Guest Post: All the Queer Love Stories by Pene Henson

All the queer love stories

I value queer love stories. I’m here for a femme geek tripping up the stairs when she first sees her hot neighbour. I’m here for a bright-eyed city socialite trapped in a snowbound cabin with a gloriously competent hermit girl. I’m here for a fireman catching his breath to exchange flirty banter with a clothing designer or Olympic diving rivals growing to respect and then love one another. I’m here for a charmer of a non-binary person reconnecting with a love they thought they’d lost. I’m here for a trans guy realising the love he considered unrequited is so very not.  

Like many queer folk with a soft spot for a love story, I grew up on straight romance.

Harry’s romantic New Year’s Eve speech to Sally in When Harry Met Sally is a lesson in knowing someone and loving all of them. The ball players of Love and Basketball share a fierce respect and growing understanding. When Monica tells Quincy “I’ve been in love with you since I was eleven, and the shit won’t go away,” we feel every part of her pain and hope. In You’ve Got Mail, Meg Ryan’s Kathleen says “I wanted it to be you. I wanted it to be you so badly.” And we wanted it too. Even though we knew it all along.

Jane Austen, my oldest favourite, understands the small details of love and respect. Emma’s Mr. Knightley has known Emma all her life and chokes out “If I loved you less, I might be able to talk about it more”; Captain Wentworth pens a desperately romantic and reverent letter to his long-ago love Anne in Persuasion.

There are thousands on thousands of moments of straight romance. The best of it becomes a benchmark for love in real life.

There’s value in having benchmarks. It’s important to believe that you’re worth the dazzling awe of new love. It’s a sheer joy to experience that stomach-flipping heart-pausing moment when all feelings are laid bare. Even the fluffiest romance can make a person happy, and when time’s been spent on character, when respect is given to reality, then that same fluffy romance can make the whole world better.

It’s not just the romancey side of romance (The kissing part my kid closes his ten-year-old eyes for). Love stories tend to be kind to their characters. The stories are full of tiny human observations about how people think and move and what they do when they’re happy or sad or successful or frustrated.  In them the ordinary becomes beautiful. Any dim view or grey room or commonplace person is suddenly bright and beautiful when a character is in love.  

But it’s tough, because most of these wonderful stories are heterosexual. You can’t just replace Billy Crystal with Cher in your imagination. You can’t just replace Sanaa Lathan with Anthony Mackie. (Though both those movies sound amazing). So many love stories are inherently not queer, and they give us queer folk the idea that we can’t ask for something that magical, or wonderful, or silly, or forever.

There’s sometimes this sense that queerness is just about sex. That queer romance is primarily about exploring sexuality and people’s fantasies. And sure, often that exploration is fabulous and important and for some people just plain hot. There’s value in sex.  

But I also want queer people to have touchstones for romance, to have all the huge sweet speeches, all the stomach twisting moments of new love. I want them to have the meet-cutes, the eyes-catching across a crowded room, the heart-flipping terrifying moments of falling head over heels for someone. I want the depth too, the rich characterisation and the big lives. I want the lonely hearts and the communities of queer folk laughing and living with one another. I want all the queer love stories. (I wish I could write all the queer love stories – But I’m going to have to leave the witty banter to other writers).  

Queer romance is about giving queer characters happiness, giving them a place in the everyday world, giving them communities and dreams, and giving them a happily ever after.

My hope is that queer people can see themselves reflected in that happiness.  That’s why I write queer love stories. They won’t change the world, except in all the ways they will.


About Pene Henson:

Pene Henson has gone from British boarding schools to New York City law firms. She now lives in Sydney, Australia, where she is an intellectual property lawyer and published poet who is deeply immersed in the local LGBTQIA community. She spends her spare time watching sports and gazing at the ocean with her wife and two unexpectedly exceptional sons. She received the Lambda Literary Award for Best Gay Romance for her first novelInto the Blue (Interlude Press, 2016) about surfers growing up on the North Shore of Oahu. Storm Season, about two women trapped in a remote Australian cabin, was published in 2017. She had a short story about WNBA players going home for Christmas in If The Fates Allow (Interlude Press, 2017) an anthology of queer holiday stories.

Connect with Pene: www.penehenson.com or @penehenson on twitter.

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Science Fiction Review: Blood Binds the Pack by Alex Wells

Blood Binds the Pack by Alex Wells

Published by: Angry Robot

Format: eARC

Genre: Science fiction

Order at: Publisher | Amazon | B&N 

Reviewed by: Edwin

What to Expect: Science fiction Wild West biker witches and lesbian unionists fomenting a proletarian revolution against an evil corporation. What’s not to like?

(Note: review contains spoilers for Book 1 of the series, Hunger Makes the Wolf (reviewed here, and some general discussion of plot elements in the first ¼ of this book) Read More

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Countdown to a New Year, December 26: J.R. Gray

Countdown to a New Year, December 26: J.R. Gray

From December 20 through December 31, Binge on Books will be hosting a series of posts each day counting down to the new year. Joined by authors, publishers, and fellow bloggers, this series will focus on takeaways from 2017 and what we can look forward to in 2018. Think the biggest, longest, most book-filled reflection of the past year and the hopes and dreams for the new one all wrapped into one: that’s Binge on Books’ Countdown to a New Year. Come see what your favorite members of the book world have to say about the past year and what’s up next for them in the year to come!

**Plus every day in the countdown will feature prize packs of ARCs and book giveaways plus a final BIG giveaway of a Kindle Fire! Enter every day for a chance to win!**

This year was hard. I feel like I’m overreacting when I say it was, because I know there are so many people who experienced far worse. I’m usually the suffer in silence type, and I don’t like to talk about my feelings.

Writing for me had always been easy, until it wasn’t. I’ve written since I was a child, as a therapy for myself. It was a way to get my emotions out. Throughout the years I have put different parts of myself into each character I’ve written. It has been wonderful. Then shit got crappy last year. I was living in a place I wasn’t a huge fan of and I had so much hope for the election but it all went to hell. There was a lot of false hope throughout this past year as well. Ups followed by huge downs, including my basic rights threatened. I didn’t know how to get through it. This wasn’t my typical write through feelings I’m experiencing on a personal level. These were feelings I had on a global level. It was fear for the future.

On top of being depressed, and dealing with stresses from my life, (normal stuff with kids and family most people deal with) I was completely uninspired. It was a task to get through my day. I had nothing left to create. Every time I got online it was opening the valve and letting what was going on in the world, things I care deeply about, affect me more. I called, and fought and reblogged, so my voice would get heard, but the stress of worrying what could happen if some of those things got passed was exhausting and it added to my depression and lack of creativity.

I’ve also always suffered with imposters syndrome, which got bad this past year. I had a lot of talks with myself about why I’m still doing this, and I thought a lot about quitting. It’s a lot of work for not a lot of pay, and when I wrote as a kind of therapy why not publish it and share it? But if I had to force myself to sit down and do this writing thing again, was it worth it? I went back and forth on this a lot. I missed it at times. I missed creating, but I still had nothing to create.

So for NaNo this year I knew I had to decide if I could still do this. I didn’t tell anyone that was my plan, but I wanted to see for myself. Since I’ve done double NaNo in the past, 100,000 words in a month, 50,000 words was doable. So I picked a book that was so close to my heart. One I’ve been needing to write for a long time, that I thought might help me get through a lot of the things I’ve been feeling.

I’ve discovered the more I create, the more creative I feel. The more I’m writing, the more ideas I have. The more new plot bunnies I have. It was hard to get back into the groove of writing. I had lost all of my stamina for it. It was a drag to get 500 words out. Let alone the 2k-5k I used to do every single day. I’m still not there, but because of this epic writing group I have, it’s getting a lot better. I have been holding myself accountable and using Pacemaker to keep track. It’s a work in progress and I’m a work in progress. But I love what I do and I want to keep putting out books I need and needed. I have plans for Queer YA. I’m on track to have four books out in 2018 and it feels good to be out of my funk.


When not staying up all night writing, J.R Gray can be found basking in the warm glow of the Miami sun, or at the gym where it’s half assumed Gray is a permanent resident. A dominant, pilot, and sword fighting enthusiast, Gray finds it hard to be in the passenger seat of any car. Gray frequently interrupts real life, including normal sleep patterns, to jot down nonsense. The bane of Gray’s existence are commas, and even though it’s been fully acknowledged they are necessary, they continue to baffle and bewilder.

If Gray wasn’t writing…well, that’s not possible. The build up of untold stories would haunt Gray into an early grave or possibly a mental institution where the tales would end up on the walls in crayon and finger paint.

J.R. Gray is Gender Queer and prefers He/Him/His pronouns.

Forsaken is J.R. Gray’s next book which will release at the end of February 2018.

About Forsaken: Titus has lived and breathed religion his entire life, tucked away from the rest of the world in a compound in northern Wyoming. He’s destined to be the next leader of the church, deemed so by the Profit.
God spoke and with His word He created. But God made a mistake. Titus isn’t worthy. He was born sick and it’s solidified when he rescues the most beautiful man he’s ever seen.
Torn between fidelity to his faith or his soul, Titus must reconcile the two parts of himself before he’s discovered hiding among the chosen.
Learn more about Gray and his books on Jrgraybooks.com.

Enter to win one of 3 prize packs of books! 

Prize Pack #7:

Child of a Mad God by R.A. Salvatore

The Last to Let Go by Amber Smith

Stray City by Chelsey Johnson

Prize Pack #8:

Inkmistress by Audrey Coulthurst

Blood Water Paint by Joy McCullough

Feeder by Patrick Weekes

 Prize Pack #9:

Release by Patrick Ness

And She Was by Jessica Verdi

Miles Away From You by A.B. Rutledge 

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Prize Packs 4 – 6: http://www.rafflecopter.com/rafl/display/88d45f0342/

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Grand Prize: http://www.rafflecopter.com/rafl/display/88d45f0345/


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Sounds Like Halloween: Day 23 with Whitney Taylor

Whitney Taylor joins Sounds Like Halloween with a reading from an original piece of fiction written for this series called Party Monster.


About Party Monster:

Inspired by The Weeknd’s hit song of the same title, Party Monster follows college student Guinevere Jane, who has recently experienced the tragic loss of her parents, as she comes face to face with her demons at a Halloween fraternity party.

Party Monster an original piece of fiction written for Sounds Like Halloween. 



About Whitney Taylor: 

Whitney Taylor (@_tattedunicorn) is a YA writer that only speaks one language—fangirl. When she’s not devouring books, she spends her time taking selfies, obsessing over any TV show with a love triangle, and eating way too much McDonalds. She’s a Psychology and Communications major from Virginia that likes to pretend she’s a supermodel from New York City. Her debut novel, Definitions of Indefinable Things, was published in April 2017 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Books for Young Readers.


Learn more about the Sounds Like Halloween audio series, including authors taking part & what you can expect, here.

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Author Chat with Binge on Books: Sarah J. Maas, Part 2

author chat 2Hello and welcome to Author Chat, an intimate and light-hearted books inspired podcast with Judith from Binge on Books interviewing your favorite authors!

Who’s up today, you ask? That’s right! You guessed it! It’s Sarah J. Maas in Part 2 of our 2-part podcast!

Sarah stopped by Binge on Books to talk favorite books, her writing, upcoming projects, who she’d most love to write a book with, what’s going on with the next ACOTAR book (yes!) and so much more! It was so much in fact, Author Chat with Sarah J. Maas will be a 2-part series. Part 1 features Sarah talking her publishing journey and giving us some hilarious answers to a down and dirty lightning round Q&A. Take a listen to it here. Part 2 features more in depth reader questions and runs the gamut of what’s going on in her world (and yes, she talks Catwoman, ACOTAR, what historical novels you need to read, and so much more!).

So sit back, relax, and get ready for: Author Chat with Binge on Books featuring Sarah J. Maas, Part 2!


 


 

No time to listen but want to read what Sarah’s reading? Here are some highlights of things we discussed:

Top 3 Authors

Sharon Shinn

Melina Marchetta

Tamora Pierce

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Books She Loves:

Karen Marie Moning’s Fever Series

C.S. Pacat’s Captive Prince Series

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Books/Writers We Convinced Each Other to Buy:

Historical romance writer, Sarah MacLean – her Scotsmen are to die for!

Historical romance writer, Meredith Duran – Duke of Shadows is a must!

Romance writer, Sherry Thomas – Lady Sherlock Holmes series. No need to say more!

…AND SO MANY MORE! Listen in for all the great reads!

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sjm2Sarah J. Maas is the #1 New York Times bestselling author of the Throne of Glass series and A Court of Thorns and Roses series, as well as a USA Today and international bestselling author. Sarah wrote the first incarnation of the Throne of Glass series when she was just sixteen, and it has now sold in thirty-five languages. A New York native, Sarah currently lives in Pennsylvania with her husband and dog. Empire of Storms, the fifth Throne of Glass novel, will release on September 6th, 2016.

She graduated Magna Cum Laude from Hamilton College in 2008 with a degree in Creative Writing and a minor in Religious Studies.

Get in touch with Sarah via Twitter or her website!

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Judith is the curator of Binge on Books as well as an upcoming contributor to USA Today and past Publicity Manager for Queer Romance Month. You can hear more of her in Author Chat  andWhat’s On My Kindle? as well as her reviews on the site.

Get in touch with her on Twitter or send her an email (she loves email!) at judith@bingeonbooks.com.

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September 25th, 2016: What’s on My Kindle with guest, Roan Parrish

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On this week’s What’s On My Kindle?, special guest Roan Parrish takes over the podcast to celebrate the release of her novel, Where We Left Off (In the Middle of Somewhere #3)! There are five books currently on Roan’s Kindle and she delves deeply into them all. She touches on: a magical young adult novel, a horror mystery, a sexy coming of age story, a sci-fi novella, and a YA supers caper.

Listen to the podcast now (What’s On My Kindle? is always 10 minutes or less!). No time but still want killer book recs? All the books are listed after the podcast!

And as always, since there is book talk…there be spoilers!

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Author Chat with Binge on Books: Sarah J. Maas, Part 1

author chat 2

Hello and welcome to Author Chat, a quirky, fun books inspired podcast with Judith from Binge on Books interviewing your favorite authors!

Who’s up today, you ask? I’ll give you a hint: Sarah J. Maas! (I’m the worst hinter, admittedly)

Sarah stopped by Binge on Books to talk favorite books, her writing, upcoming projects, who she’d most love to write a book with, what’s going on with the next ACOTAR book (yes!) and so much more! It was so much in fact, Author Chat with Sarah J. Maas will be a 2-part series. Part 1 features Sarah talking her publishing journey and giving us some hilarious answers to a down and dirty lightning round Q&A. Part 2 features more in depth reader questions and runs the gamut of what’s going on in her world (and yes, she talks Catwoman, ACOTAR, what historical novels you need to read, and so much more!).

So sit back, relax, and get ready for: Author Chat with Binge on Books featuring the talented and oh so funny Sarah J. Maas!

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sjm2

Sarah J. Maas is the #1 New York Times bestselling author of the Throne of Glass series and A Court of Thorns and Roses series, as well as a USA Today and international bestselling author. Sarah wrote the first incarnation of the Throne of Glass series when she was just sixteen, and it has now sold in thirty-five languages. A New York native, Sarah currently lives in Pennsylvania with her husband and dog. Empire of Storms, the fifth Throne of Glass novel, will release on September 6th, 2016.

She graduated Magna Cum Laude from Hamilton College in 2008 with a degree in Creative Writing and a minor in Religious Studies.

Get in touch with Sarah via Twitter or her website!

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Judith is the curator of Binge on Books as well as an upcoming contributor to USA Today and past Publicity Manager for Queer Romance Month. You can hear more of her in Author Chat  and What’s On My Kindle? as well as her reviews on the site.

Get in touch with her on Twitter or send her an email (she loves email!) at judith@bingeonbooks.com.

 

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Alissa Listens, Audio Review: Beta Test by Annabeth Albert

beta test picBeta Test by Annabeth Albert

Narrator: Sean Crisden

Publisher: Harlequinn Enterprises Limited

Format: Audio

Genre: Contemporary Romance

Order Link: Amazon Audible

Reviewed by: Alisa

What to expect: A story about two very different men, who at first glance are totally wrong for each other, finding out that sometimes you find happiness in unlikely places.

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Most Anticipated Books for 2016: A Podcast Four Way!

Hey everybody! It’s Judith from Binge on Books and today you better get your one-click finger ready as you listen to this very special and BONUS edition of my monthly podcast!

3 Bloggers

Joining me are three amazing book bloggers from all different corners of the book world: Vilma from Vilma’s Book Blog, Abby from Crime by the Book, and Elisabeth Lane from Cooking Up Romance! Each of us talks our three most anticipated reads of 2016 and believe me, there is a little something for everybody, from fantasy fairy-tale retellings to grisly Swedish crime fiction, from sexy magical wedding stories to campy queer mystery. A word of caution: you may have to wait more than a few months for some but only a few days for others (and at least 3 are already out! YES!). So sit back and listen in as we chat about all the gorgeous new reads that we’re dying to get out hands on!

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No time to listen but still want to stock up on great reads? Check out each blogger’s picks here:

Vilma from Vilma’s Book Blog, a site focused on Fantasy, NA, Contemporary, Suspense

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Judith from Binge on Books, a site focused on Romance, Fantasy, YA, NA
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Despite Everything (tentative title) by Roan Parrish
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Want to hear more podcasts like this? Check out Binge on Books’ Author Chat, a monthly segment where Judith sits down with some of her favorite authors and talks about anything and everything!
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Captive Prince: a Celebration at Binge on Books

It’s February 1st, and for most people, it naturally means the beginning of the month, while for some of us, it actually comes as the end of a very, very long wait.

Tomorrow, February 2nd, the last book in the Captive Prince trilogy by C.S. Pacat will make its debut, and thus put what I’m sure is a gorgeous and satisfying cap on a hugely incredible fannish experience.

You see, Kings Rising isn’t just a long-anticipated book–it’s fandom history, and fandom celebration. Years ago in the wild fannish lands of LiveJournal, Captive Prince got its start as a serial, with chapters being posted every few weeks or so under “freece.” Nominally a well-known trope of slavefic, this series quickly spread like wildfire through fandom, finding its way into many a corner and heart that may not have clicked on it had it not been for their friends discovering it and telling them, no, seriously. It’s not just slavefic. It’s so much more. You have to read this. You HAVE to.

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