These Boots Were Made for Stomping
Julie Kenner, Jade Lee and Marianne Mancusi
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Buy *These Boots Were Made for Stomping* by Julie Kenner, Jade Lee and Marianne Mancusi online

These Boots Were Made for Stomping
Julie Kenner, Jade Lee and Marianne Mancusi
Love Spell
309 pages
April 2008
rated 3 of 5 possible stars

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The advanced reader's edition of this book as accompanied by the following marketing information: "The theme of These Boots Were Made for Stomping is one that every woman can understand: the right pair of footwear can change your life." Well, I'm a woman, and I don't understand that. I'm actually pretty uninterested in shoes, and I doubt that many people's lives are changed by shoe purchasing. Oh well.

The book's back cover adds: "Whether facing the forces of evil or simply battling a bad hair day, fantastic footwear is key... Sometimes a woman's gotta be fierce as well as feminine, fiery as well as fragile. And when the legwork required is a roundhouse, when a girl's mantra has to become 'I am woman, hear me roar,' those are the times it's good to know there's magic in the world... because in super-powered pumps, the shrinking-est Violet or the nervous-est Nellie can do anything. Every step in magic shoes is sure to be a big one."

Well, what amazing twaddle! I've rarely read anything that ridiculous on the back of a book, let alone the marketing idea of having the three characters in these short stories buying their books from a website that actually exists in the real world and from which one can buy shoes (which I briefly looked at after reading this book). Sometimes one wonders what the marketing people who came up with this idea were thinking.

But underneath the strange marketing blurb lies a book of three short stories by different authors. The first story, 'A Step in the Right Direction' by Julie Kenner, introduces the non-human Protectors, people with superpowers. Nikko is in trouble for messing up one of his assignments and being revealed to the general public, who have now made him into a comic-book character named Silver Streak. When Lydia Carmichael's newly purchased boots seem to give her extra backbone and bravery - as well as an ability to rescue people - she finds herself meeting her hero Silver Streak and discovering that he thinks she's just like him - one of the Protectors. She goes along with it for a little while, having unwittingly interfered with an operation to catch Rex Ruthless, a man planning to shrink New York to a tiny blob with a special weapon he's creating. When Nikko and Lydia find themselves trapped by Ruthless, they have to work together to save New York, and Lydia has to discover whether her superpowers and bravery are linked to the shoes or whether she can do good on her own. It's an enjoyable read if a little formulaic.

The second short story, 'Kung Fu Shoes' by Jade Lee, features Micki Becker, whose confidence in her teaching skills in a rough school in Indianapolis is rapidly ebbing away. Micki is trying to encourage student Lucy to leave her dodgy boyfriend, Damien, and make something of herself. When Micki finds herself tangling directly with Damien, including fighting him, she discovers an unexpected skill at kung fu. The school cop, Joe DeLuce, seems to be taking an interest in Micki, apparently to encourage her to move on to a better school where she can be safer, but soon also becoming involved in her new kung fu ability. When her skills are linked to her new pair of shoes, she offers them to Lucy to help her - but perhaps this means that Joe will no longer like her as she returns to her mousy nature. Can Joe see beyond the kung fu shoes?

This story is also reasonable, particularly with the setting of a school and the difficulties facing many teachers - especially those like Micki who are perhaps not as streetwise as they should be. The underlying plot is pretty thin, though, and I found my attention wandering at times. I wasn't too sure about Joe's motivations initially but he seems to improve as the story progresses.

The third story, 'Karma Kitty Goes To Comic Con' by Marianne Mancusi, is better. Hailey Hills, author of the Karma Kitty comic strip, is attending a convention with her artist, Thomas, when she bumps into her old fiancé, Collin. Hailey often had problems during her relationship because weird things kept happening to her and Collin found it hard to believe in them. When Hailey stood him up at the altar and disappeared for three weeks because she was abducted by aliens, Collin gave up, moved away and became a successful film producer. When Hailey sees him again at the Comic Con and he wants to reconnect with her, she vows to be as normal as possible. Unfortunately Hailey's new Karma Kitty boots aren't going to let her. They give her Kitty's superpowers, and Hailey finds herself rescuing another comic writer from attacking ninjas. Her date with Collin is a disaster, and she thinks it's all over. But there's something going on in the world of film rights for the comics, and it might take Hailey with her boots and Collin to save the day.

This is more fun than the previous two stories, and although I had to suspend my disbelief just as much as for the other stories, this one feels more rounded and has better pacing. Mancusi has a good writing style and Hailey is an appealing, if rather ditsy, character.

All in all, this book doesn't live up to the overblown marketing hype: it contains three stories of medium interest, and the shoe website thread seems tenuous. Those who like super-powered heroines might enjoy reading this, but it's not worth a special trip to the bookshop.

Originally published on Curled Up With A Good Book at © Helen Hancox, 2008

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