Tag Archives: lesbian

Passing Strange, by Emily Klages

19 Apr
passing strange ellen klages

Four of Five Stars

This book was not my favorite, but there were several things I really enjoyed and I think others might like it even more than I did.

THE PLUSES: Let’s be honest – THAT COVER. I rarely actually purchase books, but I saw this cover and had to get it. Even before I got to reading it I had pulled the book out several times just to look at its cover. Who wouldn’t want this framed in their own home? When I finally started the book – Surprise! – it turns out the picture is actually a chalk drawing that plays an important role in the book.
The characters. There is a group of women who are friends who help each other out in any way needed. Each of them were very interesting and I could have read a book about any specific character’s life.
The End. I was only going to give 3 stars (which, to be fair, is “I like it”) until the end. And the end had just enough excitement and drama and love to pull my little heartstrings and add another star.

THE MINUSES: All the characters. These women were so interesting, but the book rarely focuses on any one character long enough to get to know them, and there was confusion on my part as to who the story was about. I wouldn’t mind more books about these characters with maybe a more concentrated focus on one character. I mean, Helen??? That woman led a fascinating life and we only saw a bit of it!
The Magic. This is a fairly realistic story about lesbian life in San Francisco 80 years or so ago. That should have been enough of a story. But then suddenly magic is thrown in, in sort of a major way, and then it’s just dropped. Like “Oh here’s a serious story, here we go, oh and by the way this woman can do major magic but ANYWAY….”
The End. And then of course magic comes along and saves the day…

Now some readers may love that there is magic involved, and if it had figured more into the story as a whole perhaps I would have bought into it as well. But it seemed just sort of tossed in the middle of the story as an unimportant detail, only to be dragged out at the end to save the day. That is what bothered me.

But all in all, should you read it? I say Yes. They are fascinating characters and I hope I can eventually read more about them, and if anything, you need this cover in your life.

The Big Sugarbush, by Ana B. Good

9 Jan
big-sugarbush-ana-b-good

4 of 5 stars

This is a light, happy, lesbian romcom, framed by the serious themes of addiction and rehab in a lesbian-only facility.

I fell in love on the first page when we were introduced to Nan, the successful middle-aged lesbian. My favorite couple though was Poppy and Storm, the popstar and war correspondent, respectively.

It does well as a zany lesbian romcom, but I have to admit my imagination couldn’t quite cover some of the very serious situations that were set to comedy and silliness. There were some serious addiction issues in the book, but the recovery was only touched on. There was a seriously dangerous situation that Storm deals with that I really couldn’t wrap my head around as comedy, even though it was obviously supposed to be silly and the antagonists were like cartoon characters. But I can’t put my uncomfortable feelings on the author, I think this is just one of the weaknesses that my very logical, serious brain experiences sometimes when reading books like this.

Overall it was the silly, light, fun little book I had wanted to read. It doesn’t pretend to be anything more, and in these serious times, it is what I needed.

If Looks Could Kill, by Andi Marquette

9 Aug
if looks could kill andi marquette

Five of Five stars

I was given an ARC of this book by the author, who happens to be someone I consider a friend, in exchange for a review. I hate reviewing books when they’re given to me by the author because it’s so difficult to then say anything bad about them. But I’ve read Andi‘s work before, and have yet to be disappointed. And so…

Simply put, I really enjoyed this one, and that’s the honest truth.
It’s not a heavy crime thriller, I’d say it’s more TV show level on the thriller part – but I was happy to go with it as I got to know undercover cop Ellie and the more elusive Marya. This isn’t a mark down, it’s just on the lighter side which is what I needed at the time.

Ellie is working on a case involving Russian mobsters who may have a link in the fashion world. Enter gorgeous Marya, head of a top fashion house and seemingly friends with many of those mobsters. Ellie gets an internship at the fashion house to keep an eye on Marya, and the sparks start to fly. Well, they’re flying all around Ellie, but Marya is the untouchable ice dragon boss lady with possible Russian mob ties. What’s an undercover cop to do?

I kept getting confused with all the Russian bad guys, but that’s because my full attention was on Ellie and Marya. More than once I was shouting “Just kiss her already!” when I should have been following along with the crime plot. But I was fully immersed in the story as we wonder whether Marya is a good gal or a bad gal, and whether that kiss will ever come. It’s not a romance novel, so there’s no mushy “love” involved, and neither is there a dramatic happily ever after, but it ends the way a crime novel should and on a very satisfying note at that.

This is part of the Law Game series by Ylva Publishing, a series by different authors with only the shared theme of “law”, so I don’t know if Andi is planning on writing any future books about Ellie. But I’d be happy to read more of her crime-fighting adventures, and also to find out more about her ex Gwen – after all, there was some sort of future drinks date that we never get to see in this book.

So let’s see: Intricate exciting crime thriller – check! Very likable main characters (male and female) – check! Sparks between two beautiful, strong, successful women – check! One A+++ sex scene – CHECK! And a hope that I might get more Ellie in the future… this is all I need to rate it 5 stars.

Cake, by Jove Bell

8 Jun
cake jove bell

Four of Five stars

A very quick, erotic lesbian novel. So quick I was shocked when I reached the last page on my Kindle. But it’s labeled as “Bitterroot Saga #1”, so if there are more stories with Elana and Kelly to come, I’d be thrilled to read them.

It’s a very simple beginning to what is hopefully a longer story. Elana’s ex-girlfriend marries Kelly’s brother. Elana and Kelly meet at the wedding and fall in mad lust with each other. Shenanigans (and sex) ensue (mostly sex). At the end of the book they reach a decision about whether to keep seeing each other, and that’s that.

Short but sweet, with likable characters (psst, Elana, call me!). Currently only $2.99 at Amazon, and well worth it.

Jane’s World: The Case of the Mail Order Bride, by Paige Braddock

21 May
janes world paige braddock mail order bride

FIVE of Five Stars

This book is simply delightful. It’s a RomCom in print form, for lesbians. So sweet and funny, with some excitement and danger thrown in, and best of all, a great cast of characters. I love when I meet a whole new group of friends, and every single person in this story was someone I’d want to know – even the characters who Jane didn’t love, I still thought they were great.

The story is set up quickly, with Jane’s PayBuddy getting hacked and a $10,000 mail order bride being ordered for her without her knowledge. Then we follow the group of friends as they try to figure out how to get Jane’s money back and what to do with Natasha, all while Jane still pines for her previous ex. There is a comedy of errors with Jane and her ex both misunderstanding the actions of the other, but it was the believable kind when you still love someone but don’t know how they feel about you. No manufactured drama, which I can’t stand.

The book is based on characters from the Jane’s World comic strip, which I was unfamiliar with, but I’m going to seek out Jane’s history immediately. However I had no problem following these characters, and the history of each was explained very clearly. Because it originated as a comic, the book isn’t meant to be a literary masterpiece, but rather a light and hysterical story that should cheer you up no matter how down you may be. I was laughing hysterically through the first third of the book, until certain tensions and issues started arising. The logic of the mail order bride plot may have a few holes, but I quickly realized if this was just a funny RomCom on screen, I would totally be buying the set-up, and so I did here as well. The story is a comedy and should be taken as such, just enjoy it! That said, it’s a very sweet story, with lovable characters and many great friendships.

I’m so glad I was able to read this, and I thank NetGalley, Bold Strokes Books and Paige Braddock for the advance copy in exchange for an honest review. The honest truth is I simply adore this book, and will definitely be seeking out more of Jane’s World.

Radio Girls, by Sarah-Jane Stratford

18 May
radio girls sarah-jane stratford

Five of Five stars

This book is the best kind of historical fiction in that it tells a real story with real people, but from a fictional character’s point of view. I am not sure what I initially expected of this book; I think just a story set in the time of radio’s beginnings. But it is so much more!

It is part of the story of the beginning years of the BBC. I soon started googling the guest speakers they mentioned (as I’m an ignorant American born in the 60s). I found these very real people to be very interesting, but then I googled Hilda Matheson, a pretty prominent character in the book, and discovered she was a real person too. Then I googled the other characters and realized this was actually a fairly true story told from a (fictional) assistant’s point of view. This upped my fascination level even higher than it was when I requested the book.

I had never read a book that revolved around radio’s beginnings, and it really brought to light not only how much the world changed with that one invention, but how similar the change was then to these new internet days now.  There was so much talk of the world becoming a smaller place, and how everyone with access to a radio could now get so much knowledge they had no access to before, and how it would help people who felt alone in the world. These are all things they say about the internet now. As far as we’ve come in the last 100 years, the radio also gave us a huge jump in technology and knowledge and connection with the world.

With this knowledge however comes the question of who will control the dissemination of that knowledge. BBC’s beginnings came at the same time as Women’s Suffrage in the UK, and those grumbling times are remarkably similar to today’s political atmosphere. Women’s Rights also meant loss of the men’s control and they certainly were not happy about it. World War I had just ended, governments were reorganizing, and businesses across borders were forming new alliances. The stock market crash in the US had just as great an effect across the Atlantic. There were at least two opposing views on each of these topics, and control of the BBC meant control of the information the world received.

In the middle of all this is young Maisie, our fictional heroine who lands a low-level job at the BBC hoping to find a husband, but instead finds a career and a new life plan. A life plan she could barely comprehend as it wasn’t remotely a possibility just a few years before.  Along with Maisie comes a fictional storyline starring the BBC, Nestle and Siemens, and the Nazis.  As Sarah-Jane Stratford mentions in the very informative Author’s Note, the actual storyline is fictional, but many of the events surrounding it are not, and many similar events were taking place.

Stratford wrote this book because of her fascination with Hilda Matheson from the BBC, and this fascination is transferred to the reader. She was an amazing, high-level career woman in times when there was no such thing, and she was a lesbian to boot.  She is a fantastic role model to young women even in our own times.

And so is our young Maisie, who follows her dreams of being a reporter with various levels of success. But in Maisie’s case as it is always, it doesn’t matter how many times you fall down, it matters how many times you get back up. She takes her role as reporter very seriously, and even takes on some spy traits as she works to save free speech in the UK and women’s rights as well.

This is an outstanding book that gets better and better as it goes along. I love that I learned so much, I love that I’ve developed a great interest in the amazing Hilda Matheson, and I really enjoyed the fictional plot. It may have gone a little slowly in the beginning, as the fictional plot doesn’t get going until the second half, but spending the first half on Maisie’s moving up the ranks and learning about all the real-life changes that happened in those few short years was worth it all.

Many thanks to the Penguin First to Read program for an advance copy in exchange for an honest review.

Collide-O-Scope, by Andrea Bramhall

8 May
collide o scope andrea bramhall

Four of Five stars

This is a really fast read, and enjoyable, but I have conflicting feelings about every aspect of the book. I was really into it by the end and the crime was solved believably through actual detective work. It wasn’t always 100% realistic, but overall the crime part was solid.

I liked Kate Brannon, and would love to read more of this character, but no other character stood out as interesting or fleshed out. I rooted for Gina, but she wasn’t a very deep woman. Other characters held promise, but we never really get to know them well. There were some interesting people on the police force but not enough time was spent with them.

Here are some of my gripes:
It’s always nice to read about a solid, professional lesbian, and even better when it’s a realistic story that doesn’t have sex as a focal point. But aside from Kate, the other three lesbians we meet aren’t that likable (and one is dead). Speaking of the dead one, I felt some of the characters’s reactions to the woman being not just murdered, but having her face blown clear off, well, they just didn’t ring true to me. And this little fishing town has only 49 residents (48 after the murder), yet the police only interview a handful of people about the crime. We also meet a few townspeople who are big suspects, but there’s no closure to those characters. And in the end, a good portion of the town is headed for prison, considering there’s only 48 people to begin with. I wish the population had not been set to 49, because statistically a lot of things didn’t add up right.

But still, I really enjoyed reading this! I’d probably give it five stars as a beach book. But I think it wants to be a real crime novel. I don’t feel it was deep enough or fleshed out enough to get 5 stars for that. I do give a million thanks to the author for writing a great lesbian main character. Kate is someone I would want to know in real life.

In the end, I can’t give it five stars because I wouldn’t recommend this to everyone. It’s not necessarily going to please everyone who enjoys crime novels, though it’s not a bad one, just not super meaty. It is excellent as a nice easy beach read. And I would recommend it to anyone looking for more novels with strong lesbian characters. It definitely hits the mark with that.

Many thanks to NetGalley for providing an early copy in exchange for an honest review.