Monday, May 31, 2010

MIA these days

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

Sorry guys, postings on this blog are going to be sparse in the next month. I've got finals this week and next, and then I'm going away for the two weeks that I have a break from school. Then it's right back into hustling because the summer quarter is much shorter, but my credit load will be the same.

So not much will get posted.

I added a Goodreads "what I'm reading" app to the side bar just in case anyone is just dying to know what f/f I'm reading. :-)

I've been reading two books now for a while. Both are almost finished and I'll try and get some reviews up before I go away.


Of course, as usual, if anyone feels like posting a review or blog post of something interesting, you are more than welcome.

I just pre-ordered the DVD of the BBC show "The Secret Diaries of Miss Anne Lister" from here -Amazon UK. Since it's a pre-order I got a discount. With shipping and and current exchange rate it comes to around $16, a bargain!



I couldn't help myself. In case you all are wondering how I can watch a region 2 DVD, I hacked my el cheapo $30 DVD player to make it region free a long time ago. No, I'm not a genius, I Googled the hack very easily. My only worry is if my TV will play pal. But I think they do these days.

At any rate, I'm looking forward to it. It comes out on DVD on June 7th, so something to look forward to.

Monday, May 24, 2010

Review- Dancing with Venus by Roscoe James

Dancing with Venus
by Roscoe James
May 2010
Contemporary/ Lesbian
64K
Ebook- Loose-Id

Buy it Loose-Id

Blues is Jessica Butler’s life. No performer romances the audience better. Unfortunately the audience is the only thing twenty-eight-year-old Jessie is romancing these days. Her life is an endless string of club dates with the occasional male groupie thrown in to stave off complete isolation. Careful to never surrender more than her body, matters of her heart remain a mystery, even to her.

On the outs with her family, she’s been running from gig to gig for over a year. When her little sister’s wedding invitation finds her in Chicago Jessie realizes it’s time to stop running. Unwittingly she starts a pilgrimage that turns the ever elusive matters of her heart into a train wreck.

Marcella Dionysius keeps company with the dead Europeans. Instead of bars and clubs, Marci’s venues are concert halls and recording studios. She’s a world-class cello player, a woman that loves women, and the only daughter of a very powerful man who wants just one thing before he dies. An heir.


Marci is an exotic Greek goddess next to Jessie’s pale, lanky, Midwestern form, and Jessie hates her sister’s best friend immediately. She hates her even more after their first kiss. Because this time running isn’t an option.


Dancing with Venus is one of those books that based on the first few pages, I expected to have issues with. However, this turned out to be one the better reads of this year not only in writing quality but amazing character depth portrayal that I don’t read too often. Roscoe James captured and created a character in Jessie that crawled under my skin and made a home.

At first I had a hard time with Jessie. She’s jaded to the max, going through life with a huge chip on her shoulder. She’s done whatever she could, to the point of being cruel, to piss her mother off at every turn, and she fucks guys she meets at her gigs just to add a notch to her little “pink” book. There’s something really hard about her, and yet, of course we see further on that it’s a cover up for something painful in her past and some deep vulnerability.

Now typically, I start to roll my eyes at the tortured, self destructive character who has a heart of gold really. It’s so stereotypical and kind of boring. Yet, surprisingly, the author took this to a different level and added some real depth to Jessie as a character.

As the story progresses, Jessie learns things about why she acts like she does that shock even her. Things that she completely blocked and forgotten because they were too painful. I felt this was very realistically portrayed and I thought myself that Jessie really had no idea of those things that were haunting her psyche and causing her to act in self destructive ways.


Marci was more of a catalyst character in this story. She’s not as well developed, but in a way, it doesn’t matter because this is more or less Jessie’s story and her growth. What I liked about Marci is that in contrast to Jessie, she’s very stable about what she feels and knows what she wants. She bee-lines it to Jessie and pushes her way into Jessie’s heart, which is something that obviously Jessie needed. She never wavers, even when Jessie goes in and out with her flakiness about what she wants or feels.

There were times in this story that I felt it could easily go the way of the “oh my god I’m a lesbian,” but it never did even though Jessie does freak at first. Jessie finds herself shocked that she likes being with a woman and does fight it on some level, but it goes deeper than the whole fear of what people will think. It touches a deep nerve inside of her that brings up stuff that have to do with who she really is, her core, her security, relationship with her parents, her childhood and so on. I liked this because so many times an initially non gay character that ends up in a gay situation screams that “oh my god I’m a lesbian” is used more as a cheap way to show inner conflict than as part a complex character issue. So kudos to Mr. James for that.

The next issue that almost derailed this story for me was the push-pull thing that goes on quite often as a conflict device. In this case, Jessie opens up to Marci but then freaks and pulls back. Not once, but twice. When they finally get together again half way through the story and again Marci wants some kind of commitment or declaration and acknowledgment of Jessie’s love, Jessie can quite bring herself to it and again, they go on their separate ways.

I was thinking at that point, ugh, really, I hate this back and forth indecisiveness of characters. But then Mr. James took that and didn’t keep it frustrating, but ran in a different and interesting direction. I think it’s very hard to keep a contemporary love story interesting without a side theme like suspense or some other plot device to keep the characters distracted enough to build up tension. But I will say that the story line went in a direction that did that in a way that was able to showcase Jessie’s internal growth and desperate need to get Marci back without pissing me off.

Instead of a constant back and forth, both go on with their lives, especially Jessie who has a booming personal life outside of her love of Marci. But all the while, she’s trying to find and get back with Marci. This puts the focus on the story back into creating enough tension that I was aching for these two to get together again without getting pissed off by the drama of it. By the time they do meet up again, it’s so clear that Jessie will do anything for that love even sacrificing the other most important thing in her life, her music.

For those who are wondering, there isn’t that much sex in this book. Much of the story takes place with both Jessie and Marci being apart, with just enough scenes of them together to establish what they feel and the crisis they go through to end up together. But I liked this. For once in a long time, sex wasn’t thrown in there to show a relationship between the couple at the expense of character development and plot.

And I wasn’t going to mention this because really, it doesn’t matter the sex of the writer. A good story is a good story and this was a well written story. However, something that struck me here was that Mr. James had more insight into a woman’s character than many of the female writers of the same genre I've read. And I dare say, that Jessie as a character does have an edge and vulnerability to her that made her more real for me than many female protagonists that I read in these types of stories.

So, bottom line, I highly recommend this book. While it does have some issues, and maybe some of the story could have been cut in parts where Marci and Jesse are apart and doing their own thing, I’m still left with thoughts of this book in my head and wanting to continue on with the characters, to see how they made out with their HEA. And I was quite impressed with the writing quality

Heat level: 3- there are some, short, somewhat graphically written sex scenes, but they are few and I didn’t find them over the top but more about expressing what the characters feel for each other.

Grade: B+, A-

Friday, May 21, 2010

BBC movie: The Secret Diaries of Miss Anne Lister


I saw this on AfterEllen.com blog which has an exclusive trailer for a film coming out about an actual historical figure Ann Lister, who was a lesbian and chronicled her life in a series of diaries.

This looks like it's going to be really good. Unfortunately, I don't get the BBC so I will have to wait until it's out on DVD. The DVD is coming out on June 14 according to Amazon UK. But could be a while for it in the US. I do have a code free DVD player though.

After watching Tipping the Velvet, I have a craving for historical lesbian stories. What's especially interesting is that she was a real person.
Hats off to the BBC who has the guts to make these films.

You can watch the Trailer here for The Secret Diaries of Miss Anne Lister

From the BBC site:

Maxine Peake stars in The Secret Diaries of Miss Anne Lister, a bold and passionate new drama for BBC Two, written by Jane English and directed by James Kent.

Anne Lister, 1791–1840, was a Yorkshire landowner, industrialist, traveller and diarist. She was also a lesbian who, despite needing to keep her orientation secret from society at large, defied the conventions of her times by living with her female lover.

Anne kept a detailed account of her life, loves and emotions in a fascinating and painfully honest four million word journal. A sizeable portion of the journal was written in code and the recent deciphering of these diaries provides an astonishing insight into the life of the woman who has been called Britain’s first modern lesbian.

Anne Lister's remarkable diary and her truly extraordinary life form the basis of The Secret Diaries Of Miss Anne Lister.

This one-off 90-minute drama features a stellar cast, including Anna Madeley; Susan Lynch; Christine Bottomley; Gemma Jones; Dean Lennox Kelly and Tina O'Brien.

An accompanying documentary presented by comedy writer and presenter Sue Perkins tells the story of Anne Lister and the decoding of her diaries.

Janice Hadlow, Controller of BBC Two, says: "This is the world of the Brontes, with an unexpected twist.

"These remarkable diaries have shown that life and love in 19th century Yorkshire was more varied and surprising than you might think from reading the great novels."

Out now- Dancing with Venus by Roscoe James

I have it on good word that this book might be interesting. I haven't read it, but am getting it today or tomorrow depending on if I feel like going through the buying process today or not. Yes, sometimes I'm just too lazy to do the whole process.

It just came out this week.


Dancing with Venus

by Roscoe James

F/F

Loose-Id

Novel

Blues is Jessica Butler’s life. No performer romances the audience better. Unfortunately the audience is the only thing twenty-eight-year-old Jessie is romancing these days. Her life is an endless string of club dates with the occasional male groupie thrown in to stave off complete isolation. Careful to never surrender more than her body, matters of her heart remain a mystery, even to her.

On the outs with her family, she’s been running from gig to gig for over a year. When her little sister’s wedding invitation finds her in Chicago Jessie realizes it’s time to stop running. Unwittingly she starts a pilgrimage that turns the ever elusive matters of her heart into a train wreck.

Marcella Dionysius keeps company with the dead Europeans. Instead of bars and clubs, Marci’s venues are concert halls and recording studios. She’s a world-class cello player, a woman that loves women, and the only daughter of a very powerful man who wants just one thing before he dies. An heir.

Marci is an exotic Greek goddess next to Jessie’s pale, lanky, Midwestern form, and Jessie hates her sister’s best friend immediately. She hates her even more after their first kiss. Because this time running isn’t an option.

Publisher's Note: This book contains explicit sexual content, graphic language, and situations that some readers may find objectionable: Female/female sexual practices.


What's really sad is that since I haven't done it in a while, I went scouring around the other epubs for some new f/f to put up and promo, but found nothing.

Sunday, May 16, 2010

Review- Tipping the Velvet (DVD) by Sarah Waters

Tipping the Velvet (DVD)
2004- BBC mini series

Smitten by music hall life, and by the beautiful male impersonator Kitty Butler (Keeley Hawes), Nan Astley (Rachael Stirling) leaves her family’s Whitstable oyster parlor and follows her heart to London. There she finds unimaginable joy—and misery—as she explores the secret side of fin de siècle life.

Based on the acclaimed novel by Sarah Waters and adapted by Andrew Davies (Bridget Jones’s Diary, Doctor Zhivago), this powerful BBC drama is both a frank depiction of lesbianism and a witty and moving account of a young woman who will win your heart while searching for her own. Also starring Anna Chancellor (Pride and Prejudice), Jodhi May (The Last of the Mohicans), Hugh Bonneville (Iris) and John Bowe (Poldark). "Provocative and uplifting" ––The Baltimore Sun. "Flat-out sublime" ––The Seattle Times.




There are 103 reviews of this film on Amazon, so I think if you want a full spectrum of reviews you can go there. I thought I’d just give a few impressions of how I experienced the movie.

I haven’t read the book. Nor have I read any other of Sarah Waters’ books, so I really can’t compare it to the original story or her other stories. However, from what I gleaned over at Amazon, the movie version is pretty close.

I also can’t compare this to Fingersmith, which I read in several reviews is way better. So this is a first time impression based on nothing really except my personal experience with this film.

I loved it. Really loved it. There are very few films, or books for that matter, in which when it’s over I feel really sad. I didn’t want to let go of the world I’d just been in for a few hours, I wanted to hang out with the characters just a bit more.

Tipping the Velvet affected me on so many levels and I’ll admit that it did break my heart in a few places and I did get a bit emotional and cry a few times.

The first thing that hit me was how the relationship between Nan and Kitty develop. It’s a slow build up and Nan’s longing for Kitty palpable and extremely passionate. She’s only 18 and has no idea really that she’s in love with a woman as opposed to what she’s supposed to feel with a man, but is so smitten that she only knows she will do anything to be around Kitty.

This for me was the best part of the film, how they start relating and how slowly Kitty opens up to Nan and seduces her in a way. It’s sweet, it’s very romantic, poignant, innocent and it’s heartbreaking in a way. It brings up all those feelings of longing you’ve ever had a for anyone plus all that vulnerability when falling in love, and brings them to the front of your psyche. So this was very well done and rather emotional and touching for me.

Of course, things hit the skids because that’s what makes for good drama, and Kitty blows off Nan to marry their theatrical manager. This throws Nan into a tailspin of emotional anguish, which sets her off on a different journey than she would have thought for herself as a simple country girl.

I’ve read a few reviews of the book at Goodreads and quite a few mentioned that Nan seemed to drift aimlessly, having no backbone or ability to stand up for herself. I don’t know if the book portrays her like that, but in this story she does have backbone. It’s just strength to do what she has to do to survive. In that process, she uses and embraces this world she was in of dressing like a man to get what she needs and she grows from her experiences of selling herself in different ways to get on.

I will admit, that once Kitty was out of the picture it’s more of a somber drama without that inner feeling of joy that two people who love each other will be together and some of the passion of it was gone, with reality setting in. I kept wishing Kitty would somehow come back into the story, that it couldn’t be true that two people who loved each other like Kitty and Nan would not survive. But I admit this desire in me that they get back together kept up the tension and desire to watch this movie.

The scenery and imagery of Victorian life was very well done in this story. Especially the world of vaudeville or stage performers. I wasn’t so much hot over the singing and dancing numbers in the movie, but was intrigued to know that during this time period many women dressed as men and did stage performances as men. There was a whole underground world of performers that crossed dressed and were gay and lesbian that was well known about in certain circles and it seems that it was quite accepted amongst those people, even if against the law at that time. It also portrayed the ugly side of this world as well, which was quite fascinating.

There were some minor instances that portrayed that being gay during these times was wholly unacceptable and apparently, in the book Kitty rejects Nan due to some inner homophobic conflict, I don’t know. However, in this story that is not the case. Although we really don’t know why Kitty rejects Nan, but that she does pay for it emotionally.

One thing I must bring up is that there were quite a few nude scenes as well as sex between Nan and several women during her journey. I thought they were beautifully and tastefully done, very erotic but not in a gaudy, titillating way. I felt that these women really want and have deep need for each other during those scenes. And there is one fascinating nude scene in which Nan is dressed as Hermaphrodites, naked and painted in gold and wearing a strap on as entertainment for her mistress’ party. I thought that the BBC allowing this to be in a TV film was quite bold.

All in all this was a good movie. I’d definitely recommend it to any woman who is lurking about some inner openness to women on a romantic level. It portrays the passion that women can feel for each other in a rather beautiful and erotic way.

I’ll probably get a hold of some other Sarah Water’s books or DVD’s, especially if they are as intense as this story was. Oh and that was another bonus, this DVD had a short interview with Sarah Waters, which was kind of interesting.

Heat level: 3- tastefully done sex with some nudity

Grade: Between A- and B+

Here's a montage of scenes from the movie that show the most poignant moments. Just so you know, it does give away some of the best parts, although it's done to music and it's well worth not watching this if you intend to watch the movie at some point. There are lots of vids of this movie on youtube in case you want more.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

It's a Non review week


This week has kind of sucked book wise. I've read two shorty's, started a longer book was a DNF, and started another book that I couldn't even get past the first chapter due to major info dump and boring writing that didn't hook me in. *sigh*

The first shorty is:

Enchanted Waters

by Bryn Colvin

Fantasy
/lesbian
4.6K

Loveyoudevine


Fate brings Catherine and Bracken to the healing spring at two critical moments in their lives. Encountering each other and sharing tears sparks passion and wild possibility.

Perhaps the old Gods were watching over Bracken and Catherine, sending them to the same healing spring at two critical points in their lives. In the spell of this magical place, the two women forge a deep connection and awaken a magical passion within each other.


Unfortunately this story didn't do it for me. I bought this book thinking it might be in interesting fantasy.

What didn't work for me was the incongruity in the ambiance.

It starts out all kind of new agey and spiritual with flowery and poetic language. The dialogue in the beginning was a bit stilted and off with the characters seemingly talking at each other without a connection. Then when the women get together, the language suddenly gets quite sexually graphic but mixed with with comparing the sex to the elements and the stars and so on. It came off to me like when a religious person talks all spiritial as they're taking advantage of someone sexually. It was weird for me.

Some parts of the story were OK, but it was too short for any other development outside of establishing some karmic meeting and spiritual sex. C-


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The next book was a DNF.


Lavender Excursions
by Danielle Engle

2000

Erotica/ contemporary/ Lesbian/ some-m/f

67K
ebook

A self-styled entrepreneur, whose good looks and reputation precede her, Taryn Williams operates a business catering exclusively to women.

Lavender Excursions is her dream child, a place where women play out their deepest and darkest sexual fantasies. When Pat Brooks buys her best friend, Kimberly Justin, an excursion for a Christmas present, she sets off a chain of events that change not only Kimberly's life but Taryn's life as well. As past and present collide, these two women discover that love is a truly splendid thing.

Ok, this was erotica, so my standards are a bit less. But I just couldn't finish it. The whole premise was dumb and it's mostly hard core BDSM and non-stop sex with barely a story line. Now I wasn't so bothered by the BDSM and some of the sex was pretty hot. And I did manage to read about one third of the book. But when the main character started flogging one character with a shovel from the fireplace, that was it for me, I'm done.

I think if you're up for some hard core rough sex, with some serious flogging and strong D/s dynamic, you'll have a great couple of hours. It just wasn't for me.


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The last book, unfortunately is not for sale anymore. I wasn't going to review it, but dang-it, it was the best group of little short stories.



Taste Test: Learning Curve
2008

by C. B. Potts, Jodi Payne, and Elisa Viperas
Anthology/Contemporary/Erotica/ Lesbian
ebook
Short

Advanced Studies
by CB Potts


Hot for Teacher
by Jodi Payne


Do it With Class
by Elisa Viperas


I must say, although very short altogether, and having three short stories within that, this is a juicy book. If you like the school, teacher/student- older/younger dynamic- fantasy, I'd totally recommend it.
All three stories focus on a school setting.

The first, Advanced Studies, is a quick yummy between a Dept. head prof and a not yet tenured instructor who is feeling a bit rebellious. I liked the dynamics in this story, older women, younger woman tight tension. Very hot.


The next story, Hot For Teacher
, is about a TA and a prof. The prof is the one in control here and *coughsurreptitiouslycough* seduces the TA, who is secretly lusting after the prof. Again, nicely written with those titillating differential power dynamics.

The third story, Do it with Class, is about two teachers teaching kids in a Catholic school. Again, this one is between older/younger in that the younger teacher is just out of college, and the older one is a former fitness instructor turned gym teacher. I'm kind of partial to the juxtaposition of sex within religious type setting. The little rebel in me rather enjoys it. But this was kind of cute because these women are so different. The younger woman is kind of straight laced even though she's a lesbian and the older one is pretty bawdy and outrageous. Plus, the writing and dialogue in this story was witty and fun.

Grade: B+

It was originally published by Torquere Press, but I can't find a copy of it anywhere even though it was pubbed in 2008. Don't know why it's gone, but it is.

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I'm not going to comment on the last DNS (Barely started) book because what's the point? I tried. I skipped ahead, hoping that the prologue only was a huge info dump, but the first chapter read the same way, and a few chapters in read the same way. I don't know who these characters are and unfortunately for the author, I don't care.

Authors, please, do NOT start your books with info dump and back story. It confuses and bores the hell out of readers. If we can't get past the first few pages, then even if the rest of book is brilliant, no one will know.

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All is not lost this week though because the library finally came through with my hold of a few weeks, the DVD version of Tipping the Velvet by Sarah Waters.

I'm going to try and watch it tomorrow and get a review up of it in the next few days. Woot!


Saturday, May 8, 2010

Foreplay in f/f or lesbian erotic romance


Yesterday on
Dear Author, one of our contributors, Jill Sorenson posted her review of Fool's Gold by Jenna Byrnes.

In her review she said that she felt that there was a lack of foreplay between the two main female characters during sex and she was disappointed in that or didn't like that. She compared it to m/m sex, which is usually portrayed more like how men are thought to like sex; without preamble or any warm up.


This got me to thinking about foreplay in f/f or lesbian erotic romance.
To be honest, this has never been an issue for me. Or, I've never noticed any lack of foreplay in an f/f or lesbian book.

That got me thinking about what foreplay means. For those of us who are straight or bisexual and have only been with men, I think technically it usually means that a man gets a woman warmed up and turned on by breast play and clitoral stimulation for the big (main) event, which is intercourse. Or that's how it is for many women since many men aren't into long drawn out kissing and cuddling sessions before sex, which is also considered foreplay.


In m/f erotic romance, the lack of foreplay is something that I notice immediately. There are quite a few authors who dispense with the foreplay altogether because the magical penis and alpha energy of the male is so intense that they can just jump right in and viola!, the woman is immediately ready and has the most amazing orgasm. Lisa Marie Rice is one such author who does that and her books are like crack to me. Do I usually believe it, that the woman is all wet and comes right away without any stimulation? Nope. But it's one of those things in m/f that is very noticeable and a big deal.

The usual in m/f erotic romance foreplay is not so much the kissing and cuddling,
but that the hero spends a lot of time on the heroine's breasts combined with clitoral stimulation, either orally or through manual stimulation. He's usually totally focused on giving her an orgasm this way before they even start intercourse.

Foreplay becomes an issue in m/f because it's a
common complaint among women that men just don't take the time to get them warmed up and in fantasy, this is what we want to read.

But then there's f/f sex. F/f sex in its totality, is for the most part, the same thing men do to get a woman warmed up. While in many lesbian stories and in erotica a strap on is used, usually, it’s oral sex and fingering that is the main event between women.

So what is usually foreplay in m/f is the main event in f/f. To me, it's a given then that a woman is going to be warmed up and satisfied in f/f sex and foreplay then becomes something else altogether.

And this is the interesting thing to me, I wonder of readers of f/f have different expectations about what foreplay is between women as opposed to foreplay with men? Is foreplay more about the emotional dance between two people prior to the sex, like in verbal banter and flirting? Or is it more about the actual physical act of foreplay?


I think many of us who like to read f/f are looking for an emotional connection before it’s expressed in the physical, which would mean more time spent cuddling and kissing, talking about feelings and such and just connecting maybe on a softer physical level regardless of how the actual sex is eventually expressed: rough, intense, soft, aggressive, etc.


I know when I started reading lesbian romances, one thing that struck me clearly was that often the characters got excited and were satisfied just with cuddling and kissing and I totally loved that. I felt that was something totally missing in m/f romance. It's something that I think many women respond to, but don't read too often.


Personally, I prefer that there is an emotional connection whether it be m/f or f/f. However, what I consider foreplay in f/f is probably more different than in m/f.


So what do you all think? Do you have different expectations when it comes to sexual expression and foreplay between women than between men and women in m/f?

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Ellora's Cave gift special

So, I just saw this on Paisley Smith's blog because her book Birthday Girl is part of the special offer. I thought maybe some readers might be interested in this.

But here's the deal from Ellora's Cave:

To celebrate our 10th anniversary, we’re offering new 10% off BOGO specials every month! For each of these ebooks you buy at a 10% discount, we’ll send a free copy of that book to a friend, along with a personalized greeting card from you.

You can send a birthday card with a story from our birthstone series, an anniversary card, or a general greeting card to go with holidays throughout the year, including Valentine’s Day, St. Patrick’s Day, Mother’s Day, Independence Day, Veteran’s Day, Halloween and Christmas.


If you click on the May Bogo Books link on EC's page, all the covers come up so it's easier to see at a glance what you might be interested in.