Monday, January 30, 2012

YA Book Review: Violet & Claire by Francesca Lia Block

Violet & Claire by Francesca Lia Block is a lyrical, experimental young adult novel set in the rich, disconnected communities around Hollywood (or some fictional similar place). It's about two very different, very unique girls, who come to love each other more than anything else in their lives.

I'm not sure I'd call this a lesbian book. Rather, I'd call it 'open to interpretation'. There are two girls, two very odd and very alone girls, who meet their perfect opposite in each other. Whether they are 'just' friends, the one exception to otherwise heterosexual or asexual lives, or actually bisexual or lesbian, I couldn't tell you. I daresay if you asked the author, she'd say something about whatever you wanted them to be (Francesca Lia Block is an LGBTQ-friendly author; she's written the acclaimed queer-friendly Weetzie Bat books, which I haven't read, so I can't tell you if the acclaim is accurate or not!). We know they do love each other, in some way, and are almost each other's only friend, dependent and protector, and this is obvious to the people they meet as well. "You're two halves of a whole." Esmeralda whispered. "I knew it the first time I saw you"

Friday, January 27, 2012

An Anniversary Guest Posting Event - Calling All Lesbian Book Readers

Literary Muse by GoodLesbianBooks
on Zazzle
Which Lesbian Book Should You Read First? 
An anniversary event celebrating one year of Good Lesbian Books.

March the 5th is the first birthday of this site, so we're planning to celebrate with a guest posting party starting on that date.. 
That's right, this is an open invitation to all readers of lesbian fiction to write something to answer this question. Which lesbian book should you read first?

Check out the background and guidelines below, and send us your contribution at GoodLesbianBook [at]

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Book Review: The Moonbane Mage by Laurie J. Marks

The Moonbane Mage by Laurie J. Marks is a weird and wonderful fantasy novel set in another world, featuring a race of winged hermaphrodites. It is a story of prejudice, acceptance and belonging, as very different races struggle to co-exist, and one young Aeyrie comes of age. It is the second book in the 'Children of the Triad' trilogy. Three connected races live in an uneasy truce, bound together by the settlement Triad. A powerful and bitter mage, Raulyn, has a personal grudge, and a fierce hatred of Triad, and stirs up a Separatist movement to try and attack and destroy the peace. Laril, from an isolated eyrie, is dragged into this secret and deeply personal war.

 Published in 1990, it is the sequel to  Delan the Mislaid  , which follows the heroic and historical events that shape this book, and includes many of the same characters. However, it can be read on its own, simply leaving you with a strong desire to go back and read the first book in order to learn more about the captivating characters. I mention that because, it being an old, out of print, novel, you may have trouble finding the series in order (though currently, you can pick up secondhand paperbacks on Amazon quite readily).  The settlement of Triad was established in Delan the Mislaid and the characters there play an important part in the second half of The Moonbane Mage

Book Review: Flashpoint by Katherine V. Forrest

Flashpoint by Katherine V. Forrest is an interesting book that brings to life some very different gay and lesbian characters and gives us a window back into the early days of gay rights activism.

Set in 1991, on the night that the Gay Rights anti-discrimination bill in California, that was intended to prevent discrimination in the workplace, was vetoed by the current Governor, allegedly at the command of then-President, and fellow Republican, George Bush Snr. (though he wasn't 'Senior' at the time).

Having been warned in advance through her activist connections, Donnelly gathers up the people she most cares about in the world for support, and then tries to persuade them to take a more active part in the movement.

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Book Review: The Gunfighter and The Gear-head by Cassandra Duffy

The Gunfighter and The Gear-Head by Cassandra Duffy is a very good book. Also a unique, rollercoaster of a story that's nearly as fun to describe as it is to read. How would I describe it? Well, it's a post-apocalyptic, alien invasion, cowboy, steampunk, erotica dystopian adventure.

Imagine a western set in the remnants of civilisation, after a bunch of aliens destroyed most of everything, and the struggles of the survivors to get through each day, figure out what the future might look like, and survive both the Slarks and other people. All seen while following around a kinky couple consisting of an infatuated genius and a crazy redhead. Does that help?

Humanity is fractured. We only really hear about the United States, as they have no way of contacting anywhere else, but entire regions are blasted and dead, others are Slark territory (four armed lizard aliens), or contested with them, and the human settlements range from the grim outpost of Tombstone to the City of Las Vegas (now back on its feet to a large degree under Lazy Raven rule).

Monday, January 23, 2012

Guest Posted Review: The Lesbian Fiction Appreciation Event

We have a guest post up at KT Grant's Babbling About Books. It is part of The Lesbian Fiction Appreciation Event - about a fortnight of posts from writers, reviewers and publishers about why they write, review and publish lesbian fiction.

In other words, it's a nice long ramble about how we both started reading lesbian books, how we started reviewing them and why we kept going.

Go read it here!

Some of the other posts include publishers talking about what they're looking for, authors talking about their books, and a few more general essays (I especially like this article discussing the lurking F/F versus lesbian issue, as it was a very obvious divide running through most of the posts, which certainly caught me off guard, as I was only vaguely aware of 'F/F' as a genre and the vast majority of contributors talking about F/F, not Lesbian fiction, was disappointing, if an education. To be clear, my post - and probably all the others - were written in advance, independently).

You may also be interested in:

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Lesbian Young Adult Fantasy & Science Fiction Books

While the vast majority of young adult lesbian fiction is contemporary high school fare, there are an increasing number of fantasy and science fiction titles being published. And paranormal books, though these can usually be filed under fantasy.

Unsurprisingly, there are a lot of fairytale retellings - but there are also some good original fantasy, and futuristic science fiction. So if you're tired of the same old 'I fell in love with my best friend and I've still got to finish my homework' stories, well... these are different.

Friday, January 20, 2012

Book Review: Sleeping Bones by Katherine V. Forrest

Sleeping Bones is the seventh book in the mystery series following lesbian detective Kate Delafield. Written by the classic lesbian author Katherine V. Forrest, this famous series has won a number of awards. This is the first book I've read in the series, and so I've missed out on some of the earlier history. However, it stood very well on its own.

 A warning - the first couple of pages are an excessively overwrought description of a tragic predatory encounter at a prehistoric tar pit. Luckily the rest of the book loses the purple prose and cringe inducing anthropomorphism in favour of fast moving, if slightly bewildering, crime solving.

The plot starts out with a prosaic murder mystery - the father of a famous paleoanthropologist is found murdered at the Rancho La Brea Tar Pits in Los Angeles, (which are extremely famous and important, full of preserved animals dating back 40,000 years). The crime complicates, of course, and soon the CIA are involved, chasing after the 750,000 year old bones of the Peking Man, discovered in China and lost during WW2 when the American marines (including our murder victim) where captured by the Japanese.

Lesbian YA Fiction With A Non-Lesbian Main Character

A list of young adult books in which the lesbian character is the aunt, mother or other close female.
Living in Secret
by Cristina Salat
This is an interesting category of books to classify, sitting right on the cusp of being 'queer fiction'. The lesbianism of the other person is a major part of the story - but the main character is a straight teenager. But the lesbian character isn't just a supporting character, such as a friend who happens to be gay, but a significant plot person.

So they are a subcategory of 'lesbian YA' fiction, as they still tell the stories of teens coping with lesbianism, whether that involves coming to terms with a gay mother or just moving straight past that into stories of events involving lesbian friends or relatives.

 But we'll be leaving them out of the other lists of 'X Types of Lesbian YA Fiction', to avoid confusion.

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Blacked Out for SOPA/PIPA

Good Lesbian Books is blacked out for the 18th January EST time* along with Wikipedia, Reddit and assorted other sites around the internet. Because if anyone should care about censorship, it should be the LGBTQ community (and librarians. And users of the internet. So it hits three of our buttons).

If you want to join in, there's a javascript utility and Wordpress plug in here (also has plenty of information about SOPA and PIPA if you're confused). It also demonstrates the effect it has.

If you're on Blogger or similar, just add the script right before the </body> tag in your HTML (this will also make it easy to find later).

Other sites joining in: (Are you doing it?)
MLG (Major League Gaming)
A Softer World
Greenpeace International

And a whole lot more on SOPA Strike

Google won't be shutting down, but will be displaying an anti-SOPA message

 *(approximately, time zones are weird!)

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Short Story Review: Blazing Star by Marie Carlson

Blazing Star by Marie Carlson is a short paranormal erotic romance, told from the perspective of Bea. Bea is someone who could have been an active 'Hunter' in the fight against monsters, but chose instead to play backup and spiritual advisor. She provides a safe house, reads minds, and does her best to protect and help those who come to her. Bea is a is African-American (the way she emphasises that she's with a white woman... but that's the only time it comes up , apart from the cover), and possibly bisexual (it's unclear who, if any, of her visitors are also lovers). This story starts and ends with the arrival and departure of her lover, Hope, who comes for help, and rides off with fellow Hunters to face some terrible destiny.

Bea is our narrator, and so infuses the story with herself, and we see how she sees the others, but we don't really get their stories. She's a pretty good judge of character though. Bea and Hope are long-standing lovers, with plenty of chemistry, and a very nice powerplay undercurrent running through everything (which they trade off). They happily fall into each other's arms and do their best to spend as much of Hope's very short visit alone and naked. Sadly, impending doom, other Hunters and responsibilities intervene. It's not particularly graphic, but it is definitely sexy. I probably wouldn't have filed Blazing Star under 'erotica', but I would definitely label it 'erotic'.

Sunday, January 15, 2012

LGBTQ Characters From Lois McMaster Bujold

Lois McMaster Bujold is one of those rare, wonderful authors whose books I return to frequently. Like any good devotee, I feel compelled to share her with new readers... sadly she doesn't write 'lesbian' books. She is however very LGBT friendly - how much so, I'm only starting to realise on recent rereads. My first encounters were in my early teens, before I was more than vaguely aware of the queer political and activist identity spectrum.

She writes amazing, clever, interesting characters - her main leads tend to be heterosexual, and she has a penchant for pairing them off towards the end (there's a marked shift over time from frenetic gunfights to matchmaking and political intrigue that tracks with Miles' life and character growth). But a number of significant, if background, characters are definitely not entirely heternormative.

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Lesbian Young Adult Fiction

Hey, Dollface by Deborah Hautzig
A short and charming story about two girls
who become close enough friends to
blur the boundaries, and how their families react.
This is a complete (or as close as possible) list of all the lesbian young adult fiction currently published. As far as I know, it's the only one in existence (if there's another, I wish I'd found it while searching for all these titles!).

Lesbian (and bisexual) girls have tragically little young adult fiction to themselves. According to recent research by YA author Malinda Lo, about 0.25% of published YA books in the US are about lesbians. And yet, for such a short list of works, it was surprisingly hard to track them all down - there are plenty of GLBT YA lists, but these tend not to actually separate out the lesbian books, and to be dominated by gay male stories.

We're working on actually categorising and describing the individual books further, but it's a fairly major project. 

Some of the books below don't have a lesbian main character - but they do have lesbian secondary characters (e.g. a mother) and much of the plot is about the main character dealing with this. Pretty Little Liars is there twice, because the original series and the television series differ, but both have a bisexual or lesbian character. There are also a handful of books for which I had to make a judgement call about whether they were actually 'young adult'. If you know of any other books that should be here, please let us know! (Currently, there are about 120 titles. Give or take a couple of miscounts. This number keeps changing as we add and remove books). And as you can see from the publication dates, the vast, vast majority were published in the last ten years.

Note: if the lesbianism is too ambiguous (i.e. mostly or all subtext as in Violet & Claire) or the lesbian character/content is too minor (e.g. the frequently cited Tamora Pierce's books. IMO. Though I may have to reread them) they will not be included. That's not to say we won't review them, if only to point out the lack of lesbianism, but this list is reserved for pure, guaranteed lesbian/bisexual characters who get lots of plot attention, not books where you have to draw up a checklist to figure out if it qualifies.

Monday, January 9, 2012

Lesbian Librarians in Books

Lesbrarian mug by librariangear
on Zazzle
If you're looking for a book with a lesbian librarian in it, you're in luck! There's a fairly varied selection to choose from (although it's a pretty short list). From romance to mystery, the following fiction books all feature a lesbian librarian main character. There's also a interesting selection of nonfiction and memoir books looking at lesbians in librarianship at the end.

As a side note - it's a difficult subject to search for, because there are so many books and articles out there that look at providing LGBT literature in libraries. The actual librarians are often somewhat ignored!

Saturday, January 7, 2012

Book Review: Jericho by Ann McMan

Jericho by Ann McMan is well up in the running for my favourite book of the year. And yes, I am aware that it's only the first week of January. This is a great book. No, really. I loved this book. And not just because it had a librarian in it. In fact, I'd rank this up with Curious Wine [reviewed here] as a classic lesbian love story. I confidently predict it picking up some kind of award this year (August edit: hah, I was right! See end of review for awards).

Jericho is a romance and a friendship that is fun and interesting and undramatic, and pulls you right into the characters' lives so by the time the drama happens, and the romance finally comes out into the open, you really, really care. And laugh and cry and enjoy it along with them, and feel their pain, and shake your head.

 It also has a librarian main character (which is a definite plus in my book, not enough lesbian librarian stories out there), a sexy workaholic doctor (aren't they all?), a dog, and some terrifying lemon pie.