Monday, September 07, 2009

Review: Must Love Hellhounds - anthology

Awwww, long week-end is almost over and tomorrow is back to work... which wouldn't be so bad, but it's also my boss' return to work from vacation. That means we're going to get really busy :( I just don't feel ready for it ^_^;

I hope it was a great week-end for everyone. It was for me, it seems I had time to do everything I wanted: caught up on blogging, spent time with my friends, read some books, cleaned my room (just a little, still not done ^_^;) and watched a lot of tennis. The US Open is really interesting this year, especially on the women's side... LOL. I'm definitively rooting for Kim Clijsters, such a great return!! I'll also be rooting for Flavia Pennetta tomorrow. Although I don't really like her, I acknowledged that Serena Williams is a great player... but we need someone else to win the US Open. Come on. On the man side, I hope Andy Murray makes it. Lleyton Hewitt was playing well, just too bad he had to meet Federer so soon :( I hope he's going to rest and come back strong next year.

Anyway, let's get to to the review :) I know many wanted to know what I thought of it...

Must Love Hellhounds by Charlaine Harris, Nalini Singh, Ilona Andrews and Meljean Brook
published by Berkley in September 2009

In these hound-eat-hound worlds, anything goes. and everything bites.

Follow paranormal bodyguards Clovache and Batanya into Lucifer's realm, where they encounter his fearsome four-legged pets, in Charlaine Harris's The Britlingens Go to Hell. Seek out a traitor in the midst of a guild of non- lethal vampire trackers, one that intends to eradicate the entire species of bloodsuckers, in Nalini Singh's Angels' Judgment. Find out why the giant three-headed dog that guards the gates of Hades has left the underworld for the real world - and whose scent he's following - in Ilona Andrews's Magic Mourns. Embark on a perilous search for the kidnapped niece of a powerful vampire alongside her blind - and damn sexy - companion and a hellhound in Meljean Brook's Blind Spot.

These four novellas by today's hottest paranormal authors will have hellhound lovers everywhere howling.
Genre: paranormal romance/urban fantasy

I don't read Ms Charlaine Harris work, therefore I won't be commenting on her story.

Angel's Judgment by Nalini Singh

Series: Guild Hunter, book #-1(?)

The Story: Angel's Judgment takes place before Angel's Blood and is basically Sara Haziz, Elena best friend, story - how Sara met her husband and how she became the director of the Guild Hunter. Basically, Sara is ideal candidate to be the next director and Simon - the previous director, and the Cadre of Ten (the Archangels) are waiting for her to accept the position.

In the meantime, Sara's next mission is a bit unusual. Instead of retrieving a vampire, she's supposed to investigate on a Hunter who has gone rogue. Joining her is Deacon the Slayer, aka the Guild Hunter's enforcer. However, he has another mission - protect the next director from any test the Cadre of Ten would like to give her...

My Opinion: Surprisingly, I enjoyed Angel's Judgment much more than I did Angel's Blood. I don't know if it was the characters or the storyline... Perhaps I felt that there was less world building, as a result the focus was more on the storyline and it made it simpler. Anyway, I liked it, I thought it was a solid novella. The characters were well developed and the story was interesting.

I really liked Sara and Deacon, they very interesting characters and they had a lot of chemistry together. They also work well together and have good chemistry. I'm glad that Sara didn't take offense at Deacon's presence - protecting her. There wasn't any fight about who is more Alpha or in charge. I also really liked the ending, I think it worked out very well and both took some good decisions. They didn't let obstacles cripple their relationship, made them more than they are.

The storyline was also very good in my opinion. Basically, they had three suspects as the rogue and there was some twists. I really liked it. The only complaint I might have is that the "hellhound" wasn't very present in this one.

My Grade: B+. After this short story, I'm ready to give Ms Singh Guild Hunter series another try.

Magic Mourns by Ilona Andrews

Series: Kate Daniels, book #4

The Story: The novella is told from Andrea's POV, which is a nice change. Magic Mourns takes place after the events of Magic Strikes and Kate is still recovering from her injuries. As a result, Andrea is covering for her. She gets a phone call reporting a huuuuge dog chasing after a shapeshifter. Andrea is all happy to have an assignment, till she discovers the shapeshifter is actually Rafael, a werehyena that is courting her, and that the dog... is much more than a dog.

My Opinion: To sum it up, Magic Mourns was great character-wise, but a bit meh story-wise. Basically, I enjoyed reading more about Andrea and Rafael and seeing them take the next step in their relationship. They are both very interesting characters, Andrea being a bit more complex due to her situation. I loved the courting LOL. Especially when Rafael realized that Andrea kept the tree with the thong ornaments LOL. Andrea has a bite to her, an edge... My only complaint would be that Kate and Andrea are very similar to each other... I also liked reading about Rafael. He is definitively more than just a playboy.

So I really enjoyed the characters but they definitively overshadowed the plot. I thought that overall, the plot was okay, but it was missing some punch... and I'm not sure how I feel about the Greek mythology touch. Anyway, it's not that the plot was bad, just not as interesting as the characters. The ending though made me chuckled. Seems like Curran will get an apple pie :)

The definite plus though, is that we got to learn a bit more about the world building... and how they are dealing with the magic waves that make the technology go down. Still no word about "how" magic works though...

My Grade: B.

Blind Spot by Meljean Brook
Series: The Guardians, book #8

The Story: Maggie Wren is an ex-CIA agent now working as a butler for Colin Ames-Beaumont. She is sent by her new employer to New York, along with Sir Pup, in search for Colin's great, great, great-nephew and niece who are in trouble.

My Opinion: Blind Spot was my favorite novella in this anthology. Two reasons: first, Sir Pup played a big role. Seriously, Sir Pup is such a character, given he is a "pet." He's just so fun to read about LOL :) Playful, but at the same time, very protective :) I always like it when he appears with his three heads and his transformation. Lilith is sooo lucky LOL :) Secondly, I love seeing Colin's many facets. In this case, it's his love for his family... I find it rare that a vampire who's live for hundred of years still have contact with his family/descendants. Most of the time, vampires have to hide and look upon them from afar. In Colin's case, he's totally involved with his family, they know him and he protects them. I find that awesome. I mean, they call him "uncle Colin"!! How cute is that?!? Also, Colin calling Maggie "Winters," I thought that was endearing as well. Colin still remembers his past, he hasn't become jaded or lost his humanity. He still feels quite human and I think that distinguishes him from many other vampires.

Okay, so what about the actual story and characters? Basically, a demon has kidnapped Colin's niece, Katherine, and her brother, Geoffrey Blake, is trying to rescue her and Maggie is sent in to help Geoffrey. Because Colin family's blood has been tainted by dragon's blood, it has had its effect in his descendants... i.e. it has given birth to some very unique "gifts." Katherine is able to locate things and Geoffrey is technically blind, but is able to see through other's eyes. I really like Geoffrey's gift. Quite unique and he knows how to use it. LOL, funniest is when he tried to see through Sir Pup's eyes... but the hellhounds have 6 eyes! LOL :) Anyway, just to say that I really liked Geoff's gift. I also liked his character. He was quite interesting, quite confident and assured. His outward image is one of a fool, one that uses his connections to keep his job in the Ramsdell Pharmaceuticals... but in fact, he's the problems solver - kind of the enforcer of the company.

I liked Maggie's character. Very competent and cool. You know the new kind of butler. Given her past as an ex-CIA agent, she's a survivor... and speaking of past, hers is linked to this case.

I think that Ms Brook did a good job balancing the story and the characters. The story and relationship were interesting. There was a definite connection between Maggie and Geoff and I wouldn't mind reading about them again :)

My Grade: A-. I really liked this novella. I think Ms Brook definitively has a knack writing them :)

Overall, I think this was a great anthology if you're fans of these authors. Definitively no regrets getting it :)


  1. Good morning Nath :)
    I am so not an anthology person but there are those exceptions where the combinations of authors make me go out and buy it. After reading your review I am so glad I did. Though I still have to enter Meljean Brook's and Ilona Andrews world/series I am very eager. I think I'll keep October as a month where I catch up on a few PNR/UF series.

    I think I will skip on Charlaine Hariss' work too, tried the first in the Sookie series; Dead Until Dark and after that knew it wasn't something for me.

  2. Hi Nath! So glad you had a great weekend. :)

    I also liked this anthology, it was worth it. I see we liked the same three stories. I'll definitely be reading more by Meljean Brooks...

  3. I'm not huge on anthologies but I don't see how I can go wrong with this one. I loved your review..definitely going out to get it!

  4. Leontine - Morning Leontine! :) Wow, you're really early LOL :)

    I used not to like anthology, but I find myself buying more and more, mainly because I don't want to miss any possible stories from my favorite series ^_^; However, I really think this one was a winner :D The novellas are lengthy with enough development and the stories are good :D

    Yeah, I'm not a fan of the Sookie books either.

    Hilcia - I didn't realize you were going to review them today too! LOL :) You definitively need to read Meljean Brook, Hilcia!

    Mandi - I love it when it's a stellar line-up :)

  5. Yay! A review for Must Love Hellhounds! [..or in my case, Must HAVE Hellhounds! ;) ...] And a fantastic review at that! Thank you so much for being so thorough, but spoiler free. I find that's so hard to do with anthologies.

    This book has been on my radar since it was announced well over a year ago, and I can't believe I almost missed it's release. I looked for it last week at my bookstore, but they didn't have it so I ordered it from the Book Depository. I hope it doesn't take too long to get here because these stories sound amazing!

    The series by Brook, Singh, and Andrews are some of most favorite series ever... so this anthology is so exciting. I can't wait to read it!

    I LOVE Sir Pup! ^_^

    Thanks, nath!

  6. Nice reviews nath.:) I've got this requested from the library. I think I just read the three - don't really feel like getting into the Harris series just yet. ;)

  7. I'm not a fan of anthologies -- stories too short for me to cut my teeth into and so not worth the money spent, even less when it's released in trade...I, too, hate missing out on stories by my fave authors but I think I'll hold out until I can find a really inexpensive used copy.

    With that out of the way, I've heard really good things about Ilona Andrews and Meljean Brook...but I still haven't read them. I've only recently dared to try Patricia Briggs and am really loving her Alpha and Omega series. Mercy Thompson series? I'm not sure yet if I'll try, lol.

  8. Christine - Hello there :D LOL, Must HAVE Hellhounds could also work as a title, you know ;)

    If you want a second opinion, Hilcia has reviewed it as well yesterday :) Talk about coincidence :D

    Anyway, I do think this book is worth it... one of the best anthology I've read :D

    and I LOVE Sir Pup too!! How could you not?!? :)

    Leslie - I hope you get your hands on it soon, Leslie :)

    You know what, it seems that many haven't start the Harris series... I'm glad to know I'm not the only one! :D

    Tabitha - Nod nod, Tabitha, I really get what you're saying. My situation though is a bit different... because there's no way I'll be able to find this at the library and not sure at the UBS either :( So that's why I buy them... In this case, I thought it was worth it for me, because there were 3 authors I really enjoyed.

    See, if you haven't read Ilona Andrews and Meljean Brook, then there's no real reason for you to buy this one :)

    Hmmmm, as for the Mercy Thompson series. I guess it depends whether you like urban fantasy or not. The romance is much lighter than in Alpha & Omega... More suspense I'd say...

  9. Thanks! I found Hilcia's review last night. Thanks. And I noticed Amyless reviewed it at Katiebabs' a few days ago as well.

    I hope my copy gets here soon. Where is that delivery truck?

  10. Are you a big fan of Ilona Andrews and Meljean Brook? I do want to try out their books just not sure which...thing is, I have purchased quite a few anthologies recently and only read a story or two in each book. It's wasteful reading not to mention I hate giving DNF grade to a book -- even though technically it's not the book but a specific story within the book.

    Amazon has trade paperbacks listed at BARGAIN PRICE from time to time so not sure if you can get the same deals. i.e. The Magical Christmas Cat and An Enchanted Season.

    Also, I have found that the Borders Express near me generally put out the TPB for $4-$6 each. I purchased A Mermaid's Kiss by Joey Hill and Heat of the Night by Emma Holly for about $5-$6 each! Granted, I've not read these authors but they were such a steal I couldn't resist. Put me + sales + books = IRRESISTIBLE, lol!

  11. Btw, after our mini-talk about me + blog I started to write a review of a book. This was last week and today I still haven't finished it. I don't think I'm cut out for review writing. So sad..

  12. Christine - So, did you get it yet? What I hate the most is when we have a holiday and I'm waiting for something in the mail. It messes up everything!

    Tabitha - Hey Tabitha :D

    I did review the Kate Daniels series by Ilona Andrews. I thought the first two books were a bit slow, but the third one was great :D

    As for the Meljean Brook, I love them, although they are a bit complicated to follow at times. I say, if you can find them at the library, you should give them a try :D

    I do the same, purchase anthologies for one or two stories ^_^; But I do it only for my favorite authors: Kelley Armstrong, Nalini Singh, Meljean Brook, Patricia Briggs and Jim Butcher. Hmmm, they're all urban fantasy/paranormal romance. I guess I don't expect too much romance and that's why I'm content.

    I love bargain prices :D the only problem I find is that it usually takes a while before the price drops down... and I'm not that patient ^_^;

    LOL, it takes a while... I mean, I think there was a couple weeks gap between the moment I start blogging and decided to do so seriously.

    Perhaps you can do it in questions format to start, I thought it was easier that way :)

    and it's not just reviewing... but finding out more about you :D

  13. OMG, NO!!! *sigh*

    I ordered it from The Book Depository on Sept. 2. It was only $7.49 and of course with free shipping. I think it's coming by way of a corked bottle across the ocean. :(

    Seriously, though.

    I think it is.

  14. I just went and tracked my order.

    Status: Processing


  15. Christine - Tell me you got it now!!

  16. No, I haven't.

    I bought four books with that order... and they've been trickling in one at a time.

    My personalized title of Must Have Hellhounds has never been closer to the truth...

    Maybe I jinxed myself with that slip. :P

  17. Christine - That really sucks!! Now I'm not sure I would order from Book Depository...

  18. Yeah, maybe I learned a Book Depository lesson for all of us. The prices are great, the free shipping on ALL orders is fantastic, but you'll wait for your book. I wouldn't order a much anticipated new release from them again, but if I'm not in a huge hurry to get a particular book, I'd order from them again.

    Maybe the hellhounds will arrive today... ;)

  19. The Hellhounds have arrived! ^_^

  20. Christine - I think that's what I'm going to do as well. Order books for which I'm not in a hurry from Book Depository...

    I'm glad you got your hands on it, finally!! :) Don't choke on it, though! LOL :)