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
Advertisements

Review of ‘The Sovereign of Psiere’ by K Aten

K Aten has made me very happy. I loved ‘The Sovereign of Psiere ‘ , the first in a new series, where mystery, fantasy, sci-fi and romance come together in a fascinating story. Olivienne is the heir to the throne, the connate, and also a Historical Adventurist. Her work involves trying to translate the mysterious scrolls left behind by the Makers. But she is a handful and her security detail find it hard to keep up with her. None have managed to stay the course – until the dashing and committed officer, Castellan ends up in her sphere. Their story is immersive , as they work to solve mysteries that have stumped those before them. Their growing attraction was intense and very sexy. I enjoyed seeing them become closer. I also enjoyed the world-building – the word-building too. It was familiar but unfamiliar at the same time. I like her writing style. Although she explains a new world and new ideas and people, she makes it easy to grasp. K Aten has managed to create a place I want to revisit again and again. She has laid a perfect foundation for the series in this novel. Highly recommended.

Review of ‘Running From Forever’ by K Aten

Wow! The heat was positively sizzling off the page. ‘Running From Forever’ has to be one of the hottest, most intensely erotic books I have ever read. The story of commitment-phobic singer Sarah and mysterious club-owner Keller is also a brilliant tale of love, longing and emotional fervour. It is an urban fantasy that veers very much into other genres – but it would be giving away too much to say which. I was completely bowled over by the slowly, skilfully built up story and it just got better and better as it went on. The relationship between Sarah and Keller was complicated – and the issue causing them problems was one that Sarah had to take her time coming to terms with. Her sister Annie was her rock and the interaction between the sisters was powerful and loving. Sarah’s bond with her was forged through tragedy and it was a major factor in every decision she had to make. But it was the chemistry between the two main characters that really gripped me. The sex was off-the-scale and one particular scene was so wonderfully envisaged that a cold shower will be in order after reading it. This is the first book I have read by K Aten, but it certainly will not be the last. I love her style and her skill at getting inside the minds of her characters. I can highly recommend ‘Running From Forever’.

I was given this ARC for review.

Review of ‘Crossing Over’ by Karen Klyne

I so enjoyed book one in this series, ‘Parallel Lives’, and have been eagerly awaiting the release of ‘Crossing Over’. I was certainly not disappointed. Kaitlin and Tannus are now lovers and are expecting a baby. They decide to cross back to Kailtin’s home world and to her family in Cheshire. How will her parents and brother react to her fantastical story? How will Tannus and Carray react to a world so very different from their own. 

Seeing our world through the eyes of two people from a simpler, more cut-off existence was very interesting. It was also fascinating looking at romantic relationships from Carray’s point of view, as she was heterosexual and lived in a completely lesbian society at home. A clever device that made me think. I worried about Kaitlin’s father and brother as she had been far from complementary about them in the first book. Would they surprise me? The issue of Tannus’s illness was always there in the background and I lived in hope that a cure could be found. There was so much riding on the year they planned to live in our world and it made the story very emotional and compelling.

By the end I knew that I wanted more from this series. In a good way. I will be counting the days until book three comes out. I have grown to love these characters and want to find out what happens next. How will the characters from each world interact? A highly enjoyable story. 

I received an ARC of this book from Global Wordsmiths in exchange for a fair and honest review.

A Lesfic Bookworm’s Trip to Wigtown!

In Reading Lasses Bookshop

I have just spent the most wonderful weekend in Wigtown, Scotland’s very own Booktown. Situated in the south-west of Scotland, in Dumfries and Galloway, it boasts thirteen bookshops. Yes thirteen bookshops! I have been keen to go for a long time and was not disappointed. Some of the bookshops are also cafes and restaurants. The Airbnb I stayed in, The Glaisnock, had a vegetarian cafe attached, a reading room with shelves and shelves of books and books in the rooms. The bistro we had dinner in was a lesfic heaven. The Green Room is a fairly new restaurant, lesbian-owned, and had the largest selection of lesfic books I have every seen in one place. It is to be found in Bank Street, on the site of an old hotel and garden nursery. You have to be eagle-eyed to spot it, but believe me, it is well worth a visit. The food was fantastic, the owners super-friendly and you will have the chance to browse the shelves of books from every lesfic publisher imaginable. I bought six there but could have bought a hundred if I’d had room in my case for them!

My purchases from The Green Room
The shelves of The Green Room

Reading Lasses was an other wonderful cafe/bookshop with the best soup I’ve ever tasted – and a great selection of lesbian fiction too.

After leaving Wigtown we took a drive west to Portpatrick, a quaint coastal village. It is the most picturesque place imaginable and well worth checking out if you are in the area.

Review of ‘The Scandal’ by Mari Hannah

‘The Scandal’ is a gripping story from the start, as a terrified woman flees for her life, frantically trying to evade her pursuer. I could feel her fear. But it is the investigation into another death that impacts DS Frankie Oliver and she finds herself in conflict with her boss, DI David Stone. The realism, be it of story, character or setting, really struck me.

Mari Hannah captures the emotions of her characters with such insight and precision. I appreciated that the police never lost sight of the victims and their families. I also can’t get enough of the North East as described in Ms Hannah’s novels. She moves from the beauty of the Northumberland countryside to the modern, vibrant city of Newcastle. This is the first of the Stone and Oliver series that I’ve read but I was so impressed that I’ll have to go and read the other two. An excellent read and highly recommended.

I was given this ARC for review by Netgalley and Orion.

Review of ‘Royal Court’ by Jenny Frame

‘Royal Court’ has a wonderful set of characters; many I have grown to love over this series. But Captain Quincy and Holly will hold a special place in my heart. Their love story was so touching, so emotionally intense and beautiful. I believe Jenny Frame has surpassed herself. Quincy is a royal protection officer in charge of looking after Queen Beatrice, the Queen Consort. Holly Weaver is the royal dresser and Bea’s friend. Holly is easy going, happy-go-lucky and a delight to be around. However happy she seems though, she hasn’t found love and wonders if she’s been looking in the wrong place. Captain Quincy is buttoned-up, a stickler for the rules and for protocol. She is also gorgeous and Holly has noticed. I loved the will they-won’t they part of the novel. I was also hooked on the significant tension of someone wishing to put a big spanner in the works. 

But it is the slow unravelling of Quincy that is the pivotal element of this whole story. We see more and more of her and can really empathise with her. I could feel Quincy’s pain and I just wanted to hug her. She brings out feelings of protectiveness and desire, even though she’s supposed to be the protector. Holly wanted to do a lot more than just be a good friend to her and seeing that dawn on the Queen’s dresser was fascinating. There were unbelievably hot sex scenes as I have come to expect and look forward to in Jenny Frame’s books. Passions slowly rise until you feel the characters may burst! The encounters are intense and desperate. And Ms Frame’s highly imaginative invention intelliflesh- oh my goodness!!! ‘Royal Court’ is wonderful and I highly recommend it.

I was given this ARC by Netgalley and Bold Strokes Books for review.

Review of ‘Unforgettable’ by Elle Spencer

‘Unforgettable’ consists of two wonderful love stories that warm the heart. ‘’Forget Her Not’ is the story of Sam, a woman who indulges in one-nights stands and stays away from relationships. A surprising twist causes her to rethink her life. The story is beautiful, so emotional and very sexy. I felt very invested in the characters and I cried when they cried. I was stunned at how Elle Spencer manages to make the reader feel so much and we end up really caring for the women in her novels. ‘Forget Her Never’ is sweet and funny and hot. Abby and Kendall are so obviously perfect for each other but life has obstacles in their way. I so desperately wanted it to work out for them and again the author pulled me so far into the story, that I couldn’t put it down. This book is perfect for those times you want to wallow in romance, intense feelings and love. Elle Spencer does it so well. 

I was given this ARC for review.

Review of ‘As The Crow Flies’ by Karen F. Williams

This book is one of those that you have to sit back and take in just what you have read. I had to take a breath and absorb the story and how it made me feel. Karen F Williams is an extremely talented writer and her exquisite prose captured me from the start. I found myself slowing down as I neared the end as I wanted it to last just a little bit longer. I couldn’t tear myself away from mystery writer Sam, her crow Bertha and Gwen, the alluring professor that Sam has become enamoured with.  Sam’s sister-in-law Liz and gorgeous but repressed Isabel had an equally fascinating storyline and the interweaving of their lives had me glued to the page. When Sam’s quest to find a matching bookend for the one in her possession brings her into contact with philosophy professor Gwen I was entranced. Their reactions to each other are profound and when their lives become entwined neither could have predicted where it would lead. The story has a perfect mix of enchanting romance, mystery and a ghostly element. It was sweet and imaginative at times and powerfully sexy and quite beautiful.  One of the best books I have read this year. Highly recommended.

Review of ‘Shadow Hand’ by Sacchi Green

‘Shadow Hand’ is a refreshing story, of strong women, superpowers and a fight for good over evil. Ash and Cleo are soldiers who find themselves changing their lives completely after an encounter with an ancient statue in the desert. When Ash realises she can use her mind to move objects she is a person of interest. Choosing to use her powers for the good of others takes a bit of planning, and with Cleo by her side she must decide how to go about it. 

The story is unexpected and unlike anything else I’ve read. It is well written and uplifting – in more ways than one! I enjoyed the camaraderie aspect, as Ash and Cleo become involved in helping other women. It felt empowering.  The relationship between the two women was intense and sexy – what else could one expect from  Sacchi Green?  The tale goes in directions I didn’t see coming – and I appreciated the imagination and depth that went into the storytelling. I really liked it.

I was given this ARC for review.