Book review: Jay Hulme -The Backwater Sermons

I first discovered Jay Hulme’s writing through his Twitter threads detailing his love of church architecture. He would tell the story of his visit to a church, using beautiful language and beautiful photography – small churches, large churches, obscure ones, world-famous ones. He pointed out tiny details and explored some areas that are normally not accessible to the public. He is a professional poet, and that shone through.

When he started his exploration of church buildings, he was an atheist. More than that, as a young trans man he didn’t feel that there was a place for him in a church as a member rather than engaging with a love affair with the building. That changed one day. He realised that somewhere along the way he had started believing, and that there were churches and ministers and congregations that did not think he was too queer, too poor, too odd, for a place with them.

I followed his Twitter feed for the church porn. The queer Christian poetry that started appearing some months later was an unexpected joy. Having found faith, he started exploring it – a few months before Covid changed the world. The result was queer Christian poetry that spoke of believing in the time of plague, in a time when churches were closed for the safety of all. But God isn’t confined to stone and brick. Jay’s poetry is a stunningly beautiful reminder of that.

Now the poems have been collected into a book. I’m straight and cis and still it speaks to me about God, so intensely that I cannot manage more than three or four poems at a time without weeping. There are poems about God being everywhere you need to find Them, from garden to nightclub to a late-night taxi. There are love letters to cathedrals, including my own dearest love, Durham. There is sadness and joy. There is affirmation that God loves all that She has made, not just those people who came out of the mould He picks up most often. There is a joke that had me laughing out loud. There are questions and occasional answers about “God, why?”
I don’t understand all of these poems. I may never understand some. But I feel all of them, every single one.

I love this book.

Publisher’s website: https://canterburypress.hymnsam.co.uk/books/9781786223937/the-backwater-sermons

Other shops: https://books2read.com/u/b5oVgO

Book review: Allie Brosh, 1) Hyperbole and a Half, 2) Solutions and Other Problems

Allie Brosh has written two books (so far), which I’m reviewing together. I love them. They’re somewhat hyperbolic versions of stories originating from her real life, told in the form of comics. Most of them are funny, some of them are not, and a few give a deep insight into the mechanisms of a mind grappling with nightmares.

Continue reading Book review: Allie Brosh, 1) Hyperbole and a Half, 2) Solutions and Other Problems

Book review: Graeme Aitken – The Indignities

This is a serialized novel about a gay man in Sydney not dealing well with hitting thirty. The novel is structured so that you can read each of the three parts as an individual story, with its own closure rather than a cliffhanger.

Stephen Spear is an actor currently out of work, but having done well enough out of a stint on a soap opera to have bought a house in a good suburb, live off his savings, and avoid his thirtieth birthday with a round the world holiday with his boyfriend. Stephen’s an antihero –he’s self-absorbed, selfish, and oblivious to other people’s reactions to his behaviour. One of the joys of this book is the way Aitken’s first person narration shows the reader what’s going on around Stephen, while Stephen himself remains utterly unaware. He does eventually learn to become a better person. It just takes life hitting him over the head many times to get there.

I’ve reviewed each book separately.

Continue reading Book review: Graeme Aitken – The Indignities

Book Review – Alan Shayne and Norman Sunshine – Double Life

This is a joint autobiography by an actor-turned-producer and an artist, from their teens before they met as young men struggling to establish their careers, through the twists and turns of those careers, and finally their legal marriage four decades later.

Continue reading Book Review – Alan Shayne and Norman Sunshine – Double Life

Book review – Heather Boyd – Engaging the enemy

This one’s part historical romance and part mystery, doing a good job of weaving them together. Leopold Randall was forced by his uncle, a very wicked duke indeed, to do his bidding with the whereabouts of Leopold’s kidnapped siblings as ransom for his obedience. Now Leopold is back to look for clues after the death of his uncle. It’s all he wants, but he finds his cousin’s widow in need of help to protect her young son, the current Duke of Romsey – and Leopold holds no grudge against a young child.

Continue reading Book review – Heather Boyd – Engaging the enemy

Lord and Master re-issue

I’m busy getting my Loose Id titles back into print with the sterling help of Alex Beecroft. First up is Lord and Master, with new cover by Alex below. I’m using Draft2Digital to push the book to retailers other than Amazon, and they have a Universal Book Link which if clicked on will offer a selection of online stores, linked to the appropriate site for the location of the person clicking – eg USians choosing Kobo should be directed to the US Kobo website, Australians can choose Angus & Robertson amongst other offerings, etc. I’ve also found a Thing on the Amazon affiliate site which is to direct your website readers to their local ‘Zon site but I have not got to grips with that yet…

Onwards. Please admire the new cover art, suitable for current fashions in romance novels, and the shiny new links below the blurb. If you go to Amazon you will also find that you can buy it in paperback.


Lord and Master cover art - man looking through Window. Art by Alex Beecroft.

When Mark’s PhD supervisor sent him for a job interview with an old university friend, he didn’t mention that the friend was devastatingly handsome. He also neglected to mention to either that the other was gay.

Steven was just looking for a young scientist to train as a PA to help him run his technology company. No extra services required. But watching other people react to a young, pretty man playing secretary to an openly gay CEO amused them both. Watching people wonder if they were having an affair was an entertaining game.

But when the game became real and caught them both up, Mark was left wondering… how real? Because he’s the one PA in the building who can’t marry the boss.


Draft2Digital universal link: https://books2read.com/u/38EMkZ

Amazon Australia: https://www.amazon.com.au/dp/B07WQHPZBW
Canada: https://amzn.to/2HBeK5h
Netherlands: https://www.amazon.nl/dp/B07WQHPZBW
Italy: https://www.amazon.it/dp/B07WQHPZBW
UK: https://amzn.to/2My7oU8
US: https://amzn.to/2Zr7BKV


Incidentally, since writing Twitter has been discussing library ebook purchasing, here are some numbers: I’ve set the ebook price at $3.99 for purchase by individuals – my percentage of that varies by site, but I’ll get somewhere between $2 and $2.70. At Draft2Digital I’ve also enrolled it in various subscriptions, including the Kobo Plus programme, which is Kobo’s rival to Kindle Unlimited but doesn’t require the author to make the book exclusive to them. Yay Kobo. 🙂 I’ve taken D2D’s suggestion on the price for library purchases, that being $7.99, of which my projected royalty is $3.74 for One Copy One User, or $0.46 for Cost Per Checkout. Someone wants to give me money to make my book available to people who prefer or need to read for free? I will have some of that, please.

And I see Amazon still thinks this is LGBT literature, sub-class erotica. I may have to do some emailing to customer services. At least it hasn’t been filed under BDSM anymore.

Hello, I appear to be a writer

Only a month since my last post on my Dreamwidth journal. Things are improving.

Anyway, in between my various medical appointments I have been working on getting some of my old Loose Id books back up as self-published ebooks. I could not have done this without the generous help of Alex Beecroft, in the form of advice and some spiffing new covers. I should be hitting the publish button before the end of the month, and with any luck a good bit sooner than that should the medical problems push off for a bit. More later.

The Best of Philip E High

As the title suggests, this is a collection of some of High’s many short stories, together with an essay by one of his editors. High was active from the 1950s right through to his death in 2006, and this collections spans decades. Naturally his older stories are old-fashioned, and they’re unlikely to appeal to readers who aren’t old enough to have grown up with this style of writing; but for those of us who are it’s a pleasant walk down memory lane. As far as I remember I’d never read any of his short stories, but I read several of High’s novels when I was a teenager, and this collection makes me want to find out what else of his has been brought back into print by the SF Galaxy imprint. If, like me, you loved his writing way back when, get a copy of this – there are some gems to be had.

Australia
Kobo ¦ Apple ¦ Amazon

UK
Kobo ¦ Apple ¦ Amazon

US
Apple ¦ Amazon

(Yes, those are mostly affiliate links. Also I wish to give some love to not-Amazon.)

“If at First You Don’t Succeed, Try, Try Again,” by Zen Cho

Yes, still here. Sort of… Anyway, I finally remembered to download the Hugo voting packet last night. 🙂

Byam isn’t a dragon. Yet. It takes at least a thousand years, and if pesky humans see you and don’t believe you’re a dragon, you won’t be. The only good thing about them is that they’re useful for a second opinion on questions about the Way. And by the time you’re into your third millennium you might find one who doesn’t run away screaming at the first opportunity…

This is a lovely novelette drawing on Korean mythology; sweet, hilarious, and with a joyful ending even amongst sadness. It left me feeling happy, and glad that its well-deserved Hugo nomination brought it to my attention.

Available free at the Barnes&Noble SF&F blog.

There’s also a short sequel at Cho’s own website.