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Night Shift

Night Shift - Nalini Singh, Lisa Shearin, Ilona Andrews, Milla Vane Updated on 3/31/2015. I will update the review after I read other stories, so sorry if you feel like I spam you with this one's updates.

Magic Steals.
A story about Jim and Dali - their relationships only, with their fight with evil magic which plagues post-apocalyptic Atlanta in between. Dali is asked to investigate disappearance of an old Balinese lady. Jim tags along. Together they uncovered great evil which needs to be taken care of. They do.

Let me start with reminding that Dali can shapeshift into a freakin' white tiger. How cool is this?
white tiger rests
While in this form she can fight evil magic using her aura and physical strength to destroy it:
white tiger attacks
Unfortunately outside of her evil-fighting time she is really insecure and immature, so she feels more like this:
white tiger cub

I think I already made my point with illustrations above. Dali destroying evil is awesome, plain and simple. She is also unbelievably insecure: take all of the women of the world insecurities, roll them into one and give it to Dali. This is how she is. I also agree with my friends that she overdoes on describing Jim's sexiness practically pushing the story genre into PNR territory.

I still gave 4 stars to the story, why? Recently I had a misfortune to read quite a few mediocre paranormal romances, including ones disguising themselves as urban fantasy. As a result I became accustomed to skim over badly written angsty young adult romances. So in this case I was able to overlook everything related to Dali's relationship with Jim - the bad parts that is. I also need to mention Jim remains perfectly fine two-dimensional character, exactly like everywhere else in the series.

Despite all my criticism Dali's awesomeness in the white tiger form and humor scattered among her self-doubts were enough for me to give 4 stars to the novella.

The Beast of Blackmoor.
A long time ago - right after the dinosaurs ruled the Earth there were action heroes in the literature like the following:
Conan the Barbarian
Fast forward to modern times; people demand having strong women in any book, including something like stories about all-male prisons. Some authors were not prepared to meet the demand and quite a few of them could not write a strong woman even if their lives depend on it. Feat not dear writers, I am here to help and give some friendly advice.

Pick up any story featuring a beefy guy as the main hero. Load it into a decent word processing program - Microsoft Word will do - and make global replace for the following words: "Conan" -> "Mala", "he" -> "she", and "The Barbarian" -> "Warrior Princess". If you manage to get your hands on script of Xena the Warrior Princess series you do not even have to do the last suggested substitution.

You may ask, "This is all fine and simple, but how do you make sure the readers will not forget they read about a woman heroine?" I am glad you asked. Make her fall in love with a dark, handsome, and scarred warrior. You do not even have to remember his name while writing; just make the heroine call him "warrior" all the time. Plagiarize any classic romantic book; they have plenty of such heroes, starting with George Gordon Byron. Make him break her heart and - the most important part - make her so heartbroken that she abandons her quest to save all the people in a kingdom while she is being miserable.

Please send me a personal message and I will let you know where to send the payment for the consulting.

As to the plot, I already practically gave it away: a tough woman is sent on a quest by a goddess. She beats the crap out of everything and everybody that stands in her way until she meets a brooding guy she falls in love with after which the book became a story of non-stop sex told from a female submissive BDSM point of view - and not very well written sex I might add. This is a fantasy book, to be sure so it refers to a certain part of female anatomy as sheath to make things look authentic.

The plot is confusing. My thoughts while reading dialogues most of the time:

There are two reasons I gave this story 2 stars instead of 1. Firstly, I actually managed to finish it. Secondly, a lot of my friends who read it rated it highly: guys and girls, this extra star is due to my respect for you, so 2 stars it is.

The average rating of the anthology for the stories I read so far is 3 stars.