Link Round Up: August 4 – 9

doesyourmamaknow   desertoftheheart   rightsideofhistory   infernoFlameBig   ThereseandIsabelle

AfterEllen posted Sapphic Cinema: “Desert Hearts”.

Autostraddle posted Lez Liberty Lit #78: Paper Flowers and Read A F*cking Book: The Right Side Of History.

Lambda Literary posted New in August: James Sie, David Levithan, Casey McKittrick, and Kim van Alkemade.

mohawk-trail   orphannumbereight   lemoncholylifeofannieaster   exileandpride   cagedbirdrising

Women and Words posted Coming Attractions, September 2015 and Hot off the Press, August 2015.

Barbara Gittings: Gay Pioneer by Tracy Baim was reviewed at Lambda Literary.

Mohawk Trail by Beth Brant was reviewed at Casey the Canadian Lesbrarian.

The Paying Guests by Sarah Waters was reviewed at Stuff.

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.

Thank you to the Lesbrary’s 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!

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Casey reviews Give It to Me by Ana Castillo

giveittome

Doesn’t it always seem that the books that you have the highest expectations for are the ones that let you down?  That was my experience reading Give It to Me by Ana Castillo, this year’s winner in the bisexual fiction category at the Lambda Literary awards.  This novel left me with a lot of mixed feelings, ones even two months or so after reading I haven’t managed to sort out.

Give It to Me is one of those hard to describe books.  The tone is all over the place.  On the one hand, it’s kind of a romp, with the main character Palma Piedras’s bisexual sexcapades featured throughout the story and lots of random antics, like being an extra in a Tommy Lee Jones movie and randomly meeting a Dalai Lama-like Buddhist guru who gives you life advice.  So at first the novel feels like it’s going to be light-hearted and escapist.  It is definitely not.  On the other hand, this novel is aching with (be)longing, and Palma is so desperate at times beneath her façade it’s heartbreaking.  There is also some serious shit that goes down in this book, some of which shows Palma in quite an unflattering light.

This is a book by a Latina author about a Latina woman, and the tone got me thinking about Latin American music, which I hear a far amount of because both my partner and a good friend are Latino.  Sometimes what feels really foreign to me about that music is the combination of melodies that sound happy, and lyrics that are sad.  Often sad Latin American music doesn’t sound sad to me.  I felt similarly confused about this book.  I think it’s quite likely this is an entirely cultural issue, and that my mixed feelings are a result of my white cultural and racial background.  I’d be interested to hear what Latin@ readers think about the tone!

At times, Give It to Me is laugh-out-loud funny: Castillo has a dark, biting sense of humour that straddles the border between comedy and tragedy, much like the tone of the book.  This was definitely one aspect of the book that I liked.  Only a few pages in, I was chuckling to myself while reading.

This book also had a lot of smart, real things to say about gender, race, (bi)sexuality, and class.  One of the more interesting parts was when Palma was thinking especially about being mestizo, a “Native red-brown” in comparison to a black friend/lover:

She’d have given anything to be that color. Or white as his porcelain toilet. Either black or white. The in-between thing hadn’t worked out in her most recent incarnation. The brown woman was taken for the chambermaid in hotels or the housekeeper .. . . Did she speak English? Spanish? Would she nanny for them? Did she clean windows? Maybe it was the look of the future owners of the world but not yet.

Despite gems like that, about halfway through the book I began to get tired of the meandering / lack of plot.  I thought maybe in the second half the novel would pick up and would start going somewhere plot-wise, but I figured out three quarters through that what I was waiting for wasn’t going to happen, and then that felt too late to re-evaluate and change my expectations.  It isn’t much of a spoiler to say that Palma ends up pretty much where she started at the end of the book, but it is a disheartening end when you’ve followed a character make bad decision after bad decision, fuck someone new every time as a coping mechanism, and then never learn anything.  It’s not even that Palma has “lost her way”; it’s that at forty-something she has never found it.  If that’s not a depressing thought, I don’t know what is.

One last note: there are two instances of sexual assault in this book (one with a man, another with a woman), both of which were dealt with (in my opinion) in a relatively dismissive way.  The scene with the man especially was fairly graphic, and then there was little mention of it afterwards, which disturbed me.  Palma does enact revenge on the woman, although this is after continuing to date her (mostly for her money) for months.  I was pretty uncomfortable with how the book dealt with this.

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Audrey reviews Bound with Love by Megan Mulry

boundwithlove

If you used to like Georgette Heyer and still love Jane Austen but are a little gayer than you used to be, perhaps it is time to check out Megan Mulry’s Regency Reimagined series. Bound with Love is a confection involving lurid pasts, long-kept secrets, and at its center, a smolderingly sensual relationship between Vanessa, an English aristocrat, and Nora, a Spanish-born portrait painter.

Although tragic events brought the women together, they’ve loved each other and raised a family together. Their world is perfect–at least, it’s perfect until the day a letter arrives that throws their knowledge of the past into uncertainty, and jeopardizes their future happiness.

Vanessa and Nora are a passionate, sophisticated couple; they’re secure enough in their love for each other that they’re much more exploratory than one might expect from a standard Regency romance. Actually, everyone is much more exploratory than one might expect. There are all kinds of romantic combinations contained herein, and pretty much something for everyone.

The emphasis in this volume is on Vanessa and Nora, but it should be noted that this is the second book in a series. While it can easily be read as a stand-alone, this title is a novella, and the first and third titles (about Nora’s daughter’s relationships and Nora and Vanessa’s neighbors’ alliance with Vanessa’s daughter, respectively) are both novels. I’m not sure why this one didn’t get the full novel treatment, especially as it pulls together the whole group of characters.

One might speculate that this was not Mulry’s favorite grouping. I didn’t get that from the Nora/Vanessa scenes. They were fun. However, the ostensible plotline wrapped up rather suddenly, and the book simply–stopped. It does appear that the book is available only in Kindle form, and at a much lesser price than the other two volumes in Kindle form. And the other two books are also available in print. So…maybe this is an interstitial title? Written to appease those of us who might be more interested in the more “mature” lesbian couple, than in the carousing of the 20-somethings?

Not a clue. But for $2.99, it would be a worthwhile, fun erotic historical frivolity, if that’s your thing.

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Danika reviews Kicking the Habit: A Lesbian Nun Story by Jeanne Cordova

kicking

I will admit, I find the idea of lesbian nuns fascinating. I love that there are multiple books on the subject. It actually makes total sense: historically, at least in the Western world, one of the few avenues that women had available to them if they didn’t want to get married to men and have children was to become a nun. Is it surprising that lesbians are over-represented in that number? In addition to this being a lesbian nun book, it’s also by an author I already enjoy. Cordova wrote a memoir about her activism titled When We Were Outlaws which I reviewed at the Lesbrary previously, so I knew that her writing style agree with me. It also ended up being an interesting prologue to When We Were Outlaws: I wouldn’t have guessed that passionate lesbian activist spent her childhood yearning to be a nun.

This isn’t as scandalous as the subtitle “A Lesbian Nun Story” would have you believe. In fact, it’s almost the opposite of that. Cordova as a postulant is hopelessly naive. The reader knows better, but young Jeanne wanders through training confused about why the church is so strict about “particular friendships” and what all the blushing and hand-holding is about between nuns she knows. More than a story about being a lesbian nun, Breaking the Habit is about Cordova’s disillusionment about convent life and about the plans she had been dreaming about since childhood. She describes wanting to be a nun as being in love with God, and primarily this is a story about falling out of love and about finding the world to be wider, darker, and also full of more possibility than she was aware of.

Overall, it’s a sweet story about coming out to yourself in an unusual setting. I think this works better as a prologue to When We Were Outlaws than as a standalone story, because it is fairly simple as a narrative. The writing is strong, though, and if you are intrigued by the premise, I don’t think it will disappoint.

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Link Round Up: July 27 – August 3

Bastard   MermaidinChelseaCreek   theargonauts   happinesslikewater   justgirls

AfterEllen posted Witnessing Herstory at the Golden Crown Literary Society Conference.

Autostraddle posted Autostraddle Book Club #8: Let’s Talk About “The Argonauts,” Also Here’s An Interview With Maggie Nelson! and Hidden Gems of Queer Lit: “Mermaid in Chelsea Creek” and the Chelsea Trilogy.

Casey the Canadian Lesbrarian posted Ask Your Friendly Neighbourhood Lesbrarian # 9: Books With Queer Lady Scientist Characters.

Piercing Fiction posted Golden Crown Literary Society award winners.

hild   colorpurple   rubyfruitjungle   queerlybeloved   nevertoolate

Queerest. Library. Ever. posted Postcards: Notes from Notables.

Women and Words posted GCLS 2015.

Nicola Griffith was interviewed about the importance of counting women’s stories.

“‘The Color Purple: The Musical’ rocks the rafters with spirit, talent, heart” was posted at The Dallas Morning News.

daughtersoffrankenstein   twicelucky   sphinx   orphannumbereight   lookingforakiss

Twice Lucky by Mardi Alexander was reviewed at AfterEllen.

Daughters of Frankenstein: Lesbian Mad Scientists by Steve Berman was reviewed at AfterEllen.

Catherine Breese Davis: On the Life and Work of an American Master edited by Martha Collins, Kevin Prufer, and Martin Rock was reviewed at Lambda Literary.

Sphinx by Anne Garréta was reviewed at Huffington Post.

Lily Love by Ratana Satis was reviewed at Okazu.

Orphan Number Eight by Kim van Alkemade was reviewed at Lambda Literary.

Looking for a Kiss: A Chronicle of Downtown Heartbreak and Healing by Kate Walter 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.

Thank you to the Lesbrary’s 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!

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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.

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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!

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