#TwelfthNightReadathon | “Gifts of the Magi: A Speculative Holiday Collection” an anthology with a charitable heart benefiting Indy Reads Books!

Posted Saturday, 14 January, 2017 by jorielov , , , , , , , , , , , , , , 2 Comments

Twelfth Night Readathon badge created by Jorie in Canva.

Acquired Book By: Ahead of Christmas 2015, I received a beautifully lovely gift: a specially released anthology celebrating Speculative Fiction authors and the gift of charity. Indy Reads Books is an independent bookstore in Indianapolis, Indiana giving back to authors, readers and members of their community on a yearly basis whereas the other half of “Indy Reads” is a non-profit literacy organisation. This is a bookstore I have come to know through the authors who are behind this anthology: Mr (RJ) Sullivan, Mr (John F.) Allen and Ms Chris (E. Chris Garrison) of whom I have had the joy of interacting with both on blog tours or outside of them for Tomorrow Comes Media and/or Seventh Star Press.

This particular book was offered to me knowing how much I love holiday stories and the beauty of having such a strong presence of Speculative stories contained in one singular anthology with the heart of the holidays a central theme running through them! I personally love reading anthologies within the Science Fiction, Fantasy and Cosy Horror genres, which in of itself felt like a good fit to read this collection. I was unexpectedly taken ill during December 2015 (my infamous thirty day flu!) and this past December, whilst I had re-scheduled this to be a part of my #ChristmasReads and #WYChristmasReadathon series of posts, I was otherwise distracted by the recovery process after my Dad’s stroke. You can read about the first twenty-four hours after his stroke (per this post) and a bit of a background on my inability to read during December (per this anchour section of a recent review). Thus, my idea of recapturing the Christmas Spirit during Twelfth Night weekend was bourne!

I received a complimentary copy of “Gifts of the Magi” direct from the author R.J. Sullivan in exchange for an honest review. I did not receive compensation for my opinions or thoughts shared herein.

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#TwelfthNightReadathon & what sparked the idea:

I personally love reading holiday stories around Christmastime, however, this year, proved to be quite a unique year all the way round; starting Thanksgiving weekend. I dearly wanted to dig inside these lovely stories which are winking at me to read but with a heavy heart and a mind weighed down by anxieties attached to stroke patient’s recoveries, you could say the timing was definitively ‘off’ this year for posting anything remotely lit with the Christmas Spirit in December. I had to fight my way back into reading just to secure a passageway back into the hours I love spending inside stories and the journey of characters; as let’s face it, I had a lot on my heart and soul this year.

The blessing is being able to find my bookish joy emerged through a succession of Rom Novellas through a blog series I entitled: #MidnightChocLit (see the thread). This enabled me not only to retrieve my bookish heart but my bookish joy – the curiosity about stories and the lives of characters started to renew inside my imagination and it started me off again on solid ground. Spending this past week tucked inside an INSPY #HistRom also provided me with the hours I needed to heal my nerves and resume enjoying the hours I could spend inside a fictional world (see also Review).

Despite my progress back to my blog and back into an active reading life, there were ebbs of guilt murmuring inside my heart because more than anything I had wanted this to be a December where I could fully embrace reading stories of the season. This is when a lightbulb flashed in my mind – wait! The Christmas season isn’t fully extinguished until Twelfth Night and Twelfth Night is a celebration of the three kings! I knew I should start by reading and live tweeting my responses to Gifts of the Magi on this particular Friday, as it marks Twelfth Night officially! Ergo, all the lovely stories of Christmas Spirit across genre and literary selections could now be happily read during my own personal #TwelfthNightReadathon!

Except to say, Mother Nature had other plans in store for me – we had an epic storm arriving in the afternoon hours of Twelfth Night itself and it continued into Saturday; therefore, my tweets were quite a bit delayed – thus kicking off this readathon as a ‘weekend’ celebration; perhaps it was meant to be all along, as this is what I had put on the badge I created to celebrate the series of reviews! My readings of this anthology truly were encased during #TwelfthNight weekend, however, my reviews I wanted to feature over the weekend are running this week instead. The best part for me – is to be able to recapture stories of a season I cherish so dearly during a year where my heart was full of anxiety and now just a stone’s throw in the New Year, I can reattach the joys of soaking into stories of Yule & Christmastide!

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This of course, would have remained true if my dear Maine Coon / tabby hadn’t been struck quite ill whilst I was trying to kick-off this readathon. Turns out, as a senior cat of nearly 13 years he’s developed horrid food allergies and was quite miserable; his sister-in-arms is one year his junior (my little Tux!) of whom now has ‘food intolerance’s’. Despite being earnestly hopeful to find something that would work for them (as in their kittenhood and early years of growth, they had (as did their two siblings) multiple health issues which is why Mum and I were consistently ‘on the road’ to new places to purchase high quality pet foods whilst the Vets and my fam were growing more discouraged by the hour when even the best quality you can find isn’t working for your four cats. Hence why we were advised to go with what worked for our darlings and not worry about what is working for everyone else. This worked out quite well – until now.

Turns out!? The *best!* cat food our cats need was developed by Rachael Ray! Her Nutrish line for cats (esp the Chicken and Potato dry food!) is what turnt this crazy insanity around in *one!* feeding! ONE! Our Coon / Tabby who was *always!* Alpha is now a Beta cat whose so relaxed and happy, his Tux of a sister is still trying to get used to him being less playful around her and just go with the flow. All his issues are gone as are hers, to such a degree it’s a true miracle. They used to eat only wet food, but this dry food has done so many marvels for their health (i.e. vision, fur, digestion, etc) I cannot see them returning to wet food! Their so happy right now, it’s a beautiful thing to see – ergo, I am continuing this readathon in the spirit of Twelfth Night – as a closing of the holiday season and the stories of Yule.

This is why you’ll see my tweets stopped for a short break – as everything prior to Unraveled was written by the 9th before I was able to resume and conclude my ruminations.

Fun Stuff for Your Blog via pureimaginationblog.com#TwelfthNightReadathon | “Gifts of the Magi: A Speculative Holiday Collection” an anthology with a charitable heart benefiting Indy Reads Books!Gifts of the Magi
Subtitle: A Speculative Holiday Collection
by A.D Roland, Chantal Noordeloos, Debra Holland, Herika R. Raymer, John F. Allen, Katina French, Ms Chris (E. Chris Garrison), R.J. Sullivan
Source: Direct from Author

Stories for Christmas-- authors for the New Year!

Find within this magical tome 14 NEW original holiday-themed stories of fantasy, horror and science fiction by a talented group of authors--plus one holiday essay. The tales from our Magi vary from the light and satirical to the dark and serious, and we've shuffled the deck to keep you guessing.

· A time guardian may have to choose between preserving reality or destroying the man she loves.
· A snowman comes to life, but he's not a happy soul.
· Santa makes a terrible bargain in order to save Christmas.
· On Christmas Eve, a furious fairy princess attacks a double-decker bus.
· Two secret agents attend an exclusive Christmas party with an unusual price of admission.
· Soldiers in the midst of the zombie apocalypse try to find the Christmas spirit.
· A boy and his father confront an alien creature on the Longest Night.
· A mercenary packing magical pistols battles a monster while Christmas shopping for her werewolf boyfriend.
· Steampunk detectives find themselves fending off Christmas "elves."
· Humans exiled to an alternate world blend alien and human holiday traditions.
· A banished prince with a magic chicken finds a nearly drowned soldier--so says the storyteller.
· A bounty hunter searches for a rogue elf.
· A traumatized punk girl confronts the spirits from the worst night of her life.
· In a dystopian future, Christmas is outlawed.
· ...And Shirley Jackson Award-nominated author Nicole Cushing reveals the holiday specials that she feels deserve "lumps of coal."

100% of all proceeds from this book benefit Indy Reads.

Indy Reads is a not-for-profit organization that relies on volunteers to provide basic literacy tutoring to illiterate and semi-literate adults. Indy Reads operates a bookstore in downtown Indianapolis. Learn more at www.indyreads.org.

Places to find the book:

Add to LibraryThing

Find on Book Browse

ISBN: 978-1502902528

Also by this author: Hero's Best Friend: An Anthology of Animal Companions, Hero's Best Friend: An Anthology of Animal Companions, Blue Spirit, Guest Post (Restless Spirit), Restless Spirit, Road Ghosts : Omnibus Edition, Road Ghosts : Omnibus Edition, Virtual Blue, Darkness with a Chance of Whimsy, Author Interview (Red Lotus, Vol.1), Commanding the Red Lotus

Genres: Anthology Collection of Short Stories and/or Essays, Christmas Story &/or Christmas Romance, Cosy Horror, Fantasy Fiction, Science Fiction


Published by Speculative Fiction Guild

on Halloween, 2014

Format: Trade Paperback

Pages: 196

Published By: Speculative Fiction Guild | Facebook | @sfg2013

Available Formats: Trade Paperback and Ebook

Converse via: #SpecFict + #anthology (or #SpeculativeFiction)

About John F. Allen

John F Allen

John F. Allen is an American writer born in Indianapolis, IN. He is a member of The Indiana Writers Center, began writing stories as early as the second grade and pursued most forms of writing at some point, throughout his career. John studied Liberal Arts at IUPUI with a focus in Creative Writing, received an honorable discharge from the United States Air Force and is a current member of the American Legion. John's debut novel, The God Killers was published in the Summer of 2013 by Seventh Star Press. He also has published short stories in several anthologies including: Thunder on the Battlefield, Vol I, also by Seventh Star Press and In The Bloodstream, by Mocha Memoirs Press.

John currently resides in Indianapolis, Indiana.

About Ms Chris (E. Chris Garrison)

Ms Chris Garrison

E. Chris Garrison writes Fantasy and Science Fiction novels and short stories. She used to publish as Eric Garrison, but has since upgraded.

Her latest series is Trans-Continental, a Steampunk adventure with a transgender woman as its protagonist. The series is set in one of the worlds in Chris’s dimension-hopping science fiction adventure, Reality Check, both of these series are published through Silly Hat Books. Silly Hat Books released Alien Beer and Other Stories, a collection of her short stories, in 2017.

Chris’s supernatural fantasy stories include the Road Ghosts trilogy and it's companion series the Tipsy Fairy Tales are published by Seventh Star Press. These Urban Fantasy novels are humorous supernatural fantasies, dealing with ghosts, demonic possession, and sinister fairy folk delivered with a “lightly dark” side of humor.

Her novel, Reality Check, is a Science Fiction adventure released by Hydra Publications. Reality Check reached #1 in Science Fiction on Amazon.com during a promotion in July 2013. Chris lives in Indianapolis, Indiana, with her wife, step-daughter and cats. She also enjoys gaming, home brewing beer, and finding innovative uses for duct tape.

*Biography updated: March, 2018

About R.J. Sullivan

R.J. Sullivan with his characters

R.J. Sullivan’s novel Haunting Blue is an edgy paranormal thriller and the first book of the adventures of punk girl Fiona “Blue” Shaefer and her boyfriend Chip Farren. Seventh Star Press also released Haunting Obsession, a Rebecca Burton Novella, and Virtual Blue, the second part of Fiona’s tale. The short stories in this collection have been featured in such acclaimed anthologies as Dark Faith Invocations by Apex Books and Vampires Don’t Sparkle. His next book due out very soon will be Commanding the Red Lotus, which collects the series of science fiction novelettes in the tradition of Andre Norton and Gene Roddenberry.

R.J. resides with his family in Heartland Crossing, Indiana. He drinks regularly from a Little Mermaid coffee mug and is man enough to admit it.

On my connection to Mr Sullivan, Mr Allen and Ms Chris:

I’ve interacted with all three of these lovely authors over the past three years I’ve been a book blogger; two of whom I had the joy of ‘talking’ with directly via the podcast radio series The Star Chamber Show (airing on BlogTalkRadio); Mr Allen was during a Christmas programme and Ms Chris was during a regular broadcast. Since then, I have remained in touch with Mr Sullivan as his new releases would publish whilst I have interacted with Ms Chris through our respective blogs, the twitterverse and privately.

Although I have been curious about the writings of Mr Allen, until now I have felt perhaps his writings were a bit outside my comfort zone to enjoy reading. Which is a shame but I know he likes to write in a style that isn’t generally my cuppa of tea. Seeing one of his shorts included in this collection, felt like a chance to finally get a taste for his writerly style.

I am disclosing this, to assure you that I can formulate an honest opinion, even though I have interacted with these authors previously, I treat each book as a ‘new experience’, whether I personally know the author OR whether I am reading a book by them for the first time. Nor does my connection to these authors influence my opinions or thoughts when reading a collection they served as editors to pull together new authors I have not yet read.

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my review of gifts of the magi:

 { am electing to highlight the stories within the anthology

which piqued my interest the most out of the fifteen offered inside }

Reading anthologies is a personal joy of mine – digging into stories of the Speculative Realms within anthologies has become a guilty pleasure! At the bottom of this review is a list of all the lovelies I’ve encountered thus far and two I am going to be reading this January! Enjoy my ruminations!

This delightful collection of stories is introduced by the editors themselves (Mr Allen, Mr Sullivan and Ms Chris) whilst giving a small background of information about Indy Reads (both the non-profit to support literacy and the bookstore) whilst happily presenting the overview of the anthology itself where Science Fiction, Fantasy and Cosy Horror all come to interplay together in a bounty of stories rooted in the authors’ continuing universes or featured in select one-off stories to delight the readers who find this anthology.

For me, it’s a chance to read stories by authors I’ve heard about or have known about previously, but haven’t yet had the joy of reading whilst having the proper chance to become introduced to new authors I might not have crossed paths with otherwise. This is the truer beauty of reading anthologies for me – to find the #newtomeauthors you might not otherwise have a chance to read and thereby, find the authors you want to follow by reading their stories after you’ve consumed their shorts. Sometimes you find the authors in anthologies are just beginning their writerly careers and other times, they have an established backlist and frontlist of titles awaiting your bookish heart. The joy is in the art of discovering which of the writers in an anthology will tempt you and treat you with their imaginative story-telling – to find a collection centred around one of my favourite times of the year was quite a humbling joy!

My particular copy of this anthology was a bit sweeter with a special surprise – some of the authors inside the anthology enscribed their name or a left me a small note on the pages of their stories! I cannot tell you how delightful it was to read through the anthology – story by story – and finding a hidden ‘extra’ something left behind for me to find! It was a kind gesture by Mr Sullivan who organised the surprise and of whom sent this complimentary copy to me for review consideration. I am only regretful it took me a bit longer to dig inside than originally intended but I am hopeful, readers who are either wishing the holidays could be a bit extended this year or are in search of next year’s gifts, will happily reside on my review noting what made this collection special to me to be reading this January.

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| “An Outlandish Christmas” by Chantal Noordeloos | Site | @C_Noordeloos

What a festive story, this became! I was so taken by the descriptive way in which Ms Noordeloos captured the Christmas Spirit in her story; as it was such a striking contrast to the elements of Steampunk and Fantasy co-merging into such a lovely little ‘window’ in her world-building and the world in which this story is firmly set. It isn’t quite like anything I’ve read previously – the world is well-conceived but also, almost forgetting that this is your first acquaintance, which in of itself was quite charming! I sometimes do prefer stories that read ‘in-progress’ rather than trying to begin ‘somewhere’ ahead of where a story needs us to arrive. This isn’t always the case but for shorts and novellas, I find the mark of a writer who can hold my eye early-on is the one I dearly love finding to read!

It felt like a regular day in the life of Coyote (of whom is quirkily named Charlotte Web) except to say, whilst everyone is getting into the Christmas season by making sure their decorations are emerging on schedule, she has an unexpected task: to hunt down a mysterious Outlander and deliver them to her boss, the equally mysterious Ming. You can tell from this brief reprieve in their world – each of them in turn enjoy interacting with the other. The only exception is that I wish there had been a bit more feathered out about what an Outlander is even though it is briefly hinted at the fact these are beings/creatures outside our worldview and of whom, can have the ability to ‘walk between worlds’ as it were whilst causing a bit of chaos in this realm, too. I simply was curious to know their fuller back-story – do all Outlanders come from the same place, are they all related to each other or are they simply given the designation to announce how they interact with this world vs being a name of a species outright.

Coyote herself enjoys her fierce confidence but sometimes can get entangled into situations that do test her patience and her will to believe she has the skills to back-up the urgent need to handle the circumstances. It was interesting to see her falter a bit out on the hunt for the Outlander but even then, I was more smitten by the tech in the scene than Coyote’s faltering confidence. It was a small disc which when thrown positions itself into a net to ensnare an unsuspecting ‘being’. This is what pulled the punk into the steam for me inasmuch as how Coyote is leading a non-traditional life and rightly so.

There is such a beautiful quirk of a twist at the end of this short, I won’t spoilt it for my readers, but I will say if you love the lore and legends surrounding Christmas, this is a short you will enjoy tucking inside! I was captured by Coyote herself but also, how she has unresolved issues and there is a layer of uncertainty plaguing her conscience as well. Definitely could feel the texture of the evolving series but with a curiosity to read more once this short is consumed. I actually fancied being introduced at this junction before proceeding forward because you get to ‘catch’ everyone a bit outside their normal parameters. As far as being a ripwalker – as eluded too by the Outlanders – this interested me ever since I first started to read The Skin Map which evolves round ley lines. (see also Review )

I could be mistaken but when I saw this illustrative tweet from the author as I was formulating my thoughts on behalf of her Coyote short (as it’s part of the Coyote series) I felt this would be fitting to share as I believe it’s representative of the lead character herself and her companion in arms Caesar. To me, she captured their essence rather perfectly, don’t you!?

I found two books in sequence for this series, too. They are Coyote: the Clockwork Dragonfly (see also Synopsis) and Coyote: the Outlander (see also Synopsis). As mentioned at the back of this short, this particular story fits between books 2 & 3 which is a forthcoming title: Coyote: the Ripwalker. I am hoping these stories remain on the ‘cosier’ end of the Horror spectrum (if they are horrific at all) as I did read a bit about her writerly style on her blog which led me to believe this isn’t normally the case. I loved my introduction but I will have to contact the author to find out where on her spectrum of Horror this particular series ‘fits’. Also, it should be noted this appears to be a Western Steampunk series, however, I was so caught up in the momentum of the short, I did fail to denote that particular personality of the setting! I smirked at that realisation because I have a heart for Westerns and all stories set in the wilds of the West!

The author’s style had me considering where her series fits within the world of Steam(punk) as well – as there are variants on genre where merely listing a story or series as ‘genre-bender’ is only half the truth of what it actually could be called. The variants I am familiar with are Weird West, Dieselpunk (of which I have seen more in motion pictures than I have read, to be honest! If you consider: The Rocketeer, Sky Captain & the World of Tomorrow and others like it! ), Clockworkpunk, Clockpunk (The Three Musketeers of the 2000s) and Solarpunk (eco-futurism). It is my continuing journey into the heart of Steampunk and a rooting out of which sub-genres and thematics of storycraft I personally appreciate devouring most; wherever this series lies, it has left me curiously curious to seek it out.

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| “Season of Renewal: A Gods’ Dream Trilogy Short” by Debra Holland | Site | @DrDebraHolland 

Season of Renewal by Debra HollandYou’re immediately pulled into this world – not just because of what is happening around Jasmine (or even how much it reminded me of the fates of lives disappearing in the Clan Chronicles) but due to the layers of emotional conviction assaulting you as soon as you disappear inside this intriguing world set around war. As you walk alongside Jasmine you can feel the urgency of her heart wanting to will her ability to effectively make more than marginal enroads of a difference in the lives put into her charge. She’s an interesting woman by all fronts, including being selfless in seeking out further knowledge and training to better aide others as she works tirelessly towards giving psychological and spiritual healing to those who need it most. Seeing her react to the helplessness situation at hand only further pivots towards how harrowing of a time it is for her and others like her who are working against time.

It was interesting finding out how everyone was knitted together through telepathy or empathic gestures of reassurance; as Holland calls this ‘othersense’ in her stories. It is through this deeper connection everyone on this world can exchange a more direct exchange of thought, conscience emotion and mindfulness of others feelings. We are entering into a void of time after a terrible war and where the healing is still fully in-progress for everyone involved. Here we are treated to fond recollections by Jasmine & Khan (a married couple) and Sadie – each of whom share memories of being Earthbound prior to their travelling to this new (nearly hidden world) place of residence where instead of having Gods and Goddesses the substance of folklore they take a more immediacy role in people’s lives. Through these conversations, they share about how their different religious backgrounds affected their holiday celebrations and how different holidays were perceived on Earth in general. It became a fascinating discourse for those gathered around them, as life has a different rhythm here.

I can sense an epic world-building brewing in the background; this short only hints and nods towards the larger picture just out of sight from where this short chooses to take a new reader to this world. There are moments of familiarity of the elements etching out of the background to where I felt cosy comfortable being in this world because I could attach my imagination to where the author wanted us to go visually but there were times where I wish I had the trilogy on hand and could read through the timeline and then re-position myself back into this short; the depth of the emotional anguish would have felt more real to me I think, because although the author graciously talks about the loss and the hardships these characters have endured – all of it is quite out of context to the reader, as it’s long since past by the time we arrive at this particular ‘moment’ in their timeline. The strongest tug I felt was the opening paragraphs, where you felt more intrinsically rooted to how Jasmine felt rather than the harder contextual memories of her friends, where everything is a bit leftover from when the events originally occurred. I think this is one of those shorts where prior reading might be a benefit; as this would prove to be a celebration of friendship and a reclamation of the small joys which knit out the happiness of your life after severe trauma and the wrenching emotional loss the characters have surely felt prior to now.

Whilst I was composing my thoughts on behalf of this short, I found out Ms Holland is a therapist which made sense considering how strong of an emotional beginning she writ into the opening paragraphs of Season of Renewal; you can almost feel the heartache pulsing off the page and boomeranging into your own heart and conscience; it’s that effectively written! Plus, I visited her website and happily found her stories are available by audiobook! This delights me to no end, as I’m a recent audiobook listener whose helping her local library grow their eaudiobook selections via Overdrive whilst taking joy in finding audiobooks in the collections already available inasmuch as hosting forJess @ the Audiobookworm  Promotions. Visit the author’s full listing of audiobooks.

I also found out the order of the series: (view on author’s site) Sower of Dreams (see also Synopsis); Reaper of Dreams (see also Synopsis); Harvest of Dreams (see also Synopsis) then this short Season of Renewal. All of which are happily available as audiobooks! Unfortunately none of these are listed in WorldCat to ILL (only e-books) in print which is why I’ll either have to wait to gather the print books or see if my library can gather the audios.

I am definitely going to be re-reading this short story after I’ve had the chance to read through the series itself, as I feel I was almost cheated in some ways to feel the release of the tension and the heartache as this is a healing message of how to come out of adversity and re-walk into the future with a lighter spirit and a heart full of hope; which you can feel and attach yourself too, but what I mean is, I’d rather walk the distance of the journey first with the characters and truly feel I know and understand them before I get this resolution to their lives. The best blessing is being able to ‘meet’ them and learn of the series – as I would have missed out on a wonderfully epic drama!

postscript: I am always happily amazed how interconnected the book world is on Twitter, especially considering how blessed I was to interact with Ms Holland during a week of revisions to not only understand her series a bit better but to let her know how dearly I want to read the trilogy in full prior to finalising my review as although this section was finished, I still had other stories in the anthology to read. Due to this blessing, I am able to add the cover art for the series and the short story. More is forthcoming as I enter into the trilogy…

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| “Quantum of Solstice” by J.P. Bastin  | Site | Facebook

This one had me a bit on the edge of my seat – mostly because it’s been such a long while since I’ve read Military Fiction such as the kind you find being highlighted in this short. I didn’t quite get the connection to the holiday season in this short, as I was more taken by a ‘second chance’ at true love for the lead characters than anything else. They had met in the field and despite nearly becoming together as a united couple years ago, something derailed the connection. You can feel the tension between them in the beginning, because Cassie and O’Malley aren’t ones to mince words. They own their feelings and decidedly remain open about expressing them.

This particular story felt cohesive in most places and a bit too rushed in others; the only mention of Christmas at all were the ‘gifts’ given to Cassie & O’Malley which were clues in how to approach their current ‘mission’ by an unknown benefactor of whom they do eventually meet lateron. The compelling part of the story for me is how both of them wanted to amend the past and put past hurts behind them. They wanted to find a way to pull closer together and not let the job or the particulars of their career continue to push them apart. This was compelling because they live such high octane jobs, you can readily understand how difficult it would be to make a close connection and then, keep the connection alive to where it would thrive under extreme pressure or long absences.

Although I appreciated reading this short, as it was a Contemporary Rom – the other half of the author’s stories fall into a category of Rom I never read. When I went to find out if she has any other stories set like this one, I could only find the other half of her career listed instead. I am thankful I had this small taste of her style and appreciated the time I spent with her characters.

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| “The Warmth of Midwinter” by Marian Allen  | Site | @MarianAllen

Marian Allen

On my connection to Ms Allen: My path in the twitterverse crossed a few times with Ms Allen, especially in regards to events attached to Seventh Star Press, The Star Chamber Show or the Imaginarium (an annual writer’s convention); however, despite our paths crossing over the past three years since I first went on Twitter, I sadly haven’t had the chance to seek out one of her stories to read. Part of my New Year’s resolutions isn’t only to become ‘current’ with my backlogue of reads but to seek out #newtomeauthors I’ve been curious about reading since I started blogging and sharing my readerly life. Ms Allen is on this list; therefore imagine my joy in finding a short story by her included in the anthology?! I hadn’t remembered from last year – as of course, a lot has happened in the past twelvemonths!

I liked how Ms Allen pre-empted her story by asking the question ‘does time truly matter when it comes to stories that encircle your mind?’ to which I would aptly reply: not really!

What was quite stirring about this short, is how wicked interesting the world was where Ms Allen set her tale! To have food magically appearing in cookpots and having a hen produce eggs which whip up the delights of your foodie senses upon cracking them? Or rather, upon first crack of an egg – what you truly need might not even be food? It could be something dearly necessary (i.e. clothes) by which somehow your thoughts of willing an object or item to be ‘hatched’ is stirred inside the egg and thus, the egg produces what is needed. Who wouldn’t want to live there!? It would be a foodie’s dream or a baker’s delight – imagine if you could cull the magic to help you bake everything ‘right’ the first time you attempted a new recipe!? How fetching the aromas would be in that kitchen! Not to even mention how all the rudimentary necessary items would no longer be a worry because you’d always have exactly what you need!? I am sure there is more to this kind of magic, but on the onset of learning about it, how lovely it would be to know by cracking an egg, at least one immediate worry is dissolved?

There are two rather eccentric characters at the heart of this story – an elder man of unknown years and his equally elder grandmother; she is a bit more interesting because she’s attending the scene peripherally rather than centre-focused. You gather this man wouldn’t be housed in this particular part of his realm if circumstances hadn’t exiled him. From his grandmother, you sense he should be thankful for what he has now and not bitter about what he has lost in the past. They have an interesting duality to them.

The beauty of the tale is one of finding the moral ground to walk in a life of duty and honour, where the fine line between what is right or wrong might not be as clearly visible. It’s a good story to read at the holidays because of the truthfulness in being humble and forgiving; to err your wrongs and to find ways to affect other people’s lives for the good. You get so caught up in this short piece of literature, the ending comes far too soon!

I’d love to find out if this was a one-off or a connected story to one of Ms Allen’s series. I’m thinking it’s a one-off addition as per each story in the anthology, there is a footmark of where to ‘read’ next if you wanted to continue your appreciation of the author’s collective works you’ve been treated to viewing. This is how I knew about the series attached to the other authors and why I think this might be a gem of an extra rather than an inclusive piece to a series. Knowing that – the other question that sparked to mind, is which series should I seek out first after having appreciated this short!?

postscript: This is where being able to connect with authors on Twitter, once again was a benefit and a blessing, as I learnt where this short story fits and which series it is a part of! More info on the SAGE series.

I was able to gleam there are more stories within the SAGE series universe within the new anthology SHIFTY – whilst happily finding that I now know which series by Ms Allen I’d like to read first! I might even be keen to read SHIFTY next, to enter into her mind’s eye through her shorts and rooting around her world through her secondary characters and extensions of thought funnelling out of SAGE prior to directly entering the world itself. At this point in time, I am simply blessed for the ‘introduction’ and the graciousness of the author’s time in helping me sort out the question I had pitched! Similar to interacting with Ms Holland; this section of my review was already finalised and I was thankful to ‘add’ the covers which represent the author’s world.

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| “The Curious Case of the Cobbler’s Christmas: A Tale of the Clockwork Republics” |
by Katina French
  | Site | Blog | @KatFrench

Katina French

“I’ve recently returned to my first love, writing fiction. My specialty is steampunk retellings of classic fairy tales, but I also love contemporary fantasy and old-fashioned, unpretentious space opera. If you like fast-paced speculative fiction with a sense of humor, give my stories a try.” self-quote of the author Katina French

Katina French writes fast-paced, humor-laced adventure stories with a touch of mystery and romance that appeal to young adults and the young at heart. She’s been married for two decades to her best friend, who proposed at a cast party for their high school production of M*A*S*H. (Kat played “Hot Lips” Houlihan.) They live in a Grey Cottage in southern Indiana with two amazingly creative, funny, opinionated kids and a Siamese cat.

As I was contemplating the story-line, I was more compelled to seek out a bit of information on behalf of the author behind the narrative; this led me to a wicked lovely discovery! The author put together a page on her author’s site that truly answered the key question I always follow-up with privately: can the materials on a Press/Media page be used by book bloggers or reviewers!? Blessedly, Ms French took the guesswork out of my enquiries which is why I was able to embed her short biography & author’s photo! Of the four fairy-tale re-tellings listed on her Steampunk Republics page – I must admit, two stood out to me to read: “Mirrors and Magic” a re-telling of Snow White (see also Synopsis) and “Bitter Cold” a re-telling of the Snow Queen (see also Synopsis). Mostly because of the four stories focused on – these two stood out! Although I liked the other two stories as a child; I personally *adored!* Snow White and I learnt of the Snow Queen as an adult; hence why I leaned towards these two rather the other two selections.

Here’s a curious thing though: when I went to follow Ms French on Twitter, I discovered something quite extraordinary: I was already ‘following her’ and I had already ‘filed’ her on my Lists: Writers Who Find Me (it’s quite the expansive list now!)(a true WIP to log each print book out there into my LibraryThing, too!), Indie SFF Authors and Authors Keen to Read. Isn’t that interesting?! I have NO recollection of doing this! Clearly, this brings to point how difficult [2016] proved to be or it could prove how distracted the past few years have been off and on by personal stress. Either way, I’m simply overjoyed I had this (second) chance to ‘meet’ the author for the first time (in print!).

Best way to draw my eye into a story of Steam and punk is to whet my thirst with alchemy, automations or inventive innovations and a tinkler! Ms French excels in getting a reader to soak straight into the heart of her world with only a few winks, nods and quirky quips of insight to ferret out a well of curiosity of what ‘lies behind the veil’ – as this is what I was so spontaneously curious about: if you intermix alchemy arts and tinking, what folly could arrive through your door!?

And, what folly indeed! I was not disappointed! When Ms French laments she likes to curate a lot of well-intentional humour into her stories whilst curating a quick-step of a pace, she’s not kidding! I was laughing into the mirth of the moment long before I realised the whole shindig had occurred on a mere page or two whilst the fullness of the scene felt much longer! The piece was quite cloyingly familiar if you are ever round a happily married couple whose fixation on teasing the other comes out in ‘inside’ jokes and pranks! This was indeed the case here – as the tinker Merryweather and his wife Greta were such a stitch for the eyes! They knew exactly what would push the cart into the apples whilst giving a woman her due at the same time! Seriously, it was quite classic, really!

I loved the idea behind using alchemy to wield automation as through my readings of Ms Burgis (see this thread) I’ve learnt the darker motivations behind alchemic practices. This time round it was nice to see something quite useful and innovative being utilicise for the good. Ooh! And, right there – just a toss of a throw from their personal row, is an inkling of a hint – this particular short is linked to one of the stories I wish to read most: The Snow Queen! Ha! Even after complete amnesia, I still know my bookish heart! Ha!

To find a detecting duo who would prefer to detect over practicing their trade-in-arms is quite the delightful discovery! I wonder if these two will spin out a collection of shorts based on their further adventures or a sequel to The Snow Queen!? Not even halfway through this short and the prospect is wicked brilliant to me as they are naturally captivating to read about and there is something cheeky about how they not only interact with each other but prefer a bit of dangerous investigative missions to keep the balance of their lives in check. Add in a mysterious society who reminds me of the Watchers from Highlander (always observant, reluctant to interfere!) and this is quite the gem!

The fashion choices were a brilliant choice – plus, there are moments of this short which etch to mind the reasons why I love watching Murdoch Mysteries on seasonal dvds (via my local library); there is something about how technology and the Victorian era match so well together! I even like the plucky choice wear what might be considered men’s clothes in lieu of a dress for the stake-out at the cobblers’ shoppe! This mystery has a very sinister underplot attached to it – one that I believe was well fleshed into The Snow Queen – as a few passages felt like a recapture of previous events to help augment new readers into this particular world. A good choice on French’s behalf because it helped moved your mind towards what motivated Greta to re-align her fate into this cat and mouse world.

I definitely want to know about Merryweather and Greta! And, no, I didn’t mind at all there was only the loosest of mentions towards the Christmastide, either! This short was simply delish! Even if it has a curiously Cosy bit of Horror attached inside it, too! Still it was quite palpable and alluringly curious to tempt you to find more of their adventures!

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| “This thing called Christmas” | by Herika R. Raymer  | Site | Facebook | @HerikaRRaymer

You instantly connect to Faye and Pippa; two girls whose friendship has endured distance and disconnection whilst being fraught with rules and regulations which make your head spin, to be honest! They live in a world divided – where the states are no longer united and where there are particularities about how to transport oneself between different sections of what used to be known sections of the Southeast. It is within this frigid entrance (as the weather is quite fowl; loads of snow and Winter’s full hand upon the forest) we greet these spirited friends who not only came up with a clever plan to outwit the officials on their holiday rendezvous but they each were wicked excited to be with each other. It was the kind of friendship you can immediately warm to observing and understand outright.

The descriptive lushness of Ms Raymer’s style is dearly beneficial to fully believing you are centred in this section of the story; it’s such a beautiful backdrop despite the less than stellar rules as once your out in nature’s backdoor, who cares!? Even the nod towards the technology was cleverly used to throw a nod towards progress but with the added benefit of how easily it is to find loopholes in the system of constant oversight or outright observation. In this timeline, things are beyond regulated in everyday life, even the way in which holidays are observed and celebrated. If you can imagine it – even the food has become a step up from processed and fast; they went straight to the Federation regulators and replicators! (i.e. Star Trek) There is a scene when Faye first awakens the first morning of their ‘holiday’ to a foodie feast of joy spread out before her in the cosy cabin’s kitchen; it reminded me of a scene from Star Trek: The Next Generation when Keiko was trying to explain to Miles why growing a ‘garden’ was spiritually renewing. It harkens back to when man loses sight of nature and the connection to harvest and the tangible vitality of our living biosphere: we erase key components of our humanity.

A small community starts to gather inside this cabin; all of whom are connected through Pippa, the cheerleader of festive hope of Christmas Future, as this is a plan she helped put into place to restore the Yule of Old by ushering in a new chapter for Christmas to take it’s rightful place in the middle of December. The people she invited each brought their own stories with them, such as the woman whose humble ornaments for the tree (the spider webs) ached out a beautiful story of tenacious fortitude to overcome adversity. Each in turn explained what they had brought for the ‘tree trimming’ ceremony which was to happen right outside the cabin, making the moment even more heart-centred and special. By sharing their traditions they were repairing the void of not being allowed to celebrate pieces of their heritage and in some ways, renewing their own conscience about how hope can spark a light of peace.

I was fully consumed by this piece – there are historic details of how Christmas is celebrated and how different interpretations of the holiday adds dimensional joy to it’s celebrations. It was such a tender and sweet short story; one you could easily re-visit each December as the hours start to tick down til Christmas as this was a very passionately told tale. I can only hope the author might flesh out more stories of this nature or perhaps, enlarge Pippa and Faye’s tales to include stories of how their world became so very fractured and spilt apart. I can only hope if their stories continue, the healing period of this first Christmas is also remembered and expanded upon in sequels.

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| “Unraveled” | by A.D. Roland  | Facebook

When I first read this short, I admit, it took me a bit to shift into the folds of how it’s told, except I think it was more due to the hour I chose to read it rather than the way in which it’s written. Upon second reading, I found myself drawn straight into it’s suspenseful pulse; as there is a strong sense of ‘unknown’ permeating through this short; an urgency fraught with grief and the ambiguous loss of never truly understanding ‘what is happening’ when the mind and memories therein are fractured or out of sequence. Yet, this is only one-half of the beauty of how this short is told – as it’s a bending of how time is perceived and how time itself is defined.

I appreciate stories of this nature because I am an avid reader of time travel, time slip and time shift stories – where writers seek to percolate the discussion forward about how time is oft-times perceived differently than how it exists and how time can sometimes become manipulated or altered. In this timeline, there is a crew of time keepers if you will, who monitor the loom of time (so to speak) whilst keeping mindful of how each fragile thread of time needs special attention if it were to become mishandled or influenced by those without an innocent heart or mind. In some ways, this opening explanation of how time can be unjustly influenced reminded me of why I enjoy the new tv serial Timeless (or at least to say, the first three or four episodes thus far in). It’s one thing to accept how time works outside of our reality but to step through that threshold where we become transiently connected to how time ebbs and flows forwards and backwards; snaking through centuries and weaving through the collective history of man is quite impressive.

We’re travelling through time – on an uncharted passageway to collect debris of humanity; bits of our lives spread out through time out of step with their origins; tangible objects not meant to be seen or found in one decade need to be collected before they cause damage to the evolving timeline which remains temporal. Small changes can lead to alterations which could have greater gravity on the entire timeline – thus, without the time keepers (or time rippers; as they walk the rips in time) too much would become lost and disintegrated into the void of where no time can be recovered.

The curious bit is how these tangible objects are attracted to her; how she’s collecting them and finding them fused to her being. Almost as if there is a message attached to the objects; a hidden truth or a note of awakening to realise something either forgotten or unseen til now. As you follow her journey, the realisations of what those objects were referring too and how once you eclipse time, the boundaries of what you can do are not quite the same as before you’re eyes were opened to the threads of eternity. This short is eloquently told, purposefully esoteric and beautiful in the romance of how two souls fought to reclaim what was once lost and yet never forgotten.

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| “Christmas Special” | by E. Chris Garrison | Site | Instagram | @ecgarrison

Oh! how I delighted in realisation of ‘whom’ was making an appearance in this short! I have my magic token at the ready, too! Everyone who is about to meet or wants to meet the Transit King, best have one in their pocket! Laughs. I was also happy to see Gonzo again – after finally getting to meet him properly within the pages of Restless Spirit (see also Review).

Gonzo and Enid are taking a bus trip to Chicago, only who do you think decides to make his presence known and disrupt their light-hearted holiday plans!? Yes, of course! The feisty and hard-to-turn-down Transit King! He had that glimmer of mischief in his eye, but a bit of a concerning glance of uncertainty, too; not like his usual bravo of confidence. Apparently, even the fey of his powers can back-peddle a bit in confidence if they are afraid of something they don’t want to admit to others. In true Gonzo style, he remained indifferent to the presence of the Transit King; trying to warn Enid of the dangers lurking out of sight but try as he might, Enid was a girl who wanted something a bit more adventurous than her duties at a pizza parlour allow! Thus, she readily agreed to the terms bestowed to her and was given a very small object to safeguard.

Shortly thereafter, a sudden meteorological force of nature bursts through the bus – causing a blizzard of snow to arrive whilst depositing an elf into the fray! I loved how Ms Chris re-wrote the story of Jack Frost from a feminine prospective whilst giving such a hearty fit of joy in seeing how the Transit King can change lives simply by asking people to take a step outside their comfort zones! In this short, he helps Enid realise something quite wonderful about herself (which may or may not suit Gonzo well!) – giving her a brand-new point-of-view on everyone around her! I liked how serious it was but also how sometimes the best holidays are the ones spent caught up in the unexpected!

One thing I love about reading stories (short or novels) by Ms Chris, is that she always has such a champion way of lifting your spirits by the tales she is telling. There is always a moral lesson knitted into the background, too, and this one had a special one attuned to Ms Frost! I even liked how she played with the Christmas thematic and how this short ends on an upbeat! Her well-timed comedic moments are what make her shorts brilliantly joyful to read but it’s her evolving style of pulling all her characters together into one world of inclusion that remains my favourite of her writerly style!

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| “Blue Christmas” | by R.J. Sullivan | Site | @RJSullivanAuthr

I was happily delighted to find this vlog of Mr Sullivan reading a portion of the short uploaded to YouTube! I haven’t had this much fun listening to an author read their story since the days I was involved with listening to Mr Barrus read Discovering Aberration (see also Friday Night Reading series). I listened to his narration ahead of reading the story, and I hope if you listen to his narration it will encourage you to pick up this lovely anthology – of which has given me a lot of joy this New Year to devour!

He narrates three pages (wells, shy of a few sentences of completing the third page) before explaining the more explicit content authors were tempered for content in this anthology to be moderately family friendly; an explanation I do agree with even though I still found one of the editor’s short still a bit outside my readerly sensibilities (Mr Allen’s). I honestly read all of the shorts, except for a brief few (perhaps three in total?) which simply weren’t my cuppa. There is an absence of strong language for the most part, though some shorts have a few words sprinkled here or there; overall, it wasn’t overt as some anthologies or as inclusive as most modern fiction. For this, I was grateful!

My readings of Mr Sullivan’s fiction have introduced me to Blue, Chip and Rebecca Burton in the past, as I’ve read one of two novels featuring them (see also review) whilst finding a lovely short story feat. Rebecca Burton in the author’s anthology Darkness with a Chance of Whimsy (see also review). It was nice to get another ‘story’ in this continuing saga of their lives.

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Mr Sullivan introduces ‘Gifts of the Magi’ whilst reading a small portion of his short Blue Christmas

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I was not surprised in the least, Ms Burton found a way to surprise Blue and Chip at Christmas; nor was I surprised she knew how to diffuse the fathers’ who were concerned about her presence ahead of taking them off on a holiday escapade! The reason behind her sudden visit was alluring enough: Blue’s mother had died tragically and now her spirit was in danger of being cast out of the region! Also, in tradition of Mr Sullivan and Ms Chris sharing their characters; the Transit King plays a small part of getting word to Ms Burton about what is about to happen or what is already in-progress regarding Blue’s mother.

Although, initially there was a threat against Blue’s Mom, what endeared me more is how this became an unexpected gift for Blue and her father; as Ms Burton planned something quite extraordinary for them to experience as a family. It played to the hope of what we all have for tomorrow and how when we lose those especially dear to us, how difficult it is to walk without their presence. It’s a charming uplift of a story to conclude reading Gifts of the Magi. It is also a good primer to become introduced to the world in which all of these characters reside – as the danger is always elevated but there are moments of downtime where they can humbling experience ordinary moments in-between the horrific.

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I actually started off the anthology by reading Lumps of Coal by Nicole Cushing – although the reason I hadn’t highlighted this earlier is because I was trying to sort out my thoughts about what I had read! You see, the author took a rather comedic viewing of the holidays whilst offsetting the social or familial obligations with a binge of watching classic television and/or holiday films – most of which I’ve never heard of or would have considered watching previously (we have different preferences) but one particular series, I do admit to loving growing up alongside The Bionic Woman which of course is The Six-Million Dollar Man. Ironically or not, I do not remember Majors sporting a mustache myself though recently (further irony) in December I caught an episode of the series (briefly; it looked as emotionally gutting as my days already felt) where he was wearing it!

In this discourse of a short, Cushing presents how sometimes the things you feel have no benefit in your life can honestly be re-viewed through a different periscopic lens to reveal how amazing their presence honestly can become at times when you need a gaff of a laugh or a hearty distraction to offset your stress or blues. I was further surprised she hadn’t mentioned Seth Green’s role on Buffy, as it was the only role outside of The Byrds of Paradise I would have known him (except for his guest appearance on seaQuest DSV). However, the main key to the presentation of three Christmas specials was to turn the heel on perception and appreciation whilst working on a thesis of how sometimes even if things don’t quite go the way you’re expecting them to go doesn’t mean there isn’t beauty in the moment. For that, she definitely made a good point on what to focus on during the holidays and what to simply ‘let go’ and realise there are greater things happening than the few jarringly small things that tend to distract you.

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Although, there were a few shorts I simply couldn’t encourage myself to ‘go there visually’ as they might have stepped out of Cosy Horror and moved straight into the heart of the genre I do not read; what I appreciated the most was the eclectic nature of the anthology itself and the curious manner in which the stories alight to be read in a ‘grab bag’ fashion of inclusion! You simply never know (as forewarned in the Foreword!) which kind of story you’re going to read next until you’ve already consumed a small portion of it’s words!

For me personally, the newcomer on the block David Jobe would appear more to fans of traditional Zombie stories (i.e. The Walking Dead – aka the series that Jorie would RUN from and never watch herself) or in the traditional of Horror Suspense. Why I lasted as long as I did in the opener of this story is a marvel to myself, but of course, I reached that personal threshold of – ooh, no! it’s one of those! whereupon I made a quick exit and continued my readings! I’m simply not the right girl to enjoy a story around the undead.

I managed to read the short The Longest Night by Matthew Barron through to it’s entirety except to say, it pushed me at times for being a bit more horrific than cosy. It was a tragic tale in a tragic world with even more tragic circumstances befalling villagers who felt as if they had already endured too much beyond their fair due. It was at the conclusion of a series by the author (you can nearly feel it; the oppressive weight of the villagers depleted hope) but in this turn of fate, part of the twist was the innocence of misplaced trust and how vengeance is never quite the right answer to a wrong done against you; as it turns your heart as black as your adversary. At times, there were ominous reflections of the Christmastide – you can sense where the author was inspired but at the same time, it’s not a short for the faint of heart. Again, the reason it didn’t become an outright favourite of mine is just how dearly depressive the story unfolded. There is a bright light at the end of it all but I almost wondered if it was lit enough? There was such a callous disregard for life by the foes in this short it was hard to hold onto the goodness that was leftover.

One thing I observed whilst I was reading these lovely shorts is how there were glimpses of Dsytopia erupting through the collection. It was done in such a way to enlighten the reader to think about juxtapositional observations from our world into theirs, I was thankful the authors took the tone & mindset they did to tell their stories. Quite fascinating of all is how this became a thinking person’s anthology of cautionary & joyous tales of Yule.

I am so very thankful I could dig inside this collection during the first week of the New Year [2017] as it dearly became a new beloved anthology I am thankful to have received! The stories will stay with me and I know it will now join the lovely list of Speculative Anthologies which have simply warmed my bookish heart to read! In all the reviews below, you will notice that per each anthology the number of stories I felt most attached too differs greatly – for some, it was only a small handful, or others, a few jarred me in and out of my comfort zones (similar to this one) and others; wells, you simply have to visit those pages to soak inside how well I am gushing over their stories! Yes, dear hearts, I said ‘gushing!’ as one particular editor has a way of giving me a hearty sea of unfounded joy by how she selects her shorts!

I am hoping I have inspired some of you to pick up a copy of Gifts of the Magi – whether to be enjoyed by yourself or a loved one, colleague or friend – either this New Year or the upcoming Christmas season – as this would give me the greatest joy knowing despite the delays I had in arriving inside the stories themselves, I’ve been able to properly pass forward the joy of their presence in my life! The fact this entire collection donates proceeds directly to Indy Reads Books is wicked incredible.

I’d be keen to know what you look for in anthologies and what draws your heart into the Speculative realms?!

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The Speculative Anthologies I *loved!* Reading:

did you notice? i’m quite addicted!

The anthologies by Rhonda Parrish:

FAE | CORVIDAE | SCARECROW + I look forward to continuing this series!

A Chimerical World: Tales of the Seelie Court (edited by Scott M. Sandridge)

Darkness with a Chance of Whimsy (stories of RJ Sullivan)

Commanding the Red Lotus (serial novellas of Space Opera) by RJ Sullivan

Southern Haunts 3: Magick Beneath the Moonlight (edited by Alexander S. Brown and Louise Myers)

Moments in Millennia (edited by Penny Freeman)

Nebula Awards Showcase: 2015 (edited by Greg Bear)

Next on my shelf to read:

FAR ORBIT: Apogee (Book Synopsis)

Nebula Awards Showcase: 2016 (Book Synopsis)

+ my forthcoming review of Indy Writes Books (anthology) celebrating Indy Reads! (Book Synopsis)

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Fun Stuff for Your Blog via pureimaginationblog.com Writerly Yours Christmas Readathon 2016

I am cross-promoting my Christmas readings this year via the #WYReadathon of which was put together after I had envisioned my own Christmas selections! I felt it was quite kismet on the timing of it all, and looked forward to engaging with other readers who were going to blog their readerly delights this Thanksgiving and Christmas season! I find that I am the most comfortable reading Christmas Stories between Thanksgiving and Twelfth Night (in January); as the stories just appeal to me to be read during this short period of time where the fullness of the season is not only apparent but can be felt by spirit, mind and heart. I look forward to sharing more of my selections with you as I proceed forward with my readings! Happy Christmas!

There are more #ChristmasReads arriving on #JLASblog ahead of Twelfth Night as I had to push my schedule forward a bit during Christmas Week. Therefore, the select Christmas stories I’ve been reading and enjoying company inside are still going to be featured this first week of 2017. I had to amend my #ChristmasReads schedule due to my father’s stroke (see also this post).

This marks my 8th #WYChristmasReadathon post –

  1. Read my initial joy over reading Christmas Stories on my review of “Finding Father Christmas”!
  2. You’re the One that I Want by Angela Britnell (review)
  3. Blueprint for Love by Henriette Gyland (review)
  4. Grand Designs by Linda Mitchelmore (review)
  5. Marry for Love by Christina Courtenay (review)
  6. Only True in Fairy Tales by Christine Stovell (review)
  7. The Art of Deception (review)

#TwelfthNightReadathon selections

  1. Gifts of the Magi (anthology) edited by RJ Sullivan, E. Chris Garrison & John F. Allen

+ films I’ve watched:

A Merry Murdoch Christmas (Murdoch Mysteries) | The Croods (as it’s fitting for a New Year)

What are you reading this Christmas Season?

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Cross-listed with my readings of the Sci Fi Experience (see also RALs and Challenges)

This post was revised on 27th January, 2017 to reflect the biography of John F. Allen

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{SOURCES: Author photograph of RJ Sullivan, Cover Art for “Gifts of the Magi”, Author Biography and the Book Synopsis were provided by RJ Sullivan and were used by permission. Author Biography and Author photograph of Ms Chris (E. Chris Garrison) were previously provided and are used with permission again on this review. Author photography and biography of John F. Allen provided by the author and used with permission (added: 27.Jan.2017). Book covers of the Gods’ Trilogy: “Sower of Dreams”, “Reaper of Dreams”, “Harvest of Dreams” and the short story cover “Season of Renewal” were provided by Debra Holland and used with permission. Book covers of the SAGE trilogy: “The Fall of Onagros”, “Bargain with Fate”, “Silver and Iron” and the short story anthology cover “SHIFTY” as well as the author’s photograph were provided by Marian Allen and used with permission. Author quotation, author biography and author photograph of Katina French were provided by the author and are used with permission. Post dividers by  Fun Stuff for Your Blog via Pure Imagination. Tweets embedded due to codes provided by Twitter. #WYReadathon badge provided by Priya of Writerly Yours and is used with permission. Blog graphics created by Jorie via Canva: #TwelfthNightReadathon and the Comment Box Banner. Book Photography Credit: Jorie of jorielovesastory.com.}

Copyright © Jorie Loves A Story, 2017.

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Reading this book contributed to these challenges:

  • #TwelfthNightReadathon
  • #WYChristmasReadathon
  • Sci Fi Experience 2017

About jorielov

I am self-educated through local libraries and alternative education opportunities. I am a writer by trade and I cured a ten-year writer’s block by the discovery of Nanowrimo in November 2008. The event changed my life by re-establishing my muse and solidifying my path. Five years later whilst exploring the bookish blogosphere I decided to become a book blogger. I am a champion of wordsmiths who evoke a visceral experience in narrative. I write comprehensive book showcases electing to get into the heart of my reading observations. I dance through genres seeking literary enlightenment and enchantment. Starting in Autumn 2013 I became a blog book tour hostess featuring books and authors. I joined The Classics Club in January 2014 to seek out appreciators of the timeless works of literature whose breadth of scope and voice resonate with us all.

"I write my heart out and own my writing after it has spilt out of the pen." - self quote (Jorie of Jorie Loves A Story)

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Posted Saturday, 14 January, 2017 by jorielov in #JorieLovesIndies, Bits & Bobbles of Jorie, Blog Tour Host & Reviewer, BlogTalkRadio, Book Review (non-blog tour), Cosy Horror, Fantasy Fiction, Folklore, Futuristic Fantasy, Guest Author on the Chamber, Indie Author, Parapsychological Suspense, Podcast, Supernatural Fiction, Telepaths & Telepathy, The Star Chamber Show, Vulgarity in Literature




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2 responses to “#TwelfthNightReadathon | “Gifts of the Magi: A Speculative Holiday Collection” an anthology with a charitable heart benefiting Indy Reads Books!

    • Hallo, Hallo Louise!

      I dearly agree with you! :) These stories are perfect for cosying inside during the festive season! I didn’t quite get to do that when I first read them, but I ended the hols with these in my heart and imagination which was good enough!! I can’t wait to see which of the stories speaks to you and which ones resonate with the most! Eek. To be able to see this collection with fresh eyes must be wickedly fantastic!! Hope you enjoy the immersive experience!! I love anthologies for introducing me to #newtomeauthors – I hope you find a few yourself!!

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