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by Saxon Bennett
Edition: Paperback
Price: $14.95
22 used & new from $2.04

3 of 5 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Move over Thelma & Louise and step aside Butch & Sundance. There's a new trip in town!, August 7, 2011
This review is from: Tats (Paperback)
Lee Hammond is a little bit lost. She's just been dumped by girlfriend, Ginger, a stripper whose amorous attention has been wandering. Lee decides to take a last joy ride on Ginger's Harley and finds herself looking for shelter from a sudden thunderstorm in a cemetery near a funeral in progress. Lee ends up giving a ride to funeral attendee Vivian Baxter. Vivian was a cheerleader from Lee's high school class. Not just a cheerleader but THE cheerleader from Lee's high school years and related adolescent fantasies. That is the beginning of a new chapter to the road trip genre.

Tats is often laugh-out-loud funny--as when Vivian decides to treat Lee to the "full monty" wax at a day spa -- and sometimes charmingly silly - as when the duo decide to "camp" overnight inside a Wal-Mart. Vivian, it turns out, is on the run from an English mafia don and they turn in odd circles trying to avoid "Prince Charles." Among those turns is a visit to a spa, their high school's homecoming dance and more than a couple motels and hotels along the way. Indeed their great road trip goes a lot of places and raucous hilarity ensues yet they never seem to get very far. Both Vivian and Lee are flawed and vivid characters struggling to survive and often avoiding their pain with the next opportunity to numb.

Tats is the one of the first novels released under Bella Books' new Bella Attitude line. And while not necessarily as erotic as the Bella After Dark line, Tats does have a little more "attitude" than the average Bella title and the humor and bold bawdiness might push boundaries for some readers. For example, "I have this weird thing where I nickname women's tits after famous couples in history." p13 or at the spa as Lee muses regarding her wax job offer of a triangle or heart, "That's why they call it a bush, I guess. Because just like a bush, you can trim it into cute little shapes." So Lee asks for a teddy bear. p84

Initially Lee seems just to be along for an unknown, unplanned and outlandish road trip with that fantasy of a cheerleader. Yet Tats is really Lee's journey. A tall, butch, tattooed woman with a nightmare childhood who loves motorcycles and can fix most things mechanical, Lee has a quirky sense of humor -- at one point covering a sleeping Vivian with little smiley faces stickers from Wal-Mart -- and writes daily in her journal. Lee is also filled with pain. It is her confrontation of her past that grounds the novel as more than a romping road trip. Lee confronts abuse, trauma and survival and along the way, she finds her own path to healing, growth, family and freedom.

The debut novel by veteran screen writer, Layce Gardner, Tats takes the iconic buddy road trip story to a new place. For one thing, the heroes don't die at the end! And hopefully, we'll be hearing more from Lee and Vivian as well as Ms. Gardner. In the meanwhile, move over Thelma & Louise and step aside Butch & Sundance. There's a new trip in town and it's over the edge funny, gun blazing fast-paced and well worth the read.
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Mar 17, 2012 4:51 PM PDT

Fool on the Hill: A Tess Camillo Mystery
Fool on the Hill: A Tess Camillo Mystery
by Morgan Hunt
Edition: Paperback
23 used & new from $1.09

0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Tess will have you humming along!, May 23, 2008
Morgan Hunt's second mystery, Fool on the Hill: A Tess Camillo Mystery brings back Tess Camillo, a smart-mouth lesbian with a varied and colorful past. Tess is a 40-something computer nerd and breast cancer survivor. Her original love was actually mathematics, and computer programming was more palatable than accounting or teaching math. Hunt has created a strong, quirky voice in Tess. Her whimsical associations, internal musical sound-tracks, and slightly skewed world view are charmingly idiosyncratic. For the rest of this review, please visit my website.

by Emma Donoghue
Edition: Hardcover
61 used & new from $0.01

4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Fasten your seat belt and enjoy!, April 23, 2008
This review is from: Landing (Hardcover)
Life is about to change for Jude Turner in Emma Donoghue's novel, Landing. The 25 year old archivist/curator of a one-room schoolhouse museum in her very small town of Ireland, Ontario, Canada, is "celebrating" New Years Eve by flying to the United Kingdom to see her mother, who has been visiting her sister, Jude's aunt. This mysterious request from Jude's aunt heralds illness and loss for Jude. Thus for the first time Jude, the self-proclaimed Luddite, is on a plane. It will be one of many firsts as an unusual incident during the flight prompts her meeting Síle O'Shaughnessy, a meeting that will have long term effects on both women. Síle is a 39-year-old flight attendant of Indo-Celtic heritage with nearly 20 years of experience in her career. A resident of Dublin, Ireland, Síle is a cosmopolitan, high-tech, and high energy lesbian whose fast-paced vagabond life suits her. She was born, after all, at 40,000 feet. For more of this review, please check my website. Thanks! MJ

Gift of Time
Gift of Time
by Robin Alexander
Edition: Paperback
Price: $16.95
23 used & new from $0.06

14 of 14 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Enjoy each moment, November 21, 2007
This review is from: Gift of Time (Paperback)
For practical, grounded, thirty-something CPA Leah Marks, time is about to become far more complicated than she ever imagined possible. A chance stop into a local antique shop introduces her to Reagan Montgomery, a woman that Leah feels very attracted to and results in her acquiring an unusual, lovely, antique snow globe. The globe is one of a pair created by a local craftsman nearly 100 years ago. No ordinary globe, it would seem, as Leah discovers that its image changes while she watches it. A tiny woman who looks very much like Reagan appears from within the elegantly wrought Victorian house in the globe. Investigation of the artifact reveals they once belonged to two women who bear a striking resemblance to Leah and Reagan.

The story takes a remarkable and fanciful turn when Leah is propelled back in time to 1907 via the globe. In 1907 Leah becomes Leanne, a young woman who is in love with Elizabeth, who looks like a younger Reagan. Returning to 2004, Leah finds herself compelled to discover all that she can about the women, who for some magical and unknown reason, appear to be herself and Reagan in another lifetime. Leah decides the only way to understand the full story is to return to 1907. When Reagan joins Leah in the past, the women find they have set in motion a complex set of events. When Elizabeth's mother discovers the young lovers in a compromising position, they both experience the horrifically violent attitude toward lesbianism at the time. The situation looks dire. Still, Leah's humor is engaging, as she recalls, "I had been clawed, dragged, slapped and choked in less than twenty-four hours. This was the most action I'd seen since I tired to put the neighbor's cat in a grocery sack as a child" (110).

Gift of Time evolves from a "simple" time-traveling romance to a complicated, layered tale with several plot twists. The women struggle to minimize the impact of their actions on the future--and still win a life together in the 21st century. As Leah observes of the early timeline, "There was no central heat, the cold chilled me to the bone, no Internet, and heaven help me, no Mountain Dew, the main staple of my diet" (110).

Alexander has given readers a charming romance with some fast-paced action. Leah's internal voice is often funny and self-effacing; the romantic interludes are sweet and sexy. The first portion of the story was not quite as engaging to this reader, however, perhaps because some of the characterization seemed unsettled and forced. Within a few chapters the characterization improves as the action picks up and the surprises unfold. The result was engrossing and enjoyable. Alexander makes observations about racism and human relationships in the South, then and now, which are thoughtful, hopeful, and earnest. The settings of historic and pre-Katrina Gulfport are carefully realized. Give yourself a Gift of Time and enjoy every minute.

Date Night Club
Date Night Club
by Saxon Bennett
Edition: Paperback
Price: $13.95
33 used & new from $0.01

12 of 12 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Still laughing at the duct tape scene!, September 6, 2007
This review is from: Date Night Club (Paperback)
Meet Chris McCoy, a charming, neurotic lesbian mail carrier living in Albuquerque, N.M., and member of a group of middle-aged lesbian friends who find themselves single, AGAIN. They decide to commit themselves to finding not just a lover-for-the-moment but a "perfect mate." Thus they form the "Date Night Club" where "Instead of letting love fall to chance, they would research it, explore all the places where it might lurk or frolic and nail it to the wall of each of their futures" (40).

The club members are an eccentric mix of women who provide a great deal of heart and humor on their "quest" for love. There is Bernadette Chevez Maestas, known as B., a high-energy and highly successful realtor with a physique akin to Dolly Parton's. Sarah K. Roswell is the pastry chef/business woman behind a well known line of crème puffs available in upscale groceries. Sarah calls herself "Midge" because as a Little Person, she feels she might as well control and embrace her identity with disarming, self affirming humor. Luce is the resident bohemian-earth-mother-artist-type who works in large scale stained glass and may still be grieving her late lover. And Amadeus, a tall, blue-eyed, red-haired German Amazon, runs The Zoo, a hip restaurant that's popular with "club members."

The group makes monthly forays dubbed "date night" that include volunteering at the local pride-fest picnic and attending a book group sponsored by the local women's bookstore. In the latter scene, Alex Taylor, the author of the month's selection, is in attendance because she hopes for feedback from readers. (Her book, titled "The Heiress," bears a striking resemblance to the story line of Bennett's book, Back Talk.) Particularly amusing is the hot seat on which the author finds herself when her literary use of pickles is criticized by two very uptight feminist readers. The discussion that results is bizarre and hilarious. While no reader should assume an autobiographical origin to any novel, one can not help but wonder if Bennett is exorcising some particular experience with this wickedly funny scene. Alex Taylor's rather plaintively confused comment, "The pickle heiress was meant to be funny," (75), says it all.

Date Night Club is a very fine example of what Saxon Bennett does best: She creates a funny, charming and very human ensemble cast of lesbians, then carries her readers through an arc of challenge and growth with them. I laughed out loud several times, especially in regard to B.'s type A dominating, if well meaning, approach to orchestrating not only her own life but those of her good friends. The scene with the duct tape still gets me to smile. Dog people will love The Pipster, who makes Lassie look ill-trained, and the flyball games. Date Night Club is one of the funniest books I've read in a very long time, and is in my opinion the best of Bennett's many charming novels, in that her characters are so clearly defined and articulated from the very beginning, making the story a pleasure to follow. Give Date Night Club a try, you might not find your true love, but you're sure to enjoy the evening!

Running With the Wind
Running With the Wind
by Nell Stark
Edition: Paperback
Price: $15.95
37 used & new from $0.01

16 of 27 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Pick up a Copy and Set Sail, April 11, 2007
This review is from: Running With the Wind (Paperback)
Running With the Wind is an engaging, engrossing debut novel by Nell Stark.

Corrie Marston, a graduate student in engineering, spends her summer teaching sailing in Rhode Island. Corrie is talented, intelligent, fit, good looking and very good at sailing--Olympic-class good. Denise Lewis was Corrie's crew for the Olympic trials. Their relationship was intense, exciting and closeted, as Denise wasn't ready to come out. Before long, Denise left Corrie for the security and validation of a heterosexual relationship with William, Corrie's brother. The siblings have always had a competitive streak but this blow created a rift between them. Since Denise and William's engagement, Corrie has shut off a great deal of her pain, anger and her capacity for love. She has "made a point to hook up with friends--not random, but no strings attached"(47).

Corrie is one of the most thoughtful and articulate depictions of a bisexual woman this reviewer can recall. As a friend of Corrie comments, "I get the feeling that gender doesn't really matter to her. That it's just another physical characteristic like body type or something"(48). Still, Corrie admits to herself that "seducing men made her feel powerful, somehow. Whereas women just felt good" (49). Some elements of Corrie's view might make readers uncomfortable. She has not dealt with the emotional scars from Denise's rejection and that has pushed Corrie into a patch of windless water where she is foundering.

Quinn Davies, an intelligent, shy, 27 year-old woman in vet school has been convinced by an old friend, Drew, to take sailing lessons this summer. Quinn's gift with animals results in her helping Corrie's dog, Frog when she has an accident. The event places the two women in more intimate surroundings than the marina. Aware of Corrie's approach to sex, Quinn, despite her attraction to Corrie, is careful. For Quinn, "The entire idea of casual sex-- even between friends--made her uncomfortable. Sex meant losing control, and losing control meant whoever you were with could really, truly see you. Not just physically because you were naked, but emotionally--and what if they didn't like what they saw? Even if they did, you could never take it back. Sex wasn't like blurting out a confession by accident that you could then pretend was a joke. It was permanent"(48). With this thoughtful self awareness, Quinn refuses Corrie's causal overtures.

When Corrie realizes that William and Denise will be sailing in the annual Regatta, she decides to court Quinn in a face-saving plan to prove that she can get a girlfriend. Despite her sexual experience, Corrie is the naive one in many ways and the leaks in this boat appear quickly as Corrie, whose observing ego is not very strong, begins to fall for Quinn. Yet the more "innocent" Quinn understands more of herself, Corrie, and the nature of love and loyalty. The two women will have to find winds of trust and love for the relationship to sail.

Appropriately, sailing is one of the characters of Running With the Wind. How Corrie, Quinn, William, and other characters approach and relate to the sport is fascinating and revealing. The race scenes, both impromptu and formal, kept this reviewer turning pages. Further, Stark uses the various characters' understanding of sailing to explain sailing elements without distracting the reader with details. Corrie's frame of reference for a great deal of life is sailing and her analogies are nautical. She understands the boats, the sails, the wind, the sea and her role as a sailor. Corrie finds solace in the power and non-judging challenge of the wind and the water.

Running With the Wind is a fast-paced read. Stark's characters are richly drawn and interesting. The dialog can be lively and wry and elicited several laughs from this reader. Like Kallmaker's All the Wrong Places, the discussions of the nature of sex, love, power, and sexuality are insightful and represent a welcome voice from the view of late-20-something characters today. Stark also captures lovely, intimate, and vivid moments such as, "Corrie remembered how smooth and soft [Denise's] eyebrows had felt as she traced them with one forefinger in the aftermath of their lovemaking" (14). The love scenes between Corrie and Quinn are erotically charged and sweet.

Running With the Wind is a wonderful debut novel which holds great promise. It's a touching romance with lively, realistic characters in an interesting setting. This reviewer looks forward to reading Stark's future stories and in the meanwhile, recommends readers pick up a copy and set sail.
Comment Comments (12) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Apr 16, 2007 3:50 PM PDT

Finders Keepers
Finders Keepers
by Karin Kallmaker
Edition: Paperback
Price: $13.46
59 used & new from $0.11

13 of 14 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars a perfect match!, March 29, 2007
This review is from: Finders Keepers (Paperback)
In her latest romance, FINDERS KEEPERS, Kallmaker has once again turned the genre on its ear. She has given readers a hot, romantic story that bookends two complex journeys her lovers take in order to become and find the "keepers" they desire. In the course of the lead characters' struggles Kallmaker prompts readers to seriously consider two questions at the heart of romantic love in general and the romance novel genre in particular. She asks us to consider: what is beautiful? And what makes a perfect match?

Linda Bartok and Marissa Chabot meet in a lifeboat when the cruise ship they are on sinks. The vacation is saved when they find an island. Romance blooms in the languid and lush tropical resort. Both women find in the other someone who sees parts of them that most people never notice. In Marissa's case, Linda sees not only her intelligence and wit but past the excess pounds to the strong, attractive, and desirable woman. In the Linda's case, Marissa sees beyond the highly cultivated gorgeous exterior to the strong, capable, and intelligent woman. In the physical expression of their love, they find new aspects of themselves. The sweetly romantic week is a watershed for both women and a delight for readers. When their vacation ends, Linda and Marissa each begin a struggle to better integrate their exteriors and interiors and to fulfill the potential they glimpsed via the other's eyes. Both woman will deal with their past and discover their own strength and beauty.

Linda, frequently mistaken for a popular, beautiful actress, has been running to various far-flung and out-of-the-way locales to avoid the demons of her childhood and her mother's irrational expectations for an acceptable daughter. Hiding behind what she thinks of as her façade of beauty, Linda has engaged in empty sexual encounters but no one really saw her, none of the women really touched her. At the outset of one of these meaningless encounters Linda thinks, "What piece of me do you want? You have to pick because you don't get the whole me. There is no whole me anymore." (86) Until Linda finds Marissa. Time spent with Marissa allows Linda to see that she has to face and make peace with her past in order to heal and to find a future.

A computer geek with a wry sense of humor, Marissa has hidden herself in her work, oversized clothes and the all-too-easily acquired extra pounds of a sedentary job and a lonely personal life. Falling for Linda has been a wake-up call to for Marissa to stop the spiral and reclaim her body as part of herself. Since adolescence Marissa has been hiding her sexual attractiveness behind the protection of her size. Yet Linda's impression of Marissa is that she "had a passion for living and it had shown in the way she'd attacked the cliff. It showed in the way she made love. Even in the way she enjoyed water, sand and new experiences ..." (81)

FINDERS KEEPERS is not a light read, if you'll pardon the pun. It is a complex story with many layers. Marissa's struggle with weight-loss and fitness illustrates the "get thin quick without work" claims most American weight loss companies tout. (An attractive promise Americans are all too happy to buy.) Kallmaker provides insights into evaluating programs and understanding reasonable goals without being pedantic and Marissa's hard-won success is inspiring. Readers glimpse relatively small portions of Linda's childhood and the frightful and bizarre trauma at the hand of her mother. It reminds us that monetary success is no guarantee of love, health, happiness, or sanity. Yet the roots of her mother's obsessions are a dark reflection of American views toward perfect beauty, particularly epitomized by the beauty pageant circuit.

Further, Marissa is one of the owners of "Finders Keepers" a dating service that uses computer analysis of a complex and detailed questionnaire to match hopeful singles with their perfect partner. Thus the question of what makes a good match and, perhaps most interesting, what threatens to break even the best match, is an engaging thread through the story.

Despite the heavy topics and the "anti-romance" elements, FINDERS KEEPERS is a touching, powerful, sensual romance. In her trademark style, the author has breathed life into interesting, multi-faceted characters; she handles intense issues with care and insight; and perhaps most importantly, she uses humor and wit to keep the story from being too heavy. Marissa's tendency to write "letters" that she will never send to her mother, deceased father, or Linda are charmingly wry observations and the delightful scene wherein Marissa's mother announces her acceptance of her daughter's lesbianism is one that will stay with this reader. Indeed, her success in weaving all these themes into a moving romance makes FINDERS KEEPERS one of Kallmaker's best novels. Readers should make a date with FINDERS KEEPERS. You are likely to find it is a perfect and beautiful match.

Fun Home: A Family Tragicomic
Fun Home: A Family Tragicomic
by Alison Bechdel
Edition: Hardcover
89 used & new from $2.11

193 of 203 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Viewing You Won't Want to Miss!, July 27, 2006
FUN HOME A FAMILY TRAGICOMIC is the latest work from the highly skilled, insightful, neurotic and wry-humored pen of Alison Bechdel, best known for her "Dykes to Watch Out For" comic strip. (One of the longest-running queer comic strips, "Dykes to Watch Out For" is over 20 years old, has been syndicated in hundreds of papers, released in over 10 books, and is available online via the author's website.) FUN HOME is Bechdel's graphically rendered account of growing up in rural Pennsylvania in the 1960s and 70s with a particular focus on influences of her father`s life and death.

Beginning with some of Bechdel's earliest memories of her father, readers meet a man who was an intelligent, emotionally distant yet volatile, narcissistic perfectionist who struggled with secrets. Trapped in the town not only of his youth but that of his ancestors for several generations, Bechdel`s father worked in the family business, a funeral home (known in the family as the "Fun Home") established by her great-grandfather in the 19th century. In addition to his interest in local history and historic preservation, Bechdel's father was a closeted gay (or bisexual) man who had a string of affairs, primarily with younger men, throughout his life.

Divided into seven chapters, each of which deals with particular themes in her childhood, FUN HOME contains a strong emphasis on literary references. Chapters weave back and forth in time, revealing aspects of Bechdel's childhood and details of her father's death. Books and literature were an important influence in Bechdel's life growing up. Her father taught English Literature at the local high school while her mother studied theater and performed in community plays. The gothic revival home the family lived in (and which her father had restored) boasted a library. At one point Bechdel admits, "I employ these [literary] allusions ... not only as descriptive devices, but because my parents are most real to me in fictional terms" (66). It becomes apparent that literary discussion was one of the primary modes of communication between herself and her father.

Bechdel came out to her parents via a letter in the spring of 1980. Her declaration prompted her mother to point out to Bechdel that her father had been having affairs with men for years. Initially, this information appears to have been news to Bechdel, who reflects, "I'd been upstaged, demoted from protagonist in my own drama to comic relief in my parents' tragedy" (58). This "upstaging" is revealed as a theme in Bechdel's life as childhood milestones, such as her menarche, were overshadowed by the family preoccupation with and response to her father facing charges of "contributing to the delinquency of a minor." Apparently, her father's closet was not entirely secret and his extramarital activities added strain to the family. Her coming out was further upstaged when her father died in a questionable "accident" (it may have been suicide) just four months after her letter.

Bechdel spent years feeling shut down yet very guilty regarding her coming out and how it may have influenced her father's death. FUN HOME details the results of Bechdel's intellectual and emotional processing of her father's death, and her relationship with this complex, intelligent, conflicted, and often remote man. A powerful example of her self awareness includes her admission, "[evidence that he was considering suicide months before Bechdel came out] would only confirm that his death was not my fault. That, in fact, it had nothing to do with me at all. And I'm reluctant to let go of that last, tenuous bond" (86).

Book-length graphic stories are not a mainstay of this reviewer's reading. However, Bechdel's clean, distinctive illustration style with its wry observations and amusing details is fun to read and examine, and drew this reader into her story quickly. Indeed, it's regrettable that this review can only include quotations and not excerpts of Bechdel's drawings. Several delightful and revealing images are included, such as her grandmother chasing a "piss-ant," her early identification with Wednesday Addams, the summer of the locusts, her teenaged diary entries, and several aspects of her own adolescent self-discoveries. One cannot help but identify with Bechdel. However, despite the pain and struggle Bechdel has had facing her father's life and death, the book is neither morose nor depressing. The author has found peace with herself in regard to her father, her childhood, and who she is today. As she says in the dedication (to her mother and brothers) " We did have a lot of fun, in spite of everything."

FUN HOME is a wonderful graphic memoir that is engaging, heartrending, funny, and thoughtful. Readers will definitely want to stop by the Fun Home for this viewing.
Comment Comments (4) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Oct 1, 2012 8:13 PM PDT

Queer Quotes: On Coming Out and Culture, Love and Lust, Politics and Pride, and Much More
Queer Quotes: On Coming Out and Culture, Love and Lust, Politics and Pride, and Much More
by Teresa Theophano
Edition: Hardcover
33 used & new from $0.58

3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars It's Utterly, Joyously, and Quotably Queer!, July 18, 2006
QUEER QUOTES: ON COMING OUT AND CULTURE, LOVE AND LUST, POLITICS AND PRIDE, AND MUCH MORE, edited by Teresa Theophano, is a delightful collection of GLBT-related quotations. Divided into 16 topics, including "All Things Queer," "Naming Ourselves," and "Queer History," with quotes range from the touching to the bitingly funny, with some healthy stops along that way that prompt a reader to think. However, all the quotes have a positive slant. Theophano in her introduction explains that she has "avoided including sound bites from homophobes. We already know what the Trent Lotts, Jerry Falwells, and Fred Phelps of the world think of GLBT issues. ...Let's be utterly, joyously, and quotably queer!" (10).

On the currently timely topic of "Love and (Gay) Marriage," Liz Langley states "Gay marriage should be legal if just to raise the standard of dancing at receptions" (29).

Political issues are the focus of "Out of the Closets, Into the Streets" with this from Barbara Grier: "It is the closet that is our sin and our shame." (81) And a chilling quote from Harvey Milk, the first openly gay elected official in the US, reads, "If a bullet should enter my brain, let that bullet destroy every closet door" (77). Milk was assassinated in 1978.

In "the Arts" there are a number of humorous entries as well as two quotes for the queer bibliophiles from Dorothy Allison and Nancy Garden, respectively:

"If I'd taken up with a gospel band or rock and roll, I'd make a whole lot more sense to my family. But to write books. ...I'd come home with books and they'd stare at me like I was crazy. That was the thing most queer about me" (37).

"[Radclyffe Hall's THE WELL OF LONELINESS] became my bible. I read it and reread it over and over again. And I vowed at that point that I was going to write a gay book that ended happily, a book about my people" (40). The author of dozens of award-winning children's and teens' books, Garden wrote ANNIE ON MY MIND, originally released in 1982, a groundbreaking novel concerning love been between two high school girls.

Theophano has included a biography section for the over 270 speakers quoted. This handy appendix provides brief biographical summaries, frequently listing best known titles if the person is an author, and an explanation of their notability. This section is particularly useful given the broad range of personalities quoted -- from Sophocles and Oscar Wilde to Melissa Etheridge and Calpernia Addams. Regretfully, not all these entries include a year of birth (or death). There appeared to be a few minor errors and the reader should cross-check the biographic information if using it for more than casual reference. (For example Rita Mae Brown's groundbreaking novel, RUBYFRUIT JUNGLE, is listed as originally released in 1983 rather than 1973). This reviewer would have liked the biographical data to have included the names of some long-term relationships, especially when the partners also appear in the volume as with Kate Clinton and Urvashi Vaid.

However, these shortcomings pale compared to the value of the section. Further, the editor has provided an index to the hundreds of quotes allowing the reader to find all quotes by a particular person. These last two sections result in a collection that is valuable to researchers as well as fun for the casual reader.

A well-organized, thoughtful, and fun little book, QUEER QUOTES is the most comprehensive title of its kind and would be useful for libraries and others who might use quote books, as well as being a size and format that make it a charming gift book.

18th & Castro
18th & Castro
by Karin Kallmaker
Edition: Paperback
Price: $13.95
54 used & new from $0.68

4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Kallmaker gives readers "Something Good to Eat ...", July 1, 2006
This review is from: 18th & Castro (Paperback)
Karin Kallmaker's 18TH & CASTRO is a trick-or-treat bag filled with yummy goodies for her readers. This charmingly romantic collection of erotic short stories is set on a Halloween night in the Castro District. It opens with Suze and Amy, two baby dykes in their early 20s, who have found a building rooftop from which to watch the night's festivities. The girls serve as the framework of the book, with their story broken into three parts throughout the night. They have a perfect view of a mythical three-story apartment building across the street. All of its residents are women-loving-women and a whole lot of fun is goin' on! As the two women watch the revelers, 13 stories unfold with most relating to one of the building`s residents or an apartment at 18th & Castro, hence the numbers.

New love, or at least a fine start on healthy lust, unfolds in "Borrowed Plumage 1C" when a femme, Carmen, borrows her best friend's old leathers for a costume and meets a woman who finds those leathers very inspiring. In "Please 2A" "Chosen 1B," and "From Behind you Looked Like 1D" Kallmaker allows the fates (and a few resident matchmakers) to nudge long term friendships toward a path to something more intimate.

Several of the stories include long term couples who are nurturing a romantic sex life in the midst of day-to-day logistics and life pressures. These stories range from the tentatively sweet and hot to the amusing and power charged. In the "Brand New Woman 2C," a couple are alone for the first time since their eldest child was born. Brenda spends time exploring the woman that her partner and co-parent of two children, Nancy, has become in the years they`ve shared.

In "Human Female Pon Farr 3B," Jax is suffering a very bad day of hormones. Her partner, Tate, sets out help scratch that itch, but events take a farcical turn when a handcuff key goes missing. That comic tone carries across the hall to handcuff key provider and artist, Jonny, and her Aria, a highly demanded and overworked surgeon. Aria is in need of some in "Down Time 3A" but the two initially find it difficult to focus with the interruptions.

In "Avast! 3C" readers are treated to a bit of Halloween role playing as Renee and Jane indulge a fantasy on the high seas. The teasing negotiation and the grounding late night snack that open and close this story puts a loving face on a highly charged scene.

Kallmaker provides a touching glimpse at how one couple strives to maintain a mutually satisfying sexual expression of their relationship despite chronic health issues. In "Nine-Inch Nails 3D," the years of communication, caring affection and heated desire between Pete and Keri allow them to cultivate new expressions for their love that are arousing and validating.

In "For the Last Time 2B" Terra and Jeneen invite the latter woman's ex-lover, Claire, over for a little sex demonstration. This bittersweet three-way provides a complex lesson for all involved.

The stories in 18TH & CASTRO interweave as various characters interact with others, several women are going to the party hosted by Neenah and Ace in1A. Some conversations are repeated from different points of view. Others merely pass one another in the hall. All of which gives the reader the impression of a complex set of happenings occurring in a relatively short period of time. All the stories are erotic and include an intensity likely to keep the reader`s interest; however, the details of encounters are as varied as the women who populate the stories. Some are earthy and urgent. Others are sweet and hazy. Many are also touching and romantic.

As already suggested, Kallmaker's signature humor is sprinkled throughout the stories, but it is especially present in the setting. Halloween in the heart of San Francisco has to be one of the country's biggest, gayest party events outside of Pride, and adds outrageous color and humor. Glimpses of the costumed crowd include not only Xenas and Gabs, Vampire Slayers, Pirates, Flappers with Gangsters, and Batmans and Robins but "Diana Ross and the Supremes, the secretary of state, flaky first daughters, Ethel Merman and Sweet Potato Queens --it was all [there] in the Castro"(116). There are impromptu chorus lines of Dorothys kicking up their ruby slippers, a quartet of Veronica Lakes, and Satanic Leprechauns. (This last group is a corps of dark cloaked mysterious figures wearing prominent, green di!dos and marching in cadence.)

Likewise, the characters represent a range of ages, ethnicity and self-awareness from the spectator baby dykes on the roof to the elegant older lesbians of "Please." The preternatural even makes a couple of appearances. Perhaps the collection's most touching story is "Tick Tock 2D" wherein a woman finds solace and protection in her memories of love and perhaps an eerie little something more ...

Readers can depend on Kallmaker for intelligent, witty stories that are well-written and charming, and peopled with interesting characters. She gives us books that are just down-right fun to read. A "Bella After Dark" title 18TH & CASTRO is highly-charged, accessorized erotic fun, in the same vein as her ALL THE WRONG PLACES. A few quirky surprises are there as well as one or two stories that prompted this reviewer to pause and think about the nature of power, sex, and love. In 18TH & CASTRO, readers will find the mass-market candy of their treat bags has been replaced by fine handmade truffles. Pick up a copy of this bag of goodies because there is something "good to eat" here.

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