(*T* -- denotes reviews/submissions by Tavia)
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Books by Title: D - E - F
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Dark Angels - Lesbian Vampire stories. Follow up to Daughters of Darkness.|
>From the back cover of Dark Angels:
"Dark Angels collects tales of lesbian vampires, the quintessential bad
girls, archetypes of passion and terror. Like Daughters of Darkness,
Dark Angels will get under your skin, piercing with tales of desire so
sharply erotic you'll swear you've been bitten!"
Just about anything by Marion Zimmer Bradley, author of the Darkover
Her Firebrand and The Mists of Avalon are female-oriented retellings
of the stories of the Trojan War and the King Arthur legend respectively, and
are centered on strong, resilient female characters. Her Sword and Sorceress
series of books collects short stories by many authors, both well-established
and less so; the main criterion is that the stories must feature strong,
non-stereotypical female heroes. From her introduction to the first
short-story anthology: "Woman, in sword-and-sorcery fiction, when not a mere
"screaming maiden" to be rescued from dragons, dangers and doom-laden Evil
Wizards, remained strictly offstage, emerging now and again to reward the
hero with her dower kingdom and a chaste kiss. (I once commented that
in the sword-and-sorcery story, the seamy underside is always rape; that
where men seek adventure, one of the things they seem to seek is women to be
distributed as prizes and objects.) This is, I think, the value of
heroic fiction--that it forces us to confront the heroic within
ourselves--and to face our own nightmares and self-images. I don't think this
need is limited to men, or to women. . . . [And here's the kicker:] Valor
has neither race nor color--nor does it have gender. That I have chosen
stories mostly about women is a personal preference-not a prejudice. . . .
Anyone can write male sexist fiction: anyone can write feminist propaganda."
Other fantasy authors whose works feature strong female characters include
Octavia E. Butler, Mercedes Lackey, Anne McCaffrey, Melanie Rawn, Jennifer
Roberson, and Judith Tarr.
Daughters of Darkness - Lesbian Vampire stories.
On the back cover, in Praise of Daughters of Darkness:
"In Daughters of Darkness, lesbian vampires woo, seduce, and otherwise
overpower their indended. There is lovemaking in zero gravity,
vampirism transposed to the S/M scene, and steamy encounters in a
variety of locales. But take away the supernatural aspect and Daughters
of Darkness becomes a tribute to an even more compelling subject: The
sexually aggressive woman and her archetypal roles, from nurturing
goddess to dangerous predator." --The Advocate
The Deed of Paksenarrion - by Elizabeth Moon |
(A Trilogy starting with "The Sheep Farmer's Daughter"). A Farm Girl (strapping healthy blonde) wanted to be a knight. Signed on
with a mercenary band of warriors for two years and found herself.
Fought evil and was changed. Became a whiner and a weakling and found
her way back. Knight hood was not an option, so she became a Paladin. Saved
her lord and submitted to heinous tortures but was strong enough to
inspire the bad thing's acolytes to revolt. Paks is a woman that has
seen it all...naivete, comprehension, abuse and fear and still possesses
the strength to find the person she always wanted to be, a hero of
legend, and makes it happen, despite her personal angst.
I loved the book and re-read it to remind me that a hero lives inside
(Also recommended are just about anything other books by
Elizabeth Moon, all of her books feature strong competent female leads
in the true HB tradition).
Defiance - by Carole Maso |
Our heroine, a mathematical genius from a lower-middle-
class Irish Catholic family, teaches math to handsome himbos
at Harvard and isn't very nice to two of them. Not
a ray of light in the entire book, but its plotline is like
a perfect Gothic cathedral.
Dirty Weekend - by Helen Zahavi|
Bella lives alone in a basement apartment in Brighton and she's being
stalked. The man calls her at night telling her what he's gonna do to her,
he follows her out on the streets and he peeks through her windows.
She wakes up one morning and had had enough. She decides to take
justice in her own hands, literally.
...Since even little fragile Bella is strong enough to lift a hammer.
A Distant Soil - by Colleen Doran|
Image Comics, 1440 N. Harbor Blvd Suite 305, Fullerton, CA 92835
A gorgeously rendered (in the Alphonse Mucha/Art Nouveau tradition) and
intricately plotted fantasy with an abundance of strong female
characters--including one helluva HB, a shape-shifter named Bast. (The artist
herself has been through many changes over the years to keep the project
going, too. More power to her!) TPB compilations available.
Divine Secrets of the Ya-Ya Sisterhood -by Rosemary Wells|
My friend first described this book as being about "Dysfunctional
Southern Women." And then she added, "*Drunk*, dysfunctional southern
women." But the truth is, it's about so much more. It deals w/ a 40
something singleton named Sidalee Walker and it describes her
relationship w/ her mother, Vivi Abbott Walker. As a child, Sidalee and
her three siblings, were introduced to the world of the Ya-Yas: Vivi and
her three best friends from her childhood. While on the outside, the
Walker clan seemed happy and content, on the inside there was little
happiness. Vivi was an alchoholic who had a habit of abusing her children
and later acted as if nothing happened. Thirty some years later, Sidalee
has yet to work through the anger towards her mother, and it's only
through reading Vivi and her friends' scrapbook (titled the Divine
Secrets of the Ya-Ya Sisterhood), does Sidalee truly begin to understand
her mother. Vivi came from an abusive family and had a devout-catholic
mother who dispised her and eventually set Vivi off to a boarding school
in order to straighten her daughter out. Later, after getting married and
having her four children, there's an incident that no one likes to talk
about in which Vivi's violence gets out of control and she is sent to "a
hospital that no one calls a hospital."
This book shows it's true "bitchiness" in the character of Vivi and the
other Ya-Yas. It's a book about powerful women, and not giving up and
being able to accept the past for what it was. My favorite line in the
book is a quote by Gertrude Stein which I think sums up the entire book:
"Nothing is really so very frightning when everything is so very
Do They Hear You When You Cry? - By Fauziya Kassindja and Layli Miller Bashir (published by Delacorte)|
From a book review in the Toronto Globe and Mail:
WARNING: This book could shatter your sense of security and threaten
your faith in human nature. It's the excruciatingly detailed journal of one African
girl's escape from genital mutilation, her quest for political asylum in the United
States, and the 16 months of imprisonment and degradation imposed on her there while
the human-rights lawyers and women's groups did battle with a stupefyingly insensitive refugee-screening
...Kassindja, now 21, leaves no room for doubt about the illegitimacy of
describing as "female circumcision" the cruel disfigurment inflicted on two million
African and Middle Eastern girls each year;
...Here's how she describes what happens in her tribe: A girl is ambushed in her
own home, by arrangement of her relatives, by a group of older women called nachane.
She's told this is a wonderful day, she's to become a woman, be cleansed in preparation
to love her future husband. Then four women hold her down with her legs spread apart,
and another uses a sharp stone or blade to scrape off her clitoris and labia. The skin
that remains is sewn together to make doubly sure she'll never be tempted to have
sex, to assure her husband of her virginity. Then she's wrapped from hips to knees
in tight bandages for 40 days in the hope she'll heal. Between 15 and 30 per cent
of those girls die of infection. Many who survive go mad from the pain and trauma.
...Although the story told by Kasindja and Bashir is one of personal triumph over
grinding odds, be prepared for a depressing epilogue.
Since Kassindja was granted asylum in June, 1996 -- the result of intense media and
popular pressure -- US refugee policy has actually become harsher...
If she were to arrive now at the airport in Newark N.J., she wouldn't make it past the passport line.
The nightmare of her detainment almost drove Kassindja back to Togo. A few weeks
before her release, Kassinjda was in such despair that she'd requested deportation. She
felt she'd rather be "cut" and die than live another day among strangers.
"One of my friends, who was taking a shower, called me over to her stall. She pulled
aside the shower curtain and propped herself against the back wall of the shower
stall, under the spray of the water. It was so odd, so strange. Why was she showing
herself to me naked?...
" 'Look here. I want you to see this.' She patted her thighs. My gaze
moved down from her face and breasts to where she was indicating.
She spread her legs wider apart. 'Here', she said, 'Look Here'.
"I looked. I screamed. I covered my face with my hands and ran from the sight toward the far end of the bathroom,
where I burst out sobbing....
"There was nothing there. Nothing. She had no genitals. Just smooth flesh
with a long scar running vertically between her legs where her genitals should have been.
And a hole. A gaping hole where the urine and blood would pass through.... She'd had children.
She'd been cut and resewn before and after every birth....
She brought me back to my senses when nobody else could."
Dorothy Parker - anything written by her is worth reading. Check out these
often heartless Quotes,
and find out more about her writings.
Dragon Prince and Dragon Star Series - by Melanie Rawn|
These two fantasy series, containing three books each, follow the lives
of Prince Rohan and his "sunrunner witch" wife Sioned.
Sioned, a self-described "ruthless bitch" will do whatever it takes to
get what she wants, including using her magic gifts to kill, something
forbidden to all Sunrunners. These books are full of strong female
characters, some of which are true HBs and some of which are just plain
bitches (who, of course, get put in their places by our favorite HBs).
These women live in a world where females are powerful, intelligent, and
equal to the men. Plus, they are great stories!
The Dr. Kay Scarpetta series - by Patricia Daniels Cornwell |
In all of the Dr. Scarpetta books by Patricia Cornwell,
Dr. Scarpetta is tough, gutsy, extremly smart, sexy,
funny and takes no shit what so ever... and in the end
the bad guy always pays the ultimate price. In short,
Dr. Kay Scarpetta takes no prisoners.
Dykes to Watch Out For - by Alison Bechdel|
More Dykes to Watch Out For
New, Improved! Dykes to Watch Out For
Dykes to Watch Out For: The Sequel
Spawn of Dykes to Watch Out For
Firebrand Press, 1986/1988/1990/1992/1993 *T*
These strips offer wonderful and biting and funny and painfully honest looks
at lesbian life. The main character, Mo, could use an infusion of HBness, but
some other characters have already hit the mark--and you just KNOW that the
artist already has!
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Earth's Children Series - by Jean M. Auel|
A series of pre-historical novels including "Clan of the
Cave Bear," "Valley of Horses," "The Mammoth Hunters,"
and "The Plains of Passage" Ayla loses her family in an
earthquake when she's five years old, is raised by
Neanderthals and learns to fit into a completely
different society, becomes a medicine woman and a skilled
hunter, and survives on her own when the Clan banishes
her with a death curse. And that's just the first book!
Later she saves the life of the man who will become her
lover by facing down a cave lion and then nursing his
wounds, she begins training as a sort of shaman, and
rescues her lover and an entire village from an evil and
demented heartless bitch. And through it all she refuses
to lie or compromise herself in any way.
Egalia's Daughters - by Gerd Brantenberg, 1977 Seal Press (ISBN 1-878067-58-3)|
Translated into English from Norwegian, this is a wonderfully pointed anti-utopian
novel that parodies societal gender-biases through a complete role-reversal in the
ficticious land of Egalia. By turning the tables, and inverting the stereotypes/expectations,
Brantenberg highlights the utter absurdity of our cultural expectations and beliefs
surrounding sex and gender. Written during the 'golden age' of the feminist movement,
it still speaks loudly to the gender-biases that continue to persist today.
>From the cover:
"In the land of Egalia, the rules of society are different.
Here, it is the wim who wield the power, control the government and the
economy... while the menwim stay at home, minding the
children and curling their beard bows. Everyone knows that menwim are inferior
to wim--it's the way of nature.
But something is stirring in Egalia. The menwim are organizing to challenge the social structure and are calling
themselves masculinists. They are demanding some answers to outrageous
questions: Why must menwim grow up to be housebounds? Why should wim be the ones
who can run off to sea and hold jobs, while the menwim must stay at home
with no say in things at all? Why must menwim wear pehoes when wim get to wear what
they want? And why is it that menwim should wish for nothing more than
fatherhood-protection with a strong wom? Who says that a manwom is nothing
without his protective wom? Menwim have rights too!
The masculist movement has Egalia in an uproar. When will all this menwim's
lib nonsense stop? Where will all these ridiculous notions lead?"
The Encyclopedia of Amazons: Women
Warriors from Antiquity to the Modern Era - by Jessica
Salmonson. (Anchor, 1991)|
Includes such gems as Dynamis, Queen of
Bosphorus (1st century Bc). Name means: "she who
must be obeyed". 'sgot everybody in it, not just
HB in Breastplates...enjoy.
The Eight - by Katherine Neville|
Aside from being just a grippingly good read, The Eight
features lots of smart, kick-butt ladies. In fact, the female
characters are the ones who run the show and get the plot
moving. The story is about the fictional montglaine chess set
and the mysterious power it's rumored to give to the one who
can assemble all its pieces. Because in chess the figure of
the queen is one of the most powerful pieces, the chess figure
tapestry of characters in this book are full of powerful (okay,
bitchy) women who are either the white queen or the black queen.
Add to that Catherine The Great (who's a great Bitch if there ever
was one), the infamous Charlotte Corday, and the casting of Maurice
Talleyrand in the role of "plaything" and you got a book that
can be recommended by its characterization alone.
The Ethical Slut - by Dossie Easton, Catherine A. Liszt|
Off the back:
"At last... a comprehensive no-holds-barred guide for anyone that dreams of having all the sex and love and friendship they want. Here are the skills you need for successful - and ethical - sluthood, from scheduling dates to handling jealousy, finding partners to resolving conflict, raising children to caring for your health. If you've ever envisioned a universe beyond traditional lifetime monogamy, this book is for you!"
More than just a book about jumping in the sack with as
many people as you please, which is not a bad thing, it is a gentle
reminder of priorities and expectations. The section on jealousy
takes the focus away from that very charged word and focuses you
on things like envy. That is something even a married woman who gets
even gently razzed for 'girl's night out' could use this as a whack
upside the head for her husband. To the demure, don't be scared of
the title; it really is well done. Us sluts will be over here laughing,
hugging each other and reading parts out loud, which is what I and my
friends did in the store before each buying one.
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The Female Man - by Joanna Russ |
Another absolutely essential classic with two really Heartless Bitches (and a couple of
women trying to get there). All of Russ's work that I know of features
some type of HB, but The Female Man is far and away the best - direct, shockingly
funny, and liable to make you absolutely furious. Some of it may seem
slightly dated, which is a sign of how far we have come since it was
written, but most of it is still extremely relevant.
Feminist Fairy Tales - by Barbara G. Walker|
Barbara Walker has rewritten some of the most famous
fairy tales to have stong female characters.
From the back cover:
Prominent feminist author Barbara Walker has revamped,
retold, and infused with life some of your favorite
classic fairy tales. No longer are women submissive,
helpless creatures in need of redemption through the
princely male! Instead they are vibrantly alive,
strong women who take fate into their own hands.
Fencing Master : A Novel - by Arturo Perez Reverte |
The story takes place in the 1800's in Spain where an master swordsman is convinced
to tutor a woman, Adela de Otero. She turns out to be an apt pupil - talented, clever
independent and merciless. Charged with erotic tension, this story turns out
to be a murder-mystery thriller with more than one twist and turn.
The Fionavar Tapestry - by Guy Gavriel Kay|
This story contains at least five good heartless bitches:
- Kim, the seer who acts from necessity, and without pity to achieve what has to be done,
- Jennifer who overcomes a horrendous rape to to really pay back her rapist.
- Jaelle and Leila two priestesses who take no crap from anyone, from the King down
- And Sharra a princess with style, intelligence and attitude
It's also a damn good story, beautifully written and gripping.
The Entire Florence King Collection - by Florence King, Honorary Bitch|
Reading "Confessions of a Failed Southern Lady" made a firm
believer in being true to me and myself only.
Forget stupid jerks that you date. Forget trying to live up to
someone else's expectations. Her chapters dealing with her
unusual childhood, her precocious intelligence, unacceptable
forthrightness, and unwillingness to put up with the crap from
males who just wanted to screw her anyway are brilliant, like a
3-carat diamond. And you don't have to be Southern to
appreciate the details of the ridiculous behavior of men in
"Southern Ladies and Gentlemen." HB Supreme, Ms. King reigns
in a queendom of her own.
For Her Own Good: 150 Years of the Experts' Advice to Women - by Barbara
Ehrenreich and Deidre English|
Doubleday, 1978 (ISBN 0-385-12651-4)
About the campaign of medical and psychological misinformation and abuse that
has been quietly conducted against women for more than a century and a half.
Disturbingly enlightening, good for honing outrage; guaranteed to make an
acting-out HB of anyone visiting--or even walking past--a doctor or a shrink.
The Fountainhead - by Ayn Rand
Some great HB quotes from her character
Foxfire: Confessions of a Girl Gang - by Joyce Carol Oates|
This book is fantastic --better than the movie, though the plot is slightly
From Housewife to Heretic - by Sonia Johnson|
Sonia Johnson was a typical Mormon housewife until she
realized that her church was fighting behind the scenes to
defeat E.R.A. She publicly took on the LDS Church, was
excommunicated, and divorced from her husband during her
fight for equality. In the end, however, she triumphed on
her own terms. While E.R.A. did not pass in the end, Sonia
thrived by starting her own organization and writing the book
about her experiences with the idea that future generations of
women should know her side of what happened. She fought her
neighbors, her church leaders, her husband, and her friends for what she
believed was right.
Fruitful : Living the Contradictions : A Memoir of Modern Motherhood - by Anne Roiphe|
In her passionate new book on modern motherhood, Anne Roiphe breaks the silence among feminists on a
subject central to so many women's lives. Viewing three decades of the women's movement through the
intimate, deeply compelling story of her own family history, Roiphe makes an eloquent plea for a new
The birth of Roiphe's children coincided with her own emergence as a voice for the women's movement in
the 1960's. Since then, through divorce, remarriage, parenting, and stepparenting, she has keenly felt
feminism's lack of enthusiasm for issues that touch women's daily lives: the need for quality child care, the
need to include men as full partners in parenting, the need for society to accommodate all the turbulent,
troubling, joyous experiences known as motherhood.
Combining memoir with social commentary and an urgent call to action, Roiphe cuts through the political
rhetoric of both the left and conservative right with a healing message for all women torn between their own
ambitions, their families' needs, and their consuming love for their children.
The Furies - by Suzy McKee Charnas|
A SF trilogy depicting a post-holocaust world in which women are
sub-human slaves to men.
The Furies is actually the third in this trilogy--the first is
Motherlines and the second is Walk to the End of the World
(both available under the title "The Slave and the Free"), but The Furies
can be read on it's own as a stand alone novel.
The trilogy follows the story of Alldera, who escapes from her life as a
labor and sex slave to join the Free Fems (who have no need for men--their
children are somehow started by the seed of their stud horses) to the
west. The Furies is the story of Alldera's return to Holdfast,
this time as a conquerer. The book contains a thoughtful and complex
depiction of women at war--which is interesting simply in its unusualness.
The feel of the book is very realistic, gritty, bloody, and utterly true
to the human motivations of every character, including the male ones. It
confronts interesting issues of former slaves confronting their oppressors
in order to become whole, raises questions about women's sexuality--it's
Tell us about more books we should add to this list.
Be sure to add some kind of short review or commentary about the book as well
as the title and author!
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