Miranda Macleod – A Road Through Mountains

ARTMCoverMedium.jpg

When Cecily Parker volunteers backstage at the Oakwood Theater, the only thing she wants is a few hours of relief from the doldrums of her upper-class suburban existence. The last thing she expects is to be reunited with the only person she ever truly loved, a woman she left behind almost twenty years ago. 

Rorie Mulloy has build a career as an award-winning production designer in Hollywood, but her personal life is anything but a success. When she agrees to design the sets for a community theater production of A Streetcar Named Desire in Connecticut, she has no idea that the woman who broke her heart and ruined her for love will be assigned to her crew.

As the sparks are rekindled between them, these star-crossed lovers just might have a second chance at love. But only if they can overcome the ghosts of their past, and survive the sometimes comic cast of characters determined to keep them from their happily ever after. 

REVIEW
Some people look forward to spring flowers or summer sun around this time of year. I look forward to ROYGBIV, since it’s….. (drumroll)…. PRIDE SEASON! Right now, my neighborhood (gayborhood, really) is bursting with color as businesses and residents pitch their rainbow flags and equality signs. It’s a wonderful feeling to enjoy brunch with your closest friends at a local breakfast cafe that supports LGBT. That’s something I never take for granted.

Pride Season is also when everyone “in the scene”, in the periphery, or out in hiding gather in one square mile to celebrate. We’re watching (or marching in) the parade together, line-dancing in the Country tent, guzzling down over-priced booze, and also… (dun dun dun) running into our ex-girlfriend (or ex-boyfriends). For those of us that have this experience, you know that it’s the MOST. AWKWARD. THING. EVER.

Cecily doesn’t run into Rorie at Pride but at a local theater, so it might as well be. 😉 There are few places that are as inclusive as a theater for those that are of the straight and non-straight persuasion.

In William Shakespeare’s As You Like It, Jacque’s monologue that begins, “All the world’s a stage, and all the men and women merely players” is perfect in describing the succession of stages in Cecily’s perfectly planned life. She’s the lead actress who’s expected to play her role and move seamlessly from scene to scene: growing up, attending university, joining a sorority, marrying a rich husband, a house with a white picket fence, two children and a dog, etc. When Cecily meets Rorie, Cecily loses all her lines. The irony is that Rorie assumes that Cecily was only pretending with her, when the truth is really the exact opposite. Cecily has only been most authentically herself with Rorie. It’s only when Cecily goes back to her carefully scripted life without Rorie that she’s mindlessly going through the motions again.

Fortunately, fate brings Rorie and Cecily back together again after nearly two decades apart. What happens following that… Readers, you’ll just have to pick up this book and see for yourself! This is another fantastic novel by Miranda Macleod that you won’t wanna miss!

SOUNDTRACK
1. Michael Brun – Tongue Tied July
2. Jarryd James – Do You Remember
3. Kimbra – Two Way Street
4. Grace Potter & The Nocturnals – Stars
5. Lapsley – Hurt Me
6. Patrick Baker – Feel the Same
7. Sophia Black – OVR AGN
8. Rationale – Re.Up
9. JP Cooper – Colour Me In Gold
10. RAC & St. Lucia – Ready For It
11. Ruben Haze – City of Dreams
12. Wolf Gang – Lay Your Love Down
13. Chvrches – Warning Call
14. For The Foxes – Running Back To You
15. David Guetta feat. Zara Larsson – This One’s For You

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

SIDECAR
-2 oz of Cognac
-1 oz of Cointreau
-1 oz of lemon juice

Combine all ingredients in a shaker with ice and shake shake shake until it’s chilled. Pour into a highball glass and garnish with a twist of an orange peel.

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!

Lyn Gardner – Ice

Ice

The last time Maggie Campbell and Alexandra Blake worked together, they both received two-week suspensions. This time… it’s worse. 

Ice begins when a boy is kidnapped from a London park and Detective Inspectors Alex Blake and Maggie Campbell are brought together to work on the case. While their goal is the same, their work ethics are not. Intelligent, perceptive and at times disobedient, Alex Blake does what she believes it takes to do her job. Maggie Campbell has a slightly different approach. She believes that rule books were written for a reason.

Unexpectedly, their dynamics mesh, but when her feelings for Alex become stronger than she wants to admit, Maggie provokes the worst in Alex to ensure that they will never be partners again. 

Three years later, fate brings them together again. Their assignment is simple, but a plane crash gets in their way. Now, in the middle of a blizzard, they have to try to survive… and fight the feelings that refuse to die.

REVIEW
Lyn Gardner, if you ever stumble across this blog, I have one question for you. When the HECK are you going to release another novel?!?!?! No pressure or anything, of course. 🙂 Your books are really a source of joy and uh… warmth, especially on cold winter nights. Readers, if you’ve read any of her novels, you know what I mean. *Nudge Nudge*

Almost immediately after I finished Give Me A Reason, I purchased Ice. True to Gardner’s style in Give Me A Reason, there is an intensity to the storyline and the characterizations. It’s not often that you come across characters that burn as hot as Maggie and Alex do in this story. Both are strong-willed and hard-headed and it adds fuel to the fire of their romance.

Sometimes, it takes a catastrophic situation to bend the will of a stubborn mind to accept and understand what the heart truly wants. Alex and Maggie are thrust into a circumstance that forces them to examine their feelings for each other. Trapped in a cabin, there’s no place to escape for those two. To add another level of complication to those feelings, Maggie has firmly identified herself as a person of the straight-persuasion, whereas Alex is definitely not of that variety nor wants to tangle herself with someone who is not out of the closet. Oh, feelings. Lots and lots of feelings. How the characters navigate through that landscape and find their way to each other makes this an immensely satisfying read. You won’t be disappointed, that’s for sure.

Gardner certainly isn’t shy when she’s writing the intimate scenes between her characters in her novels. Has anyone ever played the fortune-cookie game? You get a fortune, and you add “in bed” to the end of it. For example, I might get a fortune that says, “Good things will come to you”. Just add “in bed” to the end of that, which makes the fortune read “Good things will come to you in bed”. I would suggest playing that game with this novel. It’s a guaranteed good time.

SOUNDTRACK
1. Duffy – Mercy
2. Cody Fry – Underground
3. Aquilo – Better Off Without You
4. Good Old War – Tell Me What You Want From Me
5. Alicia Keys – I Need You
6. Canopy Climbers – Far
7. Corinne Bailey Rae – Is This Love
8. James Morrison – You Give Me Something
9. Imaginary Future – Love is Beginning
10. Amel Larrieux – Make Me Whole

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

GLENMORANGIE NECTAR D’OR – 12 YEARS

MJ Duncan – Spectrum

Spectrum

Sparks fly the moment Bryn Nakamura lays eyes on Anna Fitzpatrick, and not in a good way. Driven, reserved, and recovering from another encounter with a life she would rather leave behind, all Bryn wants is to forget about Anna and focus on her beloved vineyard- but Fate has other plans. No matter where Bryn goes, Anna seems to be there, and despite how annoyed she is by this development, she can’t help but be charmed by Anna’s warm smile and easygoing charisma. But as carefully constructed walls come down, new obstacle take their place, leaving Bryn to question who she is and what she truly wants out of life.

REVIEW
I always tell my friends that it’s my dream to buy a vineyard in Tuscany and spend my twilight years enjoying the beautiful earth and drinking wine. FYI, if you suddenly have the image of Diane Lane in your head, then virtual high five to you! I’ve had the biggest crush on her since I was 5 years old. Hey, Diane… We can drink wine together under the Tuscan sun! Si or no?

One of my favorite quotes is from that movie:
“They say they built the train tracks over the Alps, between Vienna and Venice, before there was a train that could make the trip. They built it anyway. They knew one day the train would come. Any arbitrary turning along the way and I would be elsewhere, I would be different. What are four walls anyway? They are what they contain. The house protects the dreamer. Unthinkably good things can happen, even late in the game… it’s such a surprise.”

In a way, the story in Spectrum seems to mirror the message in that quote. Anna lays down those tracks for their locomotion of luuuuurve. It’s nice that this story features characters that aren’t 20-something year old spring chickens, and though it isn’t really “late in the game”, love blooms for Bryn in her middle-age. Bryn could be categorized as the stereotypical cat-lady, except she doesn’t have cats. She’s a bit of a spinster, a bit of a loner, and a whole lot of a curmudgeon before Anna comes into the picture.

This is what Bryn would’ve turned out to be if she never met Anna:
Grumpy

Thank the universe of lesbian fiction for Anna Fitzpatrick. She’s smart, funny, charming, and persistent. She’s determined to get under Bryn’s skin (and under Bryn) regardless of Bryn’s sarcastic remarks and “sunny” disposition.

Anna’s easy-going nature is a nice counterpoint to Bryn’s tough-as-nails exterior. Readers have the pleasure of seeing the richness in Bryn’s character, as Anna slowly but surely draws her out of her shell. Their chemistry and combination is sizzling: Anna and Bryn are like two distinct flavors that combine to make a unique and delicious taste profile. (Sweet & Sour, anyone?) The story is excellent from start to finish. Highly recommended!

SOUNDTRACK
1. Chilly Gonzales – Solitaire
2. Ani DiFranco – She Says
3. Edvard Grieg – Lyrische Stucke Op. 38, Melodie
4. Good Old War – Tell Me What You Want From Me
5. John Fields – In Flight
6. John Garrels – Born Again
7. Jon Jang – Two Flowers on a Stem (Solo Piano Version)
8. James Bay – Hold Back the River
9. Gonzales – Manifesto
10. KT Tunstall – Universe and U
11. Chilly Gonzales – Venetian Blinds
12. John Fields – Nocturne No. 2 in C Minor
13. Elliott Smith – Say Yes
14. Roy Todd – Hope Springs
15. Iron & Wine – My Lady’s House

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

PEJU PROVINCE 2011

Lyn Gardner – Give Me A Reason

Give Me A Reason

Intelligent, confident and beautiful, Antoinette Vaughn had it all until one night she went to help a friend and paid for it… with a life sentence in hell. 

Four years later, Toni’s judgment is overturned, but the damage is already done. She walks away from the prison a free woman, but she’s hardly free. Actually, she’s hardly alive. A prison without rules can do that to a person.

She was raised amidst garden parties, stables and tennis courts, but now a dingy flat in a decrepit building is what Toni calls home. It’s cold, dark and barren just like her heart, but it suits her. She doesn’t want to leave much behind when she’s gone, but the simplicity of her sheltered existence begins to unravel when a beautiful stranger comes into her life.

How does anyone survive in a world that terrifies them? How do you learn to trust again when everyone is your enemy? How do you take your next breath and not wish it were your last? And if your past returned…what would you do?

REVIEW
If you’re an avid reader of books in the lesbian fiction genre, you’ll eventually cross paths with Give Me A Reason. It has the highest number of reviews on Amazon (currently 200), and its rated an average of 5 out of 5 stars. Give Me A Reason was released around the time when everyone and their mama were losing their minds over Orange Is the New Black, which probably contributed to the book’s huge popularity. Talk about being at the right place at the right time… but really, this is a great novel in its own right.

Reading this novel, I assumed the author was English or Scottish (she’s actually an American from Florida) and I don’t know if she’s ever spent any time in the pokey or if she watches a lot of prison shows and documentaries, but her writing is incredibly detailed on both accounts. She has quite an imagination, to say the least. What I like about this story is that it doesn’t lack in originality, and it really draws the reader into its world. My only gripe is that whenever I read the phrase “give me a reason” in the novel, it reminded me of listening to the Fugees’ cover of “Killing Me Softly” on Power 106 in 1996.  The song played on the radio 7x per hour, every hour, every day.  In other words, “give me a reason” got REALLY old REALLY fast. You can only bounce that ball so many times before it goes completely flat.

The main characters of this story, Toni and Laura, are both FIERY. They’re portrayed as strong women with strong personalities. The beauty in their friendship and eventual romantic relationship is that they allow each other to simply be the individuals that they are. Toni has her episodes, and Laura has her temper tantrums, but they manage through those experiences and move forward together. They don’t view each other as improvement projects, and love joins their lives together like puzzle pieces.

I spent six months stuck on this damn book. I couldn’t stop reading it because I enjoyed it so damn much. At the time, Give Me A Reason was the third lesbian fiction novel I finished reading so I didn’t have a collection of favorites in my re-reading rotation.

This is a great novel to read during the long winter season. I would recommend reading a few chapters a night before going to bed, and savoring and stretching it out as long as you can.

SOUNDTRACK
1. James Blake – Retrograde
2. Travis – Writing To Reach You
3. Amy Winehouse – Wake Up Alone
4. Depeche Mode – Somebody
5. David Grey – Please Forgive Me
6. Keane – Somewhere Only We Know
7. Snow Patrol – Chasing Cars
8. Adele – Make You Feel My Love
9. Ed Sheeran – Kiss Me
10. Sam Smith – Lay Me Down (Acoustic)
11. Nick Drake – Northern Sky
12. Ellie Goulding – How Long Will I Love You

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

EARL GREY HOT TODDY
-1 oz of bourbon
-1 tablespoon of honey
-2 teaspoons of fresh lemon juice
-6 oz of boiling water
-1 packet of Earl Grey tea (I would recommend Tetley)
-Orange wheel

Boil water and pour into a mug. Steep the tea. Mix the bourbon, honey, and fresh lemon juice with the tea. Float the orange wheel on top. Warm and cozy!

Gerri Hill – At Seventeen

Seventeen

Madison Lansford and Shannon Fletcher met when they were ten years old. Madison-daughter of wealthy parents and Shannon, daughter of their live-in maid and cook-became fast friends, yet both knew their place in life. There was never a doubt that they would become lovers…there was also never a doubt that Madison would marry and maintain her social standing in the community. Little by little, they grew apart, their love affair ending with Madison’s marriage and pregnancy. Now, years later, Shannon returns to her old hometown to care for her ailing mother. Can they rebuild their friendship? Or will their new-found closeness bring back memories of their long-lost love? Travel through the years with Shannon and Madison and watch their love unfold as they move from teens to young women and into adulthood. 

REVIEW
This is the third book I’ve read that’s written by the infamous Gerri Hill, and she certainly doesn’t disappoint. She has the lesbian romance-writing formula down, so I know that I’m always guaranteed a good time. (Snicker) At Seventeen is no exception to that formula. Her novels are pretty quick reads, and perfect if you’re sitting at an airport and need to kill some time before a flight. There aren’t a lot of surprises in the novel, and there’s a comfort in it’s predictability. You know that you can expect good writing and a good ending with Gerri Hill, which is the appeal of picking up her books. At least, it is for me.

Here’s the good, the bad, and the ugly with this novel:

The Good – This is almost like the lesbian version of Nicholas Spark’s The Notebook, but the story starts in childhood, ends in (early-ish) adulthood, and no one dies together while holding hands. There’s a clear distinction between what happens in the past and what happens in the present, so there’s no confusion for its readers. It skips back and forth until about a third into the book, then it continues on in the present. The storyline of At Seventeen is really its strong point, and the buildup of the romance between Madison and Shannon is very nicely done.

The Bad – The characters were a bit one-dimensional. Characterizations bring a depth to the story and because of it’s absence in At Seventeen, it left me wanting just a little more. Some of the characters’ actions, especially Shannon’s friends, were confusing. Even when there was some clarification in the end, it wasn’t very satisfying.

The Ugly – There’s a kid in the story. I have no gripes about a kid being in any story, but his presence doesn’t add very much to it. And I get it, you could justify that his existence helps reinforce the message that things happen for a reason, but I felt like he was moved around like a Monopoly piece.  It was almost too easy to roll the dice and move him down the board when they needed him to disappear.

It wasn’t my favorite from Gerri Hill, but I enjoyed the novel and it provided a nice little escape for a few hours.

SOUNDTRACK
1. Priscilla Ahn – Dream
2. John Mayer – All We Ever Do is Say Goodbye
3. Regina Spektor – Fidelity
4. Whitney Houston – Saving All My Love For You
5. John Mayer – Friends, Lovers, or Nothing
6. Colbie Caillat – Realize
7. Mariah Carey – When I Saw You
8. Janet Jackson – Where Are You Now
9. Meiko – Lucky We Are
10. The Cure – Love Song
11. Ed Sheeran – Thinking Out Loud
12. Jason Mraz feat. Colbie Caillat – Lucky

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

SOUTHERN COMFORT CHAMPAGNE COCKTAIL
-1 oz of Southern Comfort
-Dash of Angostura bitters
-4 oz of chilled champagne (M&R Asti is recommended)
-Twisted lemon peel

Pour the Southern Comfort in a champagne glass.  Add a dash of bitters, then top off with the champagne.  Garnish with a twisted lemon peel.

Patricia Highsmith – The Price of Salt

Price of Salt

The Price of Salt tells the riveting story of Therese Belivet, a stage designer trapped in a department-store day job, whose salvation arrives one day in the form of Carol Aird, an alluring suburban housewife in the throes of a divorce.  They fall in love and set out across the United States, pursued by a private investigator who eventually blackmails Carol into a choice between her daughter and her lover. 

REVIEW
The first question in my mind was why the heck would the author name her novel The Price of Salt.  As I read into the book, it started making sense. What is salt?  Salt is an essential nutrient that preserves and sustains life. Salt sits on your dinner table and you shake it on your food if it’s bland and you want to enhance the taste.  I interpreted salt as a metaphor for love and it’s application into the story, as well as it’s trans-formative power in Therese’ drab and lifeless existence before she met Carol, is masterful.

With this novel, you’re either going to hate it or love it.  There are certain aspects of this story that can feel very unsettling, and some might even consider Carol or Therese as a sort of antihero.  I was undecided about Carol’s character for most of the novel.  It wasn’t until the last few chapters that I could better understand and appreciate the depth of her love and her pain.  The tone of The Price of Salt is somber, and a love story within that tenor is like the beauty of a rainy day.  This novel’s intensity will leave no doubt to the reader that it is rooted in a deeply personal experience of the writer.  The writing breathes life through the author’s first-hand knowledge of a love that was once considered an abomination within her society.

In 1989, in reference to this novel, Patricia Highsmith is quoted, “Prior to this book, homosexual male and female in American novels had had to pay for their deviation by cutting their wrists, drowning themselves in a swimming pool, or by switching to heterosexuality (so it was stated), or by collapsing-alone and miserable and shunned-into a depression equal to hell.”  I would consider Highsmith as one of the pioneers in queer literature, and her contributions helped pave a happier road for fictional lesbian characters.

The Price of Salt is a priceless gift from the past, and the type of story that stays with you long after you’ve turned the last page.

SOUNDTRACK
1.  Astrud Gilberto & Stan Getz – The Girl from Ipanema
2.  Patsy Cline – Crazy
3.  Billie Holiday – Easy Living
4.  Otis Redding – Try a Little Tenderness
5.  Frankie Laine – Jezebel
6.  Johnny Mathis – Chances Are
7.  Nine Simone – To Love Somebody
8.  Ella Fitzgerald – Embraceable You
9.  Platters – Only You (And You Alone)
10.  Joe Pass – All The Things You Are
11.  Billie Holiday – All of Me
12.  Doris Day – Secret Love

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

OLD-FASHIONED
-2 oz of rye whiskey or bourbon whiskey.  Rye, if you want spicier.  Bourbon, if you want sweeter.
-3 dashes of bitters.
-1 splash of water
-1-2 tsp of simple syrup
-Orange peel
-Large ice cube

Mix the simple syrup, water and bitters in a rock glass.  Drop the large ice cube in the glass.  Pour the whiskey over it.  Mix well.  Twist the orange peel over the drink, then rim the glass before dropping it in the drink. Welcome to the 50s!

Ann McMan – Jericho

Jericho

Librarian Syd Murphy flees the carnage of a failed marriage by accepting an eighteen-month position in Jericho- a small town in the Appalachian Mountains of Virginia.  Her plans to hide out and heal her woulds fall by the wayside as she gets drawn into the daily lives of the quirky locals.  She becomes fast friends with Maddie Stevenson, the enigmatic physician who has returned to the backcountry community to take over her late father’s medical practice.  Together they learn that life and love can have as many twists and turns as a country road.  

REVIEW
I was so obsessed with this book for awhile, that an old friend used to joke that it was my new girlfriend, Jeri Cho. I do admit that I spent an enormous amount of time with her. But what did she give me in the end?  She gave me a broken heart. We had a booty call a few months later (Ann McMan wrote a collection of short stories Sidecar, one of them featuring Maddie and Syd). Then, we got back together shortly after that (Ann McMan wrote a sequel, Aftermath) but it just wasn’t the same. I read somewhere that the author was planning on continuing the series with another book in 2015. It hasn’t happened yet, but I’m really hoping it will sometime in the near future. I need closure, Ann McMan!

This book earned a lot of awards and recognition, and for damn good reason. It’s one helluva novel. Not only is it a GREAT story, but it’s GREAT writing. Jericho is the complete package: engaging plot, compelling three-dimensional characters (layers upon layers, like yummy 7-layer bean dip), and smart dialogue. The banter between Maddie and Syd is witty, playful, and intellectually flirtatious. Their chemistry is really off the pages.

The romance develops slower than most lesbian novels and that helps it feel more organic and authentic.  You’re at the edge of your seat (or edge of your bed, depending on where you’re reading) eagerly anticipating Maddie or Syd to grow some ovaries and profess their love and affection for each other.  When they FINALLY come together, it’s like the feeling you get when you’re listening to a long progressive house song and the bass drops.  Oh, the feels!

If you enjoy reading books that include any of the following: small-town living, hot doctors, sexy librarians, Katharine Hepburn, Adirondack chairs, classical music, wine, strong coffee, Cheetos… READ JERICHO! Even if you don’t, read it any way. Especially, if you’re planning on relaxing in a cabin during the winter season, and you’re longing to curl up with a good book that will make your insides feel like Christmas.

By the way, is anyone else in California excited that El Nino is coming?! I can’t wait to see the snow up in Big Bear!  It’s going to be amazing!

SOUNDTRACK
1.  Gwyneth Herbert – Only Love Can Break Your Heart
2.  Bach – Suites for Unaccompanied Cello
3.  Leftover Cuties – When You’re Smiling
4.  Rimsky-Korsakov – Scheherazade
5.  Lake Street Drive – You Go Down Smooth
6.  Renee Fleming – La Rondine from Puccini’s Canzone di Doretta
7.  Ella Fitzgerald – Dream a Little Dream of Me
8.  Beethoven – Piano Sonata 8 in C-Minor, Movement I
9.  Joni Mitchell – A Case of You
10.  Ella Fitzgerald – I’m Beginning to See the Light
11.  Melody Gardot – Our Love is Easy

CHEERS!
This book is best read with a….

JUSTIN MALBEC RESERVE 2013

KL Hughes – Popcorn Love

Popcorn Love

A prominent figure amongst New York City’s fashion elite, Elena Vega is a successful businesswoman and single mother to an adorable three-year-old son, Lucas.  Her love life, however, is lacking, as those closest to her keep pointing out.  At the persistent urging of her closest friend, Elena reluctantly agrees to a string of blind dates if she can find a suitable babysitter for Lucas.  Enter Allison Sawyer, a free-spirited senior at New York University.  Elena is intrigued by Allison’s ability to push her out of her element, and the young woman’s instant and easy connection with normally shy Lucas quickly earns Allison the job.  After each blind date, Elena returns home to complain to Allison about her lacking suitors.  As they bond, Elena begins to realize that the person possessing all the qualities she most desires might just be the woman who has been in front of her the entire time.  The vast difference between the two women’s social statuses, however, may be an obstacle not easily overcome.  

REVIEW
If I was limited to using only one word to describe this book, it would be CUTE. The story-line is cute, the kid in the book is cute… an overload of cuteness. It’s so cute that the only thing that I hear right now is my biological clock ticking. This book would really make a fantastic movie. I’d imagine it would fit nicely in the same category as About a Boy and Maid in Manhattan. It has all the ingredients of a feel-good romantic comedy, including an amusing little meet cute.

“When I was your age, all we had were depressing lesbian books and movies.. like The Well of LonelinessLost and Delirious and Kissing Jessica Stein.”  Can I say how glad I am that we’ve moved past that era and that our stories are more varied?  The tone of Popcorn Love is very lighthearted.  It’s not heavy on drama and angst, and it has a happy ending.  I’m a sucker for happy endings.

What kinda irked me about this book, was when Elena would refer to Allison as “dear”. “Dear” is only acceptable if there’s an age difference in decades, if it’s coming from a grandmother, and… this is critical… if it’s coming from someone who is NOT, I repeat, NOT your lover! If my future girlfriend calls me “dear”, I will run out of that relationship with my born-again virginity intact. “Sweetie” is cute. “Honey” is borderline. “Dear” is just creepy as hell.

Anyway, if you’re looking for a cozy, quick read, I recommend picking up Popcorn Love.  I’ll definitely be reading Hughes’ other novels.

SOUNDTRACK
1.  Bjork – There’s More to Life Than This
2.  Andy Grammar – Keep Your Head Up
3.  Michael Jackson – The Way You Make Me Feel
4.  Jessie Ware – Wildest Moments
5.  Carly Rae Jepsen – Gimmie Love
6.  Grimes – Go
7.  Maroon 5 – Sunday Morning
8.  Goldford – Upside Down
9.  Peter Salett – Heart of Mine
10.  John Mayer – Love is a Verb

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

KARL STRAUSS’ PEANUT BUTTER STOUT