Review of Chicks Kick Butt

June 3, 2013
Filed under: Reviews 

SFFaudio Review

Chicks Kick ButtChicks Kick Butt
Edited by Rachel Caine and Kerrie L. Hughes
Performed by Joyce Bean, Jennifer VanDyck, Justine Eyre, Khristine Hvam, Lauren Fortgang, Nicola Barber, Dina Pearlman, Piper Goodeve, Aimee Castle, Elizabeth Livingston, Christina Delaine, and Kim Mai Guest
Publisher: Brilliance Audio
13 hours [UNABRIDGED]

Themes: / urban fantasy / vampires / werewolves / demons / exorcisms / short stories /

Publisher summary:

Today’s women don’t stand around waiting for a hero. These days, women are quite capable of solving their own problems and slaying their own dragons (or demons, as the case may be). In this all-new anthology, Kerrie L. Hughes and New York Times bestselling author Rachel Caine have collected original stories from thirteen of today’s most exciting urban fantasy and paranormal authors. Each story features a strong heroine who kicks butt and takes names in a dangerous world and makes that world a better place for everyone in it — except the bad guys, of course. And if she finds a bit of romance along the way, well, a little heat warms the heart and sharpens the mind . . . just as long as the man can keep up.

Chicks Kick Butt is an anthology of stories with strong, driven female protagonists written by women. I am pretty sure that I’ve never read anything by the majority of the authors, and it was the concept that made me pick it. Most of the stories involved characters or worlds from other, full-length novels. Please note there are spoilers in the individual reviews for the stories, so let me just say if you’re looking for a light entertaining read, I may not recommend this anthology. It was uneven in terms of writing quality overall, although the stories by Rachel Vincent and Lilith Saintcrow were quite good. I will be honest, some of the writing was so bad I couldn’t finish listening, and so the review is only for the first part of the story. The audio narration was similarly off, with some of the narrators’s over-the-top characterization taking me out of the story. There was a neutral male voice actor who gave each story’s relevant info. While the audiobook came on disks, I transferred it to digital for ease of listening. So it is not a flaw, but on each end track the audio would fade into music, there would be the instruction to switch disks, and then the last few sentences would be repeated before moving on.

On to the individual stories:
Shiny by Rachel Caine – *** Not really my thing, but pretty good. I am unfamiliar with this author’s other work, but she wove the explanations in really well. The story was really character driven over the sunny backdrop of Florida, and was definitely entertaining, with diamond bikinis, fast cars, and handsome men. I wouldn’t seek out her work, but I’d listen if she was included in another anthology. The car-obsessed main character, Joanne, has a great voice.

In Vino Veritas by Karen Chance – * So bad I had to stop listening. The narrator was pretty neutral, but the writing was just bad. Admittedly, I’m pretty picky with vampire stories, but I did try to give it a chance even after they came out with the ‘dhampire’ bit. I enjoy well-done daywalker stories. This just wasn’t one of them.

Hunt by Rachel Vincent – **** Powerful, slightly triggery with flashbacks to a sexual assault, threatened sexual assault, and violence. Werecat Abby goes on vacation with some friends only to have their camp invaded by several violent men. It is a story about finding the strength within oneself, and the narrator was a perfect match to the story. She relayed Abby’s emotional reaction to the events well without distracting from the story.

Monsters by Lilith Saintcrow – **** Characters, concept, narration, all of it was great. Perfect match between the tone of the narrator and the luridly poetic imagery. This story threw together a vampire and werewolf in a quest for revenge, but the depiction of both felt fresh, more visceral than most modern vampire stories. I would definitely read more by this author.

Vampires Prefer Blondes by P N Elrod -*** Surprised how much I liked it. Narrator really sold it, effortlessly falling into the main character and the verbal ticks of the noir novel. I had my doubts for the first track or two, but the story drew me in. It had a very solid universe that didn’t need much explanation, plus the realistic reactions of the characters was a refreshing change.

Ninth Tenths of the Law by Jenna Black – ** I was getting an Exorcist vibe from this (which is good, especially since it was about exorcism), but the ending was a bit weak. The build up was great, with a runaway rebellious teenage possibly possessed by a demon, an over-bearing religious fanatic, and a jaded protagonist, but then the world-building kicked in and overshadowed a really interesting story. I understand that Morgan having a demon inside her is from a series of novels, but here it felt like a cheap trick to resolve the plot. The narrator was great, completely hidden by the story.

Double Dead by Cheyenne McCray – ** I had to look this one up to see which one it was, and I still can’t really remember anything about it.

A Rose by Any Other Name Would Still be Red by Elizabeth A Vaughn – ** I really wanted to like this. It was probably the most violent of the stories, and the violence was described rather well. I couldn’t get a good handle on the main character or world. It felt like something that should be developed into a longer format.

Superman by Jeanne C Stein – * I couldn’t get into this at all. I listened to the whole thing, but found my mind wandering. Neither the narrator’s delivery nor the story were strong enough to hold my interest.

Monster Mash by Carole Nelson Douglas – **** Although I’m sure I missed a few references, I enjoyed this story quite a bit. There’s a lot to keep up with as Delilah tries to figure out who or what is haunting a supernatural casino, but it’s entertaining even if you’re unfamiliar with this universe. Narrator did an excellent job, with just enough characterization to make it fun.

Wanted Dead or Alive by L A Banks – *** Interesting (yes, I know, damning with faint praise). It was a little hard to follow, as the beginning was an infodump on the particulars of vampires in this universe, but I would give the author another shot with something longer. The characters were interesting, there was just a lot of explaining going on.

Mist by Susan Krinard – * I couldn’t finish this, and I LOVE Norse mythology. It may have been the combination of narrator and text. The voice actor droned a little while I was trying to parse which parts of the mythology they were using, and together it just lost my interest. I listened through to the fight scene in the park, but I figured I had enough when even a fight between a valkyrie and a giant couldn’t keep my attention.

Beyond the Pale by Nancy Holder – NR. At first the story was amazing, although the changeling bit made me snort out loud in surprise (Hitler and Manson as changelings instead of humans) but I let that part go. Then it got to the bit where faeries actually stole babies and the Nazis were blamed for it, and no. Just no. It kept nibbling at my mind while I was listening to what seemed to be a very well written story, so it would appear this isn’t the story for me.

Posted by Sarah R.

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