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: Blame It on the Fruitcake by Pat Henshaw

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RATING 4 out of 5

Sleigh Ride Advent StoryFruitcake is the laughingstock of the holiday season. But can it be an aphrodisiac instead? Motorcycle mechanic Sam McGuire is surprised to find a gaily wrapped box on his doorstep with a piece of fruitcake accompanying an invitation to a holiday party.

Wondering if he’ll fit in, Sam attends the party—mostly to get more of the fruitcake he falls in love with—and meets Jay Merriweather, his new neighbor. The lure of Jay’s big family and its holiday tradition of enjoying Grandma’s fruitcake hook Sam, as does the sexy man himself.

But Sam can’t imagine why handsome, college-educated Jay would want someone like him, who was raised in a children’s home and barely graduated high school. Maybe the magic of the holiday season can help two men who seem so different come together like the ingredients in a well-made fruitcake.

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

Blame it on the Fruitcake by Pat Henshaw was my first story by this author and I was pleasurably surprised by it. Although it’s a short, the author did really great, especially with the character of Sam. I could feel his past, his hurts and his feelings. I cheered him on to find some family and forget about the one who abandoned him in a basket. I was so happy he met the sunny Jay and his delicious fruitcake, not a sweets but a truly drug (LOL).  I felt the loneliness in Sam, scared to be part of something because he had none in his life and someone like Jay, so different from his nature, doesn’t seem the right person.

I liked the writing, the reading flew easily and I liked the plot and the development of the story. Sweet but not too much, most of all, a real story, believable. There were some funny moments too, when Sam stole the fruitcake.

Another great addition to the DSP Advent Calendar.

The cover art by Paul Richmond is so cute and his style is unique and lovely. He’s one of my favorite artist so of course this one is a winner to me.

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

Book Details:

Kindle Edition, 36 pages
Published November 30th 2015 by Dreamspinner Press
ASINB018RUW5XO
Edition LanguageEnglish
SeriesSleigh Ride – 2015 Advent Calendar

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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AMAZON http://www.amazon.com/N%C3%B8tteknekkeren-2015-Advent-Calendar-Sleigh-ebook/dp/B018RSH5YU/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1449604363&sr=1-1&keywords=felicitas+ivey

DSP 

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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AMAZON http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B018RSHBOE?keywords=unto%20us%20time%20sean&qid=1449606144&ref_=sr_1_1&sr=8-1

DSP  https://www.dreamspinnerpress.com/store/product_info.php?products_id=7180

A MelanieM Advent Story Review: Four Alternative Christmas Presents by Tam MacNeil

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Rating: 2.75 stars out of 5

Sleigh Ride Advent StoryIt’s Christmas Eve, and newly minted superhero Matt AKA “Strong Man” is in the middle of taking down one of Central City’s most notorious criminals, the mesmerist and villain Dr. Destructo. It’s Matt’s first mission, and he’s working with his idol and secret crush, Jake X-Ray. He doesn’t want anything to go wrong.

Unfortunately for him, everything goes wrong. Soon Matt finds himself racing through alternative presents, trying to capture Dr. Destructo and trying to figure out why all the Matts in these other scenarios have the one thing he really wants—a relationship with Jake.

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

If you are a fan of super heroes and romance, this story was written for you.  Superhero Matt has just come into his super powers but is having a hard time finding acceptance among the other super heroes, especially the one he secretly adores, Jake X-Ray.  Then his first mission with Jake goes wrong and they find themselves chasing the villain through multiple alternative universes.  In each one that Matt has found the acceptance this Matt desires and love with Jake!

Why can’t Matt find it for himself in his universe?

I think the story was cute, a little disjointed and missing important world building elements.  If you love superheroes, you might find the story cute enough that you won’t care.  But if you aren’t a fan, then the issues might irritate you enough to make you want to put it down.  It had a lot of promise with the plot that I just didn’t think the author was able to deliver.

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

Book Details:

Kindle Edition, 24 pages
Published November 30th 2015 by Dreamspinner Press
ASIN B018RRVX2Q

A MelanieM Review: An Assassin’s Holiday (Sleigh Ride – 2015 Advent Calendar) by Dirk Greyson

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Rating: 5 stars out of 5       ★★★★★

An Assassin's HolidayBrick Colton has been hired to kill Santa Claus—or at least the kindhearted accountant playing Santa for the kids in an orphanage. Brick grew up in an orphanage himself, but that isn’t the only thing bothering him about the contract on Robin Marvington’s life. The details don’t add up, and it’s looking more and more like someone has set Robin up. As Brick investigates, Robin brings some much-needed cheer into his life, the light in Robin’s soul reaching something in Brick’s dark one. But all of that will end if they can’t find the person who wants Robin dead.

An Assassin’s Holiday by Dirk Greyson was an unexpected holiday treat, that present you weren’t expecting to be yours that you saw under the tree that turned out to have your name on it. A Christmas morning surprise! I didn’t expect a story with so much hope and heart from a story with a gun on the cover but that’s exactly what Dirk Greyson delivered.

Told from Brick Colton’s pov, we get the cold hired killer and his next  target, the accountant Robin Marvington.  But as Brick moves in on the kill, following this prey throughout the day everything changes…for Brick.  His past emerges to start breaking the ice and walls around him as he sees that Robin is not what he expected. From place to place, memories vie with the present and Robin. By page 12, I was pulling at the box of tissues.

Greyson’s descriptions will grab at your heart.  The author makes you see these people, feel their emotions, understand some of what they must be going through.  I found this story moving, surprisingly so and loved it.

What made it even better for me is that there are no miraculous changes in personality.  Brick Colton remains the man he is, although changes in his future have been made.  I won’t spoil the story for you.  Let’s just say in a month full of wonderful Advent stories, this one stands out as especially moving and heartwarming, even with that cover and title.  It is also one of the longer titles at 54 pages.  I highly recommend it.

Cover art by L.C. Chase was a  little startling for a Advent story, works as a eye catching cover certainly.

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

Book Details:

ebook, 54 pages
Published December 1st 2015 by Dreamspinner Press
ISBN139781634769389
Edition LanguageEnglish
SeriesSleigh Ride – 2015 Advent Calendar

 

 

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

A Paul B Advent Story Review: Teddy Bear Christmas by C.C. Bridges

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Rating: 5 out of 5 stars   ★★★★★

Sleigh Ride Advent StoryIt is December 23rd, and Tyler Martin is waiting in the airport for his flight back home to New Jersey for the Christmas holiday.  Having missed returning home last year due to his then boyfriend wanting to spend it together, he is anxious to get his family celebration.  While waiting for his delayed flight due to a massive snowstorm out east, he sees a teddy bear sitting across from him.  When the occupants of the seats next to the teddy leave for their flights, Tyler realizes that someone who has already left must have forgotten the bear.  He takes the bear to the airline’s customer service area to turn it into lost and found.

Aaron Klein is busy working the counter of the airline he is employed by.  With numerous delays and cancellations, he is assisting people with their travel woes.  Having already celebrated Hanukah, Aaron does not mind working the Christmas holidays.  While on the phone with a mother asking about a lost teddy bear, Aaron notices a gorgeous man approach the counter with said bear.  After assuring the mother that the bear will be there when she returns from her trip, the man proposes to do something special for the child who is missing her bear.  Aaron agrees to go along with Tyler’s suggestion hoping to get to know this man whose plane has been delayed by weather.  Will this new relationship take off or be grounded just as Tyler’s flight has been?

I absolutely adored this story.  I have to say that I personally am a teddy bear enthusiast.  So when the list of Advent stories was made available, I jumped on this one.  I loved how the author used a child’s bear to bring two men who are neither related to the owner together.  What they do for the girl who owns the bear brings the two closer together.  And while there are questions by both men as to whether such a chance meeting could lead to anything, the reader knows that the two will get together at the end.  This is a delightful holiday read.

The cover art by Paul Richmond for this story is the standard cover for Dreamspinner’s Sleigh Ride Advent event.

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

Book Details

Kindle Edition, 31 pages
Published November 30th 2015 by Dreamspinner Press
ASINB018RVBQ1K
Edition LanguageEnglish
SeriesSleigh Ride – 2015 Advent Calendar

A Paul B Advent Story Review: Son of Santa (Sleigh Ride – 2015 Advent Calendar) by Kate Sands

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Rating: 4 out of 5 stars

Son of SantaNoel Nicholas decides he needs to take some time away from being the son of Santa Claus.  He decides to return to school at a university in Winnipeg, where the winters remind him of the North Pole realm.  He has even gotten a break in his usual job as gift distributor during the last couple of holiday seasons.  However, his time off is interrupted when an ice sprite shows up on campus one November day.

Mrs. Claus has tasked Fannar the ice sprite to check with her son to see if he has heard from his father Santa Claus.  It seems that Noel’s father has taken off without telling anyone where he was going.  This causes Noel some anxiety for two reasons.  This first is that his father is AWOL.  However, Noel has not felt the calling to go home and take over for his father so he knows that his dad is safe wherever he is.  The second is that the messenger is the one man who has been his crush for years.  Will Noel’s missing father bring these two men from the North Pole together after years of dancing around their feelings?

This was a fun holiday read for me.  You can tell that the characters have known each other for years and that they just need an extra push to get them together.  Noel feels that his life as the son of Santa by necessity must be lonely while Fannar wonders what he must do to bring Noel around.  The presence of Ruby from the Eros realm (think Valentine’s day) allows for some sage advice to Noel.

The cover art by Catt Ford shows a young man with snowflakes on his hair and brows in a white turtleneck above a formation of ice crystals.  It is a nice wintery cover for the story.

Sales LinksDreamspinner Press | All Romance (ARe) | Amazon | Buy It Here

Book Details

ebook, 53 pages
Published December 1st 2015 by Dreamspinner Press
ISBN 9781634769
Edition LanguageEnglish
SeriesSleigh Ride – 2015 Advent Calendar

A Paul B Advent Story Review: Worth the Wait by Caitlin Ricci and Cari Z

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Rating: 4 out of 5 stars

Sleigh Ride Advent StoryTate Beckinsale is standing in line to get the autograph of his niece’s favorite author. Thinking he was smart leaving work early and arriving at 4:30 for the 5 o’clock event, he is dismayed to find that the line is already 4 blocks long. To make matters worse, a cold drizzle has started to fall. Things begin to look up for Tate when a handsome young man offers to share an umbrella with him. Brandon is also waiting for the author. When the announcement is made that the store is closing, Tate is disappointed that he has failed his niece. However, the young man with the umbrella, Brandon, takes him straight to the signing table and introduces Tate to his mother. After securing the autographs for Tate, Brandon asks Tate out the following day. Will this be a happy holiday season for the two men?

This is a cute story in the Dreamspinner Press Advent Sleigh Ride series. Through the Skype conversations that Tate has with his niece Addie, you can tell that he would do anything for her. I got the same sense that Brandon might become another doting uncle when his visits Tate during one of these conversations. The fact that Brandon did not tell Tate whom his mother is immediately is understandable as he wants to be liked for who Brandon is, not who is mother is. This is a good short story that feels complete yet I want to learn more about these two characters in the future. That too would be worth the wait.

The cover art is the standard cover for the Sleigh Ride event and will not be commented on.

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

Book Details

EBook, 32 pages
Published: November 30, 2015 by Dreamspinner Press
ISBN: 978-1-63476-939-6
Language: English
Series: Sleigh Ride