I love these Urban Fantasy/Paranormal Romance anthology mashups focusing on themes. I have now read the one with weddings (My Big Supernatural Wedding), now here we are with birthdays.
Charlaine Harris opened the anthology with a Sookie book (be still my heart.) Oh my, Dracula Night was SO much fun. It was a delight to read an old-school style Sookie story with Eric there in all his original glory, before Harris decided to flatten with a hammer into a one-dimensional toon. Plenty of Sookie detailing her clothes and hair, Pam's wit, a freaking party at FANGTASIA, hilarious moments, and a fun ending. Loved it, even with the typo on page 1.
The Mournful Cry of Owls by Christopher Golden sometimes seemed awkwardly written, but the story itself is inventive. I guessed something with the owls - title alone! - but didn't expect in. Not a great story, but it's a passable one; it seems oddly placed in this anthology, not quite fitting, just like the character in the story.
I was a teenage vampire was cute and quirky, but not too significant and was meant more as a tongue-in-cheek kind of offering.
Twilight by Kelley Armstrong fit the birthday theme perfectly with an urban fantasy/paranormal twist. It was serious, introspective, but I had trouble holding my interest as I didn't know anything about the characters and there wasn't much action/tension.
It's My Birthday, too - was from the Harry Dresden series. I don't know if it's because it has characters I don't recognize since I'm not far in the series, or what, but I just couldn't get into this story.
Grave-robbed was in the top three for the best. Loved the storyline of breaking up a fake seance. The main character was an intriguing male vampire lead. PN Elrod writes well; curious about reading more of her work.
Speaking of the best, The First Day of the Rest of your life is the winner. I seriously have to start reading Rachel Caine novels - not only did her story win this one, it also won another anthology I read this year. Writing quite simply rocks, the main character is feisty without being obnoxous, individualized but realistic. The story of the town Morganville sounds absolutely fascinating - MUST.Read.Series.First.
The Witch and the Wicked - Look out, a witch is catering a vampire's birthday party. Awesome story because of the humor and quirkiness, all working to make a fun tale. Not particularly eventful but adorably funny - in a wicked way, of course. Really enjoyed this one, a solid 4/5. I hadn't heard of this author before; checking out more of their stuff is now a priority.
Blood Wrapped wasn't necessarily awesome because of it's story - a small, but serious mystery happening at the same time they are planning for a funny birthday, but because of the characters. I've read the five book Blood series from Huff, and her three book spinoff with Tony. It was cool to see he and Lee stayed together, although that character was not in the book. Henry is the main, which = delight.
The Wish by Carolyn Haines was more formally written than the other short stories. I could be wrong, but it seems to be a stand-a-lone short. There is a nifty twist at the end that made it worthwhile, the writing style felt stilted at first but then became beautiful, and I dig the nod toward a Grim Reaper theme.
Obviously the short story, Fire Ice and Linguini for Two must be part of some series. The characters are humorous and likeable, as is the writing style. I like the different element creature added into the mix. Birthdays may make you feel like you're cursed, but at least they can provide interesting stories as in Sebastian's case.
Vampire Hours was...awesome. Not in it's plot, but in the full force effect of "Hell Hath No Fury like a woman scorned." There's wicked revenge and redemption at the end - *evil fist pump?* - so this was a worthy, albeit different, one.
How Stella got her grave back contained not only an interesting mystery and decent characters, but the end was a great, sweet wrapup to this anthology.
Overall an excellent anthology, even better than 'My Supernatural Wedding'. Now I need to get to 'Death's excellent vacation' sometime.
“Any time I’m not shooting my mouth off to a clichéd, two-bit creature of the night like you, it’s because I’m up to something.”
― Jim Butcher, Many Bloody Returns