Rachel reviews Her Maiden Voyage by Rachel Maldonado

hermaidenvoyage

A wonderful lesbian romance that takes place on the Titanic, Her Maiden Voyage by Rachel Maldonado, was just released earlier this year.

The protagonist of the story, Marie Antoinette Michaels, earns her passage on the Titanic to escape from England, where she is at the mercy of her controlling husband. Boarding the ill-fated ship to start a new life, Antoinette is a first class passenger. While departing Southampton, she meets Evelyn Chambers, a third class traveler with a moody husband and baby son. The two young women feel a pull to each other and become friends. Over the course of the voyage, Evelyn and Antoinette explore the ship and acknowledge their feelings for each other. Then the ship hits the iceberg. If Antoinette and Evelyn survive the voyage, can they live together in a time when homosexuality was not accepted?

Her Maiden Voyage is now one of my favorite lesbian books. The characters of Antoinette and Evelyn balance each other out so well: serious, down-to-earth Antoinette and plucky, playful Evelyn forge a strong bond. As they get to know each other better, the women begin to confide their deep secrets and longings. Antoinette wants to be a writer, and Evelyn wants to someday own a boutique, and they encourage each other’s dreams and to pursue what they want. Their love for each other is genuine and pure. The characters do have shortcomings, but that doesn’t detract from the story at all.

Another thing that made this novel really good was how in depth Maldonado went into describing the amenities and activities the Titanic had, and how the two women explored so much of it. There were squash courts, swimming pools, promenades, cafes, and more. It was fun to read about Antoinette’s exploits on the ship. I was not aware that there was so much to do on the Titanic! As the story progresses, Evelyn and Antoinette play squash, chess, swim races in the pool, dine in First Class, among other adventures. It was interesting to watch these characters explore and interact with other people, often in a joking fashion. The story had some good humorous moments, and the two women said some funny and cute things to each other.

The novel doesn’t center entirely around the night the Titanic sank, so is not packed with action and intensity like the famous movie, Titanic. Some readers may find the sinking in this book to be anti-climactic or glossed over, but it really wasn’t the point of the story. The point is two young women in love who want to create a life together. Personally, I thought the author handled the Titanic disaster well. She showed how many of the passengers were not fully aware of the situation, and how they wouldn’t know of the high cost of lives until later.

Her Maiden Voyage seems to mean more than just the first and only voyage of the Titanic, it also seems to represent Antoinette and Evelyn on their journey to acknowledge their love for each other. The title was a symbolic touch to the novel, and the story itself is beautiful. It’s a new take on lesbians in history, on a topic that no one really has done before, making it a groundbreaking and riveting novel.

Posted in Lesbrary Reviews | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

Link Round Up: July 20 – 26


inseparableI love lesbian books because they unapologetically centre women in their narratives, and we need more stories like that. Unfortunately, while gay men’s literature has made (some) strides in being seen as worthwhile for readers outside of that demographic, queer women’s literature seems to still be largely seen as only for queer women… Here are five reasons that straight women should give queer women books a shot.

Over oBook Riot I posted 5 Reasons Straight Women Should Read Lesbian Books

nightwood   handmadelove   Last-Words-from-Montmartre   ladiescoupe-anita-nair-1   facingthemirror

Autostraddle posted Lez Liberty Lit #77: Let’s Talk About Harper Lee.

“Translating Djuna Barnes to Film: An Interview with Daviel Shy” was posted at Weird Sister.

“Gay literature is firmly out of the closet in India, and winning readers over” was posted at Scroll In.

“Behind the Issue: Sinister Wisdom 97: Out Latina Lesbians” was posted at Huffington Post.

toolateiloveyou   godsoftango   thebiglie   rightsideofhistory   littlebitofspice

Too Late… I Love You by Kiki Archer was reviewed at All Things Lesbian.

A Little Bit of Spice by Georgia Beers was reviewed at So So Gay.

Way Out: A History of Homosexuality in Modern England by Sebastian Buckle was reviewed at Lambda Literary.

The Right Side of History by Adrian Brooks was reviewed at ALA GLBT Reviews.

The Big Lie by Julie Mayhew was reviewed at Charlie In a Book.

The Gods of Tango by Carolina De Robertis was reviewed at Lambda Literary.

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.

Thanks to Lesbrary Patreon supporters! Special thanks to Jennifer Holly, Martha Hansen, and Carol DeniseSupport the Lesbrary on Patreon at $2 or more a month and be entered to win a lesbian/queer women book every month!

Posted in Lesbrary Links | Leave a comment

Danika reviews The World Unseen by Shamim Sarif

world-unseen-sarif-shamim-paperback-cover-art

I had high expectations for this book. I’ve heard really good things about Shamim Sarif, and one of my favourite lesbian movies is I Can’t Think Straight, which is based on Sarif’s novel of the same name, and is directed by her as well. I was actually so confident about this that I saved it until I really wanted a book I was sure to like. Unfortunately, it didn’t live up to that for me.

I was really intrigued by the setting for this novel. I haven’t read many books that take place in South Africa during apartheid, and I definitely have never heard a story involving an Indian community in South Africa. Although this was interesting, it ended up being distracting to me. Despite the setting, apartheid is really only a subplot in the novel. Although the main characters do experience racism, they don’t face the sort of brutal treatment that black Africans in the same community do, and those characters are minor and seem undeveloped. It seems odd to set the story during this time period if you’re not going to really deal with it in a major way.

On top of that, [spoilers, highlight to read] one of the black African characters that we do get is Amina’s biological grandfather, who was a servant? worker? who raped Amina’s grandmother. Why you would include a story about a poor black man raping a more well-off non-black woman in a story that should be about antiracism is beyond me. [end spoilers] This seemed completely unnecessary, especially since there are only really two other black characters in the novel, and only one who gets a minor subplot (Jacob, Amina’s business partner).

Add to that the mentally ill character who seems to exist only to show how hard done by Miriam is for having to take care of her [spoilers] (except when she exists as a plot device to unintentionally betray her sister-in-law) [end spoilers] and I was really pulled out of the story. The (main) characters were strong, and I liked the dynamic they had, but the plot and romance were not strong enough to draw me back into the story. Finally, the weak conclusion made me a little regretful I had picked it up at all.

I will probably still give I Can’t Think Straight a try, because I loved the movie so much, and because The World Unseen is Sarif’s first novel, so hopefully her writing just improves from here.

Posted in Lesbrary Reviews | Tagged , , , , , | 2 Comments

Marthese reviews Dare Seize the Fire by Cody L. Stanford

dareseizethefire

“gifts sometimes come with sharp edges”

Dare Seize the Fire is a young adult adventure book with a hint of fantasy. The story is set in Philadelphia and follows Katie Zielinski which is also called Kasia, Katarzyna, Kat and my favourite: cutie-Kat. On her way home, Katie finds an escaped tiger and connects with him. His name, turns out to by Jyoti and he can talk and reason when he is around Katie. In turn, Katie realizes she has some sort of powers whenever she is near Jyoti. Which is good, because Jyoti’s previous owner, Zadornin, wants him back.

Zadornin is a warlock and calls Jyoti, Firebright. He has had him since he was a cub, mistreated him a lot and has very sinister plans for Jyoti which expand to even more sinister. Zadornin is a really, really evil person and probably you will become squeamish while he thinks or tells his past. Let’s just say that it’s not only poor animals that he has killed.

Katie, whose only troubles before were that she was in love with her best friend Laurinda (Lauri) and taking care of her autistic brother Cassie, finds herself dodging the warlock’s attempts at getting the tiger back. She does this with the help of the before-mentioned Laurie and Cassie, Agni and his son and a tiger lady. There isn’t just one confrontation between Katie and Zadornin, but several in escalation.

The story is told from multiple perspectives. I thought the writing was realistic in portraying the characters. Stanford, who by the way seems to know a lot about felines, managed to write an autistic mind, a tiger mind and an evil mind quite well, which was a bit scary. Especially at first perspectives changed in the same chapter without warning and it took some getting used to. I would have preferred to have different chapters per character which was done later on. As well, there were some time or place jumps in a chapter without warning. Lines would perhaps have helped the reader orientate themselves.

Katie’s and Laurie’s relationship is based on cuteness, sharp sarcasm and teasing. All in all, very cute. Reading about an autistic character was hard but much needed and hopefully, this will help other  readers know more about autism.

The writing is very funny at times, especially with the similes and metaphors used. One example which I thought was extremely hilarious was: “Like the mincing of an offended flamingo”. The insults thrown around in this book are also quite funny.

There were some irritating things in the plot.  The parents usually make a lot of mistakes. I also thought that leaving parents on their own when you have a powerful enemy was not safe at all! And of course, when someone is in grave danger of losing their lives, no one can agree on anything.

However, all in all, I highly enjoyed this book which also gave me a break from reading just in the Fantasy genre. The main message of the book, I think, is to let go of secrets to feel much lighter and also to unlock the potential already there. Throughout the book, Katie becomes more confidents to protect both herself and the creatures she loves. After having finished the Engelsfors trilogy, reading about a ‘witch’ and her bond with an animal made me go into ‘fond-mode’ and indeed the friendship between Kat and Jyoti was supportive and quite positive. I recommend this book to animal and felines lovers, people that want to read a cute romance that is part of a bigger plot, to people looking for autistic characters and to adventure lovers.

Posted in Lesbrary Reviews | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Link Round Up: July 13 – 19

dreamsofaninsomniac   Worlds-Apart  lumberjanes   queersdestroysf   51YBNL4--3L._SX330_BO1,204,203,200_

Autostraddle posted Drawn to Comics: Lumberjanes, Other DtC Favs, Women and Queer Women Win Big at the Eisners! and Hidden Gems of Queer Lit: Irena Klepfisz’s “Dreams of an Insomniac”.

GLBT Reviews posted Off the Shelf #4: Out of These Worlds : LGBT Beings and Science Fiction/Fantasy.

The Golden Crown Literary Society conference is July 22-26 in New Orleans.

UK GLBTQ Fiction meetup is September 11-13 in Bristol, England.

Ruby-Fruit-Jungle   dreyd   sixofone   kynship   youngavengers

“Dark Horse Announces Legend of Korra Comic With Korrasami Focus” was posted at The Mary Sue.

“The only lesbian in America: Rita Mae Brown finally gets her due” was posted at DailyXtra.

“Dear Storytellers: Gay Characters Aren’t Going to Show Up ‘Organically’ In Your Stories, You Have to Put Them There” was posted at Comics Alliance.

Dreyd (The Way of Thorn and Thunder Book 3) by Daniel Heath Justice was reviewed by Casey the Canadian Lesbrarian.

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.

Posted in Lesbrary Links | Leave a comment

Patreon Campaign and GIVEAWAY!

The Lesbrary has just launched a Patreon campaign! Patreon is a crowdfunding website where people donate a small amount (usually $1-10) per month to creators as a sort of tip jar, or to help achieve goals.

My dream is to be able to devote more of my time to promoting queer books, including more reviews, videos, and discussions posts. Ideally, I would love to be able to start a series called Lesbian Literature 101. This is a project I’ve been wanting to do for years, but I haven’t had the time to do the sort of research it would require. I want to outline the history of queer women books in an accessible way, because I have found that this history is often erased and hidden.

Beyond that, I would like to be able to clean up the tag system of both the Lesbrary and its tumblr to make things easier to find. I would love to be able to start a podcast or a readalong series to reach even more people with queer book discussions!

This all sounds great for me, but what’s the incentive for you to donate? Well, reading as many queer women books as I do, I end up with stacks of them that I no longer need. If you become a Patreon supporter at the $2 level or higher ($5 supporters get two entries), you would be entered to win a queer women book every month! This is open internationally, though we will have to reach the $25 mark in order to cover shipping costs.

In order to celebrate the launch, I’m holding a free giveaway of queer women books or Book Depository books! Just share this post or the video (on a blog, twitter, tumblr, wherever you’d like) and comment on the video with the link where you shared it.

Here’s the link to our new Patreon page: https://www.patreon.com/lesbrary

Thank you so much for your support of the Lesbrary and its offshoots!

UPDATE: We just passed the $25 mark, which means that everyone who donates $25 or more is entered to win a queer women book every month!

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Megan Casey reviews Death Wore a Diadem by Iona McGregor

 

deathworeadiadem

Christabel MacKenzie is a 17-year-old student attending the Scottish Institute for the Education of the Daughters of Gentlefolk in Edinburgh. Like most of the students there, Christabel’s  family is well to do. In fact, her aunt is a friend of the Empress Eugenie of France. It is when the Empress decides to visit Edinburgh—and the Institute—that bad things start to happen. First, a replica of the Empress’ jeweled diadem goes missing, then a servant girl is pushed down a flight of stairs after a tryst with her paramour.

Christabel, concerned about both the theft and the murder, begins to ask questions. She is helped by Eleanor Stewart, her botany tutor at the Institute. But they are more than just student and tutor. Christabel has a terrific crush on Eleanor—only a year her senior—that is fully reciprocated. So when Christabel deliberately makes bad scores on her science tests, Eleanor is given permission to give her private lessons at Christabel’s home.  This comes in handy because it gives the two young women not only time alone together, but the freedom to investigate both inside and outside the school.

This is a rather delicious book that deserves way more attention and more reviews than it has garnered thus far. Its publication date—1989—shows it to be far ahead of its tune. The relationship between Christabel and Eleanor is very believable and touching. Although their intimacies are limited to quick kisses and phrases like “They put their arms around each other and one thing led to another,” we do believe in their love for each other and are rooting for them all the way.

In the process of the novel, the author goes into some detail about the Institute, which was one of the first to provide more than a cursory, parlor education for girls. We learn that not only was this unusual, but it was mostly frowned upon. Senior instructors had to have college degrees, which most women didn’t have at the time so that only men taught the higher levers of study. And Eleanor’s passion to become a full-fledged doctor is treated with derision by the male doctors she comes in contact with. The intricacies of the Institute are well set up, as are the plot and the resolution of the mystery. I especially liked the author’s rendering of Scottish dialect.

This is the first Young Adult lesbian mystery I have come across. In fact, it may be the only YA lesbian mystery, although I would very much like to read others.

Give it a thumb’s up with every hand you have. In an interview, the author states that she began a sequel, but never finished it. Pity.

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

Posted in Lesbrary Reviews | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment