An Alisa Advent Calendar Review Day 20: Simple After All (2016 Advent Calendar – Bah Humbug) by Yolande Kleinn

Standard

Rating:  5 stars out of 5

 

simple-after-allNoah Fiore, contracts attorney and dedicated curmudgeon, spends every Christmas with his family on the shore of Lake Superior. It’s practically tradition for his sister to invite a tragic tagalong to the festivities. But this year Kara’s guest is no pity case. Riley Coto is a friend, and his warmth and charm quickly win over the Fiore family.

 

When Riley overhears Noah complaining about Kara’s habit of bringing home strays for the holidays, he feels more than a little out of place. But Riley finds himself drawn to Noah. Something tells him there’s more to the man than the bad attitude he shows the world. With Christmas coming fast, Riley is falling for Noah, and there’s nothing simple about that.

 

Yolande Kleinn did a wonderful job with this short story.  Noah has a constant frown on his face, but that doesn’t mean that he is necessarily cranky.  Riley is drawn the quiet man and both find a quiet friendship with the other.  Noah has been hurt by lovers in the past that can’t get past his serious attitude when they realize it isn’t an act and he is afraid Riley will grow tired of him.

 

For a short story these characters both have great depth and have both been hurt in the past.  There are many secondary characters in this story, but they compliment these two wonderfully.  It’s wonderful for them to both find the other person that compliments them perfectly.

Cover art by Bree Archer is perfect for this holiday story.

Sales Links

        

Book Details:

ebook, 49 pages

Published: December 20, 2016 by Dreamspinner Press

Edition Language: English

A Stella Advent Calendar Review Day 17: And to All a Good Night by Felicitas Ivey

Standard

RATING 2,75 out of 5 stars

and-to-all-a-good-nightKobbi AAkers was excited to have a traditional family Christmas with his younger sister Franzi, a famous rock star. But instead of the peaceful holiday he had planned, she’s turning it into a televised musical extravaganza, in a desperate bid for publicity.

Kobbi can adapt, especially since the show’s host Wytt Kanard is easy on the eyes and easy to work with, even if he doesn’t believe in Christmas at all. Wytt is alternatively amused and horrified at the simplicity that is Kobbi’s life and the enthusiasm he has for the holiday, all while taking care of his houseful of unexpected guests.

Maybe Kobbi can convince the cynical Wytt that Christmas isn’t an event to be managed, but something special to be shared. Maybe he can muster the courage to confess his attraction and offer Wytt a surprise present.

And to All a Good Night by Felicitas Ivey fell a little short to me. I’m a huge fan of holiday stories, but my problem with this one was I totally missed the Christmas spirit, I’ll be very honest and say the book ended and I didn’t even realize it. I wasn’t ready because it felt like I knew nothing about what was happening. The relationship between the supposed main characters was pretty much nonexistent, not even some building, no chemistry, no attraction, nothing at all.

The only reason why I’m not giving it a lower rating is Kobbi. I liked him a lot, he’s so caring and lovely, it was impossible to not fall under his lovely spell. And his cat? Adorable.

I don’t even like the cover art by Catt Ford, sorry.

Sales Links

        

Book Details:

ebook, 50 pages

Published December 1st 2016 by Dreamspinner Press

ISBN 163533179X (ISBN13: 9781635331790)

Edition Language English

A Lila Advent Calendar Review Day 14: Cursed Miracles by Meg Harding

Standard

Rating: 4 stars out of 5

cursed-miracles-by-meg-hardingTwo hundred years ago on Christmas Eve, William Mashinter was frozen in time, cursed by his wife to roam the world on his own, waiting for the love of his life to find him. The love of his life, whom she killed. Time hasn’t healed this wound, and William is tired of the happy holiday and the constant reminders of a love that’s been taken from him. But then the impossible happens, and maybe… maybe he can get a new Christmas perspective.

Brady Gallagher has lived three different lives, always aware of the first and most important, yet unable to find the man who will fill in the missing pieces and let him know he’s not crazy. He encounters him at a work event, of all places, but is he willing to throw everything else to the wind and embrace the miracle laid out before him?

Cursed Miracles is a lovely short story. One, I hope the author re-writes into a full-length novel. It has all the elements to keep the reader’s attention longer and brings questions of what ifs? The fast pace and those open-ended questions were the only reason this wasn’t a perfect five for me.

I love the idea of two lovers having to find each other to get their happily ever after. William is a strong narrator. We get to experience his pain over his marriage and the resulting separation from Brady. Plus, their love when they get reunited and through the epilogue.

I like the secondary and supporting characters. The author did an excellent job giving the story a nostalgic feel, setting the historic time frame, and bringing them into the future. The real reason behind the cursed isn’t revealed until later in the story, but it makes sense. Overall, this is a great little story to get you in the mood for the holiday season.

Catt Ford did a beautiful cover. It goes with the period in which Brady and William first met and fall in love. The color scheme also matches the dark feeling of the cursed.

Sale Links: Dreamspinner | Amazon | ARe

Book Details:

ebook, 48 pages
Published: December 1, 2016, Dreamspinner Press
ISBN: 9781635331769
Edition Language: English

A VVivacious Advent Calendar Review Day 12: #ChristmasHatesYouToo by E.F. Mulder

Standard
Rating – 2 Stars out of 5
 
christmashatesyoutoo-by-e-f-mulderNoel Beebe is unlucky in love as can be demonstrated by the fact that he never even got to see the last guy he fell in love with. Now Noel is back on social networking sites to get another chance at love and Ethan might just be the answer.
 
Ethan and Noel bond over the fact that they both hate their birthdays.  So as a colossal fuck you to Christmas for ruining Noel’s birthday they spend an entire day denouncing the holiday spirit in the air. When the videos of Noel making a very good impression of Scrooge get viral on the internet, Noel is in for a world of hate. But looks like Noel’s infamy might finally get him some luck in his love life.
 
This story comes across as a very disjointed read. Personally I just couldn’t understand or get behind the sequence of events in this story because to me it felt like the author decided on what would happen first and then went back and thought about how this would/could further the story. So the story reads like a series of events awkwardly finishing in an ending which feels unnatural.
 
What I couldn’t get behind in this story was Noel’s social networking as a means to meet new people. I mean I guess it might be the new future but Noel didn’t take any precautions to safeguard his interests, I mean he gave his address to two men without verifiably knowing anything about the other two. Also I feel that the blurb of this story is misleading, I thought I was going to read a story about a guy taking revenge on Christmas for overshadowing his birthday but instead we get a guy who actually loves Christmas and is instead dragged along by another guy who wants him to denounce Christmas just for fun.
 
A lot of the side characters felt like an afterthought. Initially when we meet Noel he comes across as a insanely optimistic loner reeking of desperation, the kind of guy who spends all his time on social networking sites, talks to his dog like he doesn’t have anybody else to talk to and most incriminating of all spends days in an online relationship where he reveals too much information and even ends up falling in love only to have the guy vanish on him. But by the end of the story Noel has eight siblings, a best friend and even some awesome work friends who he is very close too and not only that he seems to be involved a lot in social causes and in the lives of his god-daughters. Now I don’t know about you but for me Noel’s latter characteristics seemed to oddly contradict his former ones.
 
Overall this story is awkward and its main character is too gullible and comes across as a push over.
 
Cover Art by L. C. Chase. I liked the cover a lot; it was a nice representation of the story.
Sales Links
0dbe2-dreamspinner2blogo
23fde-logo-amazon-kindle-reader-transparent-48x48
9e7ee-all2bromance2bbutton
Book Details:
ebook, 66 pages
Published December 1st 2016 by Dreamspinner Press
ISBN 1635331749 (ISBN13: 9781635331745)
Edition Language English

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

Standard

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

0dbe2-dreamspinner2blogo

9e7ee-all2bromance2bbutton

23fde-logo-amazon-kindle-reader-transparent-48x48

BOOK DETAILS

ebook, 26 pages

Published December 1st 2016 by Dreamspinner Press

ISBN 1635331730 (ISBN13: 9781635331738)

Edition Language English

A Stella Advent Calendar Review Day 10: Traditions by Ann Anderson

Standard

RATING 4,25 out of 5 stars

traditions-by-ann-andersonWhen Marcus and James started dating a few years ago, James invited Marcus home to spend the holidays with his close, Christmas-loving family. Marcus quickly realized once was enough, and since then, he’s stayed behind.

But this year will be different. Though the festivity and chaos make Marcus uncomfortable, he loves James, and he’s decided to put aside his unease so they can spend Christmas together—even if it means losing his hotel room to one of James’s siblings, braving the cold to go caroling, and battling the crowds so the children can visit Santa. It’ll all be worth it if Marcus can take his place in the family’s traditions—and maybe begin a new tradition for the two of them.

Traditions by Ann Anderson was my first book by this author and one of my favorite stories of this year DSP Advent Calendar. I love reading about established couples cause it can be easy to find a HEA but it’s harder to make it works during the years. It’s good to know how two people met and how they achieved their HEA, sometimes it’s better to know what happens later.

I liked Marcus and James’ story. James’ family is huge and a little too much in the Christmas mood, with too many lights to hang, too many carols to hear and sing and too many presents to gift. That is what scared Marcus the first Christmas he spent with them as James’ boyfriend, so much he avoided  joining them in the last years. But it’s a family full of love and this year Marcus has a plan he can act only with the help of James’ father.

A very good and sweet story. Plus I loved the ending, being a romantic at heart, it was a winner to me.

Highly recommended.

The cover art by Paul Richmond is simply amazing as everything he does.

Sales Links

0dbe2-dreamspinner2blogo

9e7ee-all2bromance2bbutton

23fde-logo-amazon-kindle-reader-transparent-48x48

BOOK DETAILS

ebook, 35 pages

Published December 1st 2016 by Dreamspinner Press

ISBN 1635331722 (ISBN13: 9781635331721)

Edition Language English

An Alisa Advent Calendar Review Day 9: Pixies and Paperwork by Cassia Rose

Standard

Rating:  3 stars out of 5

 

pixies-and-paperworkMicheal Donovan’s family has kept the peace between mortal and magical realms for generations, but Micheal skipped out on glory for other plans. He finished school, got a nine-to-five, and tried to fit in. When his cousin meets an unfortunate end on All Hallows’ Eve, Micheal abruptly inherits the position of Riftkeeper, along with all the prestige and responsibility he didn’t want. Estranged from his family, Micheal never learned the details of the job. All the grumpy, ancestral spirit now possessing his goldfish can tell him is that a mistake could be catastrophic. Micheal isn’t feeling the holiday cheer, and coworkers’ attempts to encourage him only add to a headache of magical proportions. To make matters worse, Ryan Nickles, Micheal’s colleague and cubicle neighbor, has assembled enough Christmas decorations to attract more pixies than Micheal can hide.

 

When Micheal’s attempts to find the Winter Court on the week of the solstice leave him with nothing but a bad cold, he fears he’ll be the first Riftkeeper to break the ancient contracts. He’s too stressed to handle Ryan’s attempts to get him into the holiday spirit, but Ryan might know more about the magic of the season than Micheal realizes.

 

To Micheal his life has just been shot to hell when he inherits the position of Riftkeeper, it’s made worse when he can’t get any answers as to what he is supposed to be doing.  It takes him getting sick for his barriers to be down enough that he doesn’t immediately push Ryan away and realizes he may have the answers to all of his questions.

 

Micheal and Ryan have worked together for a few years, but Ryan has never been able to break through Micheal’s shell.  When Micheal needs help finding the location of the Winter Court along with a gift Ryan steps in to help when he realizes that he can.  I loved the Micheal is able to let his guard down enough, almost too late, for him to see that Ryan can help him.  This story has a simple HFN ending, but I’m not sure I understand the universe in which the story takes place; I felt a bit confused throughout it.

Cover is ok for the story.

Sales Links

0dbe2-dreamspinner2blogo

9e7ee-all2bromance2bbutton

23fde-logo-amazon-kindle-reader-transparent-48x48

 

Book Details:

ebook, 49 pages

Published: December 9, 2016 by Dreamspinner Press

Edition Language: English

A Stella Advent Calendar Review Day 7: The Stockings Were Hung by Cassie Sweet

Standard

RATING: 3.5 out of 5 stars

the-stockings-were-hungHill hates Christmas.

The shoppers. The cheer. The drama. All of it.

Each holiday season is a painful reminder that seven years before, his lover, Drew, walked out of his life and moved across the country, leaving Hill like a cup of rotten eggnog. Now Drew is back and wants Hill to put a little jingle in his bells. Well, not this Scrooge.

Drew admits he moved to get away from Hill—but not for the reasons Drew gave him all those years ago. Some of his best memories are of Christmases he celebrated with Hill, and he wants nothing more than to spend a little holly jolly with the only man he’s ever loved. However, getting Hill to agree to a reunion is going to take a Christmas miracle.

I’m a huge fan of “second chance at love” stories so I was very enthusiastic to read The Stockings Were Hung by Cassie Sweet. And I liked it, it was my first book by this author and I already have my eyes on a couple of stories by her. I found this new holiday release engaging with well defined characters, even the secondary ones, plus a too cute dog. It could have easily been the perfect story, the one with all the elements I enjoy reading about. There was just a couple of problems: first of all, I struggled to connect with Drew and understand his reasons for leaving Hill seven years before (and he took his time to come back and say he’s still in love with Hill). Then the MCs didn’t really end up together, it was clear it was going to happen but it’s not actually on page. And I wanted to see them together, I would have preferred even just a couple of scenes more, it left me a little disappointed. That said, The Stockings Were Hung is a good holiday story and I wanted to reward the writing part with my rating.

The cover art by L.C. Chase is very sweet.

Sales Links

0dbe2-dreamspinner2blogo

7104e-waxcreative-amazon-kindle

6f71e-all2bromance2bbutton

BOOK DETAILS

ebook, 44 pages

Published December 1st 2016 by Dreamspinner Press

ISBN 1635331692 (ISBN13: 9781635331691)

Edition Language English

A Stella Advent Calendar Bah Humbug Story-Day 2: The Fortune Cookie by Matt Burlingame

Standard

RATING 4 out of 5 stars

the-fortune-cookieThirty-three-year-old technical writer Laurence Hart is a modern-day Scrooge when it comes to the holiday season—and the rest of the year, too. He doesn’t like most people, they don’t like him, and he’s happy to keep it that way. Over lunch with his best friend, he receives a fortune cookie promising him true love. The next day, forced to work on a holiday charity committee or lose his job, he meets Nick, a jolly ginger giant who loves all things Christmas. Together they face numerous obstacles to put together a holiday fair to raise money for children in foster care, in only four days. While Laurence has to mend his curmudgeonly ways to make the event a success, Nick’s holiday magic might mend Laurence’s heart.

New Christmas, new DSP Advent Calendar! I’m super happy to have the chance at reviewing all these stories this month. The first I read was The Fortune Cookie by Matt Burlingame and I have to say I was impressed. Considering it’s the author debut book, he did great, a truly well done Christmas short.

I liked the characters, Laurence was so fierce in his determination at hating Christmas, he made me laugh more than once, like each time he put all the decorations in the shredder. I loved I got to how he became who he is today and I adored how he changed in a better person, how the meeting with Nick brought Laurence to be a man who deserves a lovely boyfriend  like only Nick can be.

I enjoyed the writing, it let the reading flow easily. Although The Fortune Cookie is a short, the plot is well developed, there are great characters and the ending was great. I feel to recommend it.

The cover art by L.C. Chase is cute and I can easily see Laurence and Nick in the models.

Sales Links

140b7-dreamspinner2blogo

7104e-waxcreative-amazon-kindle

6f71e-all2bromance2bbutton

BOOK DETAILS

ebook, 49 pages

Published December 1st 2016 by Dreamspinner Press

ISBN-13 978-1-63533-164-6

Edition Language English