I just finished the new Sookie Stackhouse short story in Home Improvement: Undead Edition (edited by Charlaine Harris and Toni L.P. Kelner). The short stories in the Sookie Stackhouse series have been interesting. Some have depicted pivotal events (such as Sookie being informed of her cousin's death), others have seemed as if they might lead to whole new and amazing story lines (such as Sookie sleeping with a shape-changing fairy - which seems to have had no consequences, at least so far...does anyone know what gestation period would be likely?), this story may have introduced a new ongoing character, or added another complication for Sookie if anyone searches her land. If we gained new insight into any character, it may have been J.B.!
In Dark and Stormy Knights (edited by P.N. Elrod) the new Harry Dresden story by Jim Butcher is fun, introduces a new character who may be a player in the series future, and shows us a side of Harry that we already know, but that we love. I have to say that my favorite short story of the last few years was "The Warrior" by Jim Butcher published in Mean Streets. Lovely entry in the series, character growth for Harry, and a different view of the series (and the world) for the reader!
The latest Jim Butcher novel, Ghost Story, is an interesting series entry. Some entries in series are game changers, others circle back to the status quo, and some seem like second halves of the story told in the previous book. Ghost Story seemed to me to be the second half of Changes, and the two together are a game changer in the series. Changes raised some disturbing ethical questions about Harry. In Ghost Story some of the questions raised are answered, and the story (the entire series) can move forward in a new direction. Nicely done! This is not the book that one should use as an introduction to the series, but it is essential for those who follow Harry Dresden.
The series entry I'm anxiously awaiting is the "Ivan" book in the Vorkosigan saga. If anyone is interested in a taste of the Lois McMaster Bujold series, there are links to free "samples" from the series in the Baen Free Library:
The Hugo- and Nebula-winning novella "The Mountains of Mourning"
and one of the prime entry-point books for the Vorkosigan series, The Warrior's Apprentice.