Link Round Up: June 22 – 28

fingersmith-bookcoverFingersmith by Sarah Waters is one of my favourite books of all time (tied only with Waters’s Tipping the Velvet), so I’m feeling pretty spoiled by the news this week: Fingersmith is being adapted both as a play and as a Korean movie! And if that wasn’t cool enough, you can also take a Fingersmith-themed tour of London!

 

prairieostrichqueer book club does a lot of cool things, and one that I’ve been especially appreciating is their post diversify your queer reads: 2014 books featuring queer people of color. I’ve been reading pretty much all authors of colour this year, and I’ve been enjoying discovering new queer authors of colour! (Casey the Canadian Lesbrarian has also been prioritizing queer authors of colour this year, if you’re looking for more recommendations.) queer book club’s post is a great way to get started if you’re thinking of diversifying your reading, too!

sphinx   otherbound   theconversation   9780373212040.indd  lovewill   

Autostraddle posted Drawn to Comics: Lumberjanes #15 Has Mal and Molly Cuddling, What More Do You Need? and Lez Liberty Lit #75: Don’t Read Twice, It’s All Right.

Gay YA posted Author Interview: Corinne Duyvis and an interview with Robin Talley.

Buy, Borrow, Bypass: Lesbian Literature (Pride Edition!) and So You Want to Read Some Classic Lesbian Literature were posted at Book Riot.

The Conversation by Judith Barrington and Love Will Burst Into a Thousand Shapes by Jane Eaton Hamilton were reviewed at Lambda Literary.

Sphinx by Anne Garréta was reviewed at Lambda Literary.

The Color Purple by Alice Walker was reviewed at African Book Addict and Uncovered Classics.

This post, and all posts at the Lesbrary, have the covers linked to their Amazon pages. If you click through and buy something, I might get a small referral fee. For even  more links, check out the Lesbrary’s twitterWe’re also on FacebookGoodreadsYoutube and Tumblr.

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Rachel reviews The Sea Hawk by Brenda Adcock

seahawk

If you want to read a book about lesbians, time travel, and seafaring, The Sea Hawk by Brenda Adcock has all three. And the story she tells is a gripping, emotional read.

In the present day, Julia Blanchard, a marine archaeologist is excavating a ship from the 1800s that she calls “The Georgia Peach.” One day, while on one of her dives, Julia barely escapes modern pirates and is accidentally drifted out at sea. After days of floating aimlessly, Julia passes out and wakes up on a British ship in 1814. Unsure whether this is all a hallucination or not, Julia goes along with the events and reveals nothing about her real life. Then the ship is raided by French privateers, and Julia is taken captive by Captain Simone Moreau of the Faucon de Mer. Julia and Simone both feel an attraction to each other, although Simone is currently in a loveless relationship. After some adventures, the two fall in love. Then Simone is summoned by Jean Lafitte to help the Americans defend New Orleans from the British, at the end of the War of 1812. As the privateers gather, Julia and Simone must decide if they can have a life together.

The Sea Hawk has an amazing plot, and the characters of Julia and Simone were funny, flawed, and human. I found myself especially intrigued by Simone, wondering how she had become captain of the Faucon de Mer, and what in her life had led up to her choosing to be a privateer. These questions are answered, and make Simone’s motives more understandable. Unlike many pirates and privateers of her day, Simone isn’t interested in finding treasure and gaining notoriety. She simply wants to live out her life in peace once she retires from sailing. I found this quite refreshing. And her fighting alongside the Americans in the War of 1812 was another interesting plot line I had never seen done before.

The War of 1812 is not the only subject covered in this book; Julia and Simone sail to Simone’s home island Martinique, Louisiana, and of course, experience adventures on the high seas. There are plenty of action scenes with swords and pistols, as well as betrayals, daring escapes, horseback riding, and tender romances. Not just Julia and Simone’s love story is told; Simone’s brother Anton and his girlfriend Kitty have their own promises and loyalties. No one seems to mind same-sex relationships in the novel, which I found inaccurate to the time period, but on the other hand it fit with the characters and the story.

Brenda Adcock did well conveying the emotions of what was happening with her characters. I felt the same anxiety, sadness, and happiness of Julia and Simone as they went through each trial. While some may find the ending confusing, I was satisfied with how things were wrapped up, both in the past and present.

The Sea Hawk was a wonderful book from start to finish; I will definitely be picking this up again!

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Link Round Up: June 16 – 21

outoforange_cover   romancebythebook   aboveallhonor   holdofthebonequeersultrysummer

AfterEllen posted “Love Between the Covers” director Laurie Kahn-Leavitt on the history of lesbian romance novels and NYC’s Flamecon celebrates queer geeky fandom in style.

Autostraddle posted

irrepressible   whatmakesababy   thisdayinjune   thefemaleman

Lambda Literary posted New in June: Jonathan Galassi, Quintan Ana Wikswo, Ioannis Pappos, Emily Bingham and Ed Luce.

Okazu posted Event Report: FLAMECON 2015.

Catherine Lundoff posted Honoring Joanna Russ and How to Do It Better.

“30 LGBTQIA-Positive Children’s Books That’ll Teach Kids How Beautifully Diverse The World Is” was posted at Bustle.

Vera’s Will by Shelley Ettinger was reviewed at Lambda Literary and New Pages.

This post, and all posts at the Lesbrary, have the covers linked to their Amazon pages. If you click through and buy something, I might get a small referral fee. For even  more links, check out the Lesbrary’s twitterWe’re also on FacebookGoodreadsYoutube and Tumblr.

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Marthese reviews Pegasi and Prefects (Scholars and Sorcery #1) by Eleanor Beresford

pegasi

“I take my questions and shining little badges with me”

Keeping in line with my recent reviews, I read another short fantasy book. This time, I read Pegasi and Prefects which is the first in the Scholars and Sorcery series. I found it to be a somewhat good introduction but it focuses more on the main character, Charley rather than world building. At times it seemed slow but I quite enjoyed that. The book is only 138 pages so a quick read overall.

The story is about Charley, who attends Fernleigh Manor, a school for gifted people which are people that possess talents that are somewhat different from each other as no gift is the same. Charley has an affinity to communicate with fabled animals. Her family has a business in raising fabled beasts and in fact, Charley has a pegasus named Ember. She is friends with Esther and Cecily who are quite popular and so by default but not only, is Charley. They are in their last year of studies and Charley wants a quite year but her year is anything but that as she is made a senior prefect and a games captain- a sort of peer trainer for all the years and hockey teams.

Charley’s year is also rocked when two new girls transfer in their last year at the Manor. She has to share a study room with Diana, who many people are charmed by but not Charley. Moreover, She has to be friendly to Rosalind, a very shy girl but in the end this would not be a problem as Charley develops feelings for Rosalind after the two girls take care of an animal together since it turns out that they both share an affinity to fabled beasts.

Charley is what could be called a tomboy and we see some gender relations and how different people treat her because of this- namely Esther, Diana and her brothers. Charley learns not to fall into prejudice and also learns to be less selfish. This seems also a theme about her love life, where she assumes things about Rosalind and is jealous but at the same time wants to be selfless.

World building is slow and sometimes confusing but things eventually got clearer. We get to know more about different animals and about the history of the reality that the characters live in. When reading fantasy I tend to assume that it’s a different world and so I was surprised when things like cars or hockey got mentioned but when they were, it helped me understand and relate better.

Despite it’s slowness, I found it to be a calming book and it also kept me interested and as such, I read it very quickly. I recommend it to people that like fantasy books but that are looking for something different from the usual epic battle or action theme. It is also suitable for young audiences and more focused on Charley’s self-reflection.

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Megan Casey reviews Tell Me What You Like by Kate Allen

 

tellmeagain

From a few things I had read about her books, I expected Kate Allen to write about “big tough butches in leather jackets they never took off.” In fact, that’s exactly what Officer Allison Kaine thought when she found herself in a bar full of leather-clad lesbians. What she discovers (and what I discovered) is that leather dykes range anywhere between “packing” ultra-butches and submissive lipstick lesbians. Some are lawyers, some work in animal shelters, some may even be police officers. The trick is in how well they are captured in the writing, and Allen makes each of her characters not only come alive, but come alive with interest. One of the many things I really liked about this book is that Allison and I are learning the same things at the same time, having the same questions—first wary, then joyous—about what it would be like to be part of this odd enclave of leather dykes that even other lesbians shy away from. In fact, an important subplot of this book is the way in which lesbians who are not into the S/M theme disapprove of the practice as a form of violence against women.

The story begins when one of these leather dykes is murdered outside one of Denver’s lesbian bars. Because Officer Allison Kaine routinely patrols this bar, she gets involved in the case—much to the anger of the cops actually assigned to it. Allison is uncomfortable with the assignment until she gets to know several of the regular attendees of “leather night” at the bar. One of these, Stacy Ross, is a paid dominatrix whose business card reads: “Anastasia—Tell Me What You Like.” And wouldn’t you know it; against her better judgment, Allison ends up falling for her.

Meanwhile, other dykes (Allen rarely if ever uses the word “lesbian”) are being killed—dykes that had a tie to her new friend Stacy. If Allison doesn’t find the killer soon, Stacy may be arrested for the crimes.

Allison’s investigative technique is one of her strongest features. While interviewing suspects, she often delves internally into the philosophy of interrogation. For instance, here she is questioning one of the suspects’ partners: “The trick with this kind was to handle her gently, not excite her to the point where she wouldn’t speak. Playing it right was crucial; this woman would tell her everything she knew if she thought it would protect her girlfriend.” What Allison ultimately finds (and what I—what we as readers find) is a community of women whose lifestyles may seem strange, but who deal with the same emotions and foibles and self-doubts as the rest of us.

It is refreshing that Allison is simply a police officer, not a lieutenant or a detective as is true of so many other lesbian mystery protagonists (see Kate Delafield, Carol Ashton, Caitlin Reece, Rebecca Frye, Frank Franco, et al). Women can be strong role modes without having a high rank. Similarly, Tell Me What You Like is one of the strongest entries in the lesbian mystery field.

Allen’s use of first-person point of view is done so well that I no longer feel guilty for taking other authors to task when it is done poorly—which is often if you have read my other reviews. No awkward internal dialogue or descriptions of random minutiae. In fact the book as a whole is as close to A+ as you can get without being perfect. I only noticed one segue glitch, where a proofreader or typesetter screwed up, and a section near the end where an editor seems to have talked Allen into having the murderer go on and on in his confession, revealing details that are not brought out in the story—details that would have changed the tenor of the investigation. It was bad advice.

Still, almost everything about this book is first rate; the professional writing, the S/M vs non-S/M debate, and the intense characterizations make this an important book. Kate Allen and her character Allison Kaine are among those solidly within the pantheon of lesbian mystery icons.

For other reviews by Megan Casey, see her website at http://sites.google.com/site/theartofthelesbianmysterynovel/  or join her Goodreads Lesbian Mystery group at http://www.goodreads.com/group/show/116660-lesbian-mysteries

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Link Round Up: June 8 – 15

batwoman   starringkitty   NobleFalling   underthelights   lumberjanes

AfterEllen posted The queer female characters of DC Comics and Lesbian/Bi Stories Can Absolutely Be Universal.

Autostraddle posted Drawn to Comics: A Lumberjanes Movie! and Lez Liberty Lit #74: Making Friends With Owls.

Gay YA posted Queer YA Scrabble is here! and New Releases: June 2015.

Women and Words posted Coming Attractions, July 2015 and Hot off the Press, June 2015.

Silhouette of a Sparrow   lieswetellourselves   YouSetMeOnFire   payingguests   BeingEmily

Alison Bechdel‘s Fun Home musical getting a Tony award is being written about all over, including Playbill and Autostraddle.

Malinda Lo posted My short story, “The Cure,” is now available at Interfictions.

Sarah Waters wrote about her process of creating The Paying Guests at The Guardian.

“True Colors: Mighty Girl Books for Pride Month” was posted at A Mighty Girl.

“Representation Trumps Spoilers: Comics and Queer Invisibility”was posted at Panels.

“LGBTQ in YoungCanLit” was posted at CanLit for LittleCanadians.

breadoutofstone   rightsideofhistory   barrierstolove   londoncalling   ghostnetwork

Bread Out of Stone by Dionne Brand was reviewed by Casey the Canadian Lesbrarian.

The Right Side of History: 100 Years if LGBTQI Activism edited by Adrian Brooks was reviewed at the feminist librarian.

The Ghost Network by Catie Disabato was reviewed at Lambda Literary.

London Calling by Clare Lydon was reviewed at AfterEllen.

Soul Selecta by Gill McKnight was reviewed at Lambda Literary.

I Never Promised You a Rose Garden, Part One: My Own Private Portland by Annie Murphy was reviewed at Lambda Literary.

Barriers to Love: Embracing a Bisexual Identity by Marina Peralta was reviewed at Bi Magazine.

This post, and all posts at the Lesbrary, have the covers linked to their Amazon pages. If you click through and buy something, I might get a small referral fee. For even  more links, check out the Lesbrary’s twitterWe’re also on FacebookGoodreadsYoutube and Tumblr.

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Amanda Clay reviews Femme by Mette Bach

 

femme

Knowledge is power. Sofie, however, has always felt pretty powerless, at least when it comes to academics. She enjoys school—playing soccer and hanging out with her cute, popular boyfriend Paul. And even though she and her single mom don’t have a lot of extra money, their home is loving and stable. But now, close to graduation, she realizes that her world is changing. The time she spends with Paul isn’t what it used to be, and her mother is beginning to pressure her about the future. When Sofie gets paired with her high school’s star student Clea, she is sure this is the final straw. Until she realizes something else. Clea’s the only out lesbian at school, and once she and Sofie start working together, Sofie begins to question everything she thought she knew about herself, what she’s capable of, and what she might become. A road trip with Clea to scout potential universities kicks off an avalanche of self-discovery, one which sweeps away her old life and just about everyone in it.

I wanted to like Femme, and while I didn’t actually hate it, I was unable to muster much feeling one way or the other.  It’s a hi/lo title (high interest, low reading level) but that classification doesn’t mean that the book must be shallow and simplistic. Unfortunately, Femme is just that. Everything happens too quickly, too easily. Time zooms along. On one page it’s Christmas, on the next page it’s months later with no inkling of anything that might have occurred in the interim. Character development seems limited to a few signifiers: Clea is a good student!  Sofie is a foodie (who never really talks about food or cooks anything after declaring herself a foodie)!  Paul is handsome and popular! Along we cruise towards the predictable end of the story. Coming out stories still have their place in LGBT lit, but it is not unfair to expect more from them these days than mere self-discovery. Sofie’s story offers nothing more than that, and even the self-discovery is as insubstantial as every other aspect of the book. It seems like Sofie comes out because the author decided to write a story about a girl coming out. No stress, no struggle, just another plot point and on we go.

The world needs stories. We especially need lesbian stories, lesbian stories of butch women, women of color and size and age, stories of self-discovery and first love. We need all of this, and while Femme tries hard to deliver, ultimately I believe we can do better.

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