Tag Archives: Wolfsbane and Mistletoe

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!

Buy The Book Now at The Book Depository, Free Delivery World Wide
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

Keeping Watch Over His Flock by Toni L. P. Kelner

Overview
Image result for wolfsbane and mistletoe book cover

Title: Keeping Watch Over His Flock
Author: 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, Werewolves
Dates read: 30th December 2019
Pace: Fast
Format: Short story
Publisher: Gollancz
Year: 2008
5th sentence, 74th page: Brian just grinned.

Buy The Book Now at The Book Depository, Free Delivery World Wide
Synopsis

Jack has never really found a place to fit in. It’s Christmas Eve and he thinks he might have finally found his own pack. But, an impulsive decision might just be the end of his happiness.

Thoughts

There were three storylines within this short story. And I actually loved all of them. For starters, there was the Christmas Origins story of werewolves. I’ve heard (well, read, but that doesn’t sound as good) a lot of different werewolf origin stories. This is the first that features Christmas and probably the most innocent and sweet of all such origin stories. I really loved it – probably because it was so differently innocent to the normal stories.

Then there was the tale of young Jake. The way in which he finally finds a place to call home. And finally gets an understanding of what it means to be part of a pack. It’s a great little coming of age story as he finally shucks off the pain of his past and finds joy in his new family and future.

Finally, there’s the story of how Jake risked his role in the pack and actually experienced the Christmas spirit. This not only ties in the other two stories, but it also really bought about the Christmas feeling. Not feeling very Christmassy this past season, it was nice to read a short story that actually made me reflect on such a feeling. Plus, then there’s the fact that Jake finds his other form… and that is just absolutely brilliantly!

 <- Milk and Cookies ReviewWolfsbane and Mistletoe Review ->

Image source: Hachette Australia

Milk and Cookies by Rob Thurman

Overview
Image result for wolfsbane and mistletoe book cover

Title: Milk and Cookies
Author: Rob Thurman
Series: Cal Leandros #7.5
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, Werewolves
Dates read: 30th December 2019
Pace: Fast
Format: Short story
Publisher: Gollancz
Year: 2008
5th sentence, 74th page: I guessed it didn’t take.

Buy The Book Now at The Book Depository, Free Delivery World Wide
Synopsis

Nick has ceased to believe in the joys of Santa. But, his little sister still does. So when a bully starts to give him a hard time, he decides that maybe he’ll bring her a little Christmas joy.

Thoughts

For those of us with a younger sibling, we would do almost anything for them. The fact that this is a story about that, and the spirit of giving over Christmas made this an amazing short story. The fact that as I write this review, I found out that it’s part of a greater series just makes me love this that much more. Having said that, this does take a darker spin on sibling relationships and gift giving… well, I’m not going to complain. I love some darkness in my life.

The whole story is about how the boy doesn’t believe in Santa anymore and how he’s really sad that he doesn’t. and he wants his sister to have that same belief that he now misses… that’s quite cute. When you find out what happened to Santa to stop him from believing in it… it becomes less sweet. A whole lot less sweet.

Bullies are always horrifying. One that is on the right track to becoming a sociopath… so much, much worse. But, Nick deals with him perfectly in this. He even gives him multiple chances to change his ways and become a better human being. He doesn’t take them… but at least there’s a sense of fairness before he becomes part of the Christmas festivities.

 <- Rogue Elements ReviewKeeping Watch Over His Flock Review ->

Image source: Hachette Australia

Rogue Elements by Karen Chance

Overview
Image result for wolfsbane and mistletoe book cover

Title: Rogue Elements
Author: Karen Chance
Series: Cassandra Palmer #3.2, Cassandra Palmer World #7
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 romance
Dates read: 30th December 2019
Pace: Fast
Format: Short story
Publisher: Gollancz
Year: 2008
5th sentence, 74th page: What are you saying?

Buy The Book Now at The Book Depository, Free Delivery World Wide

Synopsis

Lia’s been tasked with finding the kidnapped daughter of the “Werewolf King”. But she’s not welcome amongst them, and this journey might bring her face to face with the man she fell for… hard.

Thoughts

I love that I finally got to revisit the world of Lia and Cyrus. That I get to do so in a Christmas collection and when they’re obviously just finding their relationship (the other two stories I’ve read which feature them are further along in the series) just made it that much better. It also gives a little more insight into the hierarchy of the werewolves in this series. Something I surprisingly needed in my life.

I love that the douche nugget in this story who gives Lia such a hard time ends up being guilty of a lot more than just being a pain in the butt. And kind of racist. In a supernatural way. It also shows that not only does Lia have a great past, but there’s also a lot of hidden wars occurring. I’ve only read Touch the Dark in the greater series, so it’s intriguing to find a story which explains so much more of the battle going on.

This is a great, easy, happy read. One that I thoroughly enjoyed. Mostly though, I wish it wasn’t over so soon. I want to return to Lia and Cyrus. I feel WAY too connected to them.

<- You’d Better Not PyoutMilk and Cookies ->

Image source: Hachette Australia

You’d Better Not Pyout by Nancy Pickard

Overview
Image result for wolfsbane and mistletoe book cover

Title: You’d Better Not Pyout
Author: Nancy Pickard
In: Wolfsbane and Mistletoe (Charlaine Harris & Toni L.P. Kelner)
Rating Out of 5: 4 (Really good read!)
My Bookshelves: Christmas, Vampires, Werewolves
Dates read: 29th December 2019
Pace: Fast
Format: Short story
Publisher: Gollancz
Year: 2008
5th sentence, 74th page: A silence descended on the strange scene.

Buy The Book Now at The Book Depository, Free Delivery World Wide
Synopsis

They’ve discovered the Santa is a vampire. What these two young Russian undead don’t realise is that he’s ancient for a reason. And really not interested in their help…

Thoughts

Any story that starts with a discussion about how Santa is a vampire is going to draw me in and make me incredibly happy from the very beginning. There is just something about the idea that is both sensical and terrifying. Definitely funny though. Especially the way in which it’s described…

As much as I loved Santa being a vampire, the part of this story I loved the most was that it featured African Painted Dogs. I absolutely adore those endangered creatures and the fact that they take out Santa’s reindeer… might be one of the more perfect stories I’ve read. It was just brilliant.

This is definitely one of those stories which takes our traditional tales and gives them a completely absurd spin. One that makes a weird kind of sense and makes you not really want to think about the original for a little time. Especially when even Rudolph gets a disturbing supernatural spin in this story!

 <- The Star of David ReviewRogue Elements Review ->

Image source: Hachette Australia

SA by J.A. Konrath

Overview
Image result for wolfsbane and mistletoe book cover

Title: SA
Author: J.A. Konrath
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, Humour, Werewolves
Dates read: 29th December 2019
Pace: Medium
Format: Short story
Publisher: Gollancz
Year: 2008
5th sentence, 74th page: This only started three months ago.

Buy The Book Now at The Book Depository, Free Delivery World Wide
Synopsis

There’s something not quite right about his bowl movements. When he discovers the cause he’s understandably freaked. And then he joins Shapeshifters Anonymous. And finds out the truth about Santa.

Thoughts

A Christmas story that starts with a man going to the doctor because there’s weird things in his poo… you know its going to be funny. Especially since I already knew that it was going to be a werewolf story of some kind. There are many brilliant poo moments throughout… I need to share this story with a nursing friend of mine, she’ll understand the funny.

Anyhow… to make the story funnier and funnier as it progresses. There is also the existence of Shapeshifters Anonymous. And my favourite character ever might be Phyllis. A member of SA who can’t actually shift. And there’s a werecoral. Which just raises SO many questions. Actually, I keep laughing and getting distracted as I try to write this review. Because just the memories of the amount of random humour throughout this is brilliant.

To top everything else off, there is a great little origins story of Santa and werewolves in this. It makes Santa evil, and I love that uniqueness of the tale. Some rejigs of origin stories can be a little predictable. But this one isn’t. It’s just downright hilarious.

 <- Christmas Past ReviewThe Star of David Review ->

Image source: Hachette Australia

Christmas Past by Keri Arthur

Overview
Image result for wolfsbane and mistletoe book cover

Title: Christmas Past
Author: Keri Arthur
In: Wolfsbane and Mistletoe (Charlaine Harris & Toni L.P. Kelner)
Rating Out of 5: 4.5 (Amazing, but not quite perfect)
My Bookshelves: Christmas, Paranormal romance, Vampires, Werewolves
Dates read: 29th December 2019
Pace: Medium
Format: Short story
Publisher: Gollancz
Year: 2008
5th sentence, 74th page: I watched the world go by, half of me wanting to play it safe and go home, but the other half – the foolish half – wanting his company, however dangerous that might be to my emotional health.

Buy The Book Now at The Book Depository, Free Delivery World Wide
Synopsis

Hannah just wants to have a nice Christmas for once. But she’s working with the man who broke her hear last Christmas to take down a crazy, vampire killer. So things might not quite go as planned.

Thoughts

I just spent most of Christmas alone. And I have a partner, so it just made me sappy and missing him. This sentiment was beautifully echoed in this story. Alright, Hannah doesn’t actually have a partner. And she was dumped the previous Christmas, but that yearning for the one that you love on Christmas Eve… I get that. However, this story was made far more sucky by the fact that Hannah is forced to spend the evening on a case with her ex. That would be seriously sucky.

Being Australian, I’ve never really dealt with people who collect for charities on the road. Or really anybody who stands around in some kind of weird elf outfit ringing a bell for money. So I can’t really imagine it. Having said that, apparently there’s a vampire running around killing the people who choose to do this. Which was a much more fun story than the central romance. The romance was fun, but I liked the chases through the dark cemetery to catch the culprit in a little elf’s outfit much, much more.

As much as I enjoyed the romance in this story… I kind of thought that Hannah was a little too forgiving. They both knew that she was going to forgive Brodie. But it would have been a little more exciting if she actually made him grovel and apologise. That might just be my own drives though.

 <- The Perfect Gift ReviewSA Review ->

Image source: Hachette Australia

The Perfect Gift by Dana Stabenow

Overview
Image result for wolfsbane and mistletoe book cover

Title: The Perfect Gift
Author: Dana Stabenow
In: Wolfsbane and Mistletoe (Charlaine Harris & Toni L.P. Kelner)
Rating Out of 5: 4 (Really good read!)
My Bookshelves: Christmas, Paranormal fantasy, Werewolves
Dates read: 28th December 2019
Pace: Medium
Format: Short story
Publisher: Gollancz
Year: 2008
5th sentence, 74th page: It appears that each generation evidently married early and had children very young.

Buy The Book Now at The Book Depository, Free Delivery World Wide
Synopsis

How do you get rid of an unwanted / problematic pack of werewolves at Christmas time? Well, you give their end as a gift to someone else…

Thoughts

I’m still not entirely sure how this is a werewolf story. Actually, I am. Because I get where the werewolves come in. What I’m confused about is that it starts with a group of ?something? wanting to kill off a rogue pack. And then at the end, someone turns into a werewolf. It was all just very, very confusing.

Although I really enjoyed this story. I spent the entire time flipping back a page, thinking that I had missed some crucial piece of information. It just didn’t quite work. There was something more that I needed to make me feel truly happy about this storyline. It’s difficult to truly love something when you’re not entirely sure what is happening. Or at least, it is for me.

I did love the fact that this is the first time in a long time that plays with the mystical nature of the 7th son. And the fact that he was born on Christmas Eve… a unique take that I was incredibly excited by. One that completely made up for my confusion.

 <- Il Est Ne ReviewChristmas Past Review ->

Image source: Hachette Australia

Il Est Ne by Carrie Vaughn

Overview
Image result for wolfsbane and mistletoe book cover

Title: Il Est Ne
Author: Carrie Vaughn
Series: Kitty Norville #2.5
In: Wolfsbane and Mistletoe (Charlaine Harris & Toni L.P. Kelner) & Kitty’s Greatest Hits (Carrie Vaughn)
Rating Out of 5: 5 (I will read this again and again and again)
My Bookshelves: Paranormal fantasy, Urban fantasy, Werewolves
Dates read: 16th December 2019
Pace: Medium
Format: Short story
Publisher: Gollancz
Year: 2008
5th sentence, 74th page: Who knew what he would do, an out-of-control werewolf roaming the countryside?

Buy The Book Now at The Book Depository, Free Delivery World Wide
Synopsis

Kitty is all alone on New Years Eve. That is, until David walks into the dinner. David is fed up with being a werewolf, the black outs, the violence, the departure from his normal life… but now he might have found a way to start living again. If only they can work together on Christmas Eve.

Thoughts

I vaguely remember from French that il est ne means something like it isn’t. I think… it’s been a while since I studied French. But, if that is the literal translation for this story… it kind of works well. It’s a tale of Kitty at Christmas time, alone and without family, friends or pack. And another werewolf who is also completely alone. There is always something perpetuated as quite sad about such an eventuality.

That I do love about this is that it’s actually all about Kitty helping someone else. Which, after all, isn’t helping the less fortunate what Christmas is all about? At least, that’s what I choose to focus on at this time of year. Which, seems to be losing it’s glossy, beautiful, happy shine a little more with each passing year. It’s also about loneliness. Although I might have family around at this time of year, my partner is often away and I feel that loneliness quite drastically. Which made me feel a little too in touch with some of the emotions in this story. I’m honestly not sure if that’s good or bad, but I certainly enjoyed the tale because of it!

There is a great sense of love, understanding and compassion in this story. Feelings and emotions that I think we should embrace year round, not just in the holiday season. It kind of made me happily wistful when the story ended and more than a little tempted to reach out and help somebody less fortunate…

 <- Fresh Meat ReviewThe Perfect Gift Review ->

Image source: Hachette Australia

Fresh Meat by Alan Gordon

Overview
Image result for wolfsbane and mistletoe book cover

Title: Fresh Meat
Author: Alan Gordon
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, Urban fantasy, Werewolves
Dates read: 9th December 2019
Pace: Fast
Format: Short story
Publisher: Gollancz
Year: 2008
5th sentence, 74th page: ‘Sam Lehrmann,’ he said, shaking it.

Buy The Book Now at The Book Depository, Free Delivery World Wide
Synopsis

Sam is the breeder of guard dogs. But he has a secret, and it takes a surprise visit on Christmas Eve for him to finally tell the woman he loves what it is…

Thoughts

The title of this short story was implying a much more, seriously disturbed short story. I knew it had something to do with werewolves and Christmas (because that’s what every book in this collection is about)… but that was the extent of my knowledge. And, the title seemed kind of sinister.

I do love that this story is about a werewolf who is a guard dog trainer. A completely novel idea, but one that I’m surprised I didn’t get a chance to read before… after all, werewolves and dogs would be the perfect companions around each other. Actually, dogs are just the perfect companions in general… or at least my two faithful hounds (one is currently sitting on either side of me) are.

Although this story is about Christmas, family, being around loved ones and just generally being a werewolf and surviving… I feel like the dogs actually took centre stage. Which is exactly what I wanted. There is nothing like a dog taking centre stage to make me love a story with a little bit too  much passion.

 <- The Werewolf Before Christmas ReviewIl Est Ne Review ->

Image source: Hachette Australia