Saturday, August 21, 2010

REVIEW: She's My Dad by Iolanthe Woulff

It's been nearly a month since I posted a book review, so I wanted to take a few minutes this morning to offer up a quickie.

You know the old adage about never judging a book by it's cover? Well, this is one of those instances where I found myself twice passing over what turned out to be a wonderful novel. The title is cute and kind catchy, but it doesn't at all reflect the depth of the story within. With She's My Dad you get the literary equivalent of the kind of prime time drama you might find on Showtime, HBO, or the BBC.

Much of the story revolves around a conflict between Windfield College (a wonderfully diverse institution where the LGBTQ community is not just welcome, but founding members) and the surrounding conservative North Virginia town. Key characters include Nickie Farrell (the school's first transsexual professor), Collie Skinner (the son she doesn't know she has), Cinda Vanderhart (the lesbian student journalist who 'outs' the professor and her secrets), Jo Markwith & Alex Steward (faculty members in love with Nickie), and Eamon Douglass (the dying ambassador who wishes to bring down Nickie, the college, and everything it stands for).

Like any good prime time drama, there's an equal mix of soap opera, mystery, and thriller involved. Highly Recommended!

Thursday, August 12, 2010

NEWS: Update

At long last, I am very pleased to announce the next major update of (my little site dedicated to exploring lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer themes in literature).

A little over a month ago, I finally finished the redesign of the site, giving it a fresh & functional new look. I'm afraid my first attempt at the site was a little too ambitious, and some of the coding I tried broke the site for some older browers and for most mobile browsers. Fortunately, the redesign seems to have fixed all that.

With the site working properly again, it was time to get the content up to par with what I'd always expected of myself with regards to the site. At the time of the revamp, I had just under 1000 books online, but the list was little more than authors, titles, and sexuality keywords. Since then I've begun evaluating my list, adding reviews to those books I've been fortunate enough to read, and also adding detailed notes as to why the sexuality in each book is significant.

Currently, I only have reviews entered for about 50 books, but I've managed to add detailed notes for almost 200. In the process, I've grown the overall list to 1120 books (and counting!). It's by no means done -- and will never be done, so long as great authors keep producing new works -- but the site is getting closer every day to my dream.

I hope you enjoy it, find it a valuable resource, and visit often!

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

REVIEW: The Distance Between Us by L.A. Witt

With The Distance Between Us we have the story of two long-time lover, Ethan and Rhett, who have decided to go their separate ways. What should be a quick separation, however, is complicated by both emotional and financial baggage. As a short term solution, they choose to take on a temporary boarder to help pay the mortgage - a young man by the name of Kieran. Sparks start flying from day one, of course, with both of the estranged lovers sharing time with their young boarder.

My biggest problem with the book is that there was very little to distinguish Ethan from Rhett - swap their names, and it really makes no difference to the story. I had hoped Kieran would turn out to have more depth, but he was pretty shallow and transparent . . . I knew where his character arc was going from the moment he entered the scene. Strangely enough for a work of gay erotica, the best part of the story is Ethan and Rhett's relationship with their daughter, which I thought was very sweet and well-grounded.
I must admit, I was a little disapointed with how the possibilities of their big old house were wasted. There was really nothing to distinguish it from any other house. There was no eccentric charm, famous history, or flamboyant decoration to give it any flair. Rooms were given names (bathroom, bedroom, kitchen, etc.) but there was no attempt to create a visual impression. This sounds horrible, I know, but the it comes across as a cheap TV soap opera that just reused sets left over from other productions.

I must say, however, that it was well written. The dialogue sounded natural - both the fights and the seductions - and the erotic elements were handled realistically. A few of the sex scenes were a bit overdramatic for my tastes, but they worked well within the context of the characters and what they were experiencing at the time.

All-in-all, an uneven effort that will very likely be appreciated by fans of the genre, but not a book that will win over any new or curious readers.

Thursday, August 5, 2010

REVIEW: Wolfsbane Winter by Jane Fletcher

Wolfsbane Winter is the story of two women - Deryn (who has been left cold and deliberately lonely by childhood tragedies) and Alana (who has also been left lonely, but this time by royal circumstance). Whereas Deryn avoid connections out of fear of being hurt and abandoned all over again, Alana does the same out of a fear of discovery. All-but stranded together in a backwater town, they`re not only each other`s best chance for redemption, but the town`s only hope for salvation.

Character development here is very strong, and refeshingly deep. We are presented with sufficient background for both Alana and Deryn, and we get to share in some rather significant progression in their characters. Both are very well-rounded, with definite flaws and strengths. I would have liked to see more development/insight into the story`s villian, but that's a minor quibble.

With the exception of the early chapters, set in Alana`s castle, the setting is very simple . . . very sparse. While some fantasies try too hard to establish a world of wonder, Fletcher is content to give us a small town, a forest, and not much else. Surprisingly, it works. Unencumbered by the need to establish a magical setting the story flows very well, the dialogue is realistic, and the romantic elements are beautiful and sweet (without being heavy handed).

A lovely read for a summer`s evening around the campfire.

Monday, August 2, 2010

NEWS: GLBT Challenge 2010

Okay, with going strong (a HUGE update is coming very soon), and with me helping to judge the 2010 Rainbow Awards, it's not like I really need another reason to keep reading.

Having said that, I love the idea of the GLBT Challenge. Basically, the challenge is exactly what it sounds like - something to get people reading and discussing literature with gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender themes. There are a series of mini challenges as well (sadly, I missed the Transgendered issues challenge), including a GLBT speculative fiction challenge for August that is just screaming my name. Yes, there are prizes, but the real value of the challenge is the exposure it provides to new books and new authors.

I'm pretty confident I can hit Pink Triangle Level (8 books), but I'm going to strive for Rainbow Level (12 or more books). I know I'll read that many (at least!), I just need to get off my butt and post some reviews.