A Stella Advent Calendar Review Day 11: Popcorn Garlands by Ariel Tachna


RATING 4,5 out of 5 stars

popcorn-garlandsCarlos Mendez spends all year working hard at his Houston-based landscaping business, and he sends every spare penny he earns back to his family in Mexico. By the time the holidays roll around, he doesn’t have much patience for the unadulterated greed and consumerism paraded past him. But a chance meeting with his neighbor, Ned Williams, and Ned’s cancer-stricken daughter, might help to remind him of the real meaning of the season—something beyond the gaudy lights and extravagant displays—something he wants to be a part of.

Popcorn Garlands by Ariel Tachna moved me deeply. It perfectly shows what Christmas should actually be, the true spirit of this holiday and not all the materialism we are so used of and too often abused.

Carlos kindness and his crew’s families’ generosity is so huge and lovely broke my heart. Versus little Sonia who is fiercely beating a bad illness. Versus a dad, Nat, who is struggling with life, dealing with his daugther medical bills, a new job and no money to scrap and buy a present to the sweetest child ever.

Although  the story is more a HFN because there is really no space for a development in the MCs relationship, I was pretty satisfied. I know Nat and Carlos are working on their HEA.

The cover art by Paul Richmond is awesome like everything he does.

Sales Links





ebook, 26 pages

Published December 1st 2016 by Dreamspinner Press

ISBN 1635331730 (ISBN13: 9781635331738)

Edition Language English

Tis the Season for Holiday Stories and This Week at Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words



Tis the Season for Holiday Stories

Have you noticed a preponderance of book covers with snow on them?  Maybe with elves or people with red hats or maybe even a stocking or two?  Yes, its that time of the year when all the wonderful holiday stories are releasing from authors and publishers everywhere.  And its not just Christmas stories but stories from other religions as well, from Jewish holidays such as Hanukkah to Yule, the holiday season is spreading warm, love and special meanings to those involved in the celebrations.

Its a time of giving, and joy.  A time of remembrance, and yes, even sorrow for some. It can be magic.  And it can be painful.  Full of stress and overwhelming optimism for the future.  What a bundle of conflicting emotions this season can bring with it, along with the Winter Solstice, the shortest day of the year, when the fear of the dark and loss could be driven back by songs, a yule log and people gathering close together to watch for the rising sun.

What I have always loved most about these stories is the variety.  I never know what to expect from the multitude of stories we get here at Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words.  Christmas in Space?  You betcha!  Vampires in love?  Yes indeedy!  Stories of Yule and lost visitors in Greenland, yes, one of my favorites last year by Freddy McKay.  This year is no exception.  I finished a wonderful story about loss and recovery during Hanukkah,  review still coming.   There are comedies, dramas, relationships of all kinds…all wrapped up in love and romance.  Be still my heart!  And those of the rest of the reviewers here at Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words.  We love this time of the year!


Be sure to check out all the reviews and holiday tours we have for you all in our schedule below.  Maybe make a list for yourself.  Or given if you love to give books as a gift.  Tis the season after all!




You Can Still Vote and Win!

We also have our on-going vote for our wonderful favorite flash fiction.  A random reader who leaves a comment after voting will be chosen to receive a $10 gift card from Dreamspinner Press.  Here again are the stories and their links:

STRW Flash Fiction Stories and Authors

Master’s Work by Tod Heil  

What Is Left Out By R. R. Angell

Consequences by Andrea Speed

THE SMIRK’S UP By Jenny Tate

Christopher by Ross Common

Magpie King by Leslie Plank

What Weighs Us Down by K.S. Trenten

Sad and Silly Humans by K.S. Trenten

[The authors retain the copyrights to their stories.  Stories may not be reprinted or copied without the express permission of the authors.]

Now here’s our poll.

For all the wonderful stories (there’s one extra), visit our Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words Flash Fiction 2016 Page.  For the readers who vote: We will gift a $10 DSP gift card to a reader (randomly chosen) who has voted. so readers please leave a comment once you have voted so we can pick someone as well as a email address.  Vote ends on the Winter Solstice, 12/21 at midnight. The author will get the $25 Amazon gift card.

You can only vote for one story, then press vote.

two holly berry branches

This Week At Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words


Sunday, December 11:

  • Tis the Season for Holiday Stories
  • This Week at Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words
  • Blog Tour and Giveaway: Cowboys Don’t Come Out by Tara Lain
  • A Stella Advent Calendar Review Day 11: Title Surprise

Monday, December 12:

  • Release Day Blitz for Ibiza on Ice by Gillian St. Kevern
  • In the Spotlight: Ash and Cinders Blogspot by Rodd Clark
  • DSP Author Guest Blog: Grace Kilian Delaney
  • Release Tour & Giveaway: Sue Brown’s Alpha Barman
  • A Melanie Release Day Review: Treasure for Treasure by R Cooper
  • A Barb the Zany Old  Lady Audiobook Review: Snowed In by Teodora Kostova
  • A Jeri Release Day Review: Noble Intentions by Andrew Grey
  • A VVivacious Advent Calendar Review Day 12: Title Surprise

Tuesday, December 13:

  • Release Blitz – Passing Shadows by Anna Butler
  • In the Holiday Spotlight: Holly & Hockey Boots by V.L. Locey (excerpt and giveaway)
  • Dreamspinner Author Guest Blog: Lex Chase on The Unlikely Prospect
  • A MelanieM Release Day Review:Holly & Hockey Boots by V.L. Locey
  • An Ali Audiobook Review: Absinthe of Malice (Sinners #5) by Rhys Ford and Tristan James (Narrator)
  • A MelanieM Advent Calendar Review Day 13: Title Surprise
  • An Alisa Review: 2 Days Later by CM Corett

Wednesday, December 14:

  • Release Blitz & Review Tour – The Road To Frosty Hollow – RJ Scott & Meredith Russell
  • DSP TOUR Ari McKay on Writing in Tandem and Striking Sparks
  • Blog Tour: Kiss & Ride by Teodora Kostova
  • A Stella Review:  Kiss & Ride by Teodora Kostova
  • An Alisa Release Day Review:  His Needs by Kris T. Bethke
  • A Lila Advent Calendar Review Day 14: Title Surprise
  • An Alisa Review: French Kissing Vampires for Beginners by L.M. Brown
  • An Ali Release Day Review: The Road To Frosty Hollow – RJ Scott & Meredith Russell

Thursday, December 15:

  • RIPTIDE TOUR: One Life to Lose by Kris Ripper (giveaway)
  • In the Spotlight: The King and the Criminal by Charlotte Ashe
  • DSP Author Guest Blog Andrew Grey
  • A VVivacious Release Day Review: Thanks a Lot, John LeClair by Johanna Parkhurst
  • A Melanie Release Day Review: Striking Sparks by Ari McKay
  • An Ali Audiobook Review: Sweet Young Thang by Anne Tenino and Nick J. Russo (Narrator)
  • An Alisa Advent Calendar Review Day 15: Title Surprise

Friday, December 16:

  • Dreamspinner Press Author Guest Blog: KC Burn
  • Riptide Publishing Tour: Murder Once Seen by JT Hall (giveaway)
  • A Free Dreamer Release Day Review: Whispers of Old Winds by George Seaton
  • A Lila Release Day Review:  Holiday Weekend by Charley Descoteaux
  • A MelanieM Release Day Review: Once Upon a Time in the Weird West Anthology
  • A Stella Advent Calendar Review Day 16: Title Surprise
  • An Alisa Review: Night Train to Venice by Carolina Valdez

Saturday, December 17:

  • A Stella Advent Calendar Review Day 17: Title Surprise
  • Cover Reveal and One Day Book Blast: Tarnished Souls by Dev Bentham
  • A MelanieM Advent Calendar Review:The Orpheum Miracle (2016 Advent Calendar – Bah Humbug)
    by Pat Henshaw


In the Spotlight: Cowboys Don’t Come Out by Tara Lain (excerpt and giveaway)


Cowboys Don’t Come Out
by Tara Lain
Rand McIntyre settles for good enough. He loves his small California ranch, raising horses, and teaching riding to the kids he adores—but having kids of his own and someone to love means coming out, and that would jeopardize everything he’s built. Then, despite his terror of flying, he goes on a holiday to Hana, Hawaii with his parents and meets the dark and mysterious Kai Kealoha, a genuine Hawaiian cowboy. Rand takes to Kai’s kid brother and sister as much as he drools over Kai, but the guy sports more prickles than a horned toad, and more secrets than the exotic land he comes from.
Kai’s earned his privacy and lives to protect his “kids.” He ought to stay away from the big, handsome cowboy for everyone’s sake—but since the guy’s just a haole on a short vacation, how much damage can he do? When all of Kai’s worst fears and Rand’s darkest nightmares come true at once, there’s not much chance for two cowboys who can’t—or won’t—come out.
Available for purchase at


Also available in paperback


He stopped and tried to hear over the rushing of the surf out beyond the reef if anyone else hid in the dark. No sounds. Fortunately, no big water hit this beach, so he didn’t have to worry about getting swamped. Actually, between the lapping waves and the brilliant moonlight, the scene resembled some fairy-tale romance. Fuck that.

Right where the dry sand verged on the wet, he flopped on his butt. What she’d said—that he settled for a good-enough life. That he wasn’t happy. Don’t I get to decide that?

He leaned back on his elbows. Yeah, but she’s right. I created a whole life—as if I was somebody else. Most people find “the one” and build a future so it suits them both. I imagined a cowboy and slid into his boots—Rand McIntyre. Say that with a drawl, son. Just one problem. I’m gay—always have been—and cowboys don’t come out. Where does that leave me? A-fucking-lone, pardner. Always will be.

You’re not the only gay cowboy.

Have you seen Brokeback Mountain? Shit.

Phosphorescence sparkled on the tops of the waves farther out. Pretty. Guess there could be all kinds of weird man-eating shit in that water.

Do you think more sharks and barracudas swim at night than during the day?

Yeah, right.

He sprang up, stripped his Hawaiian shirt off and tossed it on the sand, then pulled off the shorts his mom had given him. Commando. What would it feel like to have fishes nibbling at his balls? Not like anybody else was doing any nibbling. He strode into the water. Whoa! Not cold, just startling.

When he waded out past his thighs, his penis and balls started to float. He chuckled. Kind of like being a kid in the bathtub. Endless hours of fun playing with your own built-in toys. A few more steps, and he submerged to his shoulders. He gave a tiny shiver. Weird being sunk in inky blackness. Still, the water felt good. He kicked off and swam a few yards out, turned, and stroked back towards shore. He wasn’t a good enough swimmer to push his luck alone at night.

After treading water a couple of minutes, he pulled himself back into the shallows and sat on the hard wet beach. He glanced down. Some shrinkage, but his balls still lay on the sand. Remember to rinse them off or you’ll itch. Slowly he released his breath. What was he going to do? Answer? Same as always. Nothing. He couldn’t risk all the great shit he’d made to try to make it better.


About the Author


Tara Lain writes the Beautiful Boys of Romance in LGBT erotic romance novels that star her unique, charismatic heroes. Her first novel was published in January of 2011 and she’s now somewhere around book 32. Her best-selling novels have garnered awards for Best Series, Best Contemporary Romance, Best Paranormal Romance, Best Ménage, Best LGBT Romance, Best Gay Characters, and Tara has been named Best Writer of the Year in the LRC Awards. In her other job, Tara owns an advertising and public relations firm. She often does workshops on both author promotion and writing craft.  She lives with her soul-mate husband and her soul-mate dog near the sea in California where she sets a lot of her books.  Passionate about diversity, justice, and new experiences, Tara says on her tombstone it will say “Yes”!


You can find Tara at Lain



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