books

Jeanne C. Stein

Books

Anna Strong Vampire Chronicles: The Becoming (2004)

Anthologies: Many Bloody Returns (2007), At the Scene of the Crime (2008), Vampires: The Recent Undead (2010)

 

 

The Becoming (2004)

The BecomingAnna Strong is a bounty hunter. She and her partner David are trying to bring in a bail jumper when he attacks them both, and his attack on Anna turns her into a vampire. (This isn’t a secret. This story is about how she becomes a vampire.)

So. Another vampire story. Lots of those out there. Does this one manage to be different? Yes and no.

The vampires in Anna’s world are very different from those in ours. They can walk in sunlight for one thing, which has allowed to remain the hidden in plain sight. But some things from folklore remain true, and the vampire’s desire for blood is one of them. This change in the mythology I liked, although the vampires in Anna’s world seem to have all the strengths of the vampires of folklore, including super strength and speed and an ability to control others to some degree.

Where it doesn’t much differ from many other vampire books is that there is lots of boinking. OK. Vampire sex is the most awesome sex in the world. Fine. We got it. Now shut up about it.

But the real strength of this book is the story. It goes in directions I didn’t expect, which was a very nice touch. There is also a focus upon whether Anna keeps or loses her humanity to her vampire nature. And that was quite interesting as well.

As far as the story arc, the primary arc was finished, and that is how Anna becomes a powerful vampire, and resolves the problems that come from that, including finding the vampire who turned her. There are very many questions left unresolved, but they are the kinds of questions that would take more than a single book to unfold, so I don’t mind too much. So there is a lot we don’t know, but the primary plot arc is concluded. But I can also see how the author might have a tendency to leave lots of things hanging at the end of a book, which will annoy me if it gets to be too much.

So it was a decent supernatural fantasy. Way too much focus on sex, but that tends to be par for the course with many supernatural fantasies (which is why I am always so excited when I find a series that isn’t all about sex). But the writing was good, and the story was good, so I’ll pick up the next book in the series and see what I think of it.
Rating: 7/10

 

Anthologies

 

Many Bloody Returns (2007) edited by Charlaine Harris and Toni L.P. Kelner

I pre-ordered this, not realizing it was in hardback. As much as I love anthologies, I’m not that excited about hardback books–especially anthologies where I don’t know all the authors or the quality of the stories.

Many Bloody Returns pretty much tells you the focus of the stories: vampires and birthdays. In some cases it’s the vampire who is having a birthday, in other cases…not.
Luckily, I wasn’t too disappointed with my purchase. There were several stories by authors I like and charaters whose books I’m reading, namely, Charlaine Harris, PN Elrod, Jim Butcher, and Tanya Huff. Unsurprisingly, some those were also some of the stories I enjoyed most, as they built upon characters with which I am already familiar.

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Another story I particularly liked as Jeanne C. Stein’ story “The Witch and the Wicked”. Although I did guess part of where the story was going, I enjoyed Sophie’s musings and thoughts about her future, and her interactions with the vampires. But I mostly liked how the story went in a direction I was not at all expecting.

...

Otherwise, this was a pretty good collection of stories. I probably would have preferred the book in paperback, but over all I enjoyed it.
Rating: 7/10

At the Scene of the Crime (2008) edited by Dana Stabenow

At the scene of the crimeI first stumbled across Dana Stabenow when I picked up a fantasy/mystery anthology she edited. After a second anthology, I discovered she was primarily a mystery write, and so picked up her Kate Shugak series. Which I absolutely loved. So I found myself interested when I discovered a forensic crime anthology.

I actually am not familiar with most of the writers, which caused me to put this on my wishlist instead of buying it outright. However, when I ended up getting two copies for Christmas, I decided it was a sign I should read the anthology.

As with all anthologies, I liked some stories better than others. Unlike some anthologies, there were not any stories I hated, so that’s always good.

Smart Aleck - Loren D. Estleman
Better Lucky Than Good - Jeanne C. Stein
The High Life: A Heartland Homocide Story - Max Allan Collins And Matthew V. Clemens
Rust - N.J. Ayres
I/M-Print: A Tess Cassidy Short Story - Jeremiah Healy
A Trace Of A Trace - Brendan Dubois
Five Sorrowful Mysteries - Julie Hyzy
Mitt's Murder - John Lutz
The Retired Arsonist - Edward D. Hoch
Patriotic Gestures - Kristine Kathryn Rusch
Articulation Of Murder - Michael A. Black
Occam's Razor - Maynard F. Thomson
On The Evidence: A Liam Campbell Short Story - Dana Stabenow

The main character in Brendan Dubois’s story “A Trace of a Trace” is newly retired, but the detective in a perplexing case asks him to help out on a case where they think someone has gotten away with murder. I found the mystery and murder quite interesting–perhaps the perfect murder, so I was curious to see how they thought they might catch the murderer.

“Five Sorrowful Mysteries” by Julie Hyzy was another story I particularly liked. The story begins with a woman doing an autopsy, and ends with her husband the detective making the arrest, but I particularly enjoyed how their putting together of the evidence was almost accidental.

“The Retired Arsonist” by Edward D. Hoch was a good story, and although I didn’t necessarily buy the resolution of the mystery, I enjoyed the characters andthe story nevertheless.

“Occam’s Razor” by Maynard F. Thompson was another particularly good story. The murder is related to a somewhat indifferent reporter, who is interviewing the retired medical examiner, and gets the case that started him on his path in police work.

All in all, it’s an interesting collection.
Rating: 7/10

Vampires: The Recent Undead (2011) edited by Paula Guran

Vampires-The-Recent-Undead“The Coldest Girl in Coldtown” by Holly Black
“This Is Now” by Michael Marshall Smith
“Sisters” by Charles de Lint
“The Screaming” by J.A. Konrath
“Zen and the Art of Vampirism” by Kelley Armstrong
“La Vampiresse” by Tanith Lee
“Dead Man Stalking” by Rachel Caine
“The Ghost of Leadville” by Jeanne C. Stein
“Waste Land” by Stephen Dedman
“Gentleman of the Old School” by Chelsea Quinn Yarbro
“No Matter Where You Go” by Tanya Huff
“Outfangthief” by Conrad Williams
“Dancing with the Star” by Susan Sizemore
“A Trick of the Dark” by Tina Rath
“When Gretchen was Human” by Mary Turzillo
“Conquistador de la Noche” by Carrie Vaughn
“Endless Night” by Barbara Roden
“Dahlia Underground” by Charlaine Harris
“The Belated Burial” by Caitlin R. Kiernan
“Twilight States” by Albert Cowdrey
“To the Moment” by Nisi Shawl
“Castle in the Desert: Anno Dracula 1977? by Kim Newman
“Vampires in the Lemon Grove” by Karen Russell
“Vampires Anonymous” by Nancy Kilpatrick
“The Wide, Carnivorous Sky” by John Langan

It has taken me an almost embarrassingly long time to finish this. How long you ask? I purchased it a couple months after it was published–that long ago.

The problem is I hit a point where I wasn’t interested in a story, and instead of just skipping to the next story, I put the whole thing down. I know, rookie mistake. (But you’ll see I made it several times, so I decided to just finish off these anthologies, and if I didn’t like a story? SKIP.)

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“The Ghost of Leadville” by Jeanne C. Stein

I have survived as a vampire for two hundred years. Living in big cities, mostly. Able to last as long as forty years in one guise—the latest a museum curator in New York. My specialty was early Americana. Convenient since I was born to missionary parents in the American west in 1809.

...

So, it was an uneven anthology for me, but there were some very good stories that are well-worth the price of the anthology.
Rating: 7/10

Published by Prime Books

 

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