Tag Archives: Death's Excellent Vacation

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

Overview
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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 ->

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Pirate Dave’s Haunted Amusement Park by Toni L.P. Kelner

Overview
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Title: Pirate Dave’s Haunted Amusement Park
Author: Toni L.P. Kelner
In: Death’s Excellent Vacation (Charlaine Harris & Toni L.P. Kelner)
Rating Out of 5: 5 (I will read this again and again and again)
My Bookshelves: Paranormal fantasy, Vampires, Werewolves
Dates read: 26th November 2020
Pace: Fast
Format: Short story
Publisher: Gollancz
Year: 2010
5th sentence, 74th page: ‘Isn’t there anything else I can do to help?’

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Synopsis

Joyce is a recently turned werewolf who just wants a nice quiet vacation. To the amusement park that she remembers from her childhood. But things have changed a little…

Thoughts

This was such a fun and cute short story. I can’t say that I have an amusement park that I’m nostalgic for, or even a pirate that I had a teenage crush on. But this certainly made me wish that I did. After all, Joyce manages to not only save the park of her childhood, but also hook up with her crush. I mean, what more could you want?

Alright, you could also want to add into that mix vampires and werewolves. Then it is really a great short story. After all, a bit of supernatural banter and lust to round out a fun story… I finished this tale with a huge grin across my face.

Pirate Dave’s Haunted Amusement Park was a fantastic way to finish off the Death’s Excellent Vacation. For starters, Joyce repeatedly states that she’s actually on vacation. But it’s also just really pleasant and fun. What a light, humorous and wonderful way to round out a seriously fun collection.

<- Home from AmericaDeath’s Excellent Vacation ->

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Home from America by Sharan Newman

Overview
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Title: Home from America
Author: Sharan Newman
In: Death’s Excellent Vacation (Charlaine Harris & Toni L.P. Kelner)
Rating Out of 5: 4.5 (Amazing, but not quite perfect)
My Bookshelves: FamilyParanormal fantasy, Urban fantasy
Dates read: 24th November 2020
Pace: Fast
Format: Short story
Publisher: Gollancz
Year: 2010
5th sentence, 74th page: In the gray light of morning the plane slid down through the cloud cover and the O’Reillys got their first glimpse of what for them was the Promised Land.

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Synopsis

Patrick has always dreamed about he home land. And been incredibly self-conscious about his height. Now he finally gets to go “home”. What he finds is nothing like what he expected.

Thoughts

I have always wanted to find out more about my ancestors. But I can’t say that I’ve ever had wonderful, powerful imaginations about them. After all, I’m probably from farm folk or some such. Even though I would love to go and see England and Scotland, I don’t think it would be like coming home. Which made it interesting to read a short story that featured a young man who was so desperate to live in and move to a country that he had never laid eyes on because he thought he was from hero stock.

Pride is never really a good thing. If we’re being honest here. And Patricks’ pride in this short story leaves his vacation at a pretty grisly ending. He is too proud to love his family for who they are. And he is certainly too proud to stay and listen and learn. Rather, he wants to be a hero and from more “impressive” ancestors. I really don’t understand that, and I’m kind of glad that he got his comeuppance. He was a bit of a weeny in this tale.

I love that this story dealt with family and pride. Leprechauns and the Luck of the Irish. The whole story was fun and had me smiling as I turned the pages. It wasn’t quite what I expected from the title. But it was most definitely a tale that I thoroughly enjoyed.

<- The Demon in the DunesPirate Dave’s Haunted Amusement Park ->

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The Demon in the Dunes by Chris Grabenstein

Overview
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Title: The Demon in the Dunes
Author: Chris Grabenstein
In: Death’s Excellent Vacation (Charlaine Harris & Toni L.P. Kelner)
Rating Out of 5: 4 (Really good read!)
My Bookshelves: Demons, Paranormal fantasy
Dates read: 22nd November 2020
Pace: Medium
Format: Short story
Publisher: Gollancz
Year: 2010
5th sentence, 74th page: I held up two warm beer cans.

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Synopsis

He’s reminiscing about the demon in the dunes and the summer of 1975. Will he finally be able to figure out what the demon was warning against all those years ago?

Thoughts

This is the prefect story to discourage idiots from smoking. I mean, the whole thing is just completely creepy and uncomfortable. And then, when you get to the twist at the end and the consequences are realised. Well, it becomes just that much more powerful and intense.

The Demon in the Dunes is a fun short story that uses the past and foreshadowing in a perfect way. It makes you want to race to the end to find out what the demon was doing there, even if that will ruin everything. I love stories that use foreshadowing well, it gives an extra sense of suspense to a story line that would not necessarily have it otherwise.

The Demon in the Dunes was a great short story that pulled me in from the very beginning. In fact, I kind of walked into a doorway while I was reading, I got that wrapped up in the book. Which is not always a bad thing…

<- The Heart is Always RightHome from America ->

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The Heart is Always Right by Lilith Saintcrow

Overview
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Title: The Heart is Always Right
Author: Lilith Saintcrow
In: Death’s Excellent Vacation (Charlaine Harris & Toni L.P. Kelner)
Rating Out of 5: 5 (I will read this again and again and again)
My Bookshelves: Gargoyles, Paranormal fantasy, Romance
Dates read: 19th November 2020
Pace: Fast
Format: Short story
Publisher: Gollancz
Year: 2010
5th sentence, 74th page: EvilMart probably didn’t prepare her for this.

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Synopsis

A gargoyle with a crush realises that the woman he’s been crushing on might just be his ticket to looking… well, less gargoyle-like. But he has to sacrifice his Heart first.

Thoughts

This was such a cute and sweet short story. I love that there are so many different meanings to the title, depending on what point of the story you are at. The different meanings drew me in completely and left me feeling very happy and content.

I don’t get the privilege of reading many stories about gargoyles. But, ever since watching The Hunchback of Notre Dame, I’ve been fascinated with gargoyles. Happily looking forward to any of the stories I can find that feature these creatures.

The lore and the worldbuilding in this short story are intense. I honestly can’t believe that there aren’t more books set in this world. It is just so damn textured and detailed. I want more!

<- Thin WallsThe Demon in the Dunes ->

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Thin Walls by Christopher Golden

Overview
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Title: Thin Walls
Author: Christopher Golden
In: Death’s Excellent Vacation (Charlaine Harris & Toni L.P. Kelner)
Rating Out of 5: 4.5 (Amazing, but not quite perfect)
My Bookshelves: Dark fantasy, Lust, Paranormal fantasy
Dates read: 15th November 2020
Pace: Fast
Format: Short story
Publisher: Gollancz
Year: 2010
5th sentence, 74th page: ‘I can sense those things,’ Diana said.

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Synopsis

Tim is on a farewell tour to remember his late wife. When he overhears people in the room next door to him, he realises how thin the walls truly are. And his wish to honour his wife is truly tested.

Thoughts

I figured that this short story would have something to do with succubus, or some paranormal element of that character. After all, it starts with a man alone in a hotel room, with a woody, listening to others have sex. And it’s in a collection of paranormal fantasy stories. It wasn’t exactly a big leap. But, it did end in a way that I wasn’t completely expecting. And I did appreciate quite a bit.

I really don’t love the idea of people ever being able to overhear me and my SO in a hotel room. It’s pretty ick. And I really don’t like the idea of overhearing somebody else. Luckily, at this point in life, it hasn’t actually happened to me. But this storyline… and what happens when Tim overhears certain things… yeah, it added an extra layer of ick to the whole storyline.

Aside from the many ick factors throughout this story, I did love that ultimately, the “vacation” is a farewell tour for a lost wife. It was incredibly sweet and cute. Something that I can imagine doing if I lost my SO… touring all of the places that were important to us and just… remembering.

<- The Perils of EffrijimThe Heart is Always Right ->

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The Perils of Effrijim by Katie MacAlister

Overview
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Title: The Perils of Effrijim
Author: Katie MacAlister
Series: Aisling Grey #4.5
In: Death’s Excellent Vacation (Charlaine Harris & Toni L.P. Kelner)
Rating Out of 5: 4.5 (Amazing, but not quite perfect)
My Bookshelves: Demons, Paranormal fantasy, Urban fantasy
Dates read: 13th November 2020
Pace: Fast
Format: Short story
Publisher: Gollancz
Year: 2010
5th sentence, 74th page: I’m a sixth-class demon.

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Synopsis

Effrijim just wants to spend his ten day vacation with the love of his life. But things don’t quite go as planned when a She-Bitch gets involved.

Thoughts

The first comment in my notes was “Poor Effrijim”. After all, this story is just one calamity after another. Just a whole series of problems that stop him from having a relaxing vacation and leave him feeling frustrated and ready to scream. It’s just not the optimal vacation and left me feeling seriously bad for Effrijim, even as I laughed and laughed at all of the bad that befell him.

Titania and Oberon made a great cameo appearance in this story. They’re altered story line was fun and entertaining. I also loved how militant and kick ass Titania was. After all, she is completely unorthodox and has been wronged. I also love how she decides to keep Oberon in line from now on…

Jim’s torture is what dreams are made of. It was the kind of torture and storyline that had me laughing happily throughout the entire story. I finished this with a huge grin on my face and a desire to just read more.

<- Seeing is BelievingThin Walls ->

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Seeing is Believing by L.A. Banks

Overview
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Title: Seeing is Believing
Author: L.A. Banks
In: Death’s Excellent Vacation (Charlaine Harris & Toni L.P. Kelner)
Rating Out of 5: 4 (Really good read!)
My Bookshelves: Paranormal fantasy, Psychics, Werewolves
Dates read: 10th November 2020
Pace: Fast
Format: Short story
Publisher: Gollancz
Year: 2010
5th sentence, 74th page: She really liked you, and you all trusted each other.

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Synopsis

She has the Gift, but it’s causing her to live a bit like a spinster. Then her brother encourages her to go on vacation, and things take a far more enjoyable and lustful turn…

Thoughts

I really loved the New Orleans feel to this story. Which makes sense, because part of it is based in the city itself, and the rest is based elsewhere. It’s certainly fun and it’s one of the few cities in the USA that actually interests me…

A lot of the stories that I read about psychics and people who have the gift focus on the whole idea of how much the horrors of the future can damage a person. This story instead focused on the ways in which the gift can destroy relationships and spell the end before the beginning. Luckily, it’s not all bad, and there is a happy ending in there as well.

I love that this story has it all – werewolves and psychics, cops and witches, revenge and the beginning of new loves. There’s also a fun pole dancer thrown in there to make it all that much more fun and giggle-worthy.

<- Safe and SoundThe Perils of Effrijim ->

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Safe and Sound by Jeff Abott

Overview
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Title: Safe and Sound
Author: Jeff Abott
In: Death’s Excellent Vacation (Charlaine Harris & Toni L.P. Kelner)
Rating Out of 5: 5 (I will read this again and again and again)
My Bookshelves: Humour, Paranormal fantasy, Vampires
Dates read: 7th November 2020
Pace: Fast
Format: Short story
Publisher: Gollancz
Year: 2010
5th sentence, 74th page: Blank.

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Synopsis

This journalist is just looking for a big, amazing story. But what she finds with her underhanded ways instead… well, somebody is Safe and Sound.

Thoughts

Little known fact – when I finished high school and was thinking about what I wanted to do with my life, I seriously considered journalism. But, already at that point, I felt like it was a field more about sensationalizing a story, rather than telling the truth. This short story was a great reminder of that feeling – how the media often just picks the story that is going to get the most attention, just because it will get the most attention. Truth and honesty be damned.

The vampire angle in this story was completely fun and brilliant. It was also entirely predictable, but I did love the way that vampires filtered into a story about the media and a missing boy. I also loved how there was a total comeuppance to the story using the vampire as the angle. They’re not normally the good guys – and in this story they still certainly aren’t. But at least the vampire delivered some poetic justice.

This short story made me think of all of the people that go missing and the stories that are never told. It left me feeling a little melancholy, but in the end, I thoroughly enjoyed it.

<- The Innsmouth NookSeeing is Believing ->

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The Innsmouth Nook by A. Lee Martinez

Overview
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Title: The Innsmouth Nook
Author: A. Lee Martinez
In: Death’s Excellent Vacation (Charlaine Harris & Toni L.P. Kelner)
Rating Out of 5: 4.5 (Amazing, but not quite perfect)
My Bookshelves: Paranormal fantasy, Urban fantasy
Dates read: 4th November 2020
Pace: Medium
Format: Short story
Publisher: Gollancz
Year: 2010
5th sentence, 74th page: ‘So what brings you to Clam Bay?’ he asked.

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Synopsis

All they wanted to do was open up a quaint little B&B in a small coastal town. But then tourism dropped off. And the locals really didn’t like these two interlopers coming into their town. And then, well, things just got worse.

Thoughts

To start with, I was a little bit “eh” about this story. I mean, two guys from the Big Smoke move to a tiny, backwater town… it’s not exactly a groundbreaking or really very original story. But then it started to develop. And I got hooked. And now I’m still thinking of it with fond memories.

As someone from a tourism area, I completely understand how drastically tourism can impact on a town. This story helped to drive this fact even further home. Plus, it was quite entertaining the new form of tourism that started to encroach on the town.

This short story is a great mix of mythology and folklore. And just the general wit, fun and mayhem that I seriously enjoy in a good short story and paranormal fantasy tale.

<- Meanwhile, Far Across the Caspian Sea…Safe and Sound ->

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