Review: NineStar Press 2017 Holiday Series by Various Authors - Pt. 3

Some say a mouse king has seven heads. Hah, trust a human to get our legends wrong.

A mouse prince must perform seven tricks before the twelve days of Christmas are up. It’s how he wins his crown, but the prince has whiskers set on something else. A stiff beauty with a magnificent jaw, waiting for him under the holiday shrub. He caught his scent in a dream, which he's been sniffing after ever since.

Scamper with him through his adventures and misadventures, dodging traps, cats, and giants, while he wins a steadfast nutcracker’s heart.

5 Hearts

This short story is a twist on the legendary Nutcracker Suite. It is an incredibly enjoyable read, Mousetrick a brilliant lead amongst a wonderful array of secondary characters.

Though the plot is driven by Moustrick's attraction to the Nutcracker, as well as his wish to perform the seven tricks, it isn't [primarily a romance. This is a delightful cinnamon-flavoured story that evokes Christmas despite being set from the viewpoint of a mouse in an alternative world. It's a story I can't contain in a review - it needs to be read, to be enjoyed. 

NineStar Press did a wonderful job with these holiday stories and this is one of my favourites.

Landon, father of three, accidentally runs into another shopper while looking at oranges in the supermarket. He thinks little of the incident, but after being tasked to find a church by his mother and testing out a Children’s Advent Celebration with his kids, he discovers that the shopper is actually one of the instructors helping all of the children make spiced orange pomanders. The man gives Landon a pomander with his phone number on it, but since Landon swore off men for 2017 after his partner left him and his dates have all flaked on him, will he take the instructor up on his offer of a date?

3 Hearts

This story was very short, a sweet little refreshment of a holiday read. It had quite a religious feel to it, as Landon is trying to find a church he is happy for him and his children to attend.  He stops in at one to check out an advent event with his children and when he's there he meets Max - the shopper he'd accidentally run into just a short while earlier.

This story was very short and for me, whilst well written, it was too short. I didn't feel I knew the characters sufficiently enough to particularly care about them. I could see the intention behind the story, the small, Christmas offering, but for my reading pleasure it just fell a tad short of the mark. As I have said a million times though, not appealing to me doesn't mean a bad story, it just means me and it weren't a fit. Check out other reviews for this story before making a choice!

As Chief Tactician for the airship DeGrasse, Jacob Scarberry has spent the last six months on a wearying tour of duty. He’s missing home, and his prosthetic leg is conducting the December cold straight to his core. But with the holidays coming up, he’s looking forward to a well-earned leave, sharing some Christmas surprises with his lover, Dr. H. Alphus Troyer, and welcoming in the dawn of the 20th century.
A professor at Ohio University, Al is already on Christmas break, and his unconventional household is in a festive frenzy. Al is a bit less joyous, his anticipation of Jacob’s return warring with uncertainty over the special gift he had commissioned for him. Would Jacob appreciate it, or will it put a strain on their relationship?
Suddenly Al’s worries become trivial when the newspapers report an attack on the DeGrasse. With Jacob fighting for his life miles away, Al is left to wonder whether Jacob will return at all, or whether the planned festivities will become holiday heartbreak instead.

4 Hearts
This story is set not just at the start of a new year, but at the threshold of a new century, and brings with it all the hope and possibilities that the dawn of a new age can.

I have to admit, I was thrown for a start as I didn't immediately place the era of this story, it felt too modern at the start to me. Once I'd got that straight in my head though I enjoyed this tale. It highlighted the long way we have come with regards to equality (though of course there is always from for improvement). The hidden nature of Al and Jacob's relationship, the class system and the societal repression of women were all shown.

Al and Jacob were certainly a case of opposites attract, one a tactician on airship, adventure abound and the other a professor, studious and prudent. This worked well though and made for an enjoyable read of two main characters I cared a lot about.

Malmö, Sweden, 1994

Erika Stolt is a feminist activist, and not one of the slick, lipstick lesbian variety. She’s the kind who trashes beauty contests, who graffitis her own subversive messages over commercial billboards, and who fucks people mainly as a political statement. But then a community service sentence lands her a spot as the unlikely new assistant of one of the candidates for the Malmö Lucia contest, and the world as she knows it is promptly turned on its head.

5 Hearts
I was surprised at how much I enjoyed this story - I didn't think angsty, feminine activists would make for a good holiday read. I was wrong. This is certainly one of my favourites from NSP's 2017 holiday stories.

Though perhaps not conventional, this story highlighted love and growth. Erika certainly grew up through this story; she didn't drop her ideals, not at all, but she learned to temper her approach and listen to others' opinions. 
I liked this.

Padma was a wonderful opposite to Erika's fire, at least at first glance. As they, and we, got to know each other better it becomes obvious that Padma does hold many of Erika's ideals dear, she just has a different way of facing things.
This really did make me a bit swoony, I loved both these characters and thought this was a great holiday read. Recommended.

Damon is getting over a bad breakup. Ioan is painfully shy. Neither expects to enjoy the New Year’s Eve party to which their mutual friend, Katie, has dragged them. However, their unexpected reunion may make them change their minds by the time midnight strikes.

4 Hearts
This is another story celebrating the new year, new start theme. Short and pretty conventional in a meddling bestie arranges a surprise meeting/boy meets old crush/they've both moved on kinda way, yet it was still an enjoyable read. 

The romance between Ioan and Damon was a bit instalove, but if you can't have that in a holiday book, when can you have it?! Despite this I found it a cute read. A tea break read perhaps, one to enjoy with a cuppa and some biscuits. An enjoyable end to my NSP holiday story reading this year.

All copies provided for an honest review.

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