A MelanieM Review: Chestnuts Roasting Anthology (Mischief Corner Anthologies #5) by Mischief Corner Books

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Rating: 4.75 (rounded up to 5) stars out of 5 

ChestnutsRoasting10x15Christmas means different things to everyone, but most often it’s all about pulling loved ones close and brightening the gloom. The fire’s crackling. The snow is piling up outside, even if it’s only in your dreams. Time to snuggle up with some cocoa and some stories carefully crafted by the Mischief Corner Crew to warm hearts and cockles.

Mischief Corner Books is comprised of four authors, Toni Griffin, Angel Martinez, Freddy MacKay and Silvia Violet who met on a Tennessee Mountain top and (in their own words) “…and decided since we probably were too easily distracted to rule the world that we’d settle for causing a bit of mayhem instead.

” That’s how Mischief Corner Books was born.

In this holiday anthologies, their four different perspectives has never had a better showcase for their talents.  It’s a heartwarming collection that veers from bear shape shifters to contemporary romance then on to the supernatural and back again.  Chestnuts Roasting  gets the flow and placing of the selections just right, an issue I find most anthologies have a hard time perfecting.  This is such a strong collection that while I had my absolute favorites, I loved them all.  So will you.

The first story from Toni Griffin, Wreath of Fire: Smokey Mountains Bears 2, concerns a young bear shifter still trying to recover from years of family abuse, a forlorn young man, one in need of hope and love.  The second story is A Christmas Cactus for the General By Angel Martinez.  Talk about totally unexpected and wonderfully quirky.  It’s told from an alien’s pov, and  yes, its a wonderful holiday story.  Next up?  Holly Jolly By Silvia Violet, that’s the “bah humbug” tale of the bunch.  You know you need one and Silvia Violet delivers her Scrooge into the holiday spirit via romance and coffee!  Oh, but its that last story that  will bring out the tears, the hankies, and the scores of music you want to listen to at this time of year. Chestnuts Roasting ends as it should, on reflections of love and family, of life and death,  and perhaps something more. The last and utterly memorable tale is Snow on Spirit Bridge By Freddy MacKay.  Never has blowing my nose and weeping away made me so happy.

Here are the stories in the order they appear in the book with a few comments by me.

1.  Wreath of Fire: Smokey Mountains Bears 2 – Toni Griffin
Michael’s trying to start a new life away from his abusive father, but he’s drifting and not sure what he wants. When he accidentally starts a kitchen fire, the hot new fireman who comes to the rescue is not only another bear shifter. He’s Michael’s mate. Michael desperately needs to get his act together and figure out what he wants if he has any hope of claiming the bear fated to be his.

A heartwarming story that captures the pain of a young man feeling like an outsider at the holidays.  Everything he attempts goes off course until Michael is almost ready to give up.  Then another outsider arrives to how him the way home.  I loved Griffin’s group or sleuth of bear shifters, such a welcoming family.  It makes Michael’s background and family history even more poignant.  A lovely introduction to this marvelous anthology.

You can read this story as a stand alone, or if you would like, you can read about the first Smokey Mountains Bears in A Bear in the Woods

2. A Christmas Cactus for the General – Angel Martinez
Exiled to Earth for perhaps the worst failure in Irasolan history, General Teer must assimilate or die. Earth is too warm, too wet, too foreign, but he does the best he can even though human males are loud, childish louts whom he can’t imitate successfully. When a grieving seaplane pilot strikes up a strange and uneasy friendship with him, he finds he may have been too quick to judge human males. They are strange to look at, but perhaps not as unbearable as he thought.

Angel Martinez is a favorite author of mine.  Her ability to weave mythology and folklore into her contemporary stories is beyond amazing.  Here Angel Martinez explores the idea of humans and American culture as seen through the eyes of an exiled alien.  The character of Teer is a wonder.  He never thinks or reacts like a human being at any point in the story, his alien persective is kept intact as he tries to understand and adapt to his strange new world that is his home.  But if Teer is a true alien, than the man that falls into a friendship with Teer and then love, Bruce, is almost as much or more of an outsider from the people in the town they both live in.  Snarly, rude, perpetually brusk and alone, Bruce also stays on the outskirts of community.  His alienation is by choice while Teer’s was forced.  This story is full of humor, pathos, and romance of an unlikely yet wondrous sort.  And yes, this is one of my favorites although I loved them all.

3. Holly Jolly – Silvia Violet
I’m not gay. I just notice men sometimes. Everybody does, right? I notice Dane a lot, like every time I’m near him, but just because I think he’s an attractive man that doesn’t mean I like him, does it?

Holly Jolly is a cute, contemporary holiday romp with a heart.  Every holiday collection needs a “Scrooge” type character and Tom the narrator fills the bill nicely.  Only later do we find out the source of Tom’s harsh outlook and then everything about Tom snaps into place and he becomes more than just a formulaic persona.  In fact, Tom’s past and actions make him not only admirable but courageous.  Totally worthy of a hunky Dane who works at The Coffee Bean.  I really enjoyed the layers the author added to Tom, Dane, and even Tom’s best friend Shelley.

And the idea of putting Holly Jolly in between the alien Teer of  A Christmas Cactus for the General and the wildly enchanting and mystical characters of Snow on Spirit Bridge By Freddy MacKay gives the reader a little break from the angst and pain that both stories contain.  Great job of placement all the way through this collection.

4.  Snow on Spirit Bridge By Freddy MacKay

Alone in Japan, Finni is struggling against the constant distrust, avoidance, and xenophobia he experiences every day. He misses home. He misses his family. Nightmares come all too frequently because of the stress, and well, Christmas is just not Christmas in Japan. Not how he understands it.
Distressed by how miserable Finni is, his roommate, Mamoru, offers to be Finni’s family for Christmas. Little does he know how much one agreement would change everything between them, because both of them kept secrets neither ever dreamed were true.

Oh, this story.  I can’t even begin to describe all the astonishing facets and elements that appear in Snow On Spirit Bridge.  On first glance what appears to be a contemporary holiday story of a lonely, homesick exchange student, Finni, one who happens to be huge, blond haired and blue-eyed, traipsing through the streets of Japan on the eve of Christmas.  Again we have an outsider’s perspective on a different culture. This time the setting is Japan with the Japanese peoples wariness and sometimes dislike of outsiders playing a huge part in Finni’s sense of isolation.  But as the snow swirls around him and his sadness deepens something magical and unbelievable happens.  MacKay combines several mythologies into her story and it works perfectly.  Snow on Spirit Bridge addresses great pain and loss for several characters.  And the last chapter will leave you smiling even as you weep your way through a box of tissues.  A marvel of love, holiday cheer and the vastness of possibilities that just might exist make this my favorite story of the collection just as I expect it will end up as yours.  This should have been the last story in any collection.  And as the last story here, it works to make this one of the more memorable anthologies of this or any other season of the year.

I adored Chestnuts Roasting and absolutely recommend it for your Holiday reading pleasure.  But the authors and their stories are so good, it makes wonderful reading at any time of the year.  Pick it up today!

Cover artist Catherine Dair cover is lovely and brings the warmth of the holidays in its design.

Sales Links:   Mischief Corner Books     All Romance (ARe)          amazon                buy it here

Book Details:

ebook
Expected publication: November 27th 2014 by Smashwords Edition
ISBN139781311874092

A PaulB Review:Unjustified Claims (Hidden Wolves #3) by Kaje Harper

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Rating 4.5 out of 5 stars

Unjustified Claims coverHaving run away from his home pack in Michigan, Brandt Davis spends his time in his wolf form. Winding up following a wolf pack in Minnesota, he stumbles upon an injured man, Ethan Sjulstad. Ethan, having tumbled off a cliff, thinks he must be suffering from delusions when a large wolf and a handsome, naked man come to help. Together, they must try to heal each others’ wounds, both physical and emotional.

This is the third book (with two intervening novellas) of the Hidden Wolves series by Kaje Harper. While it could be read as a stand-alone, it is recommended you read the other books in order to pick up on some of the finer details of the plot lines.

Brandt, a werewolf from Michigan, travels west after fleeing from his home pack after his stash of gay porn is found by his alpha. Spending his time in his wolf form to try to forget his troubles, he follows a pack of wolves in the Boundary Water area of Minnesota. Hearing a scream, he goes to investigates. He finds man with a tree branch through his leg. The man tries to scare the wolf away to no avail. The wolf then brings the man his backpack, which had fallen out of reach. Seeing the man struggle, Brandt decides to shift and help the man in his human form.

Ethan, hiking to get his mind away from having his motel vandalized by homophobes, believes he must be out of his mind with delusion when first a large wolf, then a naked man come to his rescue. As Brandt helps get Ethan to safety, the two talk as to how each of them wound up in their situations. After successfully getting help for Ethan, Brandt decides to help Ethan out getting his hotel into shape while he is recovering from his injuries. The two begin to grow closer during the process.

I loved the interplay between the two main characters. Having meet not in the best of circumstances, they help each other deal with their problems. Brandt struggles with a particular fetish that he favors. Ethan shows his that it is not only alright but encourages Brandt. Ethan’s spying is understood considering that Brandt is trying to escape from a “cult” that dislikes gay members. Ethan only wants to protect the man he is growing to love.

I also enjoyed visits from Simon and Paul along with Aaron and Zach, the main characters in the previous two books as well as Paul and Megan who are spunky human mates in this little werewolf pack.  I would  recommend this story and the series, but make sure you read them in the order they were written.

The cover art by Winterheart Design has one of the cabins of Ethan’s motel with the images of Ethan and Brandt above it. The models are perfect depictions of what I would think the couple would look like. It also fits in with the motif of the previous book’s covers.

Sales Links:   MLR Press            All Romance eBooks          amazon              Unjustified Claim

Book Details:
Ebook, 398 pages
Published September 19, 2014 by MLR Press
Edition: English

Series: Hidden Wolves:
Unacceptable Risk (Hidden Wolves #1)
Unsettled Interlude (Hidden Wolves #1.15)
Unexpected Demands (Hidden Wolves #2)
Unwanted Appeal (Hidden Wolves #2.5)
Unjustified Claims (Hidden Wolves #3)

Share in the Love Collection Tour with Jane Davitt’s Lucky Strike (charity tour and contest)

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It’s Share the Love Collection Tour – Part Deux!  The holidays are a time of joy and giving.  Riptide Publishing and authors Jane Davitt, Kelly Jamieson, and Sydney Croft have combined their efforts in the Share The Love 2014 Collection for Charity.

Check out Jane Davitt’s story, Lucky Strike and then read the details how YOU can help choose the LGBTQ Charity to receive the 2015 collection proceeds! This year’s Share the Love collection Charity is It Gets Better organization.  Pick up a copy of Share the Love 2014 and get a head start on the holiday giving,, and then help out your favorite local LGBTQ charity as well!

Lucky Strike by Jane DavittLuckyStrike_200x300

Death’s a heartbeat away, but love is even closer.

Flying a traveler to Leap celebrations on the luxury planet Crestal is no problem for intrepid partners Jake and Rill, even if they have to navigate a deadly meteor shower to get there. But their fresh-faced, privileged passenger is carrying more than Leap gifts: Lian has a message to deliver, treachery and murder to avenge, and a killer close on his heels.

Lian thought he was ready for independence from his overbearing extended family, but his first solo trip off-planet has landed him in a nightmare of deadly intrigue. Though he’s devastated by betrayal, and no longer able to tell friend from foe, he’s fascinated by the gruff pilot and scorchingly handsome first mate who’ve become his reluctant rescuers.

With a dazzling fortune at stake and the fate of the United Protectorate of Planets in their hands, there’s no time for the three men to fall in love. But with their future measured in hours, crew and passenger may have just enough time to discover that three can become one, and that together they are strong enough to beat any odds.

Each year, Riptide Publishing releases a holiday collection in support of an LGBTQ charity. Twenty percent of all proceeds from the  Share the Love collection  will be donated to the  It Gets Better Project.

This collection would not be possible without the talent and generosity of its authors, who have brought us the following holiday stories:

• Three of Hearts  by Kelly Jamieson (releasing November 17)
• Lucky Strike  by Jane Davitt (releasing November 24)
• Three the Hard Way  by Sydney Croft (releasing December 1)

About Jane Davitt:

Jane Davitt is English, and has been living in Canada with her husband, two children, and two cats, since 1997. Writing and reading are her main occupations but if she ever had any spare time she might spend it gardening, walking, or doing cross stitch. She’s recently taken up yoga and loves discovering her ability to bend.

Jane has been writing since 2002 and wishes she’d started earlier. She is a huge fan of SF, fantasy, erotica, and mystery novels and has a tendency to get addicted to TV shows that get cancelled all too soon.

She owns over 4,000 books, rarely gives any away, but is happy to loan them, and is of the firm opinion that there is no such thing as ‘too many books’.

Share the Love Bundle

Contest and Giveaway:

Every comment on this blog tour enters you in a drawing for a $25 Riptide Publishing store credit. Entries close at midnight, Eastern time, on December 7. Contest is NOT restricted to U.S. entries.

(If you can’t or would rather not include this whole text, here is the link to our website. Feel free to include as much or as little as you would like: http://riptidepublishing.com/help-us-choose-charity)

Help us choose a charity!

Every year, Riptide Publishing releases a Holiday charity bundle with themed stories by bestselling authors. Twenty percent of the net proceeds of each bundle goes to a charity that serves the LGBTQ population.

Royalties from Riptide’s 2013 Home for the Holidays charity collection have raised over $14,000 in nine months for the Ali Forney Center, and continue to yield several hundred dollars per month in royalties donations. Our 2014 Share the Love charity collection will be raising money for the It Gets Better Project, and we hope to report even better results than in 2013.

 

For 2015, the theme will be Holiday Surprises, and we’ll have stories by HelenKay Dimon, Christine d’Abo, and Marie Sexton. But we don’t have a charity yet.

We need YOUR help to choose the 2015 charity.

Nominate your favorite LGBTQ charity below and Riptide might choose it as the 2015 Holiday bundle charity!

The chosen charity for 2015 will immediately receive a $5,000 advance against royalties (paid in 2015 on announcement of the award recipient). The charity will continue to receive 20% of all lifetime net sales income from the 2015 holiday charity collection, in the form of a monthly royalty check.

Three honorable mention charities will each receive a $250 donation.

Click here to nominate a charity. Both supporters and representatives of a charity can submit a nomination.

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In the Book Spotlight: Slippery Slope by Iyana Jenna (blog tour and contest)

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Book Name: Slippery Slope
Goodreads Link
Author Name: Iyana Jenna

Author Bio:

Iyana writes M/M short stories and novellas. Her works have been published by Evernight Publishing, JMS Books, Books to Go Now, Torquere Press, Bitten Press, Leap of Faith Publishing, Breathless Press, and Alfie Dog Fiction.

Iyana lives in Jakarta, a city famous for its traffic jams, a lot of cars and motorcycles, and people selling stuff on the roads. You can spend two hours on the road going to a place you can reach in half an hour in a normal situation. Thanks to the traffic jams, though, Iyana can come up with a lot of stories, mostly shorties, as she prefers to spend the time during her trips writing into her cell phone rather than sleeping.

Another thing Iyana loves is kitties. Right now she has three of them. Their names are Cil, Horus, and Betsy, and one kitten. When she doesn’t write, she plays with them, or they would play with her when she writes.

Publisher: JMS Books
Author:  Iyana Jenna
 Cover Artist: Written Ink Designs

Sales Links:  JMS Books     Amazon US    Amazon UK   Smashwords     All Romance (ARe)  Bookstrand

Slippery Slope Blurb:

Actors Ethan Grey and Alex Haynes are gay, but in Hollywood, they can’t be open unless they’re willing to be typecast in future movies or they’re dating prominent gay producers. Since neither are willing to become stereotypes, and neither have studio boyfriends, they take another path — hiding their relationship under the cover of a pretend girlfriend.

What works for Ethan, though, doesn’t work for Alex, who screws up to the point of losing his job and the chance to get another. His manager finally finds him another job across the pond, where he meets Nathan Wells.

Nathan can be the prominent producer Alex needs to further his career, but there’s something Alex doesn’t know about the man.

Soon Wells grows obsessed with Alex, and he’ll do anything to keep Alex from getting away.

Though Nathan wants Alex for himself, there’s still Ethan to think about. Is the love story between Alex and Ethan really over? Or will Ethan find a way to get his boyfriend back?

Categories: Contemporary, Fiction, Gay Fiction, M/M Romance, Romance

Words: 20,000

Excerpt:

“Come on, Ethan. You don’t have to pretend. I’m in love with you, but I’m not blind. There’s clearly someone else you’d rather be with right now instead of me.” Lea wrapped herself up in the silky coverlet, leaving Ethan staring at her, shocked, as he sat back on his heels.

Feeling ashamed yet not totally guilty, Ethan backed away from the bed and put on his jeans.

“Who is it that you want, Ethan? It’s Alex, isn’t it?”

Ethan just looked out of the window. The setting sun was golden on the horizon.

“I—I need to do something,” he mumbled then, and left the room. He felt Lea’s eyes boring into his back but Ethan just couldn’t make himself turn around. He’d been unfair to her from the very beginning.

Ethan sank into the chair and turned on his notebook. He hadn’t checked his email for too long. This might be the best time to do so. Time to find out what was hot in the world right now.

His eyes fell to the first mail, and Ethan’s heart started to pound. It was a Google alert he had for Alex. It had been months since he’d heard anything about Alex. Ethan felt like crying.

 

SSBadgeTour Dates/Tour Stops:

24-Nov

Fangirl Moments and My Two Cents

The Hat Party

25-Nov

BFD Book Blog

25-Nov

Bayou Book Junkie

26-Nov

Up All Night, Read All Day

MM Good Book Reviews

27-Nov

Parker Williams

3 Chicks After Dark

28-Nov

Scattered Thoughts & Rogue Words

Love Bytes 

 

Contest: Enter to win a Rafflecopter Prize: E-book copy of Slippery Slope. Must be 18 years of age or older to enter. Use the link provided below for all contest details and for the entry form.

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