Tales of the Grimoire (book one), edited by Astrid Ohletz and Gill McKnight

talesofthegrimoire

It’s going on Halloween and you may have realized I love that holiday just a little more than I love all the others. One reason is all the new shiny stories who bite themselves into my flesh and won’t let go until they drank me dry. Sorry, for the bad metaphor there, but what better time than Halloween for awfully gory metaphors?

Ylva Publishing’s 2015 Halloween anthology is once again full of very entertaining and very different stories, all concerned with the scary, the supernatural, the downright sexy of All Hallow’s Eve. I find myself in a rare mood this year and enjoy stories about characters who do things and just happen to be queer a lot more than the ‘look at me, I’m gay’ stories. Luckily, this anthology delivers on that front.

We have zombie slayers, witches, a succubus, demon possession, and dryads. We go back in time and into a dystopian future, and rediscover an actual murder case. And, of course, we wouldn’t be satisfied if our all time favorites, werewolves and vampires, weren’t part of the mix, too. Between all these goodies are short scary snippets by Cheri Fuller, interludes that will make your skin crawl. I loved those, they were surprising and rounded out the anthology perfectly.

While I enjoyed all the stories, I do have favorites. This year, Centralia, 2013 by May Dawney, Still Life by Jess Lea, and The Crocodile Eye by Gill McKnight pulled me into their worlds and shook me up. But all stories were well-written, well-thought through, well-done. Ylva Publishing puts together another great anthology and I can’t wait for book two. When will that come out, anyway?

If you love well-written scary stories with female protagonists. If you don’t mind a little lady-love happening. If you are alone on Halloween, have already assembled your candles, murder weapon, and cauldron – muahahaha – buy this book to read with a spiked hot chocolate. You won’t regret it.

Reading in 2014

SAM_1770

[I took this picture on a clear, cold day in Travemünde, just a few days ago.]

It’s done and over with – 2014, that is. And I’m glad of it ’cause it really wasn’t a good year, overall. The reading was okay, even though I didn’t read nearly enough. I only started in March, 26 novels and anthologies in all. They were mostly good, also mostly lesbian romances and some rereads. I want to spread out more this year but for 2014, it was okay.

My favorites among the new ones I read were Sometime Yesterday by Yvonne Heidt, Wicked Things, edited by Jay and Astrid Ohletz (which contains my short story ‘A Lesson i Magic’), and Roller Coaster by Karin Kallmaker.

But apart from the books I’ve read there were some I haven’t finished in 2014. There are always some of those each year. I often lose interest in books, but that’s not the only reason for not finishing a book. Let me just run down those unfinished books of 2014.

Insurgent by Veronica Roth – While I liked the first volume of the series, the second part has too many elements of that other series that treats its female protagonist like a second-class character. There were also some plot bunnies that didn’t make much sense, apart from the basis of the whole series being a little far-fetched.

The Age of Innocent by Edith Wharton – I love Wharton’s work and I would really like to read more from her. The problem is that I want to study her, but I’m not quite at a point where I can solely concentrate on a body of work by one author, especially one who has been studied by far more intelligent heads than mine. I haven’t gotten beyond the first chapter – though I rewatched the movie this year.

When the Clock Strikes Thirteen by Ylva Publishing – I contributed a story to this year’s Halloween anthology and wanted to read last year’s. I have read the first few stories but I haven’t gotten beyond them yet. I will pick this anthology up again to continue reading, I just got side-tracked.

Coming Home by Lois Cloarec Hart – This is one of my all-time favorite Xena-Uber fanfictions and now I have the paperback. But I haven’t gotten around to reading the whole book yet. I want to, but it’s been a while since I read it and I would hate to discover that it’s not as good as I remember it. That’s stupid, of course, Hart is a good story-teller. I’m just being silly, is all.

Guilty Pleasures by Laurell K. Hamilton – This is part of my research about supernatural creatures. I’m looking forward to writing my first supernatural story this year (probably come June) so I may finish this one yet. It’s good, so far.

Dancer from the Dance by Andrew Holleran – I’m trying to get involved in some gay (male) reading, but so far haven’t been very successful (as I’ve started and not finished At Swim, Two Boys last year). I like the narration so far but it’s a little more heavy-duty than I want to engage in at the moment.

Empress of the World by Sara Ryan – This is a sweet story about a coming out of a lesbian teen. I’m going to continue reading this at some point but not right now.

Heart’s Surrender by Emma Weimann – I really like the beginning of this one and if you ask me why I haven’t finished it yet, I can’t even tell you. My focus got diverted and I haven’t redirected it at this novel yet. I will, probably sometime this year. It’s been a lot of fun so far.

Emerald Green by Kerstin Gier – The third part of the series, a good, solid series. But I got a little tired of the narrator’s voice by the third book. Sometimes listening to teen first narrators gets a little tiresome. I like the premise of the story and the story, too. I will finish it, though I’m not sure when.

Blind Bet by Tracey Richardson – The Candidate by the same author was brilliant, I loved it. The Wedding Party was all right but I had some beef with it. And now this one… I don’t know. There were just some things in this I had a hard time working through. The writing is good but some of the plot bunnies are positively rabid. Not sure I’ll pick it up again.

2014 is over. Let’s see what 2015 brings. I’m looking forward to reading in 2015.

 

Forbidden Fruit: Stories of Unwise Lesbian Desire, edited by Cheyenne Blue

forbiddenfruit

[Am I the only one seeing Regina Mills (from Once Upon a Time) on that cover? It’s so fitting and lovely. I love it. Kudos to Caroline Manchoulas who designed it.]

My reading habits lean toward the anthology this year and I’m not sorry at all. I’ve already read so many great short stories this year, and I hope for many more.

Before I say anything about the other stories, I wanna write that the first one, Our Woman, is probably the best short story I’ve ever read. It’s been a while since I read it but it really moved me at the time. It is one of those stories where you sit wide-eyed, smiling and with the feeling that literature is just everything. This story was an experience, thank you.

But this is only one great story in a bunch, 17 to be exact. If I’d known before that the format of the short stories produces so many awesome stories, I would have turned to it sooner.

Forbidden fruit is the theme and here we have stories that deal with just that, the forbidden somebody who you shouldn’t be with. Be it the family slave, your ex-lover’s mother, or even the horse thief you’re supposd to catch. Women desire women they shouldn’t have, or want. But these things are never black or white, they’re fifty shades of gray (no referential pun toward bad literature intended).

My favorite, as said, is Our Woman by Rebecca Lynne Fullan. If you made me chose a second and third, I would say Ungodly Ours by Allison Wonderland and Out for the Cunt by Cheyenne Blue, who edited a great anthology.

If you like well-told, well-written stories which are thoughtful and erotic and fun – this is the anthology for you. Now, go read.

Wicked Things: Lesbian Halloween Short Stories, edited by Astrid Ohletz & Jae (The Reader’s Edition)

wickedthings

Here it is, Ylva Publishing’s Halloween anthology 2014 – which might include a short story by yours truly. But since this is the ‘reader’s edition,’ I’m not gonna talk about that. I have a different post for the ‘writer’s edition’ here.

Let’s talk about the anthology.

14 authors have come together to create 14 amazing stories for our Halloween pleasure. And a true pleasure it is. What I found really wonderful with this anthology is the wide range of (scary) topics these stories cover.

Andi Marquette writes about ghost hunters in a haunted house, May Dawney about a local urban legend seemingly come to life, and Eve Francis about a vampire cop falling off the blood wagon.

And where there are vampires, there are werewolves and hunters. There are also witches and ghosts. But there’s also a lot of attraction between women and some sexy times.

As a person who truly loves Halloween, I couldn’t help but love this anthology. It’s a great read to enjoy with your chocolate-y Halloween treasures or some hot chocolate on a cold October night before a toasty fire. Some of it is scary, some tragic, some erotic, and then there’s somethng for the romantic among you.

All stories are well-written, all are entertaining and some are even better than all that. My favorites? S.M. Harding’s A Winter Story, R.G. Emanuelle’s Strega, and after that all the other stories.

This is an anthology for all those of you who like a good scare, love Halloween, or maybe just enjoy supernatural stories. But even if you only want to read some really great stories about lesbians and their loves – read it. You won’t be disappointed.

All You Can Eat: A Buffet of Lesbian Erotica and Romance edited by Andi Marquette & R.G. Emanuelle

allyoucaneat

In some ways, I was brought up rather conservatively and must confess that I’m sometimes sticking to self-imposed traditions tightly. One of those is that I rarely strike out to explore all the excellent, talented writers of the genres I prefer. While I pushed myself to not limit myself when it comes to genre, I usually stick with the writers I know.

I’ve been reading lesbian romance for… let’s see, about 15 years now and this is probably the first time I’m going on a wide search for new writers to read. I was most literarily stuck (not that I regret reading those I’ve read or the many times I’ve read my favorites; I just feel I could have been more adventurous). The reason is simple: I’m afraid to be disappointed. If I know that one writer and they write the way I like it, why would I pick up a book by a writer I don’t know who might not write the way I like? It may sound silly with all the amazing talent out there, but as I said – I’m a little conservative at heart, even though I would probably claim the exact opposite in a lively discussion held late at night among friends.

Anthologies are a great way to discover new authors, new stories, new themes, even. And this anthology proved to be a well of all the above and I’m really glad I unstuck myself to read about love and food and the sensuous adventures that begin if truly amazing talents mix both.

All You Can Eat is a pleasure. It combines the sensuous with the unexpected, the intimate with the breathtakingly erotic, and then there’s food and love and it’s sticky and messy and delightfully diverse. Marquette and Emanuelle present a feast of capable authors’ culinary fantasies that will satiate even the most ravenous reader.

It’s difficult to pick favorites from among these luscious stories. While they all include food and eating, they’re still very different, unique. And, as far as I’m concerned, there’s not a literary offering within these pages that disappoints. Still, not all flavors are for every reader and if I had to pick one among each dish I would recommend these: Rebekah Weatherspoon – Burn, Andi Marquette – Sugar and ‘Shine (with a very close second Cheyenne Blue – Tomato Lady), and for dessert Yvonne Heidt – Turn the Tables. But believe you me when I say, all stories are worth a read, all writers are worth checking out… you can never discover too many good, new writers (and I have already lined up the next anthology to find even more).