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.