The Secret of Sleepy Hollow by Andi Marquette

thesecretofsleepyhollow

We continue with more reading for Halloween, folks. This story is maybe a little less on the gory than the one before, but who doesn’t like a nice mystery with their ghostly. Also: romance, and that isn’t too bad to have either, especially when you’re trying to solve a mystery.

Abby Crane is writing her doctoral thesis about the legend of the headless horseman of Sleepy Hollow; and what better place to begin her research than in the town itself? She also wants to find out more about her own ancestor Ichabod Crane and his disappearance. In Katie McClaren she finds a fellow nerd on the quest to uncover the secret of Ichabod. Katie, herself a descendent of Katrina van Tassel, has her own theories about the mystery that bounds Abby’s and her ancestors. And then there is their own story which involves a headless horseman and an attraction beyond their comprehension.

I must confess, I never read the story by Washington Irving (the reading list back in my first year of studying American lit had Goodman Brown on it). Of course, I watched the Burton film and I really love it, but I never even knew that it wasn’t quite the same as Irving’s story. Marquette taught me better. She tells a lot about the story behind the legend, makes up her own spiel about the Crane mystery and brings it all together in an entertaining read.

To broaden the focus of such a well-known story and to make it plausible and entertaining is quite a chore, but Marquette does it with finesse. Her solutions may not always be surprising, but it’s still fun to accompany Abby and Katie on their quest for the truth. And Abby and Katie are themselves great protagonists with a wonderful chemistry.

If you like new takes on old tales (and I’m aware that’s not for everybody as I hear shouts of ‘sacriledge!’ in the far background), you should give this one a go. Marquette spins a fun tale with some ghostly elements and a sweet love story or two. You’ll probably like Ichabod and Katrina even better after reading this. You’ll at least get a new perspective on an old legend.

From the Boots Up by Andi Marquette

fromthebootsup

I know some people feel like self-publishing and electronic books have ruined the publishing world. But I find that there’s so much more stuff that can be read that way – and I’m happy. I’m aware that some of what comes out of the woodwork is not worth the reading, but there are also treasures that otherwise wouldn’t have been discovered. So, you can keep your cynicism when it comes to these new forms of publishing, because I love it. And I don’t mind reading something bad every once in a while – there’s a time for trashy stories, too.

Fortunately, From the Boots Up is not one of those. It’s a good one. Here’s a synopsis:

Meg Tallmadge works on her father’s dude ranch when classes are over for the summer. Her recent coming out is still a sore spot on the otherwise good relationship with her dad, Stan, when she meets Gina Morelli, a reporter come to the ranch to write an article about it. While the two women are attracted to each other, Meg doesn’t want to compromise the work ethics on the ranch – but can their passion for each other be contained by mere will power?

As said, I liked it. It’s a well-written novella from a woman who knows her story-telling. I must confess, I’m partial to stories set on dude ranches – or other kind of ranches. The romantication of the (wild) west has worked for me all my life and I’m drawn to lesbian romances that involve boots, hats and horses, and have read my fair share.

Still, I find From the Boots Up different in some respects. For once, it focuses entirely on Meg’s point of view and while her feelings for Gina are at the core of the story, her life does not only revolve around them. There are other things going on, other people in her life, her studies, her plans for the future. Gina does not step into a void, she rather disrupts Meg’s already full life, and Meg struggles with her feelings because they come at a inopportune time – as those feelings tend to.

There is a sequel to this story called From the Hat Down and it’s already on my reading list for next year (this year is already filled with books that made it to my kindle before this one). If you are like me and love stories with a western feel to them, if you care for well-written, well-told, well-established characters and plot, you should give From the Boots Up a try – you won’t be disappointed.

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).