Full Pour Review: The Perfect Stranger

You guys already know that Megan Miranda is one of my auto-buy authors so in honor of her newest book coming out this summer, it was my goal to finally read The Perfect Stranger, the last book of hers in my MM back log. I’ve been putting this one off for a while, and I’m so glad that I finally got to read it! While it was not my favorite book of hers, and honestly left me feeling pretty confused, I still enjoyed it overall and was intrigued by the storyline.

BOOK DESCRIPTION: “Confronted by a restraining order and the threat of a lawsuit, failed journalist Leah Stevens needs to get out of Boston when she runs into an old friend, Emmy Grey, who has just left a troubled relationship. Emmy proposes they move to rural Pennsylvania, where Leah can get a teaching position and both women can start again. But their new start is threatened when a woman with an eerie resemblance to Leah is assaulted by the lake, and Emmy disappears days later.

Determined to find Emmy, Leah cooperates with Kyle Donovan, a handsome young police officer on the case. As they investigate her friend’s life for clues, Leah begins to wonder: did she ever really know Emmy at all? With no friends, family, or a digital footprint, the police begin to suspect that there is no Emmy Grey. Soon Leah’s credibility is at stake, and she is forced to revisit her past: the article that ruined her career. To save herself, Leah must uncover the truth about Emmy Grey—and along the way, confront her old demons, find out who she can really trust, and clear her own name.

Everyone in this rural Pennsylvanian town has something to hide—including Leah herself. How do you uncover the truth when you are busy hiding your own?”

I enjoyed how this book started out as a slow burn that began picking up the pace about halfway through. I felt like the story definitely kept my interest and I found it hard to put down, but once I was wrapping up the book, I was a little disappointed by the ending because it felt really rushed and left me confused as to what was actually happening and if I somehow missed key details. I even re-read the last several pages of the book and tried reading other online reviews to see what other people were saying about the ending (and thankfully I wasn’t the only one left feeling confused it seems😅). I also felt that compared to other books by Megan Miranda, we didn’t get to know the characters as well and develop any sort of connection with them- everything felt pretty surface level in my opinion. I also felt that maybe there were almost too many overlapping character plots and that it was a bit hard to wrap them all up toward the end in a way that felt right?

If you’re a fan of Megan Miranda- I definitely still recommend reading this book! If you’ve already read The Perfect Stranger, please reach out to me so that we can discuss this confusing ending 😅😂 I would really love to know your thoughts on it!


BEER RECOMMENDATION: The Perfect Stranger by Megan Miranda is best paired with Vanillafort by Sapwood Cellars. This incredibly delicious double IPA is brewed with 200 gallons of their Pillowfort IPA and 40 Madagascar vanilla beans, resulting in a creamy vanilla flavor that makes this a wonderful dessert DIPA! 🍻

Full Pour Review: Last Call

What a fascinating story! Last Call by Elon Green was one of my most anticipated 2021 reads and it was honestly even better than I imagined it to be. Prior to this book, I had never heard of the Last Call Killer so I went into this story blind and came away from this book having learned SO much.

BOOK DESCRIPTION: “The Townhouse Bar, midtown, July 1992: The piano player seems to know every song ever written, the crowd belts out the lyrics to their favorites, and a man standing nearby is drinking a Scotch and water. The man strikes the piano player as forgettable.

He looks bland and inconspicuous. Not at all what you think a serial killer looks like. But that’s what he is, and tonight, he has his sights set on a gray haired man. He will not be his first victim.

Nor will he be his last.

The Last Call Killer preyed upon gay men in New York in the ‘80s and ‘90s and had all the hallmarks of the most notorious serial killers. Yet because of the sexuality of his victims, the skyhigh murder rates, and the AIDS epidemic, his murders have been almost entirely forgotten.

This gripping true-crime narrative tells the story of the Last Call Killer and the decades-long chase to find him. And at the same time, it paints a portrait of his victims and a vibrant community navigating threat and resilience.”

This story is incredibly well written and heavily researched; the attention to detail gripping my attention from the very beginning and maintaining it throughout the entire book. I loved how much Green focused on the victims instead of the killer. As the reader, you get to develop an emotional connection to the victims as you learn a good bit about their lives and hear from their loved ones. This book really is a dedication to these victims, finally giving their lives the respect and attention they deserve (and had not received back in the 80’s and 90’s). I also learned so much from this book about the historical mistreatment of the LGBTQ+ community and the severe mishandling of the AIDS epidemic. These recollections were absolutely heartbreaking and infuriating and while we’ve slowly been making progress over the last 30 years, we still have SO MUCH work to do in regards to fighting for equality and correcting the misinformation that was spread during this time.

If you’re looking for an intriguing LGBTQ+ history/true crime story that will leave you with all the feels, I highly recommend checking out Last Call by Elon Green.


BEER RECOMMENDATION: Last Call by Elon Green is best paired with A Raspberry and Peach Walked Into a Bar by Crooked Crab Brewing Co. This highly delicious fruited sour was conditioned upon hundreds of pounds of peach purée and raspberries, resulting in the perfect amount of tartness and sweet, juicy flavor 🍻

Full Pour Review: The Midnight Library

You guys… this was SUCH a good book. It was heartwarming, it was heartbreaking, it was nerve-racking and it was liberating. It is absolutely no surprise to me that The Midnight Library is currently sitting pretty at #10 on the Amazon Charts this week and has a 4.4 rating with a total of 43,480 reviews.

BOOK DESCRIPTION: Somewhere out beyond the edge of the universe there is a library that contains an infinite number of books, each one the story of another reality. One tells the story of your life as it is, along with another book for the other life you could have lived if you had made a different choice at any point in your life. While we all wonder how our lives might have been, what if you had the chance to go to the library and see for yourself? Would any of these other lives truly be better?

In “The Midnight Library,” Matt Haig’s enchanting new novel, Nora Seed finds herself faced with this decision. Faced with the possibility of changing her life for a new one, following a different career, undoing old breakups, realizing her dreams of becoming a glaciologist; she must search within herself as she travels through the Midnight Library to decide what is truly fulfilling in life, and what makes it worth living in the first place.

I savored this book over the last few days and I was left in awe of the lessons I learned inside these pages. I simply adored Nora. Matt Haig did a wonderful job at painting such a beautiful character and taking so much care in detailing her flaws, her darkness, and her transformation with such care. I also found Nora to be incredibly relatable in several ways. I too, overthink majority of what I do and say. I too, fear of disappointing others and tend to make decisions that satisfy the desires that other people have for me/themselves. I too, replay every decisions that I make and wonder what the outcome would be if I did something different. I too, at times, wonder if the life I’m living is what I should be doing and what I could be doing instead to be happier. Navigating Nora’s journey throughout this book and watching her get to live out many different lives helped allow me to think deeply about some of my own possible lives and served as an excellent reminder of how beautiful and messy and wonderful life is and how this life I am living is exactly where I’m supposed to be.

After a year of feeling a lot of uncertainty in many ways, and for simply just being such an overly anxious person constantly thinking about the “what if’s” and searching for the meaning in things, The Midnight Library was all at once a breath of fresh air and a warm hug. I’m so thankful that I stumbled across this book on Bookstagram a few months ago and while I did not read it right away, I think the messages and fresh perspectives I took away from this book were received at the perfect time 💛 I know I will be thinking about this book for a while.


BEER RECOMMENDATION: The Midnight Library by Matt Haig is best paired with White Russian by Left Hand Brewing Company. This highly enjoyable nitro white stout contains coffee, vanilla and notes of chocolate 🍻

Full Pour Review: Verity

I want to begin this review by stating that I was fucking WARNED about this book. I was told this one would take me on an emotional roller coaster that would leave me feeling shocked, confused and not knowing what to believe at all. I was told that this book would haunt me for a long time afterward, leaving me uncertain of what to think or feel. To be honest, that is exactly how I fucking feel right now after finishing this book 😂😭

BOOK DESCRIPTION: “Lowen Ashleigh is a struggling writer on the brink of financial ruin. When Jeremy Crawford, husband of bestselling author Verity Crawford, asks Lowen to complete the remaining books in a contract his permanently injured wife is unable to fulfill, Lowen has no choice but to accept. Lowen arrives at the Crawford home with the intention of only staying one or two nights—long enough to sort through Verity’s chaotic home office to collect all the notes and outlines she’ll need to start writing the first novel. But the more time Lowen spends with Jeremy Crawford, the less of a hurry she is in to leave. While there, Lowen uncovers a hidden manuscript. An autobiography containing chilling admissions Verity planned to take to her grave, including the truth behind the events that turned their lives upside down. A truth that, if revealed to Jeremy, would further devastate the already grieving father. Lowen decides to keep the manuscript a secret, allowing Jeremy to continue to believe Verity is merely an innocent, unfortunate victim of circumstance. But as Lowen’s feelings for the devoted father and husband deepen, she wonders if keeping Jeremy in the dark is in her own best interest. After all, if Jeremy were to read his wife’s autobiography, the disturbing truth would make it impossible for him to continue to love her. A chilling romantic thriller from #1 New York Times bestselling author Colleen Hoover.”

Colleen Hoover did such a fantastic job with illustrating this story with such detailed care and attention. Most impressing, she spends the first 300 pages of the book painting the most convincing story and then within the literal last 13 pages of it tries to flip your world upside down and convince you to believe something else. For the most part, I liked the characters. I didn’t LOVE them, but the story really wasn’t intended for you to get attached to the characters. The character that the book is named after, Verity, reminds me a lot of the main character, Amy, in Gone Girl. We obviously got to know her the most throughout the book (or do we really? 🙃), and I think that Colleen spent the perfect amount of attention and detail with bringing her character to life and still leaving you wanting more from her. If you’re a fan of Gone Girl, I think you will really enjoy the dark storyline in this book as well.

I can’t believe it took me so long to read this book. This is the first book I’ve read by Colleen Hoover and it surely won’t be my last. If you’re looking for a solid romance thriller that is dark, utterly gripping and a total mind fuck, seriously look no further! 🙌🏻 (how many times can we say fuck in this review? The limit doesn’t fucking exist because I am SHOOK and will need to talk through my feelings with you all about this one for a while 🙃😭). Now… which Colleen Hoover book should I read next?!


BEER RECOMMENDATION: Verity by Colleen Hoover is best paired with Bomb! by Prairie Artisan Ales. This delicious imperial stout is aged on Nordaggio’s espresso beans, chocolate, vanilla beans, and ancho chile peppers 🍻

Full Pour Review: Conditional Citizens

WOW, What an incredible story! Conditional Citizens by Laila Lalami is full of powerful, thought provoking essays that shed light on what it’s like to become an American and how being an American citizen does not guarantee everyone the same rights and protection (a fact that many of us somehow still refuse to acknowledge, unfortunately).

BOOK DESCRIPTION: “What does it mean to be American? In this starkly illuminating and impassioned book, Pulitzer Prize­­–finalist Laila Lalami recounts her unlikely journey from Moroccan immigrant to U.S. citizen, using it as a starting point for her exploration of the rights, liberties, and protections that are traditionally associated with American citizenship. Tapping into history, politics, and literature, she elucidates how accidents of birth—such as national origin, race, and gender—that once determined the boundaries of Americanness still cast their shadows today.

Lalami poignantly illustrates how white supremacy survives through adaptation and legislation, with the result that a caste system is maintained that keeps the modern equivalent of white male landowners at the top of the social hierarchy. Conditional citizens, she argues, are all the people with whom America embraces with one arm and pushes away with the other.

Brilliantly argued and deeply personal, Conditional Citizens weaves together Lalami’s own experiences with explorations of the place of nonwhites in the broader American culture.”

I learned a lot of valuable information from Lalami’s personal accounts and heavy research and I loved how the presentation of this information felt like a captivating conversation in an intimate college lecture. This book made me genuinely wish I was a student in one of Lalami’s courses, and even though she packed a lot into this small-but-mighty book, I feel like I could easily sit and listen to more of her thoughts on this subject. What I loved most was that this book served not only as a detailed account of her personal experience with the immigration system, but it also served as an honest evaluation of the state of our country and how the U.S. unfairly allows class status, religion, ethnicity, gender, racial bias and more, to stop someone from gaining citizenship. Due to the current racial climate we live in, and in order to help reduce our ignorance on this subject matter, this book should be essential reading. Things need to change.

If you’re looking for a fast paced, intriguing read about our modern immigration system, I highly recommend checking out Conditional Citizens. This book serves as a great reminder of how far we still have to go as a country, and shows us how we can be better allies and fight for justice in different ways that will move us further in the right direction for not just improving our citizenship process, but becoming more accepting of others. This was the first book I read by Laila Lalami and I look forward to reading more by her 🤗


BEER RECOMMENDATION: Conditional Citizens by Laila Lalami is best paired with SOBO by Monument City Brewing Company; a juicy and smooth New England IPA brewed with tangerines 🍻

Full Pour Review: With The Fire On High

Oh my god. I can’t believe it took me so long to read this book! YA is honestly a genre that never really piques my interest, but because I read so many rave reviews about this one on Bookstagram, I decided to give this one a shot. I’m so glad that I did, because this story was absolutely wonderful and is the best YA book I’ve read in a really long time.

BOOK DESCRIPTION: “Ever since she got pregnant freshman year, Emoni Santiago’s life has been about making the tough decisions—doing what has to be done for her daughter and her abuela.

The one place she can let all that go is in the kitchen, where she adds a little something magical to everything she cooks, turning her food into straight-up goodness.

Even though she dreams of working as a chef after she graduates, Emoni knows that it’s not worth her time to pursue the impossible. Yet despite the rules she thinks she has to play by, once Emoni starts cooking, her only choice is to let her talent break free.”

Elizabeth Acevedo is a very talented writer and absolutely kills it with a captivating storyline, well developed characters, and addressing delicate topics in such a beautiful way. Acevedo does an incredible job at crushing the stigma and societal hypocrisy around teenage pregnancy with the main character, Emoni, who is an incredibly brave, strong, hardworking, loyal, talented, creative and loving mother/daughter/granddaughter/friend, etc. I loved being able to watch her mature as she overcame several challenges and fears with grace throughout this book. Emoni is an incredible role model and her character made me so proud, wishing I could step into the story and give her a huge hug. I also loved the supporting characters that played such a crucial role in Emoni’s life and senior year- ‘Buela, Angelica, Malachi, Chef Ayden, Chef Amadi, Ms. Fuentes, and even Tyrone. It was refreshing being able to watch Emoni and Tyrone handle their unique relationship in such a mature way, and seeing them grow throughout the book and increasingly support one another as co-parents in order to best raise Emma and support one another in achieving their own personal goals was beautiful.

I also loved that this book centered around Emoni’s passion for cooking and her natural skills at creating incredible meals that are known for eliciting so much emotion from others and bringing people together. I loved the recipes placed throughout the book and Acevedo’s attention to detail in describing Emoni’s culinary experiences to the reader was mouth-watering. I was truly captivated by Emoni’s passion and perseverance when it came to chasing her culinary dreams.

I truly can’t recommend this book enough, especially for those like me who aren’t as into YA novels. If you’re looking for a feel-good story with a wonderful storyline and inspiring characters that will stick with you for a long time, you need to read this. This was the first book I’ve read by Elizabeth Acevedo and it absolutely lived up to all the hype. I am officially looking forward to moving the other books I own by her at the top of my TBR list.


BEER RECOMMENDATION: With The Fire On High by Elizabeth Acevedo is best paired with Nitro Crème Brûlée by Southern Tier Brewing Company. This delicious imperial milk stout is like liquid dessert-smooth, creamy and sweet with flavors of burnt sugar 🍻

Full Pour Review: Leaders Eat Last

Leaders Eat Last by Simon Sinek has been on my TBR list for a long time, and I’m so glad that I finally got around to reading it! I really enjoy books about leadership and management, and being a manager feeling the typical burn out brought on by the year that was 2020, I knew I was in need of some “professional self care.” For me, that includes reading leadership books- something that helps reinstate my confidence, motivation and excitement as a leader. This book was a perfect reminder of the importance of establishing and maintaining trust among your team, as well as putting their well-being first and sacrificing your own needs for the good of those you lead (ultimately things that probably fell to the wayside or were tested for many of us throughout 2020).

BOOK DESCRIPTION: “Imagine a world where almost everyone wakes up inspired to go to work, feels trusted and valued during the day, then returns home feeling fulfilled. This is not a crazy, idealized notion. Today, in many successful organizations, great leaders create environments in which people naturally work together to do remarkable things.

In his work with organizations around the world, Simon Sinek noticed that some teams trust each other so deeply that they would literally put their lives on the line for each other. Other teams, no matter what incentives are offered, are doomed to infighting, fragmentation and failure. Why?

The answer became clear during a conversation with a Marine Corps general. “Officers eat last,” he said. Sinek watched as the most junior Marines ate first while the most senior Marines took their place at the back of the line. What’s symbolic in the chow hall is deadly serious on the battlefield: Great leaders sacrifice their own comfort–even their own survival–for the good of those in their care.

Too many workplaces are driven by cynicism, paranoia, and self-interest. But the best ones foster trust and cooperation because their leaders build what Sinek calls a “Circle of Safety” that separates the security inside the team from the challenges outside.

Sinek illustrates his ideas with fascinating true stories that range from the military to big business, from government to investment banking.”

I really enjoyed the stories that Sinek shared throughout this book, as I found them all to be very motivating and inspirational. While some of the items in here may seem like common sense, I think that’s what makes this book so valuable and timeless. The information in here reiterates the importance of good, “common sense” leadership skills and traits and while these skills seem easy to implement, they take a lot of work, patience and consistency. What I enjoyed most about this book was that it allowed me to engage in my own self reflection and see where I’ve been both excelling, and slipping, this past year and how to get back on track. 2020 was a challenging year for so many reasons and personally left me very anxious and distracted- I found myself consumed by my own anxieties (both personal and professional) and the need to do whatever I could to make myself feel safe, that I wasn’t as focused on others and making sure to check in with them consistently and offer them the extra support that we all truly needed. While I understood that I needed to focus on my self care so I could be beneficial to others, I was not placing as much focus on making sure I was doing everything in my power to make my team feel safe, secure and supported. This book served as a wonderful reminder of just how important the “basics” are- sacrificing your needs for the good of your team and maintaining that “Circle of Safety” among them. Making sure that you do this will guarantee that your needs as a leader are still met, or even exceeded, no matter what you may be going through.

If you feel like you’re in a slump, are looking for a boost of self confidence and guidance in your leadership capabilities, or just want to read a really good personal development book, I highly recommend reading Leaders Eat Last. This is the first book I’ve read by Simon Sinek and I look forward to reading more books by him this year.


BEER RECOMMENDATION: Leaders Eat Last by Simon Sinek is best paired with Brew ‘em Hop-Ups: Apple Cinamonomnoms by Hysteria Brewing Company. This highly delicious fruited sour tastes just like an apple cinnamon pop tart with the perfect sour kick 🍻

Full Pour Review: The Paris Library

Okay, it’s official. I’m falling in love with historical fiction. The Paris Library by Janet Skeslien Charles is another wonderful WWII novel based on the true story of the incredibly brave librarians working at The American Library in Paris who joined the resistance and fought the Nazi’s through books for their Jewish subscribers. This book was incredibly well researched, beautifully written, and I loved how clearly evident the author’s passion for this story was throughout the entire book.

BOOK DESCRIPTION: “Paris, 1939: Young and ambitious Odile Souchet has it all: her handsome police officer beau and a dream job at the American Library in Paris. When the Nazis march into Paris, Odile stands to lose everything she holds dear, including her beloved library. Together with her fellow librarians, Odile joins the Resistance with the best weapons she has: books. But when the war finally ends, instead of freedom, Odile tastes the bitter sting of unspeakable betrayal.

Montana, 1983: Lily is a lonely teenager looking for adventure in small-town Montana. Her interest is piqued by her solitary, elderly neighbor. As Lily uncovers more about her neighbor’s mysterious past, she finds that they share a love of language, the same longings, and the same intense jealousy, never suspecting that a dark secret from the past connects them.

A powerful novel that explores the consequences of our choices and the relationships that make us who we are—family, friends, and favorite authors— The Paris Library shows that extraordinary heroism can sometimes be found in the quietest of places.”

The characters in this story are absolutely wonderful and will tug at your heartstrings. I adored Odile so much. Her bravery, resilience, and intelligence were absolutely captivating and inspiring. Odile began the story as a young and naive woman who wasn’t exposed to many dangers of the world but we were blessed to see how much she grew as a character and into a powerful force to be reckoned with. The unlikely friendship between Lily and Odile was something I enjoyed too and I loved how much they helped one another overcome serious pain they’ve carried for a long time, transforming into better people because of it.

My favorite part about the characters though are that several of these characters are in fact the real names and backgrounds of the individuals working at the library during WWII. The authors note at the end of the story had a ton of fascinating information about these characters, making this story even more magical.

While this book addresses a lot of heartbreaking topics such as grief, loss, betrayal, and violence, there are also a lot of joyful moments about friendship, hope, love and forgiveness. If you’re looking for a slow paced, but highly enjoyable, WWII story that’s unique, exciting and heartwarming, I highly encourage you to check out The Paris Library, coming out 2/9. I can’t recommend it enough.

Thank you so much Atria and NetGalley for gifting me this wonderful eARC in exchange for my honest review 💛


BEER RECOMMENDATION: The Paris Library by Janet Skeslien Charles is best paired with Chai Milk Stout (Nitro) by Left Hand Brewing Company. This delicious beer is incredibly smooth and tastes just like a chai latte 🍻

Full Pour Review: Outspoken

For such a small book, this one sure did pack a mighty punch! Outspoken: Why Women’s Voices Get Silenced and How to Set Them Free by Veronica Rueckert was a fascinating read, with something in here that would resonate with every woman. This book is filled with a lot of inspiring, infuriating and thought-provoking studies of the role of female voices and how they’re being silenced, as well as effective tips and exercises on how to reclaim our power and ensure we’re being heard.

BOOK DESCRIPTION: “Women’s voices aren’t being heard—at work, at home, in public, and in every facet of their lives. When they speak up, they’re seen as pushy, loud, and too much. When quiet, they’re dismissed as meek and mild. Everywhere they turn, they’re confronted by the assumptions of a male-dominated world.

From the Supreme Court to the conference room to the classroom, women are interrupted far more often than their male counterparts. In the lab, researchers found that female executives who speak more often than their peers are rated 14 percent less competent, while male executives who do the same enjoy a 10 percent competency bump.

In Outspoken, Veronica Rueckert—a Peabody Award–winning former host at Wisconsin Public Radio, trained opera singer, and communications coach—teaches women to recognize the value of their voices and tap into their inherent power, potential, and capacity for self-expression. Detailing how to communicate in meetings, converse around the dinner table, and dominate political debates, Outspoken provides readers with the tools, guidance, and encouragement they need to learn to love their voices and rise to the obligation to share them with the world.

Outspoken is a substantive yet entertaining analysis of why women still haven’t been fully granted the right to speak, and a guide to how we can start changing the culture of silence. Positive, instructive, and supportive, this welcome and much-needed handbook will help reshape the world and make it better for women—and for everyone. It’s time to stop shutting up and start speaking out.”

I’ll be honest and say that I went into this book blindly and was pleasantly surprised by Rueckert’s focus on exercises for adjusting your actual voice projection, not just tips and tricks for how to speak more confidently and boldly. This book wasn’t totally what I expected, but I enjoyed it for what it was. It is very clear that a lot of research and passion went into this book and through her discoveries and advice, Veronica Rueckert has helped me become more cognizant of my own voice and natural tendencies/reservations when it comes to speaking out. I feel that there are a lot of useful nuggets of information scattered throughout this book that will help me reclaim my confidence and voice in situations where it matters most and I look forward to putting this feedback into action.

In a world where women need to be reminded of their power and encouraged to speak their truth, both in the workplace and in their personal lives, Outspoken by Veronica Rueckert arrives at the perfect time 💛


BEER RECOMMENDATION: Outspoken by Veronica Rueckert is best paired with Save Your Blushes by Idiom Brewing Co. This delicious strawberry cheesecake milkshake IPA is the first of many female brewed beers at this brewery. Made with Barbe Rouge hops, strawberries, graham cracker, vanilla and lactose, this beer is a perfect representation of this classic dessert 🍻

Full Pour Review: The Light We Lost by Jill Santopolo

OOF, this one was a gut punch right in the feels! What an intense and stunning love story! I really enjoyed The Light We Lost by Jill Santopolo and how it left me with so much to think about long after the story ended. Before I started reading this book, it had been a few months since I read the description so I went into this story blindly and I’m happy that I did —it wasn’t what I expected (in the best way) and I was pleasantly surprised by how raw, real and relatable it was.

BOOK DESCRIPTION: “Lucy is faced with a life-altering choice. But before she can make her decision, she must start her story–their story–at the very beginning.

Lucy and Gabe meet as seniors at Columbia University on a day that changes both of their lives forever. Together, they decide they want their lives to mean something, to matter. When they meet again a year later, it seems fated–perhaps they’ll find life’s meaning in each other. But then Gabe becomes a photojournalist assigned to the Middle East and Lucy pursues a career in New York. What follows is a thirteen-year journey of dreams, desires, jealousies, betrayals, and, ultimately, of love. Was it fate that brought them together? Is it choice that has kept them away? Their journey takes Lucy and Gabe continents apart, but never out of each other’s hearts.

This devastatingly romantic debut novel about the enduring power of first love, with a shocking, unforgettable ending, is Love Story for a new generation.”

Jill Santopolo is a beautiful writer and storyteller, so needless to say, I was genuinely shocked to discover this was her debut novel. The characters in this book are so well developed and while this story was written from Lucy’s perspective, I was also pleased with how well I got to know Gabe by jumping back and forth between past and present, getting to relive some very intimate moments between the two of them over the course of several years. The fact that I was able to connect with these characters so easily made their story that much more emotional and intense (warning: this story will make you cry). I think what I ultimately enjoyed the most about this story was how relatable some aspects of this book were to my own life in minor, unique ways, and through Santopolo’s writing, I was granted the opportunity to reflect back on my own first love and smile at the experience. Life is truly beautiful through all of the ups and downs, happiness and heartache, new relationships and old, the lessons learned… — I love how appreciative of it all this book made me feel.

If you’re looking for a good palette cleanser that will tug at your heartstrings and make you sob, I highly recommend checking out The Light We Lost. Lucy and Gabe’s love story will capture your heart and leave you with so much to think about. The Light We Lost was the first book I’ve read by Jill Santopolo, and it certainly won’t be my last 💛


BEER RECOMMENDATION: The Light We Lost by Jill Santopolo is best paired with The Pastryarchy: Chocolate Dipped Pretzel by DuClaw Brewing Co. this delicious Russian imperial stout tastes exactly like a chocolate dipped pretzel with subtle roasted sweetness, malty chocolate undertones and a light salt bite 🍻