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review 2017-11-24 23:01
Great adaptation format
Manga Classics: The Stories of Edgar Allan Poe - Stacy King,Edgar Allan Poe

Disclaimer: reviewing eARC via NetGalley

 

I've read all of the stories in this volume in the past, but I found it far easier to appreciate them in this format. The language is preserved well, but breaking it up into multiple panels helped me slow down and appreciate the way it builds. In some cases, just the illustration helped clarify obscure language. Madness and murder benefit from eerie distortions and heavy use of screentone, building a visual background to the dark stories. The art stays on the clean and appealing side of commercial manga, though, not tipping too far into the horrific, so this could be a good way to introduce kids, as well as older readers ,to the work of Poe.

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text 2017-11-24 22:05
Let's do this one story at a time...
Stocking Stuffers (2017 Advent Calendar) - Rick R. Reed

THE BLURB:

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

Louisa Masters

~ 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

Clare London

~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

Ki Brightly

~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.

 

Poison Marked

TJ Nichols

~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 

J. Russell

~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

CC Bridges

~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.

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review 2017-11-24 01:17
Review: Fresh Complaint
Fresh Complaint: Stories - Jeffrey Eugenides

I have a complaint: Jeffrey Eugenides doesn't write enough.

Eugenides's first novel was published in 1993. Since then he's written two more novels and this, Fresh Complaint, his collection of short stories. There have been exactly nine years between each novel. So I was excited when, after reading his third novel in 2011, I read in an interview with Eugenides where he said he would not take the normal nine years to publish his next work (I tried to find that article, but was unable to do so). So it only took six years, but if this is the product of six years I am sorely disappointed and genuinely hope that it is not another nine years before the next novel.

That's not to say Fresh Complaint is a bad book. It isn't. There are some good stories in this collection. Also, there are some forgettable stories. The culmination of these creates just another “good” story collection. And being merely another “good” collection in an industry where there are many similar “good” collections means Fresh Complaint fails to stand out.

What's interesting about the stories in this collection is that they run the length of Eugenides' writing career, from 1988 to the present. I continually looked for growth or distinction between the stories from different eras, but what I discovered is that Eugenides is a consistent writer. His oldest works hold up to his newest. This is a huge compliment. All these are strong in character, language, and dialogue. He constructs such vivid and realistic stories. Strong, vivid, and realistic—these stories are not necessarily achingly beautiful, they do not transcend what we've come to expect from the short story. In fact, they're pretty average amongst the award-winning short story writers of the last century. Average isn't bad at all, but it's not great. Still,Fresh Complaint gave me a sampling of one of my favorite contemporary authors. Fingers are crossed that it's only three or four years until his next novel, but I'm not going to get my hopes up yet.

Personal favorites: “Fresh Complaint,” “Early Music,” and “Great Experiment.”

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review 2017-11-23 19:34
Tales in Colour by Kunzang Choden
Tales In Colour And Other Stories - Kunzang Choden

This is a surprisingly good collection of short stories about the lives of women in contemporary, mostly rural Bhutan, by a Bhutanese author, whose own life I wanted to read more about after the all-too-brief introduction detailing her own culture shock as a young girl in an Indian boarding school and her observations of the way women’s lives have changed in Bhutan, often becoming less independent under the influence of foreign culture.

The quality of the book was unexpected to me because, first, I bounced off the author’s novel awhile back (I may now give it another chance), and second, the publishers really let the author down here. The punctuation is bad and there are some grammatical mistakes. It’s unfortunate, though understandable, that this lack of professional copyediting has led some to conclude that the author lacks literary talent, when other indications are to the contrary. The thirteen stories are well-structured and engaging, getting the reader quickly invested in the characters’ lives.

As a cultural document this is fascinating, illuminating various aspects of ordinary life in Bhutan. The stories range from optimistic (a young woman who alternates between visiting her brother in the city, where she adopts the life of an urban sophisticate, and returning to the country to muck out sheds for her mother) to tragic (a dwarf who is shunned by most of her family and community until her death). There’s a strong sense of community life: in one story no one will turn in the village thief because everyone is interdependent, while another, about a single mother whose hard work gets her son through school and allows him to achieve a comfortable life for them both, feels not quite triumphant because it’s framed by the villagers left behind, who experience their success only by viewing photographs.

But the stories are still focused on individual choices and lives; many of the protagonists are poor single mothers, either giving birth outside of marriage, or providing for their families after leaving or being left by their husbands. It is certainly a more dynamic view of individual and family life than Western stereotypes about Asian farmers would lead you to expect. It’s mostly a realistic collection, but there is room for fancy too, as in one story about a misunderstanding between a woman and a mouse.

I finished through this collection quickly, was engaged by the stories, found the characters believable and sympathetic, and enjoyed the strong sense of place and learning about Bhutan. It’s a shame the publishers didn’t do their part; with a bit of polish and a strong publishing house behind it, this could be a real literary success.

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text 2017-11-23 04:17
Reading progress update: I've read 5 out of 320 pages.
My True Love Gave to Me: Twelve Holiday Stories - Rainbow Rowell,Holly Black,Laini Taylor,Myra McEntire,Kiersten White,Stephanie Perkins,Gayle Forman,Matt de la Pena,Jenny Han,Ally Carter,Kelly Link,David Levithan

Noel is to cute

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