09 December 2014

Dreamspinner Advent Calendar Spotlight #2!

To honor his grandmother's final request, Trenton Appleton drops everything to visit the family’s ancestral home: Hummingbird House, where he experienced his first kiss and first heartbreak with Callum Eason.

Eight years ago, confused by his attraction to Trent, Callum reacted badly. But with help he never expected, Callum found himself and learned to accept who he was.

Now Trent is back at Hummingbird House, and Callum has his opportunity to salvage their friendship, at least. But Trent is less receptive than he was all those years ago. Still, Callum is determined to show Trent he has changed and keep his promise to Trent’s grandmother. When past mistakes repeat themselves, Callum must break the cycle before his last chance with Trent passes him by.

Solid story about young love, 4 rainbows
We start the story with a letter to Trent from his Grandmother, who we find out has Alzheimer’s and is slipping away. She wants Trent to know what he means to her and what she wants him to do to help heal once she is gone. Years later, after his Grandmothers death we find Trent at the Ancestral home in Shere, England.  Doing his Grandmothers bidding, looking for closure, happiness, healing? He’s not sure. What Trent is sure of, does not want to run into his old friend and first love, Cullum. Cullum on the other hand wants this one last chance to make amends for the wrong of so many years ago. Could there be a second chance at first true love?
Overall I liked this story, but I found the beginning pretty confusing. It was hard to tell a time line of age, and places. These are two things I really need. Not until page twenty five (half way through) did we find out that Trent lives in Massachusetts and he visited Shere over several summers. Still confused about age?  He was 14 when he moved in, eight years? Then ten was mentioned? I liked the connection-reconnection between Trent and Cullum. The slow build the family dynamic. I’m not a fan of the walking through the past and all the letters from the Grandmother. But I understand that this story needed it.

Hummingbird House is a sweet story. Told mostly from Trent’s POV with a couple glimpses at Callum’s thoughts, this is a coming home tale. With the only person who had ever loved him dead, Trent finds himself at her home of Hummingbird House in England. Alone and not knowing what to do, he soon finds himself back in the loving arms of friends he had forgotten in the last eight years. Of course, it also puts him in the path of Callum, who he has humiliated himself with too many times.
It is another story I would like to see more of, because I would love to get more of the feeling of Shere and of the Easons. But it was cute and well-written. And the author did something I love – make a character who no longer exists an integral part of the story so much that you love them. Even more than our two heroes Trent and Callum, I shall forever more remember Astrid.
Ilya, the youngest son of a Moscow oligarch, is so deep in the closet he’d find Narnia if that weren’t a decadent Western story. On Christmas Eve, his brothers lure him into the forest, intending to murder him and erase the shame he inflicts on their family by existing. However, the attempt is interrupted by Volyk, a wolf who carries the blood of the ancient oboroten’ —shapeshifters. Ilya never imagined a Christmas gift like the handsome wolf, but accepting what Volyk offers will have consequences that change both of their lives forever. A story from the Dreamspinner Press 2014 Advent Calendar package "Celebrate!".
I loved this story. It had fated love, drama, and a wonderful paranormal twist. I hope the author writes a longer story on the same subject, because I liked their version of the shifter mythos. Of course, being me, I would have loved to see something really bad befall Ilya’s brothers, but I suppose their negative existence is their just result.
And it makes me wonder – does Christmas fall at different times of the year around the world? In this story, it’s in January in Russia.
A definite 5 star story.

"Having quit his job, Idris is trying to make it home to his partner of twelve years, Dan, in time for Christmas. Stuck on a train during a snowstorm, Idris has nothing to do but think back on how much he has missed by putting his career first. His job has been straining their partnership for years, and now Idris worries he’s damaged it beyond repair. He desperately wants to get back to the UK and salvage their relationship—if there’s even anything waiting for him when he gets home. 
A story from the Dreamspinner Press 2014 Advent Calendar package "Celebrate!".
Another sweet tale. Idris has made some huge mistakes and he’s on the way home to a home that may no longer exist. I’m not usually one for tons of flashbacks, but the author did an amazing job of making it work. First we saw Idris quit his job and why and then the slow trip on the train home, where his man may be there, but was he still waiting? Our hero knew if his man didn’t want him anymore that it was his own fault and the author led us along to where me, as a reader, was rooting for him as he stood at the door waiting to see Dan.
Very well done :)

Cast out of his clan of shifters and with no family of his own, Anton Cedwell wants nothing more than to be accepted by his partner Sean’s family when the two of them visit over Christmas. But Sean’s powerful father, Flavius, isn’t happy his son chose a shifter as a mate, and Sean is hiding secrets from Anton. When Sean is attacked by rival weres, Anton hopes Sean’s family will finally see the depth of his commitment and how far he’s willing to go to protect the man he loves.
A story from the Dreamspinner Press 2014 Advent Calendar package "Celebrate!".
The idea of this story is intriguing, but as the author was introducing a whole new concept in ‘were’ mythology, it was too much for a short story. Who are the Zodiacs? The Nullifiers? What is their history? And do the ‘were’ shift into the form of their zodiac sign or something different? As you can see, I was left with too many questions to be satisfied or even to care about the relationship between the two heroes. I can only hope the author writes a full novel that truly gives us a taste of the Zodiac.
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Freshly out of college, shy and introverted Brian Preston travels from LA to Budapest to teach English, ready to embrace life and spread his wings.

It's early December, and the air is heavy with the scent of roasting chestnuts.Getting involved with his new roommate, native Hungarian Zoli Park, promises to be the adventure Brian always wanted. But all is not as it seems, and Brian might find himself in the arms of Krampusz, demonic companion to St. Nick, who punishes bad boys.

A story from the Dreamspinner Press 2014 Advent Calendar package Celebrate!
Okay, I’m disappointed. This story had the makings of something great. American in foreign land, sexy roommate, and the legend of Krampusz. And it was going there…and then suddenly it was over. There was a mini epilogue that I think was supposed to serve as an ending, but it felt like we missed about 2/3rds of the story. It’s like someone promising you cake and you can smell it baking, and the scent intensifies when the oven is opened, and when you go in to eat it, you find out it’s Brussel sprouts.
I’m begging, Lou Harper, dump the Brussel sprouts and get us our cake! Write the story, only elongate it and really give us Brian and Zoli’s romance – maybe making it Dec – Dec so you can block it in with more Krampusz :D. Pretty please? *smiles uber cute just for effect*

1 comment:

  1. Thank you so much, A-Nony-Mouse!! -- and yes, in Russia (and other Old Calendar Orthodox Christian countries) Christmas falls on January 7th.