Sunday, August 28, 2011

5th Annual Lambda Literary Awards 1992

5th Annual Lambda Literary Award Winners and Finalists

The Lambda Awards by year:
1988 | 1989 | 1990 | 1991 1992 |1993 1994 | 1995 | 1996 | 1997 | 1998 | 1999 | 2000 | 2001 
2002  2003 | 2004 |2005 | 2006 | 2007 | 2008 | 2009 | 2010

  • Lesbian
    • Anthologies, Fiction, Mystery, Nonfiction (Studies) Poetry, Science fiction/Fantasy
  • General LGBT
    • Children's/ Young Adult, Humour,
  • Gay Men's
    • Anthologies, Fiction, Mystery, Nonfiction (Studies) Poetry, Science fiction/Fantasy
  • Other Awards
    • Editor's Choice Award, Publisher's Service Award, Small Press Award

Picture Books For Children With Lesbian Parents

The White Swan Express: A Story About AdoptionHeather Has Two Mommies: 20th Anniversary EditionMommy, Mama, and Me

There is a small but growing number of picture books for young children about families with lesbian parents.

If you want to introduce your children to the concept of lesbian parents, or friends, or futures, then a picture book is perfect place to start.

Book Review: Night Vision by Karin Kallmaker

Night Visionby Karin Kallmaker
Karin Kallmaker is a name that pops up a lot on award lists - mostly in the Romance category. not being a huge fan of that genre I started with one of her most scifi titles, Night Vision (originally published under the pseudonym of Laura Adams).

Night Vision is a paranormal romance about lesbians, telepathy, dreams and aliens. It's pretty short, but packs a lot in. Initially it dragged a bit - I'm not really interested in reading about other people's dreams and that - and how terrible it all makes her feel - is about all Julia "Maddy" Maddison has to tell us about, at first.

But the pace starts picking up, as she discovers she isn't the only one suffering the dreams and insomnia in her dull US town, or hearing the same music in the back of her head. She's just the only one who gets it all, and she's the one who bonds with, gets her head rifled through by, and otherwise communicates and coordinates with the mysterious woman calling them.  All the dramatic medical problems at the start turn out to have valid causes, adding depth and little plot twists. And Julia starts to learn to live again, and love.

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Book Review: Roses & Thorns - Beauty and the Beast Retold by Chris Anne Wolfe

Roses & Thorns
: Beauty and the Beast Retold
by Chris Anne Wolfe
The romantic fantasy Roses & Thorns : Beauty and the Beast Retold  is a lesbian retelling of Beauty and the Beast by Chris Anne Wolfe that is well worth reading. It was original published under the title Bitter Thorns.

It is difficult to retell old stories and make them feel original, and in many ways, the plot of Roses & Thorns is predictable. All the elements are there - magical servants, a merchant father lost in the woods, roses, a mysterious and hot tempered 'prince', and the Beauty, a brave and bold and curious girl who loves to read and gradually learns falls in love with her mysterious captor, and then - just as they swear their love to each other, she has to return to a sick parent.

But there are more than enough differences to render it unpredictable, and the delightful chemistry between the two main characters works well. Better, the brooding My Liege (not many gender neutral titles - even Your Grace, becomes His or Her Grace in the third person!) is eventually revealed as a sympathetic, intelligent, understandably desperate and fragile character, rather than the spoilt (though she was once treasured and sheltered, it is unclear if she was actually spoilt and it doesn't matter), angry, overgrown child that the Beauty must 'tame' and civilise.

It strongly reminded me of the young adult version of Beauty and the Beast by Robin McKinley, with the strong themes of magic workers, a slightly separate magical realm and its fey creatures, as well as with some of the interactions between the two leads, and the general feel of the story. This is a compliment, by the way - Robin McKinley is a very good writer!

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Lesbian Fairytale & Mythology Fiction

Fairy tales, myths and legends are part of every culture - so it's only fair that lesbian culture gets a few. If you'd like to read about a re-imagined Rapunzel, a sapphic Snow White or a gay Ariel, or a wide assortment of women from many different traditional stories, take a look at the anthologies and novels listed below.

Some I've read (and reviewed), some I'm still getting around to. But if you're looking for a list of alternate fairy tales, this is the place to start.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Book Review: Sword of the Guardian by Merry Shannon

Sword of the Guardian
(Legends of Ithyria)

by Merry Shannon
Available in paperback
and Kindle eBook
Sword of the Guardian by Merry Shannon is fantastic. A fantasy set in a mythical kingdom with a weak king, a lot of political problems, and dark forces moving under the surface to take the throne, I loved this book. It's also far longer than I expected, was worth every penny, and I'd happily recommend to any reader of fantasy, whatever their personal sexual preferences. This book won an impressive sweep of awards and mentions, especially considering it's Merry Shannon's first published book (something that gave me a double take, as I would have sworn it was too good to be a first novel).

While it started off a little boringly, from the perspective of a priestess of Ithyria (the Very Good Goddess that the country worships and is named after), it also provides us with some necessary context and history. She's in a position to know what is going on, and is going to try and remonstrate with the king. As the next point of view is Talon's - a woman disguised as a man, performing as an acrobat in her troupe for the royal family - it's a good thing we have this context. The goddess herself takes sides in the fight, her priestesses getting slightly deus ex machina powers to save the day and there're hints that her traditional evil enemy has a hand in the troubles.

Monday, August 15, 2011

Lesbian Pirate Fiction

An overview of lesbian pirate fiction, from good to bad.
Branded AnnPeculiar Passions: or The Treasure of Mermaid Island (Red Hot Diva)The Sea HawkThe Princess's Bride
For high seas adventures, sea battles, scurvy, romance, outlawry and treasure, there's nothing quite like a pirate story. Sadly, lesbian pirate fiction is rare. Happily, most of it is very good.

Book Review: Beguiled by Paisley Smith

Beguiled by Paisley Smith
Kindle eBook only
Beguiled is actually a very decent historical romance. Set during the Civil War, the story opens with a bunch of Yankee soldiers raiding Belle's home. Belle is a dainty and once-well off Southern Belle (ha), now struggling to keep her home going with very little help, her husband missing in the war, and with deserters and soldiers from both sides constantly 'foraging'. She's managed to hide her little herd of dairy goats, and they're one of my favourite parts of the story.

Alice is an Irish immigrant girl, raised in poverty up north. Masculine in appearance, she had disguised herself successfully as a soldier to fight for Freedom. Wounded in battle, her sex was discovered and she is left behind, along with another gutshot soldier, as part of an agreement to leave the farm alone. Belle is enormously attracted, to the point that when Alice orders her to bend over and lift her skirts... she does. Belle is fragile and vulnerable and lonely, Alice is falling hard, and they're soon mutually seducing each other (although it's a fairly dom/sub relationship). And finally, Alice has to admit that she is actually in love with a woman.

It's definitely mature, with the two women having sex a lot (graphically and often enough that I'm tagging this as 'erotica'), someone dying in the first couple of pages, and some violence later. But it isn't cheesy or ridiculous - this is just a warning that this isn't one of the fluffiest of happy historical romances!

Friday, August 12, 2011

Book Review: Sleeping Beauty, Indeed & Other Lesbian Fairytales

 Sleeping Beauty, Indeed & Other Lesbian Fairytales is an anthology of lesbian retellings of traditional fairytales, and has some stunning tales to tell. It is consistently well written, although in a wide variety of styles, and covers everything from the traditional stories to some delightfully obscure ones. There were only two that I didn't recognise, but some were hard to spot!

The authors range from first time to frequently published, and the anthology is edited by JoSelle Vanderhooft, who has had a hand in quite a few other lesbian anthologies.

I didn't really start Sleeping Beauty etc. with terribly high expectations, but I was soon entranced, and am definitely rereading these stories.

Lesbian content
If you go into this looking for lesbians, you'll find them everywhere and easily. If you don't, some of the stories could just be about devoted friends, adopted sisters and feminism - but others are still definitely full of sensual sapphic love. A couple are outright erotic.

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Free Lesbian Stories & Books Online

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Book Review: The Princess's Bride by KT Grant

The Princess's Bride
by KT Grant
I bought a Kindle a couple of weeks ago, so I promptly downloaded a handful of books to review. [Sidenote: I love my Kindle, it's worth every penny. I mean cent. I took it travelling and now I use it in my lunch break instead of having to carry actual books around. And I can even check if I have new emails, though typing on it is a pain].

Ahem. Back to the reviews. The first book I read was The Princess's Bride by KT Grant, because I've been terribly curious about it (I love the original The Princess Bride, both the book and the film).

Tragically, it wasn't worth it. as I should have guessed from the bad grammar of the title (it should simply by The Princess' Bride) A short story at about 200 pages, it has just enough references to the original story (dialogue, very rough storyline, characters) to be classified as bad fanfiction. Add in a Pirates of the Carribean-Port Royale style setting, villain, and pirate vs. navy dynamic, and it's a crossover fanfiction that from then on tries to be different enough not to infringe on copyright.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Manga Review: Strawberry Shake Sweet by Shizuru Hayashiya

Shizuru Hayashiya, whose ongoing series Hayate X Blade contains plenty of subtext, is also the creator of the shorter and completed Strawberry Shake Sweet. The cast of characters is small, the focus on two teenage talents, Julia Tachibana (dark hair in the image to the right) and Ran Asakawa (light hair), and their developing relationship. There are obstacles along the way, but the manga remains generally lighthearted from start to finish.


Strawberry Shake Sweet is a simple story filled with numerous moments of comedy, over the top fantasizing (from Julia) and some drama, topped off with a happy end. The main characters are described as an idiot and an airhead and everything stays sweet and tame throughout, no matter how many times the characters believe themselves to be thinking perverted thoughts or hope to go through with doing "dirty things" to each other.


For all the fantasies and nosebleeds that happen, there isn't anything beyond some hinting, talking about sex, sharing a bed, jokes, misunderstandings, hand-holding and kissing to be found. However, almost the entire cast is made up of women and women who are paired up in various ways, and there are definite heartfelt love confessions.

Art Style

If you can handle manga art of the cutesy big-eyed sort, Hayashiya's style is nice. The lines are clean and characters can be distinguished from each other easily without wearing only one default outfit or never changing hairstyle throughout the whole story.

Where to find the manga?

Unfortunately Strawberry Shake Sweet hasn't been translated officially into English. But it is possible to find it as a fan-translated scanlation online, both for download and to read on-site.

The Japanese language original can be purchased in two volumes for ¥900 each through

Further Reading

Words That Mean Lesbian and Other Cultural Contexts

Whether you're just interested in reading up on queer linguistics, curious as to what you can call yourself, wondering how many cultures actually recognise lesbians, or wanting to know the code words that authors used to use when they didn't want their mainstream readers to know who the lovely heroine is really dreaming of, you'll find this quick and dirty* guide to the various terms for lesbian enlightening.

There aren't nearly as many words for lesbian as there are for gay men - mostly because women and their relationships have been ignored, disbelieved in and disregarded for most of Western society. While it existed in early Greek and Roman literature (the latter rather less favourably), it then more or less vanished, appearing mainly in French literature by the 19th century (though not always positively). Lesbianism wasn't really recognised as a type of 'real' relationship, and publically labelled, until the twentieth century.

In many cultures, women's romantic relationships with each other are not officially recognised, but apparently tolerated as long as they marry and bear children. In others, there is a place for cross-gender roles, women who take the place of men and effectively 'become' male, as far as their society is concerned. These don't always reflect personal desire, but may be a result of local gender imbalance (e.g. if most of the men have been killed fighting, leaving widows behind). Pacific cultures may designate that certain children become effectively transgendered if there are too many sons or daughters.

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Book Review: Shadow of the Knife by Jane Fletcher

Shadow of the Knife (Celaeno, Book 1)
by Jane Fletcher
Part of her Celaeno Series, Jane Fletcher's Shadow of the Knife focuses on a young Militia member, Ellen Mittal, as investigations into stolen sheep and a brutal gang bring her closer to a woman who may turn out to be someone she shouldn't be falling for. Shadow of the Knife is the first in the series chronologically at this point in time, but was written after several previous books and doesn't necessarily need to be read first, according to the author's website, as the series can be read as standalone novels.

Well-written, the plot of Shadow of the Knife is interesting to follow and keeps the pages turning from beginning to end -- however, it's not a happy romantic story. There's a lot more death, violence, upsetting scenes and uncertainty than certain happiness or romance, although there are moments that can be seen that way and numerous relationships between women are shown, including happier ones. In fact, the setting exclusively contains women and mentions 'birth mothers' and 'gene mothers'.

A blurb and the first chapter to read online can be found here, as well as links to where to buy the book.

You can buy Shadow of the Knife on Amazon as a paperback ($15.95) or Kindle eBook ($9.99)

Jane Fletcher won an Alice B Award in 2009.

Further Reading