Monday, May 1, 2017

Book Review: From Here to Timbuktu by Milton Davis



'Lo People,


I'm gonna school ya on why this book is important.
From Here to Timbuktu had me when I turned the page to the map of an alternate US where the original 13 colonies, NY, PA,part of VA,OH,IN,IL,MI and WI are all that's left of the United States. The southern belt with the exception of Florida and Louisiana has been amassed into a territory called Freedonia bordered another large territory called New Haiti. Texas and California and Florida have all remained in Spanish hands.
I'm saying to myself what's the story here?

I'm told it's from the sub-genre Steamfunk (Afro steampunk). What the hell is that, you say? It means there's no rayguns or automatic weapons. People still ride horses. Lots of airships are spanning continents. Long story short, this book takes place after the American Civil War and probably a decade before the 1920s. There are poisonings, bullets flying, killer mechanical cats, and ancient alien technology. By the way, all the sex happens between scenes in the minds of the readers who were looking for smut on the actual pages. (Yes, Her Tangh-i-ness was gonna go there.)

When I was a teen, I read Robert E. Howard, Edgar Rice Burroughs, and H. Rider Haggard in hopes of reading about characters who looked like me doing cool stuff. If I could have gotten away with shoving Milton Davis into a wayback machine and hitting the button, I would. This. This is the stuff I should have been reading as a youngster. I was starving for it. The idea that Harriet Tubman or Fredrick Douglass could have ended up a president. The idea that ancient Black people had books at all might come as a shock to some. The idea that African peoples have had alien contact doesn't seem bandied about much either.

Best of all, as a woman, I soooo enjoy seeing women being just as badass as their male counterparts. Menna needs her own book. I figure the spirited sort of man could convince her to harness that formidable will of hers into more constructive uses. Just sayin'. Hint. Hint.

*Spoiler Alert*

Her Tangh-i-ness greatly appreciates pithy plot summaries. However, for those who must have a virgin reading experience, read no further, and eyeball elsewhere.


*Spoiler Alert End*

Remember these names:

Wagadu- a lost ancient city, a site of first contact
Famara Keita- a horro, an elite warrior
Zeke Culpepper- a church deacon, gunslinger, and bounty-hunter
Annette Bijoux- a machete-wielding singer from New Haiti
Menna- female Ihaggaren assassin, sister and rival of El Tellak for the leadership of the kel
El Tellak- the leader of the Ihaggaren Tuareg
Dolph Ericksson- Prussian Field Marshall and closet academic
Claus Reuters- the Prussian General determined to prove Dolph's obsession is a waste
Pierre LaRue- New Haitian expatriate and socialite

This novel could have been subtitled the book of the double-cross. Famara Keita has to pluck two highly coveted tomes from a Tuareg warlord and transplanted New Haitian socialite. Menna wants to wrestle the leadership of the kel from her brother El Tellak. Claus Reuters wants to prove that Dolph's obsession with the books is a waste of Prussian resources. The only character who engages in relatively little two-timing is Zeke Culpepper.

As an inveterate book hoarder, I totally get why having a plot revolve about missing ancient African books ought to be a Bestseller. Gimme my good reads!

Famara Keita strides onto the page deep in the Sahara to knife El Tellak and steal the book that El Tellak meant to turn over to Dolph Ericksson. The scene ends with Keita single-handedly taking down a Prussian airship with only a bullet to the shoulder to slow him. Calling all auteurs. Calling all auteurs. Can someone please shoot that opening action sequence like yesterday? I need t see it on a big screen. Zeke Culpepper enters next moving from passing the collection plate, to being enlisted by a Sheriff and Deputy to take down a wanted gang. Apparently, Keita and Culpepper's paths are meant to cross.

Field Marshall Dolph Ericksson fumes at the loss of the first book that the horro, Famara Keita, has stolen and plots to take the second book which had ended up in Zeke Culpepper's Freedonia. El Tellak recovers from his near death experience at Famara Keita's hands. These two men, and Menna, form the triumvirate of problems facing Famara Keita and Zeke Culpepper. Dolph Ericksson had already put the arcane knowledge found in the stolen books to work and he longs to complete the technological advantage their secrets have given. Already a scientist under his direction used the information to create clockwork cat sentries that hold a town in terror.

The second book in Freedonia brings Famara Keita in search of it. His mission is to bring it back to Timbuktu and to the oversight of the elders. Zeke Culpepper takes down his latest bounty unaware how much his own life will be changing. Menna travels Famara Keita's homeland in search of him and kiling as she goes. El Tellak concentrates on saving face amongst his own people and managing his murderous sister. Pierre LaRue hosts the bonne soirée that intended to celebrate his ownership of the Fredonian tome but nearly ends his wife's life and his own when Famara makes off with the book with Dolph and his Prussian agents hot on his heels. Zeke Culpepper answers an urgent summons from LaRue. Culpepper finds himself hired to go after the book. He's been promised a substantial for his efforts. So Zeke Culpepper joins the chase that will lead Famara Keita, Menna, Dolph Ericksson to Lorraine, France and Annette Bijoux, and then to Bavaria, and finally to Timbutku in Africa itself. Thirty gold pieces exchanged between Famara Keita and Zeke Culpepper outstrips the bounty Pierre LaRue offered. After all, LaRue made promises while Keita actually delivers solid evidence of Culpepper's best financial interest. In retrieving the Freedonian book and returning it to the African Elders, Zeke Culpepper faces a deeper calling. Somehow, I suppose we haven't seen the last of the gun-slinging church deacon.



Note: This copy of From Here to Timbuktu was an Amazon ebook purchased by the reviewer. Her Tangh-i-ness usually reviews on a for-the-love basis. No lucre has been involved.

Tuesday, March 21, 2017

Book Review: Silver Moon by Catherine Lundoff





'Lo People,




I am so overdue for this review. You ever read a book or watch a movie where you were yelling at the main character? Grrl what are you doing? Yup. Becca Thornton did that me. I remember hearing about the book from the author. I'm definitely in the target audience being perimenopausal, a female, and a fang-carrying, lifelong member of the shifter tribe. I am down with the Werefolk. And I'm heteroflexible enough that I can enjoy lesbian characters discovering themselves. Her Tangh-i-ness's motto is be who you be. Love is Love. Anyhoo….


I appreciate Silver Moon too for offering a different vision of femaleness. Too often, the woman as a warrior, or even viewed as an elder, as a social force driven to protect and nuture takes a second stage to Romantic entanglement. There is light Romance in Silver Moon. There's also an interesting depiction of the poison of self-hate. My one quibble with Silver Moon is in the use of a goddess's name for a difficult character. The character says, "Remember me: I am the wind that brings change."
As someone who is a shrine keeper in a West African tradition, seeing that name in this context just tossed me out of the story just as Voudun practitioners cringe at non-devotees' depiction of their faith. The antagonist took it as their "warrior" name. Uhhhh...Ile Ife, we have a problem. Make of my reaction what you will. Please remember the I found the remainder of this story satisfying and absolutely worthy of a re-read.



*Spoiler Alert*


Her Tangh-i-ness greatly appreciates pithy plot summaries. However, for those who must have a virgin reading experience, read no further, and eyeball elsewhere.



*Spoiler Alert End*

Becca works in a hardware store in a town called Wolf's Point, is a member of a local women's club, and is going through the change. She's also feeling feelings for her female neighbor after her divorce from a man. It's Becca's first time considering that she is attracted to her own sex.

Becca learns the women's club she's part of isn't just a case of running with the wolves. The women become wolves. Becca finds this handy when she has to defend a kidnapped boy from a child predator. My girl Becca dispatches the predator human and brings the boy to safety. Yay!

I loved that Shelly Peterson, the Alpha of Wolf's point, was a Native American woman. I loved that Lizzie Blackhawk, Shelly's cousin was the town Deputy. Even the female antagonist with the goddess's name is a Native woman. So can we talk about Erin? "She grinned her slow lazy smile that always made Becca think about cowboys. Cowgirls. Whatever. Maybe it was her neighbor's long lean body or her short-cropped graying hair." So I'm looking at Erin too and I'm liking what I see. Nice to know Becca has good taste. Erin is the love interest by the way.

Becca and her pack have to stand firm against the machinations of the female antagonist and her crew. The crew calls themselves Nesters. Becca even runs away from what she's become and the pack. That lasts two minutes. Becca's running away earns the first of Her Tangh-iness's severe talking tos. Grrrrl, have you lost your mind? Becca returns to Wolf's Point after a think. Becca meets the female antagonist with the goddess-name and learns the woman believes the women wolves killed her parents. Erin, Shelly, and the rest of the female elders of Wolf's Point and members of the pack show up to welcome Becca back. Lizzie brings Becca to the secret painted cave where the ancient spirits first put the magic into Wolf's Point that transforms its women into wolves. Becca learns she might lose her home to an ex-husband interested in selling it off so he could support himself and a new pregnant wife. The women of Wolf's Point decide to assist her in keeping it and to train her in using her new-found transformative powers.

The Nesters burn the women's club building down. The antagonist with the goddess-name turns out to be another of Shelly and Lizzie's cousins. She also has a drug that can overpower the urge to change into wolves. Complicated. Complicated. Becca commits herself to the fight when she tells Erin, "You're going to make me the best damn werewolf this town has ever seen." Meeting with the Pack at the secret painted cave sends Becca into a panic attack but Shelly and the others guide Becca through it. Becca can do cool partial transformations: not quite wolf and not quite human and not always on the full moon. Becca makes some poor decisions (which does not include her first kiss with Erin) and earns being put under watch by her Alpha Shelly. The Nesters escalate their efforts to recruit new members by forcibly "changing" them. Shelly the Alpha disappears. The Nesters have an injectable "cure." Becca finds herself on the receiving end of a needle. The antagonist with the goddess name says, "I see that you were wavering, but I knew we could save you. And we did. We will. You'll see: it'll be better now. We'll keep helping you." Becca gets herself taken prisoner by the Nesters in a bid to find out where they might have stowed Shelly. She escapes and reunites with the Pack. Becca finds Shelly and Erin. The Pack elders have given Shelly and Erin the means to counter the Nesters effort to halt the change. Becca, Shelly, and Erin return to the cave with the painted walls. Together, they wield the magic to overcome the antagonist with the goddess-name and her male companion. Erin is wounded yet again. Becca finds that although the magic can defined against Nesters, it can't halt the sale of her home. But she could always move in with her next door neighbor Erin couldn't she?

C'mon, this can't be the last we've seen of Becca and the wolf-women of Wolf's Point…. I swear I can hear howling in the distance.


Note: This copy of Silver Moon was a hard copy purchased by the reviewer. Her Tangh-i-ness usually reviews on a for-the-love basis. No lucre has been involved.

Friday, May 13, 2016

Book Review: Night Terrors by John A. Pitts



'Lo People,

Wanna follow around a lesbian female badass with slightly more social skills than Lisbeth Salander of The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo fame? Hey! I know it's a different genre and there is no hacking in this urban fantasy but, wanna read about what Arha/Tenar/Goha from the Earthsea series might have been like if she did without the skirts, spent more time smithing, and scooted around on 100+ horsepower on a regular basis? Gimme. Gimme.

Also are you the kind of reader who places value on the too-often maligned feminine traits of conferring with others, rather than always going it alone, being indirect, or being concerned with childcare? Can we agree to give a shout out to an Omega wolf who has found a place and pack of her own? Does the majority of a First Person POV mixed with occasional third person sections agree with you? Meet Sarah Beauhall. Or meet her again if you've already been reading.


*Spoiler Alert*

Her Tangh-i-ness greatly appreciates pithy plot summaries. However, for those who must have a virgin reading experience, read no further, and eyeball elsewhere.


*Spoiler Alert End*


What kept me going throughout the book was what was going to happen to Katie. Katie already seemed vulnerable and by the time she collapsed into coma and other people started dying because of the magic unleashed tossed Sarah into the spotlight. Sarah's efforts to save her beloved, to Her Tangh-i-ness, mattered more than the array of helper characters who surrounded Sarah. That's not a snipe, that's an observation. For Her Tangh-i-ness to really sink her teeth into a reading experience, she has to care. Her Tangh-i-ness worried that Sarah might lose Katie. She worried that Sarah would start wanting someone else because it was easier to manage than the grief of not being able to make a difference to Katie's condition.

Okay then. This ain't Her Tangh-i-ness's first foray into the middle of a series because she did not happen to read book 1. However, with this book, this reader read feeling kind of clueless because she did not already know who all these other people were or why Her Tang-i-ness should take notice of them. There were some characters who naturally stood out like Jai Li, Bub, Nidhogg, and Qindra. Jimmy, Katie's brother, took a little longer to get close to or figure out but that was because he had been set up as an antagonist. What would have really knocked this adventure out of the park for me was more time spent with Bowler Hat man. Her Tangh-i-ness truly does appreciate a distinctively dressed villain. By the time Sarah dispatches him, Bowler Hat man had shown promise of joining iconic baddies like Freddie Kruger or Pyramidhead and he was related to Jimmy and Katie. Now I'm getting suspicious. That couldn't have been all there was to Sarah encountering this dude.

Note: This copy of Night Terrors was an electronic edition provided by the author. Her Tangh-i-ness usually reviews on a for-the-love basis. No lucre has been involved.

Wednesday, April 20, 2016

Book Review: I Saw the Naked Gardener by Danika Hartland



'Lo People,

Repeat after me... I Saw the Naked Gardner.

Put a naked person in a sentence and Her Tangh-i-ness will be paying attention. Usually, Her Tangh-i-ness's next question is who has fun with the naked person? In this case, it's a married woman with a gorgeous, fictionalized version of Michaelangelo's statue. Got your plot wheels turning yet?

I also have to comment on the cover. Go take a look. All us Art Students will get an especial chuckle out of it. The cover image is tasteful and subtle compared to the skinfest usually seen on Erotic Romance covers. The cover also reflects what the book actually delivers: a sensuous experience that does not have to delve into four letter words, blow-by-blow depictions of what it takes to give or receive pleasure, or spurting organs or openings. I Saw the Naked Gardener is for Grownups who can use their imaginations to get off and don't require assistance from an author.


*Spoiler Alert*

Her Tangh-i-ness greatly appreciates pithy plot summaries. However, for those who must have a virgin reading experience, read no further, and eyeball elsewhere.


*Spoiler Alert End*


Tamsin thinks she needs to save her friend from the clutches of this new, exclusive club for women. The club caters to married and unmarried women alike. They must be a bunch of perverts, potential blackmailers or general no-goodniks. Right? Someone has to expose them.

Uh-huh. Okay Tamsin. We'll tag after you on your quest to get to the bottom of this. Just do us a favor and don't look at the guy taking a shower outdoors named David. Nope. You didn't see that man did you Tamsin? You didn't look for David after you went ballroom dancing and a roomful of men you didn't really know planted kisses and caressed you in your underthings! Nope. Happened in another story. And no, David didn't stick his finger and his tongue you-know-where. Must have happened to some other heroine.

Please keep in mind that the deal with Tamsin is that she has to learn to find herself before she can find her man. David is just an ally. He's not the goody bag Tamsin receives for undertaking her journey. Or is he? Her Tangh-i-ness believes that only after a thorough read, other readers will be able to tell.

Note: This copy of I Saw the Naked Gardener was a hardcopy edition provided by the author. Her Tangh-i-ness usually reviews on a for-the-love basis. No lucre has been involved.

Friday, January 1, 2016

Book Review: Dirty Words by M. Christian



'Lo People,
Time to give M. Christian some more Hairy Eyeball for his Dirty Words.

Does the idea that there is a hardened penis available to be inserted into a variety of holes give you a reason to pay attention? Her Tangh-i-ness sure likes it when males aren't afraid to kneel, bend over, or stand so that this reader can get primo viewing of the "act." I read Skin Effect and The Bachelor Machine first, but I think that those books were all literary hors d'ouevres before Dirty Words spread its pages and showed off its tight sentences, wet imaginary plunges, and provoked climaxes. And if you like your stories veering towards the dark and twisted, there's more than one nugget of guilty pleasure here. This is an unashamedly M/M Action collection with twinges of loving feelings here and there but Dirty Words ain't real Romantic. Nope. These stories are mostly about scoring.


To make it easy for potential readers of this collection, Her Tangh-i-ness will return to the following rating system.

TAMTT *Take A Minute to Think* This means the sexiness might have to grow on you.

WT *Wet* Self-explanatory. No?

H/OA *Hand/Object Assisted* Requires immediate action after the story climax.

FAPP *Find a Partner Pronto* Try this one at home, Folks.


*Spoiler Alert*

Her Tangh-i-ness greatly appreciates pithy plot summaries. However, for those who must have a virgin reading experience, read no further, and eyeball elsewhere.


*Spoiler Alert End*


DIRTY DEEDS FOR DIRTY BOYS (AND MEN) PATRICK CALIFIA
If you like LGBTQI Erotica, you've read Mister Califa's work. So when he has something to say about what M. Christian does on a page, there are those Readers who will listen a little harder.

INTRODUCTION M. CHRISTIAN
Mind you, this is now Her Tangh-i-ness's third romp with a M. Christian book. I don't know about you but I am in awe of someone who can say the following about the act of writing: Hell, it even kinda follows the Sexual Response Cycle: Excitement (an idea comes to mind), Plateau (putting it together), Orgasm (riding the high), and Resolution (typing "The End"). Excuse me, I have to go and type something to get my own jollies.

SPIKE
H/OA *Hand/Object Assisted* Fiction. Two, identical twin, blond brothers cum to decide one must follow and the other must lead. But not before some mutual oral service and a fistfight. Her Tangh-i-ness keeps one of those studded belts featured in the story so she can vouch for its effectiveness.

HOW COYOTE STOLE THE SUN
WT *Wet* Fiction. A man called Dog meets with a man called Roc. Two naked kids playing outside tell Dog, this habitual thief, of a man with "Stuff" who lives in the areas. Dog decides this "Stuff" is worth the challenge. There follows a titanic suck, a colossal f*ck, succeeded by a theft. Dog learns that all his efforts have been for naught. The two naked kids end up with a new toy.

THE HARLEY
WT *Wet* Fiction. Mammoth and Monster, two bikers, settle on a contest to win the wheels of a deceased rival. The true joy in this story can be found in the precision of the descriptions. He was Pup, and the one thing that was an absolute proven fact about the kid was that he could pull gas out of a bike without a hose. Mammoth makes off with the bike while Monster opts for Mammoth's former bedwarmer.

ECHOES
TAMTT *Take A Minute to Think* Fiction. Care to examine intimacy issues? A murderer cycles through other men hoping to escape the corpse of his lover. He even has sex with a Black guy and freaks out halfway through. For Chev, sex transforms into dread. Guilt seems to drive his need for punishment. Like an addict, Chev keeps seeking intimacy and the horror of it all lies in Chev's being his very own monster.

BLUE BOY
TAMTT *Take A Minute to Think* Fiction. When one needs a liberal helping of homicide, a Reader could turn to this story. Who are these blue people and why is it suddenly the socially acceptable thing to go around murdering them? Prosper and Oleander indulge in the very latest trend: disposable people. But Prosper can't seem to make an end of a Blue called Troy. And when Prosper kills another human, he just ends up another Blue. Wait. Perhaps Prosper had been Blue all along.

MATCHES
WT *Wet* Fiction. This ironic tale suggests that beauty remains the final arbiter even for the dead. Unglamorous R. Ruge has a near death experience and learns that sex is still very much part of the afterlife. He balls the guy of his dreams but gets yanked back into Life. Ever so grateful for the interruption, he dispatches the unwary paramedic. His still dead paramour wings off with the slain paramedic for an eternal ever-after.

CASEY, THE BAT
FAPP *Find a Partner Pronto* Fiction. Can an opposing team dick a star batter good enough the batter blows his game? 'Ballin' comes natural to batters, pitchers, and catchers—doesn't it? Any reader familiar with the inspiration for Casey, the Bat, might have a chuckle at what a word-f*ck M. Christian has given it. Only the locker room knows what really happened.

CHICKENHAWK
TAMTT *Take A Minute to Think* Fiction. What if there was a kid that looked like a kid, talked like a kid, but wasn't a kid? A grown man with the kind of build that makes it easy for child predators to notice him gets into a car with one. Figured out where this is going? Creep bait 1000. Creep zippo. Throw in some arson and identity theft for extra spice.

WHAT AILS YOU
H/OA *Hand/Object Assisted* Fiction. This is one of Her Tangh-i-ness's favorites in this collection. M. Christian seems to have an obsession with players being played stories. Her Tangh-i-ness has an obsession with treating People of Color with respect in literature. The Black man, Leon the Lion, is a righteous pimp. Leon thinks he's teaching a male-hustler-beating trick some Louisiana manners. He never suspects that he's become just what Dr. Darrin ordered for room 414. By story's end, Darrin's the only one making any dollars hand-over-fist.

WET
TAMTT *Take A Minute to Think* Fiction. And now M. Christian tells a story about the cruel things men will do to one another for a semblance of control or for companionship. Take Vampirism and strip away everything but the need to drain. Doud paints with the blood of dead cattle. Jona points his camera at his subjects and f*cks with his bedfellows. Savor the sentence: Sunlight doesn't hurt, crosses don't do anything, stakes will – but then they'll probably kill anything. Think this story will end bloodily? You're right.

PUPPY
FAPP *Find a Partner Pronto* Fiction. Ok. This is one of those works where it's all about the hot sex and and there's no deeper thought to the events of the story than that. Pet play anyone? Frisky blond manipulates the big bear to give him a newspaper-fueled beat-down. What some owners have to put up with just to occupy their animals.

WHATEVER HAPPENED TO?
H/OA *Hand/Object Assisted* Fiction. Needlephobes may choose skip this particular kink. Her Tangh-i-ness just grinned and dreamed up an imaginary black and white teleplay of this hardcore deviance. Two aging queens, a paraplegic and an able-bodied person, channel baby brat and bitch goddess. Any Reader wondering if Deep Kink can't have a tender aspect should take note of the final line. "What?" She gave a small laugh. "And give up show business?"

COYOTE & THE LESS THAN PERFECT COUGAR
H/OA *Hand/Object Assisted* Newcomer to Albuquerque, New Mexico, John aims to do business with Wily of the Rafael Dumont La Cruz Rehabilitated Motor Works. Nice try, Dude. Just take the corn-holing, yank your pants up and hope you didn't catch any fleas.

COUNTING
TAMTT *Take A Minute to Think* Fiction. Scrabbling for survival, amongst his fellow Dystopians, the electronics-scavenger narrator sleeps with Tubal who turns out to have been a secret Robin Hood with a murderous twist. How close can one get to a super-predator and stay breathing or unchanged?


Note: This copy of Dirty Words was an electronic edition provided by the author. Her Tangh-i-ness usually reviews on a for-the-love basis. No lucre has been involved.

Book Review: The Bachelor Machine by M. Christian



Her Tangh-i-ness Does read other things besides Erotica. But since we're on the subject—there's always time for more recreational Smut. Creatives are some of the most highly-sexed beings on the planet; I mean near everything they produce is the result of an orgasm of the Creative Mind.

Take this M. Christian guy, for example. Yeah. Yeah. I started with his short story collection Skin Effect. This guy, he just keeps writing more…more...reasons to moisturize the underthings or try and hide the evidence of stimulation upon the erogenous zone of choice. There's lots of male on female action, female on female, a genuinely happy foursome (two males make out with the females and also each other). For pure male on male, do refer to M.Christian's other short story collection, one being, Dirty Words.

However, for the People of Color in the Reading Audience, be aware this collection does contain Triggers. These are Sistah-shaped ones both golden, black, and brown. I hear ya'll saying just what does she mean? Read and find out. Just remember Her Tangh-i-ness saw that the work went there and got to the end of the book. Just saying. By the way, she kept reading other M. Christian works. Consider what the author has to say about himself: "For me, being a pioneer in this area, I feel like I have to create my own respect, in a way. I'm like a missionary – at first no matter what tribe I visit, I get the hairy eyeball." So it's obviously time to start eyeballing this dude until he creams in his pants or something.

To make it easy for potential readers of this collection, Her Tangh-i-ness will return to the following rating system that came in mighty handy when describing M. Christian's Skin Effect and other works.

TAMTT *Take A Minute to Think* This means the sexiness might have to grow on you.

WT *Wet* Self-explanatory. No?

H/OA *Hand/Object Assisted* Requires immediate action after the story climax.

FAPP *Find a Partner Pronto* Try this one at home, Folks.


*Spoiler Alert*

Her Tangh-i-ness greatly appreciates pithy plot summaries. However, for those who must have a virgin reading experience, read no further, and eyeball elsewhere.


*Spoiler Alert End*


STATE

WT *Wet* Fiction. M/F Action. She-Machine meets with man. The idea of exciting the man makes the She-machine cum. And when it's over and done with all the She-machine wants to do is sleep? Ok. Can we point to this story as an example of reverse gender post-coital physiology? Maybe the real reason to read this story can be found in the music of this sentence: "Too quick, maybe, too sudden, probably, but he was hanging way down, his breathing was quick and deep, his legs were columns of meat and tension." What does ya'll think?

HACK WORK

TAMTT *Take A Minute to Think* Fiction. M/F Action. This is the story where Her Tangh-i-ness counted to a thousand before she turned the page to the next story. Yup. This is the one of the Oh-No-He-Didn't-Go-There! stories. As the dear, departed writing instructor, Blake Snyder of Save the Cat fame once told me, Her Tangh-i-ness Ain't in the Target Audience. Those that are—ya'll know who you is when you read it. A female shares her consciousness with her paying fares and finds herself taking a young Black woman for a session with a riding crop.

WINGED MEMORY

TAMTT *Take A Minute to Think* Fiction. M/F Action. Dusk, a desperate young man named without prospects sells off painful sexual memories in order to afford the cyber-whore of his wet dreams. Each time he does this. He keeps losing more and more of his essential self until the only thing left is to turn the tables on the memory merchant to whom he dealt all his unrecoverables.

EULOGY

WT *Wet* Fiction. M/F Action. Jeff and Julie, two survivors of a broken triangle comfort one another rather orally. Find more of those musical sentences here. "Our breaths synchronized, and we steamed together like a pair of heavy engines." This is the second of the mouth-whore stories.

BUTTERFLIE$

H/OA *Hand/Object Assisted* Fiction. M/F Action. Virtual sex for a female character where thee division between self and other and even male and female gets blurred. Can we say—extreme nipple action? The point of this story is to demonstrate the unbelievable roller coaster that only a Total mindf*ck can deliver.

EVERYTHING BUT THE SMELL OF LILIES

TAMTT *Take A Minute to Think* Fiction. M/F Action. This is the second of the Oh-No-He-Didn't-Go-There! stories. The POV flips from third-person into two first-person streams of consciousness: one is the ambulance driver with an unsavory Kink and the other is the biracial (Black & an unnamed race) hooker whose talent lies in appearing to die so her paying johns can get their f*cks on. You guessed it. The ambulance driver decides upon helping himself to a freebie. The upshot is that Jasmine, the hooker, is the only character still breathing by the story's end.

FULLY ACCESSORIZED

H/OA *Hand/Object Assisted* Fiction. F/F Action. Grrrls getting it on. Val and Cox can Do it much better because Val is a sexy cyborg with the serious Enthusiast level of an attachment. And Cox knows her way around clitoral accessories as well. There's a little something for the fisters and the f*ckers out there.

BABY BLUEBELLE

WT *Wet* M/F Action. Gen-Xers in the audience remember Nightrider and the intelligent car KITT? Throw in a car chase and oral sex while driving with a virtual babe and maybe Roger should have tried harder to stay on the right side of the law.

THE NEW MOTOR

TAMTT *Take A Minute to Think* M/F Action. Inspired Engineer meets with Spurned Woman near Lynn, Lynn that city of Sin. Man's love of gadgetry clashes with a scheming mistress. Didn't Spear remember the old saw about female fury?

GUERNICA

FAPP *Find a Partner Pronto* In a Society where Kink is Capital Offense, Kinky men and women gather together to act out their secret, forbidden desires. By the end of their night and the end of their story reveal the very, realest thrills. This story is a political nightmare for open Kinksters.

HEARTBREAKER

H/OA *Hand/Object Assisted* F/F Action. What happens with an opponent who takes the struggle to the bedroom? Read on. Kusa the hardened female cop encounters a red-headed vixen called Nine. They fall into bed, Kusa busts Nine afterwards, but Nine lets the reader in on the mega-doublecross pulled off by the eponymous, gender-switching Heartbreaker

SWITCH

TAMTT *Take A Minute to Think* F/M Action. One could ask the career Submissive what brings her back again and again to the experience of being owned and point to this story as an explanation.

INTERCORE

H/OA *Hand/Object Assisted* M/F Action. Hmmmn. Public acts of indecency need an electronic eye, a digitsl peephole, to zoom in close and closer. This story holds up the assertion that a dildo is a girl's best friend. The best and most quake-tacular cums are the ones she can give herself.

TECHNOPHILE

H/OA *Hand/Object Assisted* Cybernetic cock anyone? M/M Action. Young chicken (jailbait) meets with a doctored rooster. The boy birds connect in the only means left to them when the Long Thrust can't get it up. Another mouth-whore celebratory tale.

SKIN-EFFECT

TAMTT *Take A Minute to Think* Fiction. M/F Action. Pepper the survivor of a "wilding" offers wounded veteran Lionel Guardino a new lease on Life as her jacked-up companion and the shiny, new enforcer of her revenge. Topping from Below.

SIGHT

WT *Wet* Fiction. M/F Action. Aliens, called the Elgin, Cortez, a middle-aged, human artist, and Rosalinda, a young woman combine to complete the artist/aesthete/inspiration circuit.

THE SHOW

WT *Wet* Fiction. M/F Action. Exhibitionists out there ought to know the pinnacle of erotic performance is conducted in the heart of the city that never sleeps. You didn't think they were going to do their porno in Philly didja?

THIN DOG

FAPP *Find a Partner Pronto* Action. Music and sex are always an irresistible combination. But the idea of hearing music along with the sensation of being made love to/loving your favorite rock hero/ine sounds like a recipe for making Woodstock, Lollapalooza, and South by Souwest Music Concert combined sit down.

THE BACHELOR MACHINE

TAMTT *Take A Minute to Think* M/F Action. An abandoned synthetic woman pays for weekly sex sessions with a human male. In her clinging to the sexual exchange as the prelude to emotional and social intercourse, the nameless android proves herself as human as the lovers who rejected get once she was no longer new.

EXCERPT FROM THE NOVEL PAINTED DOLL

TAMTT *Take A Minute to Think* Fiction. M/F Action. As a creative person, and a figure painter, I can appreciate M. Christian's fondness for combining artistic expression and arousal. And why not set this story also in that land of great opposites: public restraint and private passions: Japan. Makes this reader want to run and find a pretty, geisha-boi and have at him.

HOT DEFINITION

WT *Wet* F/F Action. Neko, another biracial: Asian and Black protagonist hopes to escape the sentient electronic Daemon pursuing her and her female lover. Neko makes it to the end of the story, but the Daemon has made off with the one person most precious to her.

NEW BEDFELLOWS: SEX & SCIENCE FICTION

The essays that seem to close out M. Christian collections are worth perusing for fertile, fiction-bent minds. Here is a conversation with the great Cecelia Tan and M. Christian waxing from what's wrong with much of the sex in SF to the future of Erotica. Even one disagrees with the suppositions, the essay makes for stimulating reading.


Note: This copy of The Bachelor Machine was an electronic edition provided by the author. Her Tangh-i-ness usually reviews on a for-the-love basis. No lucre has been involved.

Wednesday, December 2, 2015

Book Review: Skin Deep Magic by Craig Laurance Gidney



I adore short stories, especially fantastical ones. My acquaintance with Craig Laurence Gidney's work actually begins with the YA novel, Bereft, but that's another book to mention in its own review.

I knew I needed to read Skin Deep Magic when I saw the cover.

There's a dark-skinned Black woman's face with eyes closed framed by gold leaves and blossoms. I'm old enough to remember when it wasn't common to see a Black woman on a cover. Even the great departed Octavia Butler was not safe from a Marketing department that believed no one would buy a book with a picture of a Black person on the cover. I must be an anomaly then, because I am one of those Readers who is often enticed by the cover first to sample what's inside the book. And I wanted to buy books with characters who resembled me.

And sure 'nuf' here is Brotha Gidney writing 'bout some most powerful Sistahs in these stories. (Ebonics totally intentional.) I felt like I wanted to be or had been some of these women. And it IS a magical thing when a male writer hangs up his own gender like a coat and dons another dreaming herself into the Reader's reality. (Pronoun Gender switch is totally intentional.) I believed in these women and the gents who graced these pages. Mighty fine writing if you ask me. The African Descended have long utilized the power of the word.

For those of us who identify as Black, our being ignored or belittled subject matter is in escapable as gravity or the call of mortality. I simply wanted to provide the context of why this short story collection so moved me. At some point, a well-meaning person decided that the trope of the Magical Negro was to be scorned. In the context of the Black character who serves no other purpose than to illuminate a white character that person is absolutely correct, however, magic and Blackness are often inseparable and it is to that truth that the tales in Skin Deep Magic speak to.

*Spoiler Alert*

Her Tangh-i-ness greatly appreciates pithy plot summaries. However, for those who must have a virgin reading experience, read no further, and eyeball elsewhere.

*Spoiler Alert End*

Psychometry, or Gone with the Dust

A mountain of Black memorabilia in a dead woman's home yields some disturbing clues about each piece's origin when touched. As someone who has had real-life experiences with Psychometry, I wouldn't even call this piece fiction. Gidney is simply telling how these things be.

Sapling

Maybe this is the story that inspired the book cover. A young woman learns she is the daughter of a tree spirit and that joining her absent father in the local greenspace is the highpoint of her existence. This story also features a theme that often crops up in Gidney's work: a conflict due the stranglehold Christian belief on the Old ways of knowing/being.

Mauve's Quilt

Two lonely people on either side of a quilt exchange worlds. Eventually, Mauve returns to the known world after a motherless Quentin is drawn into hers. Ahh, the power to be found in stitches.

Lyes

I had to giggle at this story. Graduate Students under pressure. No one expects trademark imagery to take life and start haunting them. Sheri never suspected her strongest ally would be the one person who could have called the country bumpkin. I need one of those Caution: Educated Black Woman T-shirts.

Conjuring Shadowa

This is one of my favorite pieces. Back in the day where men loving men gathered, a guardian stood with them. Even when the boys in blue come to bust up the party, they too find themselves pressed man to man and mouth to mouth in 1926.

Zora's Destiny

Here Gidney pays homage to one of his literary forebears. Zora calls upon an Elder to ease her mother's suffering and by story end learns her own path lies in tale-telling and root-working. This is the second of the Christian Vs. Old World Belief themed stories.

Death and Two Maidens

One dead female house servant meets with a living one and both are pestered by the same top-hatted, skull-faced gent. Only a fellow goddess can bring them any defense. Follow the machinations of the Loa whose territories range far outside not only Africa but also the human heart and head.

Sugardaddy

The highlight of this story is the unflinching look at some of the uglier aspects of Urban Life. The daughter of an abusive addict takes matters into her own hands once she becomes a huntress herself. Who knew toxins and additives could taste so good? One might say the moral of they story is to be kind to those big, fat girls. You never know what they might be capable of.

Inscribed

A deceased, gay, white father and a dead black mother join forces to protect their adult child from an ancient patron of thieves whose modern-day vehicle is a pc game. The question I pondered the longest as I read was did the child even want to be saved?

Coalrose

This is one of my other favorite stories from the collection. Let's deconstruct. What is Negritude? What is a stage performance? What is the performer? What happens when the sensuality of Josephine Baker combines with the rawness and blackness of a Nina Simone? Raise your hand if you thought of Coalrose.


Note: This copy of SkinDeep Magic was a hard copy edition purchased by the reviewer. Her Tangh-i-ness usually reviews on a for-the-love basis. No lucre has been involved.