November 5th, 2010

andrew potter

Blood Fruit edited by James EM Rasmussen

The Lure of Dangerous Women by Shanna Germain (F/F): Michelle and Beth are not exactly an happy couple, both of them probably wanting for something the other doesn’t. In New Orleans to follow Michelle’s job as reporter, Beth meets a dangerous woman, someone who can well be the destruction of her relationship with Michelle, but not for the most obvious reason. I questioned if Beth really loves Michelle, or if what happens is not something that, unconsciensly, Beth was asking; Beth is regretting to have to depend on Michelle, she wants something to inspire her to paint again, maybe even at the expense of her relationship.

A Different Kind of Monster by TA Moore (M/M): Sol and Peter are lovers, but none of them is with the other for a love reason; Peter craves Sol’s immortality as a vampire, Sol craves Peter’s beauty, but where Peter’s desire is totally selfish, I think Sol chose Peter also since the man is a beautiful exterior with little to save inside. In a way Sol is doing a favor to humanity, he is cleaning the world from trash, even if it’s a beautiful trash.

Just Past Winter by Nathan Sims (M/M): Marcus is Joshua’s prisoner, but he is not really an unwilling prisoner; if Joshua, as Alpha of his pack, tried to impose himself on Marcus, Marcus probably would accept him, since Marcus has the concept of hierarchy well imprinted in his mind, and a wolf has to always submit to his Alpha. On the other hand the Alpha has to protect his pack, and he has always to take the best decision for his pack, not for himself. That is the reason why Marcus will refuse Joshua when the Alpha will try seduction with him, and instead will surrender to a forceful approach. Not sure if I can really understand Marcus’s attitude, but it’s probably the law of nature.

Hemophobia by Trent Roman (M/M): actually this is not an M/M, since there is not relationship between Connor, a vampire with hemophobia, and any other character in this funny little story; and in a way, this is not really an horror story, since I found it more light than horror. For my personal taste, I think this was my favorite of the whole anthology, I really liked Connor, and I think he would be a wonderful character for a longer novel.

The Diarist by Mark Silcox (M/M): Leo and Mitchell are apparently a perfect couple, working together in a antique bookshop and living upstair. But then one day Mitchell buys the library of an old man and among the books they find the man’s diary, a diary that has a strange fascination on Leo, like if he was reading his same life.

After All by Laramie Dean (M/M): Danny is happy now with Gregory, more than he was with Joe, but even if he was the one to break up with him, he was regretting not having the chance to “close”: Joe is dead in a car accident, he didn’t give time to Danny to really forget him, he is gone so suddenly that everythink was bad in their relationship now seems not so important, and instead the regret is eating him alive. But is it really Joe’s ghost that Danny is seeing, or is it more his coscience wanting to find a way to pacify himself?

Happy Anniversary by Stephen Osborne (M/M): Perry and Max are a recently couple and Perry doesn’t know everything of his boyfriend’s past; for sure he doesn’t know that Max had a previous boyfriend that comminted suicide when Max left him. A year from the event, strange things start to happen, and while Perry is scared, Max seems to underestimate Neil’s wrath.

Tombstone by Raymond Yeo: Nicholas and Simon are centuries old and they have a partnership that seems unvincible, but even centuries old partners can have problem; Simon is tired, maybe he would like a more ordinary life, he would like for Nicholas to be less of an hero and more of a lover. Only that, even if Nicholas is not searching for challenges, challenges seem to reach him. Now Simon has to choose, since he will realize that they are strong since they are together. This is probably my second favorite story of the anthology, probably since, in its twisted way, it’s also an happily ever after of some sort.

Captive Magic by Garry McLaughlin (M/M): again this is crepy little tale but with an happily ever after. Brian and Scott are an happy couple if not for Mr Bannister, the old neighbor; Brian doesn’t like him but Scott thinks he is an harmless old man. More, when Brian refuses to help him, and the morning after they find out Bannister is dead, Scott is even a bit disappointed with Brian. But they haven’t realized how dangerous Bannister is, now that he is dead more than before when he was alive. Third favorite in the anthology.

Hollow by Jamie Freeman (M/M): Theo is apparently a quiet man, but he has hidden desires, desires that he cannot satisfy with a normal relationship, something that his colleague Elliott would be more than happy to offer him.

For Her Eyes by Quinn Smythwood (F/F): Angeline is poor and desperate, more or less at the same time she meets Dee, a simple waiter, and Elisabetta, a beautiful woman; the fascination for an easy life will lead Angeline to make the wrong choice, even if she could have had good, if not wealthy life with Dee.

Amazon: Blood Fruit

Amazon Kindle: Blood Fruit

Reading List: list&view=elisa.rolle
andrew potter

The Inside Reader: Nancy Garden

Show me the books he loves and I shall know the man far better than through mortal friends - Silas Weir Mitchell
When I started this Inside Reader serial, my idea was to give a chance to various readers to share their favorite books. Of course I started with authors that were more near to my circle, but it's with great pleasure that I'm now able to wide this circle to reach every type of genre. Nancy Garden is a must-read author in the Young Adult Lesbian genre, and she was also very generous in compiling a list that will give to everyone who is new to this genre a wonderful starting point, and to whom instead is a connoisseur, to check if some must-read is missing from their list. More than a simple list, this is almost an essay, and I'm proud to post it today.

My TOP TEN (for Top Ten Insider Readers List)

My ten top books? Well, I thought, that shouldn't be hard.

But wait! "Top" must mean favorites! How can I pare a "list" that probably includes hundreds of dearly loved books of many different kinds to a mere ten?

That seemed impossible, so I made lists in my head, trying desperately to limit my choices. Maybe I could just list children's books. Or gay adult books. Or classics. Maybe books about dogs? Books set in New England, where I live....?

Well, finally, I did narrow it down. My list is of young adult lesbian novels, partly because that may well be the most neglected subgenre in LGBT literature, and partly because I also know that subgenre pretty well and care about it deeply. I can't say these are my "top ten," really, but all of them are important to me personally and/or important historically in the development of YA lesbian literature--which, after all, is a relatively young subgenre.

YA, for folks who may not be familiar with it, is generaly thought to mean books for teenage readers, traditionally kids from 12 to 18. These days that definition is often stretched to include books for readers as young as 10 and as old as 20-something. And these days, too, increasing numbers of older adults read YAs, not only because YAs tend to be on the short side (although that's been changing lately, too), but also because a good many of them are really fine books.

An embarrassed cautionary note: I must confess here that I'm woefully behind in my reading. I have a longish list of very recently published LGBT YAs that for a variety of reasons I haven't yet had been able to beg, borrow, steal, or buy, so I suspect I've missed some wonderful potential additions to this list. I know I'll be very angry about that as soon as I'm able to remedy it.

1. Far from Xanadu by Julie Anne Peters

Reading level: Young Adult
Paperback: 288 pages
Publisher: Little, Brown Books for Young Readers (April 1, 2007)
ISBN-10: 0316159719
ISBN-13: 978-0316159715
Amazon: Far from Xanadu

Far from Xanadu is the first YA in this genre with a lesbian main character who is clearly very butch. (M.E. Kerr's novel Deliver Us From Evie is about a similar character (Evie),and is a groundbreaking book for that reason. But Evie's straight brother is the point-of-view character and tells the story, so excellent though that book is, we don't get as closely inside Evie's head as we get inside the head of Far from Xanadu's main character, Mike.)

Mike's "real" name is Mary-Elizabeth, but she's called Mike by everyone in her small Kansas hometown. She's quietly out to herself and presumably to everyone who knows her; certainly pretty much everyone accepts that she dresses and acts like a boy. Her best friend is a gay boy named Jamie, who's also widely accepted.

Mike's a star softball player who dreams of one day playing college or even pro ball. Under her late father's tutelege, she's also become a skilled plumber; his plumbing business has always supported the family. But he was an alcoholic, and he committed suicide two years before the book begins, leaving the family in serious financial trouble. Mike's older brother, Darryl, doesn't seem to be doing much to help remedy this situation, and their mother spends her days morosely eating, watching TV, and sleeping. It falls to Mike, whose mourning for her deeply missed father is a mixture of love and fury, to support the family. She does by working for the owner of the local feed store and, soon, by resurrecting her dad's plumbing business.

Added to this mix as the book opens is a beautiful redhead named Xanadu, recently arrived in town to stay wth an aunt and uncle after getting into trouble back home in a Denver suburb. She's gorgeous and needy, a sweet tease and a flirt. Mike falls for her as only a 16-year-old butch can fall, and the development and unraveling of that relationship, plus Mike's financial worries and her softball dreams, drive the plot of this expertly written novel. Mike's story tugs at one's heart, and Peters's setting and characters are so real they seem to leap off the page.

2. Love and Lies by Ellen Wittlinger

Reading level: Young Adult
Paperback: 272 pages
Publisher: Simon & Schuster Children's Publishing; 1 edition (December 29, 2009)
ISBN-10: 141697914X
ISBN-13: 978-1416979142
Amazon: Love & Lies: Marisol's Story

The main character in this absorbing, emotionally complex YA novel is a young lesbian, Marisol Guzman, one of the two kids at the center of Wittlinger's excellent earlier YA novel Hard Love. In Hard Love, a straight boy, nicknamed Gio, is in love with Marisol, who produces a 'zine; in Love and Lies, Marisol, who is taking a year off before starting college, has two goals: to write a novel and to fall in love. To pay the rent on the apartment she shares with her best friend Birdie and his boyfriend, Damon, Marisol is working in a coffee shop, and to move toward one of her goals, she's also taking a course in novel writing.

The course, which her old friend Gio is also taking, is taught by a gorgeous woman named Olivia Frost. Olivia claims to be 28 and to be working on her own first novel, which, she says, has already caught the interest of a publisher. She praises Marisol's writing and befriends her. Marisol falls head over heels in love (or, one might say, "in crush") with her, and eventually Olivia seduces her.

Meanwhile Lee, a lonely girl who's a high school senior and who patronizes the coffee shop, develops a crush on Marisol. Despite finding her neediness annoying, Marisol is nice to her, gradually grows to like her, and is so besotted with Olivia that she is blind to the growing seriousness of Lee's feelings for her.

For a while it looks as if Marisol's two goals are converging via her novel-writing class. But soon it becomes clear to the reader (although not to Marisol) that Olivia Frost is a living example of "handsome is as handsome does." Even when Marisol begins to have tiny doubts, she is able to make excuses for Olivia until she, Gio, Birdie, Damon--and Lee--travel to Provincetown for a weekend--and Olivia shows up unexpectedly.

There have been a number of books over the years about girls--lesbian, probably lesbian, and straight--who have crushes on older women, but this is the first contemporary one that I know of, and it's the most complex, the most analytical, and the most explicit treatment of that situation. Love and Lies even works as a non-didactic cautionary tale--and what's more, it's a heck of a good read, too.

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About Nancy Garden: Nancy Garden (born May 15, 1938 in Boston, Massachusetts) is an American author of children's and young adult literature.

She is best known for her novel, Annie on My Mind (1982), which was critically acclaimed but attracted controversy because of its lesbian characters, Annie and Liza who fall in love. It was one of the first teen novels to feature lesbian characters in a positive light. In 1993, it was banned by the Kansas City school system and burnt in demonstrations. It was returned to shelves only after a First Amendment lawsuit by students in 1995. It is #48 on the American Library Association's list of 100 Most Frequently Banned or Challenged Books, 1990-2000.

Garden earned a B.F.A. (1961) and an M.A. (1962) from Columbia University School of Dramatic Arts. Through school and for several years after college, Garden worked in theater, supplementing the work with odd jobs in offices. She later taught school and worked as an editor of children's literature. She has also written non-fiction, mystery and fantasy for children and young adults. Other titles also feature GLBT characters. In 2001, Garden received the Robert B. Downs Award for Intellectual Freedom from the University of Illinois' Graduate School of Library and Information Science. In 2003, the American Library Association awarded her the Margaret A. Edwards Award for lifetime achievement in writing books for teens. Garden's review of young adult titles have appeared in the Lambda Literary Foundation's Lambda Book Report.

She currently divides her time between Massachusetts and Maine, with partner Sandy Scott, their golden retriever, Loki, and their cats.

Annie on My Mind by Nancy Garden
Reading level: Young Adult
Paperback: 272 pages
Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux (BYR); 1st edition (February 20, 2007)
ISBN-10: 0374400113
ISBN-13: 978-0374400118
Amazon: Annie on My Mind

This groundbreaking book, first published in 1982, is the story of two teenage girls whose friendship blossoms into love and who, despite pressures from family and school that threaten their relationship, promise to be true to each other and their feelings.

Of the author and the book, the Margaret A. Edwards Award committee said, "Nancy Garden has the distinction of being the first author for young adults to create a lesbian love story with a positive ending. Using a fluid, readable style, Garden opens a window through which readers can find courage to be true to themselves."

The 25th Anniversary Edition features a full-length interview with the author by Kathleen T. Horning, Director of the Cooperative Children's Book Center. Ms. Garden answers such revealing questions as how she knew she was gay, why she wrote the book, censorship, and the book's impact on readers - then and now.
andrew potter

Event: Violet Tendencies opens today!

cross posted from

Get your Violet on this weekend. Come out, come out, wherever you are, and catch the raunchy tribute to the cheeky ladies who make the gays of our lives so much brighter!

Starring the inimitable Mindy Cohn, the film plays one week at QUAD cinemas (34 West 13th street) in New York City! The cast will be attending screenings all weekend. For advance tickets, head here

andrew potter

Faerie Christmas by Katica Locke

This is not the fairy tale I was expecting to read, and for one of the characters this is an unlucky event.

Ezarali is a seddryn sidhe, a special breed of fairies raised to be a special sexual gift to important people. But unfortunately for Ezarali, the man who receives him as a gift is not interested in his new toy and Ezarali is passed from hand to hand until he falls into a nightmare: Ezarali that was yes taught how to please a man, but that was a virgin waiting to gift his Master with his innocence, is raped and taken in captivity, worst than an animal. After months of this life he manages to run away, only to be taken again and sold to another human Master, Nathan.

Nathan’s story is almost unbelievable, but this is a fairy tale, so nothing is impossible; Nathan was an ordinary man, living an ordinary life until the day he witnesses a car accident and the tragic death of another man. Nathan is struck by something unknown and he starts to have “feline” urges and to hear a voice inside his head; not long after that, special alien agents come to his house telling him that he has to be relocated, that his life on Earth has to end, that he will be taught to be the werecougar he is now. In the new facility where he is moved, Nathan is alone and loneliness is even worst when Christmas is coming, Nathan misses his family and friends. Another guest in the facility thinks to make him happy gifting him a special pet, Ezarali.

This is an allegory of how you have to be careful to give someone a special gift, like a living being, if the other one is not interested or not caring. Ezarali was a special gift, someone to take care of; he has no the core, or the strength to be alone, and he is imprinted with the idea that what his Master wants, his Master will have, that what his Master does his right, even if it hurts or Ezarali doesn’t like it. Moreover, if the Master is not happy, than it’s Ezarali’s fault. Ezarali is not a simple character, and the reader cannot pretend from him to be strong or independent, it’s not part of Ezarali’s culture to be like that. Ezarali is something of beautiful and fragile and he needs the right environment to shine.

Nathan probably is not the right Master for him, but at least he is kind and caring. He is not rich or powerful, and he is not a faerie, but he knows what it means to be alone, and he has a gentle heart, and I don’t think he will ever do something to hurt Ezarali’s feelings. Now having sex with him the same day, without neither waiting for Ezarali to settle in, well, that maybe was not so considerate, but maybe it was a problem of story’s length, this is only a novella, or maybe Nathan did the only think that would convince Ezarali that he is wanted.

Reading List: list&view=elisa.rolle