Melissa reviews Silver Moon by Catherine Lundoff

When a novel begins with the line, “Her first hot flash came on suddenly and unexpectedly, super-heating Becca Thornton’s body from head to toe until she was drenched with sweat,” you know you’re about to read something you’ve never read before. In this case it’s the first line of Catherine Lundoff’s Silver Moon and our first encounter with Becca Thornton, a menopausal woman discovering that the ‘change of life’ has changed her into a werewolf. It’s a really novel take on the werewolf legend that so often is used as a metaphor for menstruation and/or the ‘animal’ nature of us dirty women. It’s also something you rarely see in romance: a lesbian romance featuring two women who aren’t twenty-somethings looking for love. Also, they’re kickass werewolves. Also also, it’s amazing to read about a strong, super-powered woman who isn’t a twenty-something woman with washboard abs, violet eyes and perfect hair.

It’s also refreshing to read polished, professional prose with a well-edited story. Although the pacing isn’t perfect, Silver Moon far exceeded my expectations in terms of plot and handling of genre elements. I’ve gotten so used to ‘lesbian novels’ that are not only poorly edited, but in desperate need of a proofreader that reading Silver Moonwas an enormous relief. That isn’t to say that this novel is perfect or the werewolf/genre equivalent of a Sarah Waters novel, but it was a treat to read and I didn’t notice a single typo or malaprop. It shouldn’t come as any surprise to those who’ve read and loved Dayna Ingram’s zombie thriller Eat Your Heart Out, that Silver Moon was also published by Lethe Press. I just hope they continue to publish novels with lesbian protagonists. They’re doing it right.

Okay, so that’s the pros, but there are cons. The first is the ‘reluctant hero’ thing that got old with Buffy the Vampire Slayer. I realize that many of us would be a bit put off by turning into a werewolf every month, but the idea that an aging, menopausal woman who’s just been dumped on repeatedly by life would find gaining a pack and superpowers instead of osteoporosis such a terrible hardship got a bit old. I think Becca’s misgivings could have been handled quickly rather than stretching almost half the book.

The overall story arc revolves around Becca’s introduction to the pack who turn out to be the historic protectors of the town and valley (Wolf Valley) she lives in. All of the pack’s members are post-menopausal women, which is kind of cool, but the way the pack (mis)handles newest member Becca is pretty uncool. Becca is immediately tossed with little to no preparation into a confrontation with a group of werewolf hunters, which she screws up royally, endangering her pack mates and nearly getting the love interest killed.

I’m also really tired of the ‘alpha’ dog hierarchy (that has been pretty much debunked by researchers who specialize in studies of wolves) that has infected every werewolf story I’ve ever read. Could someone please write a werewolf story without this trope? To be fair, Lundoff’s Becca displays some pretty rogue behavior throughout the novel. Becca constantly makes decisions (including lying and withholding information) and takes actions that could endanger the entire pack without any input from her alpha or any other pack members. Lundoff explains this by having the pack’s alpha away quite a bit taking care of her sick mother, but it feels a bit staged since it leaves beta Erin, who happens to be our love interest for Becca, in charge and unwilling or simply unable to curb Becca’s rogue tendencies. This weird tension — is there an alpha pack hierarchy, obeyed by the pack or isn’t there? Is Becca a doormat for her ex-husband and everyone else or is she the take charge woman — persists through the story.

Despite the problems (seriously, what book doesn’t have issues?), this is a highly rewarding story and a joy to read. Just a warning for those who prefer their lesbian novels to be weighted toward the romance rather than the story, this is not a ‘romance.’ Becca slowly admits to her developing attraction to Erin after telling herself it’s just some side effect of menopause and/or the werewolf thing. It takes a long time and I think Lundoff could have actually done a bit more with the romance, particularly in explaining Erin’s behavior, but that’s easier said than done. This seems to be a common issue for paranormal and/or SF/F lesbian novels: getting the balance of romance and plot right. I’m not sure this ‘balance’ is possible since everyone’s preference on this spectrum is probably different. This one just leans toward the paranormal plot rather than the romantic one. Still, lesbian main characters who are werewolves in love with other lesbian werewolves FTW!!

Danika reviews Haunted Hearths & Sapphic Shades: Lesbian Ghost Stories edited by Catherine Lundoff

This book was not what I was expecting. Which isn’t a fault of Haunted Hearths & Sapphic Shades, I don’t think, but it was surprising. I picked up Haunted Hearths expecting… ghost stories. You know, campfire, spooky, ghost stories! In fact, there aren’t very many stories in this collection that are very scary, or that even try to be. Catherine Lundoff’s introduction is a must-read for this collection. She carefully explains that “ghost stories” are not, in fact, one genre. Ghost stories can be romances, or horror, or comedy. A ghost in a story can serve all sorts of purposes. In fact, the genres recommended for this book on the back cover are “Lesbian Fantasy / Romance”, and that gives you a much better indication of what to expect from this collection than the usual connotations around “ghost story”.

Haunted Hearths offers a variety of different tones in the stories contained here, from a rampaging ghost horse to a grumpy lesbian ghost housemate and a vengeful dead ex. These stories also offer different explanations for their dead characters’ refusal to move on from the physical world. It was interesting to see all the range of places authors could go with the topic of “lesbian ghost story.” My favorite topics, because I am obviously a big book nerd, were two, “A Quiet Love” by Suzan Tessier and “Focus of Desire” by Elise Matthesen, that explored the idea of falling in love with someone from a another time. They both explore two women who, in their study of a long-dead historical figure, become obsessed with them and try to somehow join them.

In a complete different tone, another story I appreciated was “The Dyke You Know” by Selina Rosen for its humor. This is the story with the dead lesbian roommate, and (spoiler) the protagonist eventually concludes that her wailing ghost roommate is easier to live with than the live lesbians she dates.

Overall, there were some interesting stories in this collection, and I appreciated the variety, though there weren’t really any that made me want to rush out and read the author’s other works. If you’re looking for a spooky Halloween read, overall I don’t think this is the book for it, but if you’re curious about how the concept of “lesbian ghost story” can be stretched and interpreted, Haunted Hearths & Sapphic Shades is worth checking out.

Link round up: August 15-21


AfterEllen posted Batwoman #12: Happy anniversary, lesbian superhero! Here, have a Wonder Woman!

Autostraddle posted


Casey the Canadian Lesbrarian posted New Stories by Mariko Tamaki and Zoe Whittall; Plus, Queer Feminist Read Dating in Toronto!

Lambda Literary posted


lesbian meets books nyc posted Hunting the Slipper: Bringing Back Out of Print Lesbian Books.

The Outer Alliance posted Coming Out #8: Barbara Ann Wright on The Pyramid Waltz.

Sistahs on the Shelf Literary Promo Blog posted Sistahs on the Shelf featured in reSOUND magazine! and SOTS Books 2 Check Out – August 2012.

Women and Words posted Upcoming event in the UK for LGBTQ readers & writers!


Ivan E. Coyote will be at the Vancouver Writers Fest (October 16-21 2012).

Malinda Lo posted Presenting…the official trailer for Adaptation!

Catherine Lundoff posted The Highs and Lows of Promoting Lesbian Fiction by Catherine Lundoff.

KG Macgregor was interviewed at Lambda Literary.

“Kung Fu Lesbian – Book Trailer” was posted at One More Lesbian.


Gossamer Axe by Gael Baudino was reviewed at Good Lesbian Books.

OMGQueer edited by Katherine E. Lynch & Radclyffe was reviewed at Good Lesbian Books.

Sidecar by Ann McMan was reviewed at Good Lesbian Books.

Everything Pales in Comparison by Rebecca Swartz was reviewed at Winnipeg Free Press.


As always, check out even more links by following the Lesbrary on twitter!

Jasper reviews Silver Moon by Catherine Lundoff

I’m not usually a werewolf (or vampire) novel reader, because I’m not usually a paranormal romance reader, and it’s rare I don’t see the one being synonymous for the other. Alphas falling for mortals, mortals falling for alphas, vampires falling for werewolves, new wolves learning to run a pack and being courted by multiple stunningly attractive romantic interests…it’s not my thing. So I very much appreciated the new twist on the concept of werewolves in Silver Moon! In Lundoff’s novel, (some) women become werewolves when they hit menopause in the idyllic town of Wolf’s Point. They then serve as protectors of the town until the town’s magic releases them and new protectors are chosen. The novel deals mostly with their work of protection and the “coming out” of the main character, Becca, a middle-aged, menopausal, divorced woman who knew nothing about the town’s legacy, as a werewolf. There’s a very slowly developed romantic subplot between Becca and Erin, another Wolf’s Point werewolf (and an out lesbian), but it never takes center stage, nor does it ever get steamy (I do like a good sex scene, so that’s a little disappointing–but sudden, explicit, passionate sex wouldn’t have fit well in the story, so I don’t mind its omission).

The concept is the strongest part of the novel. Becca has friends and a job at a hardware shop, but she doesn’t really see her life going anywhere new, now that she’s divorced with no children. The novel’s menopause-equals-werewolf conceit makes it clear that each new stage of a person’s life opens up the opportunity to discover new things and reinvent ourselves, to a degree–and form new relationships! As a 28-year-old who already worries that, at 30, I’ll be Too Old (to do what, I’m not sure, but there’s definitely the feeling–too old to have kids? To have questions about life? To not have taken over the world yet?), I found it reassuring to read about an older woman, childless and divorced (that is, without the nuclear family structure developed that society tells me is one form of “success”), still having time and room to learn heroic (and romantic) things about herself. The strong friendships of the women, who come from a variety of backgrounds and have different sorts of families, were also a pleasure to see in a novel (as were men who were decent folks, too–I wondered if the wolves would be protecting the town exclusively from male threats, since that seems to be a trend in lesbian SFF: keep evil men in check–but no, they protect the town from all threats, gender-equitably).

On the negative side, the plot fails to live up to the premise. The later half of the novel blurs by in a combination of vague action scenes and long plot lulls. The villains, who the characters treat as a dire threat to the safety of Wolf’s Point, keep leaving windows of opportunity open to the protagonists that only the chronically incompetent would leave open. They make warning after warning, leave powerful protagonists alone with vital supplies and very little guard, and drop without much of a fight, despite the narrative and protagonists talking up how tough the villains are, how seriously they need to be taken, and what they might have done in the past. Speaking of which, what *did* the main villain do in the past? The novel hints at it, but it’s never fully explained.

Worth buying and reading if you’re interested in and want to support alternatives to the usual heterosexual paranormal romance take on werewolves. Pass it up if you’re not a devoted werewolf reader.

Allysse reviews Hellebore & Rue: Tales of Queer Women and Magic edited by JoSelle Vanderhooft and Catherine Lundoff

Hellebore & Rue: Tales of Queer Women and Magic
Edited by JoSelle Vanderhooft and Catherine Lundoff

This anthology has previously been reviewed by Danika. It is one of the reason that drove me to read it. The other reason, as for Danika, was the cover.

I agree with everything she wrote in her review. The anthology is a collection of really well-written short stories which are able to establish a world and an atmosphere in the short span of pages they have to exist.

I plunged into the anthology with high expectations and I have never been disappointed. All the stories appealed to me and got me hooked from their very first words. There was a nice variety of genres and styles but not of quality. All the stories were good. I would definitely recommend this anthology to anyone and not just to a lesbian audience. Like Danika mentioned the stories are not about being lesbians, they are just fantasy short stories with characters who happens to be lesbians ,and most of the time it isn’t relevant to the story.

If you like fantasy, short stories with an added bonus of lesbians I would highly recommend you read this book. And if you like fantasy and short stories I would also highly recommend it.

JoSelle Vanderhooft and Catherine Lundoff did an excellent job with editing the book. I’ve previously read Steam-Powered 2: More Lesbian Steampunk Stories edited by them which was also of very high quality. After reading those two anthologies I am now definitely keeping an eye on whatever they will edit in the future.

Danika reviews Hellebore & Rue edited by JoSelle Vanderhooft and Catherine Lundoff

I’m going to be honest: the only thing I was really looking for in Hellebore & Rue: Tales of Queer Women and Magic was for it to live up to its cover. I mean, look at that cover! It’s definitely one of my  favourites.

The good news is, it does! It seems like every review of an anthology has a disclaimer that all anthologies have varying quality between stories, which is true, but Hellebore & Rue had a much, much higher standard of writing in the stories collected than I am used to in most anthologies. There was only one story where I felt the writing didn’t compare to the other stories, and it turns out that it is the first story published by that author, so that makes sense.

There are all kinds of “magic” the stories, from fabulism to whole fantasy worlds, but they all manage to establish their reality well in a short story.

I think this anthology will especially appeal to readers who are looking for “incidentally” queer stories.

Overall I highly recommend Hellebore & Rue, especially to reader who enjoy the fantasy genre. And since I noticed a higher standard for their stories than I’m used to, I’ll be keeping an eye on the editors (JoSelle Vanderhooft and Catherine Lundoff), as well as the publishing company (Lethe Press).