Sunday, September 26, 2010

Help with AIDS Class

Hello All- I'm taking an AIDS class and one of my current assignments is to ask people to fill out a survey about AIDS.

I'm allowed to do it in any way... by phone, through email and so on, but since I need quite a few and my IRL friends are same classmates or friends living far from me, I thought I'd post it to this blog to see if anyone feels like answering the questions. I already know what my friends feel and know about AIDS since my circle was well aware of AIDS back in the mid 80's and have had friends die of it, contract it and been tested regularly ourselves since, well, we came of age during the late 60's and 70's when sexual liberation was in. So I'd like to get a more broad range group for the surveys.

It's all anonymous and if you wish to participate, you can log into comments as anonymous. There will be no way to track back to you.

If you do wish to participate, but don't wish to do so in the comments you can always email me with your answers. Of course, then I might know who you are unless you have a non-name email address. If so, do not put your name on it if you decide to go that route.

But for the record, I understand that there are a lot of feelings and issues around AIDS as well as lot of misinformation that most people take for granted. So no judgements on my part about anything you say if you do email me privately.

If you do wish to participate and there are some questions you do NOT wish to answer, that's OK as well. All I do write in my report is that a person or some people wished not to answer certain questions. I don't have to tie down people to get all the results, thank god!

Edited to add my email address: rdwar119 (at) yahoo (dot) com,   since there's no easy way to email me from this blog. Ugh.

Survey
Age   Male    Female

I know someone who is infected with mv: Yes No

know someone who has died from AIDS: Yes No

1. Despite what has been published about the way AIDS is transmitted, I still believe there is a chance that I could get AIDS by: (circle those that apply).

a. Touching (handshake, hugging) an infected person.
b. Kissing an infected person on the cheek
c. Kissing an infected person on the lips (French, tongue, or deep k1ssing excluded) d. French, tongue, or deep kissing an infected person
e. Sharing food with an infected person (such as taking a bite of a sandwich).
f Eating food prepared by an infected person who failed to wash his or her hands. g. Being near an infected person when they sneeze or cough.
h. Using a toilet seat immediately after an infected person has used it.

2. The bodily fluids of an infected person that are known to transmit AIDS are (choose all that apply):
a. Blood c. Saliva e. Urine g. Earwax i. Semen
b. Nose secretions d. Vaginal Fluid f. Sweat h. Tears j. Breast Milk

3. The bodily fluids or an infected person that are known not to transmit AIDS are (choose all that apply):

a. Blood c. Saliva e. Urine g. Earwax i. Semen
b. Nose secretions d. Vaginal Fluid  f. Sweat  h. Tears j. Breast Milk

4. When I hear that a homosexual male has contracted AIDS, my most common reaction is

a. He definitely did not deserve it
b. He probably did not deserve it
c. Not sure whether or not he deserved it d. He probably did deserve it
e. He definitely did deserve it
The reason I feel this, way is because:

5. When I hear that an IV drug abuser has contracted AIDS, my most common reaction is a. The person definitely did not deserve it
b. The person probably did not deserve it
c. Not sure whether or not the person deserved it
d. The person probably did deserve it
e. The person definitely did deserve it
The reason I feel this way is because:

6. When I hear that a male has contracted AIDS due to a contaminated blood transfusion, my most common reaction is
a. He definitely did not deserve It
b. He probably did not deserve it
c. Not sure whether or not he deserved it
d. He probably did deserve it
e. He definitely did deserve it
The reason I feel this way is because,


7. When I hear that a male has contracted AIDS due to unprotected sex with a female, my most common reaction is
a. He definitely did not deserve it
b. He probably did not deserve it
c. Not sure whether or not he deserved it
d. He probably did deserve it
e. He definitely did deserve it
The reason I feel this way is because,

8. There are approximately 300 million people living in the U.S. I would estimate that the number who have become HIV-positive since 1981, is approximately (choose one):

a.20,000 c. 500,000 e. 2 million g. 8 million i. 28 million k. 100 million
b. 100,000 d. 1 million f. 5 million h. 12 million j. 50 million 1. 140 million

9. I would guess that my chances of getting infected with mv in the next 5 years are:
a. T ota1ly Impossible
b. Virtually Impossible
c. Almost Impossible
d. Very Unlikely
e. Unlikely
f Probably Unlikely
g. Probably Likely
h. Likely
i. Very Likely
j. Extremely Likely
k. Almost Certain 1. It will definitely happen

The reason for my answer is

10.  The survey that follows has been adaptedfrom the AIDS Training Project, University of Washington:
Use the following scale to reflect how you feel about each statement by writing a number next to each:
1 = Strongly Agree
2 = Agree .
3 = Not Sure
4 =Disagree
5 = Strongly Disagree

_1. I have sufficient knowledge to protect myselfftom getting AIDS.
_2. If I got AIDS, I'm maid people would think I'm homosexual.
_3. I am morally offended by people with AIDS.
_4. I feel I am at great risk of getting AIDS because of my job.
_5. The growing number of people being diagnosed with AIDS indicates a decline in American morals. _6. I think hospital workers should not be required to work with AIDS patients.
_7. People with AIDS should be quarantined for the protection of society.
_8. I would feel quite comfortable working next to a person with the AIDS virus.
_9. I feel more negatively about homosexuality since hearing about AIDS.
_10. Children with AIDS should not be allowed to attend public school with other children.
, _11. I believe that if I worked beside someone at work who carried the AIDS virus, I could possibly
transmit the disease to my family.
_12. Getting AIDS is God's punishment for perverted and promiscuous behavior.
_13. The AIDS virus was created by the U.S. government to eliminate certain people.
_14. Very few people in the U.S. are dying ftom AIDS anymor~it is now more of a chronic illness. _15. There will be likely be a vaccine or a cure for AIDS within the next five years.

Review- A Verdict for Love by Monica Conti

A Verdict For Love
by Monica Conti
Feb, 2010
Contemporary/ Lesbian/Erotica
30.2K words
Ebook- Smashwords

Buy it Smashwords, Amazon (Kindle)


Chiara Bianchi’s star was rising. Her unexpected success in defending a notorious Atlanta crime figure had pushed her to the top of what had long been a male dominated law firm. The only thing lacking in her life was love. Then Grace came into her life. For a time it seemed that their relationship could remain discreet, but fate stepped in and forced a battle between justice and love.

I’ll be honest, this review almost never happened and maybe the if the author reads it she might wish it didn’t as well. There were many times when this story was going to be a DNF for me. But I’m stubborn that way sometimes and I kept reading. I’m glad I did even if I have some critical things to say.

There was also some disappointment because her story Song of Sirens, which I reviewed, was so nicely written; so above par in the usual erotica quality. So I did have some expectations of a well crafted story, which didn’t happen.


First I’ll say that what did keep me reading was that a lot of heart and warmth comes through in this story. If a book affects me on an emotional level in a positive way then I give it some credit even if the technical execution is awful. So my overall feeling is positive about this story.

The first issue I had was that through most of the first half and quite a bit of the second half, this story is all info dump. All tell-no show with an omniscient POV telling the story. Any dialogue starts towards the second half of the book. Mostly it’s some outside being telling Chiara’s and then Grace’s back stories, their meeting and first experiences together like how someone would read you a story. It got pretty boring since, well, it’s a nice story but this POV leaves the reader as purely an outsider looking in. It’s very hard to get invested in the characters if you’re not in their heads.

The next issue I had was that the author kind of went all over the place. In the first half, we are getting Chiara’s life story. She’s had a bad break up with her ex and her ex has found a new woman. But then she calls up Chiara and they have a one night tryst only to have the ex blow her off again. I just didn’t get the point of all of that. It felt like the author just threw that in there from left field to put in a sex scene. It was not hot or erotic at all to me because I don’t know who these characters are and it made no sense since the ex has nothing to do with the story at all.

Following on with the all over the place issues… the second half of the book, after Chiara and Grace get together the story really kicks in with… an actual story. However, there are constant POV changes in that dialogue kicks in and we finally get some action, but then it slides in and out of the omniscient POV again telling us what’s going on to gloss over things and get further on in the story. Included are philosophical ideas that the omniscient being muses about.

There are other issues like that outside of the love story, the main conflict is that the women have been discriminated against due to their being gay. And it seems the author was trying to make a socio/political statement about it by having good old white boys being nasty villain types, while having the Black lady lawyer defend them. All fine things that didn’t bother me at all. However…spoiler: (highlight to read)

Their lawyer Tamika, Chiara and Grace find a way to win the court battle through what amounts to blackmail basically, and not through the fact that it's just wrong to be discriminated against for being gay. Both Grace and Chiara were slacking on the job due to their affair, and Chiara basically tries to extort a payoff from her firm when she’s called on the carpet for slacking off and knows she’ll be fired for being gay.

Also, Chiara and Grace have sex in the office and start showing up late, which is fine for an erotic story in general, but don’t tie it then to getting slammed for being gay.

Another issue is the whole impropriety of a Chiara seducing and having an affair with her secretary and then not really acknowledging that it’s improper in general. Think of it in terms of of m/f, it’s the same thing. Especially in a law office.

So the social injustice aspect felt off to me because if you’re going to write a story that makes a statement about social injustice, then I feel the characters have to be above board and not act on the level of the villain.

End spoiler.

There were things I really loved about this story. Both Chiara and Grace are lovable characters. Chiara is a smart woman who’s worked hard and put up with the good old boys crap for years to get a position and be a partner. It’s been her whole life and her personal life has taken a back seat to it. She’s older and seems to be more dominant wanting to take care of Grace. However Grace doesn’t put up with any crap and holds her own.

There really isn’t too much about Grace. She’s a poor country girl who comes from a backward thinking family who wants to make something of herself. She worked hard to graduate law school and goes to the big city to find work. She’s immediately attracted to Chiara and finally gets why she never really got turned on by the men she was with. And she basically lets Chiara tell her what they are going to do. Although she does have a backbone and stands up for issues that piss her off with Chiara.

They both go whole heartedly into the relationship and their interactions are very sweet, but realistic as well, which I liked. At one point when both are holed up waiting for the trial, they start sniping at each other and I feared it would head into too much reality for me. However, how they resolve that is quite yummy even if that part also ventured into the “all over the place territory” as well. I won’t explain, there are enough spoilers already.

What did shine through though is that these two women really love each other and that they will have an HEA. They are very loving and juicy together and the sex is really hot. The rest of the plot got very interesting from the halfway point, enough to keep me reading and to see that the author is capable of telling a gripping story. There was just enough tension and action to keep me going. So in the end, my overall experience was good.

This is a self published book on Smashwords and outside of the not well done technical execution, all tell and no show, I thought this story better than some reads from established publishers. I would still read another of Monica Conti’s book since Song of the Sirens was such a good read and I like when an author portrays lovingness with hot sex between a couple.

Heat level 5- some graphic sexual situations,but not too much for the story. Minor anal.

Grade C

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Coming Soon


Higher Learning by Kris Starr

Out Oct 6th- from Ellora's Cave


Work on Anne’s Master’s Thesis is going well until her world is spun off its axis by the stunningly beautiful and
very

sexy Leslie. Interviewing this woman about her sexual history is turning in to an exquisite form of sensual torture, but somehow Anne can’t find it in herself to stay away. On top of that, Leslie’s scorching kisses and electrifying caresses bring long-buried feelings and painful memories to the surface. And it doesn’t help that Anne’s boyfriend, Michael, is willing to let Anne do a little experimentation.

Anne’s obsession with Leslie begins to spiral out of control, affecting both her work and her relationship with Michael, until all that remains is a possibility that Anne both craves and fears. But not everything is as it seems and it turns out Anne’s not the only one keeping secrets.



Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Review- Some Kind of River by Andi Marquette

Some Kind of River
by Andi Marquette
2007
Contemporary/Lesbian
21K
Ebook- Torquere Press

Buy it Torquere Press, ARe (cheaper), Fictionwise (also cheaper) Kindle
 
Rafting guide Dez figures her best friend Mel just isn’t into her. She knows Mel is a lesbian, just like she is, but she's never seen a glimmer of interest from her friend, and would never screw up their relationship by making a pass.
Luckily for Dez, Mel is a little more determined than she is, and will keep trying to get Dez's attention, even when Dez is truly clueless. When a chance game of truth or dare with their friends leads to a revelation, can Dez admit that she might just be Mel's type?


Some Kind of River is one of those very sweet and real stories that make you feel at home and comfortable. Both Dez and Mel, plus the secondary characters are all down to earth, fun characters whom I could really relate to. Especially Dez. It’s not a flashy story, nor is it erotically charged, although there are some very erotic moments; it’s just kind of like being wrapped up in a warm blanket on a cold day in how Dez and Mel relate.

Dez and Mel have been rafting buddies for years. They see each other and work together every summer and the rest of the year they stay in touch through emails. They are really good friends and this year Dez is getting concerned with her growing crush on Mel. The trouble is, she’s afraid to say anything about it since she doesn’t want to jeopardize the relationship altogether since she thinks that Mel is not interested.

Mel has a crush on someone in the group as she stated during a game of truth or dare. I wonder who it could be? :-) Unfortunately, this has a worried affect on Dez. Mel, in her own way, tries to suss out if Dez is feeling just a bit more for her but is also worried about losing the friendship by bringing in weirdness if Dez is not interested.

The rest is basically the dance between these two in what is the classic “I like this person but don’t know if they like me, so I’ll pretend I don’t, but what if I don’t say something and they like me, but if I do and they don’t like me, then what will happen?” syndrome we’ve all been through. 

Fortunately, Andi Marquette kept the angsting on an even keel without it getting too melodramatic or frustrating, but giving just enough tightness to keep it interesting.

What was very nice about this story outside of Dez and Mel trying to work it out, is the interesting and different backdrop of white water river rafting. I’ve never done that, but Andi Marquette seems to know what she’s talking about since there were specific references to things particular to white water rafting. Also, I liked the fact that both girls are outdoorsy and athletic. The scenes are set in a camping situation, which is just different from the usual.

The other characters are all very supportive of both Mel and Dez and the whole lesbian thing is not a big deal. Whew! I love that. In fact, during a game of truth or dare, there is a kiss that pretty much makes everyone hot and bothered, including the very straight Mary, a co-worker, who lovingly jokes that she would be all over that if it happened to her. So there’s a nice camaraderie between the characters that I enjoyed.

Dez is one of those characters that I could relate to on a real level. She’s an everyday girl: no big ego, unpretentious, going for her Master’s degree and looking for “the one.” She aches for Mel but is very sensitive to the fact that she wishes to have Mel in her life even as just a friend rather than blow it. But I also loved how when they went rafting and Mel, playing around, scares Dez, Dez goes off on her in a very colorful way. She’s not afraid to show her anger and this makes for a real relationship. When you can go off on a friend like that and still be friends, that’s a deep commitment to each other that I love to read.

The only issue I had with this story is in the beginning the writing was a bit funky. This is told in first person by Dez. In the first few pages, many of the sentences are choppy and start with I. I did this, I did that, I felt this, I said that… It was noticeable to me to the point that I thought if the rest is like this, it will be hard to read. However, very quickly Dez and Mel meet and the rest of the story is mostly dialogue between Dez and Mel and everyone else and is nicely written.

In short, I recommend Some Kind of River if you’re looking for a friends to lovers love story that has all the juicy, loving components without all the heavy angst, but just enough tension to keep the pages turning.

Heat level- 4- some graphic sexual language- one sex scene.

Grade- B+

Saturday, September 18, 2010

Review- Kaydee and the Tramp by Titania Ladley

Kaydee and the Tramp
by Titania Ladley
Sept. 1, 2010
Contemporary/ Lesbian- bisexual/f/f
29K
Ebook- Ellora’s Cave

Buy it EC

“Show me how a woman makes love to a woman.”Hearing that from any hetero female is normally a deal breaker. But when lesbian Kaydee Truman is propositioned with those words by her longtime secret crush—her best friend’s widowed stepmom—temptation takes a front seat to propriety. Savanah Kirtright exudes irresistible sex appeal, and her many past experiences lie solely with men. Savanah’s unexpected enthusiasm to learn how to please a woman proves to be more than Kaydee can resist.

Which turns out to be the worst mistake of her life. But how can such an agonizing slip-up feel so damn right? Neither Kaydee nor Savanah have the answer. All they know is, one sultry summer day by the lake leaves Kaydee and her new lover to make choices that will forever change their lives.


I have to be honest, I probably wouldn’t have gotten this book based on the blurb if it wasn’t a f/f book. The same in a m/f would be a turn off. A best friend has an affair with a step- mom or dad? Or vice versa? There’s an immediate ick factor that comes up without reading the story. I’m thinking rich, bored, bitchy cougar who’s a calculated user and who seduces a younger person. However, as there are very little f/f out there I did take a chance on this on.

I had also heard that this is erotica with non-stop sex basically, which is fine. I don’t mind reading non-stop sex once in a while. Surprisingly, though, this turned out to be a sweet and loving story, which moved it up quite a few notches in my overall feelings about it.

Kaydee and Melanie have been best friends since childhood. They are both in their mid 20’s now and Melanie has just gotten married and is off on her honeymoon. Kaydee is a lesbian and she’s been lusting after Melanie’s step-mom, Savanah, who is young-ish and hot. Admittedly, Melanie’s father has robbed the cradle a bit. But Savanah has been a faithful and loving wife until his death. Although she and Melanie have not been the best of buds, they do treat each other as family.

Savanah has been with men only, but has had desires and crushes on women since she was a teenager. Having been brought up in a situation in which she couldn’t disgrace her family by having affairs with women, she’s suppressed her same sex yearnings. But now she’s older, has stayed out of the spotlight and she’s a young widower. She’s also very attracted to Kaydee and decides to ask Kaydee to initiate her into the world of loving a woman in the carnal sense.

Of course, Kaydee can’t believe her luck! This hot woman whom she’s been lusting after wants her to teach her about sex with a woman. There’s a huge hitch in the whole thing though, Savanah is Melanie’s step-mom and the whole thing is just awkward and wrong, which both Kaydee and Savanah feel.

Since this story starts out with a lot of sex, I’ll start there too. I knew this book was going to be a lot of sex, so I expected it. And there is a lot of sex. Really hot, spicy sex. But I give kudos to Ms Ladley for coming up with a variety of ways of expressing sex acts and bits without getting redundant. In fact, after a while I was enjoying more to see what word she’d come up with to express the same sex act several times. So on that level, it was enjoyable. I admit, after a while I get bored with the constant sex and start looking at it in different ways to stay entertained. Kaydee and Savanah do just about everything possible so it was very creative.

What mainly got me in this story though was how much heart was infused even with it being erotica. It’s clear that both Savanah and Kaydee have major hots for each other. But I think it’s hard in such a short story to manage some stronger emotional content out of that. Sex to show how much someone feels for someone else doesn’t go over well with me, I need other factors and Ms Ladley managed that for me. There’s an emotional ache between Kaydee and Savanah that gets strongly expressed.

What I liked also about this story is that it’s the first time I’ve read a f/f in which a curious woman who’s had same sex attractions decides to find someone to teach her for her first experience. Stories with curious women are usually about a straight woman who’s been clueless until a bi or lesbian seduces her or she suddenly finds herself attracted to a woman.

In this story, it’s nice that a character sets out to experience with a woman in a true way and not just as an experiment. Although, Savanah does say some stupid things, comparing what’s it’s like to have sex with a real penis vs. a fake one with a woman. This sets Kaydee off, as it should. She’s up for teaching Savanah, but not into being compared with a man. This was a strange thing to me, but it brought in some conflict and a leaping point to interact outside of the actual sex.

Melanie does enter the picture in all of this and what happened with her and how Kaydee and Savanah react moved both of them up in my eyes since it showed they were willing to be respectful to someone they cared about at their own expense.

Personally, I liked the characters. Both Kaydee and Savanah are interesting and I think this story could have really popped if there were more character development. I would have liked to hang out a bit more with them outside of the bedroom. But for what it is, it’s still a satisfying read.

I recommend this book if you’re looking for a light on characterization and plot but full on hot sex with a feel good HEA short story.

Heat level- 5- graphically written sex, lots of it, strap-on, shower sex, outdoor sex.

Grade: B

Saturday, September 11, 2010

Review- Lois Lenz, Lesbian Secretary by Monica Nolan

Lois Lenz, Lesbian Secretary
by Monica Nolan
Aug 2007
Lesbian/humor/ pulp-1950’s
256 pgs.- Kensington

Buy it Amazon, B&N

Wild Women! Lurid Adventures! Shocking Desires! And A Lot Of Filing.

The story your mother never told you--printed here for your own good.

Lois Lenz was like any other wholesome former cheerleader with a knack for office skills--until she took a job at Sather & Sterling in bustling Bay City. Spending her days in the cut-throat typing pool and her nights at the all-women's residence of Magdalena Arms, Lois had no idea she was entering a world of working girls whose passionate desires--and fabulous fashion sense--could lead any innocent lamb astray...

Netta--serious and smart, she's unlike any woman Lois has known...

Maxie--The height of society fashion, and girls are so very in style...

Pamela--Lois's old high school Pep Squad pal certainly has changed...

Miss Gill--the office manager has secrets and plenty of file cabinets to keep them in...

Dolly--an actress whose martini shaker is as busy as her love life...

Mrs. Pierson--"The hyena," Lois's boss, her office is a place of hard work and private dictation...
And many more!

Lois Lenz--she was a good girl a long way from home about to discover that not everything is what it seems, navy is a bad suit choice, and love can bloom in the strangest of places...


I’ve been so bored lately with the books I’ve started reading, tired of the usual erotica, or common lesbian story lines and have wanted to read something completely different. When I saw the title and cover of this book, I knew I had to read it. I was hoping it’d be campy, retro, and humorous and it didn’t disappoint at all. It was a blast reading this book. It’s light, slightly irreverent and honors lesbian pulp of the 50’s.

From the book cover: Her soul was pure, Her desires were sinful, Her typing was impeccable. Buwahaha! I’m sorry, but this totally grabbed me.

Have any of you seen the spoof movie The Brady Bunch Movie? The movie pulls the Brady family out of the 70’s and places them into the 90’s. The family still act as if they are living in the 70’s and their cluelessness and naiveté about how things are in the 90’s makes for funny moments. This is how Lois Lenz comes across in this book. Like she’s from the 50’s but was dropped into later times, although the story and other characters are in the 50’s. Written in 2007, this story is both a spoofy take on 50’s pulp fiction, as well as the popular beliefs at that time.

It’s 1957 and Lois and her best friend Faye, the most popular girl in school, are graduating from high school. From a small town called Walnut Grove, they are fairly naïve about the ways of the world. Both girls have been practicing kissing with each other so they can be better experienced with the boys. But Lois rather enjoys these little sessions, even though she doesn’t understand why, and wishes she could practice more often with Faye. In fact, she’s a bit frustrated and would like to practice some 2nd and 3rd base techniques as well.

Lois and Faye are inherently different though. Faye is all about becoming the perfect---kept in a style which she’s being brought up in--- woman, while Lois has ambitions to realize her talent for filing and organization. Lois’ guidance counselor suggests that she go to the big city and work since she’s so talented at typing and such. Going against Faye’s magnetic hold on her, Lois decides to go to Bay City and work for the summer and convinces her mother that she will not be taken by white slave traders, nor will she be seduced by those commies and marijuana users since she will be staying at a “very safe” boarding house for women.

Since a job at the most famous advertising agency has been lined up for her already, she moves into the 5th floor of the Magdalena Arms boarding house. The women are all nice and friendly, but right away, Lois notices something very “queer” (snort) about the women and there’s definitely something they're all hiding. But what could it be, she wonders? heh

Lois starts working for the queen byotch (The Hyena), the most influential female advertising executive and she is berated every day by her. But she stays “gay” and all in her attitude and tries to fit in.

Slowly she realizes that no one is who they seem and finds herself embroiled in all kinds of sexual (although she stays pretty clueless about her attractions to women) antics, work intrigues and boarding house secrets. Things come to a head and she tries to fit all the mysterious pieces together.

Normally, I get pissed off at Mary Sue characters. Let’s face it, Lois is a goody-two-shoes who always does the right thing and points out when others are doing less than legal or good things. But in this case, she’s so delightfully clueless that it’s entertaining.

I mean she takes things so literally; like when the girls ask her if she likes girls and she replies that, of course, her best friend is a girl--- then wonders why would anyone ask such a thing. And she has no idea that she might be one of those “career girl lesbians!” She sees all the signs: she's sexually seduced by her boss, which had an interesting twist, and a co-worker, she walks in on a girl that used to be a crush of hers on the cheerleader squad with one of the girls at her boarding house half naked and rubbing up against each other, and yet, she still doesn’t get it. It’s almost hilarious how out of touch she is. In fact, everyone around her can’t believe that she’s so clueless and there are a few Being There moments in which some think she’s uber brilliant in acting so dumb!

Ms Nolan kept Lois walking a line that didn’t make her pathetic or a someone who'd be the brunt of ridicule. The juxtaposition of everyone else being savvy to what’s going on, while Lois is clueless made this story more interesting. I rather liked Lois. Once she figures things out (it takes a long while), she’s very accepting and goes with the flow. Even to the point of again, being out of touch with how society will perceive her. But that made her charming and endearing.

Other than that, there are a gaggle of other characters, all lesbian and all colorfully different and clearly characterized. Outside of the obvious lesbian angle, it was fun that the author included all those typically feared things and ideals of the 50’s: the threat of commies, getting hooked on drugs and losing control (heh, Lois tells about watching a movie about it in high school. Reefer Madness anyone?), women having careers vs. aspiring to being the perfect wife and mother, and so on.

The writing is easy flowing with lots of double entendres to today’s usage of words (queer, gay) and period slang. There really isn’t much of a love story, although the author tried to tie things up in that area. That part didn’t work for me since I couldn’t see Lois feeling like she did with that particular girl. Not enough sexual or romantic tension there. And Lois does muse that she’s becoming one of those sex crazed women she’s read about in the popular rag mag since she has a sexual attraction to almost everyone at some point.

All in all, I highly recommend this book just for the fun of it. The retro vibe and characterizations are realistic, a bit funny, and it’s written quite well.

Heat level- 1- there are references to sex and some sexual scenarios, but they are not graphically written.

Grade: B+

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Review- The Three by Meghan O'Brien

The Three
by Meghan O’Brien
Jan 15, 2006
Sci-fi/ Lesbian
292 pgs.-Quest

Buy it Amazon, B&N

By guest reviewer Jill Sorenson

I bought this book because I got the impression (maybe here at LVLM?) that O’Brien writes hot, gritty stories. Many of the lesbian romances I come across don’t seem young or modern, and I was looking for something more cutting-edge. I’ve also been interested in post-apocalyptic stories lately (I loved the movie, The Road), and it’s no secret that I like certain types of ménage. When I read the blurb for The Three, I got very excited:

Twenty-five-year-old Anna is ready to give up on living in a post-apocalyptic world where unchecked sickness and slaughter have killed off her childhood tribe, family, and best friend. But when Anna unexpectedly interrupts an attack on a beautiful woman lounging by a lake, she is drawn into the relationship of two other survivors of the sickness: young, idealistic Elin, who welcomes Anna into their makeshift family with open arms, and Elin's lover, the older, more jaded Kael, whose dark and brooding nature initially keeps Anna at bay.

The threesome journeys south for the winter season but is beset by accidents, relationship strain, and an attack upon Elin by a group of religious fanatics who believe that a woman's duty in the post-apocalyptic world is to bear children and repopulate the earth. Kael and Anna's fragile connection will be
tested repeatedly. Will they find a way to work together to save the woman they both love?

Post-apocalyptic f/f/m? Yes please!

Fairly early on, I realized I wasn’t going to get quite what I’d expected. I can’t discuss my biggest disappointment without spoilers, so I’ll save that for last. I had problems with other aspects of the story, including weak world-building and odd character actions.

The Three isn’t a heavy read, despite being set in a dark, dreary world, full of danger and violence. It opens with Anna, an injured traveler who has just lost her male companion. She comes upon a stunning redhead at the shore of a sparkling lake. Anna decides to return later to bathe alone, but notices several scary men approaching. When the men attack the redhead, Anna jumps in to help her.

After a brief struggle, another man arrives and kills all of the bad guys. It turns out that Elin, the redhead, and Kael, a handsome young warrior, are together. They thank Anna and invite her to dinner. Eli smiles and giggles at the bizarre culmination of the scene, saying that her “perfect afternoon is back on track.” Huh? They are bloody from battle, dead bodies piled around. These three go from fighting to flirting in a flash. Elin teases Anna about needing a bath and Anna blushes because she feels dirty. The girls proceed to wash off in the lake while Kael roasts a rabbit. There might be corpses on the shore, but the water’s fantastic!

Elin’s sunny disposition never wavers, and it’s out of place in this setting. Later, Kael explains to Anna that Elin had a sheltered upbringing, away from the horrors that are typical in their ravaged world. That is why she’s an “optimist.” Okay, but Elin has obviously been exposed to violence as an adult. She just hasn’t reacted to it. That isn’t normal or relatable human behavior. Elin’s sugary sweetness seemed a little macabre.

Anna is an in-between character, sort of a tomboy. She isn’t as feminine as Elin or as masculine as Kael. Her tragic past is easy to sympathize with, and I liked her innocent, adventurous attitude toward sex.

Kael is the most intriguing of the three. He is protective, mysterious, and always on edge.

Before I get into spoiler territory, I have to say that the world-building was awkward from the first page. Anna has been walking for a week on an injured ankle, for no other reason than to keep moving forward. In this environment, wouldn’t it be safer to lay low and heal? It also seems careless for Elin to nap on a blanket by the lake, out in the open. When murderers and thieves are thick in the woods, why take chances?

The romance is lacking as well. Elin decides that Anna is “part of their family” right at the start. It’s insta-love. The author tells us through character dialogue that this threesome is meant to be, rather than showing us with a romantic buildup.

Although these flaws were jarring, I wanted to keep reading. O’Brien creates a fast pace with short bits of dialogue, and she does a nice job with sexual chemistry. The story moves. The sex is hot. The characters, especially Kael, are unique.

**SPOILER** (highlight to read)

What brought me to a halt was this “shocking” reveal: Kael is a woman. I use quotations because it isn’t hard to guess from the blurb, and the twist comes early in the book. I didn’t have a clue, and I felt very let down. O’Brien writes fantastic sex scenes and I wanted my f/f/m ménage! Lesbian readers might be relieved by this development. I was unsettled by it, as much so as if a manly hero from m/f undressed to display his female parts.

I continued reading for a few chapters, but the story fell flat for me after that. I’m not attracted to f/f/f. Kael has a very masculine energy and uses a strap-on, so it’s almost like f/f/m. But…not. I kept thinking that the story would have been better without Elin. The threesome scenes are graphic, nicely written, and erotic. I just wasn’t into it.

**END SPOILER**

I’d like to try another O’Brien with a contemporary setting and two main characters. The Three wasn’t for me.

Grade: DNF

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Review- Fingersmith (Movie)

Fingersmith
by Sarah Waters
2005
BBC- (DVD)
Historical (Victorian era-ish)/Lesbian

Dark deeds and intrigue abound when petty thief Sue Trinder (Sally Hawkins) helps con man Richard Rivers (Rupert Evans) defraud a wealthy heiress, Maud Lilly (Elaine Cassidy), of her inheritance. But Trinder's plans are thwarted when she falls in love with Lilly. The tale twists as the young women are separated but come to realize the strength of their passion for each other in this BBC adaptation of Sarah Waters Booker's novel.

I’m on a hot roll these days with good films. I found out about Fingersmith after watching Tipping the Velvet, both by Sarah Waters and both BBC productions. I’ve read through several sources that Fingersmith was a better book/story, but I think they both have their good and bad points.

Right from the beginning, Fingersmith sucked me in with the drama and intensity of it. There’s a definite gothic feel to it and as it progresses--- love, betrayals and long kept secrets within mysteries come to light that have a major affect on the characters and how they act. It’s rich, dark and ambient with an assortment of vibrantly fleshed out characters.

I haven’t read any of Sarah Water’s books, but I do know that in both Tipping the Velvet and Fingersmith she focused on a lesbian/sexual element during the Victorian era. Unlike Tipping the Velvet though, the love story between Susan and Maud in Fingersmith is very subdued, but was an underlying, connecting theme. Personally, I wish it was more in the forefront, and that the love story between the women was more built up and intense, but it was still a satisfying part of the story ultimately.

The trouble, I think, is that I didn’t read the book. I suspect that the romantic angle was more nuanced in the book since the film could only provide so much. Although from the special section Sarah Waters was happy with the movie representation as well as many reviewers who compared to the book.

Outside of the slight romance in this film, there was a huge wow factor for me in the story itself. I love dark, intense stories with a touch of mystery wherein characters’ passions create havoc and a compelling drama. Fingersmith has all of it. It’s perfectly presented with great dialogue, costumes, set designs and of course, amazing acting.

The movie starts out with Maud being a young girl taken by an uncle from a mad house she’s been brought up in. Her mother was put there by her mother’s brother and father and died there. The uncle brings her to his manor not to be part of the family but to be is secretary. He’s a lover of books, rare and first edition, and he has her reading them to his friends as well as editing and looking them over for quality. She’s rather quiet and reflective and keeps her feelings to herself. She hates being there but is resigned to the fact that as a woman, she has no choices.

Susan was brought up in a very poor area of London by a woman (Mrs. Sucksby) who runs a band of thieves. She’s good at what she does and loves Mrs. Sucksby, who took her in as an orphaned baby. Another one of their band, Richard, seduces Maud under the guise of being a gentleman and gets Susan in the house to be her maid so they can defraud Maud of her inheritance. Susan is reluctant to leave Mrs. Sucksby but the reward of 3000 £ to help them convinces her.

Once at the manor, she takes care of Maud who seems so innocent while feeling an internal struggle about betraying her. When Richard comes back and they all secretly plan the marriage between Richard and Maud, truths become exposed and there are a string of betrayals and shocking secrets that come out one after another.

The film is done in two parts, as apparently the book is written. Part one of the film is basically from Susan’s POV. Part two of the film tells the story, the same events, from Maud’s POV. It shows a completely different picture to the viewer of the events and we see that Maud is not what she seems either.

All of this culminates to a tragic, but happy for now ending for both Susan and Maud.

For those who wish to know, there are only two sex scenes and no nudity, so they are done more as an accent to the sexual/romantic aspects of the story, rather than being the main representation of the romantic part.

I definitely recommend this movie if you can get it. It’s a movie I’d probably watch again just to catch the little details that were so abundant, that I probably missed.

Heat level- 1

Grade: A+