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Wolfsbane and Mistletoe Hardcover – October 7, 2008
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All in all, a really smart buy and I can read them all again in December! Sometimes, I have found, a collection of short stories is a good change from reading a novel over a period of a week because you don't have to wait for the ending. And these stories have some smashing endings! Hope you enjoy as I did.
Gift Wrap: A fine Sookie Stackhouse story. Takes place later in the series than where I am, so I skimmed it a bit to try to avoid remembering anything spoiler-y :)
The Haire of the Beast: This was a funny story, but the implications of turning people into wereanimals just because you don't like them kept me from loving it. It's hard to sympathize with a character that doesn't see a problem with that...
Lucy, at Christmastime: Not my favorite, but I thought the setting was really interesting.
The Night Things Changed: I didn't love the characters, and I thought the relationship between the siblings was kind of weird. But the world was interesting, and the plot twist set up something that I think would make a good full novel.
The Werewolf Before Christmas: A lot about this story was really interesting, but I didn't like it very much, I thought it was a bit too dark, and the characters could have been better developed. The overall premise was very creative though.
Fresh Meat: At first I didn't think I would like this story, but in the end I did. It was sort of predictable, but the characters were flawed yet likable, and the dogs were a nice touch :)
Il Est Né: The actual story was fine but nothing special. I liked the characters though and I think I might end up checking out the series it takes place in.
The Perfect Gift: This story felt rushed and not particularly well developed plot-wise or character-wise. I didn't dislike it, but it was forgettable.
Christmas Past: This felt like it should've been a novella from a series, but I'm not sure that it was, so that was a little weird for me. Overall it was fine, but I felt like I was missing background information on the characters that would have helped me to enjoy the story more.
SA: This was the one story I really didn't like. The beginning was gross, and a lot of it just read like a stereotypical male fantasy (he gets to be a special werewolf, he find a sexy girl who falls for him right away, etc.). Irena felt like the epitome of a character that doesn't pass Kelly Sue DeConnick's "sexy lamp" test (look it up). The story was also just so freaking corny. I did kind of love Phyllis though.
The Star of David: Definitely one of my favorites. I've been meaning to check out Briggs, and after reading this I definitely will. The characters and plot all felt fully developed, which is tough for a short story. This one also had great representation!
You'd Better Not Pyout: This story had one of the more interesting concepts. I didn't love the story, but the idea did intrigue me. Also I would totally read a series about Ingrid.
Rogue Elements: I didn't get into this one right away, but I ended up really enjoying it. The plot was alright; it was the characters and relationships that made the story. And Cyrus was the rare example of a bad boy done right!
Milk and Cookies: This story was really well done, but really disturbing. One of those stories that is good, but not necessarily likable.
Keeping Watch Over His Flock: Jake's alternate animal was funny, but I found the characters in this story pretty unlikable which kept me from enjoying it. Also there was a werewolf school called Dogwarts which prejudiced me against the story from the get go, because come on, you can do better than a lame Harry Potter joke.
Let me do a quick summary of the stories:
"Gift Wrap" by Charlaine Harris - Sookie Stackhouse finds a naked man in her woods on Christmas eve. It's a nice, short story with little drama and a lot of cheesiness.
"The Haire of the Beast" by Donna Andrews - A brother asks his sister to help him make a werewolf potion. Things go a little awry. I actually laughed out loud reading this one.
"Lucy, At Christmastime" by Simon R. Green - A sad story about a vampire in a supernatural bar on Christmas Eve. I liked this one, even though it seemed more thoughtful and less action-oriented than the other stories.
"The Night Things Changed" by Dana Cameron - Imagine that vampires and werewolves are the world's supernatural police. That's the underlying concept behind this particular story. I must admit, I thought about that concept a few times, and I like how the author does it.
"The Werewolf Before Christmas" by Kat Richardson- A werewolf eats Rudolph, and has to do penance for Santa Claus. The story adds several twists to the Santa Claus legend, giving it more power and more depth.
"Fresh Meat" by Alan Gordon - A man who runs a dog-training kennel has an assassin after him. I really cannot say more without giving away too much. Again, a winning story that relies on creativity and brains, as well as doggie power!
"Il Est Ne" by Carrie Vaughn - A story about a man who is turned into a werewolf and runs away from his life meets a lady werewolf and learns how to live life again.
"The Perfect Gift" by Dana Stabenow - This is the only story that I didn't immediately love. The characters in the beginning of the story discuss a situation that needs to be resolved, but the author doesn't give enough information about it. I felt like I needed to draw way too many conclusions.
"Christmas Past" by Keri Arthur - Nominally, this story is about two people going after vampires who are killing charity workers. But the story really revolves around Hannah and Brodie's broken relationship. I love how the author weaves both stories together to create a believable tale.
"SA" by Joe Konrath - A man starts to poo out strange objects - coins, earrings, and other assorted stuff. I know that sounds like a crazy way to start a story, but the entire thing works, and works well. It also has Santa Claus as the bad guy - a neat twist.
"The Star of David" by Patricia Briggs - Okay, this is the story I wanted to read badly enough to buy this book. David Christiansen shows up in "Moon Called" as a secondary character, but he struck me in that book as an interesting man, someone I wish I knew more about. Well, here it is, more about David and his family. I love how the author creates her characters - three dimensional and full of emotion. I just wish she wrote more about David and his life.
"You'd Better Not Pyout" by Nancy Pickard - Two Russian vampires decide that Santa Claus must be a vampire, and they travel to the North Pole to find out. I must admit, I have never before thought of Saint Nick as a vampire, but the story provides to think about on that speculation.
"Rogue Elements" by Karen Chance - I love this story! Actually, I read another short story by Karen Chance in another anthology with the same characters. In fact, the other story references this one - a fact that completely made my day! Lia is a war mage given the impossible task of finding a lost werewolf in Las Vegas. Need I say more?
"Milk and Cookies" by Robin Thurman - Told from the point of view of a nice thirteen year old brother, this story relays how the brother, Nicky, must deal with a bully and the Christmas holidays at the same time. Oh, and finding the perfect gift for his little sister.
"Keeping Watch Over His Flock" by Toni L. P. Kelner - A young werewolf breaks most of the pack rules and now must face the pack. It's a cute story with a happy ending.
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