Saturday, August 31, 2013

Kill Me by Alex Owens

Kill Me by Alex Owens is a vampire story with a twist. It's the first book in the Blood Chord series, and the twist is that it's done well. I don't mean differently; this is a paranormal vampire erotica that follows the same old formula, but the writer gives it power.

This is a vampire novel that hits all the cliches that makes vampire stories so popular and then rewrites them, owns them or turns them completely on their heads. If you've ever thrown a book across the room (mentally, I could never hurt a book) because the heroine is vapid and perfect, and keeps running back to her abusive vampire owner/lover/soulmate, and been super disturbed by the power imbalance, or been exasperated by her teenage brattiness as she pretended to be independent, or hated the way that everyone hunted her out just because of her specialness, then this is a book for you. This is a writer who looked at their characters and decided to see if she could break them. And actually considered how they would react.

More of a novella, than a novel, I read it easily within a couple of hours, but for the story, it was the perfect length. Any more story would have thrown off the pacing, dragging it out needlessly, or would have been the beginning of the next story (and there is a sequel). I was expecting it to be a bit longer, was wondering about the pacing a little and then realised I was halfway through the book and had to readjust my expectations. It would have worked perfectly well as an origins short story, and that's basically what it is; Claire the Vampire's origins.But it packs in so much that this is a ridiculously long review for a short story. Admittedly, a lot of this review is pointing at irritating vampire romance tropes and laughing at them, because this story makes them look even sillier.

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Lawyer Romances & Other Lesbian Lawyer Books

Check out some
Lesbian Lawyer Books on Amazon!
(and yes, I totally drew this awesomely
sexy sapphic heart)
Looking for lesbian lawyer romances? Whether you want a smart lesbian attorney that gets distracted from her ambitious case loads by a pretty face, a brave lawyer rushing in to protect a woman in need, or sparks flying and eyes clashing between two women across a courtroom, then break out your legal metaphors because there are quite a few books out there.

Lawyers are a pretty popular profession in lesbian romance, because they're smart, successful, and often socially powerful people who can be lonely and overworked, save the day, work strenuously to protect an innocent, or provide a threat in the form of complicated legal problems. All of these are perfect conditions for romance! And if you like your lawyer books to be a bit more meaty, there are some lawyer mysteries as well.

There's also a list of law-related nonfiction at the end, in case the fiction whets your appetite for some real legal research.

Sunday, August 25, 2013

Graphic Novel Review: Madame Xanadu: Exodus Noir

Madame Xanadu Vol. 2: Exodus Noir is a graphic novel from Vertigo, featuring a magical murder mystery of the crime noir type, and a historical love affair in 15th century Spain, with our protagonist, Madame Xanadu, central to both.

Madame Xanadu is an immortal witch, or gypsy-like person, who wanders the world helping solve supernatural problems for people, using Tarot cards to discover things. She's sort of a miscellaneous background character in DC comics, linking stories together, popping up to help solve problems, and generally being mysterious. She was created in 1978 for the Doorway to Nightmare stories, and this volume is part of the Vertigo series, "Madame Xanadu", which was published in 2008-2010.

Saturday, August 24, 2013

Getting Your Book Reviewed on Good Lesbian Books

This is an update and a reminder on our reviewing policies, as we're getting an increasing number of questions about those.

Firstly, the number of review requests we get has skyrocketed since this site first started. We now get far more requests than we can actually read in a month, even when we're not taking random months off to get over burnout or because we're sulking over blogger updates. If I went and accepted every request in our inbox right now, not only would it take me all day, but it would probably book us up for the rest of the year, and leave us no time to read older books, or random ones (I tend to trawl the free books on Amazon and Smashwords, grab them and then read them whenever I get around to it), or compile lists and reading guides. We're probably going to have to figure out a new way to handle requests - a random draw or something!

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Depression in Lesbian Fiction

Depression is one of those silent, awful mental illnesses that you may not even realise you have, until it's too late. Women suffer disproportionately from depression, and lesbian/bisexual (or otherwise GSM) women are even more likely to be depressed, due to the many stigmas and difficulties gay people still face.

This is a booklist of fiction featuring main lesbian characters that suffer from depression. Some shrug it off, some are nearly crippled by it, but all of these books deal with depression in some significant way.

This is not a comprehensive list, but I only know of many of these books because I actually read them; the descriptions do not always mention depression. Further suggestions are welcome!

There's a much longer post about mental illnesses, but the depression section got a bit long, so it's being posted separately.

Book Review: The Two Princesses and the Battle of Tresent by Carey Casile

The Two Princesses and the Battle of Tresent by Carey Casile  is a fantasy adventure story that's um. Not that good.

I picked this up for free on Amazon (and also saw it on Barnes & Noble where it had a suspicious number of glowing reviews), and it has since been taken down, but as I have already written the review, and on the off chance copies are still floating around and you're wondering whether to read it, here it is (also because I had great fun writing the review and don't want to waste all these scathing sentences). Speaking of sentences, that was a pretty long one.

This story. Was. Terrible. Each sentence was fine, even good, but they often had no real connection to the sentences around it. This is not a short story. It's a novel, which has had every other line snipped out to save space. 

The plot is cringe worthy, though it could be developed into something great, if it was ever fleshed out. But basically the princess loves her servant, who dressed in rags while the princess is pampered, the King is evil and marries her to an evil prince, she conspires to escape with her beloved and tries to (quite remorselessly) murder the prince, who is understandably upset and tries  to execute them. They escape, end up in a nearby forest full of undead and monsters who prepare to kill them, until they're rescued by the dead Queen's long lost lady love. They then learn sword fighting and archery in two days, mount up on flying unicorns and lead an army of creatures back to kill everybody in the area, including the prince and the King, to create a new reign of acceptance and tolerance. After which the princess almost single-handedly wipes out and routs and invading army, and then marries her beloved.

That summary? Was more coherent than the original story. And don't even get me started on the mental whiplashes involved.

Looking for something good to read instead?

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

A Lesbian and Her Bodyguard: A Romance Book List

The bodyguard romance is a well established trope of romance fiction, and lesbian romances have their fair share of deadly, professional bodyguards and their lovely, rich wards.  Most of the books are light romance, but there are a few fantasy novels as well.

This is one of those topics that's difficult to find books for, unless you actually read them, as the bodyguard role isn't always described as such. So this is a pretty short list, for the moment.

Book Review: Lunatic Fringe by Allison Moon

Lunatic Fringe by Allison Moon is a original and interesting werewolf story. It is also complicated, deceptive, frustrating and mystical, and if you aren't paying attention, details can fly right over your head, and just as you start accepting a situation it twists around and changes. I had to read it twice before I could even decide what to say about it. And it makes it a little difficult to summarise the plot, as some of the better bits are major spoilers and really change the context of earlier events.

It's a thinking lesbian's werewolf story.

Essentially, it follows teenaged Lexie as she moves away from home to go to College for the first time, where she gets swept up in pack politics and a feminist group out to protect people from the evil men werewolves. She finds them a bit overwhelming, but feels an instant attraction to one of the girls. And then a tree crashes through her room, and a mysterious woman called Archer turns up to take the wood, and Lexie, away. And then it gets mystical. Also soulmates happen.

Thursday, August 15, 2013

Filthy Figments: A Porn Webcomics Site for Women

Art by Gina Biggs
Filthy Figments is a bunch of webcomic artists' answer to the lack of porn for ladies. I reviewed it a long time ago under the NSFW webcomics list, but it's still going strong (it was pretty new then) and has grown, so it's worth pointing out again. Also has lots of pretty banners by different artists, so I'm going to see how many I can sneak into this.

Featuring some pretty major webcomic names (as well as quite a few minor ones), it's a collective site hosting very, very NSFW comics. All the writers are women, and most of them are pretty good. The webcomics range from manga to realism to cartoons, straightforward sex to stories that just happen to get explicit, BDSM to tender first lovers (but not rape - dubious consent is tagged as noncon and is rare). Aside from the purely lesbian content, there are also several genderqueer and gay male stories and plenty of heterosexual, or difficult to categorise ones (e.g. tentacle monsters, multiple relationships), and a few where the ladies are bisexual, magically genderswitched, or futanari. There's also a reasonable range of body types and ethnicities.

You can read a lot of smaller sized. censored previews for free, or you can pay for subscription access and get full sized comics and access to everything, including a very comprehensive tag system. The artists get paid out of that money, so it's worth it. All comics are exclusive to Filthy Figments.

But, but, but is it lesbian? 

Monday, August 12, 2013

Our Nineteen Bestselling Books & Short Stories of 2012

It's time to look back over 2012 and announce the most popular books of the year! These are the nineteen books that we sold most often. I'm happy to say that there are some fantastic books here, including most of my top picks for the year.

There's a nice mix of old and new; young adult and adult; romance, contemporary, fantasy, sexy, serious and sweet. And lesbian fairy tale retellings are still very popular!

The Top Five!

1. A Hole in the World by Sophie Robbins

2. The Gunfighter and The Gear-Head (The Raven Ladies) by Cassandra Duffy
  • A smart, sexy and fun dystopian steampunk story of an American future aliens have knocked society back to the wild west, and two women start causing some serious sparks. Also, steampunk BDSM.
  • Read the full review!
  • Buy on Amazon!

3. The Dark Wife by Sarah Diemer 
  • This one's an longstanding favourite, a charming young adult retelling of the Persephone myth. Come join the young goddess and her dark, brooding lady Hades.
  • Read the full review!
  • Buy on Amazon!

4. Jericho by Ann McMan
  • Aha! One of my favourite lesbian romances! An epic literary tale of friendship, wine and wittiness, following our two lovely ladies as they work their way into each others hearts.
  • Read the full review!
  • Buy on Amazon!

5. Roses and Thorns by Chris Anne Wolfe
  • Another fantasy romance, this is a retelling of the Beauty and the Beast fairytale, with magic, misunderstandings, a brave heroine and her dark and lonely lover bringing lesbian life into the old story.
  • Read the full review!
  • Buy on Amazon!

The Runner Ups!

Friday, August 9, 2013

Book Review: Straight out of University by Rosen Trethiwick

Straight out of University is an ... interesting book. Interesting, frustrating, sexy and boring, by turns. It's a sort of memoir/coming of age/romance following the early adulthood of Sophie Sweet.

Sophie Sweet is a confirmed bisexual; the first chapter follows her, questioning and bicurious, into a gay event where she is nominated and crowned the Queen of Lesbians (well, an equivalent title) and outed to the entire university. She lets this happen because she is busy being utterly enthralled by a gorgeous and confident woman who sweeps her off her feet and into bed.

She has several years at university in Oxford, finally completing her PhD, and has a short string of memorable girlfriends, and lesbian sexy times, then heads back to Cornwall to see her parents, after her dad has a heart attack. She spends the second half of the book waiting to hear back on corrections for her PhD, and being stifled by the locals. And falling in love with a local Cornish man. Sorry, but this is definitely a bisexual book, so please don't go into it waiting for the lesbians to come back.

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Book Review: Xianne by Jayce Grayson

Xianne by Jayce Grayson is a science fiction story following a group of more or less bisexual characters, and our asexual narrator, as they sign onto a spaceship for a journey into SPACE. And sex. Space sex. Icky space sex that the poor asexual character has to keep averting his eyes from, and then being surprised when they take time out from sex to be nice to him. That... kind of sets the tone of the story.

I had major problems trying to review this book, because it sets itself up for something impressive, but really, really doesn't follow through, switching into a completely different kind of book after the introductions. To be honest, I think if it had been clear from the start, I would have liked it better.

Not actually a 'lesbian' book, this is more of an LGBTQA friendly book. Our narrator is a man, but wait - don't run screaming yet. Set a few centuries into the future, when Earth has discovered space travel but humanity is still heavily concentrated around Earth and influenced by recognisable cultural references (more on that later), our protagonist is an asexual in a world of sex maniacs sexually promiscuous people. This was the first book in a proposed series. It could become really interesting, and I can see how it would work, but I put it down feel exasperated and cheated. A lot of that was because I started reading something really different.

Sunday, August 4, 2013

Lesbians in Sport: Fiction & Nonfiction

This is a quick list of fiction and nonfiction books about lesbian sports players in which the sport plays a major part of the story or subject matter. It's not a complete list because 'plays sport a lot in the book' isn't always an easy thing to search for and some only made it onto here because we'd read them (but it's been sitting around in drafts for ages, so we'll add to it as we find more).

Women in sport have historically had plenty of problems, usually being relegated to 'lesser' sports and roles, so there are plenty of nonfiction books looking at that - both the queer aspect and the gender aspect. There are also several butch sporty types in romance and young adult books, and even a couple of self defense/martial arts teachers.

The adult lesbian books are mostly about tennis, and are mostly romance (but then, aren't most lesbian books?), while the YA books are generally about basketball and softball, and all the biographies are about the tennis star Martina Navratilova.

Friday, August 2, 2013

Lesbian Television Series

There are a very few television shows that feature lesbians as central characters, but there are some good ones out there. This list focuses on series,or seasons, or just episodes - in which lesbian characters were central to the show.

I know, I know, this is a book review site. But I needed somewhere to put this list! It's not complete, but I'm working on it. Currently, it's more of a 'recommendations/shows I would like to see' list, than a all powerful guide to lesbian television.

  • The L Word was a ground breaking series - a glamourous drama show entirely, and openly, dedicated to lesbians. And as such, it deserves fame and recognition.
  • Orange Is the New Black is a prison drama that began airing in 2013. It is set in a women's prison and includes lesbian main characters.
  • Seeking Simone is a web series about a single lesbian hooking up with online dates - the first episode is cringe worthy, but it improves significantly! Plus, it's free. The story is narrated via a webcam, with flashbacks as Simone recalls her experiences. You can start watching on YouTube here.
  • Los Hombres De Paco is another fantastic lesbian series. Unfortunately, it's in Spanish (English subtitles) and often out of stock.
  • Xena: Warrior Princess Created before lesbians were mainstream, the relationship between Gabrielle and Xena is real and intense, and by the ending of the show it was hailed as one of the greatest lesbian series of all time. It is also to blame for causing many women to question their sexuality and an enormous amount of Xena uberfic! You can watch Xena online here. 
  • The Real L Word is a reality tv show set in Los Angeles, and is a spin off of The L Word.

Episodes Worth Seeing in Non-Lesbian Shows
These shows are well known and 'mainstream', and feature episodes, or entire story arcs, with prominent lesbian characters. They definitely take a bit more explaining though. This is by no means a comprehensive list!

Buffy the Vampire Slayer - The Fourth Season
In the fourth season of Buffy, Willow comes out as a lesbian and starts dating Tara, which continues into the fifth season. Buffy the Vampire Slayer is an awesome and brilliant show, anyway, but the natural way their relationship is handled makes Tara and Willow a very special lesbian couple in mainstream media.

There's a gradual falling in love throughout the season that's very sweet to see, and they finally come out in episode 20 (The Yoko Factor). You can watch Season 4 of BtVS online here (spoiler: it ends badly, but Willow remains lesbian throughout the rest of the series, with a minor relationship sideplot in the final season).

 Best Other Work Category, Gaylactic Spectrum Awards

  • Shortlisted 2002, 2003, 2004
  • Winner, 2001

Star Trek Deep Space Nine - The Fourth Season 
Star Trek stands true to its theme of exploring frontiers and features the first lesbian kiss in space - and one of the very first lesbian kisses on television at all.

Two symbionts, Dax and - both currently inhabiting the female hosts Jadzia and Dr. Kahn - meet again and discover they are still in love in Episode Five of Deep Space Nine. "Rejoined"

Watch the actual kiss on YouTube! (And you can watch the whole episode on Amazon Instant Video)

Season Five, Episode 5. Lucky Thirteen
While it's not a lesbian show, it's gay friendly and has a prominent (and hot) bisexual woman.

Thirteen (as named by House) is the smart, bisexual doctor on House's team, and in episode Lucky Thirteen she finally hooks up on-screen and falls in love. Sort of. This is House after all, and he can't resist playing master manipulator.

(You can just watch that episode online, or get all of Season Five for context).

This isn't a complete list, suggestions are welcome.

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