For the most part I liked this anthology better than the first one, Dates from Hell. I think most were on the "good!" side.
"Two Ghosts for Sister Rachel" by Kim Harrison. In Dates from Hell we got a story about Ivy set before she meets Rachel, and in this story, we get a story about a young teen-aged Rachel before she ever joins Inderland Security. I thought this was well done because you don't have to have read the Rachel Morgan books to understand the world (much less confusing than the story in Dates from Hell), plus there are a lot of new things to learn for those who read those series. We learn about Rachel's family dynamics, and about Rachel's reasons for joining IS. I was also surprised to see how different Rachel is physically in this short story than what I was used to seeing in the series, but her stubbornness and trying to do things seemingly beyond her abilities seems very familiar.
"Run, Run, Rudolf" by Lynsay Sands. If you look at the link to the first anthology, and check out the "Claire Switch Project", this is a continuation of that short story. A couple of scientists gets zapped by a "destabilizer ray" that allows them to shapeshift if they concentrate really hard. I thought that story was goofy and I think this continuation is equally so. I have checked out reviews from this book and this was many people's favorite story so I don't know.. For me, this was my least favorite of the bunch and it did not fit in with the rest of them.
"Six" by Marjorie M. Liu. I think this one is a stand alone, unconnected to an outside series, and it manages to have great world-building, action, characters, and plot in a short space. Six is a elite Chinese agent trying to track down terrorists when she stumbles upon the paranormal - vampires - not the western myth I'm used to reading about, but the Chinese version - Jiang Shi. This was a refreshing twist. Possibly my favorite of the bunch because I liked the setting - urban China. Liu has several romance novels out but I really like her urban fantasy.
"The Harvest" by Vicki Pettersson - Another one based in the world where a series is set. This is the story of Zoe Archer - the mother of the protagonist in the Signs of the Zodiac series, Joanna Archer. I thought this was a great side story to go with the series which fills us in on the motivation of Zoe's mother as well as learning about her personality and how she was able to do what she did. But, if you haven't read this series, I'm not sure how lost you would be reading this story. It's possible the answer is - quite lost. Though there are several hints that explain the world, the Zodiac world is very complex so it's hard for me to say how confused someone would be. Definitely a must-read for a Zodiac series fan though.
I really enjoyed 3 of the 4 stories in this collection. Harrison is a big fave of mine and it was great taking a peak at Rachel's younger self. I found the Sands story just silly-didn't like the writing style or the plot. I had not read Liu or Pettersson before, but they are going on my wish list now:)
The first story, by Kim Harrison, was the best of the anthology, IMO. I haven't read the rest of the series it's a prequel to, so I can't say if it works in that context or not.
The Lyndsay Sands story was a sequel to another story in the Dates from Hell anthology, I think, and I didn't like either one.
The Marjorie Liu story was fine and had an interesting premise and setting, but seemed rushed. I think this would have been better had it been longer. The heroine was a stiff, two-dimensional, emotionless assassin, which was sort of boring and cliched. We've seen this character before, only usually it's a man. Given the amount of time Liu spent telling the readers about her harsh background, I had a hard time believing she fell in love with the (interesting, not two dimensional!) hero so quickly.
The last story was one I really felt had a lot of potential, but I suspect I missed a lot of the point since I hadn't read anything else by the author. It was a lot of catching the reader up with the parts they should have read in other books.
Rebecca H. (Rebemdee) reviewed Holidays are Hell: Two Ghosts for Sister Rachel / Run, Run, Rudolph / Six / The Harvest on
Helpful Score: 1
I don't really care for the Zodiac books, so I skimmed the Vicki Pettersson story. The Lynsay Sands shapeshifter story was so similar to the previous story she wrote for the anthology before this, Dates from Hell, that it was absolutely boring. I enjoyed the other two stories, they were fresh and interesting
Ok, I usually hate short story books. It seems that there is never enough time to develop the characters or for me to feel like I know them. That being said, this anthology is awesome. I bought this one for Vicki Pettersson's part, just as good as rest of the series!
Kim Harrison-Two Ghosts for Sister Rachel
Introduces us to a younger Rachel Morgan-an undergraduate witch-in-training--who naively resurrects a spirit and sparks a terrifying showdown with a deadly undead adversary. (I'll be reading her books now!)
Lynsay Sands-Run, Run, Rudolph
Serves up a scrumptious stew of Yuletide suspense when, in order to escape from a determined stalker, a beautiful, relucant shape-shifter must assume different forms. **While this is true it's doesn't really give justice to the story, I think it ranks up there with her vamp series...awesome story**
Marjorie M. Liu-Six
keeps a petite-but-powerful government agent's hands full when she must join forces with a hunky necomancer to prevent an unholy brotherhood of terrorists and vampires from ringing in the New Year with blood.
Vicki Pettersson-The Harvest :)
brings a former superhero--an elite Zodiac warrior (Zoe)back to the mortal world for a Thanksgiving reunion with her equally hated and beloved enemy to do battle for the lives of her imperiled children **and granddaughter**
~loved this one, nice to get a glimpse into Zoe's life and see more about her...hopefully later in series Joanna/Oliva will find her again.
These are not your grandma's usual holidays - at least not all of them, so don't just think Christmas. Oh, sure, there's the lady who changed into Rudolph right after the Christmas parade (a fun story), but there are also three other enjoyable stories written around the Chinese Spring Festival in Shanghai, the Winter Solstice in an alternate universe, and Thanksgiving. In general, the setting/season is just a minor part of the story, and you will find that you will enjoy them any time of the year.
Kim Harrison and Vicki Peterson write in their worlds, with which you may already be familiar. Lindsy Sands offers a rollicking tale--did you know when you change shape, your clothes don't change with you? Marjorie M. Liu abandons the wonderful setting and characters she has created in her fairly recent set of Dirk & Steele novels and introduces a Chinese warrior woman to her first vampires.
This was a compilation of four novellas edited by Kim Harrison. Overall I thought it was a great set of stories. I zipped through this book so fast. My favorite story was the Kim Harrison one; my least favorite Six by Liu.
- Two Ghosts for Sister Rachel by Kim Harrison
This was a great prequel to the Rachel Morgan series by Kim Harrison. It was a lovely stand alone story, but had more impact if you have read that series. It was fun to read about a younger Rachel who is still struggling to recover from Rosewood syndrome and trying to decide if she should join the IS or not. It was nice to read about a time in her life that helped get her to where she is at the start of the series. Great quality of writing, excellent, just like all of Kim Harrison's stories.
- Run, Run Rudolph by Lynsay Sands
This story was a surprise for me. It was funny, light-hearted, and I really liked it. I have never read anything by Lynsay Sands before. I liked her light writing style. There is nothing heavy or contemplative here, but it was a fun read all the same. I might check out more of her writing based on this story. Basically it tells about a woman who gets zapped by a molecular experimental machine and can change shape. She ends up being hunted from someone from her brother's past and what ensues is pretty funny.
- Six by Marjorie M. Liu
This was my least favorite story. I have never read anything by Liu before. This story was about a Chinese agent, your basic trained from birth assassin, and how she ends up getting involved in the paranormal community. Liu did a good job of switching writing style when she switched character perspective. Still, I didn't care for the writing style and I though the heroine was a bit boring.
The Harvest by Vicki Pettersson
This was a prequel to the Signs of the Zodiac by Vicki Pettersson. The story is told from Zoe Archer's (Joanna's mom) point of view. It tells us more about what happened to Joanna's daughter and gives interesting insight into both Zoe's relationship with the Tulpa and her relationship with Warren (the leader of the Light Zodiac). I am not sure how good of a stand-alone story this is; but if you have read some of Pettersson's books you will absolutely love this story. It explains so much about why Zoe did what she did and sheds a lot of Light on why Warren and Joann interact the way they do.
All in all a great combination of stories. I plan on ordering some of the other Hell compilations that have been edited by Harrison. Hopefully those will be as high of quality as this book was.
Holidays Are Hell is comprised of 4 short stories by 4 authors.
#1 - "Two Ghosts For Sister Rachel".This story follows an 18 year old Rachel Morgan, before her adventures in the I.S. The night of the solstice, she makes a deal with her brother to do a spell - if done correctly, he signs her application to work for the I.S. If not, she moves across the country with him to continue her studies in earth magic. And from there, the story ensues.
If you are a fan of the Hollows book series by Kim Harrison, you'll like this. Rachel is young & still plagued by limitations due to her "blood disorder". A great prequel to the books.
#2 - "Run Run Rudolph"
Jill - a clothing store owner - gets zapped by a crazy scientist, which turns her into a shapeshifter. This, on the day she was to play Mrs. Clause to her hunky store neighbor, who is playing Santa in the holiday parade. Together they go on an adventure trying to out run & out wit the crazy man trying to capture her & use her as a guinea pig.
As far as I can tell, this story is entirely it's own entity.. not a prequel to any book series. Which is a shame - because the story is great!
#3 - "Six"
Six is a Chinese government officer working undercover. She ends up crossing paths with a necromancer (one who can raise the dead) and their adventure continues from there.
This story wasn't great. It took me a while to get through it; the plot was a tad boring, and I was thrown off by (call me obsessive) incomplete sentences & fragments. If this is based on a book series, i'm not going to look for it.
#4 - "The Harvest"
Zoe Archer, a formal immortal & superbeing, is now mortal & trying to lay low while protecting the identity of her children & grandchild. She realizes that her grandchild, who was supposed to be adopted out to a kind but unknowing human couple, has been kidnapped by her former archenemies - the Shadows. She then turns to her former allies - the Light, for help.. and the story continues from there.
This story wasn't bad. I'm guessing it's based off of Vicki Pettersson's Zodiac book series.. which I haven't read (but they are on my reminder list). Nonetheless, a pretty good story. Definitely some background knowledge would've been more helpful.. but intersting anyways.
I love short stories and having a bit more information for the Rachel Morgan series is always wonderful. I had just got done reading about Pierce in the last book released and was thrilled to find in this book how she met him in the first place.
Would love if she would write prequels from when Rachel and Ivy were in the IS together.... or heck even the adventures of Jenks the years before would be great.
The only one of the four shorts that I enjoyed was Kim Harrison's Two Ghosts for Sister Rachel which is strange being as I didn't like the first two books in this series at all.
Run Run Rudolph - Lynsay Sands was a ridiculous Christmas story. Six - Marjorie Liu was boring and must be part of a series since it made little sense. The Harvest - Vicki Pettersson was just awful and terribly boring.
Ugh, just reinforces my belief that anthologies are crap and a waste of money.
Kim Harrisson story is interesting as a prequel to the rachel Morgan series
Marjorie Liu's story felt like there should be more to the stroy It was choppy
Forget the other two not worth my reading time
This is a book that contains short intro stories. Probably a ploy put out by the publishing company to gain readers. The only one worth reading was the first by Kim Harrison. The short by Harrison is a pre-quil to her herione series. The rest were a complete waste of my time.
Though the title leads you to believe there is a strong holiday theme in these paranormal stories... it is really just briefly touched. I saved the book to read this Christmas season...but I could have read it when I bought it. Big name authors...and stories with ghosts, vampires, "superheroes" and shape-shifters. A quick read :)
This book is comprised of four novellas, paranormal romances taking place during four different holidays. In the first story, 'Two Ghosts for Sister Rachel' by Kim Harrison, Rachel Morgan, a witch-in-training, wishes to work with Inderland Security, but her family believes that she is much too smart to waste her talents with them, that she should study Earth Magic like her mother. Rachel tries to summon her dad for advice during the Winter Solstice and inadvertently summons a ghost instead, a ghost having unfinished business with a vampire, a ghost she can't help falling for, good one. In the second story, 'Run, Run, Rudolph' by Lynsay Sands, Jill, a shape shifter, and Nick, "Mr. Handsome Shoes," try to evade John Heathcliffe, who chases after Jill in the middle of a Christmas parade, wants to do experiments on her, my favorite of the four, very good, steamy. In the third story, 'Six' by Marjorie M. Liu, Six, a government agent, must join forces with a necromancer. Together, they bring in the New Year fighting terrorists who have teamed up with vampires, a bloody good story. In the fourth, final story, 'The Harvest' by Vicki Peterson, Zoe, a Zodiac Warrior, tries to save her granddaughter on Thanksgiving from The Tulpa in a battle of The Light vs. The Shadows, my least favorite of the four. I will definitely read more by these authors in the future!
Petterson's zodiac series rocks & this story was about Zoe, Joanne's mother from the zodiac series. It was great to finally get some background info on Zoe at last. Harrison's story was also good, I love her Rachel Morgan series. The other 2 stories were not interesting to me at all. I am not a fan of either author.