Link Round Up: August 17 – 23

infiniteloop   PriceofSalt   fortheloveofcake   onethatgotaway   wartimelove

Autostraddle posted Lez Liberty Lit #79: Books on Books on Books.

Lambda Literary posted Watch the Trailer for ‘Carol’ the Film Adaptation of Patricia Highsmith’s ‘The Price of Salt’.

“At the Verses Festival of Words, Tomboy Survival Guide [with Ivan Coyote] pushes gender norms” was discussed at The Georgia Straight.

The Infinite Loop (issues 1-4) by Pierrick Colinet was reviewed at Okazu.

For the Love of Cake by Erin Dutton was reviewed at The Book Dyke.

Caron High News by Annabelle Jay was reviewed at QUEERcentric Books.

A Wartime Love by Shiralyn Lee was reviewed by Shira Glassman.

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!

Link Round Up: August 10 – 16

daughtersoffrankenstein   mohawk-trail   whatitfeelslikeforagirl   onethatgotaway   aboutagirl

Daughters of Frankenstein: Lesbian Mad Scientists edited by Steve Berman was reviewed at QUEERcentric Books.

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

What It Feels Like for a Girl by Jennica Harper was reviewed at Autostraddle.

About a Girl by Sarah McCarry was reviewed at things mean a lot.

The One That Got Away by Carol Rosenfeld was reviewed at Lambda Literary.

Because this week is a slow news week, I thought I’d share with you something I just discovered if you buy through Amazon and want to support the Lesbrary. As you may know, all the covers on the Lesbrary are linked to their Amazon pages including the Lesbrary affiliate link, which means anything you buy after clicking through that link, I get a small referral fee. (Even if it’s not related to the link you originally clicked on!)

If you buy from Amazon a lot, though, and want to support the Lesbrary without having to click through from the main site every time, you can install an add-on to Chrome, Firefox, or Safari so that the Lesbrary affiliate code is automatically added every time you shop at Amazon! Just enter “thelesb-20” into the Amazon.com Affiliate ID slot and I’ll automatically get a small referral fee on anything you purchase! Thank you so much for keeping the Lesbrary running!

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!

Patreon Campaign and GIVEAWAY!

The Lesbrary has just launched a Patreon campaign! Patreon is a crowdfunding website where people donate a small amount (usually $1-10) per month to creators as a sort of tip jar, or to help achieve goals.

My dream is to be able to devote more of my time to promoting queer books, including more reviews, videos, and discussions posts. Ideally, I would love to be able to start a series called Lesbian Literature 101. This is a project I’ve been wanting to do for years, but I haven’t had the time to do the sort of research it would require. I want to outline the history of queer women books in an accessible way, because I have found that this history is often erased and hidden.

Beyond that, I would like to be able to clean up the tag system of both the Lesbrary and its tumblr to make things easier to find. I would love to be able to start a podcast or a readalong series to reach even more people with queer book discussions!

This all sounds great for me, but what’s the incentive for you to donate? Well, reading as many queer women books as I do, I end up with stacks of them that I no longer need. If you become a Patreon supporter at the $2 level or higher ($5 supporters get two entries), you would be entered to win a queer women book every month! This is open internationally, though we will have to reach the $25 mark in order to cover shipping costs.

In order to celebrate the launch, I’m holding a free giveaway of queer women books or Book Depository books! Just share this post or the video (on a blog, twitter, tumblr, wherever you’d like) and comment on the video with the link where you shared it.

Here’s the link to our new Patreon page: https://www.patreon.com/lesbrary

Thank you so much for your support of the Lesbrary and its offshoots!

UPDATE: We just passed the $25 mark, which means that everyone who donates $25 or more is entered to win a queer women book every month!

Link Round Up: June 16 – 21

outoforange_cover   romancebythebook   aboveallhonor   holdofthebonequeersultrysummer

AfterEllen posted “Love Between the Covers” director Laurie Kahn-Leavitt on the history of lesbian romance novels and NYC’s Flamecon celebrates queer geeky fandom in style.

Autostraddle posted

irrepressible   whatmakesababy   thisdayinjune   thefemaleman

Lambda Literary posted New in June: Jonathan Galassi, Quintan Ana Wikswo, Ioannis Pappos, Emily Bingham and Ed Luce.

Okazu posted Event Report: FLAMECON 2015.

Catherine Lundoff posted Honoring Joanna Russ and How to Do It Better.

“30 LGBTQIA-Positive Children’s Books That’ll Teach Kids How Beautifully Diverse The World Is” was posted at Bustle.

Vera’s Will by Shelley Ettinger was reviewed at Lambda Literary and New Pages.

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.

Elinor reviews Lesbian Marriage: A Sex Survival Kit by Kim Chernin and Renate Stendhal

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I love reading about relationships, sex, and queer women. I especially like to read about lesbian marriage, since I’m one of the only women I know who’s married to a woman. I was incredibly excited about Lesbian Marriage: A Sex Survival Kit. Written by a married lesbian couple who have been together for nearly thirty years, I thought this book would offer unique insight and be fun to read. Sadly, Lesbian Marriage was an exercise in disappointment, starting with the title. “Kit” implies something along the lines of a workbook, with activities or writing exercises to complete. I was eager to try these but other than a few lines in the three chapters of introduction, there weren’t any activities or exercises for readers. The rest of book breaks down into twelve chapters about different relationship challenges, each beginning with a story of a queer woman or couple, followed by the authors’ thoughts on the story, then a list of “Do’s” and “Don’ts,” a weird illustration, and occasionally a blank page with “Notes, Scribbles, Doodles” written across the top. The authors called the advice section a “Toolkit” for reasons I didn’t understand. It turned out to be one of many things I didn’t understand about this book.

Clocking in at just 138 pages, and more than a dozen of these blank pages or tangentially related illustrations, there isn’t a lot of meat this book, and none of the topics go very deep. Chernin and Stendhal picked twelve topics to explore, with no explanation for why they selected these particular issues. Some of these, like extramarital desire or the impact of grudges on your sex life, seem pretty universal. Others, like a chapter called “The Genital Corset” (which is not as interesting as it sounds) about a woman who is mad at her partner because the partner doesn’t have orgasms with her, were overly specific. Meanwhile, topics I expected—like body image, identity, pregnancy and parenthood, disability and health issues, STIs, BDSM, non-monogamy, and past abuse and sexual assault—were either not addressed or presented in bizarre extremes. Lesbians raising children appear only in the story of a couple living in a two-bedroom house with their four adult daughters, two of the daughters’ partners, and a grandchild. None of the couples in the household had the privacy they needed, obviously, and this had a negative impact on all the couples’ sex lives, but the story was so over the top that I had trouble applying the lessons from the chapter to my own life.

In a chapter called “Butch and Femme: The Habit of Roles,” the couple discusses their difficulties around their elaborate sexual role play, but the role of power dynamics in a marriage is barely examined. Despite the chapter title, butch and femme identities are simply treated as synonyms for “top” and “bottom” respectively. As a femme this reductionism bothered me. I think the authors were using this story to make a point about getting stuck in limited roles, but conflating this with the identities of butch and femme was not helpful, and I was unclear how the couple was actually resolving the tension in their relationship.

I also didn’t understand how the authors found the couples in this book. Often the authors described these stories as being reconstructed from “listening sessions,” but never explained what a listening session is. Are they therapists writing about their patients? Are these their friends? Couples they found while researching the book? They gave no context to the couples, and sometimes didn’t even give the women names, which was confusing.

The strongest stories were about Chernin and Stendhal’s relationship, including their powerful tale of weathering Chernin’s affair with a younger woman. However, nearly every Chernin/Stendhal story describes a way their relationship either improved or works well, and most of the other couples’ stories seem to show people who are doing things wrong and struggling. It read to me as smugness from the authors, rather than real illustrations of lesbian couples who worked out challenges in their marriages.

I had trouble determining who the intended audience was supposed to be. Some chapters seemed aimed at older, long-time partners, while others seemed focused on women in new relationships deciding whether or not to commit to marriage. One chapter was about young single queer woman who was ambivalent about the concept of marriage entirely. None of it seemed aimed at a queer newlywed like me. This might explain why I heartily disagreed with some of their “Toolkit” advice. I found it irritating that they offered up prescriptions about marriage that left no room for a differing philosophy of relationships, while presenting them in a “Do” and “Don’t” list that didn’t explain why they’d come to these conclusions.

Their advice sometimes contradicted other advice they’d given. In early chapters, they tell readers to make sex a priority even if you’re busy or not feeling especially sexual. Later they present the story of a woman who wants a sexless marriage, though her wife does not, as a jumping off point for assuring the reader that it’s okay to stop having sex if that’s what you want. They offered no suggestions for the partner who didn’t want or expect a sexless marriage, or when to make sex a priority and when to embrace celibacy. Desire discrepancy is very common, and I expected them to address it with a little more consideration and creativity in a book with the words “sex survival” in the subtitle.

Their conclusions didn’t always seem to line up with the story they chose for the chapter either, with frustrating results. One of the most obvious examples of the authors missing the point of the story was a chapter about a cisgender woman who is uncomfortable that her boi partner is considering transitioning and/or having top surgery. The couple is also debating getting married, but the woman—the only half of the couple we hear from—does not want her partner to transition or identify as male. Chernin and Stendhal use this story to tell readers that marriage does not fix your relationship problems. It seemed to me that the issue wasn’t this at all, and the woman’s concern was about signing on for a marriage with someone whose self-identification and appearance might change. She was quite ignorant about trans and gender variant people too, which was putting strain on relationship with a gender variant (and possibly trans) partner. The authors could have used this story to make a broader, yet relevant, point if they’d acknowledged that one of the scary things about marriage is that you committing to someone who you know will grow and change–and that you’ll change too. You don’t get a guarantee who either of you will be in twenty years let alone what you’ll look like, which is something every married person wrestles with. Or the authors could have focused on the genuine, specific concerns around gender in a useful way. As far as I know, there isn’t a book about how to be a decent partner to someone who is gender variant and/or trans (if there is, please let me know in the comments!). A book like that is sorely needed, and this story could have been followed up with thoughtful, appropriate, and helpful advice on the subject. Instead, the authors seemed like they hadn’t read the story. Plus the woman used some transphobic language in the story that could have been edited out or responded to by the authors, but was simply glossed over. I was disturbed that the woman’s partner wasn’t given an opportunity to speak. It was a pretty raw story, and wasn’t handled with the care it warranted.

Similarly, the story in a chapter about not holding grudges featured an interracial couple from different class backgrounds. The conversation with peppered with microaggressions from the wealthier white partner, and the authors didn’t challenge these comments or discuss the impact these might be having on the relationship. Even when the woman of color called her partner out on a particularly racist comment, Chernin and Stendhal didn’t back her up, which make me lose respect for them. It was pretty clear to me from reading this story that the problem wasn’t just about holding grudges. The white woman was hurting her partner over and over and failing to acknowledge it, and it was destroying their relationship. How could the authors present themselves as experts without seeing this? Chernin and Stendhal chose these couples to write about, and chose to include problematic comments, so they should deal with what these couples said. The fact that they didn’t is troubling.

Occasionally this book has common sense advice, but you can find common sense relationship advice on Autostraddle or in the partnership chapter of The Whole Lesbian Sex Book, with more suggestions for putting it into practice. Skip Lesbian Marriage.

1/5 stars
 

Danika reviews Kynship (The Way of Thorn and Thunder #1) by Daniel Heath Justice

kynshipThis was a book that I wanted to like much more than I did. I picked it up solely because of Casey the Canadian Lesbrarian’s rave review. Casey did warn that readers unfamiliar with fantasy will probably face a barrier to getting into Kynship, so I was expecting that, but unfortunately for me it never quite clicked.

By the far the best part about this book was the world. It’s a vast, richly-imagined world, informed by First Nations (specifically Cherokee) history and culture, but also complex in its own right. I loved the thought was put into that, but it did feel overwhelming at times, like this book was trying to do too many things at once. Specifically, the point that really prevented me from being absorbed in the story was the constant perspective shifts. By the halfway point, the novel is told from about 15 different perspectives. Some overlap by the end, but others don’t connect in this volume. I was expecting one main character, as the blurb on the back describes, but I felt like I spent so little time with her (Tarsa) that I didn’t get a chance to know her–which goes double for the characters that only get a few pages of their story told in the whole book.

I know this was completely a matter of personal taste: I can definitely see what other people see in this series, but it just wasn’t for me. I loved the Native take on fantasy, and I was especially interested in the zhe-kin, who go by zhe/hirs pronouns. I appreciate that there is a Native fantasy series out there with a bisexual female protagonist, but overall this felt scattered to me. If this book were expanded so that each character got a little more page time, I would have enjoyed it a lot more.

That’s just my opinion, though, and if you’re at all intrigued, I recommend checking out Casey’s review as well.

 

Link Round Up: May 4 – 10


kynship
There’s so much to like about this book. It’s just phenomenal fantasy from a queer and Indigenous (Cherokee) perspective. If you like fantasy, you really cannot go wrong with Kynship. Although it’s published by a small Native press in Ontario, I found the whole series at the public library in Vancouver, so it’s not even hard to get a hold of! It’s the imaginative world-building, action, and suspense you can usually expect from fantasy, except with queer people, women, and (implicitly) Native folks at the forefront. There are also two-spirit / non-binary trans characters that straddle the gender worlds. What is not to love, I ask you?

– Review of Daniel Heath Justice’s Kynship: The Queer, Indigenous, Feminist Fantasy Novel You Never Knew You Wanted So Bad by Casey the Canadian Lesbrarian

Casey has been reading all queer authors of colour this year, and I’ve been discovering such great books through her recommendations! This fantasy novel with a bisexual Native woman protagonist definitely shot to the top of my TBR after this review.

Booktube needs more queer voices. This is a subset of the bookish internet that is just starting to get noticed, and it’s growing. It needs a greater variety of voices, and one aspect of that is definitely queer readers. . . . So join the booktube party, and give queer books a louder voice!

– Booktube Needs You! at Gay YA

Gay YA has been doing a month of guest posts from bloggers, authors, and other interesting people on the topic of YA. There’s a lot of great stuff there with more on the way, and I was able to contribute! I talked about why I fell in love with Booktube (bookish Youtube) and why it needs more queer voices.

bodymap   lieswetellourselves   funhomemusical   thenormalstateofmind

Autostraddle posted Read A F*cking Book Review: Leah Lakshmi Piepzna-Samarasinha is Living Her Truths in “Bodymap” and “Fun Home” the Musical is Messy, Hilarious, Nostalgic, and Totally Worth It.

Gay YA posted Have You Ever Considered Writing About Straight People? by Robin Talley.

Lambda Literary posted New in May: Christopher Bollen, Neil Smith, Hilary McCollum, Maggie Nelson, and Clive Barker.

Women and Words posted

sapphireandthetooth   underthelights   caphenon   PathsOfMarriage

Under the Lights by Dahlia Adler was reviewed at LGBT YA Reviews.

The Sapphire and the Tooth by Ellis Avery was reviewed at C-Spot Reviews.

The Devastation by Melissa Buzzeo was reviewed at Lambda Literary.

The Caphenon (Chronicles of Alsea) by Fletcher DeLancey was reviewed at The Rainbow Hub.

Shadows & Dreams by Alexis Hall was reviewed at Diverse Media.

The Paths of Marriage by Mala Kumar was reviewed at Lesbian Reading Room.

Deceptions by Lauren Maddison was reviewed at Curve Mag.

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.

Link Round Up: April 20 – 26

funhomemusical   lumberjanes   blackunicorn

AfterEllen posted Broadway’s “Fun Home” is the lesbian-themed musical we’ve been waiting for.

Afterwritten posted Queer YA Scrabble: An Event in June!

Autostraddle posted The Vagaries of Love: How Poetry and Queer Movements Give Each Other Names and Drawn to Comics: Lumberjanes #13 Gives Us the Best Origin Story Ever!

justthreewords   vanished   honey-girl

Just Three Words by Melissa Brayden was reviewed at read all about queer lit.

Vanished by E.E. Cooper was reviewed at ALA GLBT Reviews.

Honey Girl by Lisa Freeman was reviewed at ALA GLBT Reviews.

LostBoi   theargonauts   hypnotizingchickens

Lost Boi by Sassafras Lowrey was reviewed at Lambda Literary.

The Argonauts by Maggie Nelson was reviewed at Lambda Literary.

Love is Enough by Cindy Rizzo was reviewed at Frivolous Views.

Hypnotizing Chickens by Julia Watts was reviewed at Lesbian Reading Room.

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.

Readathon Hour 19

Currently reading: Babyji by Abha Dawesar.

And how is it? SO UNCOMFORTABLE. I was so on board for this character at first and now I’m totally backpedalling. She compared herself to Humbert Humbert??

Pages read this hour: 45

Pages read in total: 675 & 1 graphic novel

Books finished: Searching for Whitopia by Rich Benjamin (the last 100 pages), Ascension by Jacqueline Koyanagi, Aya of Yop City, Autobiography of a Family Photo by Jacqueline Woodson

Food eaten: None.

Interruptions: Not much.

Anything else? I’m calling it a night. That was fun, but I’ll be happier if I draw the line here. Happy readathon!

Readathon Hours 17 & 18

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Currently reading: Babyji by Abha Dawesar.

And how is it? I like it, but I don’t know how to feel? It’s about a sixteen-year-old sleeping with older women, and I honestly don’t know how the power dynamics work. One is her servant and one is a woman she hardly knows who she actively pursued. The other woman should have turned her down, of course. I feel uncomfortable about… how… it doesn’t make me feel uncomfortable? Well, the power she has over the servant makes me more uncomfortable. I’m conflicted.

Pages read this hour: 57 & 49

Pages read in total: 630 & 1 graphic novel

Books finished: Searching for Whitopia by Rich Benjamin (the last 100 pages), Ascension by Jacqueline Koyanagi, Aya of Yop City, Autobiography of a Family Photo by Jacqueline Woodson

Food eaten: None, and I brushed my teeth, so that’s my snackathon done.

Interruptions: Not much.

Anything else? I am really getting tired. It’ll be a push to get get through one more hour. Though we’ll see if I get too invested in Babyji to put it down.