Thursday, December 27, 2012

Guest Review: Adijan and Her Genie by L-J Baker

While we recover from Real Life in order to return to more regular updates, here is a guest review for a book we have previously reviewed, Adijan and her Genie. The reviewer's contribution raises a number of points that didn't occur to us when we read the book, offering a different perspective and leading us to re-examine our own reactions to it.

I had a few issues with this book. When it was given to me I didn't have a lot of expectations, besides it being based on Aladdin and had a lesbian leading character.

Monday, September 3, 2012

Short Story Review: Honor Among Thieves by Amy Gaertner

Honor Among Thieves by Amy Gaertner is a romance about a professional thief who falls in love with a reporter while working undercover.

It's a pretty straightforward adventure romance. It's not high art, but it's a decently paced, enjoyable romance that features an actual plot, a believably bisexual main character and a couple of short sex scenes to earn itself a place in the hearts of those who like a bit of sensual erotica in their undercover adventure.

Danielle is a very professional thief working undercover in an art collection, with her partner in constant contact. Liz is a pushy and idealistic reporter who's investigating the provenance of the collection that Danielle is planning to steal. Danielle falls in love pretty much on sight, but has to push Liz away; Liz hangs around to cover the exhibition and slowly works her way under Danielle's defenses, finds out that she's a thief, runs away, and then ... well, predictably they end up together, but it's the dramatic climax so I won't share how. The main tension of the book was between Danielle's desire to connect with Liz, and her knowledge that she has to abandon her fake identity and leave no traces of herself behind, and she must certainly not make any emotional ties.

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Book Review: The Miseducation of Cameron Post by Emily Danforth

The Miseducation of Cameron Post by Emily Danforth is a memoir-style novel about a teenage girl growing up in small town, conservative America in the 1980s. It's very good, and it's nice to see something literary added to the pool of coming of age lesbian fiction, but it won't be everyone's cup of tea.

It wasn't quite what I was expecting. What I was expecting was a young adult book, of some flavour of the genre. What I got was a book twice as big as I expected, that read a lot like a memoir, and mostly used much bigger words than the typical YA book. And had an awful lot of depressing religious conservatism in it, hemming our main character around.

Friday, August 24, 2012

Guest Review: The Miseducation of Cameron Post by Emily Danforth

This is a guest review from Bookocalypse Book Reviews. They also wrote the Dare, Truth or Promise review.

The Miseducation of Cameron Post is a coming-of-age young-adult novel about a girl growing up in Miles City, Montana, USA. Her parents are killed in a car accident at Quake Lake the same day she kisses her best friend Irene for the first time. She’s twelve, and thinks it might be God punishing her.

For a book that begins with the main character being orphaned, it’s warm, funny and readable. Cameron is instantly engaging. She’s brave, independent, athletic, intelligent and daring. The book follows Cameron’s viewpoint and way of talking, giving the book a unique voice that is never forced.

It’s a lovely evocation of a small town, so well-drawn that it’s no surprise to read that the author, Emily Danforth, grew up there. I’m going to go ahead and assume that the book is somewhat autobiographical. The joy of the summer months, the confidence with which Cameron spends her days around town, the stores and festivals and local personalities, are wonderful to read. This does what a good book should: transport you to another time and place and make it feel real.

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Anthology Review: Sidecar by Ann McMan

Sidecar is a collection of four short stories by Ann McMan, of Jericho fame (one of my favourite books of the year so far, which I reviewed back in January).

Sidecar contains four stories of varying length and a nice introduction by reviewer (and wife of the author) Salem West of The Rainbow Reader which discusses the type of writing you can expect from Ann McMan, and quickly introduces the stories. While obviously written by the same person, there's a nice variety in mood and characters and settings. They're all romances and feature Ann McMan's apparently trademark elements of witty dialog and fine wine. The longest and best is the hilarious "Bottle Rocket", a parody on lesbian publishing. The others are less comic and more romantic, but each seems to indulge a particular theme or impulse in the conversations, from parody to romance to rudeness, but always staying on the sweet side of interesting. I'd read at least one before, and I suspect a couple of the others may also be available to read for free online, but "Bottle Rocket" is brand new and exclusive to the collection.

There are some common themes; all our characters are reasonably literary and intellectual. Even the more backcountry, or stereotypically lower class ones turn out to be well able to hold their own. All but one of them is something of a wine lover. These are all romances, and generally involve a lot of punning, arguing and witty dialogue between the lovers. We don't get any sex scenes. While there's some kissing and groping and we're told that Sex Happened, it's a very non- explicit collection of stories. Entirely safe for work and children. Well, as long as they don't understand some of the references in "Bottle Rocket".

Like Jericho, the writing is elegant, intellectual (that means 'wordy but I like it'), and excellently edited. Finding a single missing quote mark in the third story felt like managing to pick the one piece of sky out of a pile of near identical jigsaw puzzle pieces. I wanted to photograph it and send it in to the author for a prize.

Friday, August 17, 2012

Anthology Review: OMGQueer: Short Stories by Queer Youth

OMGQueer, edited by Katherine E. Lynch & Radclyffe, is an anthology of GLBTQI short stories written by young(ish) queer authors.

So, I hate this book. It's the worst kind of anthology with the worst kind of short stories. The kind that are short. The kind that end after deceiving you into identifying with the characters and relaxing and getting really into the story. Oh, sure, some wrap up neatly and are perfectly paced, but others? Others cut you off just as you forget this was meant to be short story.

So I repeat, I hate this book. You should read it.

It's not perfect. Some things about it are downright disappointing. A few stories don't appeal to me (though they may to others), only two of them are genderqueer/transgender (and one of them has a lesbian main character), and some of them would have fitted in much better in an adult anthology (about a third of the stories feature older teens or adults in their early twenties).

The majority are actually lesbian stories - which is great, in a genre still dominated by gay male stories, but sad, because this book was touted as an all inclusive anthology dealing with the entire spectrum. I suspect that the number of lesbian and 'adult' stories might be attributed to the editors' taste or author connections (Radclyffe writes adult lesbian romance - and is well known for it).

Monday, August 13, 2012

Book Review: Gossamer Axe by Gael Baudino

Gossamer Axe by Gael Baudino is an urban fantasy, featuring a Celtic harper centuries out of her own time, who gets caught up in the world of 1980s heavy metal in a quest to rescue her lover from the Sidh.

It actually felt like it could have been part of any of Mercedes Lackey's urban fantasy books (specifically the Bedlam's Bard novels with Rosemary Edghill), in style and readability, intertwining of music and magic, themes of good and evil, and the duality of the Sidh and the modern day. Some of the themes, such as the Sidh being unable to create, were common themes, although explored in different directions. But actually, the Sidh in Gossamer Axe could have easily been a small enclave cut off from the rest of Sidhe society in one of Mercedes Lackey's books.

Gossamer Axe took a slightly darker, less idealistically polished, spin, was a little harder to read and felt a bit more real and worthwhile. Flawed characters, truly flawed characters, are much more fascinating than tragically 'ganged up on by fate' characters.

Friday, August 10, 2012

Guest Review: Dare, Truth or Promise by Paula Boock

This is a guest review from Bookocalypse Book Reviews.

Dare, Truth or Promise by Paula Boock is a sweet and gutsy coming of age book about two girls living in Otago, New Zealand. It won the New Zealand Post Book of the Year Award in 1998 and took out the top prize in the Senior Fiction category (the biggest book awards in New Zealand).

Louie and Willa are well-drawn characters with whom readers can sympathise and admire. The book alternates between their viewpoints. Louie is an outgoing, funny actor with a wide circle of friends, a close-knit Italian family and an overbearing mother. Willa is down-to-earth, quiet, a daredevil. She lives in the pub where her mother works. She has a dog called Judas and wants to be a chef.

Refreshingly, Louie welcomes her crush on Willa. She doesn’t doubt how she feels, but only wants for Willa to want her back. She’s delighted when she does. Louie thinks, of her first kiss with Willa, “this is my first kiss. It wasn’t, of course, she’d kissed a number of boys…” She feels disbelief:
“not that she was in love with a girl, for it seemed suddenly absolutely natural that she be in love with this girl – but that, god only knew how, this girl should love her back!”

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Young Adult: Genre Overview

  1. Links to booklists, reviews and other things to do with YA lesbian literature
  2. Some quick reviews of books we've read
  3. List of recommended Nonfiction and Anthologies
  4. Misc 'see more' links.

This is a selection of recommended titles for lesbian teens. Most GLBT books for teenagers focus on coming out, although a few other storylines are starting to be written and published.

All these book lists focus on lesbian YA fiction, unless otherwise stated.

Sci-Fi/Fantasy: Genre Overview

Fantasy and science fiction has many very good books to offer in the way of lesbian authors, characters and plot. You can browse by genre (fairytale, fantasy or science fiction) or by author (overview of authors and their books past the genre summaries)

  • Alternate Fairytales
Rewriting well known fairytales is a popular genre, and one obvious twist is to change the preferences of the characters involved. There are some very well-written stories around lesbian storytale heroines. There's a round-up of Lesbian Fairytale Fiction here.
Read all the fairytale book reviews by tag.

  • Fantasy
Whether a magical world or simply an alternate reality, fantasy has a long and marvellous history, Some of this history includes lesbians. Some of these lesbians are fairies, others are mages and others are simply ordinary people in a strange world. 
Read all the fantasy book reviews by tag.

  • Science Fiction
The mirror sister of fantasy, sometimes science fiction psi is almost indistinguishable from magical mind reading, and sometimes fantastical worlds are only found in space. The technology based genre of science fiction has its own share of lesbian writers, whether set in a future society, or just a twist on today's world.
Read all the science fiction book reviews by tag.

Book Lists: Quick lists of lesbian books by genre, topic, Award, etcetera.
  •  Other fantasy & scifi-themed book lists include:

    Yuri Manga: Genre Overview

    Yuri is a term for a type of Japanese manga and anime, where the storyline focuses on 'love between girls'. Yuri is also is a pretty common Japanese name (it means 'lily').

    Yuri Manga Reviews so far:

    1. Subtext only - the original manga of Utena (although not the film which is pretty clear that there is lesbianism going on!), Voiceful and a lot of other stories that involve two girls getting really close, mostly rely on subtext (or wishful thinking!). There might be blushing and hints, and deep bonds, but they could equally just be two really good friends. A lot of these could also just be described as shoujo-ai, rather than yuri. (Shoujo-ai is where it focusses more on the emotional aspects than the sexual).
    1. Light, teen yuri - Strawberry PanicThe Last Uniform and Hayate X Blade are all standard manga for young adults, with no nudity or sex. But they all also have definite yuri couples and kissing.
    1. More adult yuri - Maka Maka and Between The Sheets are two examples of this category. English adult manga is often westernized, or independently published, and tend not to be the serial popular titles. They actually focus on lesbian relationships, usually between older characters and have a higher mature rating.

    There's a complete list of yuri manga published in English here and we are working on guides to scanlations and moreindividual reviews.

    There are three main categories of yuri manga:
    Yuri books are usually part of a series of manga titles, so we'll usually link to the first book (or complete omnibuses). Be aware that, due to the nature of manga, most individual titles may not feel like complete stories.

    Another facet of manga is that it is almost always released as an anime (animated film or series) as well as a manga (style of comic book) - in some cases there's even a film, as well. The storyline may differ significantly between the media and where possible, this will be reviewed as well. However, some good titles are only available in one media - because of the nature of publishing, many very good yuri books or shows are never translated, so there are very few on offer to the English speaking market. Luckily, more diversity is gradually creeping in and you can now read quite a lot of titles on scanlation sites, such as Lililicious (which translates and scans titles not available in English).

    Recommended Scanlation Sites:

    The Other Reviewer will be reviewing some yuri manga on this site. In the meantime, check out the lesbian Graphic Novels page and this Yuri Manga and Anime page on Squidoo.

    Book Review: When the River Flows Out of its Bed by Gaelle Cathy

    When the River Flows Out of its Bed by Gaelle Cathy is a mystery romance that straddles the fine line between YA and 'adult', romance and thriller, believable and over the top. It starts off a bit rocky, and in your face over the top, but it settles down and we get to know the characters properly, and then it hooks you in with a well written relationship and an underlying mystery.  It's good.

    Quick Overview: Rich girl Eliza is a rebel and a party girl who sleeps with every girl in sight. Constantly in trouble, she's been brought back to her home town of Lorien to try and finish her final year of high school. There she sees the shy and mysterious Julia, a girl deliberately excluded from social contact or personal freedom, and is captivated by her. Eliza makes it her purpose in life to become Julia's friend and uncover the secrets keeping her a prisoner. Along the way, she starts to grow up a bit herself and falls in love for the first time in her life.

    Friday, August 3, 2012

    Book Review: The Warrior's Path by Catherine M. Wilson.

    The Warrior's Path is a historical coming of age story by  Catherine M. Wilson. If you've kicked around the interwebs looking for lesbian literature, you've probably heard of When Women Were Warriors trilogy; well, this is the first book in the series.

    It's not the vast epic I was imagining, although there are two more books in the series. It's more of a coming of age story, following one girl's fostering and apprenticeship over the course of a year, and her developing relationship with her warrior, a mysterious, mistrusted stranger that has been taken in by the Lady of the region. It is a charming, easy read and should appeal to both fantasy and historical fans, and the setting is as much - or more - of a character as the actual characters.

     The first book in the trilogy, The Warrior's Path, is available for free on the Kindle, but the second and third aren't (with the obvious, dastardly plan of sucking people in and getting them to pay for the second and third books. Sadly, I think it's working on me).

    Monday, July 30, 2012

    Book Review: Oranges and Lemons by Liz Bugg

    Oranges and Lemons by Liz Bugg is a lesbian mystery that was actually rather good. Not only did it have a  fantastic cover, but it had editing, characters and plot (although it fizzled out towards the end).Set in Canada, it features the staunch but imperfect PI, Calli Barnow, a very butch lesbian who is drawn into working undercover in an advertising agency, in order to solve certain financial irregularities. Oh, and her girlfriend wants to get married.

    I haven't actually read many lesbian mysteries, but this one was better than Sleeping Bones by Katherine V. Forrest [review] and almost as good as the Aud Torvingensen books by Nicola Griffith. It's part of a series, which I didn't know when I picked it up, but figured out fairly quickly, as our lead is emotiionally traumatised, and meets people she knows, from previous events. I will say that the cover looked fantastic and had be wanting to read the book from the moment I held it (it looks better in print than it does on the screen).

    There was not enough actual scene setting or recapping, though, despite all the hints, and it's probably worth reading the first book, Red Rover, first. My review of Oranges and Lemons is going to be entirely from the perspective of not having read it, though. It's probable that the frustrations I did have would have been mended by knowing more of the backstory and knowing the characters better. But books still need to stand on their own. That's going to be a central criticism throughout this review! (It was a pretty good book, it just had some issues that inspired a great deal of analysis).

    Friday, July 27, 2012

    Transgender Women in Lesbian Relationships in Fiction

    This is a list of Lesbian-MtF Transgender relationships in fiction. If you are a transgender, transexual or generally genderqueer lesbian in love with another trans* or cis woman, it can be very difficult to find books about similar people to you - we hope this list will help!

    This list includes novels and short stories that follow a relationship between a cis woman and a transgender woman, or an approximate genderqueer variant, including closeted FtM men still living as women and androgynous or intersexed characters. (It's probably easier to explain who isn't included! Specifically, MtF women + men, pre- & post-op FtM men + men, post-op FtM men + women)

    We know there are quite a few good biographies out there, but this was a list to concentrate on fiction, which is much harder to find.

    Tuesday, July 24, 2012

    Amish Lesbian Fiction

    Amish lesbian fiction is incredibly rare, and there doesn't seem to be any nonfiction (although no doubt the Amish get a passing mention in some of the more general texts on gender, religion, culture and sexuality). If anyone stumbles across any other books, we'd very much appreciate hearing about them.

    Some Background
    In the Amish church homosexuality is not an option. The 'rumspringa'  (a period for Amish teenagers to run wild, start finding spouses and choose between the church (baptism) and the outside world (shunning) ) is the focus of most gay/lesbian Amish romances, as it is the time that they first start discovering gay bars, openly gay people and alternate lifestyles and have the temporary freedom to pursue these. Unsurprisingly, this is generally when GLBTQ people take the opportunity to leave the Amish church. 

    Most of these books are about gay men, not lesbians, and the rest of the spectrum doesn't feature at all. Amish women are strongly pressured to conform, settle down and have children, and the women are statistically much more likely to return to their communities and go along with this than the men - especially the gay men - which is probably one reason that lesbianism is so invisible in Amish communities, at least to the outside eye.

    Saturday, July 21, 2012

    Lesbian YA Fiction By Country & USA State

    Ever wondered if there was a lesbian book written about a teen from Florida? How about Canada? Or New Zealand? While this isn't a particularly exciting list, we hope it will be useful. Whether reading about foreigners, or identifying with characters set in your homeland, there are reasons to care about finding books with a diversity of locations.

    The vast number of lesbian young adult novels are published and set in the USA, but there are a few from other countries. The books in this list include historical, contemporary, fantasy and science fiction - as long as they are set in a real place. We haven't been able to identify all of them, so if you know any, please tell us!

    Other Lesbian YA book lists: 

    Tuesday, July 17, 2012

    Books About Lesbians With Physical Disabilities

    Customize t-shirt designs on zazzle.
    Here you will find books on blind, deaf, lesbians with Multiple Sclerosis, rolling around in wheelchairs (well - not all at once!), as well as some nonfiction readers and textbooks about the overlap of queerness and disability. There's a nice range, despite the limited size of the selection, with romance, mystery, erotica, memoirs and useful nonfiction books featuring variously disabled heroines.

    Like so many other niche topics, there aren't that many books about lesbians; as always, recommendations are much appreciated. If a particular problem or disease isn't covered and you want it to be (mental illnesses will be in a separate list), please suggest it - it may be that we just couldn't find anything, or it may be that we didn't think to look for it.

    Worth checking out: The "Music of the Soul" series by Erik Schubach is a series of lesbian romances, usually featuring one disabled protagonist and a musical theme. They're suitable for young adults and well reviewed.

    In order below: Deaf/Hearing impaired; Blind/Vision impaired; Wheelchairs; Multiple Sclerosis; Cerebral Palsy; Epilsepy, and General Disability nonfiction.

    Sunday, July 15, 2012

    Book Review: A Fighting Chance by Barb Wolfe

    A Fighting Chance by Barb Wolfe is a romance between a journalist and a martial arts trainer that started out with potential and then fell apart. It's readable, but it's a mess.

    This is disappointing, as it started out okay and I was delighted to see the unusual profession (in lesbian fiction) of one of the characters played a major part in the story. The first third of the book is mostly set in the Mixed Martial Arts women's only club run by DJ and her friend/crushee Jordan. Erin is a local journalist who decides to come do a piece on DJ, interviewing her and the people at the club. Of course, the moment they meet, it's soul mate time, with the minor complication of Erin technically being straight and having a boyfriend (don't worry, he doesn't last long). Erin signs up for classes and flings herself at DJ, and DJ tries to avoid getting involved, but falls pretty hard back. And then Erin panics over the speed of their intimacy (and the whole "I can't be gay?!' thing) and DJ has a tantrum and it all goes downhill. Not much happens for ages, except that neither character progresses in any way, and then they decide to get back together, or at least talk about it. The getting together romantic sex part happened so fast, and the next bit dragged on so much, that I actually couldn't remember if they had ever actually slept together. And then there's a rape worthy of the most epic face palming that comes out of nowhere and may be triggering to some people. I shred it in more detail later on in this review.

    The last quarter of the book was a lot better, as it abandoned the dramatic events in favour of our two lovers talking and being romantic and having sex, and generally solidifying their relationship, so it does turn into a predictable but enjoyable romance.

    Friday, July 13, 2012

    Lesbians in Space: A Reading List

    Lesbians in Space (Blue Galaxy Version) Posters

    See more lesbian posters here
    There are lots of lesbian science fiction books, ranging from obscure colonies on distant planets to futuristic societies to modern day paranormals and psychics. This list does not bother with those books. No, instead, it cuts right to the heart of 'hard' science fiction - space travel. Only stories that feature lesbians flying around in actual spaceships, floating in null gravity, bounding around in space suits, and drifting in the void will be considered for this list.

    We even painted a new painting just for this list. Isn't it just full of lesbians and space?

    So. Ready for lift off?




    Wednesday, July 11, 2012

    Short Story Review: Aurora Awakening by Thalia Fand

    (Picture from the Good Lesbian Books
    Zazzle store
    See more lesbian posters here)

    Aurora Awakening is an erotic romance science fiction story. It is the second short story published by Thalia Fand and it is amazingly good, original, sexy, fun, and has an actual story along with the romance.

    Excuse me while I take a moment to persuade you to rush right over to Amazon and buy it.

    Because, damn, I love this writer. She publishes her short stories (well, all two of them so far) for free on a blog, and once they're finished, releases them on the Kindle as well. After her first one, I read half her second then waited for it to be published properly so that I could read it all at once, and have the added incentive to actual pay for it. Not that I really needed that.

    But I am going to heartily endorse you rushing straight out and buying the Kindle version of this story. Because
    1) it is a fantastic, awesome story you need to own for yourself,
    2) you need to encourage the author to write more stories so I can read them,
    3) it is perfectly priced (I'd pay more, actually, but I'd feel less happy about recommending them, as length is also a factor in price (no matter how well you're entertained, if it only occupies you for ten minutes... ). BUT ANYWAY, it's the perfect price for the length of the story and an amazing price for the quality).


     ...Why are you still here?

    What's that? You actually want reasons for my excessive fangirling? Picky, aren't you? Very well, I shall meet your unreasonable challenge. I shall give you some. Ha! You didn't expect that, did you?

    Saturday, July 7, 2012

    Book Review: Privilege of the Sword by Ellen Kushner

    The Privilege of the Sword by Ellen Kushner is one of those books that keeps being mentioned everywhere, and I'm very glad that I finally read it. The writing was truly excellent and the characters were fascinating. Our heroine, Katherine, is 15 years old and bisexual, like most of the people she meets.

    It is a 'next generation' sequel to Swordspoint and is set before The Fall of the Kings, with a lot of fascinating backstory and personal history just oozing out of every character Katherine meets. You can certainly read it on its own merits, though (and there's a quick review of Swordspoint at the end of this review).

     It is set in what is basically a historical renaissance Venice style city, edging into Regency, sharply divided between Nobles and the poor of Riverside. The book itself falls neatly into the 'Fantasy of Manners' category; plenty of Society, corruption, a rigid class system and politics and everyone pretending to be polite in public. There is a rigidly structured and complicated political balance, with nobles settling offences through duels. In most cases, the duel is between two swordsmen, and considered final.

    It falls into the fantasy category because, apart from the setting being fictional, magic does, or did, exist in this world; The Fall of the Kings covered it in more detail (along with a gay love affair, no women here). Basically, the line and role of Kings was invested with some kind of powerful, very real, magic. The kings have since been overthrown, and their magic receives only a very passing mention.

    Wednesday, July 4, 2012

    Book Review: Ginny's Capture by Ellie Heller

    Ginny's Capture is a pretty standard, though mostly better written than usual, action-romance urban fantasy following Deidra the magical soldier and her newish crack squad of furry muscle and Ginny, the lone wolf investigating healer, who parted ways with Deidra a few years before. They're soul mates, of course. Part of the Lesbians Vs. Zombies series, they spend a lot of the book investigating, hiding from, and blowing up zombies, but there's not much in the way of typical zombie horror.

    Our zombies are undead people who seem pretty functional, especially with the help of medicines, who are incredibly turned on by violence and who respond to hard rock and similar music with a burst of super strength and murderous killing rampages. I did spend a lot of time wondering what else they could be called, as they were awfully functional and speedy for zombies, barring the gradual decomposition, and could have easily been replaced by another fantasy race or drug addicted thugs.

    So. Deidra Montague is a secret fairy military representative leading a small team of stereotypically rowdy but useful backup/comic relief werewolves to investigate zombie activity around her beloved ex, Guinevere (Ginny). Ginny and Deidra used to work together in some kind of military unit, but neither knew about the other's magical side. Anyway, they used to be lovers and work very closely on stakeouts (again, I'm not actually sure what they did, but I assume it was zombie related), until a terrible misunderstanding that was entirely Deidra's fault leads to Ginny leaving. Only - oh no! - Deidra's Goddess pops up and tells Deidra that she gets a female mate to join with her forever (hurray!), and it's Ginny (hurray!) who doesn't want anything to do with her... (oops).

    Lesbian Zombie Fiction

    "Graveyard Girlfriends" Zombie
    American MoJo Kitchen Towels

    SissyPesticide on Zazzle
    Lesbian horror has been dominated by urban paranormal werewolf and vampire stories for a long time, but there has been a recent surge in zombie stories.

    Lesbian zombie stories range from erotic romances between women thrown together by the zombie threat to full blown zombie apocalypes featuring real lesbian women. There are a few odd ones as well, and unfortunately, some very token lesbian characters.

    For some quick zombie hits, the Lesbians Vs Zombies series is a good place to start. For more serious (and seriously gory) reading matter, the 'General' list of books ranges from scary to surreal.

    Sunday, July 1, 2012

    Book Review: Come and Go by Lee Harlem Robinson

    Come and Go is a chick lit romance that follows the dyke drama of Lee, a lesbian caught in the fast paced nightlife of Hong Kong.

    Lee's just had her heart broken and is still desperately in love with her ex, drinks like a fish, and generally works and plays too hard. Like everyone in Hong Kong, apparently. When her ex Stella starts reaching out to her again, she flops straight onto the line like a fish that hasn't eaten in weeks, but slowly starts to figure out that, maybe, Stella isn't a good idea. Meeting the dark and lovely Nikki leaves her torn between the two, but then her other ex flies into town... Unfortunately, Lee is incredibly passive, and unable to say no. Every time one of her lovers gets a hand on her, she goes along with it, falling into bed with them out of pity, desire or habit, much against her better judgement and always making things worse.

    You're thrown into the middle of Lee's hectic personal life, her heartbreak and forlorn pining for her glamorous, gorgeous, cheating ex, and the buffeting as she falls in and out of womens' beds and starts to figure out who she wants - too late to get it. There's definitely personal growth, and the relationships between the characters change in interesting and dramatic ways, but there's no story outside that. So if you like stormy love lives, the perils of dating, sex and broken hearts, and dyke drama in which everyone sleeps with everyone else, and is upset that everyone else is also sleeping with everyone else, then you'll really enjoy this book.

    Wednesday, June 13, 2012

    Official Temporary Hiatus and Not Currently Taking Requests

    Any regular readers out there (I know we have some!) may have noticed the dramatic drop in reviews lately. A year of solid reviewing caught up to me, Cress is too busy to pick up my slack and I got reviewer's block. And the further behind I got, the harder it was to write anything. And frankly, the books were starting to blur together a bit when I tried to write about them.

    So, rather than dragging out the whole painfully forcing out reviews, I'm OFFICIALLY announcing that reviews will start posting again from the start of July.

    We will also not take any new review requests until then - not only do we have some very patient authors waiting still, but more have flooded in while I've been slacking. To those authors who've already sent us books, we'll be reading and reviewing them as normal, I just won't post anything until the 1st of July.

    On the plus side,  I got to stop and read some completely unlesbian books that I didn't ever have to review, which gave my brain and perspective a rest, and a book just arrived in the post for me, and I viewed it with excitement and anticipation, rather than dread.

    So, see you in a couple of weeks!

    Edit: and poking around, I discovered that my Kindle has been hiding .doc files from me, which explains why I keep adding books to review and then wondering why I never bothered to add them to read and adding them again. Apparently I have to email them all to the Kindle before it will recognise them.

    Edit again: Why not go play in the new forum til we get back? It's on trial, so if you hate it, say so. But it seemed like an easier way to talk to us if necessary.

    Tuesday, May 29, 2012

    Book Review: Lythande by Marion Zimmer Bradley

    Lythande is a collection of stories from Marion Zimmer Bradley about the sorceror of that name, the mysterious cloaked Pilgrim-Adept who kept her sex a deadly secret, and engaged in various adventures as she waited for the end of the world. While I suspect some people won't care for it, I adore 'proper' fantasy, so I loved these stories.

    This is just a review of the 1986 anthology (there were several other short stories written after this book was published - read a 'full' overview of Lythande here). The first story was written for the Thieves World anthology, after which the author withdrew from the project, and the last one was written as part of the Thieves World by another author. The middle four are miscellaneous short stories that she wrote for other anthologies and projects. While these stories are in no particular chronological order, some of the later stories do follow on from events in this book. As such, I recommend starting with the anthology, if you can get your hands on it (it is very much out of print, though still available second hand). Many, but not all, of the stories are available as eBooks.

    Monday, May 21, 2012

    YA Book review: Liar by Justine Larbalestier

    Liar by Justine Larbalestier is a young adult book told by 17 year old Micah, about her boyfriend's death, and the increasingly complicated, unbelievable and finally, outright scary circumstances around it.

    The reason I picked up Liar was because apart from it looking generally interesting, it was tentatively thrown out as a lesbian YA book. So I'll address that bit first.

    It's not, really. It is a book that touches on transgenderism and 'presenting' in the wrong body, but whether the entire story is a metaphor or just some interesting moments that are no more relevant than the many other interesting moments, will depend entirely on the reader (and the essay question, as I see this book getting analysed to death!).

    It is a book that features two moments of bisexual girl-girl desire, but it is unclear whether it is in two directions, whether either girl is ever generally interested in other girls, or whether it was a 'caught up in the moment, and the connection and the hormones' sort of situation (or a flexible sexuality one). Personally, I read it as our narrator being genuinely attracted, but our narrator is unreliable. And doesn't tend to give context to that sort of thing. But the entire story is about her and the boy she loves. Though he's dead from the beginning. I wouldn't call it lesbian fiction. I would call it interesting, and worth including on LGBTQ reading lists.

    Micah, our narrator, is a skinny, loner girl with a terrible secret and some odd medical issues and abilities, which have shadowed her whole life, and her family's. They are a line of liars. Her one skill is her running, and she bonded with Zach over that. When she loses him, her world starts to fall apart.

    The story unfolds with her boyfriend, Zach, missing. Nobody knows how or why, and speculation runs riot at school, until they find out that he's dead. For the first half of the book, we get Micah's grief, unfolding secrets about where she was and what she was doing, and her past, as she tells us something, then has to say a bit later on that, actually, it was this less believable or more incriminating thing, but I obviously couldn't tell you that earlier. Most of it is set at school, with unfolding gossip and politics and even some racism (Micah is a half breed, in her own words, not fitting in with anyone, not even 'other' people of colour).

    Micah takes birth control pills, initially because she allegedly suffers from suffers from excessively heavy bleeding and pain during her periods, which could be a fascinating area of discussion around bleeding disorders, or endometriosis (and not something the average teen character suffers from). There are a couple of moments of horrible violence, and it does turn into quite a thriller, but it's perfectly fine for teens (15 is probably the target audience).

    It is a good book. It is easy to read, and interesting, the lies make sense and the overt ones generally stand out enough to also make sense when they are revealed as lies. The whole thing could be a fantastical story, but then so are all stories. By accepting the final underlying story on faith (although being suspicious of some of what Micah told us later), I was able to remain invested enough to enjoy it.

    The problem, the really big problem, with reviewing Liar is that it is told by a classic unreliable narrator, twists revealed as you go, type of story. Even an accurate summary gives away half the plot. Actually, most of the plot is in the storytelling, and the retelling and the reveals, not the actual story.

    If you know you like interesting, easy to read, urban fantasy/thriller/unreliably yet charmingly narrator, high school drama books featuring loner nonconformists with hints of race and gender issues, then you should very much enjoy Liar. 

    But I hate picking up books with no idea, literally no idea, what kind of book it is, and I know that some people will only be reading reviews to decide if they want to buy it for someone else, so I'll provide some summary.  And THAT is going under the cut and under a space. And while I'm giving away some of the twists, I'm not guaranteeing that it's all of them, or even the biggest or the most reliable revelations.

    (the last part is spoiler free space, so clicking the comments link is safe).

    Wednesday, May 16, 2012

    Book Review: Patience & Sarah by Isabel Miller

    I picked up Patience and Sarah by Isabel Miller on a whim last week, and to my delight, it was not the boring, circumspect novel I was expecting, but a fun and sexy romp across colonial norms, with two delightful and distinctive (if often frustrating and less than perfect) women. Set in a Puritanical farming community in early 19th century New England, it follows the romance and quest for a home of two women, the painter Patience White, and the farmer, Sarah Dowling. It is fairly unique in early lesbian fiction in its positive outlook and outcome, and the sheer joy and life that bubbles out of its pages, with the women ending up in a classic Boston Marriage.

    Both women are somewhat unique and not entirely respectable, by their society's standards. They live near each other, but don't cross paths until Sarah comes to deliver some wood in the winter of 1816; Patience's scandalised sister in law takes one look at Sarah's trousers and won't let her in, so Patience, curiousity afire, does so instead and finds her heart and loins captured by this tall and graceful woman. Straightforward Sarah is equally enamoured of plump, redheaded Patience.

    Tuesday, May 8, 2012

    YA Book Review: Pretend You Love Me (Far From Xanadu) by Julie Anne Peters

    Pretend You Love Me, orginally published as Far From Xanadu, is another lesbian coming out book from Julie Anne Peters (who has, so far, done pretty well in this category).

    Set in tiny Coalton, Kansas, it's different from the normal coming out offerings. Our protagonist isn't an overly thoughtful, smart, sensitive girl. She's a rural hick, a jock, with a dysfunctional home life, no real experience of the world, with two competing dreams; famous softball player, or singlehanded saviour of her family's local plumbing business. She spends most of the book deluding herself over a straight girl, but comes out of it the better for it.

    This is a book as much about living in a small town and figuring out what to do with your life, and going for your dreams, as it is about being gay. Sure, being gay makes the small town thing a bit harder by severely limiting the available dating pool and that's a pretty big theme throughout the book. Somewhat unusually for lesbian YA, the book has a nice major subplot involving her gay friend's own romance.

    We meet 16 year old Mike Szabo and get an introduction to her life; her dad committed suicide a couple of years back when she was fourteen, her brother Darryl is a terminal loser (in his twenties and obviously having just a tough a time of it as she is, though Mike doesn't see that) and her mother is a obese, terminally depressed woman who hasn't spoken to Mike for two years. And then Mike goes to school (which she has never missed a day of, to give you an idea of what she's like), and new girl Xanadu swishes in and hits her in the hormones harder than Mike hits the ball in softball. And that's pretty hard. From that moment on, poor Mike is basically a drooling idiot for completely straight Xanadu, who leads her on like crazy.

    Sunday, April 29, 2012

    Short Story Review: The Witch Sea by Sarah Diemer

    The Witch Sea is a marvellous mythological-fairytale short story from Sarah Diemer. It features a weary and desperate sea god trapped on land, a witch trapped in a difficult inheritance, and a seal girl with a loving heart, trapped by love. As a side note,  I had the hauntingly beautiful song, "Sedna" by Heather Dale, playing in my head the entire time I was reading (based on an Inuit sea goddess who made the creatures of the sea). I believe this may actually be my favourite of Sarah Diemer's works so far. She has also made it available for FREE on Smashwords and Amazon.

    Long ago, the dread sea god Galo apparently decided to lead an army onto land to wipe out humanity, and came ashore, took human form, and called up his creatures behind him. Unfortunately for him, a local witch managed to step in, and cut off his access to the sea by weaving a silver net of magic across the bay. Any sea creature that comes through is transformed into a human by the god She maintained this for the rest of her life and passed the duty on to her daughter, and granddaughter. And now her descendant keeps a lonely siege in her lighthouse.

    Book Review: L World by Taryn Rose

    In L World by Taryn Rose, sparks fly between a recent divorcee and lawyer and the gorgeous girl who does her hair. But can they overcome the age difference, and can she come to terms with being gay? Can the over achieving lawyer stop working so hard and take time for romance? (Obvious spoiler: Yes. Yes she can).

    This is escapist, fairly fluff romance; a standard F/F happily ever after, that suffers from a lack of decent editing (like so much of lesbian fiction), but is easy to read, and there's a believable attraction between our various characters. Don't read it for the sex, though; while there is perfectly good sex in this book, there's also very bad sex. But overall, it's more about the tentative-slash-passionate romance between Blake, an extremely workaholic finance-related lawyer, and the sexy young hairdresser Janie. The theme of the story starts out as angsting over sexual attraction, then acting on it, and later shifts into emotional coming out and commitment issues.

    Tuesday, April 24, 2012

    Book Review: Dead Kitties Don't Purr by Amber Green

    Dead Kitties Don't Purr by Amber Green is a contemporary horror, about the crumbling of society into a more hellish dystopia under the onslaught of a dreadful zombie virus. But mostly, it's the first love, desperate romance and firsthand experience of one girl when one city starts to fall before the virus.

    We follow the first romance and survival of Camie, as the wave of a zombie virus reaches her university, just after she falls in love (of course) and her life falls into chaos and into a state of siege. It was a pretty short book, and I wasn't too impressed with the first third, but by the end, I was really into it. The actual ending was a bit of a cop out though, with everything wrapping up suddenly in about a page.

    This was both a very light and a pretty hard hitting story. I know that's a bit of a contradiction! Basically, the story was skimpy, the romance felt underdeveloped, but the horror was real, and what there was, held together very well. It also makes up about 20% of all existing lesbian zombie books and is part of the Lesbians vs. Zombies series being published by Noble Romance (which has more coming out, so there that proportion will decrease pretty sharply!). It would probably shine in an anthology, once the books in the series are all out (should there be one), or else read along with the other stories (which I haven't read yet).