4 Stars, Holiday Romance, JMS Books LLC, John Amory, Reviewed by Lisa

Review: It’s a Wonderful Afterlife by John Amory

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Title: It’s a Wonderful Afterlife

Author: John Amory

Publisher: JMS Books LLC

Pages/Word Count: 25 Pages

At a Glance: It’s a Wonderful Afterlife is a short, sweet and to the point story with a magical twist that, brief though it is, packs an emotional punch.

Reviewed By: Lisa

Blurb: Workaholic Logan rests only one day of the year: Christmas Day, and then only because when he tried to open his coffee shop on that day once and no one showed up. Ever since his parents died on Christmas Eve over ten years ago, Logan keeps busy to keep his feelings at bay and keep people at a distance, even going so far as to ignore his younger brother’s invitation to spend the holiday together.

But a car accident and a Christmas Eve encounter with a mysterious stranger named Michael, which may or may not be a dream, will change the way Logan sees his past, his present, and his future.

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Review: Logan doesn’t have a wonderful life. In fact, he doesn’t have much of a life at all. He works, he goes home, he sleeps, he wakes up, and repeats the cycle on a continual loop. He’d do it 365 days a year were it not for the fact that the one year he tried opening his café on Christmas Day, he had no customers.

Logan is alone by choice, estranged from his younger brother—avoiding him, more to the point, working his life away and existing in a state of perpetual grief. Christmas is not a great time of the year for Logan, to say the least, and when we meet him, he’s driving home from work, yet again, on a dismal Christmas Eve.

John Amory does a splendid job of painting a visual of Logan, the man who brushes up against the same people every day but never bothers to make personal connections. He’s the archetypical loaner—the man you know will one day look back on his life and see the trail of regrets he’s left behind, a man who’s in dire need of a chance to turn his life around before it’s too late. Logan is in the process of rejecting yet another invitation from his brother Dave to come spend the holiday with him and his girlfriend, Tia, when a sudden turn of events sets the course for this touching little story filled with the magic of Christmas.

In the film It’s a Wonderful Life, George Bailey makes a wish. He wishes he’d never been born, and when that wish is fulfilled, he gets to experience the fallout firsthand, and subsequently is able to understand how beautiful the world with him in it truly is. In this short story, Amory puts his own twist on the second chance trope by showing Logan a significant moment from his childhood through his adult eyes, a past event filled with all the pain and sadness that’s brought him to this point in his life. And eventually, with the help of something a little supernatural, Logan is gifted with the opportunity to see it is indeed a wonderful life—even if life isn’t always wonderful.

It’s a Wonderful Afterlife offers a poignant look at one man’s salvation. It’s a short, sweet and to the point story with a magical twist that, brief though it is, packs an emotional punch.

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You can buy It’s a Wonderful Afterlife here:

Amazon US

Amazon US

All Romance eBooks

All Romance eBooks

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Andrew Grey, Anthology, Connie Bailey, Dreamspinner Press, Holiday Romance, John Amory, Louise Lyons, Reviewed by Angel

Reviews: Dreamspinner Advent Calendar 2014 – Celebrate!

Short stories are hard to write—and review. I love them, personally, but it does take a special type of author to get them correct, in my opinion. I think Stephen King said it best, and I am paraphrasing here, Short stories are like kisses from strangers in the dark. And they are, you never know if you are going to enjoy that stolen kiss or not. I’m adventurous and I usually do like that caress, and tend to go seeking out more than just kisses as well. **g**

That said, here are four stories from the Dreamspinner Press 2014 Advent Calender package “Celebrate!” This package contains 31 stories total, with a recurrent theme throughout of the holiday season away from home.

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BestLaidPlansTitle: Best Laid Plans

Author:  John Amory

Publisher: Dreamspinner Press

Pages/Word Count: 21 Pages

Rating: 2 Stars

Blurb: 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.

Buy Links: Dreamspinner Press | Amazon US | All Romance eBooks

Review: I did enjoy this one, but  the story fell a bit short, I think. It was sweet and had a Christmassy feel, but there was just something lacking. I’m not certain what it was. It could have just been me. Regardless, I felt bad for George. EVERYONE was so rude to him. His plans fell through, and he was trapped in a strange city with nowhere to go. He, and the writing, tended to ramble on in overlong sentences, and I kinda wanted to tell him to get over himself. If you can fly halfway round the world for your lover, you can overcome anything. Scott, though, is George’s rock, and sets everything to rights by coming to his rescue. He doesn’t actually show up, but manages to calm George down long enough to give him proper directions to carry on with his trip, where we finally get to meet Scott.

The ending makes up for George’s horrible experience, with a sweeter than sweet romantic proposal at the top of the Eiffel Tower after they spend the day together. Overall, I liked the author’s writing and will probably seek out more of his work.

DividersThreeWiseMenTitle: Three Wise Men

Author:  Connie Bailey

Publisher: Dreamspinner Press

Pages/Word Count: 29 Pages

Rating:  2 Stars

Blurb: College friends Joon, Tae, and Sangsun parted ways after an aborted attempt at a threesome. Ten years later, life has carried them down very different paths, but Joon misses his friends and decides to invite them to his home in South Korea for Christmas. He believes they belong together, but convincing the others to defy tradition and try again will take faith, hope, and a lot of talking—especially since all three of them are still in the closet.

Buy Links: Dreamspinner Press | Amazon US | All Romance eBooks

Review: I didn’t really like this one; however, the writing was not terrible. The story was rough and felt like a beginning even though it ended, if that makes any sort of sense. It was over before I could even get involved with any of the characters, and I kinda felt like I had missed something entirely. Especially since this was rooted largely in Korean traditions, which, I gathered from the story, aren’t exactly homosexual friendly. It wasn’t really touched on, though, just kinda glossed over that they had a duty to family and couldn’t have their triad.

Basically, I think it was too short for the themes visited, and confusing to boot. It isn’t until after the three men are together again that you realize the threesome was aborted. In fact, it is revealed that only two of the three slept together, and one got completely left out. Horrible, really, and yet, ten years after the fact, the one left out, Joon, is still in love with the other two. It also seemed to me that Joon was just there as a connecting piece because the real chemistry was between Tae and Sangsun, the two that actually had sex.

Ten years is a long time, in my opinion, and people change. Tae certainly did despite sometimes indulging in men, but Sangsun was in the firm no-never-happened-never-will-again camp. Poor Joon was just left on the sideline, still, and a virgin after ten years.  It was also confusing because suddenly they were all closeted, two of them refusing to change, then bam! we had an orgy on our hands and all promised to make a change so they could be together in their triad. Talk about tale spin. I hate to say it, but I probably won’t seek out any more stories by this author.

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SecondBiteoftheCherryTitle: Second Bite of the Cherry

Author:  Louise Lyons

Publisher: Dreamspinner Press

Pages/Word Count: 28 Pages

Rating: 3 Stars

Blurb: When Daniel Berrisford reluctantly agrees to accompany his best friend Kate to the New Year’s Eve celebrations in London, he doesn’t expect to enjoy himself. Daniel is pleasantly surprised to see his first boyfriend, James Allison, among the merrymakers. The pair haven’t seen each other for four years, but as they talk and midnight approaches, it becomes clear the spark between them is still there. The New Year is a time for new beginnings, and for Daniel and James, it might be the time to give love another chance.

Buy Links: Dreamspinner Press | Amazon US | All Romance eBooks

Review: This story I enjoyed in spite of the cutesy nicknames. That’s a pet peeve of mine in particular, so ignore my idiosyncrasies. There was background and while it was short on details, you could almost feel the chemistry between Daniel and James. It was a mature look at a second chance romance between two people who thought they might have had a connection but realized they were too young to do so. And really I think that’s a smart thing. A little pining is revealed when our couple take a break from the New Year’s celebrations, and it shows that in spite of being mature when they were young, it was also a learning experience for both of them. They found themselves and found one another again and decided to make a go of it. A perfectly serviceable and amicable read. I really enjoyed this author’s writing and pacing and will most likely seek out more by her.

DividersStardustTitle: Stardust

Author:  Andrew Grey

Publisher: Dreamspinner Press

Pages/Word Count: 62 Pages

Rating: 5 Stars

Blurb: Duncan is an ocean from home over the holidays and expects to spend them alone. To his pleasant surprise, one of his European co-workers, Georg, befriends him and includes Duncan in the holiday traditions of his homeland: cutting a Christmas tree under starry skies at Georg’s country estate, decorating it at the family’s city home, and shopping at the Christmas market in Munich. Both men are lonely and realize they have much in common. But Georg’s life is in Germany and Duncan’s is in Boston. With the project they’re working on nearing completion, any chance for more than a holiday fling seems as elusive as stardust.

Buy Links: Dreamspinner Press | Amazon US | All Romance eBooks

Review: This is how you do a short story. This story is truly a wonderful Advent gift. Grey is new to me and after this introduction, I will definitely be seeking more works by him.

Amazing detail and plot without being overly dramatic, Stardust is a sweet tale of romance and finding your place. I don’t even care that the happily ever after never occurs because Duncan and Georg were fully realized, and there was the hope of them making it in spite of their long distance relationship plans.

This was the first of the Advent stories I read that didn’t leave me feeling as if the setting was just another plot device. The holiday, the Germanic traditions, and the characters were amazing in their completion and detailing. I wanted more of the story at the ending of the book, but I was just so satisfied with how Grey ended everything; once again, it didn’t matter the bow wasn’t on this fantastic gift of a story.

I’ve got more of the stories from the anthology to read, but I wanted to take the time to share my thoughts on these few. I’ll be back with more thoughts on the stories at a later date.

 

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John Amory, Prizm Books

John Amory’s “A Christmas Caroler” Sings Its Way Into The Holidays



“Envy is the art of counting the other fellow’s blessings instead of your own.” ― Harold G. Coffin


Christmas trees aren’t the only things green in John Amory’s young adult tale A Christmas Caroler, the story of Jeremy Walsh, a high school senior who’s certain his final year in school will weigh heavily in his favor for the coveted and prestigious solo part in this year’s Christmas concert, and will guarantee a future at a prominent college, which will then lead to a certain path that includes one day singing at Carnegie Hall.

Until, that is, the new boy at school, Zach Brooks, lets loose with a voice that could make the angels weep; then all bets are off, and Jeremy turns positively pine green with envy that Zach has swooped in and snatched his dreams right out from under him.
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John Amory, Prizm Books

John Amory Brings “A Christmas Caroler” Calling – And He’s Offering A Giveaway!



I’m obsessed with Christmas. Seriously, I’m that person everyone on Facebook posts those photos captioned with stuff like “Thanksgiving is the next holiday! Wait your turn, Christmas!” about. I watch the Hallmark Channel round the clock beginning the weekend after Halloween for their annual “Countdown to Christmas” series of schlocky holiday romances. The “holiday” section of my iTunes Library has more songs in it than any other genre. I can recite every line of dialogue from The Santa Clause, Home Alone and Jingle All the Way. I’ve hosted Christmas in July parties. I buy multiple boxes of holiday-themed teas (Celestial Seasonings’ Sugar Cookie Sleigh Ride is the best, by the way) so I can drink it year-round. Like I said, obsessed.

But the one thing I’ve always loved most about Christmas, and the thing I miss the most since graduating from high school, is singing carols. I was in a competitive choir when I was in high school, and we sang the most amazing arrangements of the most amazing holiday songs beginning in October. We practiced for months to put together intricate concerts, and then we spent the entire month of December performing around the area at malls, nursing homes, hospitals, schools, and corporate offices. All of it culminated in a huge winter chorale, where hundreds of people came to listen to us. I loved every moment of it. There’s such a rush that came with performing those songs with a large group of singers, from being surrounded by the wall of sound created by sixty voices joining in bright harmony. It’s unlike anything I’ve experienced since.

When I decided to write A Christmas Caroler, my first holiday story, I knew I had to write about my favorite part of Christmas when I was younger: the music. I put a lot of my own high school choir experience into the story of Jeremy and Zach. That same feeling of awe the music inspired in me is what drives Jeremy’s dreams of being a professional chorister, for example. Singing songs at Christmas is something that I have always loved, and I think it’s one of those things that really bonds people at holiday time. I think music has a power over people, in general, but it seems even stronger during the holidays; you’d be hard pressed to walk through a shopping mall in December and not hear someone singing along to the carols being pumped through the sound system (especially if it’s Mariah Carey’s “All I Want for Christmas is You”… not that I’m usually that person, or anything). The music of Christmas is so ebullient, so warm and inviting, so evocative of love and togetherness that I think we can’t help but be comforted by it. Hopefully A Christmas Caroler can evoke some of those same sentiments in you.

~John~

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The Blurb: Jeremy Walsh is a high school senior who’s got big plans for his future — namely, to perform at Carnegie Hall. But before he can get there, he needs to secure the solo in his renowned high school choir’s Christmas concert and get into college. Everything seems to be on track until a cute new student, Zach Brooks, shows up and ruins all of Jeremy’s plans by snatching the solo out from under him. With his college auditions looming and the Christmas concert fast approaching, Jeremy has more on his plate than he can handle. Can the magic of the Christmas season bring Jeremy and Zach together?

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The Giveaway: THIS CONTEST IS NOW CLOSED

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A.E. Via, A.J. Corza, B. Snow, Backlist Book Bump, Deanna Wadsworth, Iyana Jenna, John Amory, Josh Lanyon, Lynley Wayne, M.A. Church, Sneak Peek

And Now, Here’s A Sneak Peek At The Coming Week


I hope you’ve all had a lovely week, and for those of you celebrating Hanukkah that your holiday time with family and friends has been, and will continue to be, wonderful.

And don’t forget, today marks the start of deliveries for Dreamspinner Press’s 2013 daily Advent Anthology Heartwarming. We’ve got all thirty-one stories we’ll be featuring throughout the month of December, but be sure to check them out yourselves.

We’ve got another busy week ahead of reviews, interviews, blog tours, giveaways, and even a scavenger hunt, so don’t miss out on all the fun! Here’s what we’ve got on tap.

 

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MondayDeanna Wadsworth arrives on her Naughty North Pole Blog Tour and she’s bringing a giveaway just in time for Christmas

TuesdayB. Snow will be here on the A Cunning Plan blog tour, with an interview and the chance for one luck reader to win the book

WednesdayA.E. Via stops by on her Blue Moon Blog Tour

ThursdayJohn Amory drops in to spread some holiday cheer on his A Christmas Caroler Blog Tour

FridayM.A. Church is doing the Backlist Book Bump with a new old book, The Harvest: Taken, and a giveaway

Josh Lanyon will also be here, as he makes The Novel Approach a stop on his A Dangerous Ground Blog Hop

SaturdayIyana Jenna will be our guest today with an article and giveaway of her latest book A Single Black Rose.

SundayLynley Wayne wraps up the week with an interview and giveaway of her latest release A Life Interrupted.

 

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And that sees us through another week. Until next time, happy reading!

We’ll leave you today with a little note from the ever delightful A.J. Corza:

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Hi guys *waves all around*,

Just a quick note this week to say that I am going to be going on hiatus until the New Year. I know, I know, I haven’t been here very long, but rest assured it’s not so much a vacation as just swamped with real life issues at the moment. School finals, work requests (keep those coming, though, please :D), and the reemergence of a father whom I’ve not spoken to in over 10 years has all pretty much culminated with head falling off.

Well, not yet, but that’s why the break—so my head actually does NOT fall off.

I just felt that right now I can’t do justice to my reviews or to the TNA site, and that is not fair to everyone else on the site or our lovely web mistress, Lisa.

Plus, being a bit blunt, I didn’t want the reviews to just suck balls, which I think they would have.

All that said however, PLEASE send me covers that you love if you see them, with the artist’s name if you can find it, or just covers you would like me to review. I’m going to stockpile some reviews for the New Year, and I’d love to include any faves or scary covers you ‘re especially fond of.

I promise I WILL be back!

In the meantime, I hope that you all have a wonderful holiday season no matter where you are and that the New Year finds you looking forward to new and exciting ventures. Or reviews in my case!

Happy Holidays and may the good books be with you!

A.J.

P.S. If you have a cover you want to send me, send it here:

coveredreviews@gmail.com

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Angel Propps, Ann Anderson, Anna Hedley, Erik Moore, Harper Bliss, John Amory, K. Lynn, K. Piet, L. Alonso Corona, Lor Rose, Piper Vaughn, Raven de Hart, Rob Rosen, Storm Moon Press

Gay and Lesbian Coffee Break Quickies Is Shorthand Sex That’s Long On Subtext

Quickie: Syllabification: (quick•ie)
Pronunciation: /ˈkwikē/
noun
a rapidly consumed alcoholic drink.
a brief act of sexual intercourse. – Source: Oxford American English Dictionary

And sometimes, quickies are had even in that order.

At any rate, we all know they’re that intense and spontaneous moment when foreplay is defined as the quickie: the sex is red-hot and is entirely about getting in, getting it on, and getting out before you get caught. Not to be confused with the nooner, the quickie’s less spontaneous cousin, these transactions of the hit-and-run variety, conducted online, in a cubicle, in the knee-space of a desk, or a locker room, are made all the more combustible by that element of danger in being caught with your pants down—quite literally—and ups the ante, turning the risks into a roleplayer in the game.

Storm Moon Press has gathered all that erotic potential and put it together in a compilation of short stories about sex in the workplace, which has nothing to do with harassment and everything to do with heating things up when the 9-to-5 gets altogether dull.

Thirteen authors have contributed their individual takes on workplace romance, and include:

Skype Wars by Rob Rosen (M/M)
Hands On by K. Piet (F/F)
One Week by L. Alonso Corona (M/M)
Working Lunch by Ann Anderson (F/F)
Personal Assistance by K. Lynn (M/M)
She’s the Boss by Angel Propps (F/F)
The New Guy by John Amory (M/M)
Stair Walking by Harper Bliss (F/F)
1-800-Boredom by Raven de Hart (M/M)
Fair Play by Anna Hedley (M/M)
His Non-Existent Coffee Break by Lor Rose (M/M)
Tele-Romance by Erik Moore (F/F)
Three Strikes by Piper Vaughn (M/M)

It’s extra tempting to tell you what my favorite stories in this erotic collection are; yes, I did have a few favorites, but rather than do that, I’ll say in all honestly that each of them was sexy—sometimes playful, sometimes all business—in its own way, not to mention a few of them having some very nice little twists in roleplaying and role reversal, making them just that little bit more enjoyable for the effort.

I can say with some confidence that if the idea of quickie shots of caffeinated sex are your…err…cup of tea, you ought to find this anthology every bit as much fun as I did.

And in case you missed it, check out K. Lynn’s interview HERE, in which she discusses her story “Personal Assistance.”

You can buy Gay and Lesbian Coffee Break Quickies here:

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