If I had your face by Frances Cha

Four young women in Seoul making their way in a world defined by impossibly high standards of beauty, secret room salons catering to wealthy men, strict social hierarchies, and K-pop fan mania.

Well, considering the title, it’s no wonder the beginning makes for a pretty scary read, particularly the world viewed through the eyes of one of the characters.

I ended up cheering for all of them, though, so I would say this was a satisfying read, and a good choice for getting back on track.


Here’s the Goodreads link.

An Excess Male and a Goodreads interview with author Maggie Shen King

an excess male

The debut novel An Excess Male is set in a near-future China in the aftermath of its One-Child Policy and cultural bias for male heirs. In the book 40 million men are unable to find wives, and the government has mandated that its families demonstrate patriotism and help solve the crisis by taking on additional husbands.

An Excess Male presents a new twist on the age-old marriage plot. It’s the story of one excess male, the less-than-perfect family he seeks to join, and the fight for their version of home as well as the country they have lost to a regime that aimed to control reproduction and define the boundaries of marriage in the name of the public good. Read the rest of the interview here.

Svetlana Alexievich—Voices from Big Utopia

…Or, alternatively, when our dystopian fiction becomes our everyday reality.


From Svetlana Alexievich, author of War’s Unwomanly Face (1985), Last Witnesses (1985), Zinky Boys (1990), Voices from Chernobyl (1997), and Secondhand Time (2013). She has won many international awards, including the 2015 Nobel Prize in Literature “for her polyphonic writings, a monument to suffering and courage in our time.” Goodreads page:


I’m searching life for observations, nuances, details. Because my interest in life is not the event as such, not war as such, not Chernobyl as such, not suicide as such. What I am interested in is what happens to the human being, what happens to it in of our time. How does man behave and react. How much of the biological man is in him, how much of the man of his time, how much man of the man.”

“How many times has Art practised the Apocalypse, has tried out the most diverse technological versions of the end of the world, but now we positively know that life is incomparably much more fantastic.” “Chernobyl is an enigma yet to figure out. A symbol we don’t know to read. Perhaps, the conundrum of the XXI Century. A challenge for our times…The night of 26 April…During that unique night we relocate to another place in history. We made a jump toward a new reality, and this move ended up being not only beyond our knowledge, but beyond our imagination, too. The thread of time broke. Suddenly, our past becomes powerless; we didn’t find backing in it; in the omnipotent archive (at least, it had seemed so to us) of humanity we didn’t find the clues for opening  this door.

Those days I heard more than once, ‘I don’t find the words to communicate what I saw, what I experienced’, ‘I didn’t read about anything like this in any book, nor did I watch it at the cinema’, ‘nobody told me of anything like this’”

“The  zone…It’s a world apart. Another world in the middle of the rest of the Earth. Initially, it had been the science fiction writers who invented it, but literature relinquished its place in the face of reality.”


voices of Chernobyl

Voices from Chernobyl

 “At first, everybody talked about ‘catastrophe’, then about ‘nuclear war’. I’ve read about Hiroshima and Nagasaki, I saw documentaries.  It’s horrific, but something comprehensible: a nuclear war, the radial expansion of the deflagration. This I could imagine. But what happened to us…For this I lacked…I lacked knowledge, I lacked all these books that I read all my life.”… “Show me one fantastic novel about Chernobyl. It doesn’t exist! And it won’t exist! I assure you! It won’t exist.”

“…We need more than ever new books, because around us a new life is born. But in this life we are the strange ones. And there’s no way to resign yourself to it…The television  won’t educate our children, the teachers are the ones who need  to educate our children.”

“…I didn’t read books like this. Didn’t watch any films. I did saw war at the cinema…For example, you write; but it’s that that no book has helped me, has made me understand. Neither did the theatre nor the cinema. I try to shed light on it on my own. By myself…My mother, most of all, didn’t know what to say. She taught Russian language and literature and she had showed me to always live according to what’s put in the books. But suddenly there are no books for this. My mother felt lost. She doesn’t know to live without books.”

The Heroines Anthology

Looking forward to this week’s find: Heroines: An anthology of Short Fiction and Poetry from The Neo Perennial Press.

With a focus on reclaiming the stories of women in history and reimagining the heroines of legend, fairytale and mythology, in ways that are both resonant and startlingly new The Heroines Anthology presents a challenging and soulful collection that interrogates the traditional power dynamics of classic literature, while touching on the deeper questions of women’s true nature.


ReQueered Tales

… and a new home for that out-of-print book you’ve always meant to read. Like Freeform by Jack Dickson.
ReQueered Tales is proud to announce a new publishing venture to re-publish older gay and lesbian fiction — with an immediate focus on mystery, horror and suspense genres.
We are enthusiastic about a wealth of great fiction, some of which has fallen off the radar. A fantastic number of works, many published before 2000,
will now be available to a new generation of LGBT readers and their allies.
Website here.

New book and birthday giveaway

So happy. A friend’s new book is out. Oh, and there’s the editor’s birthday giveaway, too. 😉


It’s one thing to go on a family holiday, but quite another if you’ve just been dumped.

When it’s time for their annual family trip, Effie’s heart is still in a thousand pieces. No matter what her sister says, hooking up with someone new is the last thing on her mind. What she needs instead is the peace and quiet to finally start writing that book that’s been on the back-burner for years.

As soon as they arrive in Cyprus though, her eyes fall on Jess, an enigmatic bartender who ticks more of Effie’s boxes than her ex-girlfriend ever did. And the feeling seems mutual.

Effie’s set to keep things fun and light, but her attraction to Jess is more unnerving than she cares to admit. What if all this is too good to be true? Should Effie back away rather than risk more heartbreak?

If you love your sexy, seaside romance with a healthy dash of Scottish wit, Too Good to Be True? will keep you coming back for more.

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Mariëlle 2


You can find more info through Amazon , MS Wordsmith’s blog here or giveaway info here.

Gay Noir Pioneer By Michael Nava – Los Angeles Review of Books

Michael Nava is the author of a groundbreaking series of novels featuring gay Latino criminal defense lawyer Henry Rios.

I. Portrait of the Artist as an Old Man

ON THE FIRST PAGE of the final book in the Dave Brandstetter mystery series, A Country of Old Men (1991), Joseph Hansen’s eponymous, openly gay detective finds a stranger at his door. His visitor is an old man with ”a white moustache and goatee. His tweed jacket looked new, but it wouldn’t button over his big belly. He wore a red-striped cotton shirt, new blue denims, crepe-soled shoes, and one of those shapeless canvas hats sold in drugstores, cheap, so that if you lost it on a trip you wouldn’t mind too much.”

The stranger at Brandstetter’s door, a mystery writer named Jack Helmers, is none other than Joseph Hansen himself. The initials are the giveaway, but if you’d ever met Joe Hansen in the flesh, you’d have recognized him immediately in the description, down to the tweed coat and striped shirt combo of which the author was so fond.

Full article here.