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(*T* -- denotes reviews/submissions by Tavia)

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Books by Title: D - E - F

-D- Top of Page

Buy Dark Angels Now

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!"

Buy The Firebrand Now Buy The Mists of Avalon Now Just about anything by Marion Zimmer Bradley, author of the Darkover novels.
*T*
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.

Buy Daughters of Darkness Now

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

Buy Sheep Farmer's Daughter (Book 1) Now Buy Divided Allegiance  (Book 2) Now Buy Oath of Gold (Book 3) Now 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 every woman.

(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).

Buy Defiance Now 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.

Buy Dirty Weekend Now 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.

Buy A Distant Soil - The Gathering Now

A Distant Soil - by Colleen Doran
Image Comics, 1440 N. Harbor Blvd Suite 305, Fullerton, CA 92835
*T*
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 dangerous."

Buy Do They Hear You When You Cry? Now 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 system.

...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."

Buy The Poetry and Short Stories of Dorothy Parker Now

Dorothy Parker - anything written by her is worth reading. Check out these often heartless Quotes, and find out more about her writings.

Buy Dragon Prince (Dragon Prince, No 1) Now Buy The Star Scroll (Dragon Prince, No 2) Now Buy Sun-Runner's Fire (Dragon Prince No 3) Now Buy Stronghold (Dragon Star I) Now Buy The Dragon Token (Dragon Star II) Now Buy Skybowl (Dragon Star III) Now 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!

Buy All That Remains Now Buy Body of Evidence Now Buy Cruel & Unusual Now Buy Body Farm Now 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.

Buy Dykes to Watch Out For Now Buy Dykes to Watch Out For: The Sequel Now Buy More Dykes to Watch Out For Now 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!

-E-

Top of Page
Buy Mammoth Hunters Now Buy Plains of Passage Now Buy The Valley of Horses Now 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.

Buy Egalia's Daughters Now 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?"

Buy The Encyclopedia of Amazons Now 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.

Buy The Ethical Slut Now 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!"

From Esther:
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.

-F-

Top of Page
Buy  Now 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.

Buy Feminist Fairy Tales Now 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.

Buy Fencing Master Now 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.

Buy The Summer Tree (book 1) Now Buy The Wandering Fire (book2) Now Buy The Darkest Road (book 3) Now 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.

Buy Confessions of a Failed Southern Lady Now 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.

Buy For Her Own Good: 150 Years of the Experts' Advice to Women Now For Her Own Good: 150 Years of the Experts' Advice to Women - by Barbara Ehrenreich and Deidre English
*T*
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.

Buy The Fountainhead Now

The Fountainhead - by Ayn Rand
Some great HB quotes from her character Dominique.

Buy Foxfire: Confessions of a Girl Gang Now Foxfire: Confessions of a Girl Gang - by Joyce Carol Oates
This book is fantastic --better than the movie, though the plot is slightly different.

Buy From Housewife... Now 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.

Buy Fruitful Now 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 agenda.

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.

Buy The Furies Now Buy The Slave and the Free Now 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 good stuff.

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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