KG MacGregor – Trial by Fury

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When a coed is viciously assaulted on the campus of Harwood University, performance studies professor Celia Perone learns a brutal truth- star athletes can get away with whatever they want. Threatened with her job if she goes public, Celia pays a secret visit to celebrated women’s rights attorney Theodora Constantine.

Theo’s riding high after winning a very public sexual harassment claim against a cable news network. Next up for her firm is a class action suit that will strain her small staff. She can’t afford to get sidetracked by another case, but Celia won’t take no for an answer. 

The case is compelling and so is Celia- so much that Theo finds herself falling hard. But before they can win love, they have to win justice.

REVIEW
I’ve been in a bit of a reading frenzy lately. Mostly because the annual conference for the Golden Crown Literary Society is just around the corner. This is like Coachella + Dinah Shore for me, minus the bikinis, flower crowns, and drunken make-out sessions with random strangers. This conference is an incredible opportunity to interface with other readers, bloggers, authors, and publishers in the lesfic community and I’m beyond excited to go this year!

I have to be honest though, I’m dreading the flight to D.C and back. I hate flying and I’m seriously terrified. The last time I went on a plane was when I flew out to San Francisco with my band for Pride in 2010. Let’s just say that I was highly inebriated on the flight there, and heavily sedated on the flight back. No joke. I suppose you have to face your fears to chase your dreams? Maybe chase it down with a shot or two of tequila? Hopefully, I won’t arrive at the conference totally tossed. Kidding!

Trial by Fury is the latest release by KG MacGregor, one of the titans in the world of lesbian literature. KG MacGregor is like Homer, and I don’t mean Homer Simpson. I’m referring to the Greek poet Homer, who wrote the classics: Iliad and Odyssey. 

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MacGregor, like Homer, has some pretty epic heroes in her stories doing some pretty epic things during some pretty epic times. Every novel that I’ve read by KG MacGregor has been high on drama and adventure, and Trial by Fury is one that you definitely won’t want to miss. Anna and Celia kick some major institutionalized misogynistic ass in this novel. Anna and Celia battle against the powers that try to suppress them and Harwood University discovers that they are a force to be reckoned with. They are relentless in their fight to seek justice that the victims in this story rightly deserve. These women are heroines in every sense of the word: passionate, strong, brave.

MacGregor prefaces the novel by stating that she’s not a subject matter expert in law. If you aren’t from the legal world, I think you’d be easily convinced otherwise. The author’s storyline narrative is riveting, and the writing is compelling and convincing. I can only imagine the amount of research and time it took for the author to learn about the process of law, and to meticulously craft this novel.

Trial by Fury isn’t just fiction. It’s a mirror image of the huge problem of rape and sexual assault that we’re facing at our colleges and universities today. The statistics that are shown in the novel are as alarming as they are real: 1 in 4 women have been victims of sexual assault at college campuses across the United States. Unfortunately, most of these incidents go unreported due to the victim’s own feelings of shame and fear, and their deep-seated belief that nothing will be done and that “you’re on your own” because “you did something wrong”. The resolution of the People of the State of California vs. Brock Allen Turner reinforces this type of toxic conditioning and perpetuates a destructive cycle of abuse. It’s incredibly disappointing and infuriating to see how our justice system failed Emily Doe, and ultimately, failed all of us. The judge dropped the ball on this. Big time. We have a ways to go in changing rape culture in this country.

Writers have the gift of words. Words which are expressed to their respective audience for a myriad of purposes: to comfort, direct, entertain, educate. Unfortunately, words can also be used to manipulate, lie, cheat, and inflict pain and suffering. In Trial by Fury, MacGregor utilizes her talent and gift to shine a light in a very dark place. And I hope, as a community, we continue to create light and bring change, no matter how big or small.

SOUNDTRACK
1. Tori Amos – Crucify
2. Sarah McLachlan – Witness
3. Daughter – Youth
4. James Vincent McMorrow – Down The Burning Ropes
5. Max Frost – Let Me Down Easy
6. Joshua Hyslop – The Spark
7. Staves – Steady
8. Ben Howard – All Is Now Harmed
9. Imogen Heap – Hide and Seek
10. Agnes Obel – Falling, Catching
11. Liv Dawson – Tapestry

CHEERS!
This book would be best read with…

I think I’ll skip this one.

MJ Duncan – Atramentum

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Joss Perrault left Sky, Colorado after high school with no intention of ever returning, but all that changes when she inherits Atramentum. Burned out on public accounting after too many sixteen-hour days, the allure of operating a small, independent bookstore is too tempting to register, and Joss decides to walk away from the career she spent the last decade building to move back to the resort town high in the Rockies. Cupid strikes as she’s moving into her new place outside Sky and, contrary to popular belief, Cupid has four legs and a tail, hits like a linebacker, and answers to the name of George. Before Joss can recover from being tackled by the Great DAne, she finds herself face to face with George’s mom, Maeve Dylan. Joss is immediately smitten with her beautiful neighbor, but their conversations walk the line between friendliness and flirtation like it’s a tightrope, and Joss is reluctant to do anything that will risk their budding friendship. Thankfully for her, however, George doesn’t give up so easily.

REVIEW
When I was typing in the title of the book, I felt like I was entering in my WiFi internet modem password. A….T…..R……S…Wait, fuck (Backspace)…A…ME…N…..T….UM. You bet I wikipediaed the word, and guess what I found?

Atramentum or atrament, generally means a very black, usually liquid, substance. For example, an octopus may emit a puff of atrament (see cephalopod ink). In ancient Rome, the term atramentum signified any black colouring substance used for any purpose.

They even have this picture to go with the definition:
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Just a guess, I think that MJ Duncan fancies Latin / Ancient words. (Veritas, anyone?)

In Atramentum, Atramentum is the name of the bookstore that the lovely protagonist, Joss, inherits from her Aunt Helen. She decides to chuck her lonely life in Los Angeles and her career as a public accountant, for greener pastures (because anywhere is greener than LA) in Sky, Colorado to manage this charming little bookstore.

When Joss and Maeve meet, it’s almost as cute as this:
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Animal companions that are determined to play Cupid for their human companions is a recipe for a fantastic story, folks! If only this happened in real life. I tried walking my cat, Marbles once. Unfortunately, this experiment miserably failed. He refused to walk more than two steps, kept rolling around on his back and belly, and I didn’t get any numbers! None! The most we got were very curious (and very sympathetic) stares from passersby. Ah, well. Anyone in LA need a dog-walker?

There are not two, but three main characters in this story. George certainly has enough personality to qualify. MJ Duncan, if you ever decide to do a spinoff starring George, I’m there! George helped make this a really delightful read for me. I almost miss her.

There’s plenty of “will you or won’t you” angst between Joss and Maeve. This mostly stems from “are you or are you not” regarding Maeve’s sexuality. Don’t you hate the guessing game? Everyone needs to wear a blinking sign, I think. The back and forth between the main characters is very sweet, and there’s plenty of romance and passionate love between the pages. There’s one section of the novel that readers and wordsmiths will certainly appreciate. I won’t give it away, but let’s just say that I had to go out for a nice looooooong run after I finished reading through it.

As with MJ Duncan’s other novels, this would be perfect to pack in your suitcase to read on your next vacation get-away.

Happy Reading!

SOUNDTRACK
1. Vance Joy – Fire and the Flood
2. Susie Suh – I Do
3. A Fine Frenzy – What I Wouldn’t Do
4. Jack Johnson – Better Together
4. Ingrid Michaelson – The Way I Am
5. Lianne La Havas – What You Don’t Do
6. Jason Mraz – Love Someone
7. Brandi Carlile – The Story
8. John Mayer – A Face To Call Home
9. Colbie Caillat – You Got Me
10. Leftover Cuties – At Last

CHEERS!
This book would be best read with….

MEIOMI PINOR NOIR 2014

Suzie Carr – A New Leash on Life


When a hurricane blow through town and threaten the future of Olivia Clark’s animal shelter, she publicizes her desperate plea for help to the masses. Aid comes from a surprising source: Chloe Homestead. Olivia’s ex-girlfriend from thirteen years ago and the only girl Olivia has ever loved. Chloe, a self-made millionaire, offers to finance and manage the shelter’s repairs and operations, a gesture Olivia is in no position to refuse. Working intimately together to provide loving care to homeless animals, Olivia struggles to keep her composure in Chloe’s fun and flirty presence. As Olivia’s walls start to crumble, the past catches up to them. Chloe has a dark secret, a secret that she’s been carrying around for thirteen years. 

Will Chloe’s secret threaten the future of the shelter and the relationship she has worked so hard to restore?

This book delves deeply into the selfless world of dogs, animals, puppies, animal shelters, philanthropy, and family.

REVIEW
I can’t get enough of these novels featuring lesbians who work in animal shelters. Just! Can’t! Get! Enough! Almost immediately after reading Rescued Heart, I came across A New Leash on Life by Suzie Carr. You can tell almost immediately that this author is a die-hard animal-lover. If I was working for the HR department at ASPCA, you’d bet I’d be dialing her number. It’s heart-warming and gratifying to read and review well-written works of fiction that are not only great stories, but that also help bring awareness to its readers on current issues and causes in our world. One of the messages from this novel is clear: all animals deserve a whole lot of love and a happy home.

With novels, if there’s too much detail, readers get aggravated and/or bored and want to chuck the book before they’re done. If there’s too little detail, the story seems superficial and rushed. Suzie Carr has a well-balanced approach to her writing, so you won’t find any long-winded narration (like.. ahem, Charles Dickens) in her novels. She provides just the right amount of detail to keep readers engaged in the plot-line and the characters.

There’s plenty of angst and a closet full of skeletons just waiting to pop out and spook the shit out of the characters. I won’t give anything away, but let’s just say that Chloe was (and is) in quite the predicament and as the reader, you will eventually be able to understand why she made certain choices and sacrifices in her past. There’s a lot to be revealed and you’ll be eagerly anticipating what will happen once the blindfolds are off.

What I enjoyed about this novel is how beautifully human the main characters were portrayed as being, and how imperfectly perfect they are as they make their way back towards each other. Their situation is less than ideal (to say the least), but in the end, life has a mysterious way of fitting it all together. They are, to each other, exactly what they need from another and you’ll be rooting for them all the way.

SOUNDTRACK
1. The Strokes – Someday
2. Oasis – Wonderwall
3. The Killers – Change Your Mind
4. Morrissey – The More You Ignore Me the Closer I Get
5. Queens of the Stone Age – No One Knows
6. Keane – Bedshaped
7. Mumford & Sons – I Will Wait
8. Coldplay – Warning Sign
9. Foo Fighters – Walking After You
10. Vampire Weekend – Step
11. Smashing Pumpkins – Beautiful

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

BLUE MOON BELGIAN WHITE

Miranda MacLeod – Telling Lies Online

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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!