Saturday, 12 July 2014

A Shiver of Light

Level: Adult
Genre: Urban Fantasy> Faeries
Obtained: Public Library
Reviewed By: Maggie W.

I dislike everything about this cover. I get that the color chosen is supposed to fit with the fact that Light is in the title but it makes my eyes hurt. It looks like someone is staring at a half naked man through the sweaty mug of beer they're nursing at a strip club. I liked the less eye searing colors of the other books in the series, and this book doesn't match with those in any way. It also bugs me that the letters of the titles aren't uniform. I get that it's a design choice but it took much for my dyslexic brain to handle. I've got a hard enough time with letters drifting, turning and looking all together strange sometimes and this font doesn't help. 

About the Book:
A Shiver of Light is book number 9 in the Merry Gentry series by Laurell K. Hamilton. Normally I would want to review the other books in a series rather than starting 9 books in but I couldn't bring myself to reading most of the other books in the series over again. I really enjoyed the first 6 or so books in this series, and although I didn't really care for the last book, number 8, I decided I would give this series one last chance since the author hadn't released in this series in around 5 years.

Rating: 2/10
As I was reading this book I had every intention of writing a review afterwards. After finally finishing, blinking into the screen of my ebook reader, I realized that my brain had been reduced to pudding and I couldn't find anything to say. 
Words can't really express how truly terrible this book is. Fans had been eagerly awaiting the arrival of Merry's babies and when she finally goes into labor, the birth happens off screen. That probably could have been forgiven except through the whole book Merry shows little to no interest in her children and spends almost no time with them. The majority of the babies' care falls to many of Merry's numerous lovers. The oly time Merry seems to show any type of interest or concern for any of the babies is when one of them shows signs of powerful glamour magic that seems to work on even pure sidhe. 
The vast majority of the book is spent with Merry and assorted other characters standing around in various locations, having mind-numbingly boring conversations in which they repeat the same things that have been said in other books in the series, earlier on in this book, or just repeating what other people have just said. 
When the book finally gets around to any kind of action, 4 chapters from the end of the book, the events happen off screen while Merry and Co. stand around having a conversation about what happened. 
This book was the literary equivalent of watching pain dry. 

I enjoyed the fact that Andais seemed to have more motivations that that of a cartoon evil villain. In the past she's only been shown to be a crazy, evil sadist who enjoys hobbies like murder and kicking puppies. In this book she seems more complex when she talks about missing her brother and wanting to have a relationship with her grand nieces and nephew. 

I also liked that finally she added a little realism into the books by killing off one of the many fathers of Merry's babies, Sholto. By the end of the book she didn't pull a, just kidding, we saved him with magic card, but I'm not putting it past Hamilton to do so in the next book.

The endless descriptions of clothing and people's personal appearances, and along with that, the intense need Hamilton seems to have with constantly insisting that Merry is the prettiest, awesomest, most perfect fae around and everyone else either wants in her pants or is totally jealous and is hiding the fact that they want in her pants. Hamilton doesn't seem to understand the concept that everyone has different types of people that they are attracted to, and that not every person is going to be attracting to you, and that's perfectly fine and doesn't in any way mean there's something wrong with them.
The fact that there was such a huge build up in the series to the importance of Merry getting pregnant and having a child, and when she finally has the babies everything dealing with them seems to be a few throw away pages, and then they're pretty much out of the picture. In the very small bits we get of the babies and Merry interacting with them, they just read terribly like they were written by someone who hated everything about being pregnant and having a baby.
The endless whining about having to wait so long to get to have sex because of Merry first being on bed rest and then because she gave birth to 3 babies. Sex is an important part of most healthy relationships(though you can have a great relationship without it), but with not 1, not 2 but 3 new babies in a house, even with lots of help you'll still be too busy and exhausted trying to adjust to all the babies schedules for sex to be on the table. It seemed like Merry and all the men were bitter that the babies seemed to cut into all the sexy fun times. I just pictured them all stamping their feet at their favorite toy being taken away.
Everyone in the book was stupid. Everything, and I mean everything seemed to be spelled out completely and they still weren't getting it. Not only that, but Doyle seemed to be purposely keeping information from Merry, who is supposed to be their queen, so as not to upset her, but all it was doing was keeping her stupidly uninformed and depended on him.

What I'm Reading Next:

Etiquette & Espionage

Level: Young Adult
Genre: Fantasy> Steam Punk
Obtained: Barnes and Noble
Reviewed by: Maggie W.

I'm a bit so-so on the cover for this novel. One the one hand I really love the background color/pattern, and the font design of the title but I really dislike the model on the cover. I think my main irritation is that her one arm is in an extremely uncomfortable looking post while the other seems to have disappeared, and her head seems oddly proportioned to her body. 

About the Book:
After reading and really enjoying my last book, The Clockwork Scarab, I went seeking more Steam Punk novels. This book and it's sequel came up on a lot of lists of go to Steam Punk novel lists. From the summary for the book it seemed to be just the thing I was looking for, Victorian Period- check, Finishing School- check, Girls working as assassins- check. Just from the premise of it being a book all about girls attending a finishing school that's actually a secret training school for female assassins seemed like a brilliant idea for a book. Boy was I wrong. 

Rating: 3/10
Where do I even start with this book? The book begins like a lot YA books I've read, teenage female protagonist is misunderstood/unappreciated by her family, so her family decides to send her away somewhere. Sophronia(literally every time I read that name it made me stumble over it in my head and cringe) is the exact opposite of what her mother would like her to be. She's forever causing trouble, making messes and is all-in-all a bane and embarrassment to her mother. In order to make her less troublesome, her mother decides that she's going to send her off to finishing school so Sophronia can learn all the skills she needs to be a proper, polite, finished young lady of breeding.
What her mother doesn't realize is that instead of sending her to a school where she'll learn how to curtsy and needle point, she's leaning ways to use those types of skills for disguise her skills as a spy and possible assassin. 
So far so good. 
Early on in the book, after arriving at her new finishing school that's apparently located on a series of blimps that are all tied together(how this works, I don't know), Sophronia learns that an important, mysterious item has been stolen from the school and the instructors at the school are desperate to have it back before it gets into the hands of, well, they're never super clear as to who exactly they want to keep it from specifically. 

I absolutely loved the idea of taking the common concept of a Finishing School and turning it on its head. I've always loved the kind of books where girls get to be something besides just something pretty to look at and that have the skills to take care of themselves. 
Bumbersnoot! At one point in the book, Sophronia acquires a mechanimal dog which she names Bumbersnoot. I could have read a book all about Bumbersnoot doing adorable coal-powered robot puppy things. She has to feet him bits of coal every day to keep him powered and he hilariously leaves little piles of robot puppy poop that are piles of coal ash. 
I also enjoyed that the author took time to make the other characters that were in Sophronia's group of classmates all have personalities of their own. 

I wanted so badly to like this book and just couldn't. It had a great concept idea for the story and the writing was pretty good, but this book was just flat out boring! I couldn't count the number of times I set the book aside to do other things and nearly chucked it into the DNF pile. The only thing that kept me reading til the end was that I kept thinking, the next chapter we're going to get to the main plot, and it just never happened. The book sort of just plunked along for 17 chapters until I was left staring at the last page wondering if I'd somehow missed a large chunk of text with the action of the book happened. 

What I'm Reading Next: 

Monday, 23 June 2014

We've Been Quiet

So all five of you have probably noticed that we haven't been posting any reviews lately. Well, although I have added two new reviewers, they have yet to post and will mainly be focusing on fan fiction and graphic novels. Speaking of the latter, that is the reason why yours truly has been absent since I decided to take some time to reread The Sandman comics from Neil Gaiman (which I highly recommend). Now that I have finished, I plan on trying my hand at snarking, starting with the infamous My Immortal. Pray for my sanity. I also plan on reading more of The Hobbit so that I can do another film vs book review. However, I will admit that I have been postponing this as I really dislike the films.

As for Maggie, well, she has become extremely busy and who knows when she will be able to return. She sends her apologies. However, if you are interested in becoming a reviewer, let me know. I would love to get this blog more active and more diverse in the reviews it covers.

Tuesday, 21 January 2014

The Clockwork Scarab

Level: Young Adult
Genre: Fantasy> Steam Punk
Obtained: Barnes and Noble
Reviewed By: Maggie W


I actually like this cover a lot. It's not too much detail or too busy overall. The majority of the detail seems to be on the scarab. It gives the cover a nice focal point. The font for the title is also artistic without making it almost impossible to read. 

About the Book:

This is the first book in a new series, Stoker and Holmes by Colleen Gleason. I knew just by the name of the series this book would either be really good or really terrible. For anyone not familiar with steam punk it's equal parts sci-fi/fantasy and alternate history. It's sort of the what if in the Victorian Era instead of advances in electrical technologies they made technical advances with coal, water and natural gas power instead. It's a lot of cogs, steam powered inventions, etc.  Something important to note about this book is that it has 2 lead character PoV so the chapters alternate between the 2, so it may be hard for some readers to adjust to. Luckily the author names the person who's PoV the chapter is though it the title to help keep things straight. 

Rating: 8/10

Mina Holmes is the daughter of Mycroft Holmes, and the niece of Sherlock Holmes. As smart as her father and uncle, and just as curious and observant as her uncle, she's spent most of her 17 years fending for herself and conducting experiments while her father is at work, until she receives a hand written message with no identity as to who it's from other than the writer being a woman of wealth. 

Your assistance is requested in a most pressing matter.
If you are willing to follow in the footsteps of your family, 
Please present yourself at the British Museum tonight at
midnight. Further direction will be provided at that time. 

She arrives at the museum early and meets another girl who received the same mysterious message. Evaline Stoker is the sister of writer Bram Stoker, though he hasn't written his famous novel yet, and the latest in a long line of women born to be vampire hunters.

The person who called them to the museum is Miss Irene Adler who under orders from a member of the royal family is investigating the disappearance and later murder of girls from titled families. In order to be better able to investigate and solve the murders, she decided to bring in Mina and Evaline, who will be able to blend in with the social group that the girls disappeared from.

Towards the end of the meeting, Mina, Evaline and Miss Adler hear the noise of one of the museum's large doors and they go to investigate because at the late hour the museum should be empty. In one of the unused rooms they find a boy, holding a knife, kneeling next to the body of a girl.

The boy claims to be part of the janitorial staff of the museum. While examining the scene and body, Mina decides that the girl couldn't have been killed at the scene because of the lack of blood where she lay even though she has a large cut on one arm. She also seems to have what appear to be burns all over her arms and she has a faint scent of opium on her.

The athorities are called but before the can aprehend the boy a device he has starts playing loud music, providing enough of a distraction that he's able to get away.

The two police inspectors that showed up at the museum question Mina, Evaline and Miss Adler about why they were there so late at night and how they came upon the body. Mina informs Inspector Grayling that she's already started a preliminary inspection of the body and he seems reluctant to listen to her findings even after being informed of her more well known relations. Mina and Grayling go back and forth trying to outdo each other on what they can tell from the victim as far as time of death, cause, etc.

After finally being allowed to leave, Evaline watches as Mina leaves in a cab and is startled by a man hiding near the building. Somehow he seems to know that Evaline is a vampire hunter and tells her that if she's ever in trouble that she should just say that she knows Pix. Before she leaves Pix tells her about the some men he'd seen loading a very large crate into a wagon from one of the doors to the museum even though there wasn't supposed to be anyone else there.

It turns out that the dead girl from the museum was part of a secret society that had ties to an Egyptian mythology based cult. In order to keep any more bodies from turning up Mina and Evaline must some how gain access to the society in order to find out who has been killing the girls. And that starts the main plot of the book. Mina and Evaline's attempts to infiltrate the Society of Sekhmet.


I really loved that Mina and Evaline both had strengths that complimented each other while at the same time neither was presented as being weak. It was really refreshing to read a book that while both the female leads had other characters they had a mutual romantic interest in, it wasn't presented as the be all end all of the whole plot, a plot point there seems to be a shortage of lately in teen fiction.


The boy that showed up in the museum, Dylan, didn't really seem to have a point in the story. Towards the end of the story he does help out with an escape plan but other than that he seems to serve no purpose other than being there. I also wasn't really a fan of the fact that at first Mina and Evaline seemed to really dislike each other even though they'd never met before. I've had enough of the stereotype that teen girls are automatically catty to each other.

What I'm Reading Next:

Monday, 30 December 2013

City of Bones

Level: Young Adult
Genre: Fantasy>Urban Fantasy
Obtained: Amazon
Reviewed by: Maggie W.


I'm a bit so so on the cover of this book. I like that at the bottom are the grave stones since during part of the book they visit a place under a cemetery. I also like the fact that the cover model has the tattoo marks that the shadowhunters in the books have all over them. What I don't like it how the cover seems almost slapped together.

About the Book:

This book is the first in a series by Cassandra Clare. The author actually started off writing fanfiction for Harry Potter and I had read a few of her fics before they were taken down. Soon after she announced that she had gotten a deal to publish her first book. So far there are five published novels in the series with a sixth being written currently.

Rating: 6/10

I first read this book after it was first published in 2007. I enjoyed it then and purchased the next book when it was released but lost it half way though reading it and sort of forgot about it. When I heard that they were making a movie based on the first book of the series it reminded me of how much I liked the book so I decided a reread was in order.

Clary is different, and not in the tired, I'm just so unique, no one really understands me hipster kind of way. No, it's more in the oh dear lord there's a giant fanged venomous monster attempting to eat her kind of way, but that doesn't come til later. Clary lives in New York with her mother. Her father died when she was baby, her mother had told her. Clary spends most of her free time with her best friend Simon. It's while she and Simon are out at a local teen goth club that things start to change.

Somehow while at at Pandemonium, she stumbles into what she thinks is a murder. Clary sees a girl lead another boy into a supply room, and notices that two other boys, one of which looks to be carrying a knife followed the two in the room. Clary sends Simon off to find a bouncer in case there's trouble.

After sneaking into the room behind them, she can only see the first boy tied to a post in the room, until slowly a girl and two boys appear out of thin air. She listens in as the boy tied up tries to convince the others that he has valuable information about a person named Valentine. Disbelieving him, one boy raises some kind of weapon to kill him when Clary jumps out of hiding to prevent it. It's a toss up over who was more shocked that she was there, Clary, or the teens attempting to commit murder.

Turns out, it wasn't actually a person they were trying to kill, it was demon. While distracted by the fact that Clary shouldn't even be able to see them, the demon breaks out of his bonds and goes for the boy that was going to kill him. After a scuffle, the three are able to subdue and kill the demon, and Clary watches as it gets smaller and smaller until it disappears completely.

Afterwards the Shadowhunters don't understand how Clary had seen them but don't want her involved in any way. A few days later Clary's mother, Jocelyn, announces that she and Clary will be moving out of the city for the summer. After getting into a huge argument about it Clary leaves to go to a poetry reading for a friend with Simon at a coffee shop. 

It's at the coffee shop that Clary again sees one of the Shadowhunters and decides to confront him. Jace tells Clary all about Shadowhunters and the person she thought she saw them murder was actually a demon. During their talk, Clary gets a frantic phone call from her mother, telling her not to come home, but the phone cuts out causing Clary to panic and head straight home. 

She arrives home to find the apartment torn apart and her mother nowhere to be found. A giant fanged demon attacks her but some how she's able to kill it after being bitten. Shortly after she passes out but luckily Jace had followed her home and he takes her to the Institute (Shadowhunter Headquarters in New York) to cure her of the demon's poison. 

Clary finds out that the reason she was able to see what she saw is because her mother and father were both Shadowhunters. Her father, Valentine formed a group that tried to overthrow the Shadowhunter's government which is why her mother took her and ran. For years the Shadowhunters believed Valentine to be dead after his house caught on fire but he faked his own death and was biding his time to attempt a takeover again. Valentine was the one who kidnapped Clary's mother.

To keep the spoilers to a minimum, the rest of the book is Jace and Clary trying to find out where Valentine has hidden her mother and the chaos that ensues. 


I really liked that Clary seemed to at least try not to be the stereotypical useless teen female book character. She's was more of the oh, you're trying to kill but I'm going to at least go down swinging. I also really enjoyed the author's take on the half human half angel mythology. She did a really great job with building a whole world and history for the Shadowhunters, as well as many of the other supernatural creatures in the story. Even though they weren't featured as much in this book as in later books in the series she did have a few LGBT characters in Alec and Magnus. 


A few times while reading the details seemed to be thrown out pretty casually so it was hard to keep some straight, so I had to reread a couple passages to make sure I caught everything. I feel like Jace and Clary got together a bit too quickly. I would have enjoyed it more if there would have been a bit more build up. Also when it comes to Simon and Clary I would have loved it if Simon wouldn't have ended up having feelings for Clary. I've always been a big fan of teen fiction showing the fact that boys and girls can be friends with each other without wanting to get into each other's pants. 

What I'm Reading Next:

Friday, 20 December 2013

Film vs. Book: Catching Fire

For those of you who read my Hunger Games film vs book review, you more than likely picked up on the fact that I wasn't overly fond of the film. I thought it to be an okay representation of the novel. Catching Fire, meanwhile, was ... AWESOME! Unlike The Hunger Games, I felt that Catching Fire did a much better job of portraying the feel of the books. Like The Hunger Games, Catching Fire did an excellent job with the time on how much was spent on The Capitol/Districts and how much was spent in the actual games. Now, I have heard a few people complain that there was too much time in The Capitol, which I strongly disagree with. Like The Hunger Games film, our time is spent about half in the districts/Capitol and half in the Games. Plus, one of the main purposes of Catching Fire is showing the pitfalls of being a celebrity and the fact that you can never really stop acting. Catching Fire also shows the other ways that The Capitol can control the districts, and the film captured it beautifully. Overall, the acting was fantastic, the musical score wonderfully places, and the story paced well. In fact, dare I say I enjoyed the movie even more than the book? Now, there was still a couple things I would have liked to see, but more of the good first.

One of the things I liked about the film more was it was better paced. A lot of this had to do with cutting out and skimming bits, especially the love triangle.Now, I am not completely against love triangles but neither am I a huge fan of them. However, I didn't mind it as much in the Hunger Games trilogy for two major reasons. One: it wasn't the main focus nor did Katniss push aside more important matters to worry about which boy she liked more. It was just another problem, something that happened. Two: it helped to bring home the fact that Katniss really didn't have a choice due to Snow and the Games. The Capitol controlled her life. Still, I am glad that the movie shortened the romance bit. I felt it dragged a little too much in the book (not enough for me to be annoyed though). Effie is also able to shine a lot more here than in the book and had several scenes that could strike an emotional cord. Actually, all the characters get to shine a lot more in the Catching Fire film (with the exception of Gale) so that the audience ought to become as invested as us readers (one of the major issues I had with The Hunger Games film). Oh, bit I could go on and on about all the things the movie got right, but let us focus on what it did better. Personally, I found the movie handled Katniss's PTSD more favourably. That isn't to say the book did a poor job; however, the film managed to show the severity and trauma to a much greater extent.

Of course, not everything can be perfect. Although there were a few things I would have liked to see such as [Book spoiler] one of the old peacekeepers getting turned into an Avox [end spoiler] or the new peacekeepers trying to trap Katniss in the woods by turning on the electricity in the fence, the movie still soared without them. Yes, they were nice moments, but they weren't needed. Really, there was only one thing I wish they had added. There is this one scene in the book where Katniss comes across some fugitives. This scene introduces Katniss to the fact that the mockingjay is being used as a symbol of revolution (though the film managed to capture this well). It also talks more about District 13. Yes, the film mentions District 13, but it only comes up three times, not really a lasting impact. In the book, Katniss is told that The Capitol has been using the same footage of a ruined District 13 for years. Katniss is then told you can tell by a bit of mockingjay wing in the corner. When Katniss sees this for herself, she starts to wonder if maybe District 13 does exist. I feel this scene would have made District 13 more important in our minds, something that could possibly last for a year until the next film came out. Granted, the film still did a wonderful job without it, and it was my only large complaint. Even if that exact scene wasn't in the movie, I really wished they had pushed District 13 a little bit more.

Overall, this was a great adaptation and I may even say better than the book (we all know how rare that is). The film portrays the characters wonderfully. It gives you the information you need while keeping a good pace and remaining entertaining. Not only that but the film also emotes the cruelty, the sadness, and the horror, which helps get you invested in the revolution and the plot. In one word: brilliant! I would definitely check it out. 

Sunday, 24 November 2013

Unnatural Creatures

Level: Adult
Genre: Fantasy
Obtained: Borrowed from a friend
Reviewed by: Nic Echo

One word: Amazing! This cover is absolutely spectacular! The design, font, colouring, and placement for Unnatural Creatures is practically perfect. It's a mix of the fantastic and a little bit of horror, which sums of this book nicely. As for how well it grabs someone's attention, well, I had at least five people ask what I was reading when I had this out. It's a cover that looks interesting and makes one think what the pages hold.

About the Book:
New York Times bestselling author, Neil Gaiman, has complied several short stories from a variety of authors, all of which write about fantastical creatures of some sort. Some you will know, like a werewolf or a griffin, while others come from the depths of pure imagination. 

Rating: 9/10
What a fantastic read! I remember seeing this in the bookstore, but I ended up deciding against it as it was simply stories chosen by Neil Gaiman (though he did write one of the stories). However, a friend suggested that I read it, and I am bound to purchase my own copy so that I can reread at my leisure. Like many short story collections, Unnatural Creatures is full of marvelous reads, some mediocre, and a few that didn't quite live up to the others in my opinion. Granted, I only found two out of sixteen boring. One was because I found it to be much too predictable nor did the writing save it from its predictableness. The second was boring to me due to the writing style. Don't get me wrong, Yu was an excellent writer, but that doesn't always make an enjoyable piece. Now, I will also be looking into the short stories one by one, but as for the collection as an overall whole: Unnatural Creatures held many wonderful reads that were full of imagination and the unusual. They all easily had a connecting theme. Some were more whimsical while others were more terrifying, but all were fantastical. I certainly would suggest giving it a read.

Inksplot by Gahan Wilson      
What an amazing story! Though I had read something with a similar concept in Stephen King's "The Raft," I found this had something quite unique to it. The basic premise was Archer notices a small black spot on his tablecloth. This spot is not normal as it moves and grows every time you look away from it. Although that is a fun and eerie concept in itself, what really made this story was the illustrations that came with it. You get to see the spot grow and change throughout the pages. "Inksplot" was fantastic, and I would certainly recommend it more if possible (only recently found a title for it that could be pronounced).

The Cartographer Wasps and the Anarchist Bees by E. Lily Yu
No offence to Ms. Yu as she is an excellent writer, but I found this story completely boring. It was like one of those books you read in school where you can see what the author is writing about. However, since the text made your mind so numb that message completely passed you by. She does a lovely job of giving the insects human traits and shows how society can be taken over and its effects on the young. It was just a shame that it bored me to tears.

The Griffin and the Minor Canon by Frank R. Stockton
This was a story that was bot uplifting and sad. Although I wouldn't place it as great, I would still say that it was good. A griffin learns that there is a statue in his likeness in a town so he decides to go down to see it. The villagers are much frightened of him and have the minor canon speak with him. Again, driven by fear, the villagers convince the minor canon to leave and hope the griffin will follow. This does not work out as planned, but I rather not spoil the ending. Although the story may be more quit than many may like, it is still well written with emotion. I really liked the bittersweet ending and the friendship that developed between the griffin and the minor canon. Was it a favourite? No where close, but it still brought a smile to my face.

Ozioma the Wicked by Nnedi Okorafor
This was one of those stories that was just there. That isn't to say that it was awful or tedious. However, it certainly didn't have a lasting impression on me. Truthfully, the only thing I really recall from this is snakes. The main characters is shunned since she is able to talk to them. Someone at the village is attacked by a snake. Ozioma talks to it and later a goddess appears. Nothing much happened. Personally, I wouldn't recommend this one.

Sunbird by Neil Gaiman
I really ended up liking this one (though admittedly I may be a bit of a bias Neil Gaiman fanboy). This group of people have eaten everything, including unicorn meat, so now they are bored with their cuisine. Crowcrustle, one of the members, suggest they try sunbird (aka a phoenix). Gaiman has a way of really making you want to figure out what is up his sleeve (well, he has this effect on me, at least), and he gives you several red herrings. Like Stockton's "The Griffin and the Minor Canon," what brought this read up was the ending (actually that happens a lot in these shorts). The overall read was still quite enjoyable and had a nice trotting pace to it. I would certainly recommend "Sunbird" (though again I am a Gaiman fanboy).

The Sage of Theare by Diana Wynne Jones
Okay, I was really excited for this take as I love love LOVED Diana Wynne Jones' Howl's Moving Castle. "The Sage of Theare" was a bit of a let down. Like Okorafor's "Ozioma the Wicked," I really couldn't remember much from it. Basically, a child is born who will cause the people to question the gods and the gods to fall into chaos. It sounded really interesting, but as I said, it was easily forgettable.

Gabriel-Ernest by Saki (aka H.H. Munro)
This was another one that ended on high on the scale. It's basically just a werewolf story, but Saki is able to put such an unnatural feel to his work. "Gabriel-Ernest" feels wrong and deadly and really it was this tone that made this story so thrilling for me. The ending really brought that tone home, slamming it down with full force. Highly recommended.

The Cockotoucan; or Great-Aunt Willoughby by E. Nesbit
Nesbit certainly ended up writing quite the colourful story. To put it bluntly, it was whimsical. Matilda ends up in a marvelous kingdom, but things change every time the cockotoucan laughs, causing chaos to spread. She must use her new found clever ways to figure out how to set everything right. The story itself was fun, and I could see many people liking it. For me, well, it wasn't a favourite. It was a cute tale and little more, but for those who love a childlike quality in their fantasy, this would be a great story.

Moveable Beast by Maria Dahrana Headley
This was another one of those tales that delved in the dark. The plot itself is simple. Our main character follows a man into the forest, and he is planning on capturing the beast. Really the thrill of this tale is the buildup of the beast, and I would say it pays off. The downfall is that the story isn't as great of a reread than some of the others in this collection. 
The Flight of the Horse by Larry Niven
Honestly, I had found "The Flight of the Horse" extremely boring when I had first started it. However, the end really bumped it up so that I was lovingly telling people about this tale. The premise of this story is that it is the future and all the horses are dead. A child of someone with a lot of power sees a pictures of one and wants one so Svete is sent back 1000 years in time to obtain one. As I said, it started out slow, but the ending certainly made it worth the read! Hilarious!

Prismatica by Samuel R. Delaney
 This was probably my favourite story in this collection. "Prismatica" has a very folklore feel to it. Amos gets roped into an adventure with a grey man, who is looking for three mirror shards. Along the way, Amos finds The Prince of the Far Rainbow, who the mirror was originally for. Amos must use his wit to help the prince and get him his prize. Personally, I loved getting to see how Amos and The Prince of the Far Rainbow would figure out the puzzles before them. The grey man's "nearest and dearest friend" was also a lot of fun as all you see is a box and hear several odd noises erupt from it. I certainly was aching to see what was in the box. If you're a fan of the folklore style, you are bound to love this. If not, well, it may end up lower on your preferences.

The Manticore, The Mermaid, and Me by Megan Kurashige
This was the other story that I felt just wasn't all that great. Where "The Cartographer Wasps and the Anarchists Bees" was well written yet dull by my standards, "The Manticore, The Mermaid, and Me" just seemed lack luster nonly or extremely inventive. In this story, the main character and Matthew, her good friend, end up at a museum where one of the caretakers creates chimera type creatures. The story has the creatures come to life, and although I won't ruin the ending, everything was very predictable. Granted, you can have a fun story even if the plot outcome is as clear as day. However, the writing in this didn't elevate the work, leaving us with something quite mediocre.

The Compleat Werewolf by Anthony Boucher (aka William Anthony Parker White) (aka H. H. Holmes)
First, the downfall: it's a pretty generic werewolf story. Sure there are a few differences such as Wolf has control in his candid form, and small things were changed so that I wasn't looking at the same cookie cutter shape. However, it still felt generic to me. The story is as follows: Professor Wolfe Wolf  is upset as Gloria turned down his proposal as he wasn't an actor or a G-man, something exciting. Well, one day Wolfe meets Ozzy, who tells Wolf that he is a werewolf. Wolfe decides to use his newfound gift to try to win back Gloria. "The Compleat Werewolf" certainly had aspects that made it different, such as how one transforms and how to tell if one is a werewolf. I also really enjoyed the last paragraph (it made me smile). The story overall was a little too bland for my tastes however.

The Smile on the Face by Nalo Hopkinson
Althought the plot itself was interesting, I really felt what made this stand out was how well Hopkinson was able to portray teenagers. It's not an easy thing to do. Gilla is a teenage girl who ends up swallowing a seed. Afterwards, she starts thinking thoughts that aren't like her at all, and things only become more odd in the end. As I said, the fantasy aspect was certainly fun, and I really liked that something so simple could change our thoughts so severely. However, as stated, it really was the portrayal of being a teenager that went over so well. Hopkinson nailed it on how cruel teenagers can be for those who hit puberty early on or happen to be bigger. A wonderful read.

Or All the Seas with Oysters by Avram Davidson
Like many of these wonderful tales, "Or All the Seas with Oysters" is another fun read. The concept is simple but one that brings forth both a smile to your face and a tremor in your heart. "Or All the Seas with Oysters" deals with how some animals look like objects in nature, but it brings it to the city. It's why your safety pins go missing and your hangers somehow multiply. A very fun read that is easy to expand on in one's imagination.

Come Lady Death by Peter S. Beagle
This was one of those tales where you could easily see the way it would unfold. However, Peter S. Beagle manages to pen a beautiful tale. Of course, this might just be my love for the 18th century talking. The plot for the story is Lady Neville is known for throwing the best parties, and this time she plans on inviting Death. What made me love this story was Lady Neville's idea of Death and how Death must live in London with the other aristocrats as that is where all the important people are. It's just so brilliant! Really what makes this a fantastic read is the characters in "Come Lady Death." You have the poet with a mixture of fear and fascination, a lady who is completely terrified, and a gentleman who remains frightened yet courtly. Beagle really manages to capture the times and like many of these short stories, I would recommend this one as well.