Review: Silver Wings

Silver Wings by H.P. Munro

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Silver WingsWhen in 1943, twenty-five-year-old Lily Rivera is widowed, she finally feels able to step out of the shadows of an unhappy marriage. Her love of flying leads her to join the Womens Airforce Service Pilots, determined to regain her passion and spread her wings, not suspecting that she would experience more than just flying.Helen Richmond, a Hollywood stunt pilot, has never experienced a love that lifted her as high as the aircraft she flew…until she meets Lily.

Both women join the W.A.S.P. program to serve their country and instead find that they are on a collision course towards each other, but can it last?

This is a great book. I love historical fiction and it is even better when it contains a sweet, lesbian romance.

The author has clearly done her research and it is well written, with likeable characters and believable scenarios. The way the WASPs (Womens Airforce Service Pilots) were treated during the war was quite shameful.

I would definitely read more of Ms. Munro’s work.

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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: 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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Review: Ana Adored: Mistress of the Castle

Ana Adored: Mistress of the Castle by Anastasia Vitsky My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Ana Adored: Mistress of the CastleShy Ana has two secret passions: she loves other women and she has always harbored an intense fascination with all things “spanking.” Unfortunately, her current girlfriend, Peyton, has no interest in indulging what she refers to as “sick and deviant” fantasies. But when their latest argument becomes one black eye too many, Ana’s had enough. Finally finding the necessary courage and strength of will, she orders Peyton out of her house and out of her life. Break-ups with abusers are never easy or painless, and in the emotionally chaotic aftermath of hers, Ana turns to the only friend she has – a woman she met online more than a year before on, of all things, a plant forum. Miranda is everything Peyton is not. She listens. She understands. She accepts. And when she unexpectedly offers Ana a plane ticket to fly out to Ohio and meet with her, face-to-face for the very first time, Ana doesn’t hesitate for long. She packs a bag and goes on vacation; ten days, prepaid, at the Castle, the most infamous BDSM resort in the world. On the surface, everything seems so perfect and magical. But Ana isn’t at the Castle long before she realizes she isn’t the only woman with secrets. Miranda Hardwick, the Castle’s most feared and respected Mistress, has a few secrets of her own. As the lines between fantasy and reality and friends and lovers begin to blur, both women quickly realize that if their blossoming relationship is to survive, they’re going to have to put their secrets aside – Miranda, with her strange “emergencies” that keep calling her away, and Ana, with Peyton, who just won’t accept a life without Ana in it.

As usual, another excellent book from Anastasia Vitsky, which I loved. However it does contain scenes of domestic abuse, so you may want to avoid it if you find that triggering. Ana and Miranda are two women who meet online in a plant forum. Ana has a habit of killing her plants and Miranda is the expert she turns to for help. I sympathised with Ana in this because I know exactly how she feels; in fact people have stopped buying me plants. The women’s chat turns flirtatious over the months and when Ana finds the courage to throw out her abusive partner, Miranda invites her to meet. They have the same chemistry in person but both struggle with past issues which makes developing a relationship hard. I liked the fact that it wasn’t love at first sight and that the characters had real depth to them. Some of Ana’s decisions were fairly idiotic, but probably realistic. The BDSM is fairly light if you’ve never tried any kink and want to give it a go. The book is one in a series of ‘Masters of the Castle’ books all set in the same BDSM resort, although most of the others are M/F. The author’s Mira’s Miracle is another F/f also set in the Castle.

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Review: Living in Sin

Living in Sin by Anastasia Vitsky

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Living in Sin Sick of playing “roommate” for the sake of her girlfriend’s religious, tight-knit family, Audra issues an ultimatum: Tell your family, or I move out. After all, Audra’s family supports her and loves Ciara as a second daughter. Why would Ciara’s family be any different? Audra’s tired of hiding the reality of their lives. She puts Ciara first, so why can’t Ciara do the same?
Caught between her family and her girlfriend, Ciara resents being forced to choose. She tries to keep the peace by accepting her aunt’s endless blind dates and comforting her mother, who cares for Ciara’s dying grandmother. How can Ciara shatter her family by forcing the truth on them? How can she face life without Audra if she does not?
Agonized and at her wit’s end, Ciara receives an unexpected spirit visit that asks her hard questions. Does love require self-sacrifice? How much can she give up without losing herself?

This is a story about two very different women in a relationship: Audra is out and proud and accepted by her family. Ciara is hiding in the closet worried that she will lose her family if she tells them she is a lesbian and leads them to believe Audra is just her roommate.

I wasn’t overly keen on either woman initially: I thought Audra was too impatient, but worse was Ciara going on blind dates with men her family foisted on her. Whilst she kept them platonic, it seemed highly disrespectful to the woman she claimed to love.

Both women grew on me as they made an effort to understand each other and I was pleased that they seemed to have resolved their differences with the aid of a little ‘mystical’ intervention by the end.

The book was short and more length would have been nice, especially an epilogue at the music festival.

It is a shame, however, that it needed to be written. Love is love and I’ve never understood why it is anyone else’s business who people chose to love, or why some parents’ love for their children is not unconditional.
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Review: Galveston 1900: Swept Away

Galveston 1900: Swept Away by Linda Crist

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Galveston 1900: Swept AwayOn September 7-8, 1900, the island of Galveston, Texas, was destroyed by a hurricane, or “tropical cyclone,” as it was called in those days. This story is a fictional account of Mattie and Rachel, two women who lived there, and their lives in the months leading up to and during the time of the “great storm.”
Forced to flee from her family at a young age, Rachel Travis finds a home and livelihood on the island of Galveston. Independent, friendly, and yet often lonely, only one other person knows the dark secret that haunts her. That is until she meets Madeline Crockett.
Madeline “Mattie” Crockett is trapped in a loveless marriage, convinced that her fate is sealed. She never dares to dream of true happiness, until Rachel Travis comes walking into her life. As emotions come to light, the storm of Mattie’s marriage converges with the very real hurricane. Can they survive, and build the life they both dream of?

I absolutely loved this book.

I love historical fiction, especially if is about an event or era that is new to me and I have to admit that I knew absolutely nothing about Galveston or its storm of 1900.

Historical fiction with a lesbian romance is even better and I loved Mattie and Rachel and their slowly developing relationship. The secondary characters were all good too and their work and daily lives were well fleshed out and interesting.

Obviously, being set against the backdrop of a hurricane, there is plenty of heartbreak and some beloved, and not so beloved, characters do not make it.

There is information online about the actual storm and looking at the pictures of the devastation, I am surprised that anyone survived at all.

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Review: Alan Turing: Unlocking the Enigma

Alan Turing: Unlocking the Enigma by David Boyle
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Alan Turing: Unlocking the Enigma
Alan Mathison Turing.
Mathematician, philosopher, codebreaker, a founder of computer science, and the father of Artificial Intelligence, Turing was one of the most original thinkers of the last century – and the man whose work helped create the computer-driven world we now inhabit.
But he was also an enigmatic figure, deeply reticent yet also strikingly naïve. Turing’s openness about his homosexuality at a time when it was an imprisonable offense ultimately led to his untimely lo death at the age of only forty-one.

A short but interesting and thought provoking book.

I was aware that Alan Turing was instrumental in helping the allies breaking the German enigma code during the war and that he was prosecuted for homosexual acts, said prosecution probably leading to his suicide.

I was also aware of the ‘Turing Test’ as a measure of a machine’s capacity to ‘think’. I had not put two and two together to realise it was the same man.

The book contained many interesting facts of which I was not previously aware but being so short, did not explore them in the detail that I would have liked.

For example, I knew the Victorian, Charles Babbage was one of the first to conceptualise the computer, but not that he was interested in code breaking, although logically that does follow.

I certainly did not know that Turing, and other mathematicians, were fascinated by Disney’s Snow White and the Seven Dwarves. Why?

It seems highly ironic to me that a man obsessed with whether machines could think was pushed to suicide by the blind, unthinking prejudice of humans who mostly, it seems to me, spend very little time thinking.

LGBT2015_mini_zpse734642bBritish book challenge

Review: The Hystery App

The Hystery App by V.T. Davy
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

‘That’s not female liberation; we’re not really doing as we please but as the CEOs and marketing men of mega-corporations please; women are being boxed into yet another stereotype that pleases or teases men in exchange for our advancement. It’s prostitution on a global scale. It is as if the feminism that you and I know never happened.’ 

When the biophysicist Dr Brogan Miller and her partner, the women’s historian Dr Honor Smith, stumble upon a cosmic phenomenon that enables them to film the everyday lives of women from the past, they believe it will bring about a revolution in the way that women’s history is taught and studied. 

On the release of the Hystery app, their initial euphoria is not dampened as astonishing uploads from all over the world pour in showing women from all centuries at home, at work and at play. But, as the uploads take a more sinister turn, they realise that, in their excitement, they overlooked society’s appetite for new technology that bends each innovation to satisfy its basest cravings. It is only when tragedy strikes the couple and the extraordinary Erin James enters Brogan’s life that she finds the courage to put right what she has let loose on the world. 

In the second of V T Davy’s ‘state of the lesbian nation’ novels, he blends science fiction, lesbian romance and women’s history to ask whether the rights that women espouse today are those that were fought for by the pioneers of feminism or whether they have become distorted beyond recognition.

Disclaimer: I received a free copy of this book from the author in exchange for an honest review.

I really enjoyed this book and would rate it as 4.5 stars. It was great to have a story with lesbian characters that wasn’t just a romance. There was romance but it was secondary to the science fiction and feminism issues.

The book is set in contemporary England where Dr Brogan Miller’s private satellite is orbiting a cosmic string which has allowed it to transmit images from the past to connected webcams and mobile phones. Obviously all science fiction requires some suspension of disbelief and I was able to do that quite happily but if I thought too hard about it the viewing of history, and especially the fact that only deceased women could be seen, was rather spurious really. However, it made for an interesting premise in which to explore the way women are treated in our patriarchal society.

I liked all of the characters, although some of Brogan’s behaviour annoyed me. Erin, in particular, was great. A strong woman shaped by her tragic past. How she used the app was incredibly brave. I’m not sure I could have done it, had I been in her shoes.

A couple of negative factors: firstly, the tragedy that strikes was dealt with rather abruptly I though. Secondly, the sex scenes had a bit too much ‘she did this and she did that’. Hard to avoid with two women, I know, but a bit more use of their names would have helped.

Although the book explores complex issues and raises interesting questions, it is no dry, academic treatise. It is an exciting tale that I found hard to put down. Society’s reactions to the app seemed realistic and I was glad Honor and Brogan made the decisions they did.

I would definitely read more of Davy’s books.

LGBT2015_mini_zpse734642bBritish book challenge

Review: Loving the Heartland – Lesbian Cowgirl Contemporary Romance Novel

Lesbian Romance: Loving the Heartland – Lesbian Cowgirl Contemporary Romance Novel by Marjorie Jones
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Lesbian Romance: Loving the Heartland - Lesbian Cowgirl Contemporary Romance Novel

Cattle rustling. Guns. Murder.

Kendra Williams has been the sole caretaker of her four younger siblings since their parents were killed in an alcohol-related airplane crash when she was only twenty years old. She has worked her entire adult life, sacrificing her dreams and her chance at love, to keep her family together and to keep their family cattle ranch safe for future generations.

Michelle Loving has made a successful career out of telling the American public what to think and what they should care about. She is hired to create an image of historical significance for the century-old cattle ranch,but finds herself in over her head. Not only is someone gunning for the ranch, but when it comes to loving the rustic, controlling, beautiful woman in charge of the Heartland, Michelle is shooting in the dark.

I enjoyed the book but not quite as much as I thought I would.

The plot was a little far-fetched, I thought. I found it difficult to believe that the government would award the licence for the land to the man who made the accusations of impropriety without at least allowing the current holders to answer the ‘charges’. But then I don’t know a great deal about it so maybe they are that corrupt, and I do the author a disservice.

The refusal of the two women to admit they loved each other also became annoying but in general I enjoyed the characters.

It was also somewhat darker than I thought with the bodies piling up, but the views of ranch life were good.

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