#BlogTour Sugar and Snails by Anne Goodwin

It’s a pleasure to take part in the BlogTour Sugar and Snails by Anne Goodwin.
About the Author

Anne Goodwin writes entertaining fiction about identity, mental health and social justice. She is the author of three novels and a short story collection published by small independent press, Inspired Quill. Her debut novel, Sugar and Snails, was shortlisted for the 2016 Polari First Book Prize. Her new novel, Matilda Windsor Is Coming Home, is inspired by her previous incarnation as a clinical psychologist in a long-stay psychiatric hospital. Subscribers to her newsletter can download a free e-book of prize-winning short stories. 

Follow @Annecdotist on Twitter, Visit annegoodwin.weebly.com, @Annecdotist on Facebook, Instagram @authorannegoodwinAnne Goodwin’s YouTube channelAmazon author page: viewauthor.at/AnneGoodwin, Publisher Inspired Quill

About the book

At fifteen, she made a life-changing decision. Thirty years on, it’s time to make another. – When Diana escaped her misfit childhood, she thought she’d chosen the easier path. But the past lingers on, etched beneath her skin, and life won’t be worth living if her secret gets out.

As an adult, she’s kept other people at a distance… until Simon sweeps in on a cloud of promise and possibility. But his work is taking him to Cairo, the city that transformed her life. She’ll lose Simon if she doesn’t join him. She’ll lose herself if she does.

Sugar and Snails charts Diana’s unusual journey, revealing the scars from her fight to be true to herself. A triumphant mid-life coming-of-age story about bridging the gap between who we are and who we feel we ought to be.

Review

I was in two minds about the way to review this book. On one hand there’s an opportunity to discuss and go into detail, but on the other hand it’s also the kind of read that allows for the reader to discover the story at their own pace.

This is a story about identity, perception of identity and the way the world around us tries to fit us into preconceived notions and ready made boxes. It’s also about the inner struggle when the aforementioned leads to a battle of self.

The premise has unfortunately become an embittered battleground in the last few years with great division and warring sides, with little thought left to the reality of the confusion and pain of those in this duality.

I have to agree with the sentiment in the author’s note, if it had been written with both parents taking centre stage, the core and heart of this premise would have been non-existent. Writing it with Di at the wheel and steering the boat was much more intimate, frank and soul baring. It’s as if the reader is at the emotional core of memories, emotions and the duality of spirit and being.

It’s a really excellent piece of fiction, an exploration of a journey, of a life lived with expectations, hopes, and an unfinished jigsaw of self.

Buy Sugar and Snails at Amazon Uk or go to Goodreads for any other retailer. Publisher: Inspired Quill, pub date 23 July 2015. Buy at Amazon com. Buy at Books2read. 

#BlogTour The Love Curse of Melody Mcintyre by Robin Talley

Today it’s a pleasure to take part in the BlogTour The Love Curse of Melody Mcintyre by Robin Talley.

About the Author

Robin Talley (she/her) is a queer author who grew up in southwest Virginia and now lives in Washington, D.C., with her wife and their kids. She did digital communications work for LGBTQ rights, women’s rights, educational equity, and other progressive causes for fifteen years before she turned to writing full-time, and is now the New York Times-bestselling author of six novels for teen readers: Music From Another World, Pulp, Our Own Private Universe, As I Descended, What We Left Behind, and Lies We Tell Ourselves.

Her books have won accolades including the Amnesty CILIP Honour and the Concorde Book Award, have been short-listed for the Lambda Literary Award and the CILIP Carnegie Medal, and have appeared on the Junior Library Guild, Amelia Bloomer Project, Kids’ Indie Next, and ALA Rainbow lists. They’ve also been covered in media outlets including Entertainment Weekly, The Guardian, The Chicago Tribune, Teen Vogue, NPR, Buzzfeed, Vulture, Huffington Post, Vice, and Bustle.

Her short stories have appeared in the young adult collections Toil & Trouble: 15 Tales of Women & Witchcraft, All Out: The No-Longer-Secret Stories of Queer Teens throughout the Ages, A Tyranny of Petticoats: 15 Stories of Belles, Bank Robbers and Other Badass Girls, and Feral Youth.

Follow @robin_talley on Twitteron Amazonon Goodreads, Visit robintalley.comBuy The Love Curse of Melody Mcintyre

About the book

Melody McIntyre, stage manager extraordinaire, has a plan for everything.

What she doesn’t have? Success with love. Every time she falls for someone during a school performance, both the romance and the show end in catastrophe. So, Mel swears off any entanglements until their upcoming production of Les Mis is over.

Of course, Mel didn’t count on Odile Rose, rising star in the acting world, auditioning for the spring performance. And she definitely didn’t expect Odile to be sweet and funny, and care as much about the play’s success as Mel.

Which means that Melody McIntyre’s only plan now is trying desperately not to fall in love.

Review

First thoughts – goodness how extremely serious do they take their plays, musicals and world of theatre in general. Then multiply that by drama and teenage angst tenfold, add on years of superstition and the result is a bubbling mess of a stage manager called Melody.

Melody believes that curses determine the success or failure of the production she is in charge of. Some of the curses seem to be made up as they go along, such as deciding that Melody’s love life has a negative impact on their show, hence her being forbidden from falling in love henceforth. Sounds a lot easier than it actually is, especially when love is closer to her than she thinks.

I took a step back from this after reading it and thought about the story in relation to other work by Talley, who has without a doubt been able to bring social commentary, racism, identity politics, civil rights, sexual identity and discrimination to the table for YA genre – in a way that is both hard-hitting, relatable and empowering. Her thought process is always to ensure something remains long after the read. I will never forget reading Lies We Tell Ourselves. There is a reason she is a critically acclaimed author.

With that in mind I wondered at the seeming simplicity and what appears to be a lot of teenage angst, drama and common YA unicorn fluff. What is it that lurks beneath the surface of the water as the reader bobs for the apple?  

Buy The Love Curse of Melody Mcintyre at Amazon Uk or go to Goodreads for any other retailer. Publisher: HQ Young Adult; pub date 12 Nov. 2020. Buy at Amazon comAt Hive.co.ukAt Bookshop.org

#BlogTour Crazy For You by T.S. Hunter

Today it’s a pleasure to take part in the BlogTour Crazy For You by T.S. Hunter. It’s the fourth part in the Soho Noir series.

About the Author

Claiming to be only half-Welsh, T.S. Hunter lived in South Wales for much of his latter teens, moving to London as soon as confidence and finances allowed. He never looked back.

He has variously been a teacher, a cocktail waiter, a podium dancer and a removal man, but his passion for writing has been the only constant.

He’s a confident and engaging speaker and guest, who is as passionate about writing and storytelling as he is about promoting mainstream LGBT fiction. He now lives with his husband in the country, and is active on social media as @TSHunter5.

Follow @TSHunter5 @RedDogTweets on Twitter, on GoodreadsBuy Crazy For You

About the book

The course of true love never runs smooth.

It’s 1987, and Soho is in the grip of another hot summer. While working part-time in The Red Lion, Joe finds himself agreeing to help a notorious gangster search for her missing girlfriend.

Antonia The Gecko Lagorio is daughter to the ruthless but ageing gang boss, Tony The Lizard Lagorio. When her girlfriend, Charlotte Fenwick, goes missing, Antonia turns to Joe for help, believing her to have been kidnapped by a rival gang.

Charlotte Fenwick is daughter to multi-millionaire, Charles Fenwick—who also happens to be one of Freddie Gillespie’s bigger clients. Keen to keep any hint of a scandal out of the public eye, Charles Fenwick had already asked Freddie to recruit Russell and Joe to help him find his daughter discreetly.

With both of them on the case, Joe and Russell find themselves trying to stop a turf war between the two rival gangs while uncovering all manner of dark secrets about the missing heiress and her troubled life.

Meanwhile Freddie Gillespie has a run in with an old foe that could see him lose both his job and his relationship with Russell.Review

The inadvertent sleuthing duo is back. Joe and Russell, who both seem to fall into crimes with an alarming frequency. I think they need to worry about whether they have fallen into a Midsomer Murder postcode area. Their adventures or the crimes they get involved with tend to have a cosy feel, despite the fact Hunter combines that feeling with important historical topics, which are still relevant in our era.

It’s what makes this series so readable, and the fact each book can be read as a standalone. Personally, and I can’t say this enough, I really like the Quick Read feature of the Soho Noir series. It doesn’t purport to be overly complex or long. Its strength is the fact it can be read anywhere and finished too. The perfect pocket read.

In this book Joe is asked to look for the missing girlfriend of The Gecko, the daughter of a local mobster. Then soon after he is asked to look for the missing daughter of a very wealthy and influential businessman. Same girl. Seems as if the young woman isn’t as innocent as her father thinks she is or as sincere as her girlfriend thinks she is.

It’s a cosy crime and LGBTQ read set in the 80s with memorable and often highly entertaining characters. I would definitely both recommend the series and buy the books or box set as a present.

There is one more thing I want to say about this series, which has beautiful covers by the way, and catchy 80s songs as titles. It might be because the 80s was my era, but every time I read one of the titles the soundtrack plays in my head. It’s an automatic reaction – I blame Hunter for the earworms.

Buy Crazy For You at Amazon Uk or go to Goodreads for any other retailer. Publisher: Red Dog Press, pub date 22 Oct. 2019. Buy at Amazon com.

Read my reviews of Tainted Love (Soho Noir #1)Who’s That Girl (Soho Noir #2) and Careless Whisper (Soho Noir #3 by T.S. Hunter.

#BlogTour Carved in Bone by Michael Nava

Today it’s my turn on the BlogTour Carved in Bone by Michael Nava. It’s a compelling piece of fiction.About the Author

Michael Nava is the six-time Lambda Literary Award author of the Henry Rios novels and recipient of the Bill Whitehead Award for Lifetime Achievement in LGBTQ Literature. The New York Times praised him as “one of our best” crime fiction writers. The New Yorker called Henry Rios “a detective unlike any other previous protagonist in American noir.” Carved In Bone is the first Henry Rios novel in 20 years. Says novelist David Ebershoff (The Danish Girl) Carved In Bone is “rich, haunting and deeply engaged with the world.”

Follow @micnavawriter on Twitter, on Facebookon Instagram, Visit michaelnavawriter.com, Buy Carved in Bone

About the book

A new mystery by six-time Lambda Literary award winner, Michael Nava. Set in San Francisco in 1984, Henry Rios, a gay criminal defense lawyer,  is fresh out of rehab and trying to put his life back together. He’s hired by an insurance company to investigate the apparently accidental death by carbon monoxide poisoning of Bill Ryan in the Castro Street apartment he shared with his lover, who survived. As he delves into Bill Ryan’s life, Rios becomes convinced Ryan’s death was no accident, and that his young lover is implicated. Meanwhile, the tsunami of AIDS is bearing down on San Francisco’s gay community.

Review

I think it’s important to note that there are sex scenes in this book, and they are quite graphic, however they do help readers to comprehend the gay scene of that era. At a time when homosexuality was finally being decriminalised and declassified as a mental health disorder in certain states, and there was finally a possibility of a positive sway in public opinion.

In a way I think there was almost a revival of the free love 60s and 70s era, especially because discarded homosexual men without a home or family were drawn to the same places and subsequently became large communities.

The intimacy and the inner battle the majority of gay men have with themselves and their partner or lovers is relevant to how the HIV virus was passed around. Imagine growing up feeling safe and loved and suddenly being ostracised by the same people who supposedly love you – just because your sexuality doesn’t conform to their ideas of the norm.

Feeling guilt instead of pleasure and equating pain and humiliation to pleasure, because the world around you is teaching you that your desires are abhorrent. Having to overcome the fact that the majority of society believes you have to conform to their standards of love, lust and sex.

This betrayal defines the way Bill relates to his sexuality and his relationships for the rest of his adult life. I think the absolute tragedy is the fact these hypocrites called family then end up being in complete legal control of the belongings and inheritance in the event of the death of the person they cast out. This is why the LGBTQ community fights hard for equal marital rights, so they can ensure their partners have legal rights and don’t end up being locked out of end-of-life decisions and property.

I really enjoyed this book. Nava hits the nail on the head when it comes to every aspect of the story he brings to the table. The tragedy of the HIV and AIDS pandemic, one of the most globally destructive pandemics. The fraudulent profiteering of insurance companies, which includes viatical settlements, and the destruction AIDS has caused.

Henry’s life and struggles play out simultaneously as the reader learns about Bill. The short tragic life of a young man disposed of by his family as if he had never existed, who went on to prove that family isn’t necessarily about blood and more about the people who stand by you during both good and bad times.

It’s a mixture of genres, it’s historical fiction, a mystery, LGBTQ fiction and it’s also a very poignant statement about attitudes towards homosexuality and the AIDS pandemic. It’s a compelling, well-researched and emotional read at times.

Buy Carved in Bone at Amazon Uk or go to Goodreads for any other retailer. Buy at Amazon com.