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Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Many Bloody Returns Anthology Edited by Charlaine Harris and Toni L.P. Kelner

Publisher: Penguin Group
Pages: 368




From the Cover:

"Clever...entertaining... excellent"(Library Journal) original vampire stories by Charlaine Harris, Jim Butcher, Kelley Armstrong, and more.

From cakes to stakes, a celebration of everyone's favorite bloodsucking subculture by a baker's dozen of favorite authors. Each of these thirteen original stories offers a fresh and unique take on what birthdays mean to the undead. From Charlaine Harris's Sookie Stackhouse attending a birthday party for Dracula to Jim Butcher's Harry Dresden battling bloodsucking party crashers, these suspenseful, surprising, sometimes dark, sometimes humorous stories will ensure paranormal fans will never think of vampires or birthdays quite the same again.

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Dracula Night by Charlaine Harris

Dracula Night is the vampire's celebration of the Prince of Darkness, Vlad Tepes, Dracula's birthdate, February 8. And no one is a more loyal celebrate than Eric Northman. Many stories surround Dracula's life and death, all are horrific. And every year, Eric looks forward to the celebration.

This year's celebration will put the other's to shame. Eric has worried long and hard about his celebration, and finally, all of his hard work is acknowledged. He has received word that Dracula will put in an appearance right here in Shreveport at Fangtastia.

But the Dracula that appears in not one that is expected. Milo, the star spangled jumpsuit wearing bartender jumps up and claims to be the vampire of old legends, the Dark Prince. He looks like a Dracula wanna be trying to suck up a living by trapping the hosting vampire into providing his living and his humans.

But, Sookie Stackhouse is attending this party, so over she wanders to check out this so called 'Dracula' and asks sweetly how ever did he manage to escape from his tomb in Targoviste and as he begins his story, she promptly stakes him watching him turn into a flaky dust, for the real Vlad Tepes or Dracula was entombed in a monastery at Snagov.

Don't mess with a Googling human.

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The Mournful Crys of Owls by Christopher Golden

Donika is drawn to the outdoors. She loves nothing better than to sit on the sagging steps, raise her voice in song, and play her guitar. Unless it's to visit with her handsome bad boy, Josh Orton.

Then she discovers that she loves to races through the woods with Josh hot on her heels, waiting to be in his arm and to taste his kisses. Her mother would never approve, especially when she slips out of her clothes, and races naked through the wilds.

But Donika's family is steeped in the legends of long ago, and on her sixteenth birthday, her mother tells her another. One of how a young widow could not bear to live without her husband and captures a magical owl, sows it's soul into a child, and creates her own loving child; and that child would be Donika.

As her mother cries, Donika realizes it is the truth. She's fascinated by the owls and their cries. So, on the date of the sixteen years of captivity, she returns to the forest to race naked through the wilds, and as she does so, slipping free of her skin as well. To be free to join her brothers in the sky.

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I Was a Teenage Vampire by Bill Crider

This is the story of Carl and how he came to live under a bridge. He used to live in a nice warm house and he had a sister named Kate. But that was long ago.

It all started with Kate wanting to throw a Halloween party and Binky claiming to know a vampire. Kate had to have the vampire attend her party. She begs, pleads, barters, and finally demands that Carl ask his friend, Binky, to bring his vampire to the party.

But when the vampire shows up and is invited in, it's not all it's cracked up to be. And that's how Carl came to live under a bridge. Binky and Carl together, vampires forever.

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Twilight by Kelley Armstrong

Vampires live off of blood, everyone knows that, but what not everyone knows is that vampires aren't immortal. They must survive by taking blood, and that's true for 364 days out of the year, but on the 365th day, the re-birth of that person as a vampire, they must take a life, draining their human victim of their last drop of blood. To fail to do some causes great lethargy and the vampire begins to age, and slowly die. Every vampire knows when it time to let go of their immortal existence and do so willing.

Cass has always enjoyed the hunt, willing to take a soul when it means prolonging her own life. It's always like that for Cass, until this year. This year, she's just not hungry. Feeling her reluctance to pursue her prey, Aaron, her creation and one time lover, returns, begging her to extend her life. But she has no desire, so she waits, and waits, until is the last minute, and then past the last minute. Past the last day, and many after.

As she grows more tired and weaker, she realizes her time has come. And just when she ready to give in and accept that her death is near, she decides maybe not this year. Taking her chosen prey and draining them dry. Maybe next year.

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It's My Birthday Too by Jim Butcher

Harry Dresden simply wants to drop off a birthday present for his only known living (sort of) relative, his vampire brother of the White Count, Thomas.

But, Thomas is hosting a different kind of party for employee Sarah, an Evernight party after hours at the Mall. So, off to Woodfield Mall in a suburb of Chicago Harry and Molly head. As they arrived, the air doesn't feel quite right, but Harry assumes it's the vampire posers going to the party to role play. Then, a light explodes right on Harry's Blue Beetle.

Harry and Molly head inside and Thomas arranges for the guard to change the light, only the guard never returns. In fact, he's dead, bitten by a Black Court vampire. One with a grudge to settle. Drulinda, she's after the players who've made fun of her now that she's a real vampire. But there's one thing you should know about Black Court vamps. They aren't pretty and don't look so good, they're rotting human corpses that don't know when to lay down and died. They're stinky smelly gross, and hard than hell to kill.

As Harry and Molly go 'Code Carrie', Molly drapes a shield around herself and Sarah. Harry's off to make a deal with the shoe store elves to enlist their help to 'trip up' the vamps. Thomas tries to hold off Drulinda and the security guards who've also vamped out.

Drawing what will Harry can, he stores his power, knowing it will soon be needed. As the weaker security guards are picked off one by one, Harry draws Drulinda outside. There she taunts him that with his death, she'll gain power and standing with Black Court. But she's bitten off more than she can swallow. Drawing on the stored will, Harry releases it in a final burst of flames with the one word 'Fuego' and burns Drulinda to the ground.

Never mess with a wizard bearing birthday gifts for his only brother.

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Grave-Robbed by P. N. Elrod

Jack Fleming is a private eye and a vampire. He's filing in for his friend, Mr. Escott, when a new client wanders into his office, dressed in black, Abby Saeger. It would seem that she and her sister, Flora came into a tidy little inheritance with the passing of their parents. Then, Flora married into more money. Her husband, James, was also taken in a boating accident, leaving them wealthier still. But Flora is having trouble letting go of James. And that when the trouble starts.

The Psychical Society of Chicago lead by Alistair Bradford has invaded their home, holding seances and claiming the James is speaking through the medium, Alistair's celestial messenager, Frere Leon who's made contact with James. As proof, Frere Leon gives Alistair James' wedding band, the one he was buried with.

Well, this just pisses Jack off. He knows Bradford's a seducing charlatan and a grave robber, hoping to get his hands of the Saeger family fortune. So, he takes matters in his own hands, showing Flora and The Society just how big a fool they've been made.

It's hard to fool a vampire detective.

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The First Day of the Rest of Your Life by Rachel Caine

Morganville is a town run by vampires. They own the town. Own the families who live there, and on your eighteenth birthday, you're expected to sign over your life to the vampire sponsoring your family.

Well, it's Eve's eighteenth birthday, and she doesn't want to sign on the dotted line. She hates Brandon, the vamp who's the family patron. It also means she's signing her death warrant. Anyone without a patron is fair game after dark. Easy prey.

Eve, Jane, Trent, and Guy drink to Eve's birthday, they are stone cold drunk. Should you drink and drive? No. But they do anyway, and every one of Eve's friends are killed, only she survives and she would not have if Jane's little weird sister and the only sober occupant in the van, Miranda, hadn't insisted the Jane and Eve change places.

Eve feels horrible, not only was she drunk, but all of her friends are gone in one fatal crash. And Brandon's waiting for her at home to force her signature to a lifetime contract, one she'll never get out of. But with the death of her friends, Eve finds a hard won independence. She refuses to sign and the hunt is on. Her parents throw her out of their house for her lack of responsibility. As she raced from house to house trying to find help, it isn't until she gets to the Glass House that hope raises it's head. Michael Glass lives there all alone since his parents move away on waivers and it's her last chance.

Eve pounds on his door, begging for help as the vamps close in. Slowly he opens the door in just the nick of time to save her. She can't leave until it's broad daylight. She hasn't a job and who will hire a human with a vampire problem? So, she tells her tale to Michael and to her surprise, he says she can stay. She's safe for now, but how will Eve be able to enjoy her new found freedom?

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The Witch and The Wicked by Jeanne C. Stein

Sophie is a witch for hire, her business, Weird and Wonderful Catering, mostly does celebrations, birthdays, anniversaries. She also creates her own line of beauty supplies which are very popular, she's 80 years old and no one would ever guess.

When she hired to cater Jonathon Deveraux's birthday party, it's quite a feather in her cap. Vampires hardly ever make messes and are notoriously big tippers. He also has a newly turned young vamp wife who should be easy to please.

She should have known something was up when the new Mrs. Deveraux wanted 150 candles to alight the massive cake. Fire and vamps just don't get along. And she insists on carrying it into the party herself. When she hears a calamitous commotion, she figures the idiot caught herself afire. When someone burst through the kitchen door, she turns to apologize to the newly single Mr. Deveraux only to find Mrs. Deveraux!

But no worries, Sophie is assured, Mr. Deveraux had a long full life, and now she knows why all the birthday candles. It was all a ploy to destroy Deveraux, so the young beauty could enjoy his riches.

As Sophie cleans up the ashes of the demised Mr. Deveraux, she suddenly has a brilliant idea! Vamps never age, right? So what would happen if you mixed a little vampire ashes in with an already wonderful face cream? Apparently, not what Sophie expected. Instead of just creating a face cream that turns back the clock, she also gains Mr. Deveraux, alive and in person (well, sort of), he's in her reflection. Now, Mrs. Deveraux has a birthday coming up, I wonder how she likes candles?

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Blood Wrapped by Tanya Huff

It's Vicki's birthday and Henry still hasn't come up with a present. What do you get an immortal being? Henry Fitzroy, aka Elizabeth Fitzroy bodice ripping novelist, really doesn't have a romantic bone in his body. But 40 is a big birthday in a woman's life, even an immortal one. But, still time to consider.

When Henry wakes the next evening, there's a message about a missing child and only Henry and Tony can help with this type of kidnapper before the child turns up as one of the dead. As soon as Tony touches the missing child's boot, the images start coming and he directs Henry toward where the child might be.

When they find the kidnappers, they save the child and give the justice that only a vampire can provide. No other child will come to harm. Now, if Henry can just come up with an unique gift for an immortal.

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The Wish by Carolyn Haines

Sandra wants nothing more than to be with her children, twins Kala and Kevin. But when Death comes early for them, she begs and pleads to take their place. But Death is having none of that. She'll be back when it Sandra's time, you can't cheated Death. And you can't hurry it either. Sandra tries suicide, only to be foiled when her husband, her ex-husband now, checks on her.

That's all in the past now, it's Sandra birthday today. She's a 43 year old mother of dead babies with an ex-husband and a suicide attempt under her belt. But today that all going to change. She's seen his boat in the harbor. And she knows where to find him. He's come home to hunt.

As she enters Barnacle Bills and strolls boldly over to his table in the darkness apart of the bar, her will never falters as she leans in to say, I know who you are, what you are, and only you can help me. Take my life and make me immortal. Death has finally come for me, but she can't win, I won't let her. Take my life and help me cheat Death. You are her rival, her biggest obstacle, you win and she looses. Death is getting close, I can see her, help me. Just as Sandra thinks Death will win after all, she's swept away and given her birthday wish.

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Fire and Ice and Linguine for Two by Tate Hallaway

Sebastian and I are stranded, on Christmas and on Sebastian's birthday. He says it's cursed. Now I see why. I'm Garnet Lacey and I share a body with Goddess Lilith. Since Sebastian and I are blood-bonded, he hears her thoughts as well. We're used to midwestern winters, but this storm seems particularly nasty. With the old beater broken down in the middle of the worst snow storm in history, we're going to miss our dinner reservations.

Then, a shiny black Ford with an old woman pulls up. The driver,Fonn, offers a ride. We can't believe our good fortune. Until she starts talking, and the snow starts falling harder, and lightning starts flashing across the sky, in the middle of a snow storm. Just then, Lilith lets out a roar, a warning. Sebastian notices too, and his super natural vampire senses are ringing too. When Sebastian starts feeling the cold, is when he realizes that even his undead life force is being sucked away from his body, by Fonn, an elemental force of nature, a winter element. The only hope now is to heat Fonn, weaken her and force her to leave. And that's what Sebastian does with the antifreeze. Forces of nature can't be beat, just avoided.

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Vampire Hours by Elaine Viets

Katherine will soon be fifty-five and she feels her life is over, she's old and used up. Eric, her husband, tolerates her. For years, he's been after her with his knife, he's plastic surgeon and embarrassed that his wife refuses his services. Menopause has not been kind to Katherine, and he's tired of having an old wife. When she finds out that he's having an affair with his office manager, Dawn, she's not surprised. Dawn has been visited by his knife. Only divorce looms on her horizon.

Then, one evening in her midnight ramblings, she notices an apartment in the building across from theirs. It's glowing with life in the middle of the night, glamorous people who look like her only better. She starts spending her evenings outside, watching the penthouse. She gets closer and closer, taking to become part of what she cannot have.

She is approach by a man, dark and mysterious, who knows her name, who excites her being, who looks irresistible. Michael is his name. And offers to make her one of them. Katherine decides to join Michael. All that is required is for her to embrace the dark side, vampirism, and all the darkness of that goes with it. And her first kill, Dawn her husband's lover. Let Eric explain his missing wife and dead lover.

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How Stella Got Her Grave Back by Toni L. P. Kelner

Mark and Stella are vampires, lovers and together forever. He is her child, her first turn. But Stella has a problem, someone has stolen her grave. You see, once in her hometown, she had a grave sight and it would seem that someone had taken it. Not that she needed it, but damn it, it was hers, and she wanted it.

Mark, having been a vampire for such a short period of time, could use SPF 45 to hide from the sun. Young vampires don't burn as easily in the sun as old vampires do, and Stella was getting older. Mark decided to investigate the grave disturbance and surprise Stella with the gift. The gift of her grave, not that she needed it, on her birthday in her hometown. All he has to do is get rid of the body someone has put in Stella's place. And he suspects foul play.

As the mystery is unraveled and the body of the murdered girl is discovered, Stella makes another discovery for her birthday. Her Mama left her a tombstone for her grave sight, with two words, Beloved Daughter, her best present yet.

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All in all, this book was a fun anthology!

Five out of five fairy kisses for this reader.






I picked up this book at my local library, I <3 my library! All opinions expressed are my own.

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