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on 26 July 2017
All brlliantly written
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on 26 September 2009
This anthology contains nine paranormal short stories. The following is a brief description of each story.

1. Seeing Eye by Patricia Briggs - A blind witch decides to help a man, a werewolf, find his brother who is an undercover cop and has disappeared while on a case.

2. Last Call by Jim Butcher - Harry Dresden walks into his favorite bar for a beer and a sandwich and finds chaos instead. What is wrong with the beer being brewed by the bar owner?

3. Death Warmed Over by Rachel Caine - Holly is a resurrectionist witch. The last time she brought Andrew Toland back from the dead she fell in love with him. Now the police need his special help to solve another case but how can Holly stand the pain when Andrew has to die this time?

4. Vegas Odds by Karen Chance - Accalia (Lia) trains recruits at the War Mage Corps. Imagine her surprise when she realizes it is her own students who are trying to kill her.

5. Hecate's Golden Eye by P. N. Elrod - Chicago 1937 - Charles Escott and his undead colleague Jack Fleming are hired to help the rightful owner steal back her pendant. The history of the jewel says that any man who touches the Golden Eye dies. Luckily for Jack, he's already dead.

6. Bacon by Charlaine Harris - Dahlia Lynley-Chivers is a vampire who is now a widow because her werewolf husband was defeated in a challenge fight for pack position. She hires a witch to help her find out what was done to her husband to make him vulnerable and weak during the fight.

7. Signatures of the Dead by Faith Hunter - Spruce Pine, North Carolina, is being targeted by a band of rogue vampires. Earth witch Molly Trueblood and her friend shapeshifter Jane Yellowrock must find the vampire lair or the killings will continue.

8. Ginger by Caitlin Kittredge - Sunny Swann and her cousin Luna grew up in Nocturne City. Sunny is a witch without much confidence in her powers totally unlike her werewolf cousin. Then why would someone want to kidnap Sunny?

9. Dark Sins by Jenna Maclaine - Venice 1818 - Cin, Michael, Devlin and Justine (The Righteous-judge, jury, and executioners in the world of vampires) are in the city for pleasure, not business. When they are all four kidnapped by a wizard and his coven Cin is forced to chose between the lives of her lover and friends or dark, evil magic.

I definitely enjoyed reading this marvelous anthology. It gave me exactly what I want from a collection of short stories such as these. There are many stories which feature characters already made well known by these authors. Particular favorites of mine are the stories by Patricia Briggs, Jim Butcher, Rachel Caine, P. N. Elrod and Faith Hunter. I have not read novels by many of these authors and this anthology has given me a chance to sample their works and make the decision of whether or not to go seek out and read their full length books.

*****NOTICE***** Two of my favorite characters in this anthology are Moira (the blind witch) and Tom (the werewolf) in the Patricia Briggs story "Seeing Eye". Those two characters play a substantial role in the new Briggs book Hunting Ground (Alpha & Omega, Book 2). It was wonderful to meet up with them again.
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VINE VOICEon 30 June 2010
Strange Brew is a collection of urban fantasy short stories written by New York Times bestselling authors such as Charlaine Harris, Jim Butcher, Patricia Briggs and more.

My reason for picking up this book is that I'm a big fan of the author Jim Butcher, especially of his Dresden Files series (the books & the short-lived TV series). Strange Brew contains one of his short stories, "Last Call", featuring Chicago's first (and only) Wizard P.I. Harry Dresden. I thought that buying this book would not only enable me to read this short story, but also discover authors whose stories I'd never read before.

There are 9 stories in this book and these are:

"Seeing Eye" by Patricia Briggs is about a witch called Moira who is visited by a werewolf called Tom who needs her help finding his brother who he believes has been kidnapped. With Moira being a witch and blind, it's not going to be your average investigation!

"Last Call" by Jim Butcher finds investigating wizard Harry Dresden walking into his favourite bar in Chicago only to find Chaos... He only wanted a beer but ends up with a lot more than that!

"Death Warmed Over" by Rachel Caine is about a resurrectionist called Holly who is asked to take on a case that will stretch her to her limits and one she'd rather not take, but when she finds out who she has to resurrect, she has no choice but to take it... She fell in love with him the last time, can she take it this time?

"Vegas Odds" by Karen Chance finds Lia opening the door to a delivery guy, only to find he's actually an assassin and not the only one trying to kill her! All hell breaks loose in her home and Lia has to use her skills to keep herself alive.

"Hegate's Golden Eye" by P.N. Elrod is about Charles Escott and his undead associate Jack Fleming. They are asked to help Mabel get back a pendant that rightfully belonged to her - not just any pendant but one that's been in the family for generations and it is cursed... any man who touches the Eye dies!

"Bacon" by Charlaine Harris finds vampire Dahlia Lynley-Chivers hiring a witch to seek revenge for the death of her werewolf husband.

"Signatures of the Dead" by Faith Hunter sees Molly (an Earth witch) and her shapeshifter friend help a detective track down the vampires who have killed a whole family.

"Ginger" by Caitlin Kitterridge - Luna is confident & brave but her cousin Sunny (a witch) is quite the opposite, however Sunny is drawn into an investigation that isn't all as it seems.

"Dark Sins" by Jenna Maclaine - Cin Craven, her partner Michael and their friends find themselves ambushed and kidnapped. Can Cin save them without succumbing to evil dark magic?

Having only previously read work by Jim Butcher, I immediately flicked through to "Last Call" and read that first. It was typical `Dresden" and I loved it - You always get a bit of humour with the Dresden Files stories, whether they're long or short.

I then went back to the beginning of the book, reading each story in turn. Having never read stories by the other authors before, I found the stories refreshing and interesting. Some would be all action while others reelled you in. With most of the stories I found myself thinking that I should look up the author's books as I would enjoy them too. I've definitely found some new authors to follow!

My favourites of the stories (apart from the obvious "Last Call") are probably "Seeing Eye", "Death Warmed Over" and "Hegate's Golden Eye", but they're all good.

Some of the authors are more famous than the others... I'm sure most readers will have heard of the HBO series "True Blood", you have Charlaine Harris to thank for that!

I must say that I thoroughly enjoyed reading this book and it was nice to be able to pick it up and delve into one short story at a time.

If you're a fan of any of the authors mentioned or simply like books about witches, wizards, werewolves and the like, then I would highly recommend this book to you.
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on 22 August 2010
A new anthology set with some of my favorite fantasy authors!
Patricia Briggs had Seeing Eye was a decent story- set in the same world as the Mercy Thompson ones, but not with any of the same characters. I liked it though. She should revisit Moira and Tom.
Jim Butcher...always there with a good Harry Dresden tale. Two thumbs up.
Rachel Caine brought us Death Warmed Over. It was oddly moving.
Karen Chance proves that she can always write a good time with Vegas Odds. More fun in her world!
Skipped P.N. Elrod....
Charlaine Harris was disappointing. Didn't really like it at all and had trouble remembering it was set in the Sookie world as the feel of it was so different.
The stories by Faith Hunter and Caitlin Kittredge were good, but I'm not sure I'd buy one of their books on their own.
Jenna Maclaine wrote a really nice story that fits into her series which I have not read, but am going to soon. I'm intrigued
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Short story anthologies are a hit-and-miss affair -- and most of the time, you get a lot more misses than you get hits. Fortunately "Strange Brew" is more of a hit anthology than a miss one, bringing together a solid collection of urban fantasy short stories -- they're all about spells, creepy goings-on and witches and wizards who either cook up the magic or try to defuse it.

It starts off strong with a pair of stories by urban fantasy heavyweights Patricia Briggs and Jim Butcher, who typically set their stories in their popular imaginary worlds. "Seeing Eye" introduces us to embittered witch Moira Kelly, who is asked by a werewolf to help rescue his brother from the brutal pseudo-coven Samhain. Unfortunately, she has some nasty history with the evil leader Kouros, and a budding connection to her new werewolf client.

And "Last Call" has Harry Dresden discovering that a mass berserker brawl broke out at Mac's... and Mac's home-brewed beer may be at fault. The spell is a pretty intricate and delicate one, which could only be done by a major player in magic -- leading Harry and Murphy on an elaborate hunt for the person who bespelled the beer. Did someone want Mac's out of business, or is something even weirder -- and more ancient and inhuman -- going on?

Some other good stories: Rachel Caine's resurrecting witch Holly takes on a tragic personal case for the police, only to discover a horrendous scheme using zombies. Karen Chance's "war witch" trainer Lia suddenly finds herself being attacked by a sorcerous assassin with a very long-term grudge. Faith Hunter's magical mommy Molly helps out her husband with a horrendous vampire crime, and must team up with were buddy Faith Yellowrock to stop them.

Also, bestseller Charlaine Harris provides a story about the newly-widowed vampire Dahlia Lynley-Chivers, who wants a grimoire from a chattery flaky Circe (not THE Circe!). And editor PN Elrod contributes a solid piece of work from her bestselling Vampire Files series: Charles Escott and his vampire partner Jack Fleming are asked to recover a cursed diamond, the Hecate's Eye.

But it ends with a whimper rather than a bang: Jenna MacLaine's cheesily named "Dark Sins" has a vampire/witch Righteous (she's uniquely special!) and her lover run afoul of some evilly evil wizards who want to kill her for whatever reason. And Caitlin Kittredge's story is about Anita-Blakesque werewolf whiner Luna's wussier cousin Sunny, who is inexplicably in danger.

"Strange Brew" has a lot of the better urban fantasy authors in it -- some are really popular, some are incredibly funny and spooky, and one that was one of the urban fantasy pioneers. Briggs, Elrod and Butcher are the standouts here, since they craft solid little self-contained stories with a quirky sense of humor (an armored waistcoat from Elrod) and snappy dialogue ("Intimidatus dorkus maximus!"). Butcher even comes up with the hilarious idea of a Hot Topic for the "trendy, self-appointed Death Eater wannabes."

Harris' has a slightly rushed ending, though the story itself is deeply intriguing. And again, the last two are limp noodles -- Chance's cheesiness ("Oh, you'll fear me before this is over. I promise you, you'll die screaming for my mercy") and annoying heroine, and Kittredge's misogyny and oppressively "tuff girl" attitude. Sunny is supposed to be a wuss, but she sounds just like her annoying cousin.

Which brings me around to the characters, who are an interesting mix -- we've got werewolves, witches, and wizards of every stripe, from warriors to detectives to stay-at-home mommies. Briggs particularly scores when she features a maimed and disabled witch as her lead, and Harris introduces a brittle, rather snobby vampire protagonist who nevertheless gets some sympathy. And Caine's likable resurrectionist is a bit brutal at the finale, but you can definitely understand why.

"Strange Brew" is indeed a strange brew -- lots of spells and danger intertwined together, and a mostly-good collection of stories that definitely deserve reading. Just skip the last two.
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VINE VOICEon 17 July 2011
For me, this really was a rare thing, an anthology where every single story was excellent: fun and well written, romance and suspense, the book has them all. I loved that most of the stories are written in the first person, and I discovered new authors whom I'm going to follow up. Worth paying double for!
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on 4 April 2011
This is a good mix of short stories with a nice smattering of humour. Several of the writers have done short stories from a series as with the Harry Dresden story or have set them in the worlds they have created, as with the Charlaine Harris, who has set hers in the Sookie Stackhouse world but is from the vampires side of things. It is a good read and has certainly got me looking out for some of the other writers now. Its a good mix of magic and supernatural. It has werewolves, witches, vampires and a deity causing mayhem.........what more could you want.
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on 9 February 2011
I can't add a lot to all the other good reviews of this collection of fantasy short stories. Some of the authors I was very familiar with and have read much of their work: Charlaine Harris, Jim Butcher, Rachel Caine. The others were new and I enjoyed all of them. I will now look at their other publications to see if I wish to read more of those authors.
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on 1 February 2014
this was a great collection of other worldly stories, with secrets and heartbreak around every corner, a great read, well worth it, I really enjoyed it, a few were a bit of a let down but the majority made up for it.
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on 12 May 2015
Another great compilation of Stories from a variety of brilliant Horror writers.
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