Tag Archives: Charlaine Harris

Death’s Excellent Vacation edited by Charlaine Harris & Toni L.P. Kelner

Overview
Image result for death's excellent vacation book cover

Title: Death’s Excellent Vacation
Author: Charlaine Harris, Sarah Smith, Jeaniene Frost, Daniel Stashower, A. Lee Martinez, Jeff Abott, L.A. Banks, Katie MacAlister, Christopher Golden, Lilith Saintcrow, Chris Grabenstein, Sharan Newman & Toni L.P. Kelner
In: Death’s Excellent Vacation (Charlaine Harris & Toni L.P. Kelner)
Rating Out of 5: 4 (Really good read!)
My Bookshelves: Paranormal fantasy, Short story collections, Urban fantasy
Dates read: 4th June – 26th November 2020
Pace: Medium
Format: Anthology
Publisher: Gollancz
Year: 2010
5th sentence, 74th page: Still, appearances were deceiving.

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Synopsis

An all-new anthology of vampire stories edited and with an introduction by Charlaine Harris and Toni L.P. Kelner.

Thoughts

I absolutely loved this collection. I normally love anything to do with paranormal fantasy anyway. But this is a particularly good one. After all, it’s all paranormal fantasy and urban fantasy stories that feature vacations.

It’s coming to that kind of year that I wish I got vacation time in y job. That I wish I could just take some time off and do whatever it is that people do on vacation. Which meant that it was really lovely to read a collection of short stories that feature vacations. All of which made me a little more thankful that I haven’t been going on vacation.

This is a collection that has a little bit of romance, a lot of humour, and generally anything that could possibly go wrong when you have vacation time does. It had me smiling and laughing throughout. I will most definitely be reading this one again.

<- Pirate Dave’s Haunted Amusement ParkTwo Blondes ->

Image source: Amazon

Home Improvement: Undead Edition edited by Charlaine Harris & Toni L.P. Kelner

Overview
Image result for home improvement undead edition book cover

Title: Home Improvement: Undead Edition
Author: Charlaine Harris & Toni L.P. Kelner, Victor Gischler, Patricia Briggs, Rochelle Krich, Heather Graham, James Grady, Melissa Marr, E. E. Knight, Seanan McGuire, S. J. Rozan, Stacia Kane, Suzanne McLeod & Simon R. Green
In: Home Improvement (Charlaine Harris & Toni L.P. Kelner)
Rating Out of 5: 4 (Really good read!)
My Bookshelves: Paranormal fantasy, Short story collections, Urban fantasy
Dates read: 7th June – 24th October 2020
Pace: Medium
Format: Anthology
Publisher: Jo Fletcher Books
Year: 2011
5th sentence, 74th page: Two weeks after their first post they met in the Coffee Bean and Tea Leaf on Larchmont.

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Synopsis

There’s nothing like home renovation for finding skeletons in the closet or otherworldly portals in the parlour… And when you add in a hefty dose of the supernatural, the normal, everyday challenges of home D-I-Y become even more hazardous!

International number 1 bestseller Charlaine Harris has joined forces once again with award-winning mystery writer Toni L.P. Kelner to construct a brilliant anthology of fourteen forays into the frightening world of home improvement.

Thoughts

This is a great and fun collection. It’s amusing and light. Filled with lots of gorgeous paranormal stories and just seriously fun. What I love most about it though is that each and everyone of these stories features the process of home renovations in some way, shape or form. And, as a home owner myself… I can attest to the fact that sometimes home improvements are literally hell…

I love that this collection brings the supernatural and paranormal into our everyday experiences. Everyone has a home and, in the case of these somewhat more magical lives… after all, even vampires and witches and the fae still need a home… but their complications are a lot worse than the ones that I have had to face…

This collection had some authors and series that I’m familiar with. And some that are new to me. As with many of the good anthologies that I read, my wish list has grown yet again. Which is really what I want when I read a good anthology.

<- In Brightest DayIf I Had a Hammer ->

Image source: Hachette Australia

Grave Sight by Charlaine Harris

Overview
Grave Sight by Charlaine Harris - Books - Hachette Australia

Title: Grave Sight
Author: Charlaine Harris
Series: Harper Connelly #1
Rating Out of 5: 4 (Really good read!)
My Bookshelves: Crime, Mystery, Paranormal fantasy
Dates read: 27th June 2020
Pace: Medium
Format: Novel
Publisher: Gollancz
Year: 2005
5th sentence, 74th page: I found it with my other sense, instead of asking for directions.

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Synopsis

Harper Connolly is honest, ethical and loyal – and ever since a bolt of lightning zapped her on the head, she’s had an extra-special talent: she can find dead people.

It’s not a common-or-garden job. Some people find Harper’s talent useful and fascinating, but she’s getting used to most people treating her like a blood-sucking leech, preying on the recently bereaved and offering false hope. She’s become an expert at getting in, getting paid and getting out fast.

So when Harper and her stepbrother Tolliver are hired to help in the Ozarks, they’re wary. Their mission is to find a local teenager – missing, believed dead – and instead they find that someone is willing to go to extraordinary lengths to bury a secret. 88 It doesn’t take long for Tolliver to be is locked away on trumped-up charges and leave Harpeer fighting for her life…

Thoughts

So this is a much better start to a series than the first Sookie Stackhouse novel. It’s a little more developed, which I think is probably just an indication of Harris’ developing skills. From the very outset, you are thrown into the world of Harper Connelly and her unique powers. From the very outset you are completely swept away and enmeshed with a woman who is quite damaged and has a seriously great personality.

I loved how this story started completely in the present. But, as the story unfolded, parts of the past also filtered through and helped to fill you in on so many important little titbits. It was a great way to create a beautifully dimensional and emotional character that you constantly felt connected to. It built upon all the trials and tribulations of the present story. It also helped to highlight exactly why Tolliver and Harper were so close. Just not in the way that is often implied…

Alongside the paranormal journey and discovery of Harper’s past, there is a great mystery to this story. In fact, it almost reads a bit like a cozy mystery. Just not quite. But still, it has that same sense of mystery to it and the almost innocence of the story line that the other cozy mysteries I’ve read hae had. However, there are a few more stakes raised. And a little bit more darkness due to Harper’s unique gift. It gives a slightly different feeling, and removes some of that innocence. Mostly though, I do love this paranormal aspect and brilliance. Particularly when it just makes the story that little bit darker.

Although the end of this story involves Harper and Tolliver getting the hell out of dodge, I can’t wait to see how this series unfolds. Partly, I kind of hope that they both get a bit of a happily ever after. It obviously wasn’t going to be in the Ozarks, but I look forward to jumping into this series and finding that at some point… hopefully.

<- More Charlaine HarrisGrave Surprise ->

Image source: Hachette Australia

If I Had a Hammer by Charlaine Harris

Overview
Image result for home improvement undead edition book cover

Title: If I Had a Hammer
Author: Charlaine Harris
Series: Sookie Stackhouse #12.5
In: Home Improvement (Charlaine Harris & Toni L.P. Kelner)
Rating Out of 5: 4 (Really good read!)
My Bookshelves: Dark fantasy, Paranormal fantasy, Vampires
Dates read: 9th June 2020
Pace: Fast
Format: Short story
Publisher: Jo Fletcher Books
Year: 2011
5th sentence, 74th page: There’s a reason the haunting started when the hammer came out of the wall.

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Synopsis

There’s a reason the haunting started when the hammer came out of the wall.

Thoughts

This is not the kind of short story you want to read before doing a home renovation – after all, in it, everything that can go wrong… will. But it does make it entertaining and a fun reading.

I absolutely adored Sookie in this story. She is fun, engaging and entertaining. Her strength is great. And considering I’ve only read one full-length novel, and in that she’s a little wishy washy. Yet, this short story takes place later in the series – and it highlights the strength that she finally has after she’s grown.

I love that there is a double storyline in this short story – not only is there the story line which follows Sookie and friends as they try and figure out what is going on with their mysterious guest. But there is also the tale of what actually  happened generations ago that involved a hammer and a bit of vengeance…

<- Home ImprovementWizard Home Security ->

Image source: Hachette Australia

Two Blondes by Charlaine Harris

Overview
Image result for death's excellent vacation book cover

Title: Two Blondes
Author: Charlaine Harris
Series: Sookie Stackhouse #9.6
In: Death’s Excellent Vacation (Charlaine Harris & Toni L.P. Kelner)
Rating Out of 5: 4 (Really good read!)
My Bookshelves: Dark fantasy, Paranormal fantasy, Vampires
Dates read: 30th June 2020
Pace: Medium
Format: Short story
Publisher: Gollancz
Year: 2010
5th sentence, 74th page: ‘Our new masters have been chipping away at Edgington’s control of Mississippi,’ Pam said.

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Synopsis

Sookie and Pam just want a little vacation in Glitter Town. But then vampire politics get involved… and things take a turn for the interesting…

Thoughts

This was a really, really good, funny and enjoyable short story. It featured all of the aspects of the Sookie Stackhouse short stories that I’m seriously beginning to love and a little more information about the series as a whole… I should probably actually pick up the full-length novels again… this was just such a great reminder of how enjoyable they really are.

One of the aspects of this short story that I loved (and what I assume will be more obvious after the 9th book in the series), was the sense of gender fluidity and sexual identities in this story. I loved that there were characters who were most definitely part of the Vampire LGBTQI+ community (and what an interesting community that would be). It also showed Sookie exploring a little more of her own identity, something I haven’t yet come across as a major plot line in the first novel…

Probably what I liked so much about this short story, that didn’t pull me into the original series was the fact that Sookie is no longer kid of weak and whiny. I found her really irritating in the first novel, and I’ve been told multiple times to actually read more of the series, that this diminishes. But reading this short story really drove that fact home. And has left me kind of excited to actually stick my nose into these books again.

<- Death’s Excellent VacationThe Boys Go Fishing ->

Image source: Amazon

Wolfsbane and Mistletoe edited by Charlaine Harris & Toni L. P. Kelner

Overview
Image result for wolfsbane and mistletoe book cover

Title: Wolfsbane and Mistletoe
Author: Charlaine Harris, Donna Andrews, Simon R. Green, Dana Cameron, Kat Richardson, Alan Gordon, Carrie Vaughn, Dana Stabenow, Keri Arthur, J.A. Konrath, Patricia Briggs, Nancy Pickard, Karen Chance, Rob Thurman & Toni L. P. Kelner
In: Wolfsbane and Mistletoe (Charlaine Harris & Toni L.P. Kelner)
Rating Out of 5: 5 (I will read this again and again and again)
My Bookshelves: Christmas, Paranormal fantasy, Short story collections, Werewolves
Dates read: 16th November – 30th December 2019
Pace: Medium
Format: Anthology
Publisher: Gollancz
Year: 2008
5th sentence, 74th page: I’m big and I’m hairy!

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Synopsis

The holiday season can bring out the beast in anyone – literally! This collection features 15 werewolf tales by an all-star line up.

Thoughts

This is the second collection I’ve read by Charlaine Harris and Toni L.P. Kelner. And it’s just as good, if not better than the first. Actually, it was probably better. Because I really wasn’t in the mood for the Holiday Season this year. Normally I read all sorts of nice holiday stories. I didn’t want those. But an anthology about werewolves and Christmas? That was perfect for my mood. Especially when some of the stories involve eating Rudolph and Santa.

Christmas seems to be all about the night and the season. Or something about the imagery of it is. And werewolves are almost always pictured with a full moon. The combination of the two actually makes perfect sense. Which was something I’d never thought of before, but now wonder why not. After all, it works so beautifully.

Not only were the themes in this story perfectly paired, but it was also a fantastic mix of series shorts and standalones. I love finding short stories based in established worlds. But it’s also great to sometimes find a standalone that you can really sink your teeth into. If anything, I think I actually preferred a lot of the standalones in this collection, they were the stories which were a little grittier.

Although there was a bit more darkness to this story than a traditional paranormal fantasy tale, it was still quite a light-hearted mix. Even the stories that involved disembowelling well-known Christmas characters were funny and light. Left me with a nice, big smile on my lips at the end of the collection.

 <- Keeping Watch Over His Flock ReviewGift Wrap Review ->

Image source: Hachette Australia

My Big Fat Supernatural Wedding edited by P.N. Elrod

Overview
Image result for my big fat supernatural wedding book cover

Title: My Big Fat Supernatural Wedding
Author: P.N. Elrod, L.A. Banks, Jim Butcher, Rachel Caine, Esther M. Friesner, Lori Handeland, Charlaine Harris, Sherrilyn Kenyon & Susan Krinard
In: My Big Fat Supernatural Wedding (P.N. Elrod)
Rating Out of 5: 5 (I will read this again and again and again)
My Bookshelves: Paranormal fantasy, Romance, Short story collections
Dates read: 30th September – 30th November 2019
Pace: Medium
Format: Anthology
Publisher: St. Martin’s Press
Year: 2006
5th sentence, 74th page: “You and your” – his eyes flicked toward Ian, who was clambering over the railing – “your intended can wait up on the quarterdeck.”

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Synopsis

Werewolves, vampires, witches, voodoo, Elvis—and weddings

An “ordinary” wedding can get crazy enough, so can you imagine what happens when otherworldly creatures are involved? Nine of the hottest authors of paranormal fiction answer that question in this delightful collection of supernatural wedding stories. What’s the seating plan when rival clans of werewolves and vampires meet under the same roof? How can a couple in the throes of love overcome traps set by feuding relatives—who are experts at voodoo? Will you have a good marriage if your high-seas wedding is held on a cursed ship? How do you deal with a wedding singer who’s just a little too good at impersonating Elvis? Shape-shifters, wizards, and magic, oh my!

Thoughts

I started reading this collection just before my best friend got married. I kind of figured that it was just a suitable kind of anthology to be reading when I too, was experiencing much of the wedding insanity that tends to surround such a fun day. And, it was nice to know that no matter what happened… nothing could go as badly wrong as many of the weddings in this collection.

There is something about weddings that seems to bring out the best and worst in people. So much pressure and stress for just one day which always blows my mind… but most people don’t have to deal with the supernatural. The characters in these stories do. And some of the battles they face are just… well, ridiculous. And difficult. And so much fun to read about.

Most of the authors in this collection I have on my shelves. Which made this a really good collection to read. Not only did I not then add a hundred different books to my wish list, but I often had the pleasure of revisiting worlds that I already have on my shelves. And the few I didn’t recognise? Well, they’ve quickly found their way on my to buy next list…

 <- “…Or Forever Hold Your Peace” ReviewSpellbound Review ->
Image source: Amazon

Gift Wrap by Charlaine Harris

Overview
Image result for wolfsbane and mistletoe book cover

Title: Gift Wrap
Author: Charlaine Harris
Series: Sookie Stackhouse #8.4
In: Wolfsbane and Mistletoe (Charlaine Harris & Toni L.P. Kelner)
Rating Out of 5: 5 (I will read this again and again and again)
My Bookshelves: Dark fantasy, Paranormal fantasy, Vampires
Dates read: 16th November 2019
Pace: Fast
Format: Short story
Publisher: Gollancz
Year: 2008
5th sentence, 74th page: ‘Ah, do you need me to leave you alone for a second before I help you into the shower?’ I asked, indicating the toilet with a tip of my head.

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Synopsis

Sookie is alone on Christmas Eve and feeling incredibly lonely… and then she finds a surprising body in her backyard and things take a turn for the more… interesting.

Thoughts

I wasn’t really sure what to expect from a Sookie Stackhouse Christmas short story. I knew it would be a little off-kilter and a lot of fun. But beyond that… really not sure how Charlaine Harris would deal with the theme of werewolves and Christmas in the Wolfsbane and Mistletoe anthology. Turns out, she dealt with it brilliantly, kind of amusingly and in a really engaging way.

There seems to be this idea that there is nothing sadder than being alone at Christmas. As someone who has a partner who works away at this time of year every year… I actually don’t think that it’s that sad. But it is incredibly lonely. This story highlights that, and also the joy that you get when you get an incredibly unexpected gift. Although, you don’t truly realise that Sookie’s fun, adult times with a hot stranger, is a gift until the very end of the story.

This is a seriously fun and beautiful Christmas story. It encompasses that Christmas feeling of family and company, but does so with a wonderful dose of paranormal entertainment. And a good, heavy dose of lust throughout.

<- Wolfsbane and MistletoeThe Haire of the Beast ->

Image source: Hachette Australia

Tacky by Charlaine Harris

Overview
Image result for my big fat supernatural wedding book cover

Title: Tacky
Author: Charlaine Harris
Series: Sookie Stackhouse #6.5
In: My Big Fat Supernatural Wedding (P.N. Elrod)
Rating Out of 5: 5 (I will read this again and again and again)
My Bookshelves: Dark fantasy, Paranormal fantasy, Vampires
Dates read: 8th November 2019
Pace: Fast
Format: Short story
Publisher: St. Martin’s Press
Year: 2006
5th sentence, 74th page: Several female Weres were kneeling on the ground around the moaning ex-wife.

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Synopsis

Dahlia is the Maid of Honour in an incredibly controversial wedding. One that could end in tears… tears of happiness or devastation… no one’s entirely sure. But as long as the bridesmaid dresses aren’t tacky!

Thoughts

I still haven’t met Dahlia in the main Sookie Stackhouse series, probably because so far I’ve only read Dead Until Dark. But, I’ve read a number of short stories which feature her, and I completely adore those. She is spunky, hardcore and has a major attitude problem. All the sorts of things that I thoroughly enjoy in a heroine. The fact that she’s a lot older and unaware of some wedding traditions such as “ugly bridesmaid dresses” just made me love her all the more.

The vampire and werewolf war is something I come across many, many times in my paranormal fantasy literature. Yet, I was still pleasantly surprised to find one such story in My Big Fat Supernatural Wedding. After all, weddings are a great way to bring together warring peoples, regardless of whether its paranormal or political.

One of my favourite aspects of this story is that it is supposed to be “the” social event of the year. The fact that it becomes even more talked about when an attempted assassination and violence are involved… well, it just makes me want to pick up the Sookie Stackhouse books even more. After all, it is dealing with the paranormal world, weddings, and peoples’ perceptions in a way that I not only thoroughly enjoyed, but could also seriously relate to.

<- Charmed by the MoonA Hard Day’s Night-Searcher ->

Image source: Amazon

An Apple for the Creature edited by Charlaine Harris & Toni L. P. Kelner

Overview
Image result for an apple for the creature book cover

Title: An Apple for the Creature
Author: Charlaine Harris, Toni L. P. Kelner, Jonathan Maberry, Donald Harstad, Marjorie M. Liu, Rhys Bowen, Amber Benson, Mike Carey, Faith Hunter, Ilona Andrews, Steve Hockensmith, Nancy Holder & Thomas E. Sniegoski
In: An Apple for the Creature (Charlaine Harris & Toni L. P. Kelner)
Rating Out of 5: 5 (I will read this again and again and again)
My Bookshelves: Paranormal fantasy, Short story collections, Urban fantasy
Dates read: 23rd May – 13th July 2019
Pace: Medium
Format: Anthology
Publisher: Ace Books
Year: 2012
5th sentence, 74th page: He’d charged George, heading toward the cornfield behind the store, and George had shot him.

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Synopsis

Includes a never-before-published Sookie Stackhouse story!

What could be scarier than the first day of school? How about a crash course in the paranormal from Charlaine Harris and Toni L. P. Kelner, editors of Home Improvement: Undead Edition? Your worst school nightmares—taking that math test you never studied for, finding yourself naked in school assembly, not knowing which door to enter—will pale in comparison to these thirteen original stories that take academic anxiety to whole new realms.

In #1 New York Times bestselling author Charlaine Harris’s story, “Playing Possum,” Sookie Stackhouse brings enough birthday cupcakes for her nephew’s entire class but finds she’s one short when the angry ex-boyfriend of the school secretary shows up.

When her guardian, Kate Daniels, sends her undercover to a school for exceptional children, teenaged Julie learns an all-new definition of “exceptional,” in New York Times bestselling author Ilona Andrews’s “Magic Tests.”

For those who like fangs with their forensics, New York Times bestselling author Nancy Holder offers “VSI,” in which FBI agent Claire is tested as never before in a school for Vampire Scene Investigation.

And in New York Times bestselling author Thomas Sniegoski’s “The Bad Hour,” Remy Chandler and his dog Marlowe find evil unleashed in an obedience school.

You’ll need more than an apple to stave off the creatures in these and nine other stories. Remember your first lesson: resistance is fruitless!

Includes stories by: ILONA ANDREWS, AMBER BENSON, RHYS BOWEN, MIKE CAREY, CHARLAINE HARRIS, DONALD HARSTAD, STEVE HOCKENSMITH, NANCY HOLDER, FAITH HUNTER, TONI L.P. KELNER, MARJORIE LIU, JONATHAN MABERRY, THOMAS SNIEGOSKI

Thoughts

This book has been on my wishlist for ages. But, it’s one that’s out of print, so I had to get a second-hand copy, and I always seem to be a bit slower at getting these. Now I’m not sure why I waited so damn long! I loved every single one of these short stories. They managed to reflect not only your worst nightmares relived in high school, but it was also filled with stories of training and cops, the paranormal and the supernatural.

Sometimes short story collections are full of tales which fit into series. Some are just full of tales that stand beautifully alone. An Apple for the Creature has a nice balance of the two. Some of these stories are ones which make me want to pick up the rest of the series. Some just a nice appreciation for a new author. It was a great balance, meant that I didn’t break the bank wanting to buy new books, but also found some great new series to sink my teeth into.

This collection contains everything I love about urban fantasy tales. There are vampires and werewolves, dragons and nymphs. Some of these characters are only just starting at their first high school, and others are in training for a greater purpose, such as crime fighting. Regardless of the reason why they’re in school though, every single character in these stories learns something from their adventures and made each and every story a complete, total and utter pleasure.

 <- Pirate Dave and the Captain’s Ghost ReviewPlaying Possum Review ->
Image source: Goodreads