Tag Archives: Home Improvement

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

In Brightest Day by Toni L.P. Kelner

Overview
Image result for home improvement undead edition book cover

Title: In Brightest Day
Author: Toni L.P. Kelner
In: Home Improvement (Charlaine Harris & Toni L.P. Kelner)
Rating Out of 5: 4 (Really good read!)
My Bookshelves: Paranormal fantasy
Dates read: 24th October 2020
Pace: Fast
Format: Short story
Publisher: Jo Fletcher Books
Year: 2011
5th sentence, 74th page: “Yeah, right,” she said.

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Synopsis

She’s a Houngan. But the body she keeps raising to Revenant just doesn’t seem to want to stay alive…

Thoughts

The use of Hoodoo / Houngan / Voodoo practices in this “home improvement” story was completely unexpected and seriously joyful. I also loved how it kept Kelner’s sense of humour and self alive throughout the pages. I was smiling and relaxed as I read this. Making it not only an amazing short story, but a fantastic way to end the Home Improvement collection.

I found the idea of raising an architect so that they can finish building a house to be kind of unique. It feels like a bit of a waste of power, but as the story unfolds, it also feels like something humorous and light. Completely unexpected and most definitely enjoyable.

The lead of this short story – Dodie was one of my favourite leads in this collection. I love that she’s constantly poking fun at the institution that she finds herself in and finding ways to maintain her own identity. Even if that identity does mean eschewing the long skirts and died hair of the rest of the houngans….

<- It’s All in the RenderingHome Improvement ->

Image source: Hachette Australia

It’s All in the Rendering by Simon R. Green

Overview
Image result for home improvement undead edition book cover

Title: It’s All in the Rendering
Author: Simon R. Green
In: Home Improvement (Charlaine Harris & Toni L.P. Kelner)
Rating Out of 5: 4 (Really good read!)
My Bookshelves: Paranormal fantasy, Urban fantasy
Dates read: 23rd October 2020
Pace: Fast
Format: Short story
Publisher: Jo Fletcher Books
Year: 2011
5th sentence, 74th page: And now that’s being turned against us.

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Synopsis

They live in the House. It’s a House that straddles two realities. So what happens when those realities collide?

Thoughts

Something about this short story made me think about the Innkeeper Chronicles. In the best way possible of course, since I loved that series. And I loved this short story. After all, a house that straddles two worlds and works to keep the peace, keep people safe… it’s definitely the kind of story that I get drawn into.

This was a seriously fun journey into a seriously interesting and intriguing house. It was really hard to put down and I was grinning throughout the whole story. Particularly the couple that runs the house. They are the exact kind of married couples that I love in a good story – obviously in love and filled with witty banter and light.

I’m really disappointed that this is just a short story. I would really, seriously love more stories about this House Between Worlds. There are just so many potential stories!

<- Full-Scale DemolitionIn Brightest Day ->

Image source: Hachette Australia

Full-Scale Demolition by Suzanne McLeod

Overview
Image result for home improvement undead edition book cover

Title: Full-Scale Demolition
Author: Suzanne McLeod
In: Home Improvement (Charlaine Harris & Toni L.P. Kelner)
Rating Out of 5: 5 (I will read this again and again and again)
My Bookshelves: Fae, Paranormal fantasy, Urban fantasy
Dates read: 19th October 2020
Pace: Fast
Format: Short story
Publisher: Jo Fletcher Books
Year: 2011
5th sentence, 74th page: After much manoeuvring I balanced the bundled drop cloth on the backs of my thighs, tucking an end into my waistband, and started crawling down headfirst.

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Synopsis

She can’t cast, but she can catch Pixies… really well. So when a routine Pixie collecting job goes seriously hay-wire, it might just be up to her unique abilities to stop this full-scale demolition.

Thoughts

I jot down notes when I’m reading, so that it’s easier to write reviews when I’m done. And the first point I wrote for this story… :

  • Ooooooh. I liked this story.

It’s a pretty good summing up of my feelings really. This was fun and entertaining and I was really, really hoping that it was part of a series (it’s not, but I’m going to imagine it in my mind’s eye anyway…)

This short story combined pixies, sidhe, lamia and kelpies. All paranormal creatures that I have loved in previous stories, so, of course, I was drawn in completely. Plus, any story that starts with pixies is generally going to be fun… they’re such an interesting and insane paranormal pest.

I loved that in the end, this story was saved by pixie dust. Pixie dust saves the day and is what ultimately is the source of power in this fun and incredibly cute short story.

<- Rick the BraveIt’s All in the Rendering ->

Image source: Hachette Australia

Rick the Brave by Stacia Kane

Overview
Image result for home improvement undead edition book cover

Title: Rick the Brave
Author: Stacia Kane
Series: Downside Ghosts #3.5
In: Home Improvement (Charlaine Harris & Toni L.P. Kelner)
Rating Out of 5: 4 (Really good read!)
My Bookshelves: Ghosts, Paranormal fantasy, Urban fantasy
Dates read: 29th September 2020
Pace: Fast
Format: Short story
Publisher: Jo Fletcher Books
Year: 2011
5th sentence, 74th page: Pushing it right toward Chess.

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Synopsis

Rick just wanted to make some extra cash. But then a ghost comes out of the floor and his day goes from bad to worse. But maybe he can be brave.

Thoughts

I absolutely loved the fact that this short story ultimately lead to Rick finding his confidence and sense of self. In a way, it was a bit of a Coming of Age story. Alright, he’s kind of already an adult. But sometimes adults do need that extra little shove to be well… adult-like.

I absolutely loved the backstory that was in this tale. I can’t wait to find out more – after all, a world in which Mistletoe is somehow a portal for evil, soul consuming ghosts… definitely sign me up for that one! It just intrigued me so much and pulled me right in from the very beginning.

I love that although most stories I read with ghosts in them portray ghosts as kind of misunderstood, and / or just kind of sad… this one didn’t. The ghosts are dangerous, kind of evil and most definitely scary. It was a great change from the whiney, will-o-the-wisp style ghosts I’ve been reading about a lot lately. Always good fun when a spectral phantom can somehow annihilate you and destroy everything you are…

<- The PathFull-Scale Demolition ->

Image source: Hachette Australia

The Path by S.J. Rozan

Overview
Image result for home improvement undead edition book cover

Title: The Path
Author: S.J. Rozan
In: Home Improvement (Charlaine Harris & Toni L.P. Kelner)
Rating Out of 5: 4.5 (Amazing, but not quite perfect)
My Bookshelves: BuddhismParanormal fantasy, Urban fantasy
Dates read: 19th September 2020
Pace: Slow
Format: Short story
Publisher: Jo Fletcher Books
Year: 2011
5th sentence, 74th page: I’d love to send them, too.

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Synopsis

He’s a spirit who just wants to move onto the next life. But first he has to restore the head from a Buddha statue and figure out how to let go of the materialism of the past.

Thoughts

I absolutely love the fact that this short story is about Buddhism and reincarnation. In a collection of urban fantasy short stories based around home improvement… I really wasn’t expecting something like this. And I absolutely adored how it was so different from the other stories in this collection. With a whole other mythos and renovation system that I just didn’t expect.

Even though this short story was semi-serious, I found it really cute and humorous. After all, the spirit who is supposed to be guarding the cave is kind of gentle and unwilling to really confront anyone. What a different form of punishment for misdeeds in life, or, in the case of this monk, the inability to say goodbye to the material objects we tie ourselves to. I might not be entirely the philosophy I want to adopt – I don’t want to just say goodbye to everything, but it is a good idea to be a little less attached to all of the crap that we collect…

I love that this story is all about The Path to enlightenment and moving through the circles of reincarnation to obtain perfection. In each reincarnation, a different obstacle is overcome, and in the case of the main character in this – it’s his timidity that he eventually has to overcome. We carry our burdens even in death and try not to take them onto our next lives. Or at least, that’s how I read this short story and I seriously, seriously enjoyed it.

<- Through This HouseRick the Brave ->

Image source: Hachette Australia

Through This House by Seanan McGuire

Overview
Image result for home improvement undead edition book cover

Title: Through This House
Author: Seanan McGuire
Series: October Daye #4.5
In: Home Improvement (Charlaine Harris & Toni L.P. Kelner)
Rating Out of 5: 5 (I will read this again and again and again)
My Bookshelves: Fae, Paranormal fantasy, Urban fantasy
Dates read: 30th August 2020
Pace: Fast
Format: Short story
Publisher: Jo Fletcher Books
Year: 2011
5th sentence, 74th page: It liked them.

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Synopsis

It’s hard enough doing home improvements. But attempting home improvements on a sentient house that doesn’t really want you… that’s a whole other level of difficulty.

Thoughts

I’ve read a few books in which there is the subject of fae property. It’s always fluid and responsive. But this is the first time I’ve read a story of any kind in which someone has to try and reclaim the fae property. And, in this circumstance, the fae property is not overly happy with being claimed. Leading to one hell of a home improvement job and moving in day…

I haven’t had the pleasure of meeting October Daye in my reading of novels (this shall soon be rectified). And so I really enjoyed not only her characterisation, but also all of her many sidekicks. I loved this odd bod bunch that just want to find a home that can keep them safe… it was quirky and a little zaney. Humorous and just generally thoroughly enjoyable.

I absolutely adored this short story. It was funny and cute. Filled with great drama and world building. And now I just can’t wait to sink my teeth into this series…

<- Woolsley’s Kitchen NightmareThe Path ->

Image source: Hachette Australia

Woolsley’s Kitchen Nightmare by E.E. Knight

Overview
Image result for home improvement undead edition book cover

Title: Woolsley’s Kitchen Nightmare
Author: E.E. Knight
In: Home Improvement (Charlaine Harris & Toni L.P. Kelner)
Rating Out of 5: 5 (I will read this again and again and again)
My Bookshelves: Food, Humour, Paranormal fantasy
Dates read: 23rd August 2020
Pace: Fast
Format: Short story
Publisher: Jo Fletcher Books
Year: 2011
5th sentence, 74th page: Unless his accountant was as cluelessly skeevy as his decorator, a few customers were still braving the fugly to eat here every week.

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Synopsis

The paranormal version of Ramsey’s Kitchen Nightmares. But so much better – less swearing and more blood.

Thoughts

This is such a GREAT take on Ramsey’s Kitchen Nightmares. A fantastic, funny and just all round humorous paranormal version that had me laughing all the way throughout. I love how it took all of the elements of a kitchen renovation show and turned them on their head. Including putting humans on the menu and having zombies as employees… it was a bit gory. But seriously fun and funny.

This story is a great reminder that you really shouldn’t try to be fancy when you’re just not fancy. It’s trying waaaaayyyy too hard. And in this case, trying to be paranormal when you’re just not… it makes you end up kind of dead. Which I loved. But you know… I’m kind of bloodthirsty anyway. So that made me fairly happy.

Throughout all of this story, I did giggle and laugh a fair bit. It was light and funny. And, honestly, in spite of the whole eating humans thing – quite cute. Definitely a short story that I would read again.

<- The Strength InsideThrough This House ->

Image source: Hachette Australia

The Strength Inside by Melissa Marr

Overview
Image result for home improvement undead edition book cover

Title: The Strength Inside
Author: Melissa Marr
In: Home Improvement (Charlaine Harris & Toni L.P. Kelner)
Rating Out of 5: 5 (I will read this again and again and again)
My Bookshelves: Paranormal fantasy, Urban fantasy
Dates read: 14th August 2020
Pace: Medium
Format: Short story
Publisher: Jo Fletcher Books
Year: 2011
5th sentence, 74th page: “Clever thing, aren’t you?”

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Synopsis

The Bori want nothing more than to build a fence, and raise their young in quiet. But an annoying neighbourhood watch woman feels the need to constantly interfere… until she sees the strength inside.

Thoughts

I absolutely adored this short story. And, halfway through I realised that’s probably because I kind of love everything by Melissa Marr that I’ve read anyway. She manages to make some faery tale style works and paranormal fantasy stories just that little touch darker. Not so much so that it’s uncomfortable. But enough that it’s not all happy and light. Exactly the kind of story that I love.

I’ve never come across Bori in a story before. And I’m now curious to see whether they are a “real” mythological creature, or one that is entirely of Marr’s own imagination. I’m hoping that they are in other stories… I really liked the idea of them and was completely drawn in from the very beginning.

There is nothing that I love more in a story than a little busybody getting their comeuppance. Alright, in this story it was a little intense and drastic, and I probably shouldn’t have enjoyed it quite so much. But I did. And I laughed. And it was just a great, fun short story that had a little bit of death and darkness to make me fall all that more deeply in love.

<- The Mansion of ImperativesWoolsley’s Kitchen Nightmare ->

Image source: Hachette Australia

The Mansion of Imperatives by James Grady

Overview
Image result for home improvement undead edition book cover

Title: The Mansion of Imperatives
Author: James Grady
In: Home Improvement (Charlaine Harris & Toni L.P. Kelner)
Rating Out of 5: 4 (Really good read!)
My Bookshelves: Horror
Dates read: 11th August 2020
Pace: Fast
Format: Short story
Publisher: Jo Fletcher Books
Year: 2011
5th sentence, 74th page: We could clean it up.

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Synopsis

Five people enter the house. Who will be allowed to leave?

Thoughts

So this is a super dark and powerful and uncomfortable story. It’s kind of awesome. But definitely give you the heebie jeebies as you read it. It’s pretty obvious that it’s going to be like that from the very beginning though. There is no misleading from that first sentence that this is likely to be a fun or light-hearted story. Actually, from the first sentence I kind of just assumed that they would all die…

Although I was expecting a lot of death throughout this story. I still wasn’t expecting the depth of insanity and craziness throughout this story. It was somewhat surprising and a little confronting in some places. A little bit about hidden desires. But also the First Imperative… the Will to Survive.

After finishing this story, I had a bit of a mad urge to jump up and go sit out in my backyard. The only thing that quite honestly stopped me was the fact that it was dark, raining and cold. Otherwise, something about this story would most likely have led me to sit outside and just stare at my house and wonder about it for a little while before getting the guts to come back inside…

<- Blood on the WallThe Strength Inside ->

Image source: Hachette Australia