Monthly Archives: June 2018

Calling Home – Jen Silver

Calling Home - Jen SilverSarah Frost manages the Frost Foundation and several writers retreats around England. Her favourite, The Lodge on the Lake, is set on a small island somewhere in the North and managed by her childhood friend Berry. The women share a dark background, escapees from a hippie commune gone wrong, and as always Sarah was the lucky one who avoided the worst excesses to became grand-daughter of the welcoming and wealthy Frosts, while Berry suffered cruelly and escaped into a hard life of survival while making her own way.

Joined on the retreat staff by a burned out vet, Galen, the friends are happy in their quiet and settled lives; Sarah with a new love interest in the local village and Berry with a decided interest in her new colleague. Neither woman could imagine the upset and upheaval about to be created by the arrival of the weeks residents or the uncovering of 3 long-buried bodies in Northumbria.

Jen Silver’s voice is decidedly English, bringing to life the countryside and people of her native North. More than just the setting and character though there is something delightfully colloquial and decidedly British about her tales, echoes of the quintessential voice of Britain of the 50’s like a Poirot movie or The Famous Five.

The romances are always gentle and sympathetically drawn, not that there aren’t hot scenes, but the emotion is deep and the unfolding realistic. The mysteries are intriguing, unusual and pulled from the past, influencing and affecting the women of today from the grave. The settings are subtly drawn but solidly present as a part of the story.

In “Calling Home” Silver has created another complex plot and enjoyable ensemble piece with eight women collected at the island retreat for a week; the old friends, the heartbroken drunk, the new lovers, the mysterious autobiography writer and the doting but grumpy Gran. The characters are well drawn and their interactions a perfect people watchers composition.

There is a huge twist in the tale, the past really does come out and bite them in the most unexpected way, overturning everything they thought they knew about their lives and themselves, and despite the gentle pace and subtle build Ms Silver keeps us on the edge of our seats.

Thoroughly enjoyable and well done.



Did you know? If you purchase any of the books reviewed on the LRR from our Amazon shop or Amazon page links we receive a couple of cents per book which will help us support the Lesbian Reading Room GCLS Scholarship Fund.

(publisher review copy received)

Product info:

  • Paperback: 276 pages
  • First published 2018
  • Publisher: Affinity (June 1, 2018)
  • ASIN: B07D3L5SF1
Amazon.com
To buy from Amazon.com – click here.
Amazon.co.uk
To buy from Amazon.co.uk – click here.

Alias – Cari Hunter

Alias – Cari HunterCari Hunter writes exceedingly good books and this is the best yet.

It starts with a literal “bang” when a car goes off the road in the Welsh hills leaving one woman dead and the other severely injured and suffering amnesia. Who she is and why she is there elude her, and us. Working with Detective Bronwen Pryce from the local police the survivor must piece together her life, and then survive the what she finds.

The plot is fast and sometimes furious, but as usual with Ms Hunter’s writing has moments of calm which allow us to catch our breath. The crime is multi-layered, the baddies found in unexpected places, and the allies equally unforeseen.

The scenes shift between metropolitan Manchester and rural Wales providing a distinct and well-drawn background. As always in Cari Hunter’s books the setting provides an important part of the plot. Here she uses the Welsh hills to represent increasing security, despite the crash, against the unexplained malice of the Manchester streets.

Our two main characters are well rounded, interesting and well matched. The romance takes second place to the mystery, and the attraction starts almost imperceptibly, building quietly between two complex women who have bigger issues to deal with. Both soften as the story unfolds, one from the consummate professional who conceals her compassion and the other finding who she really is and learning how to be herself again.

“Alias” is written in the first person, not everybody’s favourite, but this is extremely well done and even for those not keen on the mechanism I would urge you to give it a go. The writing is smooth and flows along, the plot is well constructed, the characters revealed slowly as the mystery unfolds, and being written in the first person adds to the mystery as we, the readers, discover the world along with our crash victim.

I have enjoyed all Cari Hunter’s books from the North Cascades to the English Peaks. This is another step up in her writing and it’s wonderful to watch an author grow into her craft. Her depiction of backdrop, the slow reveal, the handling of complex plot and character, and the always hard to manage first person, makes this an exceedingly good read. Highly recommended.



Did you know? If you purchase any of the books reviewed on the LRR from our Amazon shop or Amazon page links we receive a couple of cents per book which will help us support the Lesbian Reading Room GCLS Scholarship Fund.

(publisher review copy received)

Product info:

  • Paperback: 332 pages
  • First published 2018
  • Publisher: Bold Strokes Books (June 12, 2018)
  • ASIN: B07D7LDF19
Amazon.com
To buy from Amazon.com – click here.
Amazon.co.uk
To buy from Amazon.co.uk – click here.

Wake Me When It’s Over – Cheryl A Head

Wake Me When It's Over - Cheryl HeadCharlie Mack and the gang are back in a second whodunnit. This time set in Detroit at the international car show, the team have a week to find a murderer and foil a terrorist plot. Full of multiple layers of conspiracy, from pipe bombs to industrial spying, Chinese plots and twisted European madmen, this starts with a bang and never lets go.

Fast-paced, complex and intriguing, it will literally keep you glued to your seat as the layers and leaves unfold. Just who are the baddies? Will another twist uncover more traitors inside? Will Charlie and the gang put all the post-it notes together in time?

Cheryl Head’s Charlie Mack Motown Mysteryseries is an excellent read. Extremely well written, the story flows along at a reckless pace without ever feeling forced. The characters are well drawn with foibles and flaws, friendships and mock enmities that make them a real team. The plot is complex; the detail and threads convoluted and elaborate, and while they weave together, fading in and out, at no point do you feel that they wont resolve into a comprehensive whole.

Very well done and highly recommended.



Did you know? If you purchase any of the books reviewed on the LRR from our Amazon shop or Amazon page links we receive a couple of cents per book which will help us support the Lesbian Reading Room GCLS Scholarship Fund.

(publisher review copy received)

Product info:

  • Paperback: 310 pages
  • First published 2018
  • Publisher: Bywater Books (May 22, 2018)
  • ASIN: B079K6SSS3
Amazon.com
To buy from Amazon.com – click here.
Amazon.co.uk
To buy from Amazon.co.uk – click here.

The Velvet Anthology

The Velvet Anthology - JacketWe are delighted to announce that The Velvet Anthology is now available to pre-order from the Stone Soup website!

This will be available as an ebook and paperback from Amazon, and we will have plenty of copies at the GCLS Conference in Vegas – so if you are coming you can buy your copy there and collect author signatures!

There will also be a special silent auction next week for TEN copies signed by all the authors.

Stone Soup logoBut if you aren’t going to Con and would like to pre-order please do it through Stone Soup, and remember folks, all proceeds from the anthology go to charity, so please give generously!


#
TheVelvetAnthology

#StoneSoupCommunityPress

to order yours visit Stone Soup Community Press

The Authors

No words, just an image

I am truly honoured to say that the wonderful Ann McMan agreed to do the jacket for the new anthology. No words. How stunning is this? Got to be worth the price just for the jacket.

And for those who are impatient with my slow reveal… pre-orders for the paperback direct from Stone Soup will be released TOMORROW, full release July 4th at GCLS Con in Vegas, ebook on amazon the same day.. and there may well be an audio as well if I get round to it

#TheVelevtAnthology
#watchthisspace
The Velvet Anthology - Jacket

and then there were authors…

Chicago, IL, GCLS Con, 2017. If you haven’t been keeping up where have you been??? There’s me, all full of it because Karin Kallmaker used me (in double drag) in her short story, Erica Abbott saying we need a ‘velvet anthology’ (still not sure if there was more to that) and Darla Baker asking me to be ED of her new non-profit, Stone Soup Community Press. Something seemed to be telling me to add it all up.

And there I am wandering around the GCLS Conference with 250 authors. Mmmm.

So I started asking.

And they said yes. All of them. Can’t believe the generosity and support I have had.

By the end of Con I had 9 amazing authors who had agreed to write a short for the anthology, all donated for the cause, all proceeds to the GCLS Readers Scholarship fund.

So who? You interested?

Well first had to be Karin and Erica for obvious reasons.

Next was a session at the bar with a bunch of crazy women… so I collared Ann McMan, Stefani Deoul and Cheryl Head and two amazing editors in Elizabeth Anderson and Fay Jacobs.

Over a few whiskeys I rather bravely asked MJ Williamz (anyone who knows her genre will understand why that was brave).

I was so excited I told my buddy Donna K. Ford who opted in as well.

Over cocktails I asked Cheyne Curry.

Annette Mori said yes to the tux.

And then I plucked up courage and asked Lee Lynch – who also said yes.

While I was at it I picked up a brilliant jacket designer (guess who?)

I can only say a huge thank you to all the authors, the editors and that designer for participating, and also to Salem West and Katherine V. Forrest for help and advice behind the scenes and Brenda Barton for allowing me to use her images of Frank’n’Furter

I do hope you are going to buy this book!

#TheVelvetAnthology

GCLS Con 2017 – Thursday

Stone Soup logoGCLS Con 2017, momentous year for me.

Thursday was sitting talking to Darla Baker who had set up a 501©3 publisher called Stone Soup Community Press. I knew it was in the works, but like most of us Darla is many things, GCLS Board, Lambda Board, author and very full time worker – as well as wife, mother and fur baby mom, so these things take time.

Darla started to outline her vision; set up the non-profit, or charity as we say in the UK, publish both full length books and anthologies including works by new authors, set up a writers in residence scheme and use all the profits to support four LGBT non-profits; GCLS, Lambda Literary, It Gets Better Project and The Trevor Project.

She then rather shockingly asked me to be Executive Director… shocking as I have zero knowledge of the mechanics of publishing – or writing for that matter. Reader and reviewer here, no ambition to write at all and therefore no need to know how to publish. I’ve worked in the not-for-profit sector for many years and back before the flood I was a bookseller for a while, but publishing?

Needless to say I said yes. And of course, then there’s that idea of Erica’s.

So, bringing the two together, guess what we did next??

The Stone Soup Community Press is in its infancy but if you would like to read the vision and mission have a look at https://stonesoupcommunity.com

#Watchthisspace #whathappenednext? #TheVelvetAnthology

“We need more, we need a Velvet Anthology”

FranknFurterOn this day.. well actually 11 months ago on the first day of GCLS Con, DC 2017, I walked into an almost empty vendor room, noticed Karin Kallmaker leaning on the wall and politely said “Hello” as I wandered past. I only expected a polite “Hi” in return, but instead got “Oh.. hi… um…”, which got my interest as you can imagine, “um.. have you seen the new anthology?” To which I replied that I hadn’t, was meaning to pick it up at some point. Karin then rather bashfully told me that “maybe you should, um, go read my story…”

So of course I went straight to the Bella table and picked up their fundraising anthology “Conference Call”, turned to Karins’ story and found myself – well the me in the frank’n’furter costume of the year before. Fame at last – mentioned in a Karin Kallmaker story. Just by walking across the hotel lobby in that outfit I had changed one young woman’s life forever – well in Karin’s short at least. I later found some odd resemblance to a tall, hazel eyed English woman with a cocky grin called Silky in Catherine Maiorisi’s “All’s Well That Ends Well”. Seriously.. fame.

Of course this became my story of the week, oft-told and laughed over. Until later that day I was repeating my tale to the wonderfully humorous Erica Abbott who promptly said.. “you need more, we need more… we need a Velvet Anthology”

And so the idea was born.

#Watchthisspace #whathappenednext? #TheVelvetAnthology

Heart of the Devil By Ali Vali

Heart of the Devil By Ali ValiJump back to the beginning of Cain and Emma’s romance and we have a ‘fill-in’ to the wonderful Cain Casey Series.  A full blown romance that also give us a more detailed view of the Casey family and the build up to extra Special Agent Kyles obsession with Cain.

Well done, with a host of details linked to the rest of the books and a complex early reveal of so many characters we get to know. It’s great to spend more time with Billy, Marie and Therese, although rather heart rending if you know the rest of their stories. The only problem now if which order to read the series in!



Did you know? If you purchase any of the books reviewed on the LRR from our Amazon shop or Amazon page links we receive a couple of cents per book which will help us support the Lesbian Reading Room GCLS Scholarship Fund.

(publisher review copy received)

Product info:

  • Paperback: 269 pages
  • First published 2018
  • Publisher: Bold Strokes Books (January 16, 2018)
  • ASIN: B078RDKBY4
Amazon.com
To buy from Amazon.com – click here.
Amazon.co.uk
To buy from Amazon.co.uk – click here.

In Development – Rachel Spangler

In Development – Rachel SpanglerTake one up and coming Hollywood star who fits the Disney profile, and one rebel rock chick who has run out of ways to shock the public… add together, stir it up and wait for the sparks to fly.

Cobie is the quintessential girl next door, one of the safe lesbians who doesn’t scare the public and has that squeaky clean teen girl image. Now she wants to grow up, and in particular she wants to play the hard, ambiguous and edgy lesbian lead from a NYT bestseller. But despite having the script she will never get cast while she is seen as a rom-com specialist.

Lila has dated every eligible bachelor, and quite a few in-eligible ones, while trying to keep her profile high between albums. She has done everything she can to shock and tease the paparazzi and run out of men and tactics. When Cobie and Lila’s managers suggest a fauxmance to help both their careers Lila jumps at the chance and instantly takes control of the situation. But despite micromanaging everything from their public appearances, behaviour, kissing and wardrobes Lila can’t control her growing attraction to the gorgeous Cobie and all that means is trouble.

It takes a damn good romance with something of a twist to catch my attention these days; too many romances, too many repeats of the same story. So when you get one that grabs your attention you know it’s something special. “In Development” is one of the best books I’ve read this year and May was a pretty good month all round.

It’s a traditional romance in the sense of the story arc but much more in terms of the depth of the main characters and their growth. Cobie and Lila are so real you feel as though you know them. The juxtaposition of their public lives, one withdrawn and quiet, the other brash and demanding, with their private characters, makes for a really interesting character development scenario. Both have faults, both need to change, and Lil, in particular, has some very deep-seated issues. But while Cobie has less baggage to overcome she still needs to develop into the grown up, powerful and strong Hollywood star she is capable of being.

Extremely well written, this is Spangler’s best yet. I rarely want to re-read a romance, but I literally fell for these two and this is definitely on the pile to revisit.



Did you know? If you purchase any of the books reviewed on the LRR from our Amazon shop or Amazon page links we receive a couple of cents per book which will help us support the Lesbian Reading Room GCLS Scholarship Fund.

(publisher review copy received)

Product info:

  • Paperback: 303 pages
  • First published 2018
  • Publisher: Brisk Press (May 19, 2018)
  • ASIN: B07D6FV5BZ
Amazon.com
To buy from Amazon.com – click here.
Amazon.co.uk
To buy from Amazon.co.uk – click here.