Thursday, December 4, 2014

Blog Tour, eARC Review & #Giveaway: Chestnuts Roasting Anthology from Mischief Corner Books

Mischief Corner Books is an organization of superheroes... no, it's a platinum-album techno-fusion, hold on a sec here...
Ah, yes. Mischief Corner is a diverse group of authors who met on a mountain in Tennessee and decided since we probably were too easily distracted to rule the world that we'd settle for causing a bit of mayhem instead.
In addition to making mayhem, we publish books with a diverse range of genres and topics... we live to break molds.
MCB. Giving voice to LGBTQ fiction.

Book Name: Chestnuts Roasting Anthology

Author Name: Toni Griffin, Angel Martinez, Silvia Violet, Freddy MacKay
Cover Artist: Catherine Dair
Categories: Contemporary, Fantasy, Humor, M/M Romance, Paranormal, Romance, Science Fiction, Urban Fantasy (Please note: Not all tags refer to the collection of stories.)

Categories per author:
Contemporary, Fantasy, Humor, M/M Romance, Paranormal, Romance, Science Fiction, Urban Fantasy, Holiday
Christmas means different things to everyone, but most often it’s all about pulling loved ones close and brightening the gloom. The fire’s crackling. The snow is piling up outside, even if it's only in your dreams. Time to snuggle up with some cocoa and some stories carefully crafted by the Mischief Corner Crew to warm hearts and cockles. 
 Reviews by multitaskingmomma

Overall Rating: 5 of 5 Stars

Note from multitaskingmomma: I have rated this anthology as full length novel for astoundingly, all the stories here are not novellas, they are not short stories, they are full length books! So of course I rate these as they should. Wildly entertaining, one bittersweet while the others are just pure surprises, each story in this anthology are wonderful reads.

Wreath of Fire: Smokey Mountains Bears 2 - Toni Griffin 
Michael's trying to start a new life away from his abusive father, but he's drifting and not sure what he wants. When he accidentally starts a kitchen fire, the hot new fireman who comes to the rescue is not only another bear shifter. He's Michael's mate. Michael desperately needs to get his act together and figure out what he wants if he has any hope of claiming the bear fated to be his.
This is a paranormal, shape-shifter story that starts out really mundane until the fires begin. Michael McKenna had been that poor little boy who had been abused by both father and older brother because of his size and whatever else reasoning they could illogically think of. His sweet temperament is his one saving grace but his insecurities for not being educated pulls his self-esteem to the pits. He is taken in by the previous alpha, Patricia Packard, as one of her own.

Cameron Marsh is a grizzly and a fireman. He had just moved into town two weeks prior and barely settling in. His going off to answer the call of a fire lands him on the doorstep of the Packard's house which Michael had accidentally put to fire. He had dreamed of finding his mate but he never thought he'd do so in just this little time.

The great thing about this story is there are no screams of Mate and Mine even if Michael and Cam are. They get to know each other first even if they do claim each other. Well, it was difficult not to do so for the mating pull is irresistible. There is a great HEA ending and overall, this is a really sweet romance.

A Christmas Cactus for the General - Angel Martinez 
Exiled to Earth for perhaps the worst failure in Irasolan history, General Teer must assimilate or die. Earth is too warm, too wet, too foreign, but he does the best he can even though human males are loud, childish louts whom he can't imitate successfully. When a grieving seaplane pilot strikes up a strange and uneasy friendship with him, he finds he may have been too quick to judge human males. They are strange to look at, but perhaps not as unbearable as he thought. 
Now this Irasolan tale is quite the erotic little science fiction which I never thought would capture my imagination wildly! I really loved this little tale and I have to be honest, this is the first Angel Martinez I have read. So yes, I WAS a Martinez virgin!

We have Teer, a general in his home planet, exiled to a planet that is illogically overflowing with water. He had failed in the protection of an important persona and thus takes his exile with resignation. Everything on the planet he landed in is weird, strange, smelly, full of water and why do the inhabitants not cover their faces? 

On the human side we have Bruce, a pilot who comes into the flower shop once a week to pick up a flower. His attitude is really obnoxious at first. His behavior worse. His target: poor Teer. He finds this short foreigner clothed in bright colors, heels and gloves as a pansy wansy queer. Never mind that he is gay himself, he just cannot stand the short man.

Then Bruce stumbles into a gay bashing and his protective instincts come to the fore. Surprisingly, he and Teer connect and before each knew it, they were the bestest of friends. Then Teer's secret gets revealed and all things changed.

This is a really sweet alien love story and weird as the erotic scene may be, it is still erotic and hard to ignore! HOT! That this is an HEA? with a bit of a beautiful future family in the making for both? I really, really loved this!
Holly Jolly - Silvia Violet 
I’m not gay. I just notice men sometimes. Everybody does, right? I notice Dane a lot, like every time I’m near him, but just because I think he’s an attractive man that doesn’t mean I like him, does it?
I’m also not a fan of Christmas. Too many years “celebrating” with my Bible-thumping family ruined the holiday for me. So what if I envy all these cheerful souls dashing about with smiles on their faces? I don’t have to like Christmas, do I? If anyone could get me in the Christmas spirit, it would be Dane with his easy, relaxed manner and his gorgeous smile. If that were going to happen, though, I’d have to find the courage to talk to him and to admit that maybe I don’t know myself all that well after all. 
This is a story of one closeted man, Tom, who tries to ignore the fact that he is hopelessly attracted to a barrista, Dane. Of course everyone knows that he is attracted to the guy! He can't stop looking at him, he can't stop thinking about him, and he loses all sense of logic whenever he is around the man. Shelley, his best friend of sorts, knows this and does not stop to encourage him. 

When Dane and Tom finally get together, oh it was sweet and funny, and erotic! This is a really nice read which just got my goofy smile on.

Snow on Spirit Bridge - Freddy MacKay 
Alone in Japan, Finni is struggling against the constant distrust, avoidance, and xenophobia he experiences every day. He misses home. He misses his family. Nightmares come all too frequently because of the stress, and well, Christmas is just not Christmas in Japan. Not how he understands it.
Distressed by how miserable Finni is, his roommate, Mamoru, offers to be Finni's family for Christmas. Little does he know how much one agreement would change everything between them, because both of them kept secrets neither ever dreamed were true.
I guess, this is my favorite. 

This is a supernatural story about two legendary figures clashing on Christmas. 

On one hand, we have Mamoru who opens his home to the big foreign student. He is a workaholic and is successful but financially, well... His other job, now that keeps him up all night most nights and he finds himself looking forward to going home and be with Finni who may just end up serving him with a bowl full of ramen.

Then we have Finni. He is considered by the Asians around him as one bungling, bearish, foreigner who surprisingly, speaks Japanese. Now his is a heart of gold and he is so kind and serving, he is just loveable! Sweet! Beautiful! 

But Finni has a secret and he could not tell anyone, especially not Mamoru. He also suffers from nightmares which pulls his abilities down and makes him fail. He needs lessons which he cannot really get at this time.

Then again, if Finni has secrets, so does Mamoru. His is a secret dreaded by everyone. His is a secret that scares. His is a secret that he can never tell to Finni.

The secrets that Finni and Mamoru keep from each other are astounding and they are glorious in a way. I am familiar especially with what Mamoru keeps and it is exciting that it is put to text in an MM novel.

Then the end came and I just cried. This is an ending that gets to my heart for it is beautiful and speaks of what Christmas is really meant to be. 

From “A Christmas Cactus for the General” by Angel Martinez

Teer kept still, watching the man drive off. The men on this world amazed him, such clumsy, uncontrolled louts, like overgrown children. If that had been one of his own men back home, Mr. Bruce would have been on the floor with a boot against his windpipe. But Teer couldn’t do such things here. It was, from what he understood, illegal.
“A pansy seems an honorable flower. Such strong colors,” he said as Molly returned to him. “But I’m fairly certain that wasn’t a compliment.”
“No, it wasn’t.” Molly pursed her lips, an expression Teer knew by now meant she was unhappy. “I’m sorry about that. I think he goes to visit someone in the cemetery every Friday. But it’s no excuse to act like a son of a bitch.”
Sometimes it still struck Teer as odd, working for a female, but Molly was a sensible, practical person, more like a male Irasolan than most of the men on this strange, wet planet.
“When you say he visits someone at the cemetery, is this a way of saying he goes to honor someone who has died?”
Molly gave him an odd look, then shook her head. “I’m sorry. Your English is so good, I forget you get tripped up by expressions sometimes. Yeah. I’m pretty sure he lost someone close to him.”
The single hyacinth every week seemed extravagant tribute, but Teer had to tamp down hard on his instincts every time he filled a customer’s order. Flowers to these people were disposable, things of temporary beauty that could be callously cut from their parent plants. A single plant given to the honored dead back home would have been a sign of such overarching grief that the survivor’s family would have feared an imminent suicide attempt.
But for this man, the tribute paid is every week. His wounds are deep, but not fatal. Not that I have any reason to be curious or even vaguely interested. Rude, uncouth…what is the word? Jerk.
“Ah. Never fear, Molly. It’s difficult to be offended by words that don’t mean much to me.” He offered her a smile, since smiles were often meant as reassurance here. “You said you had lights to put up today? For the upcoming holidays?”
“Right! The Christmas lights!” Molly scurried to the back and returned with two boxes, full of small glass bulbs attached to wires. “I guess you don’t do Christmas either, huh?”
“My…family never celebrated Christmas, no.”
“Oh, right. Buddhist or something I bet.”
“Something of that sort,” Teer murmured as he began to pull one of the hopelessly tangled strands from the first box. Apparently, Christmas had something to do with testing spatial acuity and patience. Odd holiday.

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