Monthly Archives: January 2019

Zero Sum Game – Stefani Deoul

Zero Sum Game - Stefani DeoulStefani Deoul has an amazing knack for creating an absolutely brilliant, light-hearted, witty and fun adventures based on the geekiness of a bunch of high school seniors. That may not be a shocking concept but what is shocking is how totally enthralling the stories are when those seniors are literally light years away from our own personal experience. I knew nothing about LARP’s – until I read “LARP”, and very little about MMPRPG’s until I read “Zero Sum Game”, but despite that watching a bunch of geeky teens solve crimes using techno-savvy and comradery turns out to be simply beguiling.

“Zero Sum Game” finds our racially, culturally and sexually diverse team close to grounded after the escapades in “On a LARP”. While an inter-school robotic project is the officially sanctioned character building exercise that releases them from parental disapprobation it is the theft of one of the posse’s online game inventory which creates a new cyber adventure and ultimately puts them back on hero status.

Half of what I’m saying sounds like gobbledegook even though I now know what it means… and hence the awe given that we, the readers are unlikely to have any knowledge of this teen cyber world unless we have teens of our own, yet Deoul teaches us, leads us and manages to entertain us in this brave new world.

The characters are charming, the plot convincing and the crime all too easy to believe. The inter-relationships between the gang, school colleagues and family members adds depth and grounds the personalities into reality. And most of all we can feel the love shine through from author to page and from Sid and her friends, bathing us all in the light.

Brilliant series;  charming, intelligent, authentic and genuine. If you haven’t read “On a LARP” go get reading. “Zero Sum Game” is an excellent follow-up and I can’t wait to see Sid take on ASL and find her green-eyed beauty.



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: 190 pages
  • First published 2018
  • Publisher: Bywater Books (December 11, 2018)
  • ASIN: B07JWCPS7Q
Amazon.com
To buy from Amazon.com – click here.
Amazon.co.uk
To buy from Amazon.co.uk – click here.

Thorn – Anna Burke

Thorn - Anna Burke“Thorn” is a lesbian feminist fairy-tale with a vengeance, highlighting the power and vulnerability of women, the expectations of society and the literal battles, both emotional and physical, that women fight to be themselves.

In true fairy-tale style, the evil ice queen rides a bear, leads a pack of wolves and exacts an awful revenge on anyone who dares enter her lands to take what is hers. Yet under the frightful cold exterior is a woman trapped by her own arrogant narcissism into one too many acts of cruelty which has been punished by the local witch. To escape she must lose everything she holds dear, and that which she cannot bear to lose.

Our Cinderella is the wealthy merchant’s daughter fallen on hard times, reduced from the high life of the city to a small cottage and meagre living, sold off to the local lord for his sons betrothed to cement her father’s mercantile ambitions. Mourning the loss of her beloved mother, her father’s act of kindness on her birthday enslaves her to the evil Queen and life in the barren castle at the heart of winter.

Full of passion, love and loss, one woman must lose everything to regain herself, the other must risk everything to become the woman society has repressed.

Anna Burke’s second novel is so far from the first as to be incredible. From “Compass Rose”, Sci-Fi fantasy in a future drowned world, to a twist on a classic Ice Queen fairy-tale set in a medieval landscape. And yet the world-building, character development, complex interpersonal relationships and deeply entwined use of nature as both a proactive setting and physical presence are so strong in both that when you recover your wits and think about both books you can see the powerful similarities.

The writing is exquisite. The imagination behind both books is awe inspiring. And even more when you reach the end and realise that without ever making a “thing” about it Burke has subverted the whole but having women take all the major characters; the men are ineffectual wanna-be’s in secondary roles.

An epic romance, a dramatic adventure, an exploration of what women are capable of, both good, bad and ugly. And all wrapped up in a story worthy of a blockbuster Netflix fantasy. Just brilliant – Ms Burke is one to watch.



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: 215 pages
  • First published 2019
  • Publisher: Bywater Books (January 29, 2019)
  • ASIN: B07MHY8NVV
Amazon.com
To buy from Amazon.com – click here.
Amazon.co.uk
To buy from Amazon.co.uk – click here.