Monthly Archives: January 2017

The Next Girl & Other Lesbian Tales

The Next Girl & Other Lesbian Tales

Sexy, suspenseful, and full of surprises, The Next Girl & Other Lesbian Tales features an array of previously published short stories starring women of color. Tawanna Sullivan serves up a sampler platter of genres: erotica, horror, suspense, thriller, fantasy, and romance. This slender volume is the perfect companion for any spare moment or a leisurely morning.

Just Desserts mixes a tryst and voyeurism between two couples stranded at an airport. The Getaway runs off to the countryside in the midst of a murder investigation. How far would you go for the woman you love? Operation Butch Ambush forces two groups with opposing gender ideals (Butch/Femme Preservation Society vs the Toi Bois’ “no matter whom you find yourself attracted to, be fierce enough to admit it and act on it” philosophy) to team up in order to save fellow butches from a reality television show. Famished reminds me of those six word memoirs. Though it’s only a page (a page meaning a Samsung Galaxy 5 screen-sized page), the story follows a relationship’s devolution over sack lunch; the ending offers smug satisfaction. The collection’s titular story, The Next Girl, involves a complicated case of romantic dibs between two friends.

Many of the stories felt like they ended abruptly, the rest of the tale just beyond the precipice. Granted, the author does note that a few are flash fiction pieces. Despite this, Sullivan creates vivid scenes and complex characters. The dialogue and pacing flow easily, adding to the overall immersive, enjoyable reading experience. She is currently at work on her debut novel. I’m excited to see how her talent at the abbreviated short form translates to feature length.

The Next Girl & Other Lesbian Tales
Author: Tawanna Sullivan
tpsulli publications

Released: January 2017
ISBN: 9780998432717
ASIN: B01MS3AKYU

Available from Amazon and KoboJoin the discussion on Goodreads!

Categories: erotica, lgbt, romance, short stories | Tags: , , , , , | 1 Comment

No Inaugural Flowers

Earlier today, as I was scrolling through my Twitter feed (after watching a bunch of Obama and Biden videos on YouTube this morning), I came across a couple posts mentioning how Trump did not have a poet at his *cough* inauguration. Presidents since JFK have invited poets to speak (although none of them have been of the Republican Presidents) at their inaugurations. I’m far from surprised that someone who revels in being a Philistine would not deviate from his party predecessors. 

Poetry is for everyone. Silly, serious, high, low, it speaks to our lives no matter where or who we are. I say 2017 is a year that deserves a flood of poetry. I sprawled on my living room floor this morning, surrounded by wonderful volumes and I felt a little bit better.

Elizabeth Bishop (1911-1979), a lauded US poet of the 20th century, would have shone brightly on an any President’s inauguration day. She was a consummate perfectionist, so while I would have loved to hear her read, I can’t imagine her completing (and feeling satisfied with) a new poem in a short period of time. A couple of years ago, I stumbled across Reaching for the Moon, a biopic on her relationship with Lota de Macedo Soares (1910-1967), a Brazilian architect. The film is based on Carmen L. Oliveira’s Rare and Commonplace Flowers: The Story of Elizabeth Bishop and Lota de Macedo Soares. An English translation was published by Rutgers University Press in 2002.

Your library may not have it, but ask if they’ll do an ILL (interlibrary loan) for it. You will hopefully be surprised that your library has not only the means, but the badass and coolness to go through with the request. The film is available on Amazon, Netflix, iTunes, and Vudu.

Poems is a collection of Bishop’s previously published poetry. It includes Questions of Travel (1965), dedicated to de Macedo Soares. “Shampoo” (p.82) is one of my favorites because of the transformation (or rather, the revelation) of the ordinary into the extraordinary. Beautiful reminders to slow down.

The shooting stars in your black hair
in bright formation
are flocking where,
so straight, so soon?
—Come, let me wash it in this big tin basin,
battered and shiny like the moon.

You can borrow this book from your local public library, as well as purchase it from Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and your neighborhood bookstore.

Categories: history, lgbt, poetry | Tags: , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

The Year of Needy Girls

Image result for the year of needy girls

The Year of Needy Girls by Patricia A. Smith is an uncomfortable and compelling look at residents of a small New England town. When ten year-old Leo Rivera is abducted by his neighbor, Mickey Gilberto, from his front yard in the East-side of town and later discovered dead, the people of Brandywine, Massachusetts become frenzied with fear, sorrow, and anger. Soon after his discovery, Dierdre, a French teacher at Brandywine Academy, located on the West-end of town, a private all-girls school, is accused of molesting one of her students. 

The townsfolk, already divided as the East-end and West-end, struggles to process the heinous crime and reconcile it with their differences. A snowball effect sweeps up everyone in its path as tensions rise during the investigations. Most residents of the West-end are affluent caucasians. Their children attend prestigious private schools, such as Brandywine Academy and rarely visit the East-end of town, even if they have a chaperone present. The residents of the East-end are more diverse. Many folks come from primarily working class backgrounds, speak a language other than English in the home, and have family members who immigrated to the United States within a generation or two.

The charges brought against the teacher add pressure to Dierdre’s and Sara Jane’s (SJ) five-year relationship. As the accusations fly, the tenuous threads binding the two women together stretch taut. The fall-out forces both women to confront long-held grievances and desires in their relationship. They also become subject to an attack reminiscent of Anita Bryant’s “Save Our Children” campaign; a challenge they both handle in different ways.

The novel is divided between the perspectives of Dierdre; SJ, a librarian at Brandywine’s East-end branch with a connection to Mickey Gilberto; interludes that focus on the female students of Brandywine Academy; and letters to the editor of the town newspaper. There are marginalized community voices that also surface intermittently. Despite the victim’s home in a Brazilian East-end neighborhood, however, readers are confined to the lens’ of the “needy girls”. “Needy girls”, how Dierdre frequently refers to her students, is applicable to the adults, as well.

The novel deals in perceptions, muddled motives, and doubt.  There are plenty of uncomfortable moments when readers dance up to the edge with Dierdre as she makes observations about students’ lives beyond the classroom and as she examines her own role in the drama. Despite discomfort expressed by characters at the teacher’s devotion to her students’ lives, both in and out of the classroom, Smith does not make it easy for readers to define Dierdre. Smith also brings into play comparisons between the teacher and Mickey Gilberto. On the other side, SJ is isolated in their relationship. Her struggle to find satisfaction and need in her work, to find a place where she isn’t second or third, drives her narrative. However, her part in this tale is not as cut and dry, either.

The Year of Needy Girls revels in ambiguity. At every turn I felt compelled to question my own assumptions, as I judged the protagonists and secondary cast. I’m still mulling over motives and ethical questions raised in the story. Readers who enjoy moral dilemmas and the drama of small town New England life, filled with wonderful detail and told at a snowballing pace, will relish Smith’s debut novel. 

***Also, does anyone else think that the woman on the cover looks like Krysten Ritter à la Jessica Jones?***

The Year of Needy Girls by Patricia A. Smith
Published by Akashic Books
Released: January 2017

ISBN-10: 1617754870
ISBN-13: 978-1617754876

Available from Akashic Books, AmazonBarnes & Noble, and other retailers. Be sure to check your local public library for availability.

Join the discussion on Goodreads! Bonus discussion guide available on Akashic Books’ website.

Categories: fiction, lgbt, literary fiction | Tags: , , , | 1 Comment

Yeeeeeeehaw! Historical Westerns

Now that I’m finally watching HBO’s Westworld, it’s all I can think about. What does it mean to be sentient? It brings up a ton of great questions, none of which are the focus of this post. It did pique my interest, though, in creating a list of historical westerns. Which of these novels belong in the pantheon of western “classics”? Click on any of the links (including the book covers) to learn more about each book.

The queer women in these books are passionate, tenacious, and stalwart. They face mile high odds to love and live the way they want and need to. These badass women are most definitely doing it for themselves and for each other.

Some of books featured below are ones that I’ve read, some are in my closet and await a spare moment, and some I’ve only just discovered while building this list. How many historical fiction novels starring queer women can we round up? If you’d like to help me add to this list in-progress, please share your books in the comments below. Thank you!

montana-feathers

Montana Feathers by Penny Hayes
Publisher: Naiad Press (you’ll be redirected to Bella Books)
Publication date: 1990

High adventure in the old west…romantic and satisfying. An authentic portrait of women finding and loving each other in America’s frontier days. (Goodreads)

Join the discussion on Goodreads!

backwards-to-oregon

Backwards to Oregon (The Oregon series) by Jae
Publisher: Ylva Publishing
Publication date: 2013

“Luke” Hamilton has always been sure that she’d never marry. She accepted that she would spend her life alone when she chose to live her life disguised as a man.
After working in a brothel for three years, Nora Macauley has lost all illusions about love. She no longer hopes for a man who will sweep her off her feet and take her away to begin a new, respectable life.
But now they find themselves married and on the way to Oregon in a covered wagon, with two thousand miles ahead of them. (Goodreads)

Join the discussion on Goodreads!

the-long-trail

The Long Trail by Penny Hayes
Publisher: Naiad Press (you’ll be redirected to Bella Books)
Publication date: 1986

A lesbian western: Authentic, rip-roaring, fast-moving, and a very sexy adventure. (Goodreads)

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warrior-healer-thief

The Warrior, the Healer, and the Thief
Publisher: Less Than Three Press
Publication date: 2016

All three [characters] prefer to walk alone, but if they’re going to survive legendary beasts and powerful magic of the unforgiving west, they’ll have to learn that sometimes there’s strength in numbers. (Goodreads)

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bittersweet

Bittersweet by Nevada Barr
Publisher: William Morrow Paperbacks (1999 reprint, as shown on cover featured)
Publication date: 1984

A heart-wrenching, yet tender tale of two women whose boundless devotion to each other is continually challenged in nineteenth century America. (Goodreads)

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distant-thunder

Distant Thunder by Peggy J. Herring
Publisher: Bella Books
Publication date: 2003

When she was very young, Leona Trask’s mother died, leaving her with the task of raising her four younger brothers. Leo yearned to be free, to ride the vast empty spaces of the open West and escape the endless drudgery of running a farm. It was a hard life, and every night she tumbled into bed exhausted to dream of freedom.

Then Cordy rode into her life. A free spirit, a loner, who would take off without warning, Leo resented her for her freedom, yet at the same time Cordy awakened feelings in her–feelings she couldn’t explain or comprehend. As the endless poverty of farm life drew Leo’s father into the outlaw world of train robbing, Leo shouldered more of the responsibility of keeping her little family together–and she burned with resentment that Cordy was part of the gang–treated as equal to the men.

A kiss awakens Leo’s inner passion, and sends her on a journey to find Cordy; a journey that is also one of self-discovery. (Goodreads)

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tumbleweed

Tumbleweed Fever by LJ Maas
Publisher: Regal Crest Enterprises – Yellow Rose Books
Publication date: 2000

In the Oklahoma Territory of the old west, Devlin Brown is trying to redeem herself for a past as an outlaw. Working as a rider on a cattle ranch, she meets Sarah Tolliver, a widow with two children and a successful ranch, but no way to protect it from the ruthless men who would rather see her fail. Sparks fly when the former outlaw teams up with the beautiful, yet headstrong, young Tolliver. (Goodreads)

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sweetwater

Sweetwater series by Mickey Minner
Publisher: Regal Crest Enterprises – Yellow Rose Books
Publication date: 2006

The “respectable” world of an Eastern woman in the late 1800’s, marrying and caring for a family, holds no appeal for Jennifer Kensington. She seeks a life of adventure and challenge. When her request to work in the family business is refused by her father, she leaves for the West, where she is certain she will find a new life in a society where a woman’s options are not so restricted. Jesse Branson has built a good life for herself in Sweetwater, Montana. Skill in a poker game made her the owner of The Silver Slipper, a one time bordello, now a successful restaurant and rooming house. The profits from that business made it possible for her to achieve her biggest dream, to own her own ranch. Jesse is a respected member of the community, but someone is plotting to destroy all of her dreams as well as take her life. Jennifer and Jesse’s attraction for each other grows as intrigue swirls around them. Will their chance for happiness survive as the danger to Jesse unfolds? As they struggle to save Jesse’s life, they also try to save their future. (Goodreads)

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tahoma

Tahoma by Mary Broughton Boone
Publisher: Cape Winds Press
Publication date: 2000

In 1883 in the Washington Territory, Agnes Farwell still mourns the recent death of her father. William Tyrell, her new stepfather, seems intent on destroying the family farm, but when he hires Hope Lawson as governess to Agnes’ four younger siblings, Agnes is surprised at the feelings she has for the young woman. But even as Agnes finds strength to break free of William’s power, he shows he has one more deadly trick up his sleeve. (Goodreads)

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Last Train Home, The - eBook

The Last Train Home by Blayne Cooper
Publisher: Cavalier Press (later prints published through other presses)
Publication date: 2004

Blayne Cooper, the award-winning author of Cobb Island, Echoes from the Mist, and The Story of Me, and co-author of Madam President and First Lady, has once again presented readers with a well-spun tale. The Last Train Home, an endearing and often heart-wrenching story set in the late nineteenth century, will keep you on the edge of your seat. One cold winter’s night in Manhattan’s Lower East side, tragedy strikes the Chisholm family. Thrown together by fate and disaster, Virginia “Ginny” Chisholm meets Lindsay Killian, a street-smart drifter who spends her days picking pockets and riding the rails. Together, the young women embark on a desperate journey that spans from the slums of New York City to the Western Frontier, as Ginny tries to reunite her family, regardless of the cost. In this dramatic saga a solid friendship is forged, one strong enough to endure the trials of an impoverished existence in 1890s America and a quest from which neither woman will back down. It’s those same bonds that form the basis of a tender, and very unexpected, romance. (Goodreads)

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Josie and Rebecca: The Western Chronicles

Josie and Rebecca: The Western Chronicles by B L Miller, Vada Foster
Publisher: Intaglio Publications (reprinted this title in 2005)
Publication date: 2000

At the center of this story are two women; one a deadly gunslinger bitter from the injustices of her past, the other a gentle dreamer trying to escape the horrors of the present. Their destinies come together one fateful afternoon when the feared outlaw makes the choice to rescue a young woman in trouble. For her part, Josie Hunter considers the brief encounter at an end once the girl is safe, but Rebecca Cameron has other ideas… (Goodreads)

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The Grass Widow

The Grass Widow by Nanci Little
Publisher: Madwoman Press
Publication date: 1996

A moving novel of support, friendship and love, set in the tiny frontier community of Washburn Station, Kansas in the year 1876. (Goodreads)

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Categories: fiction, historical fiction, lists | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

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