I Hate Everyone but You

I hate everyone but you.jpg

3.5 out of 5 Stars

Synopsis

Dear Best Friend,
I can already tell that I will hate everyone but you.
Sincerely,
Ava Helmer
(that brunette who won’t leave you alone)

We’re still in the same room, you weirdo.
Stop crying.
G

So begins a series of texts and emails sent between two best friends, Ava and Gen, as they head off to their first semesters of college on opposite sides of the country. From first loves to weird roommates, heartbreak, self-discovery, coming out and mental health, the two of them document every wild and awkward moment to each other. But as each changes and grows into her new life, will their friendship be able to survive the distance?

Excerpt

I HAVE ARRIVED
Ava Helmer < AVA.HELMER@ gmail.com > to Gen
Do you remember the first day of freshman year (1.0) when I wore that weird sweater set and you spilled Diet Coke all over your white shirt, so I tried to give you my cardigan but you refused because only lame-ass bitches wear cardigans? I wish that day was happening right now instead of this one. My roommate, Jessica, is not very nice. And not in a I-have-a-rough-exterior-but-a-heart-of-gold Gen kind of way, but actually not nice. She asked me to take the left side of the room and then an hour later told me she wanted the left side. Which isn’t a big deal EXCEPT I had already cleaned the left side and started organizing all my plastic drawers. (I wish you would get plastic drawers,
they are a life changer.) Jessica is a marketing major. I feel like no other description is necessary. USC feels even bigger than when I visited. The whole campus is packed with security guards, which somehow does the opposite of making me feel safe. I tried to find all my classrooms for Monday, but I ended up in four different dining halls instead. Yes. There are four dining halls. And they all serve the same food. Maybe I should go find Meghan. I know she is boring and dumb, but at least she is a familiar boring and dumb. The one good thing about this place is everyone seems to party all the time, so it won’t be hard to find out WHERE THE PARTY AT.
A
P.S. Are you dead?
11: 16 PM EST Abort Meghan. We just spent 4 years avoiding Meghan. Go meet new people. You have great hair! ??? Just a confidence boost!
ADULTING Gen Goldman < GENX1999@ gmail.com > to Ava
I was born to be an adult. Crushing this no-rules thing. Not that my house had many rules, but I felt like your mom was always watching. (What’s up, Ruth! Are you still reading Ava’s emails?!) Anyway. Adult parties. I guess technically they are college parties, but more than five twenty-somethings made an appearance so I think it counts as a crossover.
Shannon took me to the baseball house in Allston, which I thought would be terrible but it’s not even a real baseball team. It’s just a bunch of guys who toss a ball around and make dinner together on Sundays. We stayed until 3 AM talking about Stop Making Sense and Spike Lee’s MJ documentary (which is basically a fluff piece). Shannon kind of sucks except as a conduit to fun. But I met this badass literature chick, Molly, who is basically me with shorter hair. We drank gin and tonics and laughed whenever boys would try to get us to “toss some balls around.” (Believe it or not, this pickup line ACTUALLY WORKED on Shannon.) Brace yourself: Molly is bisexual, but I guess almost everyone here is. She was wearing an unofficial Emerson T-shirt that said “Gay by May or Your Money Back.” I think she has a girlfriend. Or a boyfriend. “Charlie” could go either way. Just like everyone else at this school! BOOM!
G
Re: ADULTING Ava Helmer < AVA.HELMER@gmail.com > to Gen
That was a really great joke. Setup. Punch line. Are you sure you want to write actual news and not buddy comedies with me in Screenwriting 101? For such a select group of young writers, most of the kids in my elite BFA program are fucking weirdos. We had an orientation, and half of my class said The Shawshank Redemption was their favorite movie. That can’t be true, right? Some of those people probably haven’t even seen that dreadful movie. I couldn’t pick between Little Miss Sunshine and The Sapphires. But no one had heard of The Sapphires so LMS won by default. I was worried about talking too much during the introductions so now I think I talked too little. People would just think I’m shy if I didn’t have such harsh features that make me look like a bitch. Am I a bitch? Does being judgmental automatically make you a bitch? Looking forward to your thoughts and notes. A P.S. You went to a BASEBALL party? Who are you anymore?
Re: ADULTING
Gen Goldman < GENX1999@ gmail.com > to Ava
You are NOT a bitch. You just have taste. And high cheekbones. Please refer to the baddest bitch in the game for assurance: NICKI MINAJ DEFENDS HER PERSONALITY & DENIES BEING A BITCH! Re: ADULTING Ava Helmer < AVA.HELMER@ gmail.com > to Gen Oh, Nicki Minaj. Once again reminding us what it means to be a boss. 9: 42 AM PST Sitting in my first official college class. I’m the only one here. Do you think I’m in the wrong place? How early are u?
Only 15 minutes! 18 minutes!
UR in the right place. UR just a nerd.
Does no one else have panic attacks that they’re going to arrive late and ruin their lives so they overcompensate by arriving extremely early?
I’m sure someone else does. And ull prob marrythem.
I wish! Someone else showed up! I’m in the right place!
Are you sure it’s not Nick Fury about to invite you into “The Avengers”?
Couldn’t tell ya!

My Thoughts

A touching and funny story about two best friends trying to survive at college without each other.

Genevieve and Ava have been friends forever. Never apart, until now. Going to college on opposite coasts from each other, this is a chronicle of the two of them growing up, meeting new friends and discovering their sexuality.

Genevieve, the raging outrovert trying to find her voice in her journalism and in the queer community and Ava, the introvert with more medications than friends, just looking for her first kiss. I loved the dynamic between these two. I can’t attest to whether their friendship is realistic or not, but I hope it is.

I loved how different the characters were and the challenge of trying to understand the roadblocks they were each running into, and the choices they make to jump those hurdles.

I didn’t detract from my rating for this, but to be honest, I listened to the audiobook for this one. I will warn you right now, they may have chosen two girls with the most annoying voices ever…. Listen to it if you would like, but I will show you who I pictured while listening to this.

Ava Gen

If you’ve ever heard either of their voices…. you know what I’m talking about. So, read the book.

I Hate Everyone But You is Best Served with

…..BEER PONG!!

Okay, so Beer Pong is NOT a cocktail…. I know. But, reading about these girls being in College, going to parties and joining sororities, I got nostalgic! Ha ha.

So, first things first, this post is coming out LATE! I will say right now PEOPLE OVER 30 SHOULDN’T PLAY BEER PONG!! We were all in our 30s and 40s and…. Well, I WAS planning on getting this post ready last night to go out at my normal 6am post time. Needless to say that didn’t happen.

Here was a chronicle of my night….

It started with a fire.

Then, I informed everyone that we had to play beer pong for my post. Our friend, asking the logical question “where will we play?”

NORMAL PEOPLE ANSWER

“On an existing table or surface in the house!”

MY MAN AND HIS FRIEND’S ANSWER

“We’ll MAKE a table!”

Have I ever shown you a picture of my man??

macgyver.png

Ha ha ha!!!!

Anyways, LET THE GAMES BEGIN!!!!

So, did I mention that we’re all old?? Well, that means that we’re also logical. We decided that it’s really gross to have a ping pong ball bouncing around the garage and the drinking a beer that it landed in. (RIGHT??) So, we filled the cups with a small amount of water and if we got a ball in the cup we had to take a shot. (hurrah for Black Velvet! Only the best for us! HA HA!)

20180515_135716.jpg

20180515_135537.jpg

Anyways, it’s a long weekend for us this coming weekend, so I thought this would be a good way to get psyched for it!

Remember the rules if you decide to play!

1 bounce or straight in. The ball can’t bounce more than once!

CHEERS!!

A Piece of the World

a piece of the world

4 out of 5 Stars

Synopsis

From the #1 New York Times bestselling author of the smash bestseller Orphan Train, a stunning and atmospheric novel of friendship, passion, and art, inspired by Andrew Wyeth’s mysterious and iconic painting Christina’s World.

“Later he told me that he’d been afraid to show me the painting. He thought I wouldn’t like the way he portrayed me: dragging myself across the field, fingers clutching dirt, my legs twisted behind. The arid moonscape of wheatgrass and timothy. That dilapidated house in the distance, looming up like a secret that won’t stay hidden.”

To Christina Olson, the entire world was her family’s remote farm in the small coastal town of Cushing, Maine. Born in the home her family had lived in for generations, and increasingly incapacitated by illness, Christina seemed destined for a small life. Instead, for more than twenty years, she was host and inspiration for the artist Andrew Wyeth, and became the subject of one of the best known American paintings of the twentieth century.

As she did in her beloved smash bestseller Orphan Train, Christina Baker Kline interweaves fact and fiction in a powerful novel that illuminates a little-known part of America’s history. Bringing into focus the flesh-and-blood woman behind the portrait, she vividly imagines the life of a woman with a complicated relationship to her family and her past, and a special bond with one of our greatest modern artists.

Told in evocative and lucid prose, A Piece of the World is a story about the burdens and blessings of family history, and how artist and muse can come together to forge a new and timeless legacy.

My Thoughts

“I’m Nobody! Who are you?

Are you – Nobody – too?

Then there’s a pair of us!

Don’t tell! they’d advertise – you know!”

The words of Emily Dickinson that really spoke to Christina Olson. That was her life. Being nobody.

This book had me lured in from the very first paragraph.

“LATER HE TOLD ME HE’D BEEN AFRAID TO SHOW ME THE PAINTING. He thought I wouldn’t like the way he portrayed me: dragging myself across the field, fingers clutching dirt, my legs twisted behind. The arid moonscape of wheatgrass and timothy. That dilapidated house in the distance, looming up like a secret that won’t stay hidden. Faraway windows, opaque and unreadable. Ruts in the spiky grass made by an invisible vehicle, leading nowhere. Dishwater sky.”

This novel is loosely based off the story behind a painting by Andrew Wyeth called “Christina’s World”

christina's world

It focuses on the sad and lonely life of Cristina Olson. She was born with twisted legs that were a challenge to get around on. In her later years, she couldn’t walk at all and had to pull herself along the ground. Doctors in later years realized that she may have had a rare neurological disorder called “Charcot-Marie-Tooth”, but in her life time nothing could be done about it.

She spent her life watching everyone leave her and move on while she had thoughts bigger than the farm she lived on.

“Two butterflies went out at Noon

And waltzed above a Stream,

Then stepped straight through the Firmament

And rested on a Beam . . .

And then together bore away

Upon a shining Sea . . .

I imagine these butterflies travelling the world, alighting in my garden for a short time before heading off again. Dream that someday I might grow wings and follow, fluttering behind them down the field and across the water.”

Due to family obligations, though, she was stuck with her chores on the farm, unable to talk with anyone, instead of enjoying life outside of her little world.

“Later, when I’m at home in bed, I conjure entire conversations I might’ve had with a boy named Robert Allan, whose brown eyes and wavy hair I found so appealing that I could hardly bear to look at him directly, even from across the room.

And then, in my imagining, the music starts. “May I have this dance, Christina?” Robert asks.

“Why, yes,” I say.

He extends his hand, and when I take it, he pulls me close, his chest warm against mine. Through my blouse I feel his other hand on the small of my back, guiding me gently, firmly, as he moves forward on his left foot and I step backward with my right: two slow steps, three quick ones, hold. Forward, forward, side to side . . .

I drift to sleep, hearing the music in my head, moving my toes to the rhythm. Two slow steps, three quick ones, hold. Two slow steps, three quick ones, hold.”

This is a slow paced novel, it is a quick and easy read but it’s not full of thrills… It’s full of longing. I didn’t know whether to love Christina, or to hate her. She starts off as someone you admire, and slowly seems to degrade into a bitter old woman to the point where it’s difficult to feel sorry for her. She tries to hold everyone back because she herself is limited in life.

When the synopsis says it’s “told in evocative and lucid prose” it’s not kidding. I loved the description in the writing style. I really understood the feelings of the characters and the nature of the house house they lived in.Even something as simple as fishing can be made into a vivid experience through the words on the page.

“Papa hands each of us a handline. It’s a simple rig, cotton line coated with linseed oil and wrapped around a piece of wood he whittled on each end to better hold the line. There’s a big hook at the end and a lead weight to make it sink. He teaches us to bait the hook with chum he keeps in an old bucket covered by a board. We let our lines down slowly, and then we wait. I don’t catch anything, but Al’s line is magic. Is it the way he fastens his bait? The way he jigs his line, making the fish believe it’s alive? Or is it something else, a serene confidence that fish will come? Half a dozen times there’s an almost imperceptible tug on the line between Al’s forefinger and thumb, and he in response pulls hard on the line to set his hook and then, hand over hand, hauls in a flapping haddock or cod from the depths of the sea, over the gunwales into our boat.

With the skill of a surgeon, he removes the hook from the fish and detangles the line. He insists on rowing all the way back by himself. When we land at the dock, he holds up his palms, red and raw, and grins. He’s proud of his blisters.”

I think Christina herself spells this book out the best in a line quoted from “O Pioneers”

“People have to snatch at happiness when they can, in this world. It is always easier to lose than to find…”

A Piece of the World is Best Served With

a Garden Kitchen Sink Gimlet

I got the idea for this drink at Saveur and OH MY GOSH is it good!!!! I mean, SO GOOD!!!! Like “Danger, Will Robinson, DANGER!” Kind of good!!! you will want to sit out in the fresh air with this book and this drink and drink then until you can’t read anymore!

Ingredients

  • 8 mint leaves
  • 1 tablespoon blackberries
  • 1/4 cucumber cut into thin rounds
  • 1 oz gin
  • 1 oz fresh lime juice
  • 1/2 oz creme de casis

Directions

  1. Muddle mint, blackberries, and cucumbers in a cocktail shaker
  2. Add gin, lime juice, cassis, and ice and shake vigorously
  3. Strain into a highball glass filled with ice and garnish with blackberries and mint.
  4. CHEERS!!!

Blog Tour-Ray Vs The Meaning of Life

Cover Ray vs meaning of life

5 out of 5 Stars

Thank you for checking out my stop on this tour with Xpresso Book Tours! Feel free to follow the rest of the your with the schedule at the end of the post!

Synopsis:

“Stewart presents readers with a dynamite coming-of-age story … A tale spins its answer to an age-old question into an inclusive, hilarious, and thought-provoking yarn.”—Kirkus Reviews (starred review)

——

Grandma’s Last Will and Testament names Ray to inherit the trailer park. It’s a million-dollar estate with one hitch: to prove he’s not as aimless as he seems, Ray must discover the meaning of life by the end of the month. (She left the answer in an envelope.) If he fails, the camp goes to his estranged family.

How does anyone find the meaning of life while running a park full of misfit miners, would-be truck racers, and one demanding little girl? There’s a bear too. A grizzly. Maybe that’ll help?

My Thoughts:

Ray is just an ordinary 17 year old. He wants to relax, play his video games (with the DOZENS of people who watch him play), and eat his weight in Kraft Dinner. That is all about to change when his Grandma dies.

“Grandma was rich. She owned Sunny Days RV Park and wasn’t all that pleased about getting old, so she’d arranged for the freezer people to come and freeze her if by chance she kicked it. Grandma always told everyone her Last Will and Testament would be a “doozy .”

“You can take my park, but I’m gonna want it back when I resurrect like Jesus,” she’d say.”

When he’s named in the will to inherit everything if he can discover “the meaning of life” his family is livid, leaving him to run “Sunny Days” RV park all on his own. But, how easy can it be for a 17 year old to realize the meaning of life? How easy is it for ANY of us at any age to figure it out?

“This video’s right. There is no meaning. How can there be? When we die everything is forgotten. There is no purpose. And don’t say ‘going to heaven ’ because I don’t believe in that.”

With words of wisdom from respected people at the park,

“A person’s life is long and the ending of it doesn’t tell the tale. Unfortunately, it is what we most remember.”

“Fear is nothing to be afraid of ,” Salminder replies. “Letting it control you is the problem.”

And a bootcamp with the T.V guru, Dalen Andres, his grandma hired,

“Worry, worry, worry. Most of the stuff we worry about never happens . Worry is a symptom that you live too much in the future. You can’t afford negative thoughts, not a one. Not a single bad one about yourself or about anyone else.”

“I can’t do that— they just pop into my head.”

He sits beside me and takes my hands. It’s weird because I can’t remember the last time a man, a person of any kind, has touched me in so intimate a way. It’s not sexual or anything, it just doesn’t happen to me. I cringe from it, but he holds.

“They don’t pop into your head.” Dalen’s intense eyes hardly blink. “You control them. If there’s anything I can teach you, it’s that. Only you are in control of your thoughts. Thoughts lead to actions, actions to habit, habit to destiny. In fact, my friend, your thoughts are the only thing in your control.”

He’s going to try his hardest (of the hardest a 17 year old can try!) to figure it out.

It’s not going to be easy though. Ray has some seriously insightful concerns that I’m sure have plagued all of us in our lives. In a day where the internet is everywhere, how can we feel like the best when the one in a million is always being flaunted in our faces? What’s the point of trying if we can never be the best?

I’m going to take a wild guess that I can find people out there better at everything than me. Why focus on anything when there’s no way I have a chance at being the best at it?”

This book was so much deeper and more meaningful than I ever expected. I will be honest and say that I requested to be on this tour because I loved that the cover looked like “Monty Python’s Meaning of Life”. This is the 2nd time that I’ve requested to be part of a blog tour for a silly reason and it has been an AMAZING BOOK!! I think this may be my criteria for the future! Ray may not have been the most lovable character, but he was a character that grew up through the course of the book. You couldn’t help but root for him even as he tries to give up. His reasons and feelings are so valid that everyone will surely relate to him (at least I hope it’s not just me!!). He sees things through the eyes of a child, but also as a man, understanding what a lot of adults would miss or take for granted.

“Hi, Mr. Ray.” She smiles big. “Is the iceberg melted?” For a second I look inside to my stomach, but panic-berg’s still there.

“Almost,” I say. “Maybe tomorrow. Did you know an iceberg sank the Titanic? They can be huge and dangerous.”

A tiny furrow appears between her eyebrows. I wondered when those wrinkles start, and here I am seeing this one begin. If all it takes for a kid to be successful is one person to believe in them, then maybe all it takes is one person for a kid to distrust, to start the brow wrinkle.

“My mommy said tomorrow means one more sleep. It’s been . . .” She starts counting on her fingers and runs out. “Yeah, I know. Not everyone’s tomorrow’s the same. But this time it’s one more sleep.”

She smiles again , but I see that the furrow’s still there. And I know where they come from. Broken promises.”

I loved the messages and values that this book teaches. I won’t ruin what those are… you’ll have to find out for yourselves when you read it. I WILL say, that this book will touch all of you. It will make you think, and it will make you question. For all those lost souls out there, it may give you some guidance (while also giving you a laugh!)

GET YOUR COPY NOW AT:

AMAZON US

AMAZON CANADA

AMAZON UK

OR TRY TO WIN YOUR VERY OWN COPY!! (International draw for 20 copies!)

CLICK HERE TO ENTER!

The Author:

Author Ray ve Meaning of Life

Michael F. Stewart embraces all forms of storytelling. In 2009, he created Bully For You for Scholastic Canada, a fully functioning social media platform with an embedded interactive story. He’s written graphic novels for Rubicon Publishing’s Boldprint series, illustrated early readers and novellas for Pearson (coming in 2019!), non fiction texts on Corruption and Children’s Rights; he even tried to convince the world that we needed a location based storytelling app with augmented reality (NARR8R)-we still do! He’s written adult horror, sci-fi, urban fantasy, and adventure. He’s even written books you’ll never find. But nothing is ever wasted. His most recent book, Counting Wolves, a contemporary YA, was named to Kirkus Reviews “Best Books of 2017” list. The Boy Who Swallows Flies (2018) won Killer Nashville’s Claymore Award, and the Assured Destruction Series won The Creation of Stories: Best YA Award at the Toronto International Book Fair. In 2016, Michael was selected to join the CFC/Entertainment One TV Adaptation Lab. Herder of four daughters, Michael lives to write in Ottawa where he was the Ottawa Public Library’s Writer in Residence and runs free writing workshops. To learn more about Michael and his next projects visit him at:

His Website

Goodreads

Facebook

Twitter

Ray Vs The Meaning of Life is Best Served with

A Honey Bear Cocktail

Ingredients

  • 1oz Bourbon
  • 1oz Citrus-Sage Syrup (recipe below)
  • 2oz Apple Cider
  • Orange slices and sage leaves, for garnish
  • Ice cubes

Directions for Citrus Sage Syrup

On high heat, combine the water, honey, sugar, 8 sage leaves, and 2 orange slices in a medium skillet.

Allow to boil and then simmer for 2 -3 minutes (or until the honey and sugar have dissolved).

Strain mixture into a mason jar and allow to cool to room temperature

Remove from heat and allow to cool to room temperature.

Directions for Honey Bear

  1. Fill glasses with ice, a shot of your favorite bourbon, and then evenly pour the simple syrup you just made equally into 4 glasses.
  2. Top the glasses off with more sage leaves, an orange slice, and a splash of apple cider.
  3. CHEERS!!

To follow the rest of the tour, or look back on what others have already had to say:

April 30th
Rising Indies United
LenniLand
Lauren is Reading

May 1st
Hopelessly Devoted Bibliophile
fundinmental
Crandom

May 2nd
The BookWorm Drinketh
Dilyana’s World
Buried Under Books

May 3rd
Quite The Novel Idea
F A N N A
Andy Winder
Rockin’ Book Reviews

May 4th
Port Jericho
Cranky TBC
Books Direct

May 5th
The Avid Reader

Xpresso Tours Button

Brothers of Baseball

brothers of baseball

4.5 out of 5 Stars

I would like to thank Kristofor Hellmeister for giving me a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

Synopsis

Ryan hated the move. He hated being uprooted from his home in New York to the rural outskirts of Nashville, Tennessee. But, little did he know of what was in store for him as he becomes wrapped up in two worlds, and in two conflicts. After touching a baseball bat found in the attic of his new home, the Belle Meade Plantation, Ryan is transported back in time to the Civil War. It is here he takes part in a baseball game between Union and Confederate soldiers on the eve of the Battle of Nashville. Entangled in two timelines, his own and the life of a soldier, Ryan tries desperately to solve the mysteries in his life. It would a summer unlike any other. A summer of baseball. A summer of brotherhood. A summer of change. A summer of war.

Excerpt

He hated this war!

And he hated the Northerners for starting it. For taking him away from his home, from peace. For tearing down everything the game had built.

It was this hatred which brought him to his feet and leveled his musket at the nearest blue coat. The man turned to face him and for a moment their eyes met.

The soldier recognized the man. It was someone he knew. Someone he had laughed with, and sweat alongside.

His teammate.

His finger touched cold metal.

The memory of the game and who the man was gone with the wind. The rage burning through him had turned everything to ash.

The bullet hit the Northerner in the chest.

Red fell upon the blue.

The man’s face lit up with mixture of shock and surprise. He crumbled slowly and every detail imprinted itself in the man’s mind. He saw the agony, the feeble attempt to stop the blood, and finally the shudder of death which moved through the blue coat’s body.

As the man died, so did the rage within the soldier. He felt cold as he realized what he had done. He had abandoned himself. He had turned his back on what the game stood for and overturned what it had created.

He had shattered it with a single bullet.

My Thoughts

Wow….. I probably shouldn’t be writing this review so soon after finishing this novel, but I wanted to keep the feels fresh….AND, OH THE FEELS!!! I am a big fan of historical fiction but, I didn’t know what I would think of historical fiction with a Baseball theme (although, I DO love Baseball!). I can now say that I REGRET NOTHING!! I could feel the passion in Kristofor’s writing throughout this story. You can really tell when someone is writing about topics that come from their soul, and this book definitely gave me that feeling.

This novel was equal parts “Sandlot”, “Stand by Me”, and “Gone With the Wind” …O.k, it was more “Saving Private Ryan” but I didn’t want everyone pointing out that that’s the wrong war!

It was an amazing story of the bonds of friendship, the hardships of starting over, and the perils of war. Ryan moves to a new town when his dad is asked to manage the opening of a store there, which means starting fresh. This is not easy for a teen-aged boy and he is quickly thrown into sights of the town bully and recruited by the town misfits. This cast of characters is so wonderful and vibrant you can’t help but fall in love with the whole misfit gang: Rock, Cheese, Spunk, Wiley, Oreo, Ash, Clapton, Herc and Trouble. Just their nicknames alone brought me back to the 80s and early 90s!

There was such a wonderful message within this novel about the bonds of friendship,

“Derek flinched, but stood his ground and felt ready to take a deserving hit in the jaw. Surprisingly, Spunk did not strike him, but he held his menacing stature as he lifted an accusing finger and spoke. “You listen to me, Derek,” he said through gritted teeth. “You throw out the word brother and family as if you think we don’t know what they mean—as if we hadn’t a clue about the power in those words.” Everyone was listening. The fear and tension and disbelief could be cut with the wind.

“Let me ask you something, Derek. Do you honestly know what those two things mean? Do you have any idea what it means to us? Us who are all part of the bond which holds us together. Or do you just like to say them because they make you feel less alone?””

the importance of family and the brutality of war and anger. This book will make you realize that clinging to anger doesn’t solve anything, only by letting go of that anger can we really be free and move on.

““This is where all our tensions were dropped… Where all of our barriers, formed by conflictin’ views and selfishness, were let go. This is a place where we regained everythin’ the war had took from us. A place of peace. Of happiness. Of sanity. Where men stopped being men and became boys again. Where we stopped being so bitter and started enjoying the life given to us.””

Any lover of Any of the above things that I mentioned “Sandlot”, “Stand by Me”, “Saving Private Ryan” or if you just want an amazing story with history and feeling behind it, you’ve found your next book!

Pick Up Your Copy Here:

Amazon U.S

Amazon Canada

Amazon U.K

Brothers of Baseball is Best Served with 

a Mickey Mantle

Ingredients

  • 2oz Brandy
  • 1oz Cream
  • 1oz Kahlua

Directions

  1. Fill an old fashioned glass with ice
  2. Pour in Brandy
  3. Add Cream
  4. Top with Kahlua
  5. Stir before drinking
  6. CHEERS!!

Watching Glass Shatter

watching glass shatter.jpg

4 out of 5 Stars

The wealthy Glass family lost its patriarch, Benjamin Glass, sooner than expected. Benjamin’s widow, Olivia, and her 5 sons each react to his death in their own way while preparing for the reading of his will. Olivia receives a very unexpected confession from her late husband about one of their sons that could shatter the whole family.

Prior to revealing the secret to her children, Olivia must figure out which boy Ben refers to in the confession he left her in his will. While the family attorney searches for the mysterious Rowena Hector whom Ben says holds the answers, Olivia asks her sons to each spend a week with her as she isn’t ready to let go of the past. When Olivia visits her sons, she quickly learns that each one has been keeping his own secret from her. Olivia never expected her remaining years would be so complex and life-altering, but she will not rest until her family is reunited after Ben’s untimely death.

We all need family. We all want to fit in. We’re all a mix of quirky personalities. Will Olivia be able to fix them or will the whole family implode? What will she do when she discovers the son behind Ben’s secret? Check out this ensemble cast where each family member’s perspective is center stage, discovering along the way who might feel the biggest impact from all the secrets. Through various scenes and memories across a six-month period, you’ll get to know everyone, learning how and why they made certain decisions. Welcome to being an honorary member of the Glass family where the flair for over-the-top drama pushes everyone to their limits.

I know that I’m a little late to the party, but I’ve been saving this book for a special occasion, and when Jay announced that his new novel is being completed and he started the unveiling for it, I figured now was a perfect opportunity to check this one out.

This was such an amazing read. I was worried in the very beginning that there were going to be too many characters to keep track of, with Olivia, five sons and all of their families I was sure that I would be scrambling to keep track of who’s wives were who’s… seems a lot of people have THAT problem! But, only 2 chapters in I realized that this was not going to be the case.

Even with so many characters, the book is set up in a very comprehensive way, with each chapter focusing on a certain character, or characters, keeping the plot smooth and the focus narrowed enough to allow you to really get to know each character.

Now, on to those characters! I can’t get much into each character, because I would like to keep this spoiler-free, but I love the way they are written. This book does have some soap opera worthy drama in it, but the characters remain realistic and (for the most part) likeable. We are introduced to them first all together where you get a feel for how they interact as a family and where they stand in the family hierarchy, then they are focused on individually, and this is when we really being to see the amazing depth of character. Each character has intricately structured secrets and lives that are finally brought out in the open.

“Ben only had us left. It’s unbearable for our children to go through this agony. You first focus on your own pain but watching them suffer steals all remaining breaths.”

This book really made me want to reach out to my own family (which is saying a lot!!), it makes you think that this is the only time we have, we should spend it with our families as it is easy to think you know someone… it’s harder to actually put in the time and effort to GET TO KNOW THEM. We assume (like Olivia) that since these people are our family, we must know everything about them, but do we? Sometimes it takes the loss of someone important to bring us together.

“I miss him, doll. I saw him every day at the office, and we’d spend time together on the weekends with my mother and the girls. I don’t know what the future holds without him. Our team has lost it’s captain.”

I highly recommend this book to anyone who loves deep, well written characters and surprising plot lines (which, I would hope, is EVERYONE!)

If you’d like to check out more on James J. Cudney and his writing pleasechack out his website

Website: https://jamesjcudney.com/

or follow these links to learn more

Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/James-J.-Cudney/e/B076B6PB3M/ref=dp_byline_cont_ebooks_1

Twitter: https://twitter.com/jamescudney4

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/JamesJCudneyIVAuthor/

Pinterest: https://www.pinterest.com/jamescudney4/

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/jamescudney4/

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/jamescudney4

LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/jamescudney4

Also, check out his blog if you haven’t yet and follow his unveiling’s for his new book, tentatively titled “Father Figure”

Blog: https://thisismytruthnow.com

Watching Glass Shatter is Best Served with A Broken Sidecar

Ok…. So, maybe this choice was in bad taste. But, I just HAD TO!!

To make “Glass”

Ingredients

  • 2 cups granulated white sugar
  • 3/4 cups of water
  • 2/3 cups light corn syrup (I used Golden because it was what I had in my pantry…. It works either way!)
  • candy thermometer

Instructions

1.In a medium saucepan add in the sugar, corn syrup, and water.

2.Insert the candy thermometer and bring to a boil. Stir constantly until the thermometer reaches 300 degrees.

3.Once at 300 degrees, remove from heat and transfer immediately to a baking pan (lined with wax paper or sprayed with nonstick).

4.Allow it to sit until hardened (about 2 hours). Make sure to cover it while it sits.

5.Once hardened lift the pan up and drop straight down to crack the glass. Repeat until you have fragments at a desired size.

Sidecar Recipe

  • 1 1/2oz Brandy or Cognac (I used St. Remy Brandy)
  • 3/4oz Orange Liqueur (I used Cointreau)
  • 3/4oz Lemon Juice

Directions

  1. Fill shaker with ice
  2. Fill with ingredients
  3. Shake until chilled
  4. Pour
  5. Add glass garnish
  6. CHEERS!!

Mrs. Saint and the Defectives

mrs saint.jpg

4 out of 5 Stars

When Markie’s marriage falls apart after her husband has an affair that goes public (if he had just kept it quiet, they could have worked it out!) Markie packs up her things and her son Jesse and moves to a small bungalow that is complete with no room, and a very nosy neighbour to make that cramped space seem even more cramped!

“Markie’s property was tiny—there were only a few feet of lawn space between the house and the property line. This meant that neither Markie nor Mrs. Saint could have a conversation in their yards, or even inside their houses if the windows were open, without the other hearing. Markie had taken to whispering to Jesse when they spoke on the patio and to making sure her kitchen window was closed before she called down the basement stairs to let him know the pizza was ready, or that she was going up to her bedroom to watch TV, or any other announcement that might elicit a disapproving finger wag from her neighbor. She made work-related phone calls from the patio from time to time but never personal ones—those she took inside, from the corner of her bedroom farthest away from her neighbor’s house.”

Mrs. Saint Denis (or just Mrs. Saint to those who will just butcher the pronunciation of her name), complete with her Defectives (what she calls those who work for her) are on a mission to take charge of Markie’s life. From trying to hang her artwork, to giving her advice about how to raise and feed her Son, Markie can’t seem to get what she thinks she wants in life… which is just some peace and quiet. She doesn’t need these strangers pushing their way into her life… or does she? And why is Mrs. Saint so secretive? She wants to pry into all aspects of Markie and Jesse’s life, but she will not give anything in return. Is she really who she says she is?

Excerpt

 

From the closer vantage point, Markie could see she had been generous in her estimate of seventy-five years and one hundred pounds—she should have added ten years and subtracted as many pounds. The woman wore an expensive-looking linen suit, and diamonds flashed from her ears, collarbone, and a few fingers, making Markie wonder if part of the reason she seemed so cross was that she and her equally well-dressed husband were being kept from some important event. Before Markie could tell the woman they needn’t have disrupted their plans, a jeweled finger wagged in her face. But only barely—the tiny woman had to stretch her arm high to get it close to Markie’s chin.

“The small boxes, I was prepared to let you take,” she said in a thick French accent. “Even avec la pluie—with the rain. And then les autres petites choses—the other small things. Those lamps, the pillows, your suitcases, and the such.”

Markie and Jesse exchanged glances. It was clear their new neighbor had been watching as they unloaded the truck.

“Mais, une table?” she continued. “Et . . .” She leaned around them, peering into the truck at the couches and bed frames waiting to be carried inside. “Non. Ce n’est pas raisonnable!” She put one blue-veined hand on Markie’s arm, the other on Jesse’s, and steered them to the giant oak tree on the lawn beside the driveway. They could hear the rain pelting the canopy of leaves above, but not a drop made it through. “We will wait here,” she said, “in the underneath, and let them finish.”

Jesse seemed thrilled for the break, but Markie checked her watch and said, “I appreciate the help. I really do. But I have to get the truck back in less than an hour. So we need all hands on deck here, including the four of ours.” She indicated her hands and her son’s, and motioned for the boy to go with her to the truck. He widened his eyes in protest, and she was about to snap, “Jesse—now!” when the hand on her arm clamped more tightly.

“Non,” the woman said, with a single hard shake of her head. “This will not help. You will be getting in their way only.”

She pointed to the walkway leading to the bungalow, where the older man was practically running with Jesse’s futon mattress on his head while the younger one trotted along behind with an ottoman balanced on a TV stand. The elder worked his way into the house and was outside again, holding the screen door wide, by the time his partner reached him.

“Thanks,” the younger man said.

The other responded, “De rien,” before jogging back to the truck.

As much as Markie resented being held hostage under her own (for the length of her lease term) tree, she realized the woman was right—she and Jesse would only interrupt the men’s choreography. She could see inside the truck, and she was amazed at the progress they had made already. Thanks to them, she was certain to make it back to the rental place in time. Plus, her son was enjoying the rest, and the truth was, she and her aching muscles were, too. So she stood under the oak tree with Jesse and their petite captor and allowed her weary body to enjoy the break.

From time to time, she saw the older man look over at the woman, who lowered her chin or turned her head or raised a shoulder, each gesture garnering an understanding nod from him, after which he issued a soft-voiced command to the younger one. She’s an ancient infield coach in jewels and pumps, Markie thought. Even better: she’s Yoda in a St. John suit.

Smiling to herself, she tried to catch Jesse’s eye to let him know she had something funny to tell him. She could picture his slow, tilted nod and half grin as he said, “Nice one, Mom.” But he was staring down the street, and when he turned back to her, his lips were twisted, his way of cutting off a frown before it could take hold.

Markie realized, too late, that he must have been on watch again for Kyle, and that the self-congratulatory grin on her face was not the right response for a boy whose father was now more than two hours late. He untwisted his lips, allowing his frown to fully form before it morphed into a scowl, and Markie could hear the words he wasn’t saying: We wouldn’t have needed his help moving in the first place if you hadn’t divorced him and then sold my childhood home!

Before she could readjust her mouth into a more sympathetic shape, he let out a huff and turned, and she could tell he was about to walk away. Distance and silence: Jesse’s two answers to any conflict lately. He took a step, but before he could take a second, the old woman reached out her other hand and caught him by the back of his shirt, and to Markie’s surprise, Jesse took a step backward, returning to his original position.

“Oui,” the woman said, patting his arm. “You will stay.” He nodded obediently, but he didn’t look at her, and he would not meet his mother’s gaze.

To break the tension, Markie tried to introduce herself and her son to her new neighbor, but she could only get out “By the way, my name is—” before the other woman gave a quick, emphatic shake of her head and raised an index finger to her lips.

“See-lonce,” she whispered, gesturing with her chin to the men on the ramp as though they were competitors at a golf tournament and any noise might cause them to miss the championship shot.

My God, she’s bossy, Markie thought, more amused than irritated. It was one thing for the woman to assume Jesse would obey; he was a child. But for her to expect another adult to accede, particularly an adult who (unbeknownst to the older woman) had spent decades perfecting the art of ignoring her own parents’ commands, was so unreasonable it was funny. Markie flashed the woman a magnanimous smile. She has no idea who she’s dealing with.

“I really must get back to it,” she said, taking a step toward the house. She wasn’t eager to resume carrying things, but she could hold the door open for the men, at least, direct them where to set things down, clear a path for them among the boxes and other items she and Jesse had tossed haphazardly inside the door earlier.

The grip on Markie’s arm tightened. “Attendez. Wait.”

Had it sounded like another command, Markie might have laughed and walked off, but the woman’s words were quiet this time, with no hard edge of instruction. Her mouth was softer, too, no longer set in a ferocious line, and as she tracked the men’s movements, Markie could see a certain brightness in her eyes, the kind Markie’s own took on when she watched Jesse do something clever.

“Attendez,” she said again, even more quietly, the word more a declaration of wonder than a command, and because Markie knew how lovely it was to feel what the other woman seemed to be feeling, she stopped trying to talk or move. Instead, she looked down at the gray-white curls, immaculately set, of the person forcing her and Jesse to stand there together, and she smiled.

The “common” in “common enemy” was a start. It would give Jesse and her something to talk about later, at least. Something to shake their heads at and laugh about: the crazy old neighbor lady who spied on them for who knew how long before bolting out of her house to bark orders at them in French. How she held them captive for so long despite being half Markie’s weight and a quarter Jesse’s height. The way she managed, with nothing more than a series of well-timed nods, one or two words, and the grip of a hand, to choreograph both the rapid unloading of a moving truck and a brief détente between a reticent teen and his mother.”

Review

What a beautiful, funny book!! I love Mrs. Saint and all of her “Defectives” Even though, as Markie points out, that may not be the nicest thing to call them! Ronda, the cook who can’t cook, Bruce, the gardener who takes more time re-planting things than doing anything else, Patty, the maid who spend more time sitting outside smoking than actually cleaning ANYTHING and Frederick…. no one really knows what he does! They are characters who just get more and more lovable as the story delves deeper and deeper into their lives and how they came to work for the mysterious Mrs. Saint. Even characters who hold little importance were AMAZINGLY written! One of my favourite characters was Markie’s boss, Gregory. He’s not in it a lot, but everything involving him had me laughing out loud!!

““So . . . ,” he said, and when no other words came to him, he rocked on his heels and balled up his fists, holding them a foot or so apart. Stepping forward, he took what she believed was meant to be a golf swing. “I’ve been looking at your numbers from the past two weeks,” he said. He looked past her, pretending to watch his invisible ball land, then flattened a palm and used it as a visor to shield his eyes from the imaginary sun. “Ah, there it is,” he said. “Right near the, uh, cup . . . thing. With the, um, flag.””

“Gregory clasped his hands over his head and attempted a side bend, but the weight shift put him off balance, and he had to thrust an arm out against the wall of a nearby cube to catch himself. Recovering, he patted the cube wall as though he had been making a planned inspection of it all along, and then he shuffled back into the center of the hallway. He wiped a great deal of sweat from his forehead, checked his step-counter again, and smiled.”

This book made me laugh, and it made me cry. It was an amazing story with even better characters! There is so much to reveal and so much growth within it that you never want it to end!

Mrs. Saint and the Defectives is Best Served with 

A French 75 Cocktail

This was the PERFECT COCKTAIL for this book! Not only is it classic and refined like Mrs Saint, it’s also French and 75 is Mrs. Saint’s EXACT AGE!! ….or IS IT?? Lol! You’ll have to read it to find out!!

french 75.jpg

Ingredients

  • 1 or 2 ounces gin (depending on your taste)
  • 1 teaspoon simple syrup
  • 1/2 ounce fresh lemon juice
  • 4 ounces Champagne

Directions

  1. Pour the liquor, juice, and syrup into a cocktail shaker with ice cubes.
  2. Shake well.
  3. Strain into a chilled Champagne flute that is at least half full of ice.
  4. Carefully fill with Champagne
  5.  CHEERS!!

Happy Groundhog Day!! With Kindred by Octavia Butler

groundhogday.gif

So, in honour of Groundhog Day I decided to read a book that involved time loops…. but, I couldn’t find one. I’m actually glad that I couldn’t think of one because I wound up finding a book that was on my TBR shelf that had to do with time travel that I had been meaning to read for a while, and right after I started reading it I had Kim over at By Hook or by Book  remind me that it’s Black History Month, so this book was perfect for both! I’m so glad I read it as it was a very powerful and inspiring read. It was a great snowy day to curl up and devour this book because…

winter never ending.gif

 

kindred

5 out of 5 Stars

“I closed my eyes and saw the children playing their game again. “The ease seemed so frightening,” I said. “Now I see why.”

“What?”

“The ease. Us, the children… I never realized how easily people could be trained to accept slavery.”

Edana (Dana) Franklin is leading a simple life as an author in 1976 with her husband Kevin when she begins to get pulled into the 1800s with nothing her and Kevin can do to stop it.

“He frowned a little, shook his head. “You vanished.” He seemed to have to force the words out. “You were here until my hand was just a couple of inches from you. Then, suddenly, you were gone. I couldn’t believe it. I just stood there. Then you were back again and on the other side of the room.”

She is being called back to help one of her white ancestors, Rufus Weylin, who happens to be the son of a Plantation owner and an owner of slaves. It is only her that can continue to save his life to keep her timeline safe

“Again, what would have happened if the boy had drowned? Would he have drowned without me? Or would his mother have saved him somehow? Would his father have arrived in time to save him? I must be that one of them would have saved him somehow. His life could not depend on the actions of his unconceived descendant. No matter what I did, he would have to survive to father Hagar, or I could not exist. That made sense.”

When Kevin manages to hold her and follow her in to the past, there is more to worry about than before. It was hard enough staying free when she is a black woman alone in the 1800s, but can she and Kevin survive in this time without it changing their relationship?

“I felt almost as though I really was doing something shameful, happily playing whore for my supposed owner. I went away feeling uncomfortable, vaguely ashamed.”

Also, if Kevin had to be holding Dana to get there… what would happen if they were to be separated and she was called back home?

“Why did you try to stop me from coming?”

“I was afraid for you.”

“For me!”

“At first, I didn’t know why. I just had the feeling you might be hurt trying to come with me. Then when you were here, I realized that you probably couldn’t get back without me. That means if we’re separated, you’re stranded here for years, maybe for good.”

He drew a deep breath and shook his head. “There wouldn’t be anything good about that.”

“Stay close yo me. If I call, come quick.”

This was an amazing and insightful read. They definitely don’t sugar coat the lives of the slaves and they way that they were treated. This book contains scenes of graphic violence, but it’s a very real story of the corruptions of those times. Even the lives of Dana and Kevin in 1976 still had their trials as it tells of the troubles with their families when they were married showing that even 100 years in the future times may not have changed as much as we wished they had…. even looking at the world now. Things will never be perfect, but hopefully we will all never stop learning.

Kindred is Best Served with a Time Warp

time warp

Obviously, it was hard to choose a drink to go with this book as I did not want to seem insensitive to the content of the book. It is a very powerful read, so I went with a lighter fruity drink to help soften the heaviness of the content. I focused on the Time travel aspect of the book as that was the first reason for me choosing to read it, and I am immensely glad that I did.

Ingredients

  • 2ounce melon liqueur
  • 1ounce Coconut Rum
  • 1ounce pineapple juice
  • 1ounce blue curacao
  • 1ounce raspberry cordial (you can get away with grenadine)
  • 2 cherries
  • cracked ice

Directions

  1. Shake melon liqueur, coconut rum, pineapple juice and ice then strain into a 5oz cocktail or martini glass.
  2. Add raspberry cordial and blue curacao, garnish with cherry(ies) and serve.
  3. CHEERS!!

The Trip of a Lifetime..Or a Lifetime In a Trip

fender

4 out of 5 Stars

Brennan Glover was a man who’d lost everything, except for his dog Fender and the bottle. His wife and daughter are killed in a car accident and he’s given up on the life he no longer feels the right to continue, until his friends force him to take the road trip that they’d planned all those years ago with their fallen friend Colin. Now is the time to fulfil that promise as it may mean finding more than the road to California, it may mean finding that life really is still worth living.

This is a beautiful story of love, loss and the friendship between man and beast, and man and man. Leading us through Brennan’s grief as well as reflecting on his life leading up to that point. Meeting his wife’s bourgeois parents, Carter and Eleanor

‘Carter shook his head, stroked his chin. “If you’re going to pursue journalism, Brennan…..anything, for that matter, at least anything you want to be successful at, you’re going to have to learn to see the big picture.”

“Like trading blood for oil?” Brennan caught the sharp stare Rosie gave him and considered that nothing good could come of talking politics. He hoped to transition to something else and began poking at his soup.

“Like learning that sometimes you have to make sacrifices for the greater good,” said Carter.’

To meeting his companion Fender for the first time,

The dog put his wet paws on Brennan’s leg and stood upright, flicking his tongue on the tip of Brennan’s dripping nose.

What about…” He was going to say Colin but decided against it-too soon, but maybe something Colin loved. Basketball? Salted cod dinners? His baby sister, Emily? Singing and playing the guitar? Guitar….Brennan’s mind slowly made its way to Colin’s beloved Stratocaster in candy apple red, made by…”Fender…I’ll call ya Fender!”

I couldn’t imagine how tormented Brennan would be going through this grief and loss, but Brent Jones will make you start to understand. He will make you laugh,

‘”It’s called Elliott Bay Trail. Named after Elliott Bay.”
“I thought this was… Pugg-it sound”
“Puget sound. And it is.”
“it’s two things? Like they gave it two names?”
“It’s, uh… Puget sound’s a little further north, I think.”
“like in Canada?”
“Not that far north.”
“so, when does it stop being a bay and start being a sound?”
“it’s always a sound, but, uh, this middle part here, they call that part Elliott Bay, I think”

And it will DEFINITELY make you cry… I won’t give you a quote for that because I want you to find those all on your own. Actually CHALLENGE TIME!! I want you ALL to read this book, and if any of you read right to the end and your eyes remain dry? I need you to comment below, because I need to know!! …and then I will promptly call you a liar.

This was a Rollercoaster of a journey and it teaches that everyone needs to “Find a way to live the life ahead of you, instead of the life behind you.”

If you’d like to check out more works by Brent Jones feel free to check him out at:

Fender is Best Served With

A Regal Beagle

regal beagle 2

Along with a box of kleenex, I would recommend a good stiff drink… I know, a little strange with a book about a man trying to crawl OUT of his bottle.. But, this drink is purely medicinal!! I swear!

INGREDIENTS

  • 1 ½ oz vodka
  • 2 lime wedges (no smaller than 1/8 slices)
  • 1 tsp. honey
  • 5 oz grapefruit juice
  • Splash of dry white wine

Directions

  1. Muddle lime with honey until all the juices have left the lime and is mixed with the honey, then add ice. (Take your time here. Muddling is an art!)
  2. Pour vodka over ice and mix into muddled lime and honey.
  3. Pour grapefruit juice over the top and add a splash of wine. Stir a bit to get all the flavors mixed.
  4. Garnish with a sprig of rosemary.
  5. CHEERS!