Link Round Up: June 11 – 26

Lesbrary Links cover collage

This is the Lesbrary bi-weekly feature where we take a look at all the lesbian and bi women book news and reviews happening on the rest of the internet!

Her Body and Other Parties Carmen Maria Machado cover   The Grief Keeper by Alexandra Villasante         All Eyes on Us by Kit Frick

Autostraddle posted

Lambda Literary posted New Books in June for Your Pride Month Reading List.

LGBTQ@NYPL posted

Hot Dog Girl by Jennifer Dugan  Girls of Storm and Shadow by Natasha Ngan  Stage Dreams by Melanie Gillman   Her Royal Highness by Rachel Hawkins    Princess Princess Ever After cover

LGBTQ Reads posted

Pride posted 21 Inspiring LGBTQ-Themed Children’s Books.

Women and Words updated their Hot off the Press and Coming Attractions.

Mostly Dead Things by Kristen Arnett  Far From You by Tess Sharpe   Patsy by Nicole Dennis-Benn  Ash by Malinda Lo  Rubyfruit Jungle by Rita Mae Brown

Dahlia Adler posted “14 YA Authors on the Queer Books That Changed Their Lives” at Barnes & Noble.

Kristen Arnett, author of Mostly Dead Things, was interviewed at Bustle.

Nicole Dennis-Benn, author of Here Comes the Sun and Patsy, was interviewed at Nylon.

Malinda Lo was interviewed about her novel Ash by Nina LaCour at Bustle.

Niamh Murphy posted 8 Great Ways to Get Free And Discounted Lesbian eBooks Sent to You!

Barbara Smith wrote “Why I Left the Mainstream Queer Rights Movement” at the New York Times.

A Cup of Water Under My Bed by Daisy Hernandez    Tell Me How You Really Feel by Aminah Mae Safi cover  Laura Dean Keeps Breaking Up With Me by Mariko Tamaki 

Chain Reactions by Lynn Ames was reviewed at Lambda Literary.

A Cup of Water Under My Bed by Daisy Hernández was reviewed at The Black Lesbian Literary Collective.

Healing/Heeling by Sassafras Lowrey was reviewed at Gertrude Press.

Tell Me How You Really Feel by Aminah Mae Safi was reviewed at Rich in Color.

Laura Dean Keeps Breaking Up with Me by Mariko Tamaki, illustrated by Rosemary Valero-O’Connell was reviewed at Okazu.

Kiss Number 8 by Colleen AF Venable and Ellen T. Crenshaw was reviewed at Okazu.

Pride month brought a deluge of queer book content from the rest of the internet, so I thought I’d collect it all here:

  • “The Bookshop: The story of Australia’s oldest LGBT bookstore” was posted at BBC News.
  • “12 books by Canadian LGBTQ writers to read during Pride Month” was posted at CBC.
  • How Stonewall Liberated Young Adult Literature” was posted at Electric Lit.
  • “Reading the Rainbow: A Pride Reading List” was reviewed at LARB.
  • LGBTQIA+ Graphic Novels for Young Readers” was posted at School Library Journal.
  • “The First Lesbian Porn, a Japanese “Dyketionary,” and 9 Other Revealing Artifacts from the Lesbian Herstory Archives” was posted at Vice.
  • Young Adult Books About Queer Girls Are On The Rise, But There’s Still So Much To Be Done” was posted at Bustle.
  • “The lasting importance of Haunting of Hill House’s Theodora” was posted at SYFY Wire.
  • “9 LGBT Book Blogs That Will Keep You Up To Date With Your Favorite Authors” was posted at Women.com.
  • 59 Children’s Books That Celebrate Pride” was posted at No Time for Flash Cards.
  • “A gay first lady? Yes, we’ve already had one, and here are her love letters.” (about Rose Cleveland) was posted at The Washington Post.
  • “Letters reveal a U.S. First Lady’s 20-year-long lesbian affair: ‘You are mine, and I am yours, and we are one, and our lives are one henceforth’,” also about Rosa Cleveland, was posted at NY Daily News.
  • 9 LGBQT+ figureheads on their favourite queer literature” was posted at Vogue Australia.
  • “26 Amazing Books by LGBTQ+ Authors You Should Add to Your Bookshelf” was posted at Mental Floss.
  • “Our Favorite LGBTQ+ Reads of the Past Year” was posted at Tor.
  • “This American Maverick Ruled the Lesbian Literary Scene of Paris” was posted at OZY.
  • “Lambda Literary and the Ongoing Recognition of Comics” was posted at The Comics Journal.
  • “15 Books With Bi Main Characters To Read This Pride Month” was posted at Bustle.
  • “Why LGBTQ bookstores, such as Philadelphia’s Giovanni’s Room, are a lifeline for queer teens” was posted at the Philadelphia Inquirer.

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 twitter! We’re also on FacebookGoodreadsYoutube and Tumblr.

Thank you to the Lesbrary’s Patreon supporters! Special thanks to Sarah Neilson, Shelly Farrell, Martha Hansen, Daniela Gonzalez De Anda, Amy Hanson, Bee Oder, Hannah Dent, Ellen Zemlin, Hana Chappell, and Casey Stepaniuk.

Support the Lesbrary on Patreon at $2 or more a month and be entered to win a queer women book every month!

Megan G reviews Girls of Paper and Fire by Natasha Ngan

Girls of Paper and Fire by Natasha Ngan

Each year, the Demon King is presented with eight young women of the lowest caste — the Paper caste — who will serve as his concubines for a year. While some girls dream of being selected, it was never in Lei’s plans. Her family has already suffered enough at the hands of the Demon King. Despite her reluctance, however, she soon finds herself in the position of Paper Girl, ripped from her home and family, wondering how anybody could see what she is being forced to do as a privilege.

I was immediately impressed by Girls of Paper and Fire due to the inclusion of trigger warnings at the beginning of the book. The author herself warns readers that the book deals with issues of violence and sexual assault, allowing readers to decide before even starting to read if this is the book for them. I’m beyond thankful that these types of warnings are becoming more common, and seeing it at the beginning of this book made me feel sure that these topics would be handled well within the story. They were.

The world presented in this novel is incredibly original and clever. It is a perfect blend of fantasy and reality, feeling incredibly believable despite the fact that a large amount of the population of this world are literal demons. The way Ngan describes everything is incredibly vivid, too. I often felt as though I were watching a movie instead of reading a novel.

The characters are layered in the most wonderful ways. Although there are issues of internalized misogyny that play out throughout the story, they are dealt with genuinely, treating all parties as people who have value despite their flaws. Girls are not written off as merely jealous or petty — they are given reasons for the ways in which they act, as well as possibilities for redemption. It’s actually quite refreshing for a YA novel.

The protagonist, Lei, goes through an incredible amount of character development throughout the story. She’s extremely likable despite some frustrating qualities, and is very easy to root for. You want her to succeed, not simply because she’s the protagonist but because her worth shines through. She’s strong and courageous, but also weary and at times frightened. First and foremost she is human, making human choices and thinking human thoughts. Because of it, she sometimes does things that make you want to smack her, but don’t all young adult heroes do such things? Like with all the characters, it’s refreshing that she’s allowed to have flaws and make mistakes without immediately being labelled a failure or worthless by the narrative. She’s allowed to grow and learn, and it’s wonderful to experience.

I don’t want to say much about the love story because I feel it should be experienced as I did — blindly and with complete surprise. It’s not easy to see at the beginning who the love interest will be, and it was wonderful to read how it developed without knowing anything in advance. I promise, it’s worth the vagueness and mystery.

One small warning is that this is the first book in a trilogy, so of course the story is not completely finished. Still, I felt incredibly satisfied by the story told here, and am anxiously awaiting the release of the second book so that I can once again lose myself in this fantastical world and in Lei’s life. I cannot recommend this book enough.

Jen Wilde’s Books are the Feel-Good Sapphic YA You’ve Been Searching For

Did you know I (Danika) have a booktube channel? Along with the Lesbrary, the Bi & Lesbian Literature tumblr, and Book Riot, I talk about books there, too! Apparently I can’t say enough about them. Most of my content is about queer women books, and I even have a playlist of just my sapphic book videos. Consider this video my review of Going Off Script by Jen Wilde (suffice to say, I loved it).

For exclusive videos and to be entered in monthly queer book giveaways, support the Lesbrary and this channel on Patreon! 

Books mentioned:

More links worth knowing:

Mars reviews Tell Me How You Really Feel by Aminah Mae Safi 

Tell Me How You Really Feel by Aminah Mae Safi cover

Happy Pride Month, Lesbrarians! I am swooping in from the ether to volunteer this review of Aminah Mae Safi’s much anticipated Tell Me How You Really Feel on this most auspicious month. It’s a charming read, a very well-executed story, and has been on my pre-order list for months.

Safi starts us off with a fact that stands as an overarching conflict of the book: Cheerleader Sana Khan is perfect, and there is no one who finds that more infuriating than her classmate Rachel Recht.

Rachel is a perfectionist filmmaking scholarship student on the fast-track out of her elite private school in Los Angeles to NYU’s film program, where she is going to share her vision with the world. (Accolades will follow, of course.)

Sana is an annoyingly good student on her way to Princeton, where she’ll set herself up perfectly to go on to med school and make her whole family proud (or at least that’s what she’s telling people).

Told alternatingly from Sana and Rachel’s perspectives, Tell Me How You Really Feel recounts the end of the girls’ high school experience, as they both march towards deadlines over which they have no control. For Rachel, it means she has one month to pull together a disaster film project which could jeopardize her hard-won spot at college. Rachel has had her mind made up about Sana, her self-assigned mortal enemy, since an embarrassing incident in freshman year, but after a chance accident means she’s forced to rely on her enemy for help, the film student realizes there is more to the picture than she’s been seeing. For Sana, it means possibly giving up her dream fellowship abroad that she’s secretly applied to in lieu of accepting her spot at Princeton. If she doesn’t get the fellowship by the time she loses her spot at the Ivy league, her carefully constructed house of cards will come crashing down.

This is the sweetest enemies-to-more story I’ve read in a long while, and Rachel and Sana are complicated protagonists whose growth from beginning to end had me both entertained and anticipatory. Rachel and Sana are opposites in so many ways; Rachel spews profanity, has a mean glare, and works at a diner on the other side of the tracks to make ends meet; Sana locks away her discontent with a smile, and has lived a life committed to smoothing over a complicated familial relationship between the high standards of her grandparents and the irreverent independence of her mother. Ultimately, however, they are bound by a shared hunger for more than life wants to give them, and an ambition that leaves them each taking more risks than they ever realized they could.

There are apparently some serious references to Gilmore Girls (referenced very early on in the Dedication, actually) but they all go over my head because I’ve never watched the show. If you are a Gilmore Girls fan, this will apparently be a delightful shout out. If you aren’t, I promise you this is still a lovely read that is worth your time and you won’t feel like you’re missing anything.

Marthese reviews Lies We Tell Ourselves by Robin Talley

Lies We Tell Ourselves by Robin Talley

“We’re not allowed to touch any of them, no matter what they do to us”

Lies We Tell Ourselves by Robin Talley was a difficult book to read, but an important one. While it is a fiction book, it is realistic; it could have happened. I found this book at the library. It hadn’t been on my radar but don’t you just love when you recognize books as being queer that’s to their covers?

Lies We Tell Ourselves is set in 1959 in Virginia during Integration and it tells the story of Sarah – one of the first few black students who are trying to integrate into a previously all white school – and Linda, the daughter of a newspaper editor who heavily influences people and is against forced integration. Sarah is one of three senior, who try to take care of their younger peers. Sarah’s sister Ruth also is one of the new students and so Sarah is constantly worrying about her.

The high school is a hostile place. Almost nowhere is safe and almost no one stands up for them. What follows from day 1 isn’t just bullying, it’s torture. Sarah thinks it won’t get better and she isn’t wrong: mostly because in public, things stay the same but in private, thanks to the classic group project, she starts to befriend (or be cordial with) Linda and her friend Judy who doesn’t mind that Sarah is black. Judy was in fact Sarah’s first connection. The development of Linda and Sarah’s relationship was realistic. It took time and they had a lot of disagreements.

Deep down, Linda knows she is wrong. Linda is trying to escape her father’s house by getting married to an older man. Despite being a public figure due to her father, even when she had not yet realized that she was wrong, Linda is compassionate. Yet, she cares very much what people say about her. Breaking down such ingrained feelings is evidently hard. The same goes for Sarah. She lets her parents dictate her life for her and to take her life back from them, it’s a long journey. The chapter titles and themes are all lies that Sarah and Linda tell themselves and the slow deconstruction of them.

Sarah and Linda both feel invisible despite being so public, no one knows who they really are. This bonds them in a way that nothing else would. They grow together and decide their own future. The romance part of the book I think was not as important as the rest of the plot but if romance were to overshadow something so harsh like integration and systematic racial hatred and discrimination, it would be a problem. Romance is not a solution, simply a by-product realisations and character development.

Every step is a struggle. The plot deals with some major triggers of violence. I found myself scared for the black students at every page that took place in school. There were some major incidences of violence, although I can safely assure that no one dies. There is also a lot of victim blaming, so beware.

It’s a difficult read but an important one. There is plenty of build-up for the relationship and issues aren’t magically resolved through attraction, which I appreciated. There is great character development, and I grew attached to the side characters as well: they were all so strong.

I’d recommend for anyone that has enough strength to read something like this. Something that didn’t necessarily happen as is, but with the possibility that the different instances did happen to people in the past and with the hard truth that some of these things still happen.

Mallory Lass reviews Laura Dean Keeps Breaking Up With Me written by Mariko Tamaki, illustrated by Rosemary Valero-O’Connell

Laura Dean Keeps Breaking Up With Me by Mariko TamakiCW: teen pregnancy & abortion, minor homophobia.

I fell in love with Tamaki’s writing in female helmed superhero comics like She-Hulk. I was over the moon to hear she had a queer graphic novel coming out, and Laura Dean Keeps Breaking Up With Me is packed with queer representation.

Frederica “Freddy” Riley is an average high school student in Berkeley, CA and is in a relationship that reminded me of my first year of college, to the dawn of Facebook’s “it’s complicated” status. As it says on the tin, her girlfriend, Laura Dean, keeps breaking up with her.

Laura Dean is aloof and popular–actually, she might be the most popular girl in school. I would also call her a player. Our first introduction to her is Freddy walking in on her making out with another girl at a school dance. She is always dropping in on her own timeline and jetting off in a hurry without regard for anyone else. But there is just something about her Freddy can’t quit.

I find graphic novels often are an easy to read and quickly consumable format. Coming from the colorful world of comics, the black and white illustration style of this took a touch to get used to, but Valero-O’Connell’s illustrations are gorgeous and full of diverse bodies, races, and personal styles. The one complaint I have about the formatting is sometimes the dialogue bubbles are hard to track and there is a lot of directional gymnastics, which slowed me down and detracted from the story. That said, the intrigue and page turning quality came from wanting to know how Freddy was going to resolve the mess of a relationship she had with Laura.

Freddie has a fantastic squad. Eric and Buddy, friends who are also a gay couple, best friend Doodle, plus other queers like newfound friend Val, and her boss at Gertrude’s cafe make up the lovely supporting cast. I enjoyed how the story explored how relationships that have toxic elements end up having a ripple effect throughout your life, and that Freddie has the opportunity to change the course she’s headed down.

Along Freddie’s journey to resolve her relationship issues, Tamaki seamlessly works in relevant teen topics such as: consent; contraceptives; what it means to come out and the consequences queer people have faced for living life openly; teen pregnancy & abortion; and friendships as primary relationships. Tamaki integrates cell phones and texting into the story in a way that reflects reality but doesn’t seem like social commentary on technology.

The dialogue felt real and lived in, and I would have loved to find this book at 17. If you like graphic novels, and/or Tamaki’s other work I would definitely give this a read. If you know anyone under 20 who has come out or is struggle with navigating their late teens, this would make a great gift.

Susan reviews Proper English by KJ Charles

Proper English by KJ Charles

KJ Charles’ Proper English is a country-house murder mystery following Patricia Merton, expert markswoman, as she attends a shooting party that is going wrong in every way it possibly can. The hosts won’t rein in their bullying son-in-law, they’ve accidentally had to host twice as many people as expected, and Pat’s old friend is ignoring his beautiful fiancée, Fenella, who Pat can’t take her eyes off. And that’s all before the murder!

(This is also a prequel to KJ Charles’ Think of England, an m/m country house mystery where Pat and Fen were first introduced, involving spies, blackmail, and betrayal!)

I enjoyed this Proper English very much! The narration is hilarious, especially when it assesses things like men, fashions for women, talking about the weather, the tropes of country-house mysteries… Pat is very sensible and practical, and seeing her respect and fall in love with Fen and see through Fen’s performance of frivolity warmed my heart. They have very different skill sets and approaches, and seeing them work together is brilliant! It helps that Fen gets to be fat and unabashedly femme, and the narrative never treats this like it’s a problem or something that she needs to change!

The mystery itself is very satisfying; there are so many subplots and sources of drama waiting to go off, and every character seems to have a secret that could be exploited by a blackmailer! And the victim is an absolutely horrible person, so it’s understandable why people might want him dead! I find it quite strange that the murder doesn’t happen until about two-thirds of the way into the book, although I can understand wanting to get the romance settled and not have to weave it around finding a man dead. The resolution is definitely worth it though, as it’s very satisfying.

In conclusion, it’s really good. If you like country-house mysteries and, like me, have been desperately hunting for queer versions of the tropes, this is the place to start.

This review is based on an ARC from the author.
Caution warnings: verbal abuse, blackmail, homophobia from a villain

Susan is a library assistant who uses her insider access to keep her shelves and to-read list permanently overflowing. She can usually be found writing for Hugo-winning media blog Lady Business or bringing the tweets and shouting on twitter.

Link Round Up: June 1 – 10

Lesbrary Links collage

This is the Lesbrary bi-weekly feature where we take a look at all the lesbian and bi women book news and reviews happening on the rest of the internet!

Mostly Dead Things by Kristen Arnett  Uncomfortable Labels by Laura Kate Dale  Cantoras by Carolina de Robertis  Bury the Lede by Gaby Dunn  The Summer of Jordi Perez

Autostraddle posted 8 Funny Books Featuring Queer Adult Women and The Perfect Queer Poem: When You Need to Find Your Body.

Book Riot posted

Lambda Literary posted 31st Annual Lambda Literary Award Winners Announced.

LGBTQ@NYPL posted Librarians on Meaningful Books in Their LGBTQ Journeys.

LGBTQ Reads posted New Releases: June 2019 and TBRainbow Alert: Memoirs.

Hana & Hina: After School Vol 1  Kase-San and Morning Glories Vol 1   Ash by Malinda Lo  Bloom Into You Vol 1  Kiss and White Lily for My Dearest Girl Vol 1

“The Beginner’s Guide to Yuri Manga” was posted at Anime Feminist.

“Is Yuri Queer?” was posted at Anime Feminist.

“Nina LaCour Wants You To Read ‘Ash’ By Malinda Lo With Bustle Book Club This June” was posted at Bustle.

“50 Unapologetically Queer Authors Share the Best LGBTQ Books of All Time” was posted at Oprah Magazine.

“Pulp fiction was cheap, salacious, and one of the only venues for lesbian love stories” was posted at A.V. Club.

Patsy by Nicole Dennis-Benn   The Legend of Korra: Ruins of the Empire Part One cover   When I Arrived at the Castle by Emily Carroll  The Legend of Korra: Turf Wars Part One  The Priory of the Orange Tree by Samantha Shannon

When I Arrived At The Castle by Emily Carroll was reviewed at Study Breaks.

Legend of Korra: Ruins of the Empire, Part One by Michael Dante DiMartino was reviewed at Okazu.

Patsy by Nicole Dennis-Benn was reviewed at Lambda Literary.

The Priory of the Orange Tree by Samantha Shannon was reviewed by Niamh Murphy.

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 twitter! We’re also on FacebookGoodreadsYoutube and Tumblr.

Thank you to the Lesbrary’s Patreon supporters! Special thanks to Sarah Neilson, Shelly Farrell, Martha Hansen, Daniela Gonzalez De Anda, Amy Hanson, Bee Oder, Hannah Dent, Ellen Zemlin, Hana Chappell, and Casey Stepaniuk.

Support the Lesbrary on Patreon at $2 or more a month and be entered to win a queer women book every month!