have a WONDERFUL day!! :)