January Link Round Up: Jan 2 – 31

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!

Little and Lion by Brandy Colbert   Chameleon Moon by RoAnna Sylver cover      Everfair by Nisi Shawl   Ascension by Jacqueline Koyanagi cover

Autostraddle posted 8 Science Fiction and Fantasy Books with Queer Poly Relationships and What to Read When You’re Queer and Expecting: 6 Parenting Books That Smash The Patriarchy

Bella Books posted 10 novels about fresh starts and new beginnings and 7 Bella books set in winter to warm you up.

Casey the Canadian Lesbrarian posted The 10 Best Queer Books of 2018 (that I read, at least) and My 2018 Year in Reading: Favourite Books of the Year, Most Memorable Character, Best Cover, and More!

Lambda Literary posted New in January: Mesha Maren, Siddharth Dube, Rob Halpern, and Sarah Léon and New in February: Marlon James, Isaac Mizrahi, Nishta J. Mehra, and Christopher Castellani.

LGBTQ Reads posted New Releases: January 2019 and LGBTQ Romances for Under $2.

Women and Words posted Hot off the Press and Coming Attractions, Jan.-Feb. 2019.

YA Pride posted LGBTQIAP+ Book Quotes: Strength & New Beginnings and 16 LGBTQIAP+ Books by Black Authors.

Things a Bright Girl Can Do by Sally Nicholls   Tailor-Made by Yolanda Wallace   Knit One, Girl Two by Shira Glassman cover. It shows an illustration of two women kissing and a cat playing with yarn.   Learning Curves by Ceillie Simkiss cover   The Love & Lies of Rukhsana Ali by Sabina Khan cover

Jae posted The Most-Read Books for Lesbian Book Bingo in each category, including “women of colour,” “historical fiction,” “fake relationship romance,” and “foodie romance.”

Mary Oliver was remembered at Autostraddle, Lit Hub, and New Yorker.

“‘It has made me want to live’: public support for lesbian novelist Radclyffe Hall over banned book revealed” was posted at the Guardian.

An examination of a high school LGBTQ Literature class that started 20 years ago was posted at Daily Hampshire Gazette.

“Gay’s the Word: Inside Europe’s Only LGBT Bookshop” was posted at Vice.

“7 LGBTQIA+ Books For Young Adults That Are Set In The UK” was posted at Bustle.

“Queer Young Adult Books Help Me Reimagine My Past” was posted at Electric Literature.

“5 Gooey Lesbian Romances To Read Just in Time For Valentines Day” was posted at Women.com.

You Always Change the Love of Your Life (For Another Love or Another Life) by Amalia Andrade   An illustration from Butch Heroes by Ria Brodell   Housegirl by Michael Donkor   Flat by Catherine Guthrie   The Lesbian South by Jaime Harker

You Always Change the Love of Your Life (For Another Love or Another Life) by Amalia Andrade was reviewed at Lambda Literary.

Butch Heroes by Ria Brodell was reviewed at ALA GLBT Reviews.

Housegirl by Michael Donkor was reviewed at Pop Matters.

Flat: Reclaiming My Body from Breast Cancer by Catherine Guthrie was reviewed at Lambda Literary.

The Lesbian South by Jaime Harker was reviewed at Autostraddle and Lambda Literary.

   Sister Love: The Letters of Audre Lorde and Pat Parker 1974-1989 edited by Julie R. Enszer   Lost Soul, Be at Peace by Maggie Thrash cover   If I Loved You Less by Tamsen Parker   Venous Hum by Suzette Mayr

A Wish Upon a Star by Jeannie Levig was reviewed at Lambda Literary.

Sister Love: The Letters of Audre Lorde and Pat Parker 1974-1989 edited by Julie R. Enszer was reviewed at Black Lesbian Literary Collective.

Venous Hum by Suzette Mayr was reviewed Black Lesbian Literary Collective.

If I Loved You Less by Tamsen Parker was reviewed at Lambda Literary.

Lost Soul, Be at Peace by Maggie Thrash was reviewed at Lambda Literary.

Avant-Guards by Carly Usdin was reviewed at Autostraddle.

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.

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Babusha reviews Falling Into Place by Sheryn Munir

Falling into Place by Sheryn Munir cover

HALLELUJAH !HALLELUJAH! THERE IS AN INDIAN LESBIAN ROMANCE NOVEL!!!

First of all, this review will contain rapturous joy on just the existence of such a book. It may even be half of this review and to everyone who points this out to me, deal with it idc.

In the last year or so, India has made such amazing strides when it comes to LGBTQ issues. First of all the Supreme Court stated homosexuality is a fundamental right and then within months legalized it by striking down the old colonial rule that originally deemed it illegal, Section 377. So for me, reading this novel written by a native Indian author with such genuinely compelling writing and relatable characters was the best chocolate chip cookie on the side of a piping hot brownie with vanilla ice cream cheesecake that was the last year.

Okay rapture over, to the review.

After a super unconventional meet-cute involving an actual car hijack in the streets of Delhi, Sameen Siddiqui and Tara Dixit become carpool and foodie buddies. Tara, who is my kind of introverted and cynical lesbian is initially is a little standoffish, mostly because Sameen is too cute and sweet to not have a crush on and unfortunately also too seemingly straight for it not to go wrong.

Sheryn Munir does such a vivid job of describing and showing Delhi around- both from a native Tara’s eyes and also from the Bangalorean Sameen’s using both locations and food. Honestly, Falling into Place uses food in such an intersecting way–like a connecting string and aesthetic between the two characters; it’s almost like a third protagonist of the story. Also, like most desis, I have a special place in our heart for North-South Indian romances and this book is definitely no exception.

As an Indian, in most LGBTQ romance novels I’ve ever read that are centered on Indian or Middle Eastern communities, the elephant in the room is the shadow of physical danger due to a backwards law. The level of fear and cynicism that comes with living under such a law is both realistic and a trope present in this book as well.  Tara’s cynicism has marred her romantic past and also creates obstacles in her initial friendship. But the story does a great job of also deconstructing Tara’s fear when she realizes she has fallen in love with Sameen. She is afraid–of heartbreak, of life-changing love-as are we all.

I swear this book is like every single one of my fave Hayley Kiyoko songs.

Relatable and empathetic characters in a familiar setting with cute and light humour, Sheryn Munir tells a story using all my catnip–grounded, flawed character with a ‘disaster run away’ setting at pretty girls near them lol, a joyfully familiar setting and a story that is grounded in its characters and their personal journey rather than of the struggles and oppressions of the outside world bring with it. Sometimes it’s nice to be reminded of that!

Four stars all around!

Please note: This does involve “toaster-oven- converting the straight girl” plot-line.

Megan G reviews Surface Tension by Valentine Wheeler

Surface Tension by Valentine Wheeler cover

Sarai thinks she’s found the adventure she longs for when she finds a job as a crew member of a ship. Before her adventure can end, however, a storm throws her overboard and separates her from the ship. When she awakes on the shore of her homeland, there is a week-long gap in her memory, and the ship she was on is nowhere to be seen. While searching for answers in the water, Sarai finds something she never could have imagined.

Fantasy and mythology were my bread and butter growing up, so when I saw this novella about a love story between a woman and a mermaid, I knew I had to pick it up. It’s a short, quick-paced story, with a very different take on mermaid’s than any I’ve ever read. There aren’t many characters, but they are well developed considering the length of the story, and the plot moves forward at a decent pace. It never drags, but never races. I applaud Wheeler for this, since I’ve found pacing to be the most difficult thing to nail in a novella.

The mermaid’s are fascinating, though I think a large part of that is how mysterious they are. While Sarai is with them, she learns very little about their history and their ways and, since we are in her head, we learn just as little. I have mixed feelings about this aspect. [minor spoilers] On one hand, I love that we become so immersed in the mythology of the story that, because we are humans like Sarai, we are never allowed to learn about the mysteries of the mermaid’s. On the other hand, I am not too fond of endings where many questions are left unanswered, and so found this lack of insight into mermaid culture to be frustrating. This is, of course, a purely subjective opinion though [end spoilers].

Ydri, the mermaid that kidnaps Sarai and brings her to the mermaid kingdom, is incredibly sweet and a wonderful love interest. She’s genuine and caring and does everything in her power to help Sarai both underwater and on land. If it weren’t for the fact that she literally kidnaps Sarai and forces her to remain underwater with her for about two weeks (with the promise of freedom and compensation, granted, but still), I would call theirs the perfect romance.

Sarai herself makes for a wonderful protagonist. She’s both headstrong and compassionate, and several times sets herself and her reputation aside in order to help others. It’s fun to be in her head, to hear her thoughts and experience the things she’s experiencing. She makes me want to travel back in time and live on a tiny coastal island.

My only real frustration (aside from the kidnapping aspect of the romance) is that at times the dialogue feels a bit repetitive. Ydri and Sarai seem to have the same conversation at least five or six times throughout the story, and while this is very realistic, it feels unnecessary to have to read that exact same conversation over and over again.

Overall, I enjoyed this novella. I found it original, interesting, and well-paced. Highly recommended to anybody who loves mermaids, or just love stories between women in general.

Megan Casey reviews Tank Baby by Iza Moreau

Tank Baby by Iza Moreau cover

The short review is this: “Tank Baby is the first book in a marvelous new series that has the potential to, much like Nancy Drew did for past generations, capture the hearts and minds of young readers searching for a role model.” But because nothing is as simple as it sounds, here is the longer review:

Elodie Fontaine was born in Shanghai and for the first 7 years of her life, was part of her scientist mother’s secret project to see if children could learn computer code as a first language. But Elodie’s mother died before the project came to fruition and Elodie was adopted by the interracial lesbian couple Sandra Croft and Carmah Williams (who are, in fact, the main characters in Moreau’s earlier novel, The 5).

Ten years later, Elodie is a normal high school senior—a member of the tennis team and Math Club. All thoughts of her early childhood have almost disappeared when she begins to get strange messages referring to her mother’s project. Somebody wants the notes for that project and, it seems, will go to any length to get them.

Elodie is intrigued, but somewhat annoyed. The last thing she wants to do is get involved in a mystery that will take time away from her studies, her tennis, and especially her just-blossoming romance with her doubles partner, Kelli Ennis. But when she, Kelli, and their friend Margo are threatened, she has no choice, even though it means dredging up unwanted memories and shuffling through thousands of pages of code to figure out what worth the project might have to anyone.

And so he girls are off on an exciting adventure complete with an attempted kidnapping, threatening email messages and phone calls, and a mysterious death. And, of course, the budding romance. The mystery and its solution are both intricate and compelling; the romance both flirty and touching.

The allusion of Moreau’s series to Nancy Drew is subtle, barely more than a hint, but there is just enough there to imagine that the ghost of Nancy is looking down from a nearby staircase and smiling. Like Nancy, Elodie hangs out with two friends—Kelli and Margo, she drives a snazzy new sports car, solves mysteries, and is seemingly unable to swear. But that’s pretty much where the similarity ends except for the dynamic, narrative-driven cover that even has a cameo of Elodie on the spine.

While Nancy, George, and Bess are straight (although I have my suspicions about George), Elodie and her friends are all members of the Gay/Straight Alliance at their high school. Yes, there is some homophobia and yes, there is a coming-out scene, but these are side issues to this novel. Tank Baby is all about the mystery and the relationships between the friends. In other words, it is both character driven and plot driven. A nice combo.

As far as I know—and I am a long-time close observer of the subject—the projected Elodie Fontaine Mystery Series is the first-ever Young Adult mystery series featuring a lesbian sleuth. That in itself is worthy of attention. That Tank Baby is an enjoyable first foray into Elodie’s world is a promise of good things to come. Am we won’t have long to wait for the sequel. In the tradition of the original Stratemeyer syndicate that produced the bulk of juvenile series novels in the early to mid twentieth century, the first three Elodie novels will be released almost simultaneously. According to the author’s blog, the next novel is coming in March and the third in May. I like Elodie and Tank Baby a great deal; but more than that I like the idea of a YA mystery series that LGBTQ youth can call their own.

Note: I received a review copy of this book from the publisher through Lesbrary.

Another note: See my full reviews of over 250 other Lesbian Mystery novels at http://www.goodreads.com/group/show/116660-lesbian-mysteries

Alexa reviews Rescues and the Rhyssa by T.S. Porter

Rescues and the Rhyssa by T.S. Porter cover

Two occasional lovers with many differences team up to save three kidnapped kids. And then it gets even more complicated.

Sophi is the captain of a smuggler ship with a diverse crew, including two types of aliens, a nonbinary human, and Muslim humans as well, if I understood the cultural clues right. They are quite literally a found family, especially with the reptile-like aliens who accept Sophi into their family as a male based on her role, despite her being a human female. I absolutely LOVED the aliens we’ve seen, and the fact that we had the opportunity to see from their perspective. Both the analoids and the blatta were well-developed, unique and complex species with their own culture that is very different from humans, and seeing Sophi as a human make the effort to take part in that culture and adjust was really interesting. (No spoilers, but there was a scene pretty late in the book that showed the crucial importance of having blattas on your ship and it was amazing. I love blattas.)

And then there’s Cadan. Cadan is big, dangerous, scarred, and she doesn’t exist. She has been turned into a weapon for her King that she is endlessly loyal to: she goes where he tells him too without question. And yet, she’s far from being emotionless. We find out early on that she is actually part of the king’s family: his children are her niblings, the king is like a cousin or even a sibling, and she is devoted to all of them because she loves them. I loved to see Cadan with her blood family just as much as I loved to see Sophi with her found family. Both of these families had unique members and plenty of love and care for each other despite their differences. I also really love the idea of a transgender king where it is only casually mentioned once because otherwise it’s not a big deal to anyone. And I love the kids. Seriously, I love the kids.

And of course, there’s Cadan and Sophi together. They are very different people with different values and different goals, which causes a lot of tension in their relationship. Yet, they love each other. There are plenty of sex scenes in this book, some of which seriously made me blush, but one of my favourite scenes was the completely non-sexual yet intimate bondage scene that Sophi used to relax Cadan. I admit that sometimes I felt like there is too much tension and not enough common ground between them for this to actually work as a romantic relationship as opposed to casual sex, but the ending/epilogue was open enough that I can believe them getting to that point.

If you are looking for a F/F sci-fi story with well-developed aliens, relationship conflicts and family dynamics, this might just be for you. I know that I enjoyed it.

content warnings: kidnapping, violence, explicit sexual scenes

Alexa is a bi ace reviewer who loves books with queer protagonists, especially young adult and fantasy books. E also has a fascination with solarpunk, found families and hopeful futures, and plans to incorporate these in eir own writing. You can find more of eir reviews and bookish talk on WordPress and Twitter @runtimeregan.

Mallory Lass reviews Liquid Courage by Hildred Billings

Liquid Courage by Hildred Billings

Liquid Courage is about two people coming together through a comedic course of events. It has been a long time since these leading ladies have had a steady relationship…but, have they found the one in each other?

Vivian “Vivi” is a legal secretary who is recovering from a serious illness that has left her weak and emaciated. Vivi has been in recovery for six months, having spent the last week texting with Shari, a woman she met on a dating app – she decides she is ready to dip her toe in the dating scene again. But, she still lacks confidence about her appearance and self-worth which even a few racy messages can’t shake.

Kat is the head bartender at a local women’s bar, she also works part time down at the docks sorting fish. She hasn’t been serious about anyone in years, not since Sheri broke up with her for looking “too masculine” and shattered her self esteem.

Shari, local lady killer and serial dater likes to frequent Kat’s bar. Kat’s long ago ex, and Vivian’s first attempt in the dating pool knows how to leave a mark, and not in a good way.

This story takes place primarily in a the bar Kat works at, and unfortunately doesn’t really go anywhere from there.

I enjoyed the characters, and it is nice to get a butch/masculine of center female main character in Kat. The sex between Vivi and Kat is hot, and there was even mention of safe-sex, a plus in my book.

Unfortunately none of the characters really experience much growth. I found the plot a bit boring and it suffers from weak conflict points and an unredeemable antagonist. Overall I found it really hard to get into Billings style, the narrative is filled with too many rhetorical questions, exclamation points, and colloquial language for the characters to believably be in their late twenties/early thirties.

Marthese reviews Leah on the Offbeat by Becky Albertalli

Leah On the Offbeat by Becky Albertalli

“Something tugs in my chest. I feel strangely offbeat”

Leah on the Offbeat is the second book in the Creekwood series by Becky Albertalli and it follows Simon vs the Homo Sapiens Agenda (on which the movie ‘Love, Simon’ was based). While it may be worthwhile to read that book first it is not necessary to understand this book but it gives you more familiarity with the characters in this book. Disclaimer – the first book is not Sapphic but follows a gay teenage boy in his search for  the boy he was sending emails to, and it’s cute as cotton candy.

Leah is the protagonist on this book. She’s a badass drummer – expect some music references – who loves her body even though people expect her not to, because she’s fat. Leah is also insecure and has a tendency to pull away when things get too much. She also stands up for social justice and knows not to take shit, although she may also be too stubborn – good thing her mother is also stubborn. She is so realistic, you’ll find yourself asking ‘is this me?’

Leah is bi and she has known this for a long time. Her mother knows and is the most supportive mother ever – even is Leah may be embarrassed or find her overbearing. Her friends however, don’t know even though they for sure would be supportive seeing as there is a gay couple in their friends’ group. Once time passes, it may be hard to say something, like you missed the chance for it and this is absolutely believable. Even though you know it will be okay, coming out is scary.

Leah’s heart beats faster when Abby is around. Abby who she had been really good friends with and then avoided one on one interactions with her. However, Abby and Leah cannot afford to go to universities/colleges far away so they are both going to Georgia, which bring them closer back together. There is just one problem: Abby is her best friend’s girlfriend/ex-girlfriend!

Abby is super-sweet and talented and seems to be flirting with Leah, which confuses her.

This was a five star read. It’s similar to other books in plot but it was also very fresh. Yes there is an element of confusion – it’s YA! But the characters, especially Leah, know themselves. A lot of bi struggles were mentioned in the book which again was refreshing. The book itself will make your heart beat in a pattern of gushing, angst and comfort – a really nice composition and you just want to keep on reading. It’s easily a one sitting book.

Leah’s descriptions and her actions are also very entertaining. Like she would be me if I went to a formal event because she does something that is very laughable but realistic! As a high school story, the book ends with prom. For me, Leah was basically Belle and Abby was basically Cinderella.

This is a book I’d recommend for anyone. The only thing that I didn’t like about this book was that the term ‘hot mess’ was repeated a lot! Apart from that Albertalli really has teenage-speak down and it’s a lovely story with realistic characters and actions and while it’s a simple story, it will take you for a ride. I really wish they make a movie about it too though they have changed some things in the ‘Love, Simon’ movie already.

Susan reviews Sweet Blue Flowers by Takako Shimura

Sweet Blue Flowers Vol 1 by Takako Shimura cover

Sweet Blue Flowers Volume 1 is the latest series from Takako Shimura, the creator of the excellent Wandering Son. Sweet Blue Flowers follows Fumi and Akira, former childhood friends who are reunited when Akira rescues them from gropers on the train to high school, as the girls have to reckon with their own romantic entanglements and those of their friends.

The art is incredibly cute, as you could probably expect from Takako Shimura; it’s spare but emotive, and all of the teenage characters actually look like believable teenagers! They behave like them too – the thing that I like the most about Sweet Blue Flowers is that all of the characters have realistically complicated and messy relationships for high school students. There are crushes that don’t lead anywhere! There are break-ups at the worst possible times and in the worst possible ways! There are friends trying to choose between supporting a friend who was rejected by her crush, and the friend who got asked out instead! There are miscommunications and active choices against communicating that might be frustrating in another setting, but because it’s a high school, it all makes perfect sense to me. It’s delicious in its drama and the recognisable (and surprisingly realistic for a manga) responses all of the characters have to it.

It’s also possibly the first manga I’ve seen where there’s actual coming out scenes to someone who isn’t the inevitable love interest! I liked the different reactions to people coming out – Akira’s immediate response to Fumi coming out is to ask how she can support her and what she needs, which is the purest and sweetest thing in the entire manga, especially because when Fumi tells her, she actually goes through with it! I absolutely need more friendships like that in my media. And the flip side is that when Fumi’s girlfriend comes out to her family (and by extension, outs Fumi), their reaction is to treat it as a joke, or ask invasive questions. Both of them are believable, and neither of them are a thing that I’ve seen represented in manga before despite experiencing both in real life!

My only concerns about representation is whether Yasuko’s character is going to play into biphobic stereotypes in the future for reasons that are entirely spoilery (I’m happy to give details in the comments!), and whether the feelings these girls have get dismissed as pashes or pretend relationships. I have faith in Takako Shimura that they won’t do either of these things, because their depictions of queer characters are generally kind! I am hoping that there is an accounting for Fumi’s crush on her cousin, and how many of her tangled feelings about her queerness are because of that relationship.

In conclusion: I really recommend Sweet Blue Flowers. It’s cute and emotional, and is a marginally more realistic depiction of teenage romantic drama than I expect from manga!

[CW: sexual harrassment from strangers on trains, mentions of emotional incest, outing]

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.

My Top 9 Sapphic Books of 2018

As we start in on a new year, I always like looking back on some of the books that really made an impression last year. I made a video of my top 18 books of 2018, but I thought I would highlight the Lesbrary-related books specifically in a post. (Don’t worry, most of those other books in the video are still queer, just not with a sapphic main character.) Most of these books have already been reviewed at the Lesbrary, so I’ve included links to the original reviews if you want more info! These are mostly excerpts from those reviews. They happen to be mostly YA and middle grade books, which isn’t a knock against any other genres, just that they were the kind of books I read the most last year. Without further ado:

As the Crow Flies by Melanie Gilman cover#9: As the Crow Flies by Melanie Gillman (review)

 

Melanie Gillman is one of my favourite artists. I am floored by the the intense detail and time put into every page, done completely in coloured pencils. This story follows Charlie, a queer brown kid feeling very out of place at a white feminist spiritual backpacking trip. Luckily, she finds connection with Sydney, who is trans, and feels that she would not be welcome on this trip if she weren’t closeted. Honestly, my only problem with this is that it’s only volume one, and it stop somewhat abruptly. I can’t wait for the next volume to come out for I can get back to this story! Check out the Lesbrary review for some excerpts of panels from the story.

Drum Roll, Please by Lisa Jenn Bigelow cover#8: Drum Roll, Please by Lisa Jenn Bigelow (review)

Melly is 13, and the day before she was dropped off at Camp Rockaway, her parents told her they were getting divorced. She’s had no time to process this before she’s tossed into this new environment for 2 weeks, and even her best friend being there doesn’t seem to help, especially when Olivia is too busy hanging out with her crush to remember her. Melly may be a drum player, but she has trouble finding her own voice. One way or another, these two weeks will change that.

Olivia may not have been there for Melly as much as she wanted, but Melly wasn’t communicating with Olivia. Her parents may not have been fair to her to tell her just before she left, but maybe she wasn’t being fair to them, either. Melly needs to find herself and get in touch with her own emotions, but that doesn’t mean abandoning her empathy. Relationships–of all kinds–are complicated. Communication is difficult. And Drum Roll, Please doesn’t try to simplify it. We can be sympathetic from one angle and cruel from another. There aren’t easy answers.

Toil and Trouble edited by Tess Sharpe cover#7: Toil & Trouble: 15 Tales of Women & Witchcraft edited by Tess Sharpe

I somehow forgot to do a Lesbrary review of this one, which is a shame, because I really liked it! This isn’t entirely a queer collection, but there are about 5 stories with sapphic main characters. I loved the different takes on witches, from fairy tale-ish witches to more modern witches, and I liked how the women in the stories drew power from the cultural conception of witches, which have been used against women in history. Here are my pitches for the sapphic stories:

“Starsong” by Tehlor Kay Mejia: Luna’s mother is afraid that she’l follow the same path her tia Jasmin did, but Luna has found peace and power in the magic that the stars provide for her. When someone tries to start a debate with her on Instagram about science vs magic, she isn’t going to give them the time of day… until she realizes the commentor is a cute girl.

“The Heart In Her Hands” by Tess Sharpe: A common trope of tumblr stories is the soulmate mark: the first words you hear from your soulmate appear on your skin beforehand, so you know when you’ve met them. “The Heart In Her Hands” turns this romantic idea on its head with a protagonist who resents being told her fate, especially when she’s already found the love of her life.

“The Legend of Stone Mary” by Robin Talley: When a witch was killed in the woods by an angry mob, she cast a curse. That curse has continued in the town for many generations, temporarily placated by a statue in her honor. Wendy finds herself helplessly drawn to her ancestor’s statue on a stormy Halloween night, with no idea what will happen when she faces it.

“The Gherin Girls” by Emery Lord: Three sisters (one bi, one gay, one straight), all with different abilities (sensing emotions through touch, magic with plants, and magic with cooking). Deals with the aftermath of an emotionally abusive (M/F) relationship.

“Why They Watch Us Burn” by Elizabeth May: 13 girls are sentenced to a work camp for being accused of witches. They are meant to starve, disappear, or break in the woods. Instead, they might just find the power they’ve been accused of. Trigger warning for rape and victim-blaming.

Girl Made of Stars by Ashley Herring Blake#6: Girl Made of Stars by Ashley Herring Blake (review)

This is about a YA novel about Mara, who has always been very close to her twin, Owen. So when Mara’s best friend, Hannah, accuses Owen of rape, Mara is horrified. She seems to split, believing both of their conflicting stories simultaneously. And as she tries to sort through it, her own unaddressed trauma bubbles to the surface.

This is a premise that I would not trust most authors with, but I knew that Ashley Herring Blake could carry it. Girl Made of Stars faces rape culture head on. It had my stomach in knots, but I couldn’t stop turning the pages. I finished it one day–partly because Blake’s writing is captivating, partly because I was so invested in these characters that I wanted to know what happened to them, and partly to be able to walk away from this sickening situation. This was another 5 star read for me, and I will definitely be picking up anything Ashley Herring Blake writes in the future.

All Out: The No-Longer-Secret Stories of Queer Teens throughout the Ages by Saundra Mitchell cover#5: All Out: The No-Longer-Secret Stories of Queer Teens Throughout The Ages edited by Saundra Mitchell (review)

All Out is a much-needed book, because it locates queer people (teens in particular) through time. It is optimistic historical fiction: It imagines not only queer teens in the past, but how they might have found happiness there. It rejects the idea that queer people don’t have a history–or that if they do, it is fundamentally tragic.

There are a lot of different time periods (~1200s-1999) and cultures involved, although I would have liked to see more stories set outside of North America and Europe. The story that really stood out to me was Malinda Lo’s, and luckily for me, it’s being made into a novel! Although that’s my favourite, I really enjoyed all of them–I didn’t feel like there were any really weak stories in this collection. 

How To Make a Wish by Ashley Herring Blake#4: How to Make a Wish by Ashley Herring Blake (review)

This book deftly deals with grief and unhealthy/abusive family dynamics. Grace’s father died when she was young, and since then, her mother hasn’t acted much like a mom. Grace feels like it is her responsibility to watch after Maggie. Again, this is a novel that has such nuanced, complex relationships. Grace’s best friend, Luca, and his mom have just taken in Eva (Grace’s love interest), who has recently lost her mother.

Maggie takes Eva under her wing, causing Grace to agonize over whether she should tell Eva the whole truth about Maggie. I thought it was masterfully handled, and I was completely invested in Grace and Eva–individually and as a couple. But overall, the treatment of abuse and grief layered with a bisexual (yes, using the word bisexual) love story and accompanied with a thoughtful examination of race and art (Eva is a black ballet dancer) all came together into a five star read for me

Space Battle Lunchtime Vol 1#2 & 3: Space Battle Lunchtime Vols 1 & 2 by Natalie Riess (review)

All-ages queer lady-type comics are probably my favourite thing to read. My favourite thing to watch is reality baking shows. This comic is an all-ages queer women comic about a competitive cooking show… in space. What could be better?? When I finished volume 1, I thought “Sure, it seems pretty obvious it’s queer, but is it technically subtext?” Which would be okay! I still would have liked it! But volume 2 instantly makes it very clear that it’s queer.  This is so cute and fun. The romance is sweet, the plot is full of hijinks and over-the-top action (“Cannibal Coliseum, where chefs compete to cook… each other.”) I mean, really, if “all-ages queer women comic about a competitive cooking show in space” doesn’t convince you, what else can I say?

The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo by Taylor Jenkins Reid#1: The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo by Taylor Jenkins Reid (review)

Evelyn Hugo is an aging Hollywood starlet who has chosen a relatively unknown journalist to write her life story. Evelyn is such a fascinating character. She’s someone that I imagine people would describe as “unlikable.” Personally, I loved her. She is such a flawed, complex character. She’s also bisexual–she’s very deliberate that Monique gets this label right–and the great love of her life is not one of her seven husbands. She has a tumultuous, heartbreaking love affair with another actress. I felt so much for Evelyn, and it made me really think about what it was like for queer women in the 1950s. Evelyn was privileged in many ways: rich, famous, white-passing–but she was also trapped. She couldn’t publicly acknowledge the love of her life without losing everything else she had built. The most authentic part of her was the one she felt she had to keep hidden. This a beautifully written and fascinating story about one of my favourite characters I’ve encountered in a long time.

Those are my favourite sapphic books I read in 2018! Below is my video with my full top 18 books, if you’re curious. I think only one of them in neither by nor about queer people. Let me know what your favourite reads of 2018 are, and I’ll add them to my TBR mountain!

Link Round Up: December 13 – January 1

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!

The Tiger Flu by Larissa Lai cover   Undiscovered Country by Kelly O'Connor McNees cover   On a Sunbeam by Tillie Walden   The Brilliant Death by Amy Rose Capetta cover   So Lucky by Nicola Griffith cover

Advocate posted

Autostraddle posted 20 of the Best LGBTQ Graphic Novels of 2018.

LGBTQ Reads posted Good News Roundup of LGBTQ Reads, 2018 Edition.

The Lotterys More or Less by Emma Donoghue cover   The Gilda Stories by Jewelle Gomez    Hurriance Child by Kheryn Callender cover   Her Body and Other Parties Carmen Maria Machado cover   Kim Reaper Vol. 1: Grim Beginnings cover

Okazu posted Why Is It Always Catholic Schoolgirls in Yuri? and Top Ten Yuri of 2018.

“My Queer Southern Lit” was posted at Lit Hub.

The Lotterys More or Less by Emma Donoghue was reviewed at Lambda Literary.

After Hours, Vol. 3 by Yuhta Nishio was reviewed at Okazu.

Growing Up Queer by Mary Robertson was reviewed at the Washington Blade.

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.

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