• “Fallen” by Karin Slaughter (Delacorte Press): The new crime novel by Atlanta’s Karin Slaughter has drawn strong reviews since it came out last month. Follow GBI agent Faith Mitchell as she confronts murder, bribery and corruption in the police ranks.
• “Take the Lead” by Johnny Diaz (Dreamspinner Press): Journalist Johnny Diaz is the author of “Boston Boys Club,” “Miami Manhunt,” and “Beantown Cubans.” Released in June, his new novel, “Take the Lead” follows college professor Gabriel Galan as he falls for Adam, his father’s physical therapy dance instructor.
5 CONCERTS FOR YOUR SUMMER SOUNDTRACK
• Robin Thicke (Fox Theatre, July 30) Sexy R&B singer Robin Thicke has long embraced gay fans and spoken out against homophobia; for this show he’s joined by Kelly Rowland and Jeremih.
• Dolly Parton (Verizon Wireless Amphitheatre at Encore Park, Aug. 3): She’s a country diva with her new album “Better Day” just released, an inspiration to drag queens everywhere, a gay rights supporter, and oh, that voice.
• Sia (Variety Playhouse, Aug. 3): Openly bisexual eclectic jazz/electronic/pop singer-songwriter Sia brings her “We are Born” tour to Atlanta with Oh Land, a beautiful electro-pop ballet dancer-turned musician.
• Death Cab for Cutie (Verizon Wireless Amphitheatre at Encore Park, Aug. 11): Sensitive, melodic rockers Death Cab brings work from their relatively new “Codes and Keys” album to Atlanta with Frightened Rabbit.
• Mary Chapin Carpenter with special guest Shawn Colvin (Chastain Park Amphitheatre, Aug. 13): Two amazing singer-songwriters sure to draw lesbian (and gay) fans in droves.
BONUS: The Go-Gos (Chastain Park Amphitheatre, Aug. 9): The original grrll-power band is still rocking, touring to celebrate the 30th anniversary of their album “Beauty and the Beat.”
5 SHOWS ON THE SMALL SCREEN
• “True Blood” (HBO, Sundays, 9 p.m.) The hit series from creator Alan Ball, who is gay, offers plenty of drama, gore, eye candy and more — including gay characters and plenty of homoerotic bloodsucking. This season added a lesbian relationship, for the beautiful Tara, to the mix.
• “The A-List New York” (LOGO, debuts July 25, 10 p.m.): This reality show about rich (and ridiculous) gay men is billed as “Housewives. With Balls” and was panned when it debuted last year. See if it gets better, or join in the bashing if it is actually possible for it to get worse.
• “Design Star” (HGTV, Mondays, 9 p.m.): The new season of “Design Star” just got underway on HGTV, with a dozen designers — including Atlanta’s Doug Hines — competing to win a show on the network. Judges include gay Atlanta designer Vern Yip, and gay designer David Bromstad, who won the first season of “Design Star,” is onboard as mentor.
• “The Real L Word” (Showtime, Sundays, 10 p.m.): The second season of Showtime’s lesbian reality series airs its last new episode on Sunday, July 24, but reruns will continue on the network’s multiple channels and you can view the whole season on demand until October. Hot, successful Los Angeles lesbians with plenty of drama. This year’s cast is more diverse, too.
• “Latter Days” (Out on DVD now; available on Blu-Ray Aug. 30): What happens when a Mormon missionary falls for a gay Los Angeles party boy? Find out in this unlikely 2003 romantic comedy from director C. Jay Cox.
5 PARTIES FOR HOT SUMMER DAYS & NIGHTS
• Stay cool at the pools. Nothing says summer like a pool party. If you weren’t able to get tickets to the sold-out Joining Hearts Party (July 23), you can still catch Chris Coleman’s “Drench” parties every Saturday at 1 p.m. at the W Atlanta Downtown and DJ Vicki Powell’s “Sunday T” parties every Sunday at 2 p.m. at the Melia Hotel.
• Dance the night away to big-name DJs. This weekend is packed with high-profile DJs: Joe Gauthreaux (Heretic, July 22), Martin Fry (Spring4th, technically July 23 but you will think of it as Friday night), Seth Cooper and Mike Pope (Joining Hearts pool party, July 23), Tony Moran (Jungle, July 23), Eddie Baez (Heretic, July 23) and Paulo (Xion, technically July 24 but you’ll still think of it as Saturday night). But the fun doesn’t end there: Also look out for DJs Travis and Eric (Jungle, July 30), DJ Tracy Young (Jungle, Aug. 6) and then a packed schedule all over town for Labor Day for Black Gay Pride and the long holiday weekend.
• Check out the new kids on the gay bar block. At least two new gay bars have opened in Atlanta in recent months: XS Ultra Lounge, which draws a predominately African-American crowd of men and women, and Cockpit, which caters to “scruffy” gay men. Give them a try, then be sure to show your old favorites some love, too.
• Put your costume on. More and more LGBT Atlanta bars are hosting theme nights with costumes encouraged — and we don’t just mean the dress codes on Wednesday night at the Heretic. Barry Brandon’s Bedlam parties are leading the way: The next installment “QueersCheers&Champs” (Bellissima, Aug. 13) features cheerleading and sports attire.
• Throw your own silly summer shindig. Gays helped lead the kickball revival, so try it with summer kid games, too. With the right friends (and maybe the right cocktails), sprinklers, slip-n-slides and super soakers will turn an ordinary backyard party into an afternoon to remember.
5 TIPS TO KEEP YOUR WORKOUT ON TRACK
• Don’t give up. It’s easy to think that if you didn’t make it to ideal bathing suit shape before summer, it’s too late to matter now. Not so. Forget about the scale: The boost in energy and self-esteem you get from improving your fitness is still worth it, even if the effects won’t be visible ‘til fall.
• Work out early in the morning. Especially if you run or walk outside, an early workout lets you beat the heat and the smog that plagues Atlanta this time of year. But even if you work out at the gym, you’re likely to have more energy in the morning before you get sapped by the summer sun.
• Exercise with a partner or friend. Summer’s heat and busy schedules can make it particularly tempting to hit snooze instead of getting up for a morning run, or to head out for margaritas after work instead of the gym. Knowing someone is depending on you can help you keep on schedule (and give you someone to enjoy that well-deserved cocktail with later!)
• Combine fitness with vacation. Even if you are away from home, find ways to incorporate physical activity into your daily activities. For example, a beach trip can include swimming, surfing, long walks on the beach, bike rides and kayaking as well as lazing in the sun.
• Hydrate. Drinking plenty of fluids is always important, but especially when you have to compete with heat. Know the signs of heat exhaustion: According to the Mayo Clinic, these include heavy sweating, dizziness, feeling weak or faint, muscle cramps, nausea, headache, and cool moist skin even in the heat. Stop all activity, move to a cool place, drink water, and call a doctor if symptoms get worse or don’t improve within an hour.
5 IDEAS TO COOL OFF YOUR HOME DECOR
• Small changes can make a big difference. You may not be able to reupholster your couch, but try changing out throw pillows, drapes, area rugs and other fabrics for lighter colors and/or summery prints. The same is true for metals, like candle holders: silver or brushed nickel is cooler than brass or wrought iron.
• Cool off your bedroom. For the summer, replace your usual bedspread with a simple white cotton duvet for instant spa-like relaxation. Nothing beats crisp cotton for summer sheets, either.
• Add a touch of whimsy. Hawaiian prints, light florals and beach themes call out summer, and can be added to your rooms in either subtle references or campy kitsch.
• Consider changing personal photos seasonally. Put away the photos from last year’s Snowmageddon; instead display your favorite, pool, garden and seaside shots.
• Bring the outside in. Fresh flowers don’t have to be expensive, and literally bring summer into your home. Even a grocery-store bouquet, displayed in a cute vase, creates instant sunshine.
5 SUMMER STYLES TO REFRESH YOUR WARDROBE
• Chinos get chic. Chinos are in this summer, according to Out Magazine, but not the kind your dad wore. Gay boys and girls should look for flat fronts, skinny cuts, and not be afraid of colors that go beyond the traditional neutral khaki: think red and teal as well.
• Tank tops don’t have to be skin-tight. Girly girls can take advice from InStyle.com and look for loose, sexy, swinging styles that flow and float over the body.
• Summer means softer, in jewelry, too. This season, Elle magazine loves necklaces and bracelets made from woven, knotted, braided or simply gathered fabrics and string.
• Go with gingham. Gingham checks are popular in men’s shirts this summer, but it can be hard to get the proportion right. Esquire magazine recommends going for a medium check, with squares no bigger than a fingernail.
• Own more than one pair of flip-flops. Summer is the season for exposed toes, and gay Atlanta is so casual that you can get away with wearing these out. But save the traditional rubber thongs for the beach or pool, and look for canvas or leather styles for other wear. And please, regardless of gender, don’t neglect the pedicure.
5 ONLINE AMUSEMENTS WORTH CHECKING OUT
• “Jack in a Box” (www.youtube.com/MCCreighton/): Michael Cyril Creighton’s “Jack in a Box” is a delightful web sitcom staring Creighton as Jack, a cubbish gay box-office worker in New York City dealing with an eclectic menagerie of co-workers and friends between awkward auditions and spats with his over-the-top agent. It’s simply made, but very well done. Once you start, it’s hard to stop.
• www.npr.org/music: Summer music selections feel a little stale? NPR’s amazing selection of fresh and classic concerts will definitely spice up your summer listening. Start with selections from the 2010 Newport Folk Festival where you can get a listen at Brandi Carlile’s set. Dig a little further and you’ll find an intimate performance by Adele in the Tiny Desk series.
• “My Drunk Kitchen” (www.youtube.com/user/MyHarto): Hannah “Harto” Hart is a self-described “big ‘ol homo” who decided to make her own cooking show — with alcohol as the main ingredient. Hilarious.
• www.CuteOverload.com: LGBT folks are known for loving our pets like children, so you can’t help but swoon for these absurdly adorable kitties, doggies, hamsters and more. Share them on Facebook and watch even your toughest friends melt.
• www.DamnYouAutocorrect.com: Sure, it’s not new, but it’s still unbelievably funny. There is much to love about the iPhone (and other smartphones with predictive text, though the iPhone is the biggest culprit)… including the chance to laugh at people whose phones make them proposition their parents.
5 BITES FOR BETTER SUMMER DINING
• Eat out — outside, that is. Plan a late supper for sundown and dine on your patio, deck, or even on a blanket in the yard. Candles or patio lights complete the festive feeling.
• Lose the heat. Create a meal based entirely on foods served cold: gazpacho, a light chicken salad, sorbet or a chilled pie for dessert.
• Make your own ice cream. Sure, you can spend tons of money on fancy ice cream machines, but you can also buy a basic electric ice cream maker for less than $30. Either way, impress your friends with creative flavors.
• Freshen up. ‘Tis the season for fresh fruits and vegetables, so try to work at least one of each into every meal. Even better, shop local!
• Take a vacation from cooking. Atlanta’s LGBT restaurant scene is bustling year ‘round, but summer puts their patios on full display. There’s always a crowd of hot boys and girls, plus most have installed summer fans, misters or shade to keep things just cool enough.
5 BENEFITS NOT TO MISS • IT’S NEVER TOO HOT TO HELP
• Joining Hearts (July 23, www.joininghearts.org): Atlanta’s biggest summer pool party, held at the Piedmont Park pool, raises funds for housing for people impacted by HIV.
• Marietta Rainbow Festival (July 29-30, www.rainbowgeorgia.com): Held at the new LeBuzz, Marietta’s recently expanded gay bar, the city’s second annual Pride event also raises funds for Project Love.
• Backpack in the Park (July 30, www.forthekid.org): A laid-back afternoon event in Piedmont Park gathers school supplies for needy kids produced by the same folks behind the Toy Party during the gift giving season.
• Atlanta Lesbian Health Initiative T Dance (July 31, www.thehealthinitiative.org): This second annual event, held at the Rush Center, is a lead-up to the Health Initiative’s popular Fall Garden Party; the organization provides a variety of health and support services for women.
• Atlanta Gay & Lesbian Chamber of Commerce Community Awards (Aug. 26, www.atlantagaychamber.org): This annual dinner at the W Midtown honors LGBT business and community leaders and raises funds for the gay business group.