My blog is whatever I want it to be, but it will mainly be book reviews.  I read in every genre. So you're likely to find any kind of book on my blog.

0 Stars
Shooting Creek and Other Stories--Mainly Rural Noir

I'm not usually a fan of noir, but I occasionally interrupt my reading habits with an uncharacteristic book.  I was also interested in the rural settings of a number of these stories.  You don't see rural noir anywhere near as often as urban noir, but I have read it.   The most notable examples were by the extraordinary Appalachian writer, Daniel Woodrell.   The best of Shooting Creek and Other Stories by Scott Loring Sanders did remind me of Woodrell.  That's why I was glad to obtain a review copy from publicist Wiley Saicheck in return for this honest review.









As is typical with anthologies, I didn't love every story I read in this collection.  I think that Scott Loring Sanders has a gift for very real characters and the re-creation of settings, but there were stories that felt a bit too unresolved, and others that seemed rather predictable to me.


My personal favorite that really caused me to sit up and take notice was "Jim Limey's Confession".   This story takes place in the rural South during the 1920's.   Jim Limey is an African American man who was faced with the necessity of taking over his father's business in his early teens.   These were terrible times for African Americans as I've learned from other historical fiction.  So it shouldn't surprise any readers that the story deals with the impact of racism.  Racist attitudes place Jim Limey in a position where he had to choose between justice and survival.   This is a memorable story with a great deal of dramatic intensity.


I was also moved by the family tragedy depicted in the title story, "Shooting Creek".   I felt sad for how destiny altered the life paths of these characters beyond recognition.  Yet it starts off with a tranquil scene of  a ten year old boy snapping beans on the porch with his mother.  It's the contrast between that scene and the events that follow it that transfixes readers and engages their emotions.


All but one of these stories appeared in other publications, but Down and Out Books has collected them all in one volume, so that we can locate them more easily.   I confess that I wouldn't have read them at all if it hadn't been for this anthology.







Moonlight Water: Musician Finds New Life in the American Southwest

Moonlight WaterMoonlight Water by Win Blevins
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I would call Moonlight Water quirky. I stand by the genre classification of contemporary fiction even though there's a small element of what is often called magical realism. I will leave readers to discover it themselves.

What I enjoyed most in this book is the role of music. It's transcendent, and it can redeem people who may appear to be lost beyond redemption. This is one of my very favorite tropes in fiction. I felt that the musician characters were portrayed authentically.

Unfortunately, the authors seemed to want an unambivalent happily ever after resolution. Perhaps if Moonlight Water had been a romance I would have expected the overindulgence in HEA. Although there are romantic relationships between characters, this book is no romance.

For the blogger version of this review see

View all my reviews

4 Stars
The Fan Girl's Guide To The Galaxy: Reaching Across My Fannish Generation Gap
The Fangirl's Guide to the Galaxy: A Lexicon of Life Hacks for the Modern Lady Geek - Sam Maggs

I attended my first science fiction convention in the 1970's.  My contacts with fandom were either in person or through the mail.  Being a fan was very important to me.  It was central to my life and identity.  In addition to attending cons and meetings of local fan organizations, I wrote for printed fanzines and APAs (Amateur Press Associations).  I would write a zine for the APA on a typewriter, get it copied at a copy shop and send it to the Central Mailer, who would collate everyone's zines, add a cover with art created by one of the members and mail out the stapled together publication to everyone on the members' list.  It was a different world.  For the author of The Fan Girl's Guide To The Galaxy and the generation that this book addresses, it really was their grandmother's fandom.


 I eventually switched to online fandoms in the 1990's.  I participated in newsgroups and discussion boards, and I posted my fics to e-mail lists and websites. Then I decided to become a librarian and no longer had any free time for participation in fandom.  I gafiated.  That's a verb form of the fannish abbreviation GAFIA (Getting Away From It All).


I don't like to feel that I'm out of touch, but I've been discovering that the fannish terminology that I knew has altered drastically.  Some terms have morphed.  Others have been newly created to represent fannish institutions that didn't exist when I was last active in fandom.   I realized that I needed to re-educate myself.  That's why I entered a giveaway for The Fan Girl's Guide To The Galaxy on Booklikes and was delighted when I won.




I feel that it's important for me to state that I have never identified with the "geek" label.  I remember when the only connotation it had was negative, but I understand about reclaiming words and giving them a positive connotation.  This is a very common practice in identity politics.  Yet I regret to inform you that I'm still not comfortable with calling myself a "geek".  I don't mind if my readers do identify with that label.  It's just that I'm from another generation.    So I have no anxiety about being called a "fake geek".  This was not an issue in the fandoms in which I participated.  I wrote fic in overwhelmingly female fandoms,  and the male fans that I associated with in science fiction book fandom tended to be pro-feminist.


As a feminist, it definitely angers me that women and girls have been ostracized in contemporary fandoms.  This demonstrates that the battles that feminists must fight in order to attain equality are far from over.  I  was pleased to see a section on feminism in The Fan Girl's Guide To The Galaxy.


My original fandom was Star Trek: TOS which brought about a major influx of women into science fiction fandom in the 1970's.  I had read science fiction beginning in the 1960's, but I was first introduced to fandom by a Trek fan.  I wrote my first fic for her zine.   I have a sentimental attachment to Star Trek: TOS, its characters and to the original cast.  Nevertheless,  my favorite Trek series is Star Trek: Deep Space Nine which I feel had more complex characters and better developed alien cultures than any other science fiction show that I've seen. To women, it offered Kira and Dax who I consider totally awesome.  It bothered me that DSN wasn't even mentioned in this book.  I understand why Sam Maggs emphasized Star Trek: Voyager.  Captain Janeway was a milestone, but it seemed to me that she had almost no background or character development.   Seven of Nine certainly had a more interesting character arc.


I also had a problem with "stan", an abbreviation of stalker fan, being used to mean true fan.  Maggs says in the book "A good stan is a respectful stan."  Real stalkers have no respect.  They terrorize actors.  I was involved with a TV fandom in which the star was stalked by a woman who was a PI. Even after she was caught and arrested,  the experience was devastating for the actor and had a negative impact on the fandom as a whole.    He became wary of fans.  He hired bodyguards.  This changed the entire atmosphere of the fandom.   I don't think that real stalkers should be encouraged to think that their criminal behavior is considered acceptable.  


I think that the interviews in this book should have been more personalized.  Asking the same questions to each interview subject didn't necessarily make for an interesting interview.   Specific customized questions for each subject would probably have caused the interviewee to open up more.  This would have given us more insight into their activities and their role in fandom. 


On the other hand, the overviews of particular fandoms, and the complete list of websites for all the different needs of "girl geeks" were wonderful.   Those features made The Fan Girl's Guide To The Galaxy a very useful reference.






0 Stars
Sinful Folk: Murder Most Noir
Sinful Folk - Nikki McClure, Ned Hayes

I’ve read medieval mysteries characterized as medieval noir, but Sinful Folk by Ned Hayes is as noir as it gets.  The medieval villagers we meet in this novel have dark secrets, and a number of them have either committed terrible deeds, or stood by without protest while they were perpetrated.  Many of the nobility who think of themselves as superior are no better.  Characters who have principles are seen as simple and childlike.  Christianity is not the faith of a loving God, but one that justifies acts of cruelty and intolerance.  Welcome to a 14th century England where chivalry is very nearly dead, and hearts that are pure are likely to be pureed.  

The mystery of the five dead youths of this village who were burned alive is at the center of the narrative.  Surprising developments arise during the process of discovering the truth about this awful crime.   The truth about various characters changes over the course of the novel as their secrets are uncovered.  I thought that the protagonist had layers of complexity while still being sympathetic.  I wanted her to triumph against all the obstacles in her path, and I liked the bittersweet ending.  

For the blog version of my review see Book Babe.

0 Stars
Eagleridge Bluffs: Review of Book Won on Booklikes

I consider a thriller more compelling if it deals with a theme that I find significant.  That’s why I enjoy eco-thrillers.  I had recently read and very much liked the romantic eco-thriller, Amazon Burning by Victoria Griffith. So I was glad to have won a copy of the romantic eco-thriller, Eagleridge Bluffs by Rod Raglin through a Booklikes giveaway.


An important thematic issue to address in a review of Eagleridge Bluffs is the ethics of eco-terrorism.  The phrase “collateral damage” is actually used by a member of an eco-terrorist team in this novel.  People who want to protect the environment are motivated by their conviction that all the beings who live on our planet have value.  How is a phrase like “collateral damage” consistent with that belief?  


Miriam, the female protagonist, asks the tough questions that the eco-terrorists weren’t asking themselves. I think that Eagleridge Bluffs would have been a better novel if Zaahir, the eco-terrorist central character, had been portrayed as willing to reflect on his actions.  This would have given him more dimension.


I have to say that I almost set Eagleridge Bluffs aside for a reason that is a spoiler. 

It undermined Miriam’s credibility as a character.   Yet I stuck with the book, and I’m glad I did because the ending was very inspirational.


The reason why I enjoyed the ending so much is because it represents all the progress that Miriam made over the course of the book.  This is the aspect of Miriam’s characterization that I found believable.  When we first encounter Miriam she has been depressed for some time.  This explains her passivity. Gradually, she becomes stronger and reclaims herself. 


Yet when I examined the ending from the perspective of Zaahir, it seemed to me that there was some missing character development that would have made the ending possible.  Zaahir may or may not have experienced a radical change in outlook.  I can speculate, but Raglin leaves us with too many questions about this character.


So there are things that I liked about Eagleridge Bluffs, but there are some serious flaws in the characterization.  Readers who care more about the thriller aspect of the book may not have the qualms that I did about whether the main characters were making sense.    







A Test of the Booklikes Catalog

So I did a search for the book that I just recently finished in the new Booklikes catalog.  I had some problems retrieving it the first time I searched for it on Goodreads when I wanted to shelve it there even though I bought it on Amazon. Well, the Booklikes catalog passed with flying colors.  I retrieved Ella Clah: The Pilot Script by Lee Goldberg and William Rabkin without any trouble.  It's an unproduced pilot for a series that never aired based on a mystery book series by Aimee and David Thurlo.  I'm very pleased that search here works better than Goodreads where search is broken.

0 Stars
Booklikes Giveaway Winner Reviews Rhinoceros Summer by Jamie Thornton
Rhinoceros Summer - Jamie Thornton

Rhinoceros SummerRhinoceros Summer by Jamie Thornton
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

It occurred to me that the central character of Rhinoceros Summer by Jamie Thornton starts off as the mirror image of the central character of another book that I reviewed last year on The Unmasked Persona’s Reviews. Lydia Gibbs, the aspiring teen photographer in Rhinoceros Summer thinks that going to Africa will be a tremendous career-making opportunity. Jazz Hooper, the grief stricken teen with no aspirations in The See Through Leopard by Sibel Hodge, resents being uprooted by her father and hates going to Africa. Neither girl found what they expected there, but their experiences in Africa were life-changing.

My main criticism of The See Through Leopard about overt didacticism doesn’t hold true for Rhinoceros Summer. There are certainly ideas in this novel, but no long speeches. There are thoughts from the characters that give us their perspectives. Since there are multiple perspectives, I don’t feel that the author is preaching at me.

As the novel opens, Lydia the preacher’s daughter, is working at a Christian supply store. I wondered at that point whether this book could be considered Christian fiction. Although Lydia’s parents are portrayed sympathetically, their beliefs are not the only ones that are portrayed in a positive light. So I wouldn’t consider Rhinoceros Summer Christian fiction. At one point Lydia gets what she considers a surprising African viewpoint on Christian missionaries.

The complexity with which Jamie Thornton addresses her themes, builds her characters and re-creates the African milieu is what makes Rhinoceros Summer an excellent novel.

I received a free copy of this book through a giveaway on Booklikes.

For my complete review on Book Babe see

View all my reviews