A Stella Release Day Review: Hope Is the Thing with Feathers (2017 Advent Calendar Daily – Stocking Stuffers) by Brandon Witt

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RATING 4 out of 5 stars

Fifty-six-year-old Samuel Phillips is all alone on his small farm in the Ozarks, with nothing but a menagerie of chickens, pheasants, turkeys, and other birds as company—which is just the way he likes it. In fact, if Samuel had his way, he’d tear down his neighbor’s house so his solitude could be absolute. One day Faloola, his favorite turkey, escapes, forcing Samuel to make the trek next door. When Raymond Webber—sixty-seven—answers the door as naked as the day he was born, Samuel doesn’t know whether he’s more annoyed… or attracted. The two men are opposites in every way—Samuel is serious, while Raymond believes in free love and herbal relaxation. The weeks leading up to Christmas are rocky to say the least, but some holiday spirit might help them get past their differences….

I’m a fan of stories with adult characters, but I have to admit I had never read a mm romance about a character well into his sixty years. I was very curious and of course, being this a Brandon Witt work, I had no doubt he would deliver something good. And he did good, it was easy to picture these two men in my mind. I fell into the story from the start and I had to finish it in a one standing, even if it was too late in the night and I should have been already asleep. I needed to know what was going to happen and I couldn’t wait for the next morning.

I liked how Samuel and Raymond interacted, of course I felt bad for Samuel and Faloola, the wandering turkey. But the ending was really sweet, how Raymond made amends was superlative. I loved them together and would love to read more about them.

Hope is the Thing With Feathers is part of the DSP Advent Calendar, it’s a short story, just what you can expect from this collection. I feel pretty satisfied by what I was able to learn about the characters, still I’m always greedy to have more Brandon Witt works on my hands and I so hope this short will be developed into a novel. I would so read it.

The cover art by LC Chase is cute and I like it.

Sales Links:  Dreamspinner Press | Amazon

BOOK DETAILS

ebook, 48 pages

Published December 1st 2017 by Dreamspinner Press

ISBN13 9781640802919

Edition Language English

Series 2017 Advent Calendar Daily – Stocking Stuffers

An Alisa Review: Under the Mistletoe (Happy Hollowdays) by Shawn Bailey

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Rating:  3 stars out of 5

 

under-the-mistletoe-by-shawn-baileyBest friends Henry and Alan Grayling and Triston Lee decide to play a trick on Henry’s uptight younger brother Morgan, by having Triston kiss Morgan under the mistletoe at the yearly Christmas party. But the joke is on them when Morgan demands that Triston marry him and make an honest man out of him.

 

Triston has always been in love with Morgan, but Triston never wanted to ruin the friendship he had with Henry by putting the moves on the man’s brother. Triston never blinked when Morgan went away to college for four years, but now that he was back, all Triston wanted to do was get to know him better. Yet, he still hadn’t been prepared for Morgan to lay a heavy guilt trip on him just because he gave him a friendly peck on the lips.

 

So what if a couple of other drunken employees saw them kiss? Triston didn’t think any of them would remember the next day, and it certainly was a stupid reason for them to get married!

 

This was a nice short story, but I felt at times that I was missing something.  Triston is in love with his best friend’s brother, but has never told anyone and Morgan has always been attracted to Triston, but kept his secret also.  Both of them fight each other in their own ways, but it takes some time for them to see how they could work out.

 

I got confused by the characters actions in this story, one minute they were compassionate and then snippy and then acting spoiled.  It isn’t until the very end of the story that I could see them finally giving way to the other and not holding something back.  I had trouble connecting with these characters as it always felt like they were holding something back or there we other things going on in the background that I didn’t know about.

 

The cover art is nice, setting the Christmas setting with the decorations.

 

Sales Links: Dark Hollows Press | Amazon 

 

Book Details:

ebook, 41 pages

Published: December 3, 2016 by Dark Hollows Press

Edition Language: English

A MelanieM Release Review:This Wish Tonight (Mischief Corner Collections #2) by Mischief Corner Books and authors Wendy Rathbone , J. Scott Coatsworth and Gregory L. Norris

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Rating: 4.5 stars out of 5

this-wish-tonightWarmth, family, good cheer? Not everyone associates these things with the winter holidays. For some, it’s a time of longing and reflection. Mischief Corner Books invites authors to create stories set during the holiday season and centered on the fulfillment of a wish or desire.

 

I love collections.  They often provide a quick introduction to new authors or give you a variety of stories that cross genres such as This Wish Tonight does.  Mischief Corner Books delivers a collection which includes science fiction, zombie apocalypse and a contemporary mystery.  Not bad for the holidays!  And romance too.  Here they are with my mini reviews and ratings!

Eve of the Great Frost by Wendy Rathbone – 4.5 stars

Remi has prepared for over a year to be the king’s gift at the annual celebration of the Eve of the Great Frost on the planet Niobe. Twelve men, taught under the tutelage of the Pleasure Master, hope to be the one (or one of several) chosen to spend an erotic night with the mysterious alien king who always wears a mask. But when Remi’s turn comes to be presented to His Majesty, everything goes wrong from a costume malfunction to breaking protocol. What happens next is a shock, and a night he will never forget.

I loved the world building here and really wanted to know so much more.  It was an intriguing picture Rathbone built up in my head, especially one such as me who knows her Prime Directive (yes, geek flag flying).  In a short amount of pages, she had their characters, built their relationship, and  made it real. And very sexy, erotic.  Khan would have approved.

Wonderland by J. Scott Coatsworth – 4.5 stars

Zeke is a loner his late forties, living in a small cabin in rural Montana. Nathan has been traveling across country on foot since the zombie apocalypse, dealing with his OCD in an empty world.

Zeke just wants someone to love. Nathan just wants to be home again.

Fate brings them together in a winter wonderland, but their own fears and baggage may tear them apart.

Is there still hope for love at Christmas, at the end of the world?

Coatsworth came up with an altogether different sort of apocalypse in Wonderland.  Still meant the end of civilization and most of humankind.  Zeke is thinking he’s the last one left until Nathan shows up.  What follows is tender, real, and loving.  Its a beautiful story of hope, recovery and weirdly enough romance.  Coatsworth has taken a familiar theme and made it his with these wonderful characters and an ending that leaves you smiling and full of wonder.  Yes, I loved it.

Fear of Fire by Gregory L. Norris – 3.5 stars

Glass Artist Lucius Price works desperately to create a holiday symbol intended to help the town of Villatopia heal from a rash of unsolved hate crimes against gay men. When he is targeted next and his studio set ablaze, handsome firefighter Oscar Ramos rescues Lucius from the flames, creating a different kind of fire during an unforgettable Christmas.

Fear of Fire works for most of the story.  I loved the men, especially Lucius Price the glass artist.  Norris fits enough of glass working into his story to make Lucius and his art real.  I wish that Oscar and the firefighters felt the same.  Perhaps  the small town and their firefighters could account for the inconsistencies that pop up here but in this time and place, they and the procedures followed are hard to overlook.  As much as I loved this couple, the rest of the story felt unrealistic enough to bring the rating down.  If you are looking for romance alone, then this couple might be just your thing.

**Please Note: The stories in this anthology will not be released individually.

Genres: mm romance, holiday, Christmas, gay science fiction, gay contemporary

 Cover Artist: Freddy MacKay.  The cover is cute, not sure it fits in with the wide disparity of all three stories.

 

Available for Purchase at

Mischief Corner Books

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Book Details:

Kindle Edition, First, 228 pages
Published December 14th 2016 by Mischief Corner Books, LLC
ASINB01NAEIP8C
Edition LanguageEnglish
SeriesMischief Corner Collections #2

An Alisa Advent Calendar Day 6 Review: Matthew’s Present (2016 Advent Calendar – Bah Humbug) by Sarah Hadley Brook

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Rating:  4 stars out of 5

 

matthews-presentMatthew Blick is almost thirty years old, and he hates the thought of another holiday alone. He has become a bit of a wet blanket when Christmas rolls around every year. So much so that even his five-year-old niece, Hannah, knows something needs to change. She asks the department store Santa to bring her uncle a man to love, and when Santa sees her uncle, he formulates a plan to set that possibility in motion.

 

Santa shows up at Matthew’s house and at first Matthew can’t place him, but then the memories of his first kiss flood his mind and he is shocked to find that Santa is the man he has carried a torch for since high school. Will this twist of fate help Matthew change his view on the holidays? Only a kiss can tell.

 

This was such a sweet story.  Matthew was hurt badly by his college boyfriend and since he hasn’t felt the Christmas spirit since.  He can’t help but keep thinking of Santa from the store and how much his eyes called to him.

 

These characters are so sweet, both having thought about the other for years without being able to find out who the other was.  Them unexpectedly meeting like this is really one of those meant to be things and gives them both a chance for the love they have always wanted.  This is one of those stories that has a nice HFN ending, but it would have been great to see a glimpse of their future.

Cover art by Paul Richmond is the collection cover, still wonderful.

Sales Links

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Book Details:

ebook, 23 pages
Published December 1st 2016 by Dreamspinner Press
ISBN 1635331684 (ISBN13: 9781635331684)
Edition LanguageEnglish

Series2016 Advent Calendar – Bah Humbug

A Stella Review: Two Ruined Christmas Eves by Chris McHart

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RATING 3,25 out of 5 stars

two-ruined-christmas-evesIt’s Christmas Eve, and folk music star Jonas is on his way to the most important gig of his career, the Volksmusik Stadl. Well, he would be if heavy snowfall hadn’t stopped him on the highway.
Fritz has to accompany his grandparents to the biggest folk music event in southern Germany, the worst punishment for a metal fan, especially on Christmas Eve.
When these two men meet at the concert after-party, sparks fly. Will this Christmas Eve be something special after all?

Two Ruined Christmas Eves was the first story I read by Chris McHart and I have to say I was pleasurable surprised. I love Christmas books, shorts as this one (just 31 pages) or longer ones.  The blurb tells you pretty much everything apart that this short was really cute, it was simple and light especially in the way Jonas and Fritz liked each other at first sight and acted on their attraction with no drama and an easiness hard to find around. And this made the book no less real than others. Of course I would have liked a little more development in the MCs relationship but  being so short it was an okay read. And what I love the most was the epilogue, the author did great with it, showing me the couple one Christmas later. Overall a pretty satisfing reading.

The cover art by Chris McHart is very nice and it fits the short perfectly.

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BOOK DETAILS

ebook, 31 pages

Published November 30th 2015 by Rawmance Publishing

ASIN B018R38KQW

Edition Language English

A Stella Review: A Family For Christmas by Jay Northcote

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RATING 4,25 out of 5 stars

a-family-for-christmas-by-jay-northcoteZac never had a family of his own, but Rudy has enough to share.

Shy, inexperienced Rudy has a crush on Zac from the moment his new colleague walks through the door. On an office night out before Christmas, Rudy finds the courage to make a move, and they form a tentative bond. When he discovers Zac will be alone at Christmas, he invites Zac to come home with him.

Zac prefers to keep people at arm’s length. Yet when Rudy offers him a family Christmas it’s impossible to resist. With no parents of his own, Zac is pleasantly surprised to be welcomed by Rudy’s. The only drawback is that everyone assumes they’re a couple. Unwilling to disappoint Rudy’s mum and make Christmas awkward, they decide not to deny it.

It’s not a chore for Zac to pose as Rudy’s boyfriend, but the pretence makes him want things that scare him—things like a real relationship with Rudy. Zac’s suffered enough rejection in his life already and is afraid to risk his heart. If he can get over his past rejection and let Rudy inside his armour, he might get more for Christmas than he ever imagined.

Rudy met Zac one month ago and everything in his life changed. Since the first time Zac started working at his same office, Rudy began being obsessed with the new guy. They work together for a charity organization called Rainbow Futures and although they see each other each day, nothing happens. The problem is Zac is cold and Rudy too shy to approach him. Then the week before Christmas, during a night full of alchool, Rudy finds out Zac will be alone on Christmas day. How is this possible? He absolutly can’t leave Zac alone. The only solution is to bring him along to his parents house.

Zac has no family, he spent a lot of time in foster homes and he’s on his own since he was 16. He has spent his whole life with no love received and to give. Rudy’s family is a surprise and beautiful, supporting and funny. Until Rudy’s mum believes Zac is his son’s  boyfriend and the two young men decide to don’t ruin their holidays telling her the truth and pretend to be together. Is there hope this fake relationship to become more?

A Family for Christmas is a quick story, knowing Jay Northcote, I was sure I was going to love it, it’s hilarious in some parts, sexy in others. The characters, all of them, were truly well done, a family full of caring parents, relatives and pets. It warmed my heart how welcome everyone was with each other, especially with a stranger. Plus the chemistry between Zac and Rudy was hot, it grew with each new page I turned. I had so much fun at reading this new release. What could I ask more from a Christmas story?

The cover art by Garrett Leigh is okay, nothing more, it just doesn’t enthuse me.

Sales Link

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Book Details:

Kindle Edition, 136 pages

Published November 16th 2016 by Jaybird Press

ASIN B01N2HPPKB

Edition Language English

Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words Best Books of December 2015

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Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words

Best Books of December

2015

 

Its has been a stellar month.  From the great advent stories to our regular reviews that have run the gamut from science fiction to contemporary romance with a kink to the supernatural and shifters in love, we have read and reviewed the lot and its been wonderful.  And so hard to pick the best of the month.  I had to narrow it down to the 5 star ratings with a  sprinkling of 4.75 stars which were rounded up.  I also divided them out as well into Advent Short Stories and Audio books.  Still there were many.  Take a look back, see what stories you may have missed and enjoy!

The titles are linked to our reviews.  As always happy reading!

Best Books of December 2015

Sleigh Ride Advent StoryAdvent Short Stories:

It Was Close…

Best Audiobooks of December 2015audiobook clipart bw

 

A Stella Advent Story Review: Talk Turkey By Bru Baker

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Rating: 4 out of 5

Talk TurkeyCarson is a California transplant settling into life in the Windy City. On his first Christmas away from home, he assures his worried family he’ll be having a real Christmas dinner.

Recent culinary school graduate Tom Stockton earns some extra money giving out cooking advice at the Talk Turkey hotline. Tom’s honeyed voice and sharp sense of humor are attractive to the lonely Carson, and Carson finds reasons to call the hotline again and again. But on Christmas Eve, Carson’s call is less playful and more panicked with the big meal looming. Carson is just looking for advice, but Tom has a surprise in store that might lead to much more.

A story from the Dreamspinner Press 2015 Advent Calendar package “Sleigh Ride”.

Talk Turkey by Bru Baker was probably one of the funniest I read among the DSP Advent Calendar stories I read this year. And surely the most developed in the MCs’ relationship. If you’re looking for an original plot, give this Holiday short a chance, you won’t be disappointed.

Carson has just moved to Chicago and in his first Christmas alone, away from his family, he promises his mum he is still going to celebrate with someone and cooking. The only little problem? He knows nothing about gravy, pot and what size of turkey to buy. Luckly he can count on Tom to save him from a frozen turkey called Terry.

It was a great pleasure to read this story, it was engaging and hilarious, I laughed so much. A lovely surprise by an author I’m soon going to read more about.

Cover art by Catt Ford is perfection.

Sales Links:  Dreamspinner Press | All Romance (ARe) | Amazon

BOOK DETAILS

eebook, 58 pages
Published December 1st 2015 by Dreamspinner Press
ASINB018RVC1LO
Edition LanguageEnglish
SeriesSleigh Ride – 2015 Advent Calendar

A Stella Advent Story Review: Nøtteknekkeren by Felicitas Ivey

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Rating: 3,75 stars out of 5

Notteknekkeren coverThijs and his older brother, Rik, are spending Christmas Eve at their uncle Yvo’s annual gathering. For Thijs, it’s the first time he’s been there in almost a decade.

Thijs has vague memories of the magical Christmases spent with his uncle. But he doesn’t know if the images in his mind of the enchantment that happened while he waited for Santa are dreams, memories, or the product of years of therapy for an accident he doesn’t remember. He just knows when he stopped visiting Uncle Yvo, the dreams stopped too.

Are his dreams of a prince waiting for him every Christmas Eve just dreams? Tonight might finally be Thijs’s chance to learn the truth.

A story from the Dreamspinner Press 2015 Advent Calendar package “Sleigh Ride”.

I admit when I started reading Nøtteknekkeren by Felicitas Ivey I was a little dubious cause in the first part I had not idea where it was going. I’m not saying a lot about it since it was so short and unexpected, I don’t want to spoil it. But I can say it was cute and really, really well written, the reading flew by easily and the characters were all interesting. There were some fairytales elements that gave the story something extra.

The only remark I want to add is that I think this story, as the author wrote it, needed a little more pages to be fully developed, especially in the relationship between our MCs. Nonetheless it was so magical, mysterious, I found myself be captured by it. And the ending was so sweet.

The cover art by L.C. Chase is cute and very fitting.

Sales Links:  Dreamspinner Press | All Romance (ARe) | Amazon | Buy It Here

Book Details:

Kindle Edition, 55 pages
Published November 30th 2015 by Dreamspinner Press
ASINB018RSH5YU
Edition LanguageEnglish
SeriesSleigh Ride – 2015 Advent Calendar
Other Editions (1)
Nøtteknekkeren (2015 Advent Calendar – Sleigh Ride)

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A Stella Advent Story Review: Unto Us the Time Has Come by Sean Michael

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Rating: 4,5 out of 5 stars

Unto Us the Time Has ComeLast Christmas, Kenn Greyson gave husband Chris Martenson an ultimatum—spend more time with the family or we’re leaving. He never expected Chris’s reply would be “then leave,” but that’s exactly what happened, and Boxing Day took on a whole new meaning. 

Separated for nearly a year now, both men are miserable apart and coping the best they can for the kids’ sake. With Christmas just around the corner, a new conflict arises: neither man is willing to forego Christmas morning with their children. Chris finally suggests they spend the holiday together at the house and, to his shock, Kenn agrees.

Armed with the knowledge that he’s been a stubborn idiot, but that perhaps he can change and begin to repair their relationship, Chris takes steps to win his husband back. He just hopes he can get Kenn on the same page before Santa comes down the chimney on Christmas Eve.

A story from the Dreamspinner Press 2015 Advent Calendar package “Sleigh Ride”

Sean Michael is the author I go when I need some sweetness and cuddles in my reading time. He never disappoint me. Especially in his stories featuring children. I’m a sucker for those ones. So you can guess how happy I was when I finished this DSP Advent Calendar short called Unto Us The Time Has Come.

It is a second chance at love story with an established couple, Kenn and Chris, who just spent the last year being apart, but they are still deep in love. Christmas is around the corner and they need to spend it together, for their children’s sake. Moreover it’s time for them to pull their heads from their asses and understand being apart is just making them miserable.

Yes, I love Sean Michael books. His stories are all easy to read, full of emotions and always full of steamy sex. I can’t ask for more. And this story is the reason why I keep being hungry for more of his work. It is a short but it lacked of nothing, especially in the good feelings.

I like the cover art by Catt Ford very much.

Sales Links:  Dreamspinner Press | All Romance (ARe) | Amazon | Buy It Here

Book Details:

Kindle Edition, 59 pages
Published November 30th 2015 by Dreamspinner Press
ASINB018RSHBOE
Edition LanguageEnglish
SeriesSleigh Ride – 2015 Advent Calendar

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