Books & Brews: The Coincidence of Coconut Cake / Brooklyn Brewery’s Black Chocolate Stout

finalC3

Two of my favorite things in the world are craft beer and books. On the last Thursday of every month I pair a story I love with a pint to sip while reading it, under the theory that there is a perfect beer to compliment every book.

I’ll admit, I did exactly the thing the old adage tells us never to do: I judged this book by its  cover. But you see it up there, right? How could you not fall in love, but if for some odd reason, the cover didn’t draw you in, the description would get you: Lou is a chef. Al is a restaurant critic who writes under a pseudonym and is known for his scathing reviews. He dines at Lou’s restaurant on a very off night. And by very off, I mean walked in on her fiancé with another women when she stopped by to surprise him with a coconut cake– off. Al skewers her restaurant in a review. Then the two meet at random in a bar and Lou accepts the challenge to show Al all the best of Milwaukee’s food scene. One caveat– no talking about work. As Lou’s business collapses, largely due to Al’s review, the two fall in love. Which is clearly problematic.

Here are just a few things I loved about Amy E. Reichert’s THE COINCIDENCE OF COCONUT CAKE: Continue reading

Books & Brews: The Strangeness of Men / Isley Brewing Company’s Choosy Mother

45564f_05b0b5dfb8ef402fb20ee836bf214ee6

Two of my favorite things in the world are craft beer and books. On the last Thursday of every month I pair a story I love with a pint to sip while reading it, under the theory that there is a perfect beer to compliment every book.

I’m kicking off 2016 with a Book & Brews first — instead of featuring a novel, I’m thrilled to share a collection of short stories, flash fiction, and poems! Kim Drew Wright’s The Strangeness of Men is thirty-eight unique stories bound together under one lovely cover (really, look at that cover up there– so gorgeous). Obviously, it would be impossible to give you a synopsis of each and every one of those stories, but what I can tell you is that each one explores some element of humanity– from the mundane (think laundry, cooking, and cleaning bathrooms), to the quirky (a naked sleepwalker), to the unimaginable (life in a quarantined town where people die every day). And each piece leaves you thinking just a little differently about the world around you and the stories everyone carries with them.

Here are just a few things I loved about this book: Continue reading

Books & Brews: The Good Neighbor / Anchor Steam

GoodNeighbor_2B-2-200x300

Two of my favorite things in the world are craft beer and books. On the last Thursday of every month I pair a novel I love with a pint to sip while reading it, under the theory that there is a perfect beer to compliment every book.

This month I read The Good Neighbor by Amy Sue Nathan and I could not be more excited to share it with you! Many of you are on a bit of a break from work and/or school right now and if you’re like me, reading is near the top of your winter break “to do” list– just go ahead and add this book to the very top of that list.

Izzy Lane, the main character in The Good Neighbor, is recently divorced and has just moved back to her childhood home with her son, Noah. She’s in transition, learning to navigate sharing custody with her ex and starting over in the neighborhood she grew up in. In the midst of this, she starts an anonymous blog as a place to express her feelings about all the change. She has a regular readers and enjoys connecting with them in the comments. Just as she is starting to find her footing, she runs into her ex-husband and his new girlfriend. Caught off-guard and wanting to seem “fine” about it all, she invents a boyfriend. Just a tiny little lie. No big deal. Until she slips and mentions this fictional beau on her blog, and her best-friend Jade approaches her about writing a dating blog for 40-somethings on her extremely popular website, Pop Philly. Suddenly Izzy’s tiny lie has the potential to cause more harm than she ever imagined.

Here are just a few things I loved about The Good Neighbor: Continue reading

Books & Brews: Love in a Carry-On Bag / Abita’s Pecan Harvest

LoveinaCarryonBag-Final600px

Two of my favorite things in the world are craft beer and books. On the last Thursday of every month I pair a novel I love with a pint to sip while reading it, under the theory that there is a perfect beer to compliment every book.

It seems like there were a number of gray, rainy days in Richmond, Virginia this month, which made it a perfect month for curling up inside, under a blanket, with a good book.  Which is exactly what I did. This month I read Sadeqa Johnson’s Love in a Carry-On Bag. The novel tells the story of Erica and Warren, who are about a year into their long-distance relationship. She lives in New York, and is climbing the ladder in the marketing department at a huge publishing company. He lives Washington D.C. and works a lucrative job as an IT contractor by day and plays jazz trumpet by night. The story chronicles the intense ups and downs of their long-distance relationship, while also weaving in their childhood experiences (neither of which were easy).

Heres what I loved about the book: Continue reading

Books & Brews: Courtship of the Cake / Ballast Point’s Calm Before the Storm

COURTSHIP-OF-THE-CAKE-fina-high-res

Two of my favorite things in the world are craft beer and books. On the last Thursday of every month I pair a novel I love with a pint to sip while reading it, under the theory that there is a perfect beer to compliment every book.

This month I read Jessica Topper’s Courtship of the Cake. I’ll start with a warning – this book is going to make you want to eat cake. Even if you wouldn’t particularly list cake as your favorite dessert. Hummingbird Cake, loaded with fruit and spices and covered in a pineapple cream cheese frosting, yes please. It’s also going to make you want to get a massage. You’ll find yourself sitting on the stretch-y machine thing at the gym, thinking if only Dani were here with some essential oils to rub that spot between my shoulder blades, that would be so superior to this. That’s how well you get to know the characters in this book – so much so that you want them to hop off the pages and give you massages and bake you things. Continue reading

Books & Brews: All the Difference / Troegs’ Nugget Nectar

6b9bb5_3493bca2caae4ce69d88863d97c8548e.jpg_srz_p_311_473_75_22_0.50_1.20_0.00_jpg_srz

Two of my favorite things in the world are craft beer and books. On the last Thursday of every month I pair a women’s fiction novel I love with the perfect pint to sip while reading it, under the theory that there is a perfect beer to compliment every book.

Up this month is Leah Ferguson’s debut novel, All the Difference. What struck me most about this book, even just reading the back cover description, was the unique plot structure. The story opens on New Years Eve with the main character Molly being proposed to by her boyfriend Scott. Earlier that day she learned she was pregnant. He doesn’t know about the baby and she’s not entirely sure how to answer his question. From that moment forward, in alternating chapters, we learn what happens if she says yes versus no to his proposal.You read that description and think, so the story moves forward but in two different directions? How does that work? All I can tell you is that is works really, really beautifully. And in the end Ferguson draws out some very poignant thoughts about fate, personal choice and resilience. Continue reading

Books & Brews: The Legacy of Us / Kronenbourg Blanc

83d607_0f5dc9f376f248cb8b07d4e49a98c434.jpg_srz_p_236_393_75_22_0.50_1.20_0.00_jpg_srz

Two of my favorite things in the world are craft beer and books. On the last Thursday of every month I pair a women’s fiction novel I love with the perfect pint to sip while reading it, under the theory that there is a perfect beer to compliment every book.

Kristin Contino’s debut, The Legacy of Us, is really three books in one. Seriously, as a writer, I have no idea how she did it. As a reader, it’s the best thing ever, because three stories about love and forgiveness and strength– so much better one. Continue reading

Books & Brews: Sisterhood is Deadly / Festina Peche

Sisterhood

Two of my favorite things in the world are craft beer and books. On the last Thursday of every month I pair a women’s fiction novel I love with the perfect pint to sip while reading it, under the theory that there is a perfect beer to compliment every book.

I was excited about Lindsay Emory’s Sisterhood is Deadly from the moment she first posted about it online. Sorority advisor turned ammeter sleuth when a sister dies during a chapter meeting. You had me at sorority advisor. Seriously, I’m a sucker for books set on college campuses. Throw in a lighthearted mystery, a cast of dramatic college women, a hilarious best friend and a broodingly attractive cop who isn’t a fan of the Greek system– and I won’t be able to put the book down. Continue reading

Books & Brews: The Status of All Things / Bittersweet Symphony

Two of my favorite things in the world are craft beer and books. On the last Thursday of every month I pair a women’s fiction novel with the perfect pint to sip while reading it, under the theory that there is a perfect beer to compliment every book.

This month I read The Status of All Things by Liz Fenton and Lisa Steinke. Liz and Lisa’s book was recommended to me by Dee DeTasrio after she read and blurbed Neverending Beginnings for me this spring. She recommended it because it features elements of magical realism, just like my debut novel.

Magical what? You ask. Magical realism, is just a fancy way to describe a story set in the real world with some tiny little twist that couldn’t actually happen in life as we know it. In Liz and Lisa’s book, the featured element of magical realism is that the main character, Kate, can alter the things happening in her life by changing her Facebook status.

This is especially useful since the book opens with her fiancé canceling their wedding at the rehearsal dinner. Make that their destination wedding– in Hawaii. Oh, and he’s canceling the wedding because he’s in love with her co-worker. Not a particularly bad time to be given the chance to write life altering status updates. Kate decides to use her power to go back in time and keep her wedding on track. Which of course goes nothing at all as planned. Continue reading

Books & Brews: English as a Second Language / Sierra Nevada Pale Ale

Two of my favorite things in the world are craft beer and books. Some time ago I set out to write a monthly post pairing a book with a beer, under the theory that there is a perfect beer to compliment every book. Then I got a bit overwhelmed by all the options (so many amazing books, so little time) and the series fizzled. This month, I’m bringing it back infused with a bit more structure and all the same awesome-ness. On the last Thursday of every month I’ll pair a women’s fiction novel with the perfect pint to sip while reading it. Here goes …

Last week my debut novel was released in paperback for the first time. Holding that first story in my hands as brought on all sorts of nostalgia, so I’m going back in time a bit for this first pairing. The book that started it all for me, the one I related to in such a way that I had that very first nagging thought that perhaps I too could write something was Megan Crane’s, English as a Second Language. Continue reading