woman to woman: we need to talk

I’m not sure, I ever saw other girls as competition, but I was certainly dismissive of them as a teenager.

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bullshit memeI didn’t have very many female friends as a young teenager. I didn’t have many male friends either, I have to say. A combination of moving around a lot and being pretty socially awkward and (with hindsight) not finding it easy to recognise people meant I found it hard to form close friendships. Or even casual ones. I was quite late into my teens before I found a group of friends (mainly thanks to Sir Terry Pratchett.)

When I DID meet this group of friends, it was largely boys from other schools (I went to an all girls school) with a smaller group of girls. When I went to university, again I struggled to make friends, and ended up hanging out mainly with a bunch of stoner dudes who thought it was hilarious to try and  get me to swear as I rarely used swear words (I blame them for…

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Review: Desire in Any Language

Desire in Any Language by Anastasia Vitsky
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Desire in Any LanguageOn her own for the first time, Mira is studying abroad for her translator’s certificate. Unfortunately, the heady excitement of dance clubs, late-night parties, and endless shopping quickly distracts her from her educational goals. Mira’s advisor offers her private tutoring, but the combined pressures of culture and language difference threaten Mira’s progress at school. She is unable to get her act together until she makes a discovery that horrifies and tantalizes her: in her new country, corporal punishment is a way of life.

The secret to her academic success just might also fulfill her wildest, unspoken dreams.

This is a coming of age tale about a young girl studying abroad who is struggling to cope with adult responsibilities and feels the need to be held accountable for her actions, or rather inactions.

In order to fulfil her desires Mira makes some mistakes and suffers for it, but I found it realistic considering how young and naïve she was. I liked her and though her struggles to come to grips with a new culture were interesting.

Her crush on her tutor was cute but not romantic love. In fact, the story hardly counts as a romance since the actual love interest only appears briefly in the final chapter.

This would have been annoying if the sequel, Mira’s Miracle had not been available immediately and in that case I may have been tempted to only give 4 stars. The books really need to be read together.

Review: Gay Pride and Prejudice

Gay Pride and Prejudice by Kate Christie
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Gay Pride and Prejudice
For the Bennet sisters, life in quiet Hertfordshire County is about to change. Netherfield Hall has just been let to a single man of large fortune. But while it is true that such a man is generally considered to be in want of a wife, it is equally true that not all men desire female companionship, just as not every woman dreams of being married.
Like other variations on Jane Austen’s classic romance novel, Gay Pride & Prejudice poses a question: What if some among Austen’s characters preferred the company of their own sex? In this queer revision of the acclaimed original, Kate Christie offers an alternate version of love, friendship, and marriage for Elizabeth Bennet, Mr. Darcy, and their friends. But even as the path to love veers from the straight and narrow, the destination remains much the same.

A queering of Pride and Prejudice – how delightful!

I loved this book and thought Kate Christie did a great job making just enough changes that the same-sex attractions seem realistic. Her additions fitted well with Austen’s original style.

The new Mr Bennet was particularly funny.

A great read, if you like the classics but heterosexual romance isn’t your cup of tea!

LGBT Challenge

Review: The Way Home

The Way Home by Anastasia Vitsky

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

The Way HomeNatalie always wanted a little sister. Kat didn’t know she was allowed to want anything…or anyone.

Kat, a shy farmgirl, arrives at her freshman dorm with a backpack, a suitcase, and her mother’s wish for Kat to attend college “at least until you get married”. Her roommate Natalie, a confident and fun-loving social butterfly, decides sight unseen that Kat will become her best friend for life. Natalie teaches Kat about college life, academics, and friendship by taking Kat under her wing…and over her knee.

Then their lives fall apart one fateful night on campus, and for the rest of the decade Kat and Natalie struggle to find their way back to each other. Their way home.

This is a lovely book that I have read many times and with each reading I find something new to enjoy. The book revolves around a ten year relationship between two women: Natalie and Kat, who first meet at university. They clearly love each other but if you are looking for lesbian sex then you won’t find it here. The relationship on the page is purely platonic, although it would be easy to imagine them as lovers. It is hard to imagine that someone would allow ‘just a friend’ to discipline and spank them! What is certain though is that the trauma that Natalie suffers is due to them being perceived as lesbians, whether they actually are or not.

This is not a happy, fluffy romance and although some chapters are delightfully funny, some scenes are traumatic and I cried for them both.

I first read this book several years ago and at first found it both puzzling and infuriating. ‘What’s going on?’; ‘Why on earth did you do that?’ I wanted to demand of both women several times whilst reading.

I have read the book quite a few times now and although I still don’t have all the answers, it is a testament to Ms Vitsky’s skill as an author that I cared enough about them to want to know.

The book is mostly about Kat and Natalie but there are also a few secondary characters that I liked: Natalie’s mother, Mama Jane, is lovely and Lily, the elderly lady next door, is great.

The main thing I didn’t like abut the book, other than wanting more, was the only POV being Kat’s. I felt that Kat’s viewpoint was not necessarily reliable and I would have liked to know what was going on in Natalie’s head.

The book doesn’t end on a cliff-hanger, however many issues are left unresolved. Some of them will be addressed in the sequel: Lighting The Way

#IDAHO and #HAHABT: Stop the bigotry! (No, I mean YOU)

Yes, indeed! My teen has sadly soaked quite a few of my T-shirts crying in my arms over feeling unnacepted by both sides for being bisexual 😦

Anastasia Vitsky

Welcome to the Hop Against Homophobia, Biphobia, and Transphobia!

Last year, I posted a discussion on bullying and same-sex domestic violence rebutting the myth that women can’t abuse each other. Same-sex domestic violence is serious and deserves as much consideration as all types of domestic violence.

This year, I have a message for everyone who is part of the LGBTTQQIA (or whatever letters you prefer) community, including straight allies:

Stop being a bigot.

Yes, you.

I can hear gasps in the background. “I’m not a bigot! I’m open to everyone. If people are nice to me, I’m nice to them.”

If that’s our goal, why do we need HAHAT and IDAHO? Just be nice to the people who are nice to us…right? Problem solved.

No. As people who have experienced marginalization, discrimination, and perhaps even violence, the bar is set higher for us. Too often, we see one marginalized…

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Queer SciFi and Fantasy: The Forgotten L in LGBT!

So someone recently questioned the availability of F/F (female-female) books in the Queer SciFi facebook group I am a member of. Seriously! In a queer group?

Now admittedly, there is not as much as M/F or even M/M but it is out there. According to my Goodreads account I have personally read 160 F/F books in the last year, not all scifi and fantasy admittedly, but even so. Here is the list of the 30 or so that were:

SciFi

Pitfall: A Jurassic Romantic Adventure by Kelli Jae Baeli
The Hystery App by V.T. Davy
The Lost Girls (Dark Earth) by Jason Halstead
Hellcat’s Bounty by Renae Jones
Hand of Prophecy by Severna Park
Deep Deception by Cathy Pegau
Becoming Clissine by Anastasia Vitsky
Shadows of Aggar (Amazons of Aggar, #1) by Chris Anne Wolfe
Fires of Aggar (Amazons of Aggar, #2) by Chris Anne Wolfe

Fantasy

Everlasting by Mavis Applewater
My Lady King by Kayla Bashe
The General’s Choice (The Sangrian Tiger’s Tale Book 2) by Stardawn Cabot
A Knight to Remember (The Knight Legends, #1) by Bridget Essex
We Will Hunt Together by J. Hepburn
The Heralds of Valdemar by Mercedes Lackey
Doira’Liim (The Beautiful Whisper of the Goddess Saga, #1) by Krystal Orr
Failira, the Tahlet Vahllah (The Beautiful Whisper of the Goddess Saga, #2) by Krystal Orr
Lesbia Chronicles: Over Witch’s Knee by Ther Renard
Taliasman by Anastasia Vitsky

Paranormal

Ylva the She Wolf by Elle Anor
A Wolf for the Holidays by Bridget Essex
Iron & Velvet (Kate Kane, Paranormal Investigator, #1) by Alexis Hall
Keepers of the Cave by Gerri Hill
Weeping Walls by Gerri Hill
Second Nature by Jae
Ambereye (Garoul, #2) by Gill McKnight
Fallen Elements by Heather McVea
Under the Midnight Cloak by S.Y. Thompson
The Witches Of Wolverton by Emma Wulfstan

If anyone knows of any other scifi/fantasy books with F/F pairings or just strong female protagonists with no romance then let me know.

Apple Blossom

Apple Blossom

I love the apple trees we have. The blossom is beautiful and each tree flowers at a slightly different time and with different colours.

This one, which is one of the oldest, flowers last and produces the darkest pink flowers which turn paler as they open.

It is particularly special because we grafted it ourselves any years ago on a tree grafting course at the local Botanical Gardens.

Today I am Grieving!

Last night I got the sort of phone call that nobody wants to get: One of my oldest friends had had an unexpected heart attack and the hospital staff had been unable to revive him. Still it is the way he wanted to go. Quickly and with relatively no pain.

He was incredibly lucky to have survived an extremely rare form of virulent throat cancer 7 yrs ago so he considered every day after that a bonus. As did all of us who knew and loved him.

Luckily he was at home when it happened and not driving his bus through Oxford town centre, although I suspect it would have amused him to take some of the miserable old buggers he drove with him.

I still can’t believe I’ll never talk to him again or listen to him play his guitar. He was a fantastic friend: kind, compassionate, generous and so, so funny. He was also a brilliant musician and writer too, and so unassuming and modest. I’m gonna miss him so much and I’m so sad he will never now finish his book.

Rest in Peace, Chris mate, you’re gonna leave a huge hole in my heart. I’ll drink a cup of the latest tea you sent me in your honour ❤  And just think, you won’t now have the hassle of having to ring BT to sort out your wifi.

Review: Taliasman

Taliasman by Anastasia Vitsky
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

TaliasmanBorn to a destitute woodworker who wanted a son to carry on the family business, Talia grew up with one phrase on her lips: “If I had been born a boy.” If she had been born a boy, she would have been cherished, supported, and launched into the world with her father’s legacy. As only a worthless girl, she toils all day long to earn her handful of inferior grain.

Far away in the heavenly palace, Queen Vina receives a mysterious coin necklace from Nicodemus, teller of stories. Compelled by the throbbing heartbeat, she scours the earth to come across Talia, enslaved to a family who never wanted her. Rather than admit her motives, Vina purchases the girl with a sack full of gold. Furious, betrayed, and homesick, Talia endeavors to share her misery with the entire palace. Vina, afraid to confess her love, allows herself to become trapped in the role of brutal slave owner.

Talia, bred to expect nothing but misery, faces the first choice of her life. Will she accept love, even if it comes from an unlikely source? Or will she reject the one who offers her everything?

‘If I had been born a boy’ – how many of us have thought that at some point? Talia wants to stay at home as her father’s apprentice but, being a girl, this sadly isn’t an option.

Instead she is sold by her parents to Queen Vina, a woman from a heavenly dimension. Vina has been led to Talia by a magical talisman she received from the mysterious Nicodemus but Talia cannot get past her parents’ betrayal and refuses to accept Vina’s love.

The story alternates between Talia and Vina’s POV but neither woman is a reliable witness and the reader is left wondering what the truth actually is, especially as the scenes have an almost dream-like appearance.

Both women are likeable, if frustrating, well-fleshed out characters, who behave foolishly but believably given their backgrounds. They allow themselves to be manipulated by someone with an ulterior motive and it is hard to see how they will manage to achieve their happy ending.

The world building gives just enough to form a picture without being too much. Personally I dislike large chunks of description so this suits me (I skimmed many descriptive parts of Lord of the Rings, for example!)

Ms. Vitsky delights in ambiguity and leaves much to the imagination, but that is no bad thing. In this case, however I would have liked more information on Nicodemus and the talisman.

Another great book, and a sequel is in the works.

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Consent: Not actually that complicated – Animated!

I wonder if people who profess not to understand this actually understand it perfectly well but just choose to ignore it since it would result in them not getting what they want.

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tea

A bonus blog day for a Friday, partly because I am away this weekend and don’t know if I’ll be able to have blogday as usual this weekend, and partly because I have been sent this awesome animation by Blue Seat Studios of my blog about tea and consent.

I hope you enjoy this as much as I did!



I absolutely love how simple the animation is, and that they kept it gender neutral.

There’s a common rhetoric that suggests that it’s always men making the tea and women drinking it, which is hugely harmful to people’s sexuality and to notions of consent within same sex relationships. It buys into a narrative which denies male rape – by both men and women. It buys into a myth that women aren’t sexual beings. It buys into the myth that men always want sex, or that an erection is consent…

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