Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Cool Link for Kindle readers of bi/lesbian

For those of you who might have gotten a reader that can read Kindle books, or if you read Kindle books on your computer, I found someone who's creating a Listmania list of books for bi/lesbian Kindle book readers on Amazon. They are all books she's read and reviewed.

She reads across genres, but likes fantasy and sci-fi. And I like the way she writes her reviews, they're: clear, concise, and in-depth.

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Review- Saving Face (DVD)

Saving Face (DVD)
Drama/Comedy/Chinese American/ Lesbian
91 mins.
In English and Chinese (w/subtitles)

When 48-year-old widow Hwei-Lan Gao (Joan Chen) informs her less-than understanding father she's pregnant, he banishes her from Flushing until she remarries or proves Immaculate Conception. With nowhere else to go, Hwei-Lan moves in with her grown daughter, Wil (Michelle Krusiec), a Manhattan doctor who doesn't want a roommate, especially since she's met Viv (Lynn Chen), her sexy young lover. So Wil does what any dutiful child with an expectant, unmarried mother on her hands would do: she proceeds to set Hwei-Lan up with every eligible bachelor in town.

Oh yeah, this is what I’m talking about. Finally, a cute, humorous film that portrays a lesbian falling in love story realistically including all the family issues around it. This was a particularly endearing film because it’s set within the Chinese American community, which includes three generations trying to live different levels of old country cultural values within a vastly different American culture.

Wil is a young surgeon who has a brilliant career ahead of her. Every week she goes to Flushing (NY), insisted by her mother, for the weekly dance, where everyone goes to hook-up, find marriageable partners for their kids, and do some gossiping. Her single mother has been trying to set her up with a good guy, but she just goes through the motions every week because she’s gay and is afraid to tell her mother.

Hwei-Lan, Will’s mother, has her own little secret. She’s pregnant, to the shock of the community and shame of her traditional father who kicks her out of their house. She’s been living there since her husband died 17 years ago and has never found another suitable partner. (By the way, Joan Chen is freaking hot in this film. She’s one of those rare women who seems to get better looking with age.) Having nowhere to go, she moves in with Wil to Wil’s dismay.

In the meantime, stressed out Wil is slowly getting seduced by Viv, the daughter of the chief of surgery and Wil’s boss. Viv is very attracted to Wil and manages to get her into her bed, eventually, since Wil is a lot more cautious. They see each other as often as possible and their feelings start growing for each other. Unfortunately, while Viv comes from a more open-minded family who accept that she’s gay, Wil is reluctant to come out to her more traditionally inclined family and this causes some friction between them.

To get her place back and have her own life, Wil starts setting her mom up with potential husbands since it’s not proper for a woman to live alone. Those scenes by the way were hilarious as Hwei-Lan goes out on date after date with all kinds of losers. However, this won’t change the fact that Wil needs to come to terms with her love for Viv and coming out to her family.

What stood out for me in this film was the warmth, love, and eventual family/community acceptance that came through. I love it when people are shown to let go of, or at least put to the side for further introspection, their biases, beliefs, cultural mores when the reality of life butts in. 

Saving Face flowed so nicely showing just everyday people trying to deal with events that throw them out of their comfort zone. In this case, they all rise to the challenge without it coming across as phony for the sake of a feel good movie.

The acting is very natural and there’s a good feel for all these characters and what they’re about. The writing is clean and dialogue witty and poignant as well. The writer/director of this film, Alice Wu, is a Chinese American and also a lesbian and she did right by all groups, staying genuine and never stepping into stereotypes without sensitivity.

The love scenes between Wil and Viv are very sexy, light and naturally done. The lesbian thing was integrated nicely, meaning it wasn’t the main focus of the film but wasn’t treated as minor either. Nor did it seem to be thrown in as a focal point for comedic affect, like in Kissing Jessica Stein.

And did I mention Joan Chen? LOL Yes, I’ve been in love with her since Twin Peaks and The Last Emperor. She was amazing in this film. Everyone was.

I absolutely recommend seeing Saving Face. Not only for the lesbian aspect, but for the fun and charm of it. It’s a sweet, beautiful film all around.

Heat level: 2/3- Some light nude sex scenes between women.

Grade: A+

Sunday, December 26, 2010

My Precioussssssss

So I finally was able to open up my iTouch and play with it. Woot! It's been taunting me since Black Friday, just sitting there saying "play with me, you know you want to." snort

The first thing I did was to take a picture of our annual Christmas dinner, courtesy of Safeway and processed foods makers. I used to cook years ago, but since we are only two and I end up doing hours of cooking and then cleaning up, I don't do that anymore. It took us all of 15 mins. to go in the store, pick up a 1/2 cooked turkey breast, some salad fixings, and pre-done stuffing and mashed potatoes, et Voila! All prepared in 10 mins. LOL

The next thing I did was to start downloading ebook apps. I was right on that. snort

I downloaded: Kindle, Nook, Stanza, and Bluefire for buying and reading books.

So today, I was going to try it all out and see how I can manage getting books on my iTouch, but seriously, I can't find one book I want at the moment. WTH?

I looked through many Kindle books and can't find one I want to buy.
I did the same with Smashwords, Nook, All Romance Ebooks, my Library and I didn't see one book I was hepped up to read. :/

I'm itching to try at least one. It's the main reason I got an iTouch, although it's a tiny screen. I finally have lots of options. Maybe that's the problem? Too many options all the sudden? Heh.

I also got all excited and downloaded, Twitter and have Google Reader all set up. Best of all maybe is the My Fitness Pal (free) an app in which I can track my calorie intake for the diet I intend to go on. :D I'm hoping it makes me all excited to stick to it.

I probably won't get much reading done anyway. The Mr. is home until next Mon. and we got a boat load of movies to watch. Mostly Asian warrior/samurai/martial arts type of flicks. I love them as well, so we're on the same page. Although we did rent Cop Out, which was pretty funny. Typical Bruce Willis stuff, which I enjoy.

We'll probably rent a few more before the week is out.

I also have some lesbian centric movies on hold from the library, which will come this week probably. So more movie reviews.

Anyone read a good f/f or f/f/m book lately? I have a few f/f/m that I want to read. But you all know how it is, you have an  huge TBR pile and psychologically think, it's always going to be there so I can hold off for that new juicy one that turns me on. But I need a new juicy one that turns me on.

So, did anyone get anything really cool for Christmas or whatever holiday you celebrate?

Did you get what you wanted? I hope everyone had a nice holiday.

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Review- Do I Love You? (DVD)

Do I Love You? (DVD)
74 mins.

In the vein of GO FISH and I`VE HEARD THE MERMAIDS SINGING, this charming lesbian film deals with the everyday complexities of love, sex, and relationships. This festival favorite won the Seattle Lesbian and Gay Film Festival award for Best Director (Lisa Gornick), and realistically chronicles the lesbian life in today`s London.

I thought this would be a good movie. It says it’s a lesbian romance on the cover and the DVD pics suggest it is. Um… no, it’s not. It’s a sort of lesbian Woody Allen meets Seinfeld type of movie in that it’s kind of artsy, neurotic and a story about nothing. I think this was supposed to be an humorous, satirical look at city lesbian life, but missed the mark. It did have some funny moments and I think it’s a film worth watching. But I didn’t get what the focus of it was; it seemed to just ramble all over and I didn’t see the point of much of what happened.

This movie is about the main character, Marina, trying to answer some questions about who she is, life, being a lesbian, men, mortality and so on through an intellectual deconstruction of her life. Yes, it was that exciting. :/

I don’t mind stories like that. And I kind of did enjoy the voice of Marina, who is actually the writer and director of this film. She does have a way of expressing herself that had some appeal. But it would have been nice if it went somewhere, or if the character/s had some growth in that.

A secondary focus is supposedly on a realistic portrayal of the lesbian scene in London. If that’s the case, it might be realistic, but it’s not very flattering. It shows only the worst of what I believe might really be the case.

All the characters, most of them lesbians, seem to not have any sense of commitment in their relationships or lives. They’re all cheating, or thinking of cheating on their partners. They all come across as selfish and clueless about how they affect their partners and each other. They seem to willy-nilly blow off live-in partners without care about how they might feel. Even the ones who get dumped don’t come across as devastated, they simply have an “oh well” attitude, which made me wonder what the hell these people are doing with each other. Why even be in a relationship?

It’s like they’re all a bunch of superficial users. None of the characters had any redeeming qualities, including Marina, who comes across as completely selfish and self absorbed.

Mostly this is about Marina. She goes about questioning why she’s a lesbian in weird ways. She’s in a relationship with Romy in the moment, but she decides maybe it’s a good idea to try and sleep with men to figure this out, even though she’s been a lesbian for years and seems to have had no problem with that previously. It never comes across as her trying to figure out if she’s gay or not, just WHY she’s a lesbian. I don’t think you can answer WHY you’re straight or gay, so this seems a sort of pseudo intellectual contrivance to have some sort of premise for this movie, or there’s no story.

So she gets into bed with these guys she knows or meets who know she’s a lesbian but she can’t go through with it, every time freaking out and leaving even though those guys really want her. Huh? She’s even decides to cheat on her Romy with an attitude like, well, that’s what we do. But when Romy asks her, she says no, because she’s only been in bed with men, she hasn’t had sex with them even if it was her intent originally.

She also tries to get answers from her parents, which got a bit weird at times. They seem to take her being a lesbian in stride, but are kind of flaky about her neurotic ramblings about everything. Her father asks her what lesbians do in bed, and she gets very specific about how she becomes her inner man who wants to thrust her throbbing penis into the open female. Squick on talking to the father so explicitly.

She grills her partner about what it was like for her to suck men’s balls before she got into women, which makes her partner uncomfortable. And they nonchalantly decide to split up like they never did give a shit about each other. I didn’t feel any connection between them anyway, so no big shock.

Other story lines: a straight copy writer writes a series of articles with a lot of intellectual mind fuck about Freud and how being a lesbian is like narcissism, in that a woman who loves a woman is like loving herself. This writer hooks up with a lesbian and sleeps with her to get fodder for her articles. What’s weird is that the lesbian who sleeps with her got pissed at that article, calling it rubbish. And when the lesbian confides that she fantasizes about a man sometimes sexually, this article writer brings her boyfriend to have a threesome. He nonchalantly, like he’s doing this lesbian a favor says he doesn’t mind just watching if that would make her feel more comfortable.

Like just totally clueless characters all around in this story.

I don’t know, if you can get it for free from the library, which I’m glad I did, it might be worth watching. I wasn’t bored with it, it just didn’t make too much sense. I don’t know if the writer/director is a lesbian herself, but she did a sorry job of portraying lesbians in a good light with this film. Not that it’s her job to do so and not that it isn’t a realistic portrayal, it might be, I don’t know. The lesbians that I actually know are all in long term, loving, committed relationships, so that’s my personal experience of the lesbian world. It seemed though she went out of her way to make all the lesbians in this movie look bad, which is kind of sad.

My sister told me that it’s a running joke amongst lesbians that there are no good films about lesbians. That they are either too stereotypical or show the worst of them. I’m starting to realize what she means.

Heat level: 1- minor sexual scenarios… no nudity

Grade: C-

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

This and That

I read this on EREC blog by Emily Veinglory. She keeps track of publishing news, new epublishers, and general ebook news.

There's a publisher in the UK, Embrace Books, that has started a new line called Saffron to publish lesbian stories. Here's their mission statement about it:

at Embrace

Quality lesbian fiction, including short romance and erotica.

These stories engage the reader within a world of female-female relationships, in a range of romantic, erotic, historical, paranormal, crime, thriller and suspense fiction.

From significant commercial fiction to hot, irreverent erotica, Embrace Books provides a brand-new British home for powerful lesbian writing with a global outlook.

I clicked on their Saffron section and see that at this point there's only one book coming out in spring 2011. Hmmm...

The blurb about the writer states that she's bisexual. I wonder if they did that to give her more credibility in writing a lesbian romance? I noticed things like that for other author bios as well.

I think it's good that more and more epubs and such are promoting lesbian or f/f stories, but Emily wondered out loud that many think there's a difference between f/f and lesbian. It's a discussion that we've had often here and other places.

I've reached a point where that line has become very blurry for me. In the beginning, I only related to stories with bisexual or sexually fluid characters. But since there aren't that many stories like that out there, I have been reading more and more straight up lesbian stories.

What I see at this point is that inside myself, I'm seeing less of a difference. But I know that many straight readers who enjoy f/f romance outside of the context of a lesbian relationship will still see it as separate. And I think lesbians will not see them as similar either.

But again, this is an issue of labeling, so we'll see. If they are labeling it lesbian, then it gets tricky for readers. Straight women won't read it, and lesbians will expect full on lesbian characters, not a bisexual or sexually fluid, gay in the moment character.

On to other things:

I've been watching this cute series on Vimeo- a youtube like service, about a group of lesbian friends and their life in LA called, That's What She Said

Each video is only like 5 min. long, but it's an ongoing drama done by real friends and I really enjoy it. So I'll post the first one here.

TWSS: Episode 1 - Pilot from TWSS Online on Vimeo.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Review- A Village Affair (DVD)

A Village Affair (DVD)
1995- British TV


100 mins.

Based on the bestselling novel by Joanna Trollope
Recently returned to England from New York City, vivacious heiress Clodagh Unwin befriends a couple new to her village. The husband is entranced by the young aristocrat, but Clodagh has eyes for someone else: his wife, Alice.

Alice has a gilded life--beautiful children, a handsome husband, and a stately home. Secretly, she’s depressed after the birth of her third child and unhappy in her marriage. Clodagh proves irresistible. But when tongues start wagging, the women learn that love might not be enough.

Based on the bestselling novel by Joanna Trollope (Friday Nights, The Rector’s Wife) and filmed in picturesque countryside, this British production stars Sophie Ward (The Shell Seekers), Kerry Fox (Welcome to Sarajevo), Nathaniel Parker (The Inspector Lynley Mysteries), Jeremy Northam (Emma, The Tudors), Michael Gough (Batman), and Claire Bloom, with a young Keira Knightley in one of her first screen roles.

I had high hopes for this movie, as I do all the books I read and films I watch. Unfortunately, the strongest emotion I had about this film was, meh. It’s just a bland and predictable story all around.

Unoriginal stereotypicalness (yes, I know it’s not a word):

1. Alice, the main character, is depressed. She’s an artist who’s been unable to get her artistic mojo back. She’s also not into sex with her husband and feels all around blah about life. She's ripe for someone to come in and get her in touch with herself again. It’s explained away as postpartum depression by her…

2. Meddling and intrusive mother-in-law who’s a famous author of gardening books and is used to getting her way. She has no problem interfering in her son and DIL’s life, running things all the time, which causes stress to Alice, but which the son is oblivious to.

3. The local who comes home after being in America is known for being the wild and adventurous girl. She’s just a bit different from all the villagers, shoving their prejudices in their face. No one knows that she’s lesbian though. They all think she had some exotic affair with an American and came back home after it went bust. But they prefer she'd leave so they don't have to look at their own small mindedness.

4. The out-of-touch husband. While in this case he's not portrayed as a complete oaf, he's so chirpy and on the surface, just going along with everything and not really looking too deeply at why Alice is miserable.

5. Small town mentality. Alice and her husband move to small town in hopes of starting a new life and getting Alice out of her rut. Everyone knows all about them before they even get there and have spread the word.

6. Gossiping old bitties aplenty.

7. There’s an older woman odd ball who bucks the conservative trend and is laughed at behind her back by the locals because she’s into new agey stuff and has a local wives club for self awareness groups.

8. The droll, henpecked husbands all having secret affairs to get away from their uptight, meddling old bittie wives.

I’m already falling asleep. Yawn.

Clodagh has come back from America after a nasty break-up. Her wealthy parents have a party and introduce her to Alice and her husband. Clodagh and the husband hit it off a little too well and this pisses Alice off. Right away she hates Clodagh. But Clodagh has eyes for Alice and insinuates herself into Alice and her husband’s lives, playing with the children, hanging out at their house all the time and helping Alice out.

Of course, the gossip is all about how Clodagh is a flirty little whore having an affair with the husband. He actually misunderstands Clodagh’s attention, which to me was excessively flirty, and comes on to her, claiming it’s just a vacation from his wife and marriage even though he’s never done that before and he does love Alice. It’s just a side thing. :/

What’s really going on is the Clodagh is trying to subtly woo Alice. And she does. Her vibrant and insinuating energy does get Alice out of her rut and she starts to feel more alive because of Clodagh.
That was weird to me, because she really came across as coming on to the husband. Why would she do that if it’s Alice she wanted? This was part of the reason I didn’t get too turned on about the lesbian affair in this case. Or didn’t buy is a much as I could have.

When Clodagh finally admits that she’s a lesbian and wants Alice, Alice falters in shock for like two seconds, then she’s all over Clodagh.
OK. I could see it even though Alice is a bit too stoic in it all and doesn’t really come across as overly excited about it.

She and Clodagh do spend the next few weeks though playing and having sex and enjoying, saying I love you’s all the time. It’s clear that they do have feelings for each other. How strong they are though, will be tested.

9. It’s all about the kids.

When the shit hits the fan and it all comes out, there’s a lot of yakkity yak, old bittie flouncing, overacting: both Clodagh and the husband are devastated with lots of anguished tears and melodrama, as Alice vacillates between the husband and Clodagh. However, Alice just kind of goes on with her life, not really seemingly too concerned about the devastation she’s caused. The big issue is that she doesn’t want to lose her kids and can she really live a lesbian life?

There’s nothing really wrong with this film, it just didn’t spark anything in me. I think I even surfed the net a bit while it was running. Not a good sign.

I thought the scenes between the women were nicely done though. There was no shying away from any physical, nude or not, contact and declarations of love, that might shock for a TV movie. But it wasn’t salacious either, trying for titillation. The Brits, from what I’ve seen of BBC productions, aren’t afraid of real lesbians in their movies. So I thought that was actually cool of them to produce this even if it didn't say anything new.

It wasn’t all negative about the small town thing. There were some characters who support Alice being a lesbian and offer to still be her friend after she and Clodagh have been shunned. At least they didn’t make it all stereotypical. It’s just too bad that the whole movie fell into ho hum typical ending territory. It could have been such a dynamic, pro lesbian story.

Heat level: 2- some nudity, implied sex mostly.


Monday, December 20, 2010

Review- Fire (DVD)

Fire (DVD)
Indian (spoken in English)/Drama/F/F
104 mins.

Sita and Radha are young Indian women whose husbands choose celibacy or mistresses over their wives. The two women become friends and grow closer together, forming a forbidden but liberating relationship. A lush, passionate story of emancipation and love, in a closed society. Major controversy led this movie to be widely attacked and banned in India.

(There are extras in the DVD that show major riots over this film and how the Hindu fundamentalists called it blasphemy. Not because of the lesbian factor, but because of both women being Hindu. It’s very interesting. I wonder if it would be different now 13 years later?)

OMG, this movie was so gorgeous, sensual and poignantly moving. Set in India, within the rather strict but normal cultural mores, this film shows a love that comes out of the despair of having to conform to that culture and the fight to have that love. This story was real and honest, the acting amazing, and the truth of life as a woman in India brutally shown. But there is an HFN as the women go for it against all odds, which considering what happened could have ended so sadly.

The film starts with Sita being newly married to Jatin. It’s clear right from the start that Jatin is not into her. Obviously this has been an arranged marriage as is still the custom in India. After their honeymoon they go back to his family home where they live in the same house with Jatin’s older brother Ashok, his wife Radha, as well as the ailing and bedridden mother Biji and a servent, Mandu. Sita accepts this as this is what is expected of her.

They are a middle to upper class family and run a family business renting movies and running a small restaurant. We quickly start to see traditional Indian family dynamics at play that makes it clear that the men get to do what they want while the women are there to be their dutiful wives and make babies.

Jatin is in love with his mistress, a Chinese girl, who refused to marry him, so he goes to her every night, leaving Sita alone. And when he finally does have sex with Sita, it’s perfunctory and cold, just his duty to get her pregnant. Sita is a young Indian woman and her ideas of wifely and familial duty to the exclusion of her own desires is more modern, which clashes with her traditional husband’s family. She has dreams she wants to fulfill. Her only ally in the house really is Radha and they soon form a close bond.

Radha is much older than Sita and as the eldest son’s wife, she has the full responsibility of taking care of the household, including full care of her mother-in-law who’s had a stroke and is helpless. Unfortunately, as a woman in India her main value is to produce a son and since she’s barren, her life as a woman will never be fulfilled. To deal with this, Ashok spends all his time with a guru who teaches that all desire leads to misery. So he’s decided to take a vow of celibacy to challenge his desire for sex, but forces Radha to lie next to him to test himself and then pushes her away. This further makes Radha feel unloved and worthless even though she honors him in that. She’s basically gone through life doing her duty and not thinking about what she feels or wants, accepting her fate.

Outside this, the mother, who can’t talk and see’s everything going on, tries to show her disapproval at anything that strays from traditional, cultural ways by ringing her bell or spitting on people. On top of that, there’s a man servant Mandu who when asked to watch Biji while everyone is out, watches porn on Biji’s TV, while she’s in the room, not giving a crap at how disrespectful that is. He’s also noticing that Radha and Sita are getting closer than sisters-in-law should be and he’s a major player in what happens, which of course is not good.

There are several things that I really loved about this film. The main thing I got off on was how simply, lovingly and innocently the women go from a bond of being wives in the same boat to reaching out to each other in a more intimate way. It wasn’t salacious or awkward but came across as a natural extension of their bond. Although they both know what they are doing is wrong in the eyes of their religion and culture, they don’t feel it’s wrong. And even more unbelievably, they don’t push each other away in angst or fear, nor do they get all giddy with each other either although you see the progression of their beings becoming lighter as time goes on.

There are lots of correlations to mythological Hindu stories that tell moral stories, one having to do with Sita and having to prove her love through fire. That story doesn’t end well even if she does pass the test to Lord Rama her husband. Radha was the beloved of Krisha and so devoted to him. Both stories tell of love that is pure and so passionate. In the movie, Radha tells Ashok, who is controlling all of his desire that living like that for her made her dead inside. That desire made her feel alive and she was choosing, desire and life, meaning Sita.

I don’t know if the writer did that on purpose, but I thought it interesting that culturally, the denial of love and passion between men and woman and the enforcement of duty on the woman is the ideal when Hindu Gods and Goddesses are beloved and worshiped because of their living for passion and love at all costs.

On the negative side, one could say that the men in this movie were stereotypes of the typical domineering male, even for India. However, as someone who lived in India for a total of 2 years, I didn’t find it far from the truth at all. Although I will say that Ashok is a more complex character than the typical autocratic male. He sticks with Radha even though she's barren, when often the case is that a man will divorce a wife if she cannot bear children, particularly a son. He does love her in his own way. And out of both brothers, he’s the more compassionate one. But his cruel reaction to Radha being with Sita is I think a typical one, at least in some parts of India. It was all about him and shame to him and his family.

One thing that I’ve noticed in a lot f/f or lesbian stories is women becoming lovers not because of a sexual preference, but because of their station in life as second class citizens and being pushed to deny personal desires to satisfy that of a man. Or having to be submissive to men. It’s often in reaction to something against men. I wonder how often that is the case? In this movie it’s the case, but it’s true to that culture and wasn’t contrived as I think is the case in some romance novels as a way to bring the women together.

Fire is, in the end, is an uplifting movie. I makes love the most important thing over and above cultural mores and religious dogma. Sita and Radha find love, support and compassion in each other that is denied to them by their culture and status as women with their men. It’s a beautiful, sweet film and I highly recommend it if you can get a chance to see it.

Heat Level: 1- one or two sensually done sex scenes, mostly implied sex- very minor nudity.

Grade: A+

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Review- A Grave Talent by Laurie R. King

A Grave Talent
by Laurie R. King
Mystery/Detective/Lesbian character
342 pgs.-Bantam Books

Buy it - anywhwere

This gripping debut of the Kate Martinelli mystery series won the Edgar Award for Best First Mystery, generating wide critical acclaim and moving Laurie R. King into the upper tier of the genre. As A Grave Talent begins, the unthinkable has happened in a small community outside of San Francisco. A string of shocking murders has occurred, each victim an innocent child. For Detective Kate Martinelli, just promoted to Homicide and paired with a seasoned cop who's less than thrilled to be handed a green partner, it's going to be a difficult case. Then the detectives receive what appears to be a case-breaking lead: it seems that one of the residents of this odd, close-knit colony is Vaun Adams, arguably the century's greatest painter of women, a man, as it turns out, with a sinister secret. For behind the brushes and canvases also stands a notorious felon once convicted of strangling a little girl. What really happened on that day of savage violence eighteen years ago? To bring a murderer to justice, Kate must delve into the artist's dark past—even if she knows it means losing everything she holds dear.

This is the first book of Laurie R. King’s that I’ve read and I quite liked it and her writing style. What stood out for me most with A Grave Talent were the intriguing and well developed characters. The plot was sort of typical to a mystery/thriller, but I got off on the characters the most.

I’ll also admit that I got this book because I read that one of the main characters, Kate, a police detective, is a lesbian. I wanted to see how a mainstream author was able to write a lesbian character that a mainstream publisher would publish. On this level, I was very surprised that it was more a factor than I thought it would be.

What’s interesting though is that Kate, as a character, really doesn’t stand out in this book even though the series is named after her and she is the main character in the next few. Because she’s a lesbian and on the police force, she’s rather tight lipped about her personal life to her new partner and the head of the task force, Hawkin. So she really doesn’t come out as a strong personality for the first ¾'s of the book.

Also, for some reason, Ms. King decided to keep the fact that she’s a lesbian on the Q.T. for the first half of the book, only describing her partner Lee in generic, non gender identifying terms. Why she did that I don’t know, but I feel that it kept Kate from really opening up about who she is, which blocked us the reader as well. Once it comes out and Kate allows Hawkin into her house and private life to protect Vaun Adams a victim, then we get to see some of what Kate is all about.

Who really came through as an intriguing and complex character was Vaun Adams. While thankfully not written as the typical tortured artist, there is so much mystery about her. Being a victim of her strange personality basically, she’s learned to be rather laconic, not showing much of what she’s thinking. As an artist, she’s all about observation, which gives a cool, but deep aura about her. I couldn’t get enough of her. And that was an issue for me. When there’s a character that is well written and turns me on basically, then I want more. But Vaun is kept an enigma for most of the book and I guess that’s part of what kept me reading.

The next character is Hawkin. I loved him as a character. He’s also not stereotypical. He’s a deep thinker who has a lot of insight and observational ability. He’s a rough and tumble detective, however, he looks past the obvious about people and there’s a quiet intensity that he shows as well. He’s also non-judgmental about people and life, which allowed for him and Kate to interact without all of possible homophobia and sexism that is used in many cop stories with GLBT or female characters to create tension.

The plot also worked very nicely. Yeah, it’s sort of typical; the sociopathic serial killer type thing is common, but what worked here for me was that the pacing was right on. There’s a nice slow build up. Although I will say there were some confusing or implausible things even for a detective story. I tend to suspend disbelief a lot in this genre because well, if the author writes it in an entertaining way, then I’m enjoying and I let things go. But the ending was a bit of a let-down and I saw it coming on the suspense part.

Some other things readers might be bothered about, but which I wasn’t, is that this is set in San Francisco and there were some stereotypical issues around a cult like hippie/alternative lifestyle group where some of this story is set. I found it unique though since Vaun is not the type to be able to fit into mainstream life and that was a good set up for her and the story line.

About Kate and Lee’s relationship, it’s mentioned more often than I thought. And we do get some insight into their relationship, how they interact and relate. Especially towards the end. And in the end, I was rather shocked actually that the whole Kate being a lesbian and being out at that point to her boss and colleagues was treated normally, with some lighthearted joking and a “we don’t care, you’re a great detective” kind of stance. It’s always a slippery slope for a straight, mainstream author portraying a GLBT character to not veer into stereotypes.

I read on AfterEllen in an interview with Ms. King that at the time she wrote the book, she didn’t even think about how offensive it might have been to write a gay character like that. That it was possible to be rife with stereotypes and misunderstandings. However, I think she did an excellent job of it. And I feel it was very gutsy of her to do so even if her intentions for writing a lesbian character were more for practical purposes.

All in all, complex characterizations with good mystery makes A Grave Talent a recommend for me. Especially if you’re into the mystery/detective/suspense genre.

Heat level: 0 only hints at a sex life.

Grade B+

Friday, December 17, 2010

Love the Holidays!

I listen to Christmas music usually non-stop from Thanksgiving on. I think I only heard this version of this song this year. I searched all over and found that it was Alison Krauss and Yo-Yo Ma. I became a fan of Alison Krauss first time with the CD she did with Robert Plant. It's one of my favorites. And Yo-Yo Ma, loved his music in Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon. The DH has a CD of his.

Love all the different instruments in this; the whole ensemble: Krauss' voice with violin, viola, bag pipes.... is just gorgeous.

Next up is something I only found out about this year. Love this: The Calgary Hitmen Hockey Team does a Teddy Bear Toss every year to give to needy kids and kids in Hospitals. What a great idea!!! Why don't more sports teams do that? Have give a gift/food/anything day. I'll bet they'd get so much. They got over 23,000 teddy bears this year. Amazing!


I ordered several lesbian oriented movies from my Library to watch during the vacay and to review. Of course, they all came at once. So the next several reviews will be movie reviews, since I only have a week to watch all of them.

I'm almost done with Laurie R. King's A Grave Talent.

I give kudos to Laurie R. King for writing a main character who's a lesbian. While it's a mystery and the Kate Martinelli is a police detective, Ms. King did include actually quite a bit of her life with her partner. For a mainstream author and publisher to do this, is remarkable. It was actually her first published book in 1993.

A Grave Talent is an excellent book. I highly recommend it if you're into mysteries. I'll probably write a review for it even though there are like thousands of them on Amazon and Goodreads.

Just a little note about Ms. King. I went to the Mystery Writer's Convention in Indianapolis in 2009. She was there. I kept seeing this striking woman walking around looking like a classic grandma with her white hair in a top knot bun. She was on several panels I went to. She's very young and alive in her energy and I enjoyed her talks. But at the time I was more attracted to see Charlaine Harris, who was also there.

Anyway, the last day they had the book giveaways. Unfortunately, it was set up rather badly, with nary much space between rows of authors for people to move about. It was too chaotic. I had marked the books I wanted and tried to get to those authors. It wasn't happening. I got stuck in a very slow moving mob right in front of Ms. King. I looked at her and smiled and she smiled back. Then she said, "you want one of my books?" I said OK and took her book. LOL One never knows how one will come across an author sometimes.

After that I noticed on Goodreads that her books were listed under GLBT, or lesbian. So I bought my first Kate Martinelli book. I will definitely read some more. The writing is very good and characterizations well developed.

What's unfortunate, I read some reviews that say "I loved the book until I found out the main character was a lesbian." WTF is that? I find it interesting that people would get so uptight about that. It's not like Kate's relationship with her partner is front and center. But everyone has their buttons, right?

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Review- Running On Empty Dreams (DVD)

Running On Empty Dreams (DVD)
May 12, 2009

Sydney has played the part of a devoted wife to her husband for years, but her world is shattered when she meets Jane and is instantly attracted to her. She is quickly overwhelmed with the intensity of her love for Jane and the lustful passion that they share. Now Sydney is faced with a choice between the forbidden love that she craves and the undying love of her husband.

I have three words for how I experienced this film. What The Fuck. Seriously, WTF was that? This has to be thee worst film I’ve seen in years: bad acting, totally disjointed story line with all kinds of conflicting issues, plus weird social/political/ religious statements thrown in. There were some good points, but they don’t make up for the train wreck that was most of this film, which is too bad since it could have been really good.

This is going to be a long review, sorry. Basically I’m telling you the whole story since it was all over the place.

It starts out with Sydney and her husband Corey moving to Phoenix, Arizona for a better life. Apparently he will now be able to stay home instead of traveling for his job as a private investigator for a huge firm. Unfortunately, Sydney's been having hand tremors and when she finally collapses, it’s discovered that she has thyroid cancer, a perfectly treatable cancer except for they have NO money. And for some reason the Dr. who tells her this is the coldest prick out there, telling her matter-of-factly that she has to come up with the money or she’ll die, which I didn’t get. Why would she even go back to that turd?

Seriously… I don’t even know where to continue on this review because at this point I find myself wondering what to focus on. This movie was all over the place.

Right away we see that there’s trouble in their marriage that moving and making more money won’t fix. Corey was a marine, a decorated marine, a hero. He’s missing the glory days of that and is constantly looking for constant ego validation that he’s still a hero, and part of that is being able to provide for his family. That sounds great, but he’s wound up a little too tight if you know what I mean and I feared at every turn he would go postal on everyone’s ass.

It doesn’t help that Sydney bitches that he’s never home. But in order to have the money they need, he needs to travel for his job. It's a no-win situation. Unfortunately, for him it’s all about him and Sydney’s dreams of becoming a screenwriter are treated as trivial. Oh and he talks to her like this, “Sydney, you’re going to die, of course I’m thinking of what a waste it is for you to dream about being a writer.” WTF?! To say Sydney’s unhappy is an understatement.

In the meantime, Sydney hooks up with the single mom (Jane) who lives across the street and who’s guy is in jail, to do play dates with their kids. The dialogue between the two is stilted and weird, with Jane saying things like, “you’re not like anyone I know” with her eyes sort of saying, like you know, special….and other weird things that seemed out of place. They carry on a typical platonic girlfriend relationship for a while.

Meanwhile, Sydney and Corey are fighting non-stop. But Sydney does get her cancer taken care of and has to take thyroid medication for the rest of her life now, something she balks and acts incredulous about. WTF?

One day, out of the blue with no lead up, no warning, no close ups of lingering eyes or desires or any indication of Sydney’s growing feelings, without any connection really, she runs over to Jane’s all anxious and bursts out that she’s wanted to kiss her from day one and that she’s going insane with want of her. Jane’s all mellow hippie, Arizona sunshine on the surface, “oh wow, oh cool, like really?”Not shocked at all, but not biting either.

Out of nowhere though comes the classic stereotypical butch lesbian walking by who happens to give an ominous warning to Sydney that she’ll be sorry. This before Sydney and Jane even fully get it on.

Being lonely because Corey is away again, Sydney hangs out with Jane over night and things happen. Like they go for it. After that Sydney goes to the priest to confess that she’s committed adultery. The priest says he can’t help her. WTF? She needs to go to a counselor. She goes home, smashes the bathroom mirror with over acting emo angst, then decides to stop taking her thyroid pills, which will kill her. WTF?

Onto the next WTF? This lesbian shows up again when Sydney and Jane are outside talking about their love, warning them again that they are on the wrong path. When Sydney tells this lesbian---- who’s always dressed like a guy, head band on, sporting tattoos, grabbing her crotch, smoking and talking like John Travolta in Welcome Back Kotter---- to blow it out her ass, this lesbian goes all emo on them, talking tough… “yeah, I’ve fucked women, lots of bitches, I know what it’s all about. I had one, (inhales smoke) but she broke my heart, left my ass, then I found Jesus. He’s the man. He’s the one I give my heart and love to.” OK, W.T.F? All the sudden religion is brought into this? And it just happens to be a lesbian who, “god no, I’d never be with a disgusting man, but I chose to give my life to Jesus,” who gets all judgmental on them? Then she gives Sydney a card to come to church with her to see what a bad, evil thing she’s doing and Sydney goes, “OK.” While Jane laughs it off. WTF?

Sydney goes to this church, which has a congregation of like 2 people, with a female preacher who talks about when you follow God’s plan, you are doing right. Sydney then argues with the lesbian all the way home about what bullshit the church is and how can what she's feeling be so wrong?

So was that whole thing thrown in there to give someone a chance to diss the church’s stance on homosexuality? I tell you, I was getting so many mixed messages from this film. At that point I was starting to feel like this was a thinly disguised homophobic film even though it was about two women falling in love.

In the meantime, Corey is alternately smashing things and or sitting on a pile of steaming rage with controlled stares at the wall because HIS wife left him. He goes over to Jane’s trying to find her, but Jane, twat that she is, laughs in his face and tells him he’s an idiot. OK, first of all, the guy’s about to blow shit up and you’re egging him on? WTF?

Sydney moves in with Jane and they have a nice relationship for about a week. Then Sydney says she got an offer on her script and she needs to go to Sedona, alone, to write this script.

Spoiler about the ending**********************

I’m going to tell you the ending because I can’t imagine anyone would spend a dime or two minutes to watch this film. Sydney goes to Sedona and we see clips of her hanging out, being in nature, happy, content, and then the next thing she’s in a coffin dead. OK, W. T. F! Apparently she never took her pills again and chose to die instead, leaving all her insurance to her husband and kid. OMG.

Then at the funeral, the husband makes a huge scene when Jane shows up. But Jane tells the husband that it was her who saved Sydney that first night when she collapsed on the road, but didn’t say anything because she wanted Sydney to love her without feeling debt. What? OK, so all along Jane was seducing Sydney? She didn’t even know Sydney. Ugh… this movie pissed me off so much at how stupid it was.

End Spoiler***********************

I just didn’t get what this film was trying to say. You supporting gay love? You dissing it?

This is what was shown at the end of the film:

“It’s estimated that 18% - 35% of lesbians in the US were ever married, based on several research studies” –Amity Pierce Buxton, PhD, founder of Straight Spouse Network

“Which are you?”

What? Which am I what? A cheating spouse who’s become a lesbian? A straight chick who’s become a lesbian? A divorced woman who’s now a lesbian? A spouse of a turned gay person?That’s such a weird thing to have at the end of a film. It makes me feel like there’s something subversive going on.

I checked out this site, yes, it does exist, and it’s a group to support spouses and partners of people who “turn” gay or are bisexual and it seems to be pro GLBT in that they don’t advocate trying to change the GLBT partner who has come out. But it’s just weird to see that at the end of a film that sends out mixed messages about the rightness or wrongness of suddenly falling in love with someone of the same sex while being married.

The good parts. Yes there were some good parts. I thought how the women were together was very nice. Very natural once they got together. And it did feel real. If only the acting weren’t so melodramatic or disjointed, this could have been a beautiful film about two women who fall in love. Oh well.

I can’t recommend this film to anyone. Not unless you get off on train wrecks of awfulness.

Heat level: 2. Some nudity, some lesbian kissing.

Grade: D-

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Review- The Kids Are All Right- DVD

The Kids Are All Right (DVD)
106 min.

Academy Award® nominees Annette Bening and Julianne Moore star in this funny, smart and vibrant portrait of a modern American family. Nic (Bening) and Jules (Moore) are your average suburban couple raising their two teens, Joni (Mia Wasikowska) and Laser (Josh Hutcherson), in Southern California. But when the kids secretly track
down their “donor dad,” Paul (Mark Ruffalo), an unexpected new chapter begins for everyone as family ties are defined, re-defined and then re-re-defined. Fall in love with the big-hearted comedy that critics are calling “one of the best films of the year!”
(Michael Phillips, At the Movies)

Warning: this review is full of spoilers

So, I’ve wanted to see this since it came out, but have been way too busy. And I’m lucky that it’s out in DVD already or it’d probably have to wait a long while more.

I loved this film, it’s really good. It’s so human and real and gets to the heart of what happens to a lot of people in long term relationships as well as our basic need to be loved and appreciated.

There are reviews of The Kids Are All Right all everywhere, so you can get a better idea of what it’s about. But I’ll speak to the readers of this blog and as a straight woman who probably saw this in a different light than the lesbian community whom I know had a lot of issues with this film.

I guess pretty much everyone knows the basic premise of the film: Nic and Jules are a long term lesbian couple who used a sperm donor to have two children. The children are grown up now and want to know who their father is. They get into contact with Paul and basically that’s when the shit hits the fan.

Nic, played by Annette Bening, brilliantly I might add; she made this film for me, is older than Jules and very straight and old fashioned in her way of thinking. She’s a dr. and is driven to succeed. She has a black and white point of view and is all about doing the right thing and being perfect. Unfortunately she insists this way of thinking on Jules and the kids, who are tired of her criticisms and trying to live up to some perfect expectation. She also drinks just a little too much, suggesting that deep down she’s not as happy a camper as she might think.

Jules is the more laid back one, kind of hippie/flaky on some level and is always trying to please Nic even if she does what she wants anyway. She’s hurting, really trying to keep the flame alive in what she feels is a dying relationship, but feels it’s just never enough. She’s also the more astute one on that since Nic seems to be clueless that they even have a problem, or she won’t admit it. It’s clear though that she loves Nic as she’s like a puppy dog, always up for every time Nic wants to do something for them, but is always disappointed when Nic can’t follow through.

Their daughter, Joni, is that perfect good girl. Straight A student and very mature for her age. She’s just turned 18 and is starting to put her foot down and stand up to her moms.

Their son, Laser, is kind of lost. He hangs out with this total loser guy friend who gets them in trouble. And of course, Nic hates Laser’s friend and thinks that Laser is slacking off too much and can do much better. Laser is the one who really wants to connect with their donor father and pushes it.

In comes Paul, the sperm donor. Paul is a lot like Jules. He’s been flaky in his youth, unfocused and not really that ambitious until he discovered that he likes cooking and growing things. He’s got a thriving restaurant and organic garden. He’s just going through life though, not thinking about a long term relationship with a woman or family, until the kids contact him and he becomes part of their lives.

OK first I’ll address the issue that pissed off so many lesbians and would have pissed me off too, except for how I perceived it, it was nothing about the lesbian who sees the light finally after being fucked by the right guy. No, that’s not even close to what happened.

This is basically a story about Nic and Jules and that they’ve reached a point in their relationship where they are stuck in a rut and don’t know how to get out of. Particularly Jules. Paul is the catalyst that brings a lot of underlying, festering resentful feelings to the forefront.

Yes, Jules sleeps with Paul. But what I didn’t pick up was any real connection between them other than she sees her kids in him and there’s that bond that he’s the kids’ father. There was no build up to them having sex, no dancing around each other, or flirting really, it just sort of happens. And then it happens again. There was just no feeling coming from the characters that it means anything, except for the fact that Paul says he’s falling in love with Jules. And I certainly didn’t feel from Jules that Paul showed her the light of sexual identity clarity, that she must really be straight. In fact, after it all comes out, Paul wants to go for it with Jules, be a family, and Jules is slightly incredulous… like, “I’m gay, what are you talking about?”

For her part, Jules doesn’t get why she’s doing it. However, it’s pretty clear that one way to unconsciously get Nic to really hear her is to sleep with someone who would really push Nic’s buttons. A man and the sperm donor of their kids. Not that she was conscious of doing that. That’s just my own psychobabble about why that would happen based on the fact that Jules doesn’t really come across as attracted to Paul even though they do have hot sex. That’s kind of hard to explain, but that’s how I saw it.

I never got that Jules was confused about her identity as a lesbian or that she was doing this for any other reason than he showed up at a time when she needed some validation and he wasn’t really a threat. Maybe like a woman would have been.

Nic never really did warm up to Paul. But the night she does, is when she finds out that Jules and Paul are sleeping together. I tell you, that scene when Nic realizes what has happened was intense and heartbreaking. Annette Bening was amazing, the pain written across her face so clearly. The camera focuses on her, her eyes and it’s clear her world is shattered.

In the end, it’s a happy ending… well, for Jules, Nic and their kids. For Paul? That’s one part that pissed me off. The ending rather vilifies Paul unjustly. Paul himself grows through this experience and the fact that he’s completely discounted in the end as just an interloper who tried to break up a marriage was a bit unjust I thought. Infidelity is a big issue in this film and wasn’t portrayed lightly.

I just loved this film basically because all of these characters are so normal and human. The lesbian moms aspect that was played up by everyone was not a big deal. They are portrayed as a normal married couple, kind of dull, just living life, not really wanting to acknowledge that they’ve moved apart emotionally. You could exchange them for any het couple and have the same story. This I liked since it didn’t use the gay aspect to turn this into something unique or uber special either positively or negatively, it’s not. Gay/lesbian couples deal with the same crap hets do, except they have to deal with the prejudice over and above that. Although the social/political part of that was not brought up. There wasn’t one lesbian cliché in this story, except for that the women like to watch gay porn.

The bigger clichés in this story are the rebellious kids vs, out of touch-uncool parents and the usual conservative/responsible vs flaky/hippie liberal attitudes that cause a lot of conflict between the characters. And also the cliché of the “other” being the bad, evil person in infidelity.

I totally recommend this film. It’s not what I feared it might be after reading all the hype and criticism. I thought it was very pro lesbian, showing a real relationship and family as it probably is. It’s very funny in bits, I laughed out loud at times, and it’s heartbreaking in moments, I cried as well. If you get a chance to see it, do so.

Heat level 3: There’s a fair amount of nudity and m/f sexual scenes, some brief clips of gay porn, and a fair amount of kissing between Nic and Jules, although they never get naked together.

Grade: A

Saturday, December 11, 2010

I survived and this and that

So, I survived my finals. This last quarter was the quarter from hell. And the last few weeks? I literally had no time do anything. I was hitting the books non- stop just trying stay afloat. Yeah, I could have taken it a bit more easy, but I'm one of those type A's who has to get that 4.0. I just can't allow myself to do less than I'm capable of. So, I stressed, big time.

Now it's over and I treated myself a bottle of Bailey's. No, not all in one night. :D

I have a 3 week break and then it's back to the grind. I can't wait until I'm done and working again. Life will be so much easier. Anyway....

It's that time of year again. I rather enjoy this time and I've been listening to Christmas music non-stop, to the bane of my husband's existence. Meh, it's only a few weeks of the year and I enjoy it. But unlike the rest of the world, I don't do shopping. I write a check and send it. So I'm Done!

OK, I did get my prezzie to me from the Mr. on Black Friday. I figured I deserved to get out after no power and the Mr. calling from Hawaii complaining about how hot it was. snort.

I've never done it before, dreading those awful crowds, but Santa (Mr.) was getting me an iTouch this year and there was a couple of really good deals on them, gift cards back and such. So I did join the throngs on that day. But I also copped an attitude and went out at 9 am instead of 4 am, so I wouldn't have to push and shove someone getting to that normally $5 item on sale for $4.50. snort.
No, I thought I'll go out and if it's still available good, if not, oh well. Target had a boat load, lucky for me.

I can't wait until I can open my iTouch. I wanted it so I could read Kindle, Barns & Noble, and Stanza (Fictionwise) books on it, and with that new Bluefire app, I think I can read digital library books as well. Gives me way more reading options. Plus, I can get online and surf as well. Woot!

I noticed today that our hot ticket items have changed over time.

The Mr. and I went out to do our usual weekly food shopping and I saw some older DVDs for sale. I had a thought about how new technology has changed what I get for the DH for Christmas or want myself.

DVDs are no longer the fun or hot ticket item. Music, CD's are no longer desired items either. We have sets of Lord of the Rings, Pirates of the Caribbean trilogy, and tons of Asian martial arts movies all sitting there collecting dust, some even unopened.

I keep swearing that I'll get to that Catherine Deneuvue movie I got a couple of years ago, that I haven't watched yet. So... no more DVDs.

Last year I splurged and surprised the Mr. with a PS3. I got the PS3 because of particular game he wanted that was only in PS3. He's used it non stop for over a year now.

My favorite and still constantly used Xmas gift is my eBookwise. I'm sure I'll use the iTouch constantly as well for reading.

So what's the hot ticket items you're getting this year, either for you or your family?

funny pictures of cats with captions
see more Lolcats and funny pictures


I'd also like to share that the authors of Women and Words blog are having a 12 days of Christmas book giveaway from Mon. the 13th on. Every day, several books will be given away, so head on over and comment every day to win one.

And here is the list of books being given away. So many good authors!

I'm gunning for another Andi Marquette and or Ali Vali book myself. Or maybe a new to me author.

Good luck!

I'll try to get some reviews out during these three weeks, but as usual, they could be sporadic. I have to catch up on tons of house work stuff that I let go during school.

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Review- Turning the Page by Georgia Beers

Turning the Page
By Georgia Beers
268 pgs.
Renaissance Alliance Publishing

Buy it Amazon (paper,Kindle), B&N (paper, Nook)

Melanie Larson is an attractive, extremely successful business executive who shocks herself by resigning from her job when her company merges with another and relocates. While trying to decide what to do with her life next and at the urging of her uncle, Melanie heads to Rochester, New York, to stay temporarily with her cousin Samantha. She hopes to use her business savvy in an attempt to help Sam sort out the financial woes of her small bookstore.

During her stay, Melanie meets and becomes close to the family that owns the property on which Samantha lives, the charming Benjamin Rhodes, a distinguished, successful businessman, as well as his beautiful and intriguing daughter Taylor. Surprised by what and how she feels for each of them, Melanie is soon forced to face the facts and re-examine what's really important to her in life, career and love.

This is my first Georgia Beers book and it won’t be my last. This is a sweet coming out story, the kind where a character falls in love for the first time with someone of their own sex. Just the kind I really like.

What I liked: Melanie is at a turning point in her life and is in limbo about what she’ll do. Until this point, she’s focused solely on her career, putting love on the back burner. As far as she knows, she’s straight, until she meets Taylor. What I loved is that how she falls for Taylor is done nice and slowly. No big shocks or freaking out about what she starts feeling, just a nice slow progression of opening up to and acceptance that she might be a lesbian.

Melanie decides to take over a bookstore her uncle bought for her cousin after her cousin blows off, but realizes that since the big box stores are major competition, she needs to be a niche bookstore. So she decides on it being gay/lesbian oriented along with feminist offerings. This is part of her opening process.

She also becomes really good friends with Lynda, a lesbian and owner of the coffee shop next door. Since Melanie is so open, Lynda is not sure about her and invites her to a lesbian bar, where Melanie has a good time, becoming more open to her interest in all of that.

All along, Melanie has growing feelings for Taylor, the daughter of the man who owns the house Melanie’s cousin, Samantha, has been renting. But Taylor’s father also has eyes for Melanie and this becomes confusing to Melanie since she has a lot in common with him as he pursues her romantically.

Taylor makes it pretty clear that she’s very attracted to Melanie. But of course, she’s not sure if Melanie is into women so she comes on and then backs off accordingly, which actually gives Melanie a chance to ease into it since this is the first time she’s attracted to a woman.

The dance between Taylor and Melanie is done so softly and yet, it’s very clear that both have major hots for each other. All those intense feelings of attraction and falling in love come through pretty strongly in the writing and how they interact.

I liked all the characters in the story. Lynda is a fun character who adds a lot to this story as she’s sort of the go to person who helps Melanie sort out her unexpected feelings. Samantha is a bit of a caricature of a bad girl. And she has a shocking reaction at finding out that Melanie is having an affair with Taylor, which I thought was a bit over the top. But I think it fit her superficial personality.

Taylor is a genuine, sweet type of character. She’s fairly conflicted about what’s going on with her and Melanie due to issues with her father, an ex- girlfriend who keeps calling, and not being sure if Melanie is actually straight or bi or gay. But she’s a grounded girl and she just keeps putting it out there in ways that Melanie can take and so when Melanie really gets that she’s a lesbian and goes for it fully with Taylor, it’s so satisfying.

What bothered me: This is the first romance book I’ve ever read in which there are romantic competitions going on between a parent and child. I’ll admit, it made me feel a bit uncomfortable. Everyone knows that it happens between mothers and daughters in some situations in which jealousies and competition happen about partners, but it’s an unspoken thing that most people don’t like to acknowledge. Certainly not in a romance.

In this case, you have a lesbian daughter in competition for women with her father, who is a good looking, suave man who easily attracts women. Since Taylor’s mother died her father has been dating a lot. And he sets his eyes on Melanie almost immediately, to the chagrin of Taylor.

Although Ben, Taylor’s father, is written as a good guy, a decent man, it’s still weird for me to read a romantic triangle with a father and daughter being two parts of that triangle. Just to be clear, Melanie is about 13 years younger than Ben and about 8 years older than Taylor. So the age differences weren’t what made this squicky. It’s handled in an OK way, but it does cause some stress to Taylor to betray her father on this level. And it was just a bit weird for me.

The main thing that bothered me though had nothing to do with plot or characterization, which was well written, but more to do with writing technique. Instead of character names, phrases like “the tall one, the younger one, the older one, the brunette, the blond, the blue eyed one,” etc. were used constantly. This drove me nuts for some reason. I’m sure this is personal preference so YMMV. But after a while they stuck out like a sore thumb and pulled me out the story often. This was either the first or one of the first books Ms. Beers wrote, so maybe her writing has changed over time. I hope so on that level.

Altogether though, I loved this book. It’s full of heart and realistically written as a coming out story. Although there are quite a few stereotypical to lesbian pop culture references, it didn’t get preachy or so lesbian centric that that non lesbian readers won’t relate to it. I definitely recommend Turning the Page if you like first time experiences that turn into love stories and characters who don’t make a big deal about finding out they are gay.

Heat Level: 4—some graphic sex, mostly sensually written.

Grade: B+

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Phaze - sale

Phaze Publishing is having a 25% off all books sale from Black Friday to Cyber Monday.

Enter coupon code 'BLACK' when checking out.

I just looked to see what f/f or f/f/m they have and I've read and reviewed most of them.

It's been a very long while since I shopped there and I'm surprised there isn't really any new f/f in all this time. That's kind of sad.

But it's a great chance to scoop up some books for a cheaper price.

Happy shopping!

Beguiled by Paisley Smith

by Paisley Smith
Nov. 16, 2010
Historical (Civil War time)/ Lesbian/bi
Short Novel- word count UK
Ebook- Loose- Id

Buy it Loose-Id

The Civil War has torn Belle Holloway’s world apart. Left to manage her Georgia plantation with little help, she is exasperated when the Union Army adds to her burden by leaving a wounded soldier behind. But upon closer examination, Belle is shocked to discover the soldier is actually a beguiling woman.

Clad in male attire, stubborn, brash Alice O’Malley awakens a passion in Belle she never knew existed. Alice dominates Belle’s lonely existence with taboo pleasures and erotic escape. Soon Belle realizes she is more than willing to submit her body and her heart to the woman whose strength and compassion she admires -- until those very attributes prove to be the catalyst that could destroy their newfound love.

I’ve read all of Paisley Smiths f/f books so far and I’ve enjoyed all of them. So picking up this one was a no-brainer. Again, I wasn’t disappointed. Moreover, the time period Beguiled is set in-- late 1800’s-- coupled with one of my favorite scenarios--- a woman passing herself off as a man— made this a yummy and favorite book.

While overall I really enjoyed this book, there were a few niggling things that bugged me. I’ll get to that first so I can get to what I loved.

There were a few inconsistencies that pulled me out of the story here and there or made me wonder. At one point Alice thinks to herself:

Alice knew from Belle’s passionate reaction that she would go all the way with her, and the knowledge that the prim, proper southern lady would spread her legs for another woman drove Alice mad with desire.

Her mouth went cotton dry at the thought of Belle lifting all those frilly petticoats and then beckoning her to touch her—taste her. Alice tried to swallow but couldn’t. She’d seen the look of desire in Belle’s eyes. The curiosity to explore, to not only be touched but to touch as well.

First, Belle comes across as tough, efficient and competent right from the get go. She reacts to horrific events that would make even a more hardened person flinch, with aplomb. I didn’t see any of what I thought would be an uptight, prim and proper, gentile southern belle woman in her characterization that would make Alice hot on that level. Maybe if Alice had met Belle before the war it would have been the case.

And also, again, due to the ravages of war, of Belle needing to do all the house work and tend to repairs and the animals, I didn’t picture her in frilly petticoats either. I pictured her more in tattered and dirty older dresses.

That was another inconsistency that I felt as well. Belle tells Alice when they are talking about their lives, that she had a great education and learned several languages, that their slaves were taught to read, that she basically lived the life typical to a woman of her station as the daughter of a plantation owner, meaning, she was a lady living a life of ease and refinement. But there was nothing in the way she spoke,or acted that gave that impression even if the current circumstances required her to adapt to a harsher life. I would think she’d still react according to her background and upbringing even if she did adapt.

Alice also uses fuck and said at one point:

“I don’t suppose I’ve made figuring this shit out easier for you.”

Shit and fuck? I know people said those words at that time, but I guess I always think of ladies at that time not using such words, even if Alice was in the Union Army pretending to be a man and she did come from a poor childhood in Boston. Belle is not shocked at all of Alice talking like that, like that’s the kind of language she’s always heard from women or men even.

Another question I had was that it seemed that the Union soldiers of Alice’s troupe knew she was a woman dressing as a man acted as if it were normal. Does anyone know if that’s so that it was accepted? I know women did serve, but it was only if they could really pass themselves off as a man. I would think once they knew she was a woman, they would have dumped her or worse. And in fact they did, but only because she was wounded at the time.

Now that I’ve said those things, none of them changed the way I felt about this story. Alice and Belle are very real and colorful characters. I suppose that Belle in an earlier time might have balked at such advances from Alice, but in her new situation and life, it seemed on par with the changes in her life.

Belle is a strong woman and she deals with the trials of war and her life without freaking or acting put upon. She’s lost just about everything. She’s so intrigued and impressed by Alice dressing and acting like a man and fighting in the war; Alice is like no woman she’s ever known and this attracts her.

Some might question her really going for it with Alice when she didn’t know if her husband was still alive or not, but I wasn’t bothered by that. Mainly because there really wasn’t much discussion about her relationship with her husband before he went off to war. Outside of some inconsistencies in character, I loved Belle as a character. She's got fortitude and doesn't shy away from much.

Alice is also an intriguing character. She grew up poorer than poor and had nothing left to lose by leaving her family and Boston. She’s definitely a lesbian and having been disowned by her family for being “different” she joins the army. And she gets away with it for a long time, at least until she’s wounded and left at Belle’s.

Alice pretty much seduces Belle and Belle doesn’t resist. Not only that, but Belle is all over that. She even gets into it asking Alice for more. This is one of the best parts of this story, these two women go at it with nary a real conflict. Of course, Belle wonders about being with a woman, thinking it’s wrong, but wondering how wrong what she feels could be? And Alice, while having her fears about falling in love with a woman who is married and whose missing husband could return, follows her feelings anyway.

The conflict in this case comes from outside actually in the form of bushwhackers and other sundry soldier types floating in and out making life harder. This draws them together even more.

The sex is pretty hot and nicely written with a touch of D/s going on, which added a bit more spice to their interactions. I thought the characters, while not getting too much of their backgrounds, were well fleshed out and the general plot line kept this story entertaining. I got a good feel for the time period and how it would have been. Overall, it’s a good read.

I definitely recommend Beguiled if you’re in the mood for period f/f and one with a sweet/spicy love story.

Heat level- 5- fairly graphic sexual scenarios. Interesting dildo use.

Grade: B/+