annieonmymind   sisteroutsider   PriceofSalt

AfterEllen posted The AfterEllen.com Book Club for July: “Annie On My Mind” and ACT NOW: Keep “The Miseducation of Cameron Post” on summer reading lists.

Autostraddle posted Lez Liberty Lit #49: Spend More Than 19 Minutes Reading.

Diversity in YA posted First Second Acquires KISS NUMBER EIGHT, a Graphic Novel About Growing Up Queer in a Conservative Community.

LadyLike Book Club posted 32 – The Price of Salt.

Lambda Literary posted Re-Education at the Lesbian Herstory Archives.

the-miseducation-of-cameron-post-cover-final   sailormoon   KickedOut

The Outer Alliance posted Outer Alliance Podcast #41.

emily m danforth posted School board removes The Miseducation of Cameron Post from summer reading list.

Sarah Diemer posted I Met My Wife Because of Sailor Moon: Or, Why Stories With Queer Characters Really Fucking Matter.

Sassafras Lowrey posted Damaged Books Sale!

Andi Marquette posted Nancy Garden on my mind.

queerandpleasantdanger   beyondthepale   graveyardsparrow

“Queering SFF Pride Month: Brainchild by Suzanne Geary” was posted at Tor.

“A Jewish Reading Guide for Pride Month” was posted at Tablet.

“Making Comics More And More Gay – The Hernandez Brothers, Kate Leth, And Terry Moore Talk LGBT Characters At Heroes Con 2014″ was posted at Bleeding Cool.

Graveyard Sparrow by Kayla Bashe was reviewed at Bisexual Books.

The Queer Art of Failure by Jack Halberstam was reviewed at LGBTQ Recs Month.

BlueIsTheWarmestColor   daughterofmystery   westofnowhere

The Lost Women of Lost Lake by Ellen Hart was reviewed at Lambda Literary.

Daughter of Mystery by Heather Rose Jones was reviewed at C-Spot Reviews.

West of Nowhere by KG MacGregor was reviewed at Piercing Fiction.

Blue Is the Warmest Color by Julie Maroh was reviewed at LGBTQ Recs Month.

KillMarguerite   thatsrevolting   teachingthecattosit

Kill Marguerite and Other Stories by Megan Milks was reviewed at Tor.

Corona by Bushra Rehman was reviewed at Lambda Literary.

All In by Nell Stark was reviewed at C-Spot Reviews.

That’s Revolting: Queer Strategies for Resisting Assimilation edited by Mattilda Bernstein Sycamore was reviewed at Bisexual Books.

Teaching the Cat to Sit: A Memoir by Michelle Theall was reviewed at Out In Print.

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 pageWe’re also on FacebookGoodreadsYoutube and tumblr.

owleyes

Typically and perhaps ideally, when the exchange of ideas and the sharing of experience take place between a writer and her reader, the inherent value of both roles within the creative process is affirmed. The story would not exist without the writer, and it would have no reason to exist if not for the reader. It’s a profound and powerful act, which deeply touches everyone involved.

Then there is work created solely for cathartic purposes. Perhaps the writer needs to vent, to reframe her experience or re-write history. She is concerned only with what the story means within the context of her experience, rendering the reader unnecessary and wholly irrelevant. This is where literary art ends and narrative therapy begins.

Indeed, Owl Eyes by Georgie Watts is a classic example of a work that sacrifices the reader’s experience for the therapeutic benefits of stringing words together on the page. It is  the story of Sarah, a young woman who finds escape from her stressful job, demanding parents and disordered eating within the act of graffiti writing. Assuming an identity as Owlie for her depictions of… well, owls, Sarah finds a sense of freedom and empowerment within the defiance that fuels the street art scene.

Although I initially found the premise of the novel fresh and exciting, it didn’t take long for me to realize that Owl Eyes has little to do with conveying emotion or telling a compelling story. Given that no apparent effort was put into making the characters three-dimensional or developing a sense of depth or nuance through action or dialogue, it was hard to care about Sarah, her parents, her co-worker or the other graffiti artists she meets (not to mention the wealthy owner of a women’s magazine who somehow winds up facilitating the fulfillment of Sarah’s most treasured dreams). Nothing that transpires within the tale is accompanied by supporting events or foreshadowing and thus feels utterly implausible. We are told that Sarah has an eating disorder but do not witness it; and, we learn that she identifies as bisexual but feel no passion in spite of her burgeoning relationship with Phanatic, a homeless street artist and jiu jitsu master.

I applaud anyone’s engagement in the creative process, no matter what their skill level or experience, for magic is inevitable as long as the intent is pure; however, when one uses words to soothe the ego or prove something to themselves at the expense of the reader, the result can’t help but to fall flat. With this in mind, it’s no wonder that Owl Eyes left me feeling little more than an unwitting target of the author’s cathartic splatter and subsequent quest for validation.

missmcghee

The setting is the Southern USA during the span of time from 1948 – 1965. The title character is sent to the small town of Myrtlewood, Alabama, to work as a secretary for Tommie Dubose. Mary McGhee soon realizes, however, that she is not really working for Tommie, but instead her employer is the beautiful and precious Lila Dubose, Tommie’s wife. Mary becomes infatuated to the point where she can not remain silent but must make her feelings known. Once that small piece of the narrative is surmounted, the real story takes off.

This is a book about the civil rights struggle as seen from the microcosm of a small town in the South. Arguably, towns such as this were the front lines of the struggle. Trigger warnings apply for racism, violence, racist and misogynist slurs, and mentions of the KKK and its activities in every chapter. The author is white but does not censor the use of the n-slur in her writing.
The main characters are believable, even relatable. They have that subtle style of racism that comes from ignorance and is hard to recognize as part of the problem. And they get called out on it (by other white people). I don’t like that the story of the black civil rights movement is told entirely from the perspective of these rich white characters, with the one main black character, Annie, being there to nod and confirm that the white people are in fact right, racism does exist and it is a human rights violation. She is probably thinking “good job catching up on a child’s-level understanding of the issue,” but the book never actually shows what Annie is thinking. Annie is only finally given some character development and agency during the events at the end of the book.
On the other hand, the story does show a very good example of how to use white privilege to help marginalized groups, black Americans in particular. If more people like Mary and Lila (rich white people) put their money where their mouth is and helped the oppressed groups of our country, the social justice movement might finally accomplish some actual justice. Beware viewing the story through a lens of the white savior complex, however, lest we downplay the importance of the struggle that black Americans went through in those turbulent years and still encounter today.
Although the overarching story is that of real history, namely the civil rights movement, there is a major balance of focus on the cast of characters’ interpersonal relationships; between the two main characters, Mary and Lila, between Mary and her arch-nemesis Gerald Buchanan, between Lila and Annie who is her maid, and Lila and her disabled husband Tommie, and many many more characters, all fairly well-rounded and representing different types of people. The social politics of a small town are complicated and dynamic, and Bett Norris does a skillful job of portraying it well.
The one bisexual side character was shown in a bad light, or so I thought at first. The more she developed as a character the more I liked her, despite or perhaps because of her flaws. There was also a hint that she was gender-non-conforming , although no labels and no discussion of any depth about such things was included in the narrative.
In sum, the narrative is well paced and well written, the characters are fleshed out and flawed so as to read like real human beings, and the subject matter is very important, though in this instance it is being discussed by an inappropriate voice. White readers aware of race relations might take away a lesson here and there, as long as they are mindful of the problematic elements in the book. Black readers, especially ones who are lgbt, looking for representation and for their own history, will be disappointed and, quite rightly, insulted to find nothing for them. It is up to white readers whether we can stomach something that is clearly offensive to our fellow human beings, ones who are less privileged than us and used to being ignored and talked over. It would be easy to make excuses, and concentrate on the book’s merits, but I am washing my hands of this book. Despite the fact that it was a pleasant enough read for me, I cannot recommend it knowing that it is not fair to others.

drive

Kate and Susan were best of friends. Then things progressed, yet they tried to keep their relationship a secret from friends and family. And they both promised that they would always be together. Aw, first loves and the hopes we place on them.

When their secret is discovered, things start to unravel, including their relationship.

I’ve always been fascinated by the fact that every story has two sides. Back in my younger days, I had a hard time seeing that. Everything was black and white. Now, I always (I don’t always succeed) try to step back and see things from both perspectives. Not only is it illuminating, but it can also be terrifying.

That’s the intent of DRIVE.

Every story has two sides, at least. Yet, many novels show everything from one point of view. DRIVE by J. L. Gaynor tells the story from Kate’s and then Susan’s point of views. This could be messy and repetitive, but Gaynor avoids both pitfalls and created an enjoyable, albeit emotional, story. First loves are exciting and can leave permanent scars. This book delves into the importance of relationships, friendships, and forgiveness.

I do wish the author shared more of the story from the beginning instead of diving right in when the unraveling started. I think it would round it out more and make the readers care more about what happened and why it was so devastating to Kate and Susan.

Setting this aside, I enjoyed the story and I look forward to reading more by this author.It’s a wonderful story that sucked me in and made me think.

myeducation   lumberjanes3   loveinthetimeofglobalwarming

The Advocate posted Read This Year’s Best Bisexual Fiction.

Autostraddle posted Lumberjanes #3 Has Adventure, Math and Science and Logic To The Max! and South Carolina Punishes Universities for LGBT Reading List with Extra Dose of America.

Kate Leth posted Comics Alliance Presents Kate Or Die: All-Ages LGBT Content.

“Is This Just Fantasy?: LGBTQ+ Speculative Fiction” was reviewed at YALSA The Hub.

otherbound   CallingDrLaura   AmongOtherThings

Tiger Heron by Robin Becker was reviewed at Lambda Literary.

Otherbound by Corinne Duyvis was reviewed at Rich In Color.

Calling Dr. Laura: A Graphic Memoir by Nicole J. Georges was reviewed at LGBTQ Recs Month.

Deep Merge by Linda North was reviewed at Lesbian Reading Room.

Among Other Things, I’ve Taken Up Smoking by Aoibheann Sweeney was reviewed at LGBTQ Recs Month.

Skim  thedaylightgate   warofstreetsandhouses

Skim by Mariko and Jillian Tamaki was reviewed at LGBTQ Recs Month.

Tipping the Velvet by Sarah Waters was reviewed at The Voyage Out Book Club.

In This Small Spot by Caren J. Werlinger was reviewed at Lesbian Reading Room.

The Daylight Gate by Jeanette Winterson was reviewed at Tor.

War of the Streets and Houses by Sophie Yanow 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 twitter pageWe’re also on FacebookGoodreadsYoutube and tumblr.

waterwitch

Novels about lesbians and pirates seem to be an ever-growing popular genre. I’m happy to recommend a book that has these things: Water Witch: The Deceiver’s Grave by Nene Adams.

The story starts as female pirate captain, Bess O’Bedlam, goes to Antigua to follow up on a rumor about the whereabouts of another pirate, Fancy Tom Carew, and his lost ship, the Deceiver. Treasure is believed to have been on board Carew’s ship, and Bess loves gold, so the opportunity seems too good to pass up. She learns that another woman, Marguerite de Vries, may be the key to finding the treasure. So she kidnaps the woman and brings her aboard her ship, the Mad Maudlin.

Marguerite, an orphan-turned-thief, has no idea why she is linked to Tom Carew, except for a strange tattoo on her shoulder that she’s never been able to really explain. At first, she and Bess hate each other and then they try to seduce each other for their own gains, but in reality, there is a genuine attraction between them that neither will admit at first. As they get closer to finding the Deceiver, Bess and Marguerite soon learn that there is a lot more at stake than just lost treasure, and there are supernatural forces at work.

Water Witch, though it takes place in a real time period, has magic, demons, witch-fire, and spook-binding spells that give the book a more ghostly appeal. So many characters in the book have some knowledge of magic. That takes away some realism from the book, but not much, because the rest feels so real. And the magic is a pretty good touch.

The story itself, besides the supernatural, seems very much in keeping with what went on in the Caribbean in the eighteenth century. There is nautical jargon and old slang terms that I had to look up in the glossary. Though annoying at times to stop in the middle of a tense scene to look something up, the story certainly seemed more authentic.

Water Witch was packed with action, especially near the end. Sea battles, demon attacks, sword fights, and a deadly showdown kept me reading. There were unexpected twists and surprises. The book was very descriptive, even at the gory scenes, that I could easily picture what was going on. There were no moments of wondering where the characters were, or what they were doing. Everything was pretty clear, which made it easier to enjoy the book. The best part of the novel was watching Bess and Marguerite slowly acknowledge their love for each other and throw their differences aside. There were definitely “Oh my gosh!” moments, and “How will they make it?” scenes that are nail-biting. But it works out satisfactorily in the end. My only problem with Water Witch was that I didn’t learn much about Bess’s past. Marguerite’s story was well told, as it was necessary for the plot, but I would have loved to know more about Bess’s childhood, her parents, and what drove her to become a pirate. I got tiny hints here and there, but not enough to clearly form her story. This made her a bit less fleshed out than I’d like.

Besides that though, Water Witch: The Deceiver’s Grave was a gripping, well researched read. It’s definitely not for the faint of heart, but for hardcore pirate fans. Still, the adventure was fun, and the book never got boring once. Nene Adams clearly put a lot of work into her story, and it shows well. I’ll be reading this one again!

owningregina

Owning Regina:Diary of My Unexpected Passion for Another Woman by Lorelei Elstrom is a woman-loving-woman’s answer to E. L. James’ Fifty Shades of Grey. Written in diary format, Meg Curtis gives us an up close and personal taste of exploring bondage, discipline, and sadomasochism (BDSM) for the first time. Describing her intense erotic inclination towards the world of dominance and submission, we learn that for Meg, her sexuality is very complex. When realizing she has developed a sincere interest for a woman, having always been with men, she is forced to rethink her sexual orientation. Meg initially struggles with the idea she may be something other than heterosexual, often in conflict with her perception of her future self and her newfound lust. Eventually disregarding the pressure to label herself, Meg is extremely satisfied to indulge in kinky behaviors with another person.

Meg Curtis, 26, meets Regina Baker, 38, at a local yoga class in San Francisco, California and instantly a connection sparks. The two women bond over Meg’s boot fetish and shortly thereafter, Regina senses there may be something worth trying with one another. Elstrom does a thorough job at introducing BDSM and establishing clear boundaries for the role-playing games shared between Meg and Regina. The women often check in with one another outside of the realm of the game to ensure they are on the same page. Adding more rules to maintain a distinction between emotions felt in real life and the harsh dialogue used in the game helps their relationship stay clear of confusion and reinforces consent.

Often BDSM is perceived by society as dirty, abusive, weird, and/or perverted, with a very narrow selection of stereotypical images, such as a woman wearing a latex or leather suit whipping a man’s behind. There is absolutely nothing wrong with BDSM if all of the acts between two (or more) partners are consensual, rooted in trust, and boundaries are respected. Anyone can be attracted to S&M regardless of their experiences. Further, engaging in such behavior allows agreeing adults to explore curiosities and taboo manners in a safe environment. Generally speaking, those who are attracted to BDSM would never intentionally hurt someone outside of the game mode; only in character would they think about participating in such seemingly torturous acts.

All in all, Owning Regina is a strikingly sexy book that I recommend to anyone curious about BDSM. Owning Regina can easily be devoured in one sitting —as the days in Meg’s life go on, there is an urgency for more and Elstrom does not hold back with her delivery. Having taken my first bite into a BDSM fiction featuring two female lovers has opened my mind to endless possibilities outside the lines of a vanilla romance. Aside from the swift declaration of love in a short passage of time (I often find these storylines unrealistic and stereotypical), I found Owning Regina to be a very fun read!

Nevada   everythingleadstoyou   myeducation

AfterEllen posted The AfterEllen.com Book Club: “Everything Leads to You” by Nina LaCour.

Autostraddle posted 2014 Lambda Literary Award Winners Announced, Include Alison Bechdel, Imogen Binnie and More and Lez Liberty Lit #48: It’s Totally Okay To Read YA Novels, You Guys.

Cleis Press has launched the OutWriters campaign.

Bisexual Books posted Getting Otherbound: An Interview with YA Author Corrine Duyvis.

lastwords   desireatdawn   straightexpectations

Gay YA posted June Book Haul and Sexy Girl Sex! (and Why it’s Important).

Lambda Literary posted

NYC LGBT Center Launches Celebratory Online Pride Exhibit.

inheritance   doublepregnant   fallingintoplace

Over the Rainbow Books posted May 2014.

Women and Words posted Coming Attractions, July 2014 and Hot off the Press, June 2014.

Alison Bechdel posted a new comic in The New Yorker.

Malinda Lo posted INHERITANCE wins Bisexual Book Award for Bisexual Teen/YA Fiction and
Amazon is not the only place to buy books.

Marbles   otherbound   wonderland

Nightingale by Andrea Bramhall was reviewed at C-Spot Reviews.

Wonderland by Stacey D’Erasmo was reviewed at Lambda Literary.

Otherbound by Corinne Duyvis was reviewed at crunchings & munchings.

Marbles by Ellen Forney was reviewed at LGBTQ Recs Month.

caseofthenotsonicenurse   thedeathoflucykyte   fairplay

Fair Play by Tove Jansson was reviewed at LGBTQ Recs Month.

Nancy Clue / Cherry Aimless / the Hardly Boys by Mabel Maney were reviewed at LGBTQ Recs Month.

The Death of Lucy Kyte by Nicola Upson was reviewed at Lambda Literary.

Ethereal Queer: Television, Historicity, Desire by Amy Villarejo 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 twitter pageWe’re also on FacebookGoodreadsYoutube and tumblr.

allin

Nell Stark’s All In, published this month by Bold Strokes Books, is a sweet romance that involves high-stakes poker and Las Vegas. Annie Novarro, the self-styled “Nova” of online poker-playing, has a dilemma. When she loses almost all of her substantial winnings due to a federal crackdown on online gambling, she must either face facts and give up her career, or learn to hack it with live poker players. Unfortunately, playing poker with opponents who are in the same room requires a poker face, something that math whiz Nova hasn’t had to worry about in the past.

When Nova travels to Vegas to prep for and play in the World Series of Poker, she ends up staying at the Valhalla resort. Valhalla is also the workplace of Vesper Blake, a casino host who doesn’t plan to let her attraction to a laid-back poker player get in the way of her career advancement. Vesper has worked hard to get as far as she has as a host, and she’s eyeing the next level when a sexually aggressive client interferes–and brings the two women closer together. Will Vesper be able to put aside her ambition and realize that it’s not worth sacrificing everything for her career? Will Nova figure out how to put her skills to work when she’s playing against live opponents?

I found All In, like Stark’s The Princess Affair, to be a nice change of pace from a lot of the romances I read, in terms of setting. They both feature a very slowly developing romance and, in the case of All In, an interesting look behind the scenes of a Vegas casino. I’m not sure how much of the information about poker playing and casino hosting was factually accurate, but I was enjoying myself too much to care. The only part that troubled me was Vesper’s lack of contact with her family after the traumatic events of her teenage years.

 

I’d recommend All In to anyone looking for a sporty little romance with a good grip on character motivations. Do not read if descriptions of sexual assault are upsetting to you.

 

I am headed to Vegas for my first visit at the end of the month–we’ll see if it matches the picture Stark painted.

 

drowninggirl

Caitlin R. Kiernan, known for her strange dark fiction, hits it out of the park with The Drowning Girl. The protagonist, Imp — India Morgan Phelps — writes the book as a memoir to seal away the events of her past several years. Imp is schizophrenic and struggles with her perceptions of the world once they start blending into a strange mix of fairy tale and horror story. Haunted by mermaids and memories she can’t quite trust, Imp turns to a memoir to try and find her reality, once and for all.

Kiernan’s writing doesn’t always work for me, but I loved The Drowning Girl. Her writing is immensely rich with allusions – I found myself googling the unfamiliar and highlighting and saving my favorites. Imp speaks (or types) in poetry and song lyrics, weaving back and forth between the past and the present, between her fiction and her reality. The book is perfect for reading aloud your favorite passages – and with Kiernan’s lovely wordplay, they’re almost inevitable.

However, a note of caution for readers. As the brief summation suggests, The Drowning Girl deals heavily with themes of mental illness and suicide. Suicide reoccurs often as a theme, and Imp speaks frankly about her attempts and those of her family. Additionally, Imp’s girlfriend Abalyn is trans, and while Imp accepts her immediately, she does ask some inappropriate questions and use some inappropriate terminology. Still, Abalyn is a complex and lovingly handled character, and I’m very glad that she’s a part of the story.

More than a week after I finished it, The Drowning Girl is still running through my head — perhaps because, as Imp put it, hauntings are contagious. Kiernan’s writing is lush and believable, blending prose and poetry and leaving the reader to wonder, just as Imp does: what was truth, was was fiction, what was delusion, what was magic. It won’t leave you warm and fuzzy: there’s no real ending, no plot threads tied up with a neat bow, but the conclusion is still satisfying.

If, like me, you read and enjoy the book, I have one last suggestion: two of the fictional paintings that play major roles in Imp’s story have been recreated with the author’s blessing and can be found on her livejournal here: http://greygirlbeast.livejournal.com/799914.html

They’re definitely worth a look.

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