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

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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’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

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

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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 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

Craft Beer & the Craft of Writing

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I write a blog post every month about pairing books and beer, so it seems only right that I welcome all the amazing authors descending on my city this weekend for the James River Writers conference by providing information about the ever-inspiring Richmond craft beer scene. I have to say, being the self-elected purveyor of this important information feels a little daunting to me. There’s a lot of delicious beer in Richmond– what if I forget to list a brewery? And what if the one that I forget was going to be that one writer from Super Far Away’s absolute favorite because pumpkin infused with maple syrup and aged in bourbon barrels is their thing (that’s not snark– it is actually sort of my thing, this time of year).

Luckily, while visiting one of my fabulous local breweries recently, I spied a handy brochure that featured a map of the RVA Beer Trail, put out by the estimable RVABeer.com and my fears evaporated. All you have to do if you want to learn about all the great beer in my city is visit their site. There’s a map, and links to websites for each brewery. So there you have it. No brewery left unmentioned and my job here is done. Welcome to Richmond, writers — go forth and find your favorite brew, whether it involves pumpkin, maple, and barrel-aging or not!

*In all seriousness, there is so much great food and beer in my city, so if you’re visiting for the conference (or anything else), feel free to reach out to me for recommendations!

Riverboats & Irony

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One of my favorite neighborhood restaurants recently hosted a riverboat dinner cruise. They rented an old school steamboat and we travelled a few miles up the river, then turned around and headed back to enjoy a night view of the city skyline. They served delicious food (macaroni and cheese, spicy potato salad, steamed shrimp, oysters, black bean salad, an amazing s’mores inspired dessert, etc.). Along with some of their most popular cocktails and some summery wine and beer. There was also dancing. Continue reading

Books & Brews: The Legacy of Us / Kronenbourg Blanc

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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 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

All the Singel Ladies

Nope, that’s not a typo. I’m referring to the beer from one of my local breweries, the Hardywood Singel. Which I snuck into the theatre when I went to see Trainwreck last week. And when I say snuck, I mean purchased it at the bar in the theatre and then took it in to the show, not smuggled it in via my large purse. Continue reading

Books & Brews: Sisterhood is Deadly / Festina Peche

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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 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