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A good erotic tale, even a short one like Taking Tony, speaks loudest to a reader when there are real couples and real relationships at its heart. More than just A Female-Led Marriage Pegging Story, this opens with a quick introduction to Jill and Tony that adds some emotional significance to what is about to happen.

Devon Kona talks of fantasies and fears, of inhibitions and insecurities. She introduces us to a marriage that is already experimenting with some light female domination, but one where Jill still feels uncomfortable about claiming her own sexuality, and where Tony fears rejection as much as disappointment.

Taking Tony spends a lot of time anticipating the main event, and I think that is why I loved it so much. We really get into Jill and Tony's heads, and we get to see how their emotions and attitudes shift with the exchange of power. It feels genuine, like more than just a fantasy, and little details like using lube and stretching him a finger at a time keep it realistic.

As for the act itself, it is gloriously detailed. Both Jill and Tony find themselves enjoying the sensations, and the way Jill starts talking dirtier, becoming more commanding, while Tony loses himself to the pleasures is delightful. Best of all, Kona does not simply close on an orgasm, she has Tony show his oral appreciation - and that is only the first half of the story.

Combining a realistic pegging experience with a blossoming female led marriage makes for a wonderful story and I cannot wait to read more.

About Devon Kona: Devon Kona lives in western Washington and amuses herself by writing the kind of smut you don't want people to know you read. Follow her on Twitter @DevonKona. You can find sneak previews of upcoming books along with whatever other madness she gets up to. Tweeting cute dachshund photos to her is encouraged

@DevonKona

© 2018 Bending the Bookshelf All Rights Reserved
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As much as I enjoyed my first taste of Ashe Valenti - and Futa Claus is Coming! was delightful - I really was not sure what to expect of Confessing to the Futanari Nun. There are so many directions in which a story of erotic blasphemy can go, and the line between cruel mockery and sincere homage is fine indeed.

I need not have worried or wondered, for Valenti has once again worked her sexual magic on a familiar piece of folklore and mythology. Yes, her futanari nuns are creatures of decadent delight, lovers who embrace the pleasures of the flesh, but there is a spiritual awareness to it all that makes the concept not just acceptable, but enviable.

The story opens on a voyeuristic note with a young woman seeking solace through the act of confession. We listen in as she is asked for greater, more explicit detail, and then watch as she is invited into the other side of the confessional, where the nun reveals she has something far better than a vibrating egg with which to fulfill the young woman's needs.

The eroticism of that confession is exquisite, with sumptuous detail and gorgeous language. Valenti knows how to tell a story, and how to make the telling of it as erotic as the story itself. Where the story really comes into its own, though, is with the introduction of a nun who is troubled by the acts of sexual excess she sees around herself. She wants to reveal all to the Church, but is conflicted by her own desires. Fortunately, the futanari nuns are wise, caring, sexual beings who know how to bridge the gap between sensual and spiritual. There is significant seduction to Confessing to the Futanari Nun, but it comes with spiritual and intellectual encouragement, shaping a story that is certain to leave the panties of religious purists in a not, but which proves faith and fetish can happily co-exist.

About Ashe Valenti: I'm Ashe Valenti, and I live to write the most outrageous and sexy dickgirl stories you've ever read..I feel in love with the dickgirl/futanari concept in high school, and I've wanted to write exciting futa stories ever since. Nothing gives me more pleasure than crafting sexy dickgirl characters and putting them in with lusty female lovers in sexy scenarios!

I hope you enjoy reading my books as much as I enjoy writing them.

@Futanari_Writer

https://futanari-erotica.blogspot.com/

© 2018 Bending the Bookshelf All Rights Reserved
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I have been a voracious reader ever since I was a child. I love a good book, and I love a book that makes me feel good. Fantasy and I have had a bit of a strained love affair over the last decade, though, as so many authors have opted to wallow in darkness, depression, and hopelessness. For me, the genre has always been about wondrous escapism, and to subvert that is to betray it.

A rather long-winded introduction to Sorcerous Rivalry, for sure, but a necessary one. Kayleigh Nicol has bucked all the trends and written a throwback to the glory days of high fantasy - and by that I mean a story of sorcery, magical races, romance, humor, and hope.

That is not to say Nicol's world does have its darkness. It must, if it is to have light, for one cannot exist without the other, and there must be despair if there is to be hope. Here we have a world where magic is a crime, the King's mistress a criminal, and their seven bastard children a dirty secret to be snuffed out by bands of violent mage hunters.

Our portal into this world is one of those children, a shapeshifter named Reshi. A sweet, gentle, likable young man, he is largely androgynous, almost non-binary in his expression, and far more feminine than you might expect of a fantasy hero. I loved him from the first page, watching as he shifted into a cat in order to feed upon the energy of a sleeping guest. By contrast, the sister he is forced to seek out, Cera, is a woman whose powers allow her to see and speak at great distances . . . and who boasts of having killed more than 40 mage hunters.

With the introduction into the story of a cold, focused, soldier turned mage hunter, you might expect things to get dark, but quite the opposite. There is immediate chemistry between Reshi and Kestral, a relationship marked by uncomfortable tension. It takes a long time - half the book, in fact - for the romance between the two men to be realized, but the anticipation is sweet, and the way in which Nicol allows us to get to know the characters is wonderful.

Having said all that, this is a fantasy first and a romance second. There are fae who can speak with nature; talk of centaurs and griffons; and magical battles involving fireballs, lightning, telepathy, weather magic, and more. It is a fast-paced story, full of as much adventure as romance. While it has its moments of darkness, plenty of tension, and chaotic violence, the overall tone is uplifting and positive. Sorcerous Rivalry was a wonderful story, everything that I was promised, and perhaps even a bit more. Just delightful.

Lifelong nerd and fangirl Kayleigh Nicol earned her Bachelor's of Science in Animal Science at Cal Poly Pomona, California. After years of volunteering at zoos and aquariums in California, Kayleigh now works at a therapeutic horseback riding center in Long Island, NY. When not taking care of her own menagerie of rescued animals, she enjoys watching anime, playing video games and reading as many fantasy books as she can get her hands on.

@KayleighNicol5

© 2018 Bending the Bookshelf All Rights Reserved
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0If you are like me, then there is nothing quite like the joy of anticipation that comes from pre-ordering a book that speaks to your heart, and then having it arrive days, weeks, or months later . . . like a little present to yourself. There is just something special about a book you have waited for.

So, without further ado, here are the New and Notable releases coming to shelves for the first half of the year.

Winter 2019 Releases


♥ Pride and Prejudice and Omegas
by James Austen [January 13, 2019]

"It is a truth universally acknowledged, that a single alpha in possession of a good fortune, must be in want of an omega."

As the second omega in the Bennit family, Alonzo Bennit knows he should do everything he can to secure his future, including marrying the wealthiest alpha he can possibly arrange to meet.

But Lonnie wants to marry for love. Besides, when a young gentleman rents out a local estate, the richest alpha Lonnie comes to know is Mr. Fitzhenry Darce—and he is far too proud to ever be interested in someone like Lonnie…except perhaps for a one-night stand.

When Lonnie discovers he’s pregnant, he’s determined to hide it, convinced Mr. Darce could never love him.

But there’s more to this couple than Mr. Darce’s pride and Lonnie’s prejudice, as they soon discover.

Welcome to Omegaverse Classics, where you can find the stories you love...with an Mpreg twist.

Pride & Prejudice & Omegas is a reenvisioning of a classic story--but this one is a sweet-with-knotty-heat mpreg romance with an HEA, a whole pile of omega brothers, and quite possibly a steamy moment with Mr. Darce in the pond. You know the one. But with more MPreg.
While I have not read a lot of Mpreg fiction, I am fascinated by this twist on a romantic classic - Sally


♥ How Not to Blend
by Susan Hawke [January 13, 2019]

One clueless single dad… 

Dr. Corbin Davis is a busy guy just trying to do his best as a single parent. He may be oblivious to a lot of things, but surely he would’ve noticed something as important as his fifteen-year-old son, Grayson, being bullied, right? And what the heck is non-binary, and why hasn’t Gray shared this all-important part of himself with his own dad?

Plus one sassy Southerner…

Andy Ferguson, or Kandi as the Thursday night drag community knows him, is just trying to get along in a small town and hold things together while he takes care of his beloved Gam-Gam. If she’d just get off his back about finding himself a man, that would be fantastic, thank you very much. He’ll get around to love… one of these days.

Equals a pair of fake-boyfriends who will keep you in stitches.

When Corb gets the wild idea to ask Andy to pose as his boyfriend to let Gray know that his dad is bisexual and open-minded enough to talk to about his nonbinary status, Andy is amused and just intrigued enough to say yes… especially since he seems to be in the market for a fake boyfriend himself, if it will get Gam-Gam to quit nagging.

This is the first book in the LOVESTRONG series about finding love and being yourself in a small town. Intended only for 18+ readers, this is an mm romance filled with all the fun, fluff, and feels you’d want from an S. Hawke book
A non-binary son and dad's drag queen fake boyfriend? Yes, please! - Sally


♥ Death Prefers Blondes
by Caleb Roehrig [January 29, 2019]

Teenage socialite Margo Manning leads a dangerous double life. By day, she dodges the paparazzi while soaking up California sunshine. By night, however, she dodges security cameras and armed guards, pulling off high-stakes cat burglaries with a team of flamboyant young men. In and out of disguise, she’s in all the headlines.

But then Margo’s personal life takes a sudden, dark turn, and a job to end all jobs lands her crew in deadly peril. Overnight, everything she’s ever counted on is put at risk. Backs against the wall, the resourceful thieves must draw on their special skills to survive. But can one rebel heiress and four kickboxing drag queens withstand the slings and arrows of truly outrageous fortune? Or will a mounting sea of troubles end them—for good?
A rebel heiress and four kickboxing drag queens. What more do you need to know? - Sally


♥ What Makes You Beautiful
by Bridget Liang [February 5, 2019]

Logan Osborne knows he likes boys, but has not come out to his family or at school, and no one knows that he likes to sometimes wear girls' clothes and makeup. When he starts at a school for the arts he finds a wider range of gender and orientation being accepted. Logan is attracted to Kyle, who has gay dads. But Kyle is straight. Logan finds he doesn't like the way gay boys treat him, and a disturbing hookup with a boy who is fetishistic about Logan's half-Asian background makes Logan even more confused about what he wants and who he is.

Encouraged and supported by his friends at school, Logan experiments with nail polish and more feminine clothes in public. Logan begins questioning his gender and decides to use they pronouns while trying to figure things out. Logan meets a classmate's chosen mother, who is a transgender Chinese woman, and begins to come to terms with their gender identity. Realizing they are not a gay boy, but a transgender girl, Logan asks for people to call them Veronica. As a girl, does Veronica stand a chance with Kyle?
A cross-dressing boy, one friend's 2 gay dads, and another's transgender mom? Oh, I like this. - Sally


♥ After She's Gone
by Camilla Grebe and Elizabeth Clark Wessel [February 26, 2019]

Brought together by a brutal murder, a psychological profiler who’s lost her memory and a teenage boy with a fiercely guarded secret become unwitting, unlikely partners in this race to stop a killer—“Nordic noir at its best” (Booklist, starred review).

Out of the frozen depths of a forest in Ormberg, Sweden, a woman stumbles onto the road. Her arms are covered with scratches, her feet are bare, and she has no memory of who she is. Local police identify her as psychological profiler Hanne Lagerlind-Schön, who, with her partner, had been helping  investigate the cold case of a young woman’s murder. Hanne begins to recover but cannot recall anything about where her partner is, or what their investigation had uncovered before her disappearance. Police have only one lead: a young woman in a sequined dress who was spotted nearby the night Hanne was found.

The young woman doesn’t come forward because she doesn’t exist: Jake Birgersson, a local teenager, had been out walking in his mother’s dress and sister’s makeup, his secret shame and thrill. Terrified of discovery, Jake hid and watched Hanne get into a car, leaving behind her diary.

Reading Hanne’s notebook, Jake realizes that it contains the key to a major breakthrough in the case—but turning it in would mean admitting the truth about who he is. When another murder victim is found in the woods, Jake realizes that Hanne herself is in danger, and his only choice is to find and warn her so that together, they can stop the killer before he strikes again.
A murder mystery with a young cross-dressing witness? This catches my eye. - Sally


♥ Lady Victoria's: Manual for the Care and Training of Males - Vol.2
by T.E. Rainier [February 28, 2019]

The fascinating Lady Victoria continues her account of her month's-long exploration of the rich — and at times, harrowing — world of the femdom community. In this volume, her narrative brings into focus the darker, more controversial aspects of life as the submissive male subject of a strong, sexually dominant woman. Featuring more of her riveting interviews with a wide range of committed couples (and a few threesomes and Triads), Vol.2 includes yet more alluring accounts of real couples engaged in making their dark, twisted desires a reality.

An intense and graphic book, Vol.2 is not for everyone, but readers of Vol.1 will find the accounts and insightful observations in this second volume make it a richly detailed, thought-provoking, and profoundly erotic companion work.

Expanding on Lady Victoria's firmly held belief in the principles of "Loving Cruelty," Volume 2 takes the brave reader even further into the needs, fears, and desires of those daring, adventurous souls living the deeply sexual — and often, painful —realities of Female-Led Relationships.

This sounds absolutely fascinating. - Sally


♥ Sissy: A Coming-of-Gender Story
by Jacob Tobia [March 5, 2019]

A heart-wrenching, eye-opening, and giggle-inducing memoir about what it's like to grow up not sure if you're (a) a boy, (b) a girl, (c) something in between, or (d) all of the above.

"When the political reality facing this country seems dark, we need shinier, sparklier thinkers in the public eye. With a signature style matched only by their wit, Jacob fits that bill perfectly." --Alan Cumming

From the moment a doctor in Raleigh, North Carolina, put "male" on Jacob Tobia's birth certificate, everything went wrong. Alongside "male" came many other, far less neutral words: words that carried expectations about who Jacob was and who Jacob should be, words like "masculine" and "aggressive" and "cargo shorts" and "SPORTS!"

Naturally sensitive, playful, creative, and glitter-obsessed, as a child Jacob was given the label "sissy." In the two decades that followed, "sissy" joined forces with "gay," "trans," "nonbinary," and "too-queer-to-function" to become a source of pride and, today, a rallying cry for a much-needed gender revolution. Through revisiting their childhood and calling out the stereotypes that each of us have faced, Jacob invites us to rethink what we know about gender and offers a bold blueprint for a healed world--one free from gender-based trauma and bursting with trans-inclusive feminism.

From Jacob's Methodist childhood and the hallowed halls of Duke University to the portrait-laden parlors of the White House, Sissy takes you on a gender odyssey you won't soon forget. Writing with the fierce honesty, wildly irreverent humor, and wrenching vulnerability that have made them a media sensation, Jacob shatters the long-held notion that people are easily sortable into "men" and "women." Sissy guarantees that you'll never think about gender--both other people's people's and your own--the same way again.
This one had me at "something in between, or all of the above." - Sally


Spring 2019 Releases



♥ This Heart Holds Many
by Koe Creation [March 29, 2019]

Many of us were asked by our mother to do the dishes as children. Perhaps some of us would need to be asked more than once. Koe Creation was the type who’d get asked three times, by three different mothers. Crowded parent-teacher conferences, queer youth summer camp, and parental adoptions over potluck dinner were typical of Koe’s upbringing in a queer, polyamorous family.

Taught from young age to embrace sex-positivity and LGBT acceptance, Koe had an experience of “family values” that differs wildly from many raised in conservative North America. Still: all families know conflict and all hearts know struggle, no matter how loved. Though a poster child for the alternative Seattle community, Koe yearned for a realization of theirself beyond the “shadow of their tribe.” This drive for a singular identity led Koe to leave the alt-Seattle scene to find the self that no one person or family could make for them.

This Heart Holds Many is a testament of transformative, communal love, as told by an educator and life-long learner who has dedicated their life to helping others grasp their extraordinary love.
"My life as the nonbinary millennial child of a polyamorous family?" I have to read this! - Sally


♥ He Said, She Said
by Gigi Gorgeous [April 2, 2019]

Today, Gigi Gorgeous is beloved for her critically-acclaimed documentary, her outrageous sense of humor, her no-holds-barred honesty, and her glam Hollywood lifestyle. Ten years ago, she was a gawky Canadian teen named Gregory. In He Said, She Said, Gigi brings us on her personal journey from Gregory to Gigi, going deeper than ever before and exposing her vulnerability behind each struggle and triumph, with her signature humor on every page.

With stunning photography and heirloom snapshots, He Said, She Said takes us back to Gigi’s early years as an Olympic-bound diver and high school mean girl, losing her mom at a tragically young age, and her journey of opening up about her sexuality and gender identity. She walks us through her transition, baring it all about dating and heartbreak in her stories of falling in love with both men and women.

Uproarious, unconventional, and unabashedly candid, Gigi shares never-before-heard stories, inspiration, and advice about how your life can take you to incredible places once you get real with yourself.
Gig is gorgeous, transgender, and Canadian. Excited to read a sister's story. - Sally


♥ She/He/They/Me
by Robyn Ryle [March 5, 2019]

If you've ever questioned the logic of basing an entire identity around what you have between your legs, it's time to embark on a daring escape outside of the binary box...

Open your eyes to what it means to be a boy or a girl ― and above and beyond! Within these pages, you get to choose which path to forge. Explore over one hundred different scenarios that embrace nearly every definition across the world, over history, and in the ever-widening realms of our imagination! What if your journey leads you into a world with several genders, or simply one? Do you live in a matriarchal society, or as a sworn virgin in the Balkans? How does gender (or the lack thereof) change the way we approach sex and love, life or death?

Jump headfirst into this refreshingly creative exploration of the ways gender colors every shade and shape of our world. Above all, it's more important than ever for us to celebrate the fact that there are infinite gender paths ― and each of them is beautiful.
I already have an advance copy of this, and I am excited to give it a read. - Sally


♥ Me, Myself, They: A Non-Binary Life
by Joshua M. Ferguson [May 7, 2019]

“I am non-binary, neither man nor woman, and yes, I exist. This is my story of transformation.”

On May 7, 2018, Joshua M. Ferguson made history by becoming the first person to receive a non-binary birth certificate with an “X” designation in the province of Ontario ― the first jurisdiction in the world to offer four options for birth certificates: M, F, X, or no gender marker. Me, Myself, They: A Non-Binary Life chronicles Ferguson’s extraordinary journey of transformation to become the celebrated non-binary filmmaker, scholar, and advocate for trans rights they are today. Beginning with their birth and early childhood years of gender freedom spent dancing and singing along to Jem, Madonna, and Cyndi Lauper, Ferguson recounts the tumultuous evolution of their identity, including traumatizing experiences with gender conversion therapy, bullying, depression, sexual assault, and violent physical assault. But Ferguson’s journey is above all about survival, transformation, and self-acceptance. Through their impassioned storytelling, we learn what it means to reclaim one’s identity and to live beyond the binary.

Me, Myself, They is a powerful, honest, and inspirational memoir that explains what it feels like to never truly fit into the prescribed roles of boy or girl, woman or man. By combining personal and intimate reflections with an informed analysis of the ongoing shift in contemporary attitudes towards sex and gender, Ferguson calls for the societal and cultural recognition of non-binary genders and an inclusive understanding of the rich diversity of human identity.
Another memoir from my own backyard. A definite must-read. - Sally


♥ It Never Goes Away: Gender Transition at a Mature Age
by Anne Lauren Koch DDS [May 10, 2019]

If you are transgendered, the feeling of wanting your body to match the sex you feel you are never goes away. For some, though, especially those who grew up before trans people were widely out and advocating for equality, these feelings were often compartmentalized and rarely acted upon. Now that gender reassignment has become much more commonplace, many of these people may feel increasing pressure to finally undergo the procedures they have always secretly wanted.

Ken Koch was one of those people. Married twice, a veteran, and a world traveler, a health scare when he was sixty-three prompted him to acknowledge the feelings that had plagued him since he was a small child. By undergoing a host of procedures, he radically changed his appearance and became Anne Koch. In the process though, Anne lost everything that Ken had accomplished. She had to remake herself from the ground up. Hoping to help other people in her age bracket who may be considering transitioning, Anne describes the step by step procedures that she underwent, and shares the cost to her personal life, in order to show seniors that although it is never too late to become the person you always knew you were, it is better to go into that new life prepared for some serious challenges.  Both a fascinating memoir of a well-educated man growing up trans yet repressed in the mid-twentieth century, and a guidebook to navigating the tricky waters of gender reassignment as a senior, It Never Goes Away shows how what we see in the television world of Transparent translates in real life. 
What I love about these stories is the message that it is never too late to find and be yourself. - Sally


  
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TG Captions are one of my favorite forms of storytelling. There is no narrative fluff, no extraneous details, just the hook, the twist, and the climax.


It was the look on her (his) face that tells the story. From all-star to ass-starlet overnight, I wondered why she looked so reluctant and yet so compliant, and then the puns kind of snuck in and led me across the goal line.
© 2018 Bending the Bookshelf All Rights Reserved
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TG Captions are one of my favorite forms of storytelling. There is no narrative fluff, no extraneous details, just the hook, the twist, and the climax.



This is the third and final part of my little sci-fi trilogy, revealing the fate of humanity and the final little twist in their plans. A tad dark, perhaps, but I like to see it as a happily-ever-after.
© 2018 Bending the Bookshelf All Rights Reserved
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Well, if it's Friday, then it must be time to bend our way into the weekend with Freebie Fetish Friday.

Every Friday I search through the weekend's free titles on Amazon, looking for those that might be of interest to similarly bent readers, fans, and lovers. Even if you don't have a Kindle, you can still download the titles through one of Amazon's free reading applications, or covert it with Calibre to load onto a Kobo, iPad, or anything else.

Please do be sure to check the price before downloading anything, as most freebies are limited time offers, and some are specific to certain regions.
  
                                                   
 
Enjoy!
© 2018 Bending the Bookshelf All Rights Reserved
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My admiration for illustrated delights took a brief hiatus while I was on vacation, but I am back and so are they, courtesy once again of Shadoman and Amazing Transformation Comics.


The Doublecross is an interesting comic, in that it is Shadoman's first foray into the world of gender-bending, a story conceived during his Renderotica days. Its focus is primarily on the crime story, with the gender transformation more a catalyst than a plot thread, but that actually makes it more interesting.

Visually, the lettering is a little more basic than Shadoman's more recent work, but that is really the only difference a new reader is likely to notice. The comic book style sounds effects still stand out, the backgrounds are nicely detailed, and the figures are well-rendered. Clothes hang nicely, complete with wrinkles and seams, and shadows give the panels the illusion of depth.

As for the story, there is some dark stuff here, both in the story itself and in the character's shared pasts. When Donnie comes to his sister for help hiding from the mob, she could have just altered his appearance, but she is more interested in revenge for her own past abuse than in helping him escape future harm. She decides that turning him into a woman would be an act of suitable revenge, and a timely break-and-enter by a mob boss means she can even shift the blame.

The story is even darker than that, though, with motives hidden within motives, and a much larger revenge scheme at play. It is cleverly sinister, and I love how it turns the tables. Of course, if any of it is to be a success, the newly christened Donna will need to learn how to act and dress like a woman, and that includes pleasuring horny men! That is far from the end of the story, however. In fact, it is not even the first half - like any good mob story, one with feuding families and jealous lovers, there are plots, betrayals, and conspiracies aplenty.

Word of caution, there is some talk of abuse within the story, some issues of dubious consent, some rough bondage, and some brutal violence, but that is part of what makes this an erotic thriller and not just an erotic genderswap fantasy. All of that darkness plays a role, and leads to an incredibly exciting finale. As for the alternate ending, I think I prefer the original - the erotic thriller ending - simply because it ties everything up so nicely, but the alternative - the genderswap fantasy ending - is happier, for those who need it.

Shadoman is a CG artist who enjoys telling stories through 3D comic art. Originally from the Mid-west, he now resides in Southern California. He is a Viet-Nam vet in his mid-60’s, married to a wonderful gal who is also his best friend and text editor. A film buff with an extensive library, it was his passion for film as a young teen that was his vehicle to escape and expand his own creative mind and become a storyteller.
https://www.renderotica.com/artists/shadoman.aspx
© 2018 Bending the Bookshelf All Rights Reserved
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Oh my. I have no words. Having finished No Man of Woman Born I fear I may be hopelessly infatuated with Ana Mardoll's voice and vision. This was such a beautiful, powerful, and necessary collection. I am envious, jealous even, of a generation that gets to grow up reading empowering, inclusive stories like this alongside their mass-market fantasies.

What Mardoll offers here are familiar fantasy tales of sacrifice, vengeance, justice, and love. They are simple stories, a mix of fairy tale, fable, and fantasy, which follow the genre conventions we all know and love. Some of them are explicitly about gender, with pivotal questions of identity and expression. These are the stories that follow the prophecy from which the collection gets its name, where 'no man of woman born' is subverted in some clever and entertaining ways.

That said, there are no traps or surprises here, no big reveals designed to shock or titillate the reader. There is one story - a sword in the stone story - where the reveal of gender is done publicly and proudly, but it a moment of empowerment, of claiming one's destiny. There is also a story - a dragon sacrifice story - that is all about the wishing for one's true gender identity, but for all its very public spectacle, what exactly the wish changed, if anything, remains a very private thing.

It is the other stories that I think are even more important, however. They are the stories that are not about gender, but where the characters exist in a world where nonbinary genders are simply accepted without question, without comment, without hatred, and without ridicule. More importantly, they are accepted as a state of being, as a defined gender, and not some confusing phase of transition. There is no expectation that these characters ever were or will become binary. These are the stories where, if not for the gender-neutral pronouns, most readers likely would not have picked up on the gender aspect.

There are also stories here that straddle those two extremes, suitably non-binary stories of non-binary storytelling. There is one in particular that I just loved - a Sleeping Beauty style fairy tale - where the entire castle knows the protagonist has boy days and girl days, and where that duality of gender is the key to circumventing the fairy's curse.

Gender aspects aside, I would be woefully remiss if I did not call out the storytelling of Mardoll. These stories in No Man of Woman Born flow so beautifully, are so wonderfully readable, that it is almost too easy to overlook the polished sense of style. The writing is as beautiful as the sentiments it conveys, and I will never stop recommending this to friends.

Ana Mardoll is a writer and activist who lives in the dusty Texas wilderness with two spoiled cats. Her favorite employment is weaving new tellings of old fairy tales, fashioning beautiful creations to bring comfort on cold nights. She is the author of the Earthside series, the Rewoven Tales novels, and several short stories.

Aside from reading and writing, Ana enjoys games of almost every flavor and frequently posts videos of gaming sessions on YouTube. After coming out as genderqueer in 2015, Ana answers to both xie/xer and she/her pronouns. 

@AnaMardoll
http://www.anamardoll.com/

© 2018 Bending the Bookshelf All Rights Reserved
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It’s not often that a book can be even more captivating when one can infer from the title and first few pages where it is probably going. In “The Hijra”, Adrienne Nash, an author whom I follow almost compulsively, has written a superlative novel about the descent of a very sweet, innocent and extremely naïve young person into the horrors of sexual slavery. “The Hijra” is a complex book about a male-born transgender youth who experiences bullying, betrayal, blackmail, sexual molestation, degradation, human trafficking and ultimately, forced sexual servitude. Both in story line and quality of writing, Nash’s book is reminiscent of the brilliant trilogy of MN Tomas and the gut-wrenching work of the late Katie Leone

The plot of “The Hijra” relates directly to the shame that permeates society toward anything that defies a rigid “bi-gender” system. Such stigma is the result of societal and patriarchal stereotypes, fostered by rigid thinking, self-righteousness and religious dogma. These prejudices foster underlying emotional problems seen in some transgender individuals and create in our young protagonist, Kyle (Kylie) a pattern of deceit and a lack of emotional fortitude and courage to be forthright about her vexing gender concerns. Thinking she is an outcast and lacking in self-esteem, young Kylie internalizes her secret and engages in extremely self-destructive behavior.  Sadly, she is unwilling and unable to share her shame with a loving mother, who probably could and would have assisted her “real” self to emerge.

The Hijra” delivers a huge moral. We can’t simply attribute poor self-esteem, emotional problems and high suicidal propensity solely to gender dysphoria or changing sex. The major and underlying problem is that we, as a society, are not particularly accepting of individual differences in general and certainly not gender variance.  Sexual slavery and sex trafficking only exist because of shame and unique people like our protagonist should be able to live in peace in whatever role they choose. Sadly, most likely this will not happen in our lifetimes.


© 2018 Bending the Bookshelf All Rights Reserved
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