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.


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.


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.


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.


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?


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.

Wednesday, November 4, 2015

Book Review: Skin Effect by M. Christian

Her Tangh-i-ness loves her some Kink. Erotica has always figured in my Must-Read pile.

I'm always re-reading the naughty parts. So this M. Christian offered up something hot and spicy.

Sex ain't just about the act. There's a before and after everything else. But a badass writer can make you consider a pencil with an eraser as a love object or a handy-dandy pervertible. A man can nail the truth about how it feels for a woman and a gay/bi person can hammer out what its's like to live straight. A writers gotta be flexible and fluid. Are you hearing me? Ok. Now you can start salivating or get the tubes of lube ready.

To make it easy for potential readers of this collection, Her Tangh-i-ness will institute 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*

Time and Beyond Beyond – Ernest Hogan : TAMTT Nonfic. This is an essay by a fellow writer who reminds us that sex never left the Space or Tech Ages. Tell it.

[Title Forgotten] TAMTT Fiction. A male Dom mourns the female sub he lost and one wounded woman shares her private pain with another. While the man grieves for what ended, the women begin.

Prêt-à-Porter Another TAMTT Fiction. A woman rediscovers herself with help of her smart fabric's display. Prakuna must have heard the old saw keep the whore in the bedroom.

The Subsequent State WT Fiction. A religious zealot of man sent to destroy a free-loving community decides, after experiencing what the community has to offer, to return to his own to stop the hate. Her Tangh-i-ness heartily approves the premise of woman as goddess. This is the best of the explicit nipple action stories.

Happy Birthday TAMTT Ficton. After shifting genders then only challenge left is discarding of a previous self.

The Bell House Invitation H/OA and FAPP fiction. Take Mindfuck to new level of completeness. The newest member of a cybernetic community has quite the romp with her new bedfellows.

The Potter'S Wheel WT Fiction. An English-speaking woman travels to Japan to meet with another Westerner who has been living as a National Treasure and bring his experience to a wider audience. Pity.The sole missed opportunity lay in that Her Tangh-i-ness felt certain there would have been a scene slathering wet clay all over themselves. Maybe a quickie in front of the kiln? All right. Next time.

Double Toil and Trouble WT Fiction. Women, more often than not, have problems owning their own bodies. With the constant assault on their confidence, small wonder a visit to a Tech Enchantress is in order. Gotta love any character with purple hair.

A Kiss Goodnight WT Fiction. Someone who believes in the great Connectedness finds himself approached by the collective entity in the guise of a female student. Note the return of nipple action.

LMS H/OA and FAPP fiction. Her Tangh-i-ness would like to point out that although the story of the Black man is at the back of the book, she prefers to think the author was simply observing an African tradition of the most senior in importance arrives last. Brother from this planet meets with a Transgender female at a Web Design conference and she plays the skin flute. Twice. Talk about going somewhere.

Afterword: It's Not the End of the World as We Know it–and I Feel Fine TAMTT and FAPP NonFic. Peoples, especially peoples who write Science Fiction, please pay Especial attention to M. Christian's challenge. Excuse us, Her Tangh-i-ness needs to get back to scribbling for the Positive.

Note: This copy of Skin Effect was an electronic edition acquired from an author upon the reviewer's request. Her Tangh-i-ness usually reviews on a for-the-love basis. No lucre has been involved.

Tuesday, November 3, 2015

Book Review: Little Dystopias by Kyle Aisteach

Like your Science Fiction Soft as Well as Hard? Does the Fantastical have to be a bit twisted for you to enjoy it? Has Her Tangh-i-ness got a new read for you. Do you want to have a snippet into the evolution of your stories before you dive into them?

Then you're gonna gobble up the essays in love Little Dystopias. One essay for each short story. If you're curious, like me, then you want to know what incident precipitated a reading experience and Kyle Aisteach lays it all bare for you. Isn't that delightfully wicked of him?

This compilation isn't short of stories. Seventeen tales ranging from the what-ifs of Science Fiction to the Anti-Fantastiscal.

*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*

Too Close for Comfort - Her Tangh-i-ness delighted in the essay that gave the 411 on this tale. Do take us back to the Science Fiction Golden age. A scientist mother, a lawyer, and some imprisoned Neanderthals intersect in a way that might make Clarence Darrow proud.

The Survivors’ Menagerie - Where Readers observe two important premises: Irish lasses disappear in their own time and out of it. One can take a gladiator out of arena, but you can't take the fighter out of him.

Pressure and the Argument Tree - Consider the usefulness of neutral buoyancy. C'mon you do want to know what can go possibly right in a Venus Surface Rover don't you? BTW, does anyone else think heroes should be named after poets?

Final Voices - The title sums it all up.

The Wrong Dog - Animal spies, a veterinarian, and a persecuted religious group that believes that the Earth has a heart. Who said veterinarians couldn't be action heroes?

Eternal Love - Okay Zombiephiles, here ya go. Flash Fiction about a cringeworthy jest. Call the dry cleaners. Stat.

Clockman - One Gwen outlasts them all: mechanical warrior, knights, wizard, and father-king. ROFLMAO.

A Fairy Tale - When the prince is a blond bottom, the princess takes bad puns into her arsenal. And the stable boy puts on a performance worthy of being made into a blue movie.

Nobody’s Ancestor - This what happens when a so-called rational mind cannot embrace the reality of Life After Death.

Eternity Undone - A woman named for two Hindu goddesses meets with a cybernetically preserved man. Erasure follows.

Promised - A young Hope and and an older Stone come together and the afterwards is bleak.

Unforgivable - Justice gone stone cold. Virtual Reality Vs. Criminal Recidivism.

The Folklorist’s Notebook - Stories within a story. Complete with guidelines, the spiral binding and blood.

Another Generation’s Problems - A Chinese woman survives an attack that kills her parents. Later in life, Miss Wu encounters the Black American war criminal on a crippled space station. She decides to leave him there instead of turning him over to the Chinese authorities.

Ward and Protector - A Sentient spaceship suffering from dementia has a Hal 5000 moment with the human who flies with her.

Nobody Watches - Horny sixteen year old gay male looking for attention. He learns he has to give it first.

Man of Water - Her Tangh-i-ness especially likes this story. A former Congressman on the run from men who melt. Gimme another neologism.

Note: This copy of Little Dystopias was an electronic edition acquired from an author upon the reviewer's request. Her Tangh-i-ness usually reviews on a for-the-love basis. No lucre has been involved.

Thursday, July 9, 2015

Book Review: Danny by Steven Harper McClary Piziks

Her Tangh-i-ness has identified yet another juicy book for all those fellow Bisexual-approving, Mythophilic, Science Fantasy, Ancient History addicts out there.

YA Librarians please take note: other than the use of standard Anglo-Saxon-derived cuss words, this work is devoid of Any reason to hesitate to include it on bookshelves. For prurient content, look elsewhere.

And I talking about this book called Danny.

I read it. Really.

*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*

Ok. Onto the good stuff. So Readers meet Danny Marina a sixteen-year-old who discovers...gasp...he likes boys just as much as he likes girls and guess what? He doesn't have to give up either of them! Hows that for starters?

What do you do when you run away from one creepy situation with the son of the guy that your mother's sleeping with? Where do you go if you think you can make it on your own? Who said someplace warm?

All right, Genius.

So what if you're in the Sunshine state and you meet a girl who has no problem bedding you at the same time along with the other boy you ran away with? Hmnnn. Hmmmn.

What do you do if you were once immortal and the most recent "plaything" of that infamous Olympian Seducer, Zeus, that guy with the thunderbolts? Would you stick around and take being trapped in a divine equivalent to a suburban gated community? Do you really want to keep getting poked occasionally and pour ambrosia on command?

Her Tangh-i-ness thinks not.

Let's keep reading shall we? How do three hairs and a mug become power objects? Why was an Egyptian God seen shaking hands with Zeus? And most important of all, why did the island of Thera undergo that eruption that spread ash to the corners of the known ancient world? Think you can stand up to a mother who puts you at-risk, a pistol, and a category 4 hurricane?

See? Aren't you itching to find out?

PS. At the end of Danny, there is a teaser for another Steven Harper book called Nightmare. Always did wonder what would happen to Aboriginal people in Space. I found the teaser quite compelling.

Note: This copy of Danny was an electronic edition acquired from an author upon the reviewer's request. Her Tangh-i-ness usually reviews on a for-the-love basis. No lucre has been involved.

Saturday, January 31, 2015

Book Review: Bone Walker Book 2 Free Court of Seattle Series by Angela Korra'ti

Yeah, Peoples, Her Tangh-i-ness has something to say again. Listen up.

*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*

So African American females can play violins, have Faerie blood, enjoy interracial relationships, have a human mage and a Faery Rockstar equivalent's attentions, and save the day? An established Male-Male and a new Female-Female couple figure as the other ongoing romances? Best of all, Japanese Dragons and Kitsune abound? And all of this happens in Seattle? (which happens to be the only city in the US that I happily consider dwelling in as an alternative to my native Boston?)

Efffff-Ya! I wanna read me some o' dat! (Ebonics totally intentional)

Bone Walker is a book that celebrates the power of music and music-makers and subtly reminds us of just why despots have always feared the creatives of this world. Bone Walker is the kind of novel where girl has to play her violin into a fury before she goes out and kicks the baddie's butt. Can I get a witness?

I can say the good news about the novel Bone Walker is that I am this book's target audience. There are readers like me who are People of Color, a Geek/Geekette, LGBTQI/Allied, Creative, and who defy what Mainstream Marketing would have readers like us absorb. I am on Team Anti-Twilight. Keep the 1950's throwback Bella. Kendis Thompson makes up for me the Serious Suck value of watching Rue and Thresh die in The Hunger Games. Bone Walker is for readers like me who squirmed through Lord of the Rings every time the beautiful, blond elves clashed with the dark, ugly orcs, goblins, and trolls. Guess who this reader identified with every time? Just sayin'.

That said, I am also a reader who started with a second book in the series. Let me tell you Bone Walker worked as a standalone. So much so that I wanted to begin reading the first book, Faerie Blood, immediately to see what I'd missed and I will happily follow Kendis to a third book.

Note: This copy of Bone Walker: Book 2 Free Court of Seattle was an electronic edition acquired from an author upon the reviewer's request. Her Tangh-i-ness usually reviews on a for-the-love basis. No lucre has been involved.