Bonus task: make your own advent calendar and post it.
Tasks for Advent: Post a pic of your advent calendar. (Festive cat, dog, hamster or other suitable pet background expressly encouraged.) –OR–
Tell us: What in the immediate or near future are you most looking forward to? (This can be a book release, or a tech gadget, or an event … whatever you next expect to make you really happy.)
In early January my husband and I are going on a trip to California. We are going to visit his mom near Sacramento. I´m limited in what I can do but so is my mother in law. She also has Fibromyalgia and other chronic pain. My husband will meet up with a friend and then they are going to Vegas. I´ll stay with my mother in law and do some fun things there. I am sure she will want to go play some slots there in Cali. I would rather go shopping but we will do that too. We don´t have many stores here where I live and I hate running into someone else wearing the same outfit so I don´t want to shop here. I also want to go to some cemeteries there where family is buried so I can take pictures and get info for my genealogy research. I know, so exciting, but that´s my thing. Maybe I´ll see a zombie there. At least I know I will be able to stop and rest when I need to because my mother in law understands and will need to rest too. Mostly, I am looking forward to seeing beautiful trees, flowers and NO SNOW. Hopefully, I will be able to find a postcard there for my postcard collection. I´ll have to mail it to myself to get it properly marked and traveled.
December 1th: The Open Door by Margaret Oliphant (from Classic Ghost Stories)
A story about a father, whose son falls sick after he has encountered something strange in the ruins on their home property, and his subsequent search for the truth behind the encounter.
This short story was an ok one. The parts I enjoyed the most were the nightly trips to the ruins, the juniper bush with a life of its own and the sceptical doctor, who doesn´t believe in superstitious mumbo jumbo. A good and decent story. This will definitely not be my last read by Mrs. Oliphant. 3 Stars.
December 2th: They by Rudyard Kipling (from Classic Ghost Stories)
This short story has some beautiful writing, even though the prose is too flowery for my taste (do you really need 2,5 pages to tell the reader, that the narrator got lost in the country side? I don´t think so). And I didn´t like the story. 1) There is no suspense at all, because it is clear from the get go what is up with those children and 2) I need someone who explains the ending to me. I didn´t get the ending at all. 1,5 Stars.
December 3th: The Captain of the "Pole-Star" by Arthur Conan Doyle (from The Valancourt Book of Victorian Christmas Ghost Stories and Classic Ghost Stories)
I really enjoyed this story and I loved the setting(a whaling ship stuck in the polar region). It´s one of my favorite settings and it works wonderfully in this story. The captain is an intriguing character I would have liked to know more about and Conan Doyle is setting him up in a very mystical way. The fact that the story is told from the point of view of the ships doctor adds to the mystery, since he takes a rational approach to everything that is happening on the ship. A great example of Conan Doyles weird fiction. 4 Stars.
This, again, may be the "16 Festive Tasks" equivalent to carrying coals to Newcastle, but anyway ...:
Advent is a season observed in many Christian churches as a time of expectant waiting and preparation for the celebration of the Nativity of Jesus at Christmas. The term is a version of the Latin word meaning "coming". Advent is the beginning of the Western liturgical year and commences on the fourth Sunday before Christmas (sometimes known as Advent Sunday), the Sunday nearest to St. Andrew's Day (November 30), in the Roman Rite of the Catholic Church and, inter alia, in the Anglican, Lutheran, Presbyterian and Methodist calendars. – Practices associated with Advent include keeping an Advent calendar, lighting an Advent wreath, praying an Advent daily devotional, as well as other ways of preparing for Christmas, such as setting up Christmas decorations.
As Advent involves four Sundays, we’ve assigned one square to this period, with the four Sundays (and four candles on the Advent wreath) corresponding with four sets of tasks.
The Reading Tasks:
(1) a book with a wreath or with pines or fir trees on the cover; or
(2) the 4th book from a favorite series, or a book featuring 4 siblings, or a book involving a countdown to something.
(1) Post a picture of your advent calendar, if you have one. (Festive cat, dog, hamster or other suitable pet background expressly encouraged.)
(2) Tell us: What in the immediate or near future are you most looking forward to? (This can be a book release, or a tech gadget, or an event … whatever you next expect to make you really happy.)
Bonus task: make your own advent calendar and post it.
Sometimes it’s the little things that mean the most….
The holidays are a time when bigger often means better, and meals are huge, decorations are over-the-top, and elaborate gifts and grand gestures are one way to show affection. But beneath all the pomp and ceremony, after the grandiose presents have been unwrapped, the stocking stuffers are still waiting to add that final sparkle to the perfect celebration. Even the tiniest trinkets can be gems when they’re chosen with love, and like a good love story, they are held close to the heart and treasured for years to come. The festivities don’t have to end after the feasts and gift exchanges. Dig a little deeper for romantic stocking stuffers both naughty and nice.
Enjoy a tale of men in love with men every day throughout December.
The following are my reviews for some of the stories in Dreamspinners Stocking Stuffer Collection (2017 Advent Calendar) For a full list of stories and their blurbs you can find them on the Dreamspinner Press website.
O Hell, All Ye Shoppers
~ 3 Christmas Stars~
Ethan’s plans for a lazy day at home away from the madness of last minute shoppers on Dec. 23 are set aside when his sister calls with a crisis that sends Ethan to the Australia’s largest shopping center and a specialty shop aimed at women and his kindness gets the better of him as he comes to the rescue of Ty the only other man in the store and while both men are desperate to escape the retail hell that is the mall at Christmas time, neither man is is in a hurry for their time together to be over.
‘O Hell, All Ye Shoppers’ is a sweet story about two men who find the gift of love at a time of year known for it’s miracles. Ethan and Ty were an adorable pairing and there was a really nice twist to this one that wasn’t totally unpredictable but still added a nice touch to the story that I enjoyed. This ones sweet with some steam and just a hint of sexy times but it definitely left a warm spot in my heart.
The Peppermint Schnapps Predicament
~3.5 Shining Holiday Stars~
Frankie Faraday’s got a crush on his boss, Bill Mason, but it’s going nowhere because they’re total opposites or, so it seems until Frankie and Bill find themselves trapped in the seasonal stockroom with nothing but candy, peppermint schnapps and time.
Frankie and Bill find that they have more in common than either of them ever realized as they get to know each other and discover that the solutions to their problems lies inside of themselves and each other.
Frankie and Bill’s time in the stockroom was cute, funny and held some steamy times. My one little niggle was the jump from Frankie and Bill in the stockroom to after they were rescued was a little abrupt for me and I really would have loved a bit more detail to transition them into being a couple. Otherwise this one was a fun, sweet, angst free holiday story.
Pining for Perfect
~5 Hopeful Holiday Stars~
Stokely is solid and dependable, he’s got a respectable job and leads a quite life…he tries to always do the right thing but he really hates Christmas…well most of it…everything except listening to Asher Banks a the radio. He loves Asher’s optimism.
Asher’s the total opposite and he loves Christmas and schedules himself to the max with holiday fundraising and community events. It’s at one of Asher’s events that he and Stokely meet and make a connection.
I loved Asher and Stokely and their interactions were so sweet as they got to know each other. ‘Pining for Perfect’ was a warm, sweet story about two men finally being given the best gift of all…the gift of love. The holiday are a really lonely time of year for many and ‘Pining for Perfect’ holds a sense of that loneliness but it’s also tempered with the warmth and hope of the season as well.
~4 Joyous Holiday Stars~
Nikko is the court poison master and his loyalties are to his king but it’s the king’s nephew, Lord Rodas who holds his heart. It’s the Solstice Festival a time of celebrations when the king orders Nikko to poison Lord Rodas destroying all he holds dear and placing the fate of a kingdom in the balance.
‘Poison Marked’ was a wonderful historical fantasy about faith, love and being true to who you are. Nikko and Rodas both struggled to follow their heart and their conscience in this one even when it felt like one would be the undoing of the other. I loved the author’s writing style with just over 50 pages the author has written a story that is fully fleshed out and totally enchanted me.
The Probability of Mistletoe
~4 Happy Holiday Stars~
It’s been 10 years since Keith Trainor last saw his best friend Parker Mulvaney and now that he’s ready to start his software company there’s only one person that he wants for his partner both in his personal and his professional life…but how to make amends for a failed attempt at kissing Parker under the mistletoe at winter formal senior year.
Parker should have known that scheduling a high school reunion two days before Christmas was a bad idea but one text from Keith has everything looking better for Parker.
Nothing says ‘tis the season like a good friends to lovers, second chance, feel good story with two sexy nerds under the mistletoe at Christmas time. I loved that the author gave enough background to give a sense of a connection from the past between these two as friends, without sacrificing the events of the story that was happening in the present.
The Puzzle Box
~4.5 'Tis the Season Stars~
Cole Peters and James Carducci are childhood sweethearts they’ve been together for years but Cole’s facing a lonely Christmas this year James is deployed. What he’s not expecting is the puzzle box that James sends him as the beginning of a scavenger hunt that could end with a gift to exceed Cole’s fondest wish.
‘The Puzzle Box’ is a story about a gift that is truly from the heart. James takes Cole on a journey down memory lane as he leads him on a scavenger hunt that ends on Christmas eve when Cole receives his final gift. C.C. Bridges has created a story that’s filled with love in spite of the fact that for most of the story the MCs aren’t even in the same country, not an easy task to accomplish in less than 30 pages but definitely well done.
I was really lucky in that I enjoyed all of my holiday reads from Dreamspinners 2017 Advent Calendar. While there’s definitely more steam than sex in these stories, they still all had me sighing with happiness and contentment.
An ARC of the Dreamspinner Press 2017 Advent Calendar stories was graciously provided by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.