07 December 2014

Dreamspinner Advent Spotlight #1!

George is an anxious, neurotic mess. The only thing that calms him is his partner of ten years, Scott. So despite how nervous it makes George to travel alone, he decides to go to Europe, where Scott has been working for two months, to visit for Christmas. George plans a day on his own in London before traveling to Paris, where Scott is staying. But on George’s day of sightseeing and shopping, everything goes wrong, from a misunderstanding with the hotel concierge to getting lost in Harrods. All George wants is to be with his partner for Christmas, but he’s not sure he’ll survive long enough for that to happen.

A story from the Dreamspinner Press 2014 Advent Calendar package "Celebrate!".
This was a cute story. George has to fly to Europe to spend the holidays with his boyfriend of ten years, but he’s terrified of flying and ticks off the man sitting next to him on the way over. Unfortunately, things don’t get better. Everyone he runs into in London treats him dreadfully. When his hotel tells him they are full up and don’t have his reservation, he breaks down and calls his boyfriend who is in Paris to ask for help. The help he gets is sweet, wonderful, and can’t help but make you smile.
A good 4 stars. With as short as the Advent stories are, they can’t truly delve into them too much, but I think for a short story, it was done really well.
When American Ian lands a secretarial job in the United Kingdom, he thinks he’s set for life. Admittedly, he’s still a bachelor living in a small apartment and working for a complete jackass, but other than that, his life is everything he ever hoped for in an enticing city full of beautiful people. When Alistair Security is robbed during the Christmas Fundraiser, the last thing Ian expects is to end up locked in with his boss, Alex Alistair, and to realize he might have mistaken his resentment for something else. The two men find common ground throughout the night, but when morning comes and the news hits the headlines, their connection will be tested. Ian might find himself at the start of a hot office romance—or he’ll spend the holidays browsing the classifieds.

A story from the Dreamspinner Press 2014 Advent Calendar package "Celebrate!".
Quite honestly, I think two authors writing a short story comes across as odd. Was it long enough to require two authors? This story might have been good if it had been 30k+ words, but they tried to pack way too much change into too short of a story. Ian is a gay man who works for an impossible boss who is always philandering with women behind his fiancée’s back. At the night of their business Christmas party, things go wrong when they are locked into upstairs offices and the security guard is behind it.
That part was fun – the part where Ian and Alex make out and Ian comments that Alex has no experience was just so wrong, considering everything that led up to it. It felt rushed and as such, impossible to truly enjoy or be happy for the characters in the end. Only 2.5 stars.
Akiyoshi ‘Aero’ Kurokuma, author of the wildly popular manga, Ecos, lost his assistant when his best friend retired. After Aero collapses from exhaustion four years later, he is forced to run a contest for an assistant. Placing impossible rules on the contest, Aero is sure no one can win. But a winner emerges: a young man from America, Daniel Beck. The first time he lays eyes on Daniel, Aero realizes he’ll have a hard time hiding his attraction. Daniel is a perfect assistant, but it doesn’t help Aero see past the twenty-year age difference between them. It will take all of Daniel's charm and the prayers offered at the shrine to make Aero take a chance on the romance they both want.

A story from the Dreamspinner Press 2014 Advent Calendar package "Celebrate!".
This story is of a May-December romance which I sometimes enjoy. But this was chock full of so much information I didn’t know. The author tried to explain manga and the Japanese terms used, but to be honest, it felt like being overloaded with something so new, I couldn’t enjoy the story of head manga artist Aero and his assistant Daniel. While written well, it was a no for me. If someone understands manga art and enjoys Japanese culture and understands the nuances, they might love it.
After seven years in Canada, Korean native Jae-ho Kim still hasn’t had the special Christmas Eve date night that he would have enjoyed back home—a fact that has his sister, Soon-kyu, very upset during their yearly phone conversation. This year, Jae’s lack of effort concerning his love life comes back to haunt him in the form of Christmas Eve ghosts, showing him very vividly what will become of him if he refuses to take a chance and find a date for Christmas Eve.

A story from the Dreamspinner Press 2014 Advent Calendar package "Celebrate!".
Another disappointment in the Advent calendar lineup. The Eve That Finally Happened is about a Korean man living in Canada who hasn’t found love. Christmas Eve is supposed to be a huge thing in his culture and the night before, he has the quintessential Scrooge ghosts come to visit him. Now, don’t get me wrong. It was cute. But the language the author had him and his sister using felt too Western rather than Eastern. Added to that, when he and the man he’s been pining for finally go on a date? It’s too happy, smiley, laughey… I was actually annoyed. And it felt like the little sex scene was thrown in and didn’t quite belong.
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Nikhilesh (Nik) Sharma hasn’t been home to Alappuzha, India, since he came out to his family ten years ago. Now that his relationship with them is less strained, he’s bringing his boyfriend Trent along to celebrate the winter holidays. As excited as he is to see everyone again, he worries the foreign culture, religious differences, and disapproval might shock Trent. At the same time, Trent worries Nik’s big, close-knit family won’t accept an American—much less a man—as Nik’s partner and that his presence will impede the otherwise happy reunion. Whether the trip leads to misunderstandings that will drive them apart or to a new understanding that will draw them closer than ever, it’s sure to be an experience they’ll never forget.

A story from the Dreamspinner Press 2014 Advent Calendar package Celebrate!
This is a short 33 page novella about an interracial couple, one being Indian; they are heading home to his home country and town, Kerala for a Hindu holiday. Nik short for Nikhilesh and Trent, his American boyfriend are both nervous about the welcome they will receive.  Nik moved to America ten year prior for college and never moved back, and now has fallen in love with an American man. This is not only his first trip back to his home country in ten year but brining his boyfriend for his very large family to meet. Trent is very nervous, he’s an only child so has not been around big blustery families before and is worried that once Nik gets around his again he may want to stay.
For such few pages I think the author did a good job describing the area and culture in which this story was set it. I had a hard time with the pronouncing the names of the people and places, but that didn’t really take anything away from the story. My big issue is I couldn’t fell a connection between Nik and Trent. I feel if the story was longer, and we spent less time with the secondary characters we could have developed a bond with the two MC.  
This was a fantastic story – I would have loved for it to be longer. Home for Chirappu tells the story of Trent and Nik who are going to India to spend the holidays with Nik’s family. His very large family. Nik left home right after revealing he was gay. In India, homosexuality isn’t accepted so Trent is already worried about how he should act. The fact that Trent’s family seems to accept him is one good thing. The worry that his boyfriend will decide he wants to move back to his homeland gnaws at him.
I truly loved this story. While there were a lot of cultural references – including foreign words – the story was long enough that they didn’t cloud out everything else. We learned about the worries from both men as they dealt with the same thing: the fear of rejection. That Nik’s family accepts their relationship is sweetly depicted. Though I would LOVE to know what Nik’s aunty told him toward the beginning when she was definitely raking him over the coals for dropping Trent into such a huge family gathering.
The only 5-star review so far of the Advent calendar stories, though I hope for more. And, might I add, I hope that Ariel Tachna will expand this story out. I’d love to read more.


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