Saturday, 15 April 2017

I'm Now On Instagram!

Yes, folks, I've discovered another way of reaching out to you, after being reliably informed that all the wise authors use Instagram instead of Facebook, where they are too easily distracted by cat videos and heated discussions.

They obviously hadn't heard of Cats Of Instagram, or followed Bianca del Rio. 

Anyhoo, I'm now on Instagram, so if you want to stalk me, I post lovely pictures of the Chilterns countryside, my cat, clouds, and teasers/excerpts from my books, and my name on there is.......





Hope to see you there!

Friday, 14 April 2017

An Asian Minor: The True Story of Ganymede (Audiobook) by Felice Picano


This book was originally written in 1981 by Felice Picano, and details the early life and career of Ganymede, as told by the alluring boy in his own words. It is extremely well-written, a colourful, ribald account of his escapades as he fights off the attentions of men of all rank and age. His beauty also captures the attention of various Immortals, who will go to great lengths to seduce him. It probably should be noted to those unfamiliar with Ancient history that Ganymede is 12 at the beginning of the book, so 21st century sensibilities do not apply.

The book hasn’t been in print for a long while, but now it has been republished as an audiobook, narrated in a salacious drawl by Jason Frazier. This is the first audiobook I have listened to all the way through. The delivery is everything, especially with a book that could be dismissed as being either too highbrow by some or too lightweight by others. This would be a shame. In fact, it is a witty, sexy, sometimes humorous account of Ganymede’s life. The reader gets a peephole view into the lusty world of Troy and its inhabitants, where beauty is highly prized and judged at every turn. Ganymede is the most beautiful of all boys, gaining sexual experience with a variety of Immortal lovers, before being disgraced and shunned for rejecting the top man, Zeus; probably not his greatest career move.

Jason Frazier’s voice should have an R rating. He could read a telephone directory and make it ooze with sexual promise. The book itself is not explicit, but the theme of lust runs through it in a pulsing thread. Ganymede learns humility, but still retains an arrogance that only truly beautiful people can get away with. He isn’t particularly likeable, but that doesn’t matter. His story is told in such rich and gorgeous detail, one cannot help but be captivated. This is a book to be savoured at home, rather than driving, or in a public place, as it would be a crime to miss a single word.

I was given a copy of this Audiobook in return for an honest review.

His Competent Woman by Ellen Whyte


This is the first in a new genre for Ellen Whyte, who is better known as dark romance/suspense author AJ Adams.

I was expecting great things of this book, which is a fairly quick read at 100 pages, and I wasn’t disappointed. This is a hugely enjoyable addition to the popular BBW-Billionaire genre, with an engaging character in the form of Emma, struggling to make ends meet with her young son, who has just been diagnosed as dyslexic. In order to pay for the equipment and tutoring he will need in the future, she has to find a job, and fast, but her interview with billionaire Curtis West does not go well. When his PA suddenly quits, Emma in the right place at the right time and she blags her way into the job. Curtis has his own secret, which Emma is well-qualified to help him with. 

Straight away, it was obvious this didn’t fit into the normal tropes of quick-read romances. For a start, Emma has a son with educational needs, and Curtis quickly becomes less of a tiger and more of a pussycat under Emma’s no-nonsense approach. The company that Curtis heads up isn’t there for window-dressing. He actually knows what he’s talking about. The author has done her research well and it feels effortless. Yes, it’s a romance, but it’s heart is based in reality, which makes both characters likeable from the start and gives the story a lot of depth for a relatively short book. 

The story is written in the first person, first from Emma’s point of view and then Curtis’s. Normally, I’m not keen on this, but because each chapter is marked with the name of the person talking, it actually works. After a few pages, I just didn’t think about it. It’s always worth mentioning though.

Finally, I loved the way Emma shared her most private thoughts with the reader, and some of them were very sexy. There is one hot scene which I won’t spoil but it is more romantic than balls-out sexy, and it totally fitted with the tone of the book.

So a quality read from Ms. Whyte, and a worth-while, intelligent addition to an increasingly crowded genre. If you only ever read one BBW-Billionaire romance, make it this one!

Monday, 10 April 2017

I identify as someone who listens, and takes heed when necessary

The original title of this post was "The Only Time In History When 'A Woman Should Know Her Place" really does apply." A couple of people have informed me that they found this title degrading, so I've changed it, and apologise for the offence caused.


Just putting this here to save me the effort of explaining yet again. These six ill-advised words will haunt Kindle Alexander’s writing career for a good long while after the recent debacle, and plenty more words have been said about the whole thing, which was presumably said in a flippant manner without any idea of the disapprobation about to rain down on her cisgender, female author head. I don't suppose we will ever know why she said it, because she hasn't thought to quantify her statement, only saying that she's an Ally (capital letter A) and that the haters should stop hating. There has since been an apology but I'm not going to go there with this post. It's just .... no. 

But isn't this interesting? Suddenly, as a result of Ms. Alexander's monumental FUBAR post, the whole MM Romance genre has a rather tainted, smells-like-rancid-cod air about it, with several high profile authors questioning whether they actually belong in the genre at all. A community that is used to being marginalised has been shoved out yet again, by women readers who don't want to know the nasty bits about being gay. The problem is, there is a LOT of them, outnumbering the people they are actually reading about. 

Come on, sisters, we should know better than this! We know what it is like not to have the vote, to be denied proper education, to be forced into marriage, to be overlooked for the top job, to be objectified and blamed for mens' weaknesses. We've fought tooth and nail and made huge sacrifices to claw back some equality to men, so why are we doing this to the gay community? I don't understand it. Those people saying, it's just a bit of fun, just don't get the bigger picture. It might be fun to be fabulous, but not if you can't walk safely home afterwards. We KNOW this, so what is the problem with acknowledging it in our fiction?

Unfortunately, I think with all these posts, there is an element of preaching to the choir, but you know, posting does help to sort your thoughts out into some kind or order, so maybe next time someone says something really dumb on the net, you might be able to save them from themselves. 

Or not....

Now an observation. A lot of male gay authors have written their own, eloquent and rightly infuriated, posts, but as yet, when I’ve looked for posts from cisgender female authors on the same subject, I hear nothing but crickets. This seems strange, as the MM Romance genre is bulging with female romance writers publishing MM fiction, so where are their voices? No-one seems to be saying a goddamned thing. If I’m subsequently proven wrong, then I will gladly withdraw this statement but nothing has come up on my newsfeed so far, which I think is odd.

If you can find anything, post the link and I'll share it!

The next thing, the the main reason for the post, is that we can all learn something from this. When I first saw KA's post, I thought immediately, “maybe she’s trans, and she’s just come out, so good for her!” But something felt a bit …. off, especially when I saw the comments, with lots of LOL’s and “me too!” and hearts, etc. It just didn’t feel… right. But I didn’t say anything, mainly because I couldn't quantify WHY it didn't feel right.

But the more I thought about it, the more stupid that post sounded. And THAT was the moment when I should have messaged her and said ‘y’know, that post may well piss a few people off (understatement) so if I were you, I’d reconsider it.” But I didn’t, because by then, someone else had noticed and said, “wait…. WHAT?” I do wish I had tried to say something to her. I'm not sure it would have made any difference, but I should have tried, as a fellow cisgender female author, because a lot of people DID feel hurt by this, and some trans people feel invalidated because a flippant comment makes light of their very real struggle. 

So this comes to M/M Romance, the tarnished genre which has actually brought about an honest discussion about what being part of it actually means. First off, TALENT IS NOT GOVERNED BY GENDER. This is not a poke at all women writers, but if MM Romance means the stereotypical, pornographic books with cardboard cutout MM protagonists, written for a female audience, then I’m not interested, thanks very much. For a while, I’ve felt uncomfortable with the whole, slightly giddy, MM Romance thing, the objectification of men, and the blinkered readers who resent it when gay men point out that they’ve been marginalised by their own genre. I’d really like my books to be read by the audience I intended them for; LGBTQIA, etc.THEY ARE NOT EXCLUSIVELY FOR WOMEN. I was very fortunate to “meet” an author who is very special to me. SA Collins, please step forward.) He said that the main thing I must remember was to respect the people I was writing about. So I do. Well …. I treat them with the same healthy disrespect that I treat all my characters with, regardless of gender, race, class, etc., but I got what he meant. I will never know what it is like to walk in the shoes of a gay person, to keep watching over my shoulder, to be called ‘faggot.' There ARE certain similarities with women’s rights and struggles, but they are not the same and never will be. They are equally as valid, but equally as different.

I for one try to remember my place. As a woman I still have more rights than many gay people. It would be wise for us never to forget that, and to be an ally (no capital letter necessary.)

















Tuesday, 28 March 2017

Beauty And The Beast (2017 - PG)

**** stars

I've just been to watch Beauty And The Beast, something I was looking forward to as I loved the original, and there is nothing like knowing the story so you can settle down and just enjoy the movie, rather than be awed, terrified, disturbed, etc., etc. Sometimes, just watching and enjoying is enough. 

And it didn't disappoint, staying very close to the original and throwing in some in-jokes that will go way over the kids' heads. The sets are lavish, and the musical numbers as accomplished as you would want them to be. Emma Watson is not a natural singer but she has good back up with an impressive cast of tuneful villagers, and she does well, with a light, clear voice that suits her role. One quibble would be that she isn't very animated, especially during the Be My Guest number, when you would expect her to show delight, maybe bounce in her seat a little. Instead, she was curiously passive, with her usual calm smile. I couldn't help thinking I was watching Hermione Granger, albeit with a better wardrobe. Talented as she is, she seems to be the same in every movie she stars in, even down to her hairstyle.

The film is long, over 2 hours, and bearing in mind the target audience, it could have been shaved by about 1/2 hour. There were a couple of extra songs, and an odd sequence involving a trip to Paris that could have been dispensed with, neatening the whole thing. I could see why they did it, to develop the relationship between the two main characters so they weren't just falling in love over a snowball fight, and to help Beauty understand what had happened to her mother, but it felt out of place and was ultimately unnecessary. The new songs were good, but ultimately forgettable and I'm sure smaller viewers would be wriggling at this point, wanting to get on with the story. This is a tale that doesn't need to be messed with too much, and it was the finer details that were far more fun; Le Fou's camp sidekick, the three tough guys turned into queens, Gaston's utter odiousness, the tender relationship between Lumiere and his feather duster lover, and the frankly eye-popping special affects that ran through the whole film. It was a gorgeous, colourul Regency extravaganza, so rich in detail, ones' eyes were in danger of suffering from indigestion. Those prone to migraines or with an aversion to sweet things take note. Toothache and gripes might ensue in natural-borne cynics, but I loved it. If I watch it again at home, though, I'll probably make a cup of tea during the prolonged pub scene. There is only so much Gaston self-love I can take. 





Tuesday, 21 March 2017

Angels Fall by N.S. Beranek

This book is like walking through a Mardi Gras festival; colourful, confusing and fantastical, laced with horror and throbbing with erotic promise.

It is worth noting that the book is written in the present tense, which puts the reader right in the heart of Beranek’s world from the get go.

The blurb assumes a lot when it says “when a member of the created family he’s focused on instead comes under threat from a mysterious illness, Ehrichto strikes a deal with his own sire, to return to the sire’s bed in exchange for his help.” I get that this is vampire-speak, but I was left thinking “huh?”

If it puts some people off, that would be a shame, because although the book isn’t that long, it is packed so full of beautiful details and lavish descriptions, it feels like an all-round sensory experience. The smell of blood and sun-tan oil, fresh bodies and sexual promise, all drip from the page. The author has built this incredible, colourful, savage world, filled with family drama, vampire politics, and sexual undertones. There isn’t a lot of actual sex, but despite that, it is a very erotically-charged book. Very clever and not easily accomplished.

An all-round sensory experience

There are a lot of characters, and a lot of different dynamics at play, so much so it seemed confusing at times. I’m still not sure what the relevance of Dorjan’s character is. I feel I have to read the book again to fully grasp all the delicate nuances. Again, this would delight some readers, but I wasn’t wholly gripped enough to do so. As a book reviewer, I don’t have time to read the same book twice. This is a shame, but it’s the author’s job to explain it through the story, not my job to rummage through the book until I finally get it.

Having said that, I believe there is scope for a series. There are some great personalities here, all of which are colourfully described and given their own distinctive voice. I loved Michael’s family, and the way the author dealt with his coming out, the confusion of his parents, his horrendous social-climbing mother. The setting of scenes is first class, and consistent throughout the book. I really wish I loved it more than I did, but the chaotic story-line was a little too distracting for my taste.

No doubt about it though. This is a clever and literary addition to the vampire genre.

Monday, 20 March 2017