rea(d)rinking spaces – Eat Drink Americano

A few months ago, I caught a bad case of writer’s block. Everything that I wrote was crap! Utter crap! I dreaded my daily writing hour because during this time, I’d be staring blankly at my tablet screen or I’d be busy berating myself for not being able to produce a single paragraph that made sense. I was about a month into this dead zone when a few friends came over and we decided to spend the night binge-watching romantic comedies. One of the movies on our list was Music and Lyrics starring Hugh Grant and Drew Barrymore. There’s a scene in the movie when Alex (Hugh Grant) and Sophie (Drew Barrymore) are at this creative impasse (i.e writer’s block). Sophie suggests to Alex that they leave his apartment and take a walk around the neighborhood to eat new things, see new things, and try and find some inspiration.

Who knew that I’d be able to find indispensable advice from a rom-com? Anyway, the timing sort of worked out perfectly. Shortly after rom-com fest, I went on a trip to AZ with friends and during our time there, I had the opportunity to see and experience a lot of things that I haven’t before and witnessed two of my close friends getting engaged! Huzzah, love! And huzzah to my writer’s block being obliterated!

After the trip, I got to thinking that one of the things I’d love to share with fellow readers and visitors to this site, are the places that I enjoy going to when I want to read, or drink, or both. Occasionally, I’ll be posting reading spaces / drinking places, so hopefully y’all can grab the latest les lit you’re working on, head on over, grab a drink, and cozy up!

One of my go-to places is Eat Drink Americano, located in the heart of the Los Angeles Arts District. Eat Drink Americano is a cool little gastropub that serves tasty bar-fare and has a great selection of local craft beers and whiskey. Their well-bourbon is McKenna, which they use when they make old-fashioneds. Any place that pours McKenna instead of Bulleit into their jigger when they’re mixing cocktails is definitely a cut above the rest. Btw, if you do have a chance to visit Eat Drink Americano, do order their old-fashioned. Seriously! You won’t regret it!

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The decor of this place is off the hook. It’s sort of a Steam Punk + Americana style: red brick building, crazy metal art pieces, wood furniture, and this giant glass bottle chandelier hanging on the ceiling by the windows.

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During the day, it’s the perfect place to sit by the window and read a chapter or two of Gerri Hill’s Weeping Walls or Keepers of the Cave. If you’re planning on visiting Eat Drink Americano during the evening, the best time to go is Monday night from 9:00pm – 11:00pm when the gypsy jazz band Vignes Rooftop Revival are playing live.

CHEERS and HAPPY READING!

Eat Drink Americano
923 E 3rd Street
Los Angeles, CA 90013

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Gerri Hill – Weeping Walls

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An abandoned old house in a small town northeast of Houston is the site of a second murder, eerily similar to a supposed cold case of fourteen years earlier. FBI Agents CJ Johnston and Paige Riley are dispatched to find the link between the two homicides.

The team, including Ice and Billy, find the case to be anything but cold. For CJ and Paige, juggling the investigation while trying to keep their love affair a secret proves to be as hard as uncovering long-buried clues. 

REVIEW
WARNING! If you haven’t read Keepers of the Cave yet, immediately abort! DO NOT READ PAST THIS PARAGRAPH! I would highly recommend finishing Keepers of the Cave before picking up Weeping Walls. You’d really be cheating yourself if you didn’t. There’s a beautiful depth to the story that would be better understood and appreciated if you start at the beginning. For those that have already finished Keepers of the Cave, this review is more like an extension of my previous review. Onward, we go!

Weeping Walls picks up right where Keepers of the Cave left off. CJ and Paige are working together on a new assignment involving a homicide, a cold case, and a haunted house in the town of Pecan Grove. Gerri Hill seems to have a real knack for weaving stories that scare the heck out of readers.

Stories can sometimes degrade down the line, from book #1, to book #2, to book #3, etc. The Southern Vampire Mysteries is a case in point. It’s like a car that runs out of gas and just eventually sputters to a rolling stop. Thankfully, this is not the case with the Johnston & Riley series. The writing is consistent and the storyline is just as engaging as Keepers of the Cave. Weeping Walls has a well-executed plot, and the character development for the main cast (CJ and Paige) as well as the supporting cast (Billy and Ice) is exceptional. You’ll develop a real fondness for this FBI dream team as you follow them on this crazy adventure.

CJ and Paige’s love story is what really shines in this series. They are both very likable and relatable characters, and the progression of their relationship is enjoyable to read. In Weeping Walls, CJ and Paige begin to see that what they started in Hoganville is becoming more than just a temporary affair. CJ and Paige both stumble into a place that they’ve never been before, as they allow themselves to let go of their fears to just love. The sex scenes are tastefully done, and the emotional aspect of their intimacy is powerfully written. What happens here is really a wonderful thing. Sigh. L’amour. I really hope that Gerri Hill will write at least another book or two for Johnston & Riley because this was friggin amazing.

SOUNDTRACK
1. Jose Gonzalez – Step Out
2. Shakey Graves feat. Esme Patterson – Dearly Departed
3. Radical Face – Secrets (Cellar Door)
4. Modest Mouse – Lampshades on Fire
5. Shins – Phantom Limb
6. King Charles – Gamble for a Rose
7. Matt Harke and Maggie Peake – Gold
8. Arctic Monkeys – Baby I’m Yours
9. Shins – September
10. Death Cab for Cutie – Soul Meets Body
11. Johnnyswim – Don’t Let It Get You Down
12. Ray LaMontagne – You Are The Best Thing
13. American Authors – Best Day of My Life

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

SAMUEL ADAMS BOSTON LAGER

**Sneak Peak**

“Paige stopped suddenly, pushing her sunglasses on top of her head. “First of all, she was not half-naked. She was all the way naked. And secondly…it’s none of your business.” She ended the call quickly as she stared up into the cloudless sky. Did I just out myself to my mother?

Maroon 5

“It was always you
Can’t believe I could not see it all this time
It was always you
Now I know why my heart wasn’t satisfied
It was always you
No more guessing who
Looking back now I know 
It was always you”
It Was Always You

Miranda Macleod – Your Name In Lights

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After eighteen years, the stars may have finally aligned to give Cecily and Rorie a second chance at happiness together. The trouble with stars, though: they don’t stay aligned for long.

As Cecily settles into her life in sunny California, she imagines her biggest challenge will be learning to take care of herself as a newly divorced mother and publicly out lesbian. The last thing she expects is to land the acting role of a lifetime. But is it worth being so far away from the loving support of her girlfriend and son?

Rorie is dismayed by the prospect of a long distance relationship, but there’s no time to dwell on it. Between stepping in as a surrogate parent and facing a family crisis of her own, she’s soon in over her head. Will Cecily ever be the true partner that Rorie needs?

Despite time, distance, and some persistent paparazzi, Cecily and Rorie have found in each other a love to last a lifetime, but only if they can learn to navigate the dual pressures of fame and family.

REVIEW
Cecily and Rorie are back! Your Name In Lights is book two of three in the Love’s Encore series. A Road Through Mountains was released this past spring, and the third installment, Fifty Percent Illusion is coming out in October. Three seasons of Miranda Macleod? Don’t mind if I do! Hey, Miranda… *Waves*… Maybe a Christmas short story starring Cecily and Rorie? Make it all four seasons? An encore for Love’s Encore?

It doesn’t hurt to try, right? 🙂

Fast forward six months from A Road Through Mountains: Cecily and Rorie finally have their second shot at luuuuurve and these two have a LOT of catching up to do. What would you do if you were separated from your true love for nearly twenty years? Maybe a better question would be, what wouldn’t you do? But as fate would have it, a hot minute after Cecily has finally settled in California, she’s already off to Portland for a once-in-a-lifetime acting gig that she can’t pass up. Meanwhile, Rorie has major mama drama that’s starting to brew, and it has the potential for changing life in a very drastic way. I’ll just leave it at that, so I don’t give anything away.

In Your Name In Lights, one of the things that I admired about Cecily was her tenacity to succeed. As she sets out on her new life in California, she’s determined to make it on her own, without having to rely on her inheritance and without relying on anyone else, including her new girlfriend. She’s not looking for handouts and she has pride and drive in creating her own success. Ooo girl, go on wit yo bad self.

Miranda Macleod also brings some interesting points for her readers to consider regarding the price of fame in this novel. Us non-celebrity folk don’t really have to worry about being followed by the paparazzi and having our pictures splattered on tabloid pages for the world to see. We don’t have millions of people who are watching us and scrutinizing our every word and action. Celebrities don’t have the luxury of leading private lives and are much more exposed and vulnerable to those that want to take advantage of their fame and wealth. It’s always easier to believe that the grass is greener on the other side, but there are always pros and cons to every place in life. Just as with the choices that we make, there’s always something to gain and something to lose in its place. Readers will have the opportunity of seeing the flipside of fame through the lives of Rorie and Cecily. Honestly, reading Your Name In Lights has made me a little more sympathetic towards celebrities. Money certainly doesn’t buy love or happiness.

As far as the writing for this novel, it’s exactly what you would expect from Miranda Macleod: entertaining and a pleasure to read. It was a bit slow to warm in the beginning, but it picks up the pace considerably towards the middle, and has a nice little cliffhanger at the end. I would recommend reading A Road Through Mountains and Your Name In Lights back to back. If you’ve already read A Road Through Mountains, take a quick skim before you dive into this novel. Sometimes, it helps to prep your palette before taking your next bite.

Another homerun from Miranda Macleod. I’m eager to read the final installment, Fifty Percent Illusion this fall!

SOUNDTRACK
1. Coldplay – Hymn For The Weekend (Seeb Remix)
2. Maroon 5 – It Was Always You
3. Justin Timberlake – Can’t Stop The Feeling!
4. Calvin Harris – This Is What You Came For
5. Chainsmokers – Roses
6. Yuna – Best Love
7. St Lucia – All Eyes on You
8. Alicia Keys – How It Feels To Fly
9. Usher – Dive
10. Ellie Goulding – Love Me Like You Do

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

STRAWBERRY-BASIL BOURBONADE
-1.5 oz of McKenna bourbon
-0.75 oz of agave
-3 oz of freshly squeezed lemon juice
-3 medium sized strawberries sliced
-5 basil leaves
-Ice

Muddle the basil leaves, agave, and strawberry into your mixing tin. Pour ice and the remaining ingredients into the mixing tin and shake whatcha mama gave ya.

**Sneak Peek**

“Cecily gave her a withering look. “That’s not what having my own place was about, and you know it. I just needed to learn more about myself before taking that step.” “And you’ve learned what you needed?” “I’ve learned that I can take care of myself if I have to, but we’re both better when we’re taking care of each other.”

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.