Books We Shouldn’t Have Missed in 2008

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Love, Castro Street: Reflections of San Francisco, ed by Katherine V. Forrest and Jim Van Buskirk (Alyson Books): This collection of essays delves into the gay San Francisco experience as told by those who lived it. A wistful retrospective on a more revolutionary time when every inch of tolerant real estate represented a civil rights victory, these essays enrich the familiar dialogue about the city that stood at the forefront of queer history. [Andrea Millar]

The Was a Woman: La Llorona from Folklore to Popular Culture, Domino Renee Perez (University of Texas Press): Listen: is that the wind in the arroyo, or could it be La Llorona, the ghost woman who cries for her lost children in the folklore of Mexico? Tracking La Llorona’s appearance in myth, history, politics and popular culture, Perez constructs a fascinating and detailed biography of the woman who has given voice—or, as Perez might put it, holler—to the grief of many. [Andrea Millar]

Mamarama, Evelyn McDonnell (Da Capo Lifelong): In her sex-filled feminist memoir about early ‘90s angst in the East Village and an unexpected turn into motherhood, Evelyn McDonnell references three generations of feminism and gives us an inside glimpse into her enviably cool punk-rock life, filled with a who’s who of NYC underground literati and musicians. Her sudden transition to motherhood causes her and women reading along to examine what it means to be both a feminist and a provider. [Nina Lary]

Women in Texas Music, Kathleen Hudson (University of Texas Press) With this collection of insightful Q&A interviews with Texas icons—including Lee Ann Womack, Shemekia Copeland and Rattlesnake Annie—author Kathleen Hudson aims to draw the women of this rich musical heritage into the spotlight. “It seems the young guns in Texas music get a lot more play with a lot less work,” Hudson says. “I am sure more men are out there on the road. What does that say? That men are more talented? I think not.” [Nina Lary]

Homo Domesticus, David Valdes Greenwood (Da Capo Lifelong): Greenwood’s memoir follows two gay men falling in love, buying a home, adopting a child and all that fun, sticky stuff in between. Their struggles as married gay men arise in being open at work (to be or not to be?) and from a few objections from old-folk family members uninterested in attending a wedding with two grooms. Overall their life is a cozy one, full of Emily Post-flavored faux pas and barely-there tiffs that will make you either laugh and roll your eyes knowingly or hurl violently over the balcony in opposition. [Nina Lary]

Madness, Marya Hornbacher (Houghton Mifflin): Following one woman’s journey from a scattered turbo-active childhood to an official diagnosis of bipolar disorder at 24-years old, Madness offers clean, clever writing, personal stories that range from relatable to gut-wrenching, and an important message for the many undiagnosed or misdiagnosed sufferers wrought with symptoms including alcoholism, eating disorders, and drug addiction, Madness is a poignant memoir for anyone affected by mental illness. [Nina Lary]

2013: The End of Days or a New Beginning?, Marie D. Jones (New Page Books): Turns out in just four years, the 5,125-year Mayan calendar will run out. Some see the impending date as the beginning of the end while others predict it will usher in a new state of psychic consciousness. Amidst today’s rapidly shifting political, social and environmental poles, Jones’ treatise on our shift from the Age of Pisces to the Age of Aquarius seems especially poignant. [Nina Lary]

Transpeople, Christopher A. Shelley (University of Toronto Press): This in-depth study looks at, as the subtitle suggests, the repudiation and indignation that transgender individuals suffer,  from everywhere: social conservatives, psychiatrists, queers and liberals. Shelley looks at ultimately the challenge that trans men and women present to traditional sex and gender norms—and the backlash from non-trans folks when those challenges occur. Clinical, but interesting. [Diane Anderson-Minshall]

Becoming Alec, Darwin S. Ward (MBM Press): In this coming of age story, Alec gets thrown out of her house for being a lesbian as a teenager, but after going on that classic journey of discover, realizes that she may be a he—and makes a transition all too familiar to many lesbians—as Alec comes out as a transgender man. It’s not quite Stone Butch Blues territory but it’s a definite heir to the mantle, in this nice, working class story set in the Midwest, with a firm grasp of butch/femme dynamics. [Diane Anderson-Minshall]

Hiding in Hip Hop, Terrance Dean (Simon & Schuster): You had to be under a rock to miss out on this fun romp through the world of entertainment, billed as “on the down low in the entertainment industry from music to Hollywood.” It’s fueled gossip columns, blind items and entertainment blogs on who is, or isn’t, queer and on the down low. Dean’s own history is fascinating too—raised by his grandmother after his own sex worker mother died of AIDS—and the book reveals as much about him as it does about life behind the velvet rope. Read this to find out why Alicia Keys, Queen Latifah, sitcom stars Tichina Arnold and Tisha Campbell and so many other hot African American women have been thought to be outed by Dean and debate among yourself. [Diane Anderson-Minshall]

Queer Optimism: Lyric Personhood and Other Felicitous Persuasions, Michael D. Snediker (University of Minnesota Press): Billed as the much-needed counterpoint to queer theoretical discourse, Snediker tries to reintroduce optimism to the narratives that queer studies folks have long evaluated, while arguing that queery theorists have long privileged melancholy, self-shattering, incoherence, shame and the death drive. Heady stuff, but interesting reading for fans of the leading queer theorists like Judith Butler and Eve Kosofsky Sedgwick. [Diane Anderson-Minshall]

Calling the Dead, Ali Vali (Bold Strokes Books): So many writers set stories in New Orleans, but Ali Vali’s mystery novels have the authenticity that only a real Big Easy resident could bring. Set six months after Hurricane Katrina has devastated the city, a lesbian detective is still battling demons when  a body  turns up behind one of the city’s famous eateries. What follows makes for a classic lesbian murder yarn. [Diane Anderson-Minshall]

Dude You’re a Fag, C.J. Pascoe (University of California Press): Pascoe, an assistant professor of sociology at the University of Puget Sound, has offered up a nice look at masculinity and sexuality in high school, in a easy-to-read and compassionately insightful ethnography based on her 18 months of fieldwork in a racially diverse high school. More than most other academic tomes, Dude is easy to read by non-scholars and non-parents alike, and it’s equally interesting to women as well as men. The chapter on how there are only two places for gay guys to escape—the school’s Gay/Straight Alliance and into drama class—reminds us that as much as things have changed in the last decade or two, the more they have stayed the same. After all, drama was one of my only refuges, as well. [Diane Anderson-Minshall]

Women Out of Control, Linda G. Stunell (Carroll & Graf): This slim book looks at the sex crimes and twisted lives of some infamous straight female sex criminals including Pamela Smart, Lorena Bobbit and Mary Kay Letourneau. It has its flaws, but has some interesting look at abuse, drugs and girl-next-door stereotypes. [Diane Anderson-Minshall]

Texas Monthly on Texas True Crime (University of Texas Press): One of the best regional magazines in the country offers up a compendium of their best crime reporting. While it’s all top notch and fascinating to boot—chasing criminals from gated mansions to trailer parks, following jocks and punks and border violence and pet alligators, and yes, lesbians. In “Girls Gone Wild” the writer chronicles the case of Bobbi Jo Smith and Jennifer Jones, two barely legal lesbians in love, who left Mineral Springs, Texas with their roommate lying in his bed, three bullets in his head, as they headed off for a road trip of their lives. [Diane Anderson-Minshall]

Backslide, Teresa Stores (Spinsters Ink): This coming of age novel starts out with a bang—literally, as main character, Virge Young, is shot by a TV show audience member while she is promoting her bestseller, Sinner. The story then shifts to 1969 where 13-year old Virge is going door to door in the Florida Bible Belt preaching to save souls. As the chapters weave back and forth from the present day to the past, the reader is caught up in this riveting tale. The author adds another layer by interspersing Virge’s thoughts right after she is shot. But the plot sometimes gets muddled with the many time shifts. The message that the author is trying to convey, about coming to terms with one’s past in order to move on, gets lost during most of the book until the last pages where she smartly and neatly ties it all up for the reader. [Kathi Isserman]


Homecoming, Nell Stark (Bold Strokes Books): What do you do when your parents cut you off financially after coming out to them? For Sarah Storm, rather than sulking, she enrolls in a less expensive state college and finds the activist within herself.  While taking up the fight for marriage equality at the University of Rhode Island, she struggles with the ups and downs of first love as she falls for her new supposedly straight roommate, Rory. In this character driven story, the author gives us two very likeable and idealistic women that are without pretense. The growth these two experience from their involvement in an important cause, as well as the friendships that they make throughout the year, is moving and refreshing. Kudos to the author on a very fine book. [Kathi Isserman]

Romantic Interludes 1: Discovery, Eds. Radclyffe and Stacia Seaman (Bold Strokes Books): Lots of variety is packed into this anthology penned exclusively by Bold Strokes Books’ authors.  Fantasy is plentiful, but every day romance peppers the collection too. Rachel Spangler writes about the joy of adding a baby to the family. Julie Cannon shares a tale about long time love. Authors Cate Culpepper and Ali Vali revisit characters from their novels which is always fun. Lee Lynch’s story is poetic and nostalgic, focusing on family and the holidays. Each author seems to reveal a little of her life with the reader, making this an entertaining and enjoyable read. [Kathi Isserman]

Blinded by the Light, Morgan Hunt (Alyson Books): This is the third mystery featuring Tess Camillo, an amateur detective who seems to find murder wherever she goes. In this book, Tess is visiting the Lightning Field in New Mexico and after a particularly bad thunderstorm, her group finds one of their cabin mates dead, but not from the storm. The story is told in the style of the 1940’s hardboiled detective novels, light and easy to read, but with a lesbian twist. The author adds liberal doses of humor, but they are sometimes over the top. The story includes a romantic subplot that stalls the mystery rather than moving it forward. The end is the most exciting part, but the reader has to wade through the rest of the novel to get there. [ Kathi Isserman]

Lake Effect Snow, C.P. Rowlands (Bold Strokes Books): This is my kind of political thriller-methodical, dangerous, and complicated. It challenges the reader without frustrating her, and there is just enough realism thrown in to make it relevant to today’s international political scene as the story features the war in Iraq. The politics are easy to digest though, adding to the context and setting, but not preaching. The romance between Journalist Annie T. Booker and Sarah Moore, the FBI agent assigned to her case, is genuine and thoughtfully done, but it does not distract us from the main plot. The non-stop action and impressive storytelling make this a must read for those who like thrillers in the tradition of Frederick Forsyth, quite a feat for first time novelist Rowlands. [Kathi Isserman]

Addison Black and the Eye of the Bastet, MJ Walker (Blue Feather Books): Indiana Jones comes to lesbian fiction in the form of British Special Agent Addison Black. The book’s action begins at an archeological dig in Egypt, where all of the participants are killed, but one. Discovering that missing person skillfully sets up this adventure. Black and her lover, fellow agent Dr. Skylar Tidwell, search from the underground tunnels of Egypt to the mountains of Sierra Leone for the answers to the murder and the thefts of ancient and valuable artifacts. Early in the novel the agents uncover the killer’s identity but not the motive. While the plot is not unique nor fast paced, the reader will keep turning the pages to unravel this well written mystery. [Kathi Isserman]

Between Two Women, Patricia Harrelson (Outskirts Press): After 33 years of marriage and three grown children, the author of this memoir falls in love with a younger woman. She leaves her husband and moves in with her lover, but continues to struggle with her sexuality, and hesitation about her new life persists. After striking up a friendship with Carol, a 69-year-old dyke who could not be more different than her, Patricia offers to transcribe Carol’s oral herstory. She is fascinated by Carol’s colorful and often heartbreaking stories of life in the ‘50s, ‘60s and ‘70s. These stories give Patricia a context for loving, fill her with hope, and form the heart of this unflinchingly honest book. The reader cannot remain unaffected after reading this powerful and unusual narrative. [Kathi Isserman]

Trails Merge, Rachel Spangler (Bold Strokes Books): Sparks fly and denial runs deep in this excellent second novel by Spangler. Parker Riley escapes to northern Wisconsin from her high powered life in Chicago politics after much disillusionment. At her new job as a marketing consultant at Bear Run Ski Resort, she encounters Campbell Carson who is nursing a broken heart, and has recently returned to the family business and homestead. Sexual tension underlies Parker and Campbell’s business and personal relationship, but they are two very different women with goals that are poles apart. The authors’ love of the subject shines through as skiing, family values and romance fill the pages of this heartwarming story. The setting is stunning; making this reviewer nostalgic for her childhood days spent skiing the bunny hills of Wisconsin. [Kathi Isserman]

Tempus Fugit, Mavis Applewater (Blue Feather Books): Applewater, best known for her books filled with luscious sexual encounters, has penned a story which is a departure from that mold. Secret lovers Ginny and Ellen struggle with coming out in the 1950’s beginning in high school. But this is not an ordinary coming of age novel. Ginny is set up by her own family to take the fall for her twin sister, and then sent to reform school and prison for a crime she did not commit. Ellen, who doesn’t forget Ginny, becomes a lawyer and has her case overturned. Even though the book spans fourteen years, it is light on character development. But the novel does hit the high points well enough for the reader to get to know them, and the addition of current events of the day round out the plot. This deeply rich and powerful must read story will move even the most hardened of hearts. [Kathi Isserman]

Love, West Hollywood, eds. Chris Freeman and James J. Berg (Alyson): Those who know Los Angeles well are familiar with the fact that to love that city you have to know your way around. As spread out as LA is the best spots are still often hidden from people, discovered one at a time by those falling in love with the region. Love, West Hollywood is the same way, the book tells the hidden history of LGBT in Los Angeles through a number of essays while it taps into the LGBT Mecca of West Hollywood. Here is a great start for anyone ready to fall in love with the area, and also learn about the hidden secrets of gay LA.¬[Fernanda Silva]

Women And Violence, Barrie Levy (Seal Press): A global overview of the terrifying and pervasive issue of violence against women that guarantees to enrage and enlighten. [Ainsley Drew]

Femmes of Power: Exploding Queer Femininities, Del Lagrace Volcano and Ulrika Dahl (Serpent's Tail): This photo journal of girl power puts the “femme” in feminism. [Ainsley Drew]

Sex Talks To Girls, Maureen Seaton (The University of Wisconsin Press): A quirky, funny memoir that plays with self, sex, siring, splits, spirituality, and sobriety, this is one talk you should listen to. [Ainsley Drew]

Notes From Nethers: Growing Up In A Sixties Commune, Sandra Engster (Academy Chicago): A detailed personal account that recalls what it was like to come of age in a separatist commune in Virginia, this book proves that there was more to the 60s, free love, and hippies. [Ainsley Drew]

A History Of U.S. Feminisms, Rory Dicker (Seal Press): Hit the books, girls. This non-fiction book relays the timeline of our foremothers, from nineteenth century suffragettes to our modern and beloved Radical Cheerleaders. With detailed accounts of events, and snippets from powerhouses like Meridel Le Sueur and Tara Hardy, this book truly turns history into herstory. [Ainsley Drew]

Headlong, Kathe Koja (Macmillan): “When I saw Hazel coming up the aisle – tall, serene, wearing her Vaughn student T-shirt for the first time – we didn’t laugh, we didn’t not laugh; she just caught my eye, and I caught hers. And that was enough.” A gripping tale of friendship and fitting in at boarding school. [Ainsley Drew]

The Sleeping And The Dead, Ann Cleeves (Bloody Brits Press): Ever had your significant other disappear only to be discovered thirty years later, murdered, at the bottom of a lake, with a chain around the ankles? If so, you might want to skip this suspenseful psych thriller. [Ainsley Drew]

In An Abusive State, Kristin Bumiller (Duke University Press): More of a textbook than a light read, this study of feminism, sexual violence, and neoliberalism, was written by a professor at Amherst College. Not for the faint of heart or the low of attention span, this is a dense, caustic argument against feminism’s response to rape and sexual violence. [Ainsley Drew]

Transgender History, Susan Stryker (Seal Press): A study of the trans community in America, this book begins with post-World War II era transvestites and details the timeline all the way to modern human rights laws and how they impact transgender individuals. Written with a decidedly feminist slant, Transgender History is history and activism at their best. [Ainsley Drew]

Preying On Generosity, Kimberly LaFontaine (Intaglio Publications): A sequel to Picking Up The Pace, this mystery focuses on reporter Angie Mitchell. Angie finds herself on the trail of a murderer who’ll stop at nothing for attention. While she struggles to put together the clues she must be careful to preserve her relationship before it’s too late. [Ainsley Drew]

Juicy Mother 2, Jennifer Camper (Manic D Press): Gender pirates meet sex outlaws in this compilation featuring comics from 31 artists from 5 countries. As delightful as the original, and a must-have for any graphics fan. [Diane Anderson-Minshall]

Scholastic Storybook Treasures (Scholastic): Remember the golden-spined Scholastic books we loved as kids? They’re now digital and perfect gifts for the little ones in your life. Start with the adaptation of Doreen Cronin’s Click, Clack, Moo: Cows That Type, which the author helped to shape into a DVD with an interactive read-along function that highlights words as they are read. Other titles include Chicka Chicka Boom Boom, Chrysanthemum and Harold and the Purple Crayon. [Diane Anderson-Minshall]

Rosie Little’s Cautionary Tales for Girls, Danielle Wood (MacAdam/Cage): This series of modern fairytales for girls, tells of both the evil and bliss that fill the world we live in today. Rosie, our sassy tour guide, takes us down the often-treacherous path of adulthood with stories of survival in all walks of life. [Kamala Puligandla]


Far Beyond Triage, Sarah Lantz (Calyx Books): Sarah Lantz’s first collection of spiritually based poetry draws the reader in with simple yet deeply moving poems. Drawing on her own life, Lantz offers an insightful look into the human soul. In “Visit” she ponders the reality of a meeting with her father who had died long before, and in those few stanzas we peek into emotions that touch the heart. She explores her own past and those of her family members killed during the Holocaust in this perceptive series of poems. [Teresa Coates]

Be The Change You Want to See in the World, by Julie Fisher-McGarry (Conari Press): Light reading that ultimately tackles heavy issues, this book by eco activist and longtime vegetarian Fisher-McGarry gives 365 suggestions for green living, healthy habits and personal growth. More of a thoughtful gift book than an activist manual, the petite idea-a-day guide includes suggestions ranging from personal projects (vegan recipes and nutritional advice) to more political endeavors (causes and charities worth supporting). While the title may be a little lofty for what’s essentially a New Age guide to feeling good about yourself (often with minimal effort), Be the Change is a light and pleasant read often backed by substance. [Catherine Plato]

S.E.X., by Heather Corinna (Carroll and Graf): The Our Bodies, Ourselves for the MySpace generation, this book by the founder of sex ed website Scarleteen.com is a comprehensive course in sexuality and sexual health for teens of any orientation and their parents, teachers and counselors. Beginning with a thorough anatomy lesson that includes boy and girl parts by both their scientific and slang terms, the book goes on to conquer topics including body image, relationships, STDs, sexual abuse and harassment, and pregnancy and family planning. For teens of any gender or orientation (there’s a great chapter devoted to that, too), this book is the all-knowing, non-judgmental older sibling everyone wished they had. Unlike too many books on teen sexuality, this one avoids abstinence-only dogma, and includes explanations and even technical advice on everything from French kissing to BDSM—along with each activity’s risk factor for pregnancy and STDs. I was especially impressed with the unbiased chapter on teen pregnancy and parenting, which explains that it’s not universally an accident, mistake or life sentence to misery and poverty. While it does dutifully examine the challenges of parenting, this non-pedantic, just-the-facts approach could be life-changing for ostracized and shamed teen mothers. In a society that all too often scolds and belittles teenagers often deserving of more credit, S.E.X. is revolutionary. [Catherine Plato]

You Are What You Love, by Vaishali (Purple Haze Press): A Eastern spirituality road map written for Western women, this self-help book also has a workbook (excuse me, a “playbook”) and condensed version on CD—you know, for those stressful times when you need divine enlightenment like, ASAP. Full of tales and wisdom from diverse spiritual traditions (Christianity, Buddhism, Judaism, Hinduism and Sufism), Vaishali’s guide teaches, inspires and, for those wanting more, opens the door for deeper study. [Catherine Plato]

Spiritual Fitness, by Caroline Reynolds (DeVorss Publications): Spiritual counselor Reynolds says that given seven weeks and “an open and dedicated heart that is willing to grow”, your life can be utterly transformed: Increased confidence and motivation, more honest and fulfilling relationships and an overall greater sense of purpose await dedicated readers. Those seeking a digestible and practical self-help book will find satisfaction in the fitness metaphors and structured week-by-week plans—devised by none other than a British pragmatist, albeit one with New Age sensibilities. For example, week three focuses specifically on maximizing language and improving communication, while week five is called “Learning to Meditate.” Women struggling to leave the closet, recover from emotional turmoil or improve their overall sense of self will all benefit from Reynold’s results-based program. [Catherine Plato]

Truth Heals, by Deborah King (Influence Press): “Telling the truth is about freedom,” writes lawyer, recovered alcoholic and cancer survivor King. “It is about joy and peace and health and living a life that is meaningful, powerful, connected and loving. Ultimately, it is about feeling good in your skin, unencumbered, free, and having the life you want to live.” King argues that many of our “sicknesses”—meaning both emotional turmoil and physical disease—boil down to a question of honesty and consequently, freedom. Though King is straight and her philosophies apply to people struggling to come clean with secrets, insecurities and lies in any form, she does use “coming out”, in several cases, as an example of freeing oneself through honesty. Pared down to that, “the closet” feels like much less of a necessary safety zone, and readers can find comfort through the stories of other people from all walks of life and orientation: Even if you don’t know other closet-bound queers, the struggle to be true to yourself is universal. [Catherine Plato]

I Thought It Was Just Me, Brené Brown, Ph. D. (Gotham Books): “Shame is the intensely painful feeling or experience of believing we are flawed and therefore unworthy of acceptance and belonging,” writes Brown. In the queer community, it’s something most of us are all too familiar with. Educator and workshop leader Brown teaches us to overcome shame and debilitating feelings of inferiority through reaching out and self-expression. Though Brown is straight and her lessons and exercises are useful to women from all walks of life, she does give some special attention to lesbian readers, using coming out as an example of overcoming shame. In a way, looking at the struggle of coming out in a larger context in comforting, as it shows that the challenges facing people in the queer community are not exactly unique to us; everyone has to go through some sort of “coming-out” experience in their life. Brown is comforting and sympathetic yet practical, avoiding an overly touchy-feely or patronizing tone. Her writing is encouraging, mobilizing and effective. [Catherine Plato]

Making Waves, Evan Bachner (Abrams Books): From training to engineering work to recreation, the nearly 150 black & white photographs of WAVES (women accepted for voluntary emergency service) glimpse into women’s service during World War II. The coffee table book serves as a solid piece of largely unrecognized history and captures the atypical responsibility the women took on for their time. Revealing and captivating, the images speak volumes. [Emily Howard]

Hack, by Melissa Plaut (Villard Books): Reading this memoir by the blogger of “New York Hack” (newyorkhack.blogspot.com) gave me newfound respect for all the mysterious men and women on the other side of the bulletproof glass divide. As one of about 200 women in the fleet of about 40,000 New York City cab drivers, Plaut tells stories of overt sexism, racism and ageism, cheapskate customers, side street shortcuts, obnoxious cops and stifling bureaucracy. Straightforward, funny and yes, a lesbian, Plaut gives readers the inside story on a never-boring profession and an exhilarating city—as you’ve never seen it before. [Catherine Plato]

How to Become a Famous Writer Before You’re Dead, Ariel Gore (Randomhouse): The celebrated feminist icon behind modern parenting ’zine Hip Mama, Gore is the master of giving out practical advice, even when it comes to something as elusive as publishing. She combines inspirational guidance (like “Dream” and “Embrace Your Genius”) with mom-like, non-nonsense business advice (“Be Nice to Interns” and “Meet your Deadlines”) in this ultimate guide to breaking into and conquering the industry. Beyond Gore’s own experience and insights, she also includes interviews with some of the biggest names in contemporary lit, including queer superstars like Michelle Tea and Daphne Gottlieb. Both aspiring writers and published pros will benefit from Gore’s motherly wisdom. [Catherine Plato]

Blood Moon’s Guide to Gay and Lesbian Film, Darwin Porter and Danforth Prince (Blood Moon Productions, Ltd.): This queer film resource guide will leave you wishing Netflix and the postal service could deliver in bulk, 24/7.  Highlighting feature length commercial flicks like the witty, laugh-until-you-pee-your-pants-a-little smash hit “Little Miss Sunshine,” to Indie faves such as James Cameron Mitchell’s “Shortbus” Blood Moon’s Guide to Gay and Lesbian Film is like foreplay for film fanatics. It gives much-deserved nods to recent fantastic shorts and documentaries roaming the festival circuit, including the not-to-be-missed gender-redefining documentary “Boy I Am.”  Reviews offer an added bonus for better previewing selection choices, and the “Hollywood quotes” pack a semantics punch like that between Boy George and George Michaels over who should be out, and how necessary public disclosure is to be considered so.  Good times aplenty, although the back section on “Hollywood’s Hottest Hotties” which reads like a tabloid spread- Lindsay Lohan pics included- leaves much to be desired. [Colleen McCaffrey]

Crazy Sexy Cancer Tips, Kris Carr (Skirt!): This book could be called “Crazy Sexy Life Tips,” and Kris Carr exudes them all: wackiness, sexiness and life.  When handed lemons she found a way to garnish her drink with them, and toast life’s experiences.   Told from an inner voice that is more than just one of survival, but revival, Kris Carr’s delightful, humorous read is enlightening and inspiring. She gathers contributions from her “Cancer Posse,” a group of brilliant, fierce survivors who give cancer  the finger with companies and organizations for other women sharing in their ordeal; including Jackie Farry’s “Fuck Cancer” organization. From diagnosis to shopping therapy and plant-protein based diet tips, Carr’s bravery, humor and realism will have your heart opening with every page turned and your wits rallying to get crazy and sexy about life immediately. [Colleen McCaffrey]

I Hear Voices, Jean Feraca (Terrace Books): Hauntingly morbid, Jean Feraca’s  memoir traces her path to self-discovery like a car ride through unknown territory, enlightening, challenging, and revealing.  With strong Italian American family members as the cornerstones marking her ground covered, and then sometimes backtracked; when her mother moves into her house during a down spiraling state of depression, it’s a girl’s journey into herself and public broadcasting, exposed. Opening with the raw pain of the passing of her brother to lung cancer, Feraca  paints a memoir vividly personal yet seething with the universal. [Colleen McCaffrey]

The Making of Our Bodies, Ourselves, Kathy Davis (Duke University Press):  Political, savvy and historical, The Making of Our Bodies Ourselves explores the feminist movement’s impact on medical research and women’s health.  Redesigned to cover issues for women of various races, cultures and sexuality, and promoting a true sense of “transnational feminism,” this book offers an in-depth look at the women and founders who created the original.  Updated for technological and medical advancements it still rings with the necessity of women-specific medical research and the right and obligation for every woman to claim her body as her own. [Colleen McCaffrey]

Nightlight, Janine Avril (Alyson Books): Losing her mother at age twelve to a mysterious fatal cancer, and then her father during her years as a co-ed at Cornell University, Avril’s debut book is at once tender and shocking.   The founder of “Girlsalon,” a platform for queer women performance artists in New York City, Avril brings a compassionate and empowering female voice to the memoir genre.  It’s easy to get caught up in the mourning and loss of her parents’ death only to be jerked out with the juxtaposing anger  and betrayal when years after her father’s death Avril’s uncle reveals the truth that lay dormant in her family for so long. A compelling read on suburbia and the stigmas it carries, Avril grapples with some of life’s hardest curveballs and still finds a way to transform her horror to inner peace. [Colleen McCaffrey]

Dragonfly Stories, ed. J Cascio, Catherine Brown, Beatrice Gordon (Rainbow Legends):  Dragonfly stories reads like an intimate journal and long letters from dear friends.  Whether detailing one’s coming out or the viciousness of a hate crime, these stories hold the bruises, laughter, and survival of the universal struggles specific to the LGBT community.  Like many personal transformations of self-acceptance, sexual evolution and character building, you will laugh, cry and empathisize with the storytellers.  It both licks your wounds with positive experiences of love, compassion and acceptance, and then reminds you of how far we have yet to go with some our communities most tragic, painful recollections.  You’ll want to offer a shoulder to cry and hand to cheer for the brave voices and luminary history they weave. [Colleen McCaffrey]

Local Gal Makes History, Dana Frank (City Lights): Reading as much like a memoir as it is a day guide to some of the strangest places you never thought you’d be interested in going, Dana Frank gives humor and insight to a journey of historical exploration and surprise.  Whether lured by the nostalgia of her past or the actual intrigue of these historical monuments, I found myself thinking that with a strong cocktail and a light-hearted attitude, in spite of its blatant misogyny, the Cave Train Ride could be an interesting local alternative to a day of Santa Cruz sunbathing. The Pulgas Water Temple had me from the visual serenity of its photo on the front cover and immediately had me packing my bag for a trip to find my inner Zen.  Dana Frank juggles her moments of reminiscence with a humorous voice that reveals hidden places of history and the cheesy delight of revisiting them. [Colleen McCaffrey]

Jesus In Love at the Cross (AndroGyne Press): Fearlessly enough Rev. Kitteredge Cherry, the lesbian author known for her spellbinding homo-friendly Christian novels Art That Dares and Hide and Speak, defies all odds again continuing from her prequel Jesus In Love, with her latest Jesus in Love at the Cross. In this novel Cherry explores the question of, “What if Jesus were queer?” A risky and difficult approach, nonetheless, beautifully executed. Cherry reasonably captures a rigid glimpse at the long-established tale of Jesus and modernizes to the 21st Century mindset. Cherry portrays Jesus as the personification of both male and female, capable of loving without limitations, together with physical and sexual sensations. He has a heavenly correlation with God which sets him a part from other men, nonetheless, he is still a human being filled with erotic desires that need to be fulfilled. Cherry has merely written a great unconventional visionary on the old-etched story leading up to Jesus’ death, Crucifixion, and resurrection. This book will stun the conservative religious reader. Regardless of sexual orientation or religion, this book is a good read for any open-minded reader. [LaKeisha Hughes]

Hungry For It, Fiona Zedde (Kensington Books): Jamaican author Fiona Zedde’s fourth independent novel is set in the sizzling South Beach section of Miami. Rémi Bouchard is a charming, confident and clever African American young woman who owns and manages the most trendy jazz club in South Beach. She’s known as a sultry, assertive lesbian who enjoys one-night stands and gets whatever she wants—everything except her true desire to be in a committed relationship. Zedde gives readers a drama-filled, suspenseful peek at just how hot and steamy Miami can really get. [LaKeisha Hughes]

About Face, ed. Anne Burt and Christina Baker Kline (Seal Press): Comedic, heartwarming and inspiring stories about what a girl takes from the mirror and adds to her sense of self. Ranging from ages 22 to 75, women from various ethnicities and walks of life evaluate the impact societal beauty myths, media and role models have on a woman’s sense of self, identity and even career choice. With an introduction from renowned make-up artist Bobbi Brown, we learn makeup is only your enemy if it becomes a weapon you use on yourself to hide from the world. About Face dares you to do what 25 other women have already done: Turn your face to the mirror and learn, know and love what you see, imperfections and all. [Emily Howard]

A Girl’s On-Course Survival Guide to Golf (Thomas Nelson Publishers): Did you always want to play golf but never had the time to learn all the nitpicky rules that come with golfing? Now you can with Christina Ricci’s guide to all the fundamentals of the sport from how to grip the club to the rules and etiquette of the game. Ricci provides quick step-by-step pointers and colorful, instructional photos and images to compliment the instructions. Also, due to its small size, you can put it in your purse or fanny pack and bring it to the golf course in case you need a refresher. So next time before you tee off, remember to flip through Ricci’s guide and show off your new moves on the green! [tktktktkt]

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