Books & Brews: The Hating Game / Dogfish Head’s Beer for Breakfast

Two of my favorite things in the world are craft beer and books. On the last Thursday of every month I pair a book I love with a pint to sip while reading it.

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At some point a few months ago, my friend Julia gushed about how much she enjoyed Sally Thorne’s The Hating Game. Then at my local writers conference in September, Sarah MacLean told me she loved it. Then my friend Lindsay read it, and sent around a message saying we had to discuss it. Clearly, with all this prodding I moved it to the top of my to-be-read list. And while we’re talking lists– it’s worth nothing that the novel was in the top ten of Goodread’s Choice Awards for romance and named one of NPR’s best books of 2016. A good book to round out my 2016 Books & Brews series, I suppose!

The premise of the story is classic, bitter work rivals who can’t stand each other, until eventually they start to piece together that maybe they very much can. An enemies-to-lovers story, if you will. Main characters Lucy Hutton and Josh Templeman are executive assistants for co-CEOs of a large publishing house who have a daily routine of disdain for each other. Things get complicated when they are forced to compete for a promotion. And even more complicated when the facade of hate starts to crumble.

Here what I loved about the book: Continue reading

The Thing Is, I Like It All

The other night after a long walk to see the festive grazing deer made of white lights and sparkly trees in the heart of downtown, we stopped at a bar for a holiday beer (as you do). I was all set for an Anchor Christmas Ale, or maybe even my yearly glass of Troegs Mad Elf. A quick skim of the menu, which was at least 8.5 by 14 inches with draughts on one side and bottles/can on the other, didn’t reveal much at all in the way of festive beer (my elf friend arrives next week according to the “coming soon” section) and so I started to read more closely for a second choice. Continue reading

Books & Brews: Delancey / Legend Brewery’s Oktoberfest

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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. 

I’m mostly a fiction reader, as is fiercely evident in a scroll through my previous Books & Brews posts. However, if I had to pick a close second– it would be memoirs. Specifically memoirs that involve food. I loved Barbara Kingsolver’s Animal, Vegetable, Miracle and Michelle Maisto’s  The Gastronomy of Marriage. I bought and cooked liver after Julie Powell made it sound so romantic in Julie & Julia. And… I can stop, clearly using “liver’ and “romantic” in the same sentence adequately demonstrates my love. Anyway, I was doing a little updating on Goodreads recently and noticed this delicious memoir* that I had added some time ago and figured I was due for a little break from the fiction. This month I read Delancey: A Man, A Woman, A Restaurant, A Marriage by Molly Wizenberg. (*I think I’m going to officially call the sub-genre of memoir about food: “delicious memoir.”)

The book chronicles the birth of a business. It starts with the author’s husband making the proclamation that he is going to open a restaurant that serves the New York style pizza he loves, because he is unable to find an acceptable substitute in Seattle. She assumes it’s just another of his fleeting interests (like violin making or ship-building), but his interest doesn’t wane this time. Suddenly there’s a lease and a space to remodel and staff to hire and pizzas to make, and sides and desserts to plan and prep. Wizenberg’s memoir tells the story of both her whole-hearted involvement in the project and her ultimate decision to step out of the kitchen at Delancey.

Here’s what I loved about the book: Continue reading

I’ve Been Trying to Do It Right

Last Friday night Mike and I went to see The Lumineers. The show was at an outdoor amphitheater and the evening could not have been any more perfect. Just a little heat from the day rising from the concrete and a cool breeze blowing those little hairs at the back of my neck that always slide out of the pile on top of my head. And if the temperature wasn’t enough to make me believe in the promise of fall around the corner, the moon hung low and full and orange in the sky. The band was everything I hoped for when I snapped up the tickets months ago: harmonies, and cellos, and accordions, and suspender wearing drummers, and powerful emotive vocals. And stories. Man, I love it when the songwriter gives a little of the “why” behind their words. And then there was the beer … Continue reading

Books & Brews: Results May Vary / Urban Family Brewing Company’s Death to Cereal

 

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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. (*Except this month … I’m running a little late with August’s book. Which just means double the fun in September!)

Up for reading and pairing in August was Bethany Chase’s RESULTS MAY VARY (which, by the way, might have one of my favorite covers ever). The story opens with the main character Caroline discovering that her husband is having an affair with a man. And when I say husband, know that I mean high-school sweetheart turned husband, with whom she has spent the overwhelming majority of her life– so obviously her world is completely turned upside down. The novel chronicles Caroline’s attempts to make sense of the betrayal and learn how to move forward. The book totally lives up to it’s amazing cover (not that I was judging it by that, at all, in any way).

Here’s what I loved about the book: Continue reading

Books & Brews: From the Sideline / New Belgium Brewing’s Shift Pale Lager

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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. 

This month I read Amy Avanzino’s second novel, FROM THE SIDELINE. Technically it’s the second book in her Wake-up Series, but I had no problem reading it as a stand-alone without reading the first book (though I really want to, now). In FROM THE SIDELINE, the main character, Autumn Kovac, reluctantly allows her only son to try out for the local youth football team. She’s terrified about sending her ten-year-old onto the field to be tackled by faster, larger, and far more coordinated children. She’s convinced he’ll sustain a head-injury, at worst, or be ridiculed by his peers, at other worst. Even though she can’t see any positive outcome, trying out for the team is only thing has made him happy since his father left– so she gives him the green light, certain he won’t make the cut. When he does, she finds herself thrown into a world she knows nothing about and finds out she has as much learning and growing to do as her son, if not more.

Here’s what I loved about the book: Continue reading

Books & Brews: The Life Intended / Bell’s Oberon

The Life Intended by Kristin Harmel

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. 

I didn’t intentionally choose to read Kristin Harmel’s THE LIFE INTENDED during the same month I turned 39, but I did. Have you ever had that experience where the exact right thing (a story, a song, a photograph) finds you at the exact right moment and you feel just a little more understood? That’s what this was like. Here’s why I loved the book: Continue reading

Books & Brews: Eight Hundred Grapes / Dogfish Head’s Midas Touch

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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. The series kicked off in earnest in May 2015, which means it turns one this month. Happy birthday, dear Books & Brews, happy birthday to you…

The events in Laura Dave’s EIGHT HUNDRED GRAPES take place against the backdrop of the yearly harvest party at a vineyard– which makes it a perfect read for this celebratory month. (Synchronization, perhaps. *winking at anyone who has read the book already*) However, unlike my quiet little confetti throwing on the blog, Dave’s novel is full of family drama, in all the best ways. The main character, Georgia, returns home to her family’s vineyard in search of the comfortable familiar. Instead she finds that everything (really, literally everything) has changed. Here’s what I loved about the book: Continue reading

The Unintended Consequence of All My Beer Talk

I write about beer a lot. It’s become this thing that people sort of know about me, which is great. I love that folks are reading my Books & Brews posts or articles/interviews in which I’ve mentioned my love of craft beer. But there’s this one little unintended consequence of my very open, very frequent, and very public profession of beer-love that’s been nagging at me lately.

Here are two scenarios that occur with surprising regularity: 1) someone says “I was going to bring beer, but I would have NO idea what to bring you,” when arriving at my house for  dinner/a party/hamburgers on the patio; 2) I’m told “Sorry, we only have *insert non-craft beer brand*,” when I’ve been invited to someone else’s home for dinner/a party/hamburgers on the patio. I’d like to take a moment today to assuage all these fears people have about serving me beer: Continue reading

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

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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