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Review: Diamonds and Dust by Carol Hedges

‘Diamonds and Dust’

Set in London in the 1860s, ‘Diamonds and Dust’ is detective fiction with a supernatural twist, and I found it a highly entertaining and very enjoyable read on my Kindle. The author combines a light, humorous touch and strong descriptive powers with excellent research which does not ‘shout’ at you out of the page – does not self-consciously set out to overawe the reader with the writer’s knowledge. Overall it is not quite a five-star read for me, but it is so close that I can’t honestly give it less.

*****

‘Good Boy Bad’ by Nya Rawlins

Just finished reading ‘Good Boy Bad’ by Nya Rawlins.

Outside my normal comfort zone, I thought, and then I began to read. The writing is compelling, somehow relentless, rightly relentless, a hog ride that accelerates beyond any rational speed limit, or slams on brakes, sweeps into steeply angled curves, so that even if you wanted to, even if you would feel that little safer, you just cannot stop the ride, cannot let go of the handlebars.

Hard, this is, and gritty, uncompromis

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Square Peg, by Vivienne Tuffnel

According to Kindle on my PC I have 188 books in my Kindle collection. You can deduct half a dozen for the freebies, but then you’ve got to boost that number for novels in collections – Dickens, Austen, Trollope and heaven knows who.

I’ve scarcely reviewed a handful of those books, yet here I am, reviewing a second book, ‘Square Peg’, from the same author, Vivienne Tuffnel, whose ‘The Bet’ was my most recent review.

This tells you something of how struck I was by ‘The Bet’. I read it and immediately reacted ‘gotta read more’ and ‘Square Peg’ was the result.

The ‘square peg’ in question is an individualistic young woman who is married to a trainee clergyman, living adjacent to a training college for clergy among a community of such trainees and their families. For an atheist like myself, the setting itself was likely to prove challenging, but I was ready to ‘give it a go’ and I’m glad that I did.

As in ‘The Bet’, ‘Square Peg’ is an acute study of human psychology, of relationships, loss, grief, humanity and inhumanity, and just like the first book I was riveted from the first word.

Despite a minor smattering of typos, particularly toward the end, this was yet another great book, thoroughly enjoyed, mentally logged for re-reading somewhere in the future just so that I can enjoy this skillful work again. Very much recommended.

 

A review of ‘The Bet’ by Vivienne Tuffnel, and what happened to my reviewing.

A long, long time ago, it seems, I ventured to dip a toe in the waters of reviewing. I found that water very cold.

When I came to review a book, ‘Tales from the Arena: Opening Gambit’ by Elizabeth Schechter, there was no problem. I’d encountered her writing before in a discussion/critiquing list and knew its quality. It was and is an excellent book, and that her writing enabled me to enjoy a book that was a little outside my own personal comfort zone is testimony to her abilities. Five stars, mega applause for a great writer, no problem.

Actually that’s the second time she’s achieved that. If you haven’t read her ‘Princes of Air’, which I only read in chapters on the same discussion list, I can strongly commend it.

But then I downloaded a book by a different author, an author I had no previous experience of, but who seemed to receive a lot of quite flattering attention from others. I read it, but with difficulty. I found it, frankly, awful – not because of the story,which was acceptable, but because it appeared to me to have never been edited by anyone who knew what they were doing. I fumbled and stumbled through endless typos and disconcerting errors.

So I couldn’t review it without to some extent damning it, and having long ago experienced what it is like to have a book damned by a critic whose motive was nothing other than ‘payback’ for an imagined slight, I decided not to take the risk of creating potentially another vengeful enemy.

Anyhow, I’m back, and starting over (in any number of different ways), but this time I’m following the lead of one or two clever people I have encountered. If I read anything that I believe merits less than a three star rating I’m not going to review it.

I have no such difficulty with the most recent book I have finished, which is The Bet by Vivienne Tuffnell.

I encountered Vivienne in a Facebook discussion, read her comments, and something in her tone or her way of writing made me think ‘I bet this lady’s work is interesting’. And I’d gathered, too, that this was not an erotic novel and might even prove, like Elizabeth’s work,  a little outside my comfort zone.

It proved to be so, but yet again to be so powerful, so insightful and magnetic that I simply couldn’t put it down and never wanted to. It is a novel – and a fine novel – about loss and pain, about the humanity and inhumanity amid which we most of us actually live our lives – I doubt anyone who reads this will not have met ‘Aunt Sophie’.

I’m repeating words I’ve posted elsewhere, but the truth remains that it is a book full of characters so economically, succinctly, yet beautifully drawn that it is hard to remember that they are only characters in a story and not people we have met and known.

It is, in my belief, a genuinely great book and, not least since it costs as much as cup of coffee at most, I strongly recommend you read it.

 

Review: Wild Girls, Wild Nights, True Lesbian Sex Stories.

 

The bottom line with this, I guess, is that it has Sacchi Green’s name on it as editor, and really that should be guide enough to the quality of the contents.  It is certainly more than enough for me.

As a straight male who has merely written some ‘f/f’ material and who entirely accepts that gay and lesbian love is right and natural, I have to visit the minds of lesbian ladies – as revealed in their writing and reading – with the same quiet respect I would visit any other temple.

I came away from this visit quite awed.

There is some very hot material in this, including Cheyenne Blue’s ‘Nurse Joan’ and Danielle Mignon’s ‘Are You My Mommy’, some very warm and touching – such as Anna Watson’s ‘Tamago’. There is humour here, and perceptiveness, and a very real sense of the truth behind the stories and the courage of the writers in revealing it.

It would take too long to commend each of the writers individually. All I can do is to commend, very sincerely, the book as a whole.  I do so without any hesitation.

Book Reviews: an apology.

Book reviews – an apology.

It’s still my intention to review books here and I will return to reviews shortly. I apologize for the delay.  I have a list on-going and am currently working through ‘Love Burns Bright: A Lifetime of Lesbian Romance’.  More of that later, but thus far it’s an excellent read.

 

‘Debutante’ by Madeline Moore

It is a pleasure to read a text as ‘clean’ as this – a text without typos, without any of those glitches that bring you to a stop thinking “do whut?” and causing you to flip back a paragraph or even a page to get a grip on what is happening.  ’Debutante’ is a smooth, smooth run from start to finish.

It is also a hot one – ‘stroke fiction’ of the warmest, kindest sort, perfect for self-pleasuring or sharing, and there isn’t a chapter that fails to deliver.

Madeline Moore knows her craft and knows her language.  If you enjoy ‘hot action’ smoothly delivered, you will not be disappointed.

RVR