Review of ‘Morelville Mysteries Books 9-12 Collection’ by Anne Hagan

I was so excited to see that Anne Hagan had released a box set of books 9-12 of her excellent Morelville series. I love this series and always wait in anticipation for the next one. I can highly recommend reading this boxed set as it has some of my favourite stories in the series. Here is my review of each volume.

The Turkey Tussle

This is the 9th book in the Morelville mystery series and still has the lovely family feel and inspired storytelling of all the others.  It’s great to be back with Dana and Mel and with a new mystery that deals with a murder in Mel’s family. The murder was never solved and when Dana is looking for something to keep her busy she decides looking into this cold case would bring closure to mother-in-law Faye. I loved the flashbacks to the 1970s and finding out more about Faye’s past.  The mystery had me intrigued and I am so glad that there were hints of more to come in the series.  The ensemble of characters in all of the Morelville books put them a notch above other mystery novels as they are all important to solving the cases.  Mel and Dana’s relationship was especially hot in ‘The Turkey Tussle’, in a well-written bedroom scene that hit all the right notes.  This series just gets better and better.

Sullied Sally

I think this might be my favourite Morelville Mystery to date. I’ve read every one and enjoyed following Sheriff Mel, her wife Dana and their family, friends and colleagues through many mysteries. This one concerns the death of a distant family member and ties in with the previous story ‘The Turkey Tussle’. It’s certainly beneficial to have read that one too but not entirely necessary. The story is well written and addictive – I couldn’t put it down. There are so many twists and turns that I didn’t want to miss anything.
I loved the forays into the home life of Mel and Dana as it was all tied into the case. This was Mel’s book really as it dealt with her family and their involvement in an old murder from the 1970s as well as one from the present day. As Mel is most definitely my favourite character in the series this was a big bonus for me. And I know there is more to come from Anne Hagan’s excellent mystery series so that makes me a very happy reader. I highly recommend ‘Sullied Sally’ and give it 5 Stars.

Finding Sheila

I can’t believe we are at No. 11 in the Morelville Mysteries Series already. I have loved every one so far and ‘Finding Sheila’ is no exception. When Dana is deputised to bring Sheila Ford back from the Tennessee Prison she has been in for the last few years it seems like an easy job. The transport will be in a fully staffed ambulance so Dana willingly agrees to do it for her wife, Sheriff Mel Crane. Not all goes to plan though and Dana finds herself using her investigative skills to find out exactly why it all went wrong. I could never have guessed what was behind it all and I love that Anne Hagan can do that time after time. Her stories are so well thought out and she combines great mysteries along with fascinating and likeable characters and settings. There were plenty of twists and turns and a fair element of danger for Dana. And as always I was left with hope for another story in the series. I won’t spoil it for anyone, but the next story promises to be a must read.

Tennessee Bound

Mel and Dana just can’t seem to stay out of trouble! In ‘Tennessee Bound’, the latest in the Morelville Mysteries by Anne Hagan, Sheriff Mel Crane and her wife Dana Rossi escape to their cabin in the Tennessee mountains, hoping to find a solution to their future together. Mel needs a change and is seriously considering giving up her job and trying something new. The getaway should have been their time to plan and decide. When their Mamas join them to help decorate the new cabin, it seems that they can finally relax. But trouble is never far away when it comes to Mel and Dana. When an unexpected and dangerous situation arises, their plans are put on hold, and they become embroiled in something that puts everyone in peril.

I love this series and have been looking forward to ‘Tennessee Bound’. It did not disappoint. The story is exciting and full of mystery. It’s a very different kind of situation for the pair and kept me glued to the page. I really liked the setting too. Seeing them outside of their usual locale gave an extra element to the book. The story was full of surprises, but it always kept the feeling of a Morelville mystery. I especially liked the Mamas being involved more. They make a great pair and work well together. Chloe is a go-getter and has the ability to shock not just Faye, but the reader too. Faye, Mel’s mom is more buttoned-up and opinionated, but she is also very loving and willing to listen and adapt. We got to see a different side of Mel and that was very interesting. It told me that there are many more stories possible in this series – and that makes me very happy. I loved it.

I was given an Arc for review.

https://www.amazon.co.uk/Morelville-Mysteries-Books-9-12-Collection-ebook/dp/B0875XWDJR/

https://www.amazon.com/Morelville-Mysteries-Books-9-12-Collection-ebook/dp/B0875XWDJR/

Release of ‘Silk and Leather’ – an erotic anthology from Bold Strokes Books

‘Silk and Leather’, edited by Victoria Villasenor will be released tomorrow, and I have a very special reason to be excited about that. My story ‘Taking A Leap’ was accepted for the anthology and I can’t wait to see it in print. I have fulfilled one of my dreams – being published by Bold Strokes Books. I can’t thank Victoria and the whole team enough. They have made it a wonderful experience and one I will treasure. I hope that you enjoy reading my story.

Victoria Villasenor has brought together some of the most well-known and respected authors in the world of lesbian fiction in this anthology. It will be available from Bold Strokes Books on the 1st April here:

https://www.boldstrokesbooks.com/books/silk-and-leather-lesbian-erotica-with-an-edge-by-victoria-villasenor-3224-b

And from 14th April it will be available worldwide from all the usual places.

An Interview with Heather Rose Jones, author of ‘Floodtide’

 

Well-known historical fiction author Heather Rose Jones releases her latest book, Floodtide, today. I really enjoyed the story and wanted to know a bit more about why Heather wrote it and why she set it in her fictional world, Alpennia. In the following interview with Heather I was able to ask her more about her book:

Heather, ‘Floodtide’ is set in Alpennia, the setting for your earlier novels. Can you tell us about that world?

Alpennia is meant to be an ordinary small principality in central Europe–sitting roughly at the intersection of France, Italy, and Switzerland–much like many other small regions that were still semi-independent in the 18-19th centuries. Alpennia exists as a convenience so I can set up certain social structures, certain historical events and people, without interfering with the history of an actual country. Other than the insertion of Alpennia, the world is much the same as ours, with the same geography, the same history, the same prominent figures.

Oh, and then there’s the magic. Magic, in the world of the stories takes the basic premise that certain forces and dynamics that we would consider supernatural or mystical or miraculous actually work. For some people. Sometimes. If you do them right.

Why did you choose to tell the story from the point of view of a servant girl, Roz?

In writing the earlier Alpennia books, I’d followed the usual Regency novel tropes of focusing on people in Society. Some of them are members of the aristocracy, some are wealthy, some are solidly middle-class business women and artisans. But they all move through the world with a certain amount of stability and confidence. I wanted to shake things up in this book by looking at that same world and some of those same events from the point of view of a working class girl. What is it like having queer desires if your every minute is under someone else’s scrutiny and at their mercy? What does magic look like if you’re learning it on street corners rather than in libraries and universities? And what do the effects of the Great Mysteries look like when your lives don’t figure into anyone’s calculations.

As part of your world-building you have some areas of language specific to Alpennia. What was your process for inventing it?

For some other projects, I’ve done fairly extensive conlangs (constructed languages). Linguistics has been a lifelong passion and is one of my academic degrees. But for Alpennia I didn’t need to get quite that detailed. I wanted to be able to create names and a few bits of specialized vocabulary that clearly indicated that Alpennia is a European nation, but is not any specific existing one.

Simple geography dictated much of the result. Situated where it is, you can expect Alpennia to speak a Romance language, influenced significantly in its vocabulary and names by a Germanic substrate. I wanted to have a unified “look and feel” for names that so that they were recognizable but clearly distinct, so I went back in time and picked a recorded language that didn’t leave any later descendents. The spelling and appearance of Alpennia is inspired by Langobardic, which was recorded in northern Italy–close enough for the connection. It isn’t meant to be a descendent of Langobardic; that simply gave me the material to set up certain sound-change and spelling rules. So I could feed names and words from the Latin and Migration Era into a set of rules and produce Early Modern Alpennia forms that felt like it’s own unique and coherent language.

Are you drawn to particular time periods? This book is set in the 19th century. Is that a favourite era?

I have a lot of favorite historic eras and hope to write stories (though not Alpennian ones) in many of them. But the setting for the Alpennia series is inspired more by my love for Regency romances. I love time periods when society was in flux–not necessarily times of violent disruption, but times of a more complex peaceful disruption when people were exploring new ways of being and challenging older norms. The specific location of the Alpennia series in time is tied to the general forces of western European history. The series had to start at a particular time relative to the Napoleonic wars, and it had to extend until a particular era of spreading political upset. But honestly, it’s all about the manners and the social functions and the clothing!

Thank you for joining me today Heather. If we have whetted your appetite for ‘Floodtide’, the Bella Books and Amazon links are below:

Bella Books

Amazon UK

Amazon US

 

Heather Rose Jones is the author of the Alpennia historic fantasy series: an alternate-Regency-era Ruritanian adventure revolving around women’s lives woven through with magic, alchemy, and intrigue. Her short fiction has appeared in The Chronicles of the Holy Grail, Sword and Sorceress, Lace and Blade, and at Podcastle.org. Heather blogs about research into lesbian-relevant motifs in history and literature at the Lesbian Historic Motif Project and has a podcast covering the field of lesbian historical fiction which has recently expanded into publishing audio fiction. She reviews books at The Lesbian Review as well as on her blog. She works as an industrial failure investigator in biotech pharmaceuticals.

Book Links

Bella Books: http://www.bellabooks.com/Bella-Author-Heather-Rose-Jones-cat.html
Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/Heather-Rose-Jones/e/B00ID2LQE6

Social Media:

Website and blog: http://alpennia.com
Twitter: @heatherosejones
Facebook (author page): https://www.facebook.com/Heather-Rose-Jones-490950014312292/

Lesfic Eclectic – Great New Antholgy Coming Soon!

I’m so excited to be one of the authors in this fantastic new anthology, due out 1st October. Edited by Robyn Nyx and featuring stories from RobynValden BushLise Gold AuthorEmma Nichols, Jeannie Levig, Claire Highton-StevensonJenn MatthewsJen Silver, Michelle Arnold, Gill McKnight and Brey Willows. And the great thing is that it’s FREE!

I hope you enjoy this anthology of stories from a mixture of new and established authors.

Review of ‘The Secrets We Kept’ by Lara Prescott

‘The Secrets We Kept’ by Lara Prescott is a historical fiction about a well-known twentieth century figure, Boris Pasternak. How his famous novel ‘Doctor Zhivago’ came to be published, the people involved and the lasting effects on those around him. It also deals with a group of women working for the secret agencies of the US government. And it is their story that I found much more interesting. I didn’t like Pasternak or his lover Olga. They were self- absorbed individuals who ruined the lives of those around them. But the young women of the agencies were fascinating. Especially the love story between two of the women. Sadly this was the fifties and a lesbian love story was never going to be easy. I enjoyed the way the author used first person accounts of a multitude of different characters. It worked very well. She also has a beautifully vivid writing style that appealed to me. I found the descriptions of life for women at that time very revealing. Being better than the men didn’t matter. They were frozen out of the top jobs and disregarded. A very impressive novel.

#TheSecretsWeKept

Bold Strokes Nottingham 2019 – Books, Banter and Buddies

My signed book purchases

I’m just back from my first ever Bold Strokes event in Nottingham. What a weekend! After a delay getting there (due to a cancelled flight and subsequently four cities in a day to make it), I attended the ‘Meet and Speak’ at the Five Leaves Bookshop in the city. As soon as I was through the door I was greeted by a sea of friendly faces – Brey Willows and Robyn Nyx, Valden Bush, Carol Hutchinson, Isabelle Lonitz, Anna Larner and her wife, Jen Silver, Jane Fletcher and her lovely wife Joanie, Jody Klaire, Em and Ferb, Sam Skybourne, Lise Gold and her wife, Anne Holt and many more. After listening to some wonderful readings a few of us headed off to the Pitcher and Piano for drinks and chat. We sat outside in the warm night air until the early hours talking until we realised we had an event to get up for in the morning and headed off to our various hotels.

Lesfic Ladies deep in conversation
Anna Larner and Carol Hutchinson
Brey Willows

Saturday morning started with a welcome from the lovely Brey Willows. The room filled up quickly and we were treated to some fascinating panels – Challenging the Norms, Flowers and Wine, Playing with the universe, It’s a Writer’s Life and reading from the authors. I found hearing the authors read their own work made me want to buy more books. We were all able to mingle throughout the day and chat to the authors and get our book purchases signed. The After Party at the Pit and Pendulum nearby gave us a chance to socialise more. As we moved around the tables we all got to know some new people. The banter was fantastic.

Cari Hunter, Ileandra Young, Michelle Grubb and Charlotte Green
Cari Hunter
Charlotte Green, Robyn Nyx and Rebecca S Buck

Sunday brought some more panels, readings and a hilarious quiz. We all headed off to The New Foresters bar afterwards for a BBQ and lots of chat. Hours passed quickly as we met new people and old friends. The conversations brought us all together and made us realise just how much we all have in common. Getting to spend time together was energising and affirming – and I cannot wait for next year to do it all again.

Ladies Lunching – Kitty Kat, Sam Skybourne, Valden Bush, Jen Silver, Carol Hutchinson, Isabelle Lonitz
Michelle Grubb and Cari Hunter
Brey Willows, Ileandra Young and Stacia Seaman
Robyn Nyx and Brey Willows – our wonderful hosts for the weekend
A final farewell from our authors

Books, Beer and Lesfic Buddies – Wendy Hudson’s Book Launch

I attended the book launch party for Wendy Hudson’s latest novel, ‘Meant to be Me’ in Glasgow last night. It was a night of books, beer and lesfic buddies. Wendy chatted about her book and signed copies for the queue of fans, family and friends who had come to toast the success of her new book. Fellow writer Wendy Temple, author of ‘Defensive Mindset’, had travelled from Edinburgh to join the party, and Trish L. Devoy had flown in from Dublin. Wendy’s lovely Mum Carol was on hand to help as was her partner Lynsey.

Wendy Hudson and Kitty Kat at the book launch for ‘Meant to be Me”

The launch was held at The Curler’s Rest, a popular pub/restaurant on Byres Road in the West End of Glasgow. As anyone who knows Wendy will be aware, she is an aficionado of craft beers and she made sure her guests were able to partake of some of her favourite beverages.

Trish L. Devoy and Wendy Temple

‘Meant to be Me’ is Wendy’s third novel and is set in the beautiful Scottish city of Inverness. It is a is a heart-thumping, nerve-jangling, suspense story that had me glued to the page. I loved it and highly recommend it. I was delighted to be able to get Wendy to sign my copy last night, and it has pride of place beside ‘Four Steps’ and “Mine to Keep’ on my bookshelf.

Trish L. Devoy, Wendy Hudson and Wendy Temple
Wendy and her guests enjoy a fantastic evening in Glasgow
Wendy signing ‘Meant to be Me’

New Emotion Thesaurus Out Now!

If there’s one universal truth about writers, it’s that we like to share. When we hear great writing advice, we share. If we read a book we like, we share. And, when we come across a resource that has really helped us, yes that’s right…we share!

So today I’m sharing some news: authors Angela Ackerman and Becca Puglisi have released a second edition of The Emotion Thesaurus: A Writer’s Guide to Character Expression!

You may have heard of this book, or even own a copy, but it’s quite possible that you didn’t realize it had a second edition. Up until a month ago, I didn’t either! It was all kept a secret by the authors who were determined to “show, not tell” their next new book through a mystery reveal. I helped with that, and it was so much fun.

This second edition is more than a new cover. It’s been been enhanced and expanded to include 55 new entries and double the teaching material. Now we can go even deeper when showing our characters’ emotions!

Anyway, if you want to look into it further, you can read some of the reviews on Goodreads or find more information here

Also, one more thing to share…a MEGA-OPPORTUNITY to win something amazing!