Aqualung

“Love will remain a mystery
But give me your hand and you will see
Your heart is keeping time with me”
Brighter than Sunshine

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Georgia Beers – Rescued Heart

Welcome to Junebug Farms, a successful, well-known animal shelter in upstate New York, where every day brings something new- love, stress, heartbreak, warmth- and not just from the animals. 

Lisa Drakemore is in charge of intake and adoption at Junebug. She excels at her job, in large part because of her ability to keep her emotions in check. Her past has given her many years of practice and she’s becoming a pro. But once she meets dog-walking volunteer Ashley Stiles, a distractingly attractive, perpetually late, emotions-on-her-sleeve young woman who smells like cupcakes, all bets are off.

REVIEW
Georgia Beers had me from the first line of the synopsis: hook, line, and sinker. A story about lesbians and an animal shelter? Woof! Meow! How can I say ‘no’?!

On a more personal note, about a month ago I adopted a young tabby from the animal rescue next door to my boxing gym. I named him Jaxx (since my senior citizen at home is named Marbles) and it’s a nice little coincidence that one of the animals in Rescued Heart is also named Jax! Stop copying me, Georgia Beers. *Wink*

Jaxx.jpg

Sorry, I just couldn’t resist sharing Jaxx’s picture. Moms and dads of furry children will understand. Thank you readers for involuntarily indulging this crazy cat lady.

Moving along with the review…

In a similar fashion as other stories written by Georgia Beers, the progression of love between the characters is slow and sweet. Lisa has her own reasons for baby-stepping.. or not-stepping at all, really. Eventually, Ashley breaks through her barriers and gives her a reason to pick up the pace. Wow… when these two finally sync and step, they sprint to that finish line together like they’re the pair of legs that belong to Marion Jones. Georgia Beer certainly has a way of showing readers that foreplay is not overrated, and the pay-off at the end is definitely worth the wait.

Somehow, in the middle of reading this book, I completely forgot that the setting of the story is in upstate New York. If you didn’t review the synopsis before diving into the novel, you may get the sense that it’s set in a small-town because it has such a down-home feel. The characters in the story are very down-to-earth and interconnected in a way, that’s more often than not, a bit uncharacteristic in an urban setting. For me, it felt a little too cozy to be in the city, but this doesn’t detract from the exceptional writing and entertaining story from the author. It’s just a side observation.

We don’t seize opportunities that are presented to us often enough, especially when it comes to love and romance. The lesson that can be learned from this book is that we are not meant to exist as passive observers. In our own pursuit of happiness, we have to grab life by its horns and follow our hearts without fear or reservation. This is Ashley’s journey in Rescued Heart, and it’s really a joy to see this transformation in her character.

Rescued Heart will pull the heck out of your heart strings and make you want to give a big hug to your pets at home. I wonder what Georgia Beers will write about next!

SOUNDTRACK
1. Fountains of Wayne – Someone to Love
2. Gavin Degraw – Crush
3. Capital Cities – Love Away
4. Guster – Manifest Destiny
5. Elliott Smith – Happiness
6. Mat Kearney – Sooner or Later
7. Imagine Dragons – On Top of the World
8. Magnet – Where Happiness Lives
9. Ivy – Hideaway
10. Aqualung – Brighter than Sunshine
11. Dave Matthews Band – Lover Lay Down

CHEERS!
This book would be best served with….

CAKEBREAD CHARDONNAY 2013

Miranda MacLeod – Telling Lies Online

TLOL.jpg

When her dating app decides she’s a man, what’s a lonely lesbian to do?

Jamie Richards is a scientist who embraces reason, except when it comes to romance. Tired of her impulsive streak leaving her heartbroken, she’s determined to do everything right the next time she’s in love. But her resolve crumbles when a technical glitch matches her with Claire, a woman who lives on the opposite side of the country. Who is straight. And under the impression that Jamie’s a guy. But Jamie can’t help being smitten. Would one tiny lie be so terrible if it gets her closer to the woman of her dreams?

Claire Flores is a dreamer and a believer in signs, but she has a secret that keeps her cautious about love. All she wants is a family of her own, but she has never met a man who attracts her. Until now. Throwing caution to the wind, she goes from Portland to Boston to meet Jay, her online love. Instead she meets Jamie, his work colleague, who befriends her in Jay’s unexpected absence. Claire’s heart is aflutter. Jamie stirs up feelings Claire never knew possible, but how close can she get without having to admit that she’s been lying to herself about her dreams all along?

What starts as a simple fib soon snowballs as Jamie fabricates increasingly ridiculous tales to keep her identity as Jay under wraps, until a comedy of errors threatens to topple the whole charade to the ground. Can true love prevail when it’s founded on a lie?

REVIEW
Oh, what fun this digital age is turning out to be: catfishing, internet-trolling, and Gwen Stefani finding out that her husband Gavin Rossdale is cheating on her with the nanny from an unsecured iCloud account. Oh, the woes! Childhood dreams shattered! As if dating isn’t complicated enough, let’s just add a fun little layer of technological confusion to the equation and see how it pans out!

This digital digital get-down (Nsync, anyone?) turns out to be the living nightmare of the protagonist in this story, Jamie aka “Jay”. Half of the novel, I wanted to throw homegirl a life preserver to save her from herself. The problem with lies is that you have to keep lying and lying some more. This is exactly what happens when the technological glitch (not Jamie’s fault) turns into a Mt.Everest of lies (totally Jamie’s fault). Strap on your hiking boots and pull out your trekking poles, folks. There’s gonna be some hard climbing ahead!

What I appreciate the most about this debut novel by Miranda Macleod, is that the elements of this story are not presented in “black & white”. The story exists somewhere in this beautiful grey space, which allows its readers to explore their own thoughts on some of the questions asked in this novel (wrong vs right, lies vs truth). The author also shows its readers in Telling Lies Online that appearances can be deceiving, especially when it comes to these “signs” that are referenced throughout the novel. What appears to be one thing, can turn out to be something entirely different, and this entirely different something can transpire and transform into the most wonderfully unexpected surprise. It’s all just a matter of perspective, and perhaps, a little bit of nudging from fate.

And an added bonus, Telling Lies Online also features a pretty diverse cast. Bravo!

Macleod articulates this love story tenderly and with great care towards her characters, who experience the first stages of love and it’s fragility.

The pace and style of the writing are consistent and it’s a gentle transition from chapter to chapter.

One helluva debut and a solid start, I would say. You bet I can’t wait for the next one!

SOUNDTRACK
1. St Lucia – Dancing on Glass
2. Panama Wedding – Uma
3. B0rns – Past Lives
4. Great Good Fine Ok – You’re The One For Me
5. Kings of Convenience – I Don’t Know What I Can Save You From (Royksopp Mix)
6. A Boy and His Kite – Cover Your Tracks
7. Adele – Remedy
8. Tori Kelly – Paper Hearts
9. Hardwell – Dare You (Acoustic feat. Matthew Koma)
10. Cider Sky – We Are in Love

CHEERS!
This book would be best read with a….

RED WINE SANGRIA
-1 bottle of Merlot
-1/2 ripe mango (cut into 1-inch cubes)
-1/2 Washington apple (sliced)
-1/2 Sumo tangerine (sectioned), or regular navel orange (sliced)
-8 tablespoons of sugar
-1 oz of vodka
-3 oz of apple whiskey (this is the kicker)

Combine all ingredients in a large pitcher. Place in the fridge for an hour. After an hour, stir the mixture and place back into fridge. Let the fruit soak at least one more hour before serving. The kicker is quite the kicker. If after consumption you find yourself in a foreign place, don’t say I didn’t warn ya!

Lady Antebellum

“I know that the bridges that I’ve burned along the way
Have left me with these walls and these scars that won’t go away
And opening up has always been the hardest thing
Until you came

So lay here beside me just hold me and don’t let me
This feeling I’m feeling is something I’ve never known
And I just can’t take my eyes off you
And I just can’t take my eyes off you”
Can’t Take My Eyes Off You

Robin Alexander – Always Alex

AlwaysAlex

Dana Castilaw grew up tossing coins in a well, hoping her wishes would come true, but the candy fountain puppy, and love never seemed to manifest. At eighteen, she left her hometown of Barbier Point, Louisiana, longing to be free of her father’s choke-hold on her life and with a heart full of dreams she hoped would come true. Years later, she is forced to return home with at least one granted wish- her daughter, Sydney.

Alex Soileau stood at Dana’s side for years tossing her coins into the well, making the same wish each time, a secret plea that she refused to reveal even to her best friend. Time and maturity insisted that she give up on her one fervent desire, but her heart never would.

Reunited as adults, both women realize that maybe there was magic in the well after all.

REVIEW
Ever fell in love with your not-so-straight best friend? Well, join the club.. the book club, of course. 🙂

The great debate in the movie When Harry Met Sally is whether or not men and women can truly have platonic relationships with the opposite sex. If all you know about the movie is the infamous Meg Ryan moaning scene and you have plans to watch it at some point in the future, skip the rest of this paragraph. For those who have watched the movie, you know that the answer is a resounding “NO”. And this makes me wonder… What about lesbians?!

Always Alex brings to light that sometimes, you can be just one baby step away from best friends to lovers which can also bring a massive heap of confusion for the people involved. I have a friend who believes that your best friend is like a lover that you never want to sleep with. But what if your best friend is someone that you do want to sleep with? And don’t most lesbians identify their partner as their best friend? Is this why we have such a thing as lesbian bed death?!?!?! Dana and Alex explore this terrain (minus the lesbian bed death), and Robin Alexander captures the experience of the growth and transition of their relationship beautifully. Dana and Alex are both down-to-Earth, down-and-dirty (smirk), and totally relatable. Reading this novel and getting to know these characters is almost like the experience of listening to a good country song. You can really connect to the story and you feel it in your soul.

Oh, and if you do read this novel… You’re going to get a kick out of Maw Maw. She’s Dana’s grandmother and she’s hilariously vulgar and ratchet. She might just be my hero…

P.S. Here is the Urban Dictionary definition of lesbian bed death:
lesbian bed death – (n.) when sexual relations between a lesbian couple have virtually ceased, yet the companionship remains.

In order words… Best Friends. 😛

SOUNDTRACK
1.Tim McGraw – My Best Friend
2.Keith Urban – Your Everything
3. Sugarland – Fall Into Me
4. Rascal Flatts – Bless The Broken Road
5.Alison Krauss – When You Say Nothing At All
6.The Band Perry – All Your Life
7. Tracy Byrd – Keeper Of The Stars
8. Lady Antebellum – Can’t Take My Eyes Off You
9. Dixie Chicks – I’ll Take Care of You
10. Leann Rimes – How Do I Live
11. Keith Urban – Only You Can Love Me This Way
12. Martina McBride – Safe in the Arms of Love
13. Shania Twain – Forever And For Always

CHEERS!
This book would be best read with a….

SPIKED ARNOLD PALMER
-8 oz boiling water
-1 tea bag
-4 tablespoons of white granulated sugar
-2 oz bourbon (I would suggest Knob Creek)
-1 oz lemon juice
-lemon zest
-lemon slice

Steep the tea in boiling water. Mix the sugar, bourbon, lemon juice and lemon zest with the tea. Refrigerate for a few hours. Serve with a glass of ice and garnish with a lemon slice. Life is sweet!