Hart & Stocker

– by Max Ellendale

 

I was dead chuffed to read Max Ellendale‘s latest outing, “Hart & Stocker,” because I knew I’d be immersed in the world of pure lesbian romance wrapped in emotional and psychological narrative that only Ellendale’s innate skill in characterising such an experience could achieve. An experience that would once again take me to the depths of the human condition where love, falling in love, true love would be stoked, flourished before emerging as the source of hope and positivity just when everything seemed unbearably dire. I was not wrong. Once again, Ellendale’s flair in weaving a tale of romance soaked in emotional psychology has churned out another compelling, deeply heartfelt story that made me think, feel and reflect on what it means to love completely – absolute trust, unbreakable safety and security, unflinching support – in every sense of the word. Needless to say, “Hart & Stocker” was another captivating study in the resilience of the human spirit when true, complete, unwavering love seeps into the soul. The running theme in this story? Safety.

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Sandman

– by Tammy Bird

 

One word. Sandman. On the book cover. The text almost translucent, as if trying to hide in plain sight with its colour melding into the sandy beach with an ominous-looking sky looming above the troubled waters.

What is Sandman?

When I first heard about Tammy Bird‘s debut novel, “Sandman,” I was immediately curious. First, the cryptic title, which set my mind whirling trying to ascertain its meaning or symbolism. The aesthetically unsettling cover closed the deal for me. SOLD.

Then, the fact that the revealed plot from the blurb was twofold – a search-and-rescue effort post-hurricane and what was lurking in the sand dunes. I thought that was a fascinating approach to writing in the crime thriller genre in lesfic. Needless to say, I utterly enjoyed the story as a whole. I was glad to discover that there were more than met the eye, beyond the twofold-plotline blurb! Truth be told, I actually didn’t read the blurb before I read the book because I was so intrigued by the title that I wanted to find out for myself including what the case would entail. I must say, I was surprised when I went back to read the blurb afterwards when I saw the revelation of the title’s meaning! I wish the blurb didn’t mention that, though. Oh well, it didn’t affect me because, thank goodness, I didn’t read the blurb before delving into a book this time!

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Deadeye (Luce Hansen Thriller Book 3)

– by Meredith Doench

 

After having read Books 1 and 2 of Meredith Doench‘s utterly engaging “Luce Hansen Thriller” crime series, which I thoroughly enjoyed, obviously I HAD to read its 3rd installment, “Deadeye!” Speaking of Doench, it was thanks to Jeannie Levig who first recommended her series to me when we talked about dark lesfic crime thrillers. Otherwise, I wouldn’t have known and would’ve missed an opportunity to explore Doench’s brilliant crime writing style and plot weaving in lesfic! For me, her style is reminiscent of James Patterson and Thomas Harris’, which is my cuppa tea. Needless to say, Doench’s 3rd installment continued to showcase her crime/thriller writing skills in crafting yet another intriguing case, not to mention, her insights into the ongoing development of Hansen’s emotional and psychological journey as she continued her efforts to juggle her work with her personal life better this time. One swift read later, yup, this one’s my favourite installment of the series, yet.

Obviously, I have to comment on the captivating book cover! Feast thy eyes: A scope target. Fixed on a Celtic cross. Red all over. Interpretation: Danger. Insidious. Deadly. Sniper. That’s the story. Right there. Staring at me. Who wouldn’t be curious? Well, I was! And as I explored the story, I was immediately struck by its symbolism. Well done!

Because Doench also included Hansen’s private life which she first developed in “Crossed” (Book 1), continued growing in “Forsaken Trust” (Book 2), including her romantic relationships/entanglements, there was no reason she wouldn’t further advance Hansen’s relationship with her current partner, Bennett (first introduced in “Forsaken” not merely as Hansen’s love interest but played a major role in investigating and solving the featured case), in this installment. So, even though, like other crime serials, the Luce Hansen series is a procedural, meaning each installment can be read as a stand-alone, I’d personally advise readers who haven’t read the previous two books, to do so, IF you’re also interested in the chronological development of Hansen’s private life besides the case-of-the-week plot.

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Burn It Down

– by K. Aten

Well! As if K. Aten hadn’t had enough genres to play with for her infinitely inquisitive mind that houses her incredible writing and storytelling talent, now she’s done it with yet another genre – “Contemporary Fiction!” And, dare I say, she’s hit the nail on this one, too, with her latest deeply emotional, intensely personal endeavour in “Burn It Down.” Well done!

When Aten promised tears to be had when reading this book, I told myself that it ain’t gonna happen with me. No tears! No way! Yeh, my rebellious nature always rears its head, sometimes at my own peril! Nonetheless, I was determined to fight it! Until I was immersed in the depths of the protagonist’s journey of agonising pain, suffering but ultimately healing in this book… Bloody hell! As I found myself unexpectedly choking up, literally fighting back tears (ffs!)  in not one but two gut-punching, heart-wrenching moments, I was literally dumbstruck by the sheer power of Aten’s words and expressive narrative. Awestruck. It was then that I raised my white flag fervently to the creator of these soul-stirring words in welcoming defeat. Ms. Aten, you won. Respect. I devoured the book in no time at all. By the end of the ride, I was emotionally drained, physically knackered, but filled with an encompassing sense of cathartic euphoria, exhilaration, and pure joy….. for Ash, who came to life as well as every other character that Aten vividly described and authentically portrayed. I felt like I knew all of them by the end of the roller-coaster ride, from the depths of darkness to the jubilation of light, literally wishing them well like I would if they were standing in front of me IRL.

I have so much to say. So, so much… My mind is still reeling even as I write this with the steady, hypnotic sound reverberating in my stream of consciousness…

ching-clp ching-clp ching-clp…

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Mine To Keep

– by Wendy Hudson

 

I know I should have read this book earlier especially with an irresistible cover like this one (more about this and the title later!) and because I thought “Four Steps” was a brilliant debut effort by Wendy Hudson, which put her on my radar in the world of lesfic reading. But for some reason, I thought I’d read it all this time until I happened to review my reading queue and surprise sur-bloody-prise, “Mine To Keep” was still sitting there staring at me with that bloody mesmerising cover taunting me! Gobsmacked, I was! Bloody hell! Reckon me mind’s done for! Too many books, too little time! Grrr!  Anyway, by this time, I’d read her 3rd and latest book, “Meant To Be Me,” already. But just like everything else, things happen for a reason, don’t they? And timing is everything, innit? Won’t bore you with the deets about what it means except I can firmly attest that “Mine To Keep” is now my favourite Hudson book! Her best one, thusfar, as far as I’m concerned! Hence, this book has effectively renewed my continued interest in her writing and creativity whose craft I’ll always be looking forward to exploring! Well done, Ms. Hudson!

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Alone

– by E.J. Noyes

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Have you ventured into E.J. Noyes‘ latest psychological STUNNER, “Alone,” yet? No? Oh, you must! TOP MARKS for Noyes’ distinctive creativity, original, delectable ingenuity, and her quintessential storytelling virtuosity in this philosophical psychology piece, cleverly wrapped in a soul-stirring, deeply yearning, all-consuming love story. Yet another bona fide gem from Ms. Noyes, imho. End of.

Before I proceed….

Disclaimer: Please note that this story IS categorised as a romance. My own postulation about it as something transcending romance is simply it. My own. How it jolted my senses is solely based on how I experienced the story altogether, interpretative undertones, perceived notions, speculative implications and all. Noyes might not have even had any kind of inclination, whatsoever, about anything other than telling a well-constructed, complex and emotional love story. However, art is subjective. Therefore, its interpretation is in the mind of the beholder, innit?

With that in mind,  here goes…

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The Fire

– by Nicole Pyland

I just stumbled upon Nicole Pyland‘s 2018 novel, “The Fire,” whilst browsing through my Goodreads timeline recently. Its blurb piqued my curiosity, tbh, because I’ve always been fascinated with stories evolving around past memories. Memories about unfinished business that resurface one day out of the blue in the present time. After reading some great reviews and a high rec from one of my GR mates, I just had to read it and explore Pyland’s craft. And was I immensely glad I did because I simply loved it! Everything about it, really. Pyland’s writing was brilliant and her story weaving was superb. The overall tone, word flow and feel of the story and its main characters were just right up my street!

Speaking of the story, I thought “The Fire” was original, creatively constructed and presented with the appropriate physical, emotional and psychological effects of someone suffering from chronic PTSD as a result of  a devastating childhood trauma that persisted throughout her adulthood. Furthermore, I thought Pyland aptly and mindfully handled Ripley’s (MC) process of “coming out for air” in the presence of love from its inception to the possibility of a future after years of living under the fog of her trauma. Needless to say, I was enthralled by Ripley’s journey which Pyland brilliantly depicted with every stage of the her character development and growth.

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