Vegas Odds by Karen Chance

From the very first sentence of this short story, you are thrown into the middle of the conflict. Lia’s self-berating and gradual realisation of the culprits in her attack help to add to this immediate sense of drama and action. The twists and turns of the plot are impossible to predict as her inner strength and moxie are revealed. To me, this is one of the most enjoyable aspects of the story – once the cause of one point of conflict is revealed, a number of other problems quickly arise.

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The Novice by Trudi Canavan

I hate, hate, hate bullying – in all of its forms. And the bullying that characterises most of Sonea’s journey throughout The Novice, made me feel physically ill, and incredibly angry. Yet, this look inside the depths to which some people’s prejudices will sink made this an amazing story to read. The backdrop of confusion and fear that Sonea feels at becoming a magician, and knowing the High Lord’s dirty little secret (which is not so little) help to further this amazing storyline. The moment I finished this novel, I cracked the spine of The High Lord in excitement. After all, while Sonea is able to overcome some of the difficulties of being a novice, the greatest threat to her existence is still around.

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The Mad Apprentice by Trudi Canavan

Throughout The Black Magician Trilogy, black magic is seen as something horrible. Indeed, throughout the majority of books centring on mages and witchcraft, the idea of black magic is an antithema. After all, the idea of taking someone else’s life force to further your own means is quite a horrible idea. And, so it is with Trudi Canavan's Black Magician World The Mad Apprentice investigates what happens when someone unstable harness such a questionable wealth of power.

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Bigfoot on Campus by Jim Butcher

I don’t know if it’s because I’m in University, or if there is something about the potential that it represents, but any story set here tends to grab my attention. This, combined with the young love between Connie and Irwin is such a nice reminder of the potential of these young years of discovery. This was also my first introduction into the Dresden Files and the writings of Jim Butcher, and a very welcome one at that.

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Last Call by Jim Butcher

I loved the humour and wit in this short story – the shenanigans and difficulties of Dresden’s journey all result from his desire for a drink. Something which he constantly laments as he pursues the cause of violence. The dry humour in the narrator’s (Dresden’s) voice made this short story flash by as he runs after felons in pursuit of justice, and a nice, cold drink. It is this sass and obvious enjoyment throughout the tale that makes it impossible to put down and ignore.

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Hunting Ground by Patricia Briggs

Hunting Ground is a great look into how Anna’s new role in life and her new marriage have a much greater effect on her life. Where Cry Wolf focused on Anna and Charles’ relationship and her own insecurities, this story brings her out into the wider world of the werewolves. It also helps to highlight the difficulties of ‘coming out’. Although in this context, it is the werewolves coming out to the world, many of the difficulties in coming out with one’s sexuality and the feelings that are explored are also relevant – there is an underlying fear of persecution balanced by the need to remove the threat of blackmail from their lives.

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Full Moon Rising by Keri Arthur

I’ve read a lot of vampire novels and a lot of werewolf novels. It’s actually incredibly difficult to pick up a paranormal fantasy book that doesn’t have some aspect of these two beings interacting. But I have never read a book on a hybrid between the two. It was refreshing to have a slightly new take on the topic, although, much of the storyline seemed slightly familiar.

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Recruit by Kelley Armstrong

Recruit touches on a couple of issues for the werewolf pack. Firstly, they need to find new recruits without telegraphing their vulnerability to those who wish them ill. Secondly, when they do find someone who wishes to join them, the need to assess their suitability becomes increasingly difficult. Roy’s attempted blackmail and slightly skewed way in which he attempts to ingratiate himself with the pack is a great way to remind us of this.

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Checkmate by Kelley Armstrong

Elena and Clay are the dream team of hunting and justice. Clay is ruthless and protective in a way that excludes all other emotions. Elena on the other hand can be a little too protective of her family, yet is quick to ask for evidence before execution. Combined, they make a great team, and this short story was a way in which to show this without the influence of the rest of the pack.

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Lucifer’s Daughter by Kelley Armstrong

Hope and Karl are such a unique couple (although the thing that I love about the Women of the Otherworld series is that all of the couples are incredibly unique). At the conclusion of Living with the Dead, Karl chooses to leave Hope to her own devices. To allow her to learn the control she needs over her own powers, and abilities. So, revisiting them after they have been united was a really enjoyable way to spend some time.

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