Full Pour Review: Mexican Gothic

Okay, so… this book was not at all what I was expecting it to be 😳😅 I went into this one a little blind (having read the description but no reviews) and I was definitely thinking that it would have been more along the lines of a thriller/suspense read. This was not the case 😅

Mexican Gothic by Silvia Moreno-Garcia is definitely a science fiction/fantasy read that was pretty creepy and gory and while this type of genre is not something I typically like to read, it definitely forced me out of my comfort zone and the strong attention to details held my interest throughout the book.

BOOK DESCRIPTION: “After receiving a frantic letter from her newly-wed cousin begging for someone to save her from a mysterious doom, Noemí Taboada heads to High Place, a distant house in the Mexican countryside. She’s not sure what she will find—her cousin’s husband, a handsome Englishman, is a stranger, and Noemí knows little about the region.

Noemí is also an unlikely rescuer: She’s a glamorous debutante, and her chic gowns and perfect red lipstick are more suited for cocktail parties than amateur sleuthing. But she’s also tough and smart, with an indomitable will, and she is not afraid: Not of her cousin’s new husband, who is both menacing and alluring; not of his father, the ancient patriarch who seems to be fascinated by Noemí; and not even of the house itself, which begins to invade Noemi’s dreams with visions of blood and doom.

Her only ally in this inhospitable abode is the family’s youngest son. Shy and gentle, he seems to want to help Noemí, but might also be hiding dark knowledge of his family’s past. For there are many secrets behind the walls of High Place. The family’s once colossal wealth and faded mining empire kept them from prying eyes, but as Noemí digs deeper she unearths stories of violence and madness.

And Noemí, mesmerized by the terrifying yet seductive world of High Place, may soon find it impossible to ever leave this enigmatic house behind.”

While this book starts off as a slow burn, it remains enticing and quickly escalates as you get toward the end. At the end, there were a few parts that happened so quickly and in such a way that I found myself wondering how Noemi was able to piece certain details together so quickly and come to her conclusions, making bits of the story hard to follow and unbelievable. Or maybe I’m the one who just wasn’t following? 🙃🤔

I was not particularly drawn to any of the characters in this story except for Noemi. I admired her strength and stubbornness when it came to protecting her cousin and rescuing them from High Place. That being said, however, I still found all of the characters to be unique and intriguing.

Overall, while I did not love this book, I certainly found it suspenseful, twisted and hard to put down. I’m glad that I stepped out of my comfort zone with this one.

BEER RECOMMENDATION: Mexican Gothic by Silvia Moreno-Garcia is best paired with Cocoa Loco by Black Flag Brewing Co. 🍻

Full Pour Review: The Guncle

OMG MY HEART 😭 What an INCREDIBLE, feel-good book filled with amazing characters! 🥰 The Guncle by Steven Rowley absolutely lived up to ALL of the Bookstagram hype and immediately found a place in my top 10 favorite books of 2021.

BOOK DESCRIPTION: “Patrick, or Gay Uncle Patrick (GUP, for short), has always loved his niece, Maisie, and nephew, Grant. That is, he loves spending time with them when they come out to Palm Springs for weeklong visits, or when he heads home to Connecticut for the holidays. But in terms of caretaking and relating to two children, no matter how adorable, Patrick is, honestly, overwhelmed.

So when tragedy strikes and Maisie and Grant lose their mother and Patrick’s brother has a health crisis of his own, Patrick finds himself suddenly taking on the role of primary guardian. Despite having a set of “Guncle Rules” ready to go, Patrick has no idea what to expect, having spent years barely holding on after the loss of his great love, a somewhat-stalled acting career, and a lifestyle not-so-suited to a six- and a nine-year-old. Quickly realizing that parenting–even if temporary–isn’t solved with treats and jokes, Patrick’s eyes are opened to a new sense of responsibility, and the realization that, sometimes, even being larger than life means you’re unfailingly human.

Besides the fact that this book had me laughing from the very beginning, my favorite part was the lovable and relatable characters. I absolutely adored GUP and getting to see him grow as an individual throughout this book while caring for Maisie and Grant (and while mourning his own losses). GUP was an incredible support system to Maisie and Grant, and the love they had for one another felt so genuine and heartwarming.

In addition to my love for the characters, I thoroughly enjoyed the witty banter and light hearted comedy throughout this book. I also adored the life lessons touched on in this book that called the reader to self reflect. I think the best compliment that I could possibly give about this book is simply acknowledging how much I did not want it to end.

I truly can’t recommend this one enough. If this book isn’t already on your radar, I highly recommend checking it out. The Guncle will leave you in the best possible mood and is sure to make you smile, laugh, and cry.

BEER RECOMMENDATION: The Guncle by Steven Rowley is best paired with NOBO with Pineapple by Monument City Brewing 🍻

Full Pour Review: Survive The Night

As expected, I thoroughly enjoyed Survive The Night by Riley Sager. I’m always down for a good psychological thriller and this one did not disappoint.

BOOK DESCRIPTION: It’s November 1991. Nirvana’s in the tape deck, George H. W. Bush is in the White House, and movie-obsessed college student Charlie Jordan is in a car with a man who might be a serial killer.

Josh Baxter, the man behind the wheel, is a virtual stranger to Charlie. They met at the campus ride board, each looking to share the long drive home to Ohio. Both have good reasons for wanting to get away. For Charlie, it’s guilt and grief over the shocking murder of her best friend, who became the third victim of the man known as the Campus Killer. For Josh, it’s to help care for his sick father—or so he says.

The longer she sits in the passenger seat, the more Charlie notices there’s something suspicious about Josh, from the holes in his story about his father to how he doesn’t want her to see inside the trunk. As they travel an empty, twisty highway in the dead of night, an increasingly anxious Charlie begins to think she’s sharing a car with the Campus Killer. Is Josh truly dangerous? Or is Charlie’s jittery mistrust merely a figment of her movie-fueled imagination?

One thing is certain—Charlie has nowhere to run and no way to call for help. Trapped in a terrifying game of cat and mouse played out on pitch-black roads and in neon-lit parking lots, Charlie knows the only way to win is to survive the night.”

There were a lot of things I enjoyed about this book. First, the fact that the entire story was based on one night. This made it more fast-paced and exciting to me, and I was constantly trying to figure out what would happen next. Second, while I didn’t particularly love any of the characters, I was captivated by all of them and enjoyed picking apart their actions to figure out their true motives. I was most intrigued by Charlie’s paranoia and the “movies in her head” that made it hard for her to differentiate between reality and imagination. This made it frustrating, exciting and challenging at times to figure out what was actually happening in the book. Finally, I thoroughly enjoyed the 90’s setting.

If you’re looking for a fast-paced, whodunnit psychological thriller, this is definitely a book worth checking out!

BEER RECOMMENDATION: Survive The Night by Riley Sager is best paired with Bunk Beds by Aslin Beer Company 🍻

Full Pour Review: We Are the Brennan’s

WOW, where do I even start with this one?! Ever since I read Ask Again, Yes by Mary Beth Keane in 2019 and fell back in love with reading, I’ve been looking for another emotional, raw, character-driven family novel that would captivate me the same way. The type of novel that focuses on families and all of their messiness, complications, struggles and triumphs. I am very pleased to say 110% found what I have been looking for in We Are the Brennan’s by Tracey Lange and that this book officially falls in my Top 3 Reads of 2021.

BOOK DESCRIPTION: “When twenty-nine-year-old Sunday Brennan wakes up in a Los Angeles hospital, bruised and battered after a drunk driving accident she caused, she swallows her pride and goes home to her family in New York. But it’s not easy. She deserted them all―and her high school sweetheart―five years before with little explanation, and they’ve got questions.

Sunday is determined to rebuild her life back on the east coast, even if it does mean tiptoeing around resentful brothers and an ex-fiancé. The longer she stays, however, the more she realizes they need her just as much as she needs them. When a dangerous man from her past brings her family’s pub business to the brink of financial ruin, the only way to protect them is to upend all their secrets―secrets that have damaged the family for generations and will threaten everything they know about their lives. In the aftermath, the Brennan family is forced to confront painful mistakes―and ultimately find a way forward, together.”

To say that I am obsessed with the characters in this book is an understatement, as I found it incredibly hard to not fall in love with them. My heart swelled and ached for them. As a reader, it felt like a gift being immersed in their world and getting to witness their growth, their love and loyalty to one another, the sacrifices they made for one another, etc. In addition to the wonderfully developed characters, I feel that the pacing of this story was perfect and that the ending was deeply satisfying.

Simply put, this is hands down one of the best debut novels I’ve ever read. Tracey Lange is an incredible writer and storyteller and I reveled in the emotional roller coasters that she took me on throughout this book. If you’re looking for a book with a captivating story line and incredible cast of characters that will give you all the feels, I highly recommend checking out We Are the Brennan’s by Tracey Lange, releasing on 8/3/21.

Thank you again Celadon Books for gifting me this incredible book in exchange for my honest review 💛

BEER RECOMMENDATION: We Are the Brennan’s by Tracey Lange is best paired with Cherry Bomb by Prairie Artisan Ales 🍻

Full Pour Review: Such a Quiet Place

As anticipated, I enjoyed this book. Megan Miranda is an auto-buy author for me and Such a Quiet Place was the perfect suspenseful murder-mystery that I needed in order to get out of the reading slump I was in due to my last book 😅

BOOK DESCRIPTION: “Welcome to Hollow’s Edge, where you can find secrets, scandal, and a suspected killer—all on one street.

Hollow’s Edge used to be a quiet place. A private and idyllic neighborhood where neighbors dropped in on neighbors, celebrated graduation and holiday parties together, and looked out for one another. But then came the murder of Brandon and Fiona Truett. A year and a half later, Hollow’s Edge is simmering. The residents are trapped, unable to sell their homes, confronted daily by the empty Truett house, and suffocated by their trial testimonies that implicated one of their own. Ruby Fletcher. And now, Ruby’s back.

With her conviction overturned, Ruby waltzes right back to Hollow’s Edge, and into the home she once shared with Harper Nash. Harper, five years older, has always treated Ruby like a wayward younger sister. But now she’s terrified. What possible good could come of Ruby returning to the scene of the crime? And how can she possibly turn her away, when she knows Ruby has nowhere to go?

Within days, suspicion spreads like a virus across Hollow’s Edge. It’s increasingly clear that not everyone told the truth about the night of the Truetts’ murders. And when Harper begins receiving threatening notes, she realizes she has to uncover the truth before someone else becomes the killer’s next victim.”

I enjoyed the slow burning story line with this book and loved that the plot twists kept me second guessing everyone and everything up until the end. The book was told solely from Harper’s perspective and while most of the characters in this book were unreliable and not super likable, they were fun to meet and I actually enjoyed how it didn’t feel like I was meant to love the characters. Since this story focuses on neighborhood drama, untrustworthy neighbors and how you never know what happens behind closed doors, the fact that I didn’t love the characters felt appropriate and intentional.

If you’re looking for a quick, whodunnit murder mystery with entertaining neighborhood drama that will keep you invested until the end, I recommend checking out Such a Quiet Place by Megan Miranda.

BEER RECOMMENDATION: Such a Quiet Place by Megan Miranda is best paired with Aloha Friday by Downeast Cider 🍻

Full Pour Review: The Glass Hotel

Unpopular opinion: I did not enjoy this one.

I struggled so hard with getting into The Glass Hotel, that it took me almost an entire month to read it. I refuse to DNF books because I’ve read plenty of them that were slow to start and took a while to get into, but ended up loving it by the end. Unfortunately for me, this was not the case for this book. I wanted to enjoy this one so bad because of all the wonderful reviews I’ve read on it, but there were several things about it that just made the entire thing fall flat for me.

BOOK DESCRIPTION: “Vincent is a bartender at the Hotel Caiette, a five-star lodging on the northernmost tip of Vancouver Island. On the night she meets Jonathan Alkaitis, a hooded figure scrawls a message on the lobby’s glass wall: Why don’t you swallow broken glass. High above Manhattan, a greater crime is committed: Alkaitis’s billion-dollar business is really nothing more than a game of smoke and mirrors. When his scheme collapses, it obliterates countless fortunes and devastates lives. Vincent, who had been posing as Jonathan’s wife, walks away into the night. Years later, a victim of the fraud is hired to investigate a strange occurrence: a woman has seemingly vanished from the deck of a container ship between ports of call.

In this captivating story of crisis and survival, Emily St. John Mandel takes readers through often hidden landscapes: campgrounds for the near-homeless, underground electronica clubs, service in luxury hotels, and life in a federal prison. Rife with unexpected beauty, The Glass Hotel is a captivating portrait of greed and guilt, love and delusion, ghosts and unintended consequences, and the infinite ways we search for meaning in our lives.”

To start, I feel that the book is incredibly slow paced and has random nuances that made it challenging to follow, such as lots of time hopping and multiple character POV’s that didn’t always make sense or seem to flow well. I often found myself questioning who people were and whether I was currently reading someone’s POV in the past, present or future. That being said, I also felt that there were way too many characters to keep track of and overall found the characters in general really hard to connect with. I will say that things started to pick up and get more interesting in the last quarter of the book, however the ending was still underwhelming to me.

Now, despite my feelings on the book, I think it’s worth mentioning that I personally feel that this book would be super intriguing as a movie or TV sitcom and would absolutely watch it in a heartbeat. As a book, it just didn’t do anything for me.

Please don’t let my review on this book deter you from reading it if it’s on your TBR list! And if anyone wants to message me and talk more about this book, I’d be more than happy to discuss!

BEER RECOMMENDATION: The Glass Hotel by Emily St. John Mandel is best paired with Double Citrus Sorbet by Sapwood Cellars. This delicious imperial/double milkshake IPA is brewed with citrus zest and vanilla beans 🍻

Full Pour Review: The Good Sister

I’m going to start off this review by stating that The Good Sister by Sally Hepworth is easily going to fall within my Top 10 Books of 2021. I was sold on this book after an amazing review for it was posted by @carly.simone and what an INCREDIBLE roller coaster of a story this was! 😳 it’s been taking me a bit longer to get through books lately simply due to *life*, but I flew through this book in less than a day. I LITERALLY couldn’t put it down.

BOOK DESCRIPTION: “Fern Castle works in her local library. She has dinner with her twin sister Rose three nights a week. And she avoids crowds, bright lights and loud noises as much as possible. Fern has a carefully structured life and disrupting her routine can be…dangerous.

When Rose discovers that she cannot get pregnant, Fern sees her chance to pay her sister back for everything Rose has done for her. Fern can have a baby for Rose. She just needs to find a father. Simple.

Fern’s mission will shake the foundations of the life she has carefully built for herself and stir up dark secrets from the past, in this quirky, rich and shocking story of what families keep hidden.

I was addicted to the story plot and for the longest time I really couldn’t tell where it was going- I loved how it consistently kept me on the edge of my seat. There were a few plot twists I saw coming, but OMG that ending… what a wonderful way to end this incredibly suspenseful read that was satisfying yet still left the reader with the perfect amount of wonderment. I also really enjoyed how this book was written in dual perspective and in interesting formats like present day experience for Fern but old diary entries for Rose (that eventually switched over to present day diary entries).

Second, I loved the characters and all of the emotions they made me feel (even the supporting characters were wonderfully developed over the course of the story). For Fern and Rose, there were so many intriguing layers to them and I found myself deeply fascinated with their stories. I loved that I found myself wondering who to believe throughout the entire course of the book. Without a doubt in my mind, I will be thinking about this one for a long time.

If you’re looking for a dark, incredibly addictive and fast-paced suspense read, I highly recommend The Good Sister. Sally Hepworth is an incredible writer and I can’t wait to read more of her books.

BEER RECOMMENDATION: The Good Sister by Sally Hepworth is best paired with Everything’s Gone Green by Bluejacket 🍻

Full Pour Review: The Last Thing He Told Me

As anticipated, I REALLY enjoyed The Last Thing He Told Me by Laura Dave. I definitely had high expectations for this one going into it, and I am happy to say that this book absolutely didn’t disappoint. The storyline, the character development, the pacing and the unexpected surprises were all impressive and I found myself counting down until my next day off so that I could binge through this story.

BOOK DESCRIPTION: “Before Owen Michaels disappears, he smuggles a note to his beloved wife of one year: Protect her. Despite her confusion and fear, Hannah Hall knows exactly to whom the note refers—Owen’s sixteen-year-old daughter, Bailey. Bailey, who lost her mother tragically as a child. Bailey, who wants absolutely nothing to do with her new stepmother.

As Hannah’s increasingly desperate calls to Owen go unanswered, as the FBI arrests Owen’s boss, as a US marshal and federal agents arrive at her Sausalito home unannounced, Hannah quickly realizes her husband isn’t who he said he was. And that Bailey just may hold the key to figuring out Owen’s true identity—and why he really disappeared.

Hannah and Bailey set out to discover the truth. But as they start putting together the pieces of Owen’s past, they soon realize they’re also building a new future—one neither of them could have anticipated.”

Laura Dave is a wonderful writer and from the very beginning, I felt truly immersed in the story. I found it very hard to put this book down because of how engrossing the writing was. I also adored the main characters, Hannah and Bailey. I found it really hard not to fall in love with them and I really enjoyed how much we got to witness them grow as individuals, as well as come together and develop a strong bond. I also really enjoyed the ending and felt mostly satisfied with the way it played out.

While I thoroughly enjoyed every aspect of this book, and without giving anything away, there are two things I would have really liked to see in this book: one being more insight into exactly what Owen did in his past that put him in the situation he was facing, and the other being Bailey’s perspective on the agreement and how this ended up playing out in the end.

If you’re a fan of Reese’s Book Club selections or are looking for a fast-paced, suspenseful read that will keep you on the edge of your seat, I definitely recommend checking out The Last Thing He Told Me. This was the first book I’ve ever read by Laura Dave and I definitely plan on exploring more of her books.

BEER RECOMMENDATION: The Last Thing He Told Me by Laura Dave is best paired with NOBO with pineapple by Monument City Brewing 🍻

Full Pour Review: The Vanishing Half

WOW, what a powerhouse of a book! I finished The Vanishing Half by Brit Bennett a few weeks ago and I am STILL thinking about it! I had very high standards going into this one because of all the awards it’s won and from all the rave reviews on Bookstagram about it and holy shit did it live up to the hype!

BOOK DESCRIPTION: “The Vignes twin sisters will always be identical. But after growing up together in a small, southern black community and running away at age sixteen, it’s not just the shape of their daily lives that is different as adults, it’s everything: their families, their communities, their racial identities. Many years later, one sister lives with her black daughter in the same southern town she once tried to escape. The other secretly passes for white, and her white husband knows nothing of her past. Still, even separated by so many miles and just as many lies, the fates of the twins remain intertwined. What will happen to the next generation, when their own daughters’ storylines intersect?

Weaving together multiple strands and generations of this family, from the Deep South to California, from the 1950s to the 1990s, Brit Bennett produces a story that is at once a riveting, emotional family story and a brilliant exploration of the American history of passing . Looking well beyond issues of race, The Vanishing Half considers the lasting influence of the past as it shapes a person’s decisions, desires, and expectations, and explores some of the multiple reasons and realms in which people sometimes feel pulled to live as something other than their origins.”

Brit Bennett is a master writer and I can’t even begin to describe the emotions this story provoked. It was joyful, comical, sad, infuriating, and bittersweet all at once. This book started off as a slow burn as you got familiar with the characters and their backgrounds and then it really started to amp up and maintained that energy through the end. Multiple topics were covered through out this book such as race, gender, class, self-discovery, parenting, domestic abuse, trauma from abandonment, sexual abuse, and much more. The character development in this book was incredible and I loved getting to know the identities of Stella and Desiree, as well as their families. My heart ached for everything that Stella and Desiree went through and I thoroughly enjoyed getting to see how each of them developed as individuals over the course of this book.

I truly can’t recommend this book enough. If you’re looking for something with intoxicating writing, deep/relatable characters, a captivating storyline and thought-provoking topics, this one is for you! I am officially boosting The Mothers by Brit Bennett further up on my TBR list because I can’t wait to explore more of her work.

BEER RECOMMENDATION: The Vanishing Half by Brit Bennett is best paired with Cream Team by Flying Dog Brewery, a delicious cookies and cream flavored milk stout 🍻

Full Pour Review: Finlay Donovan is Killing It

Okay- I fucking loved this book. In my opinion, Finlay Donovan is Killing It by Elle Cosimano absolutely lived up to the hype. A light, addictive, fast-paced thriller with entertaining characters that were hard not to love was exactly what I needed right now and I feel confident that this book will remain in my top 10 reads for 2021.

BOOK DESCRIPTION: “Finlay Donovan is killing it . . . except, she’s really not. She’s a stressed-out single-mom of two and struggling novelist, Finlay’s life is in chaos: the new book she promised her literary agent isn’t written, her ex-husband fired the nanny without telling her, and this morning she had to send her four-year-old to school with hair duct-taped to her head after an incident with scissors.

When Finlay is overheard discussing the plot of her new suspense novel with her agent over lunch, she’s mistaken for a contract killer, and inadvertently accepts an offer to dispose of a problem husband in order to make ends meet . . . Soon, Finlay discovers that crime in real life is a lot more difficult than its fictional counterpart, as she becomes tangled in a real-life murder investigation.”

Cosimano is a wonderful storyteller and I felt like she did a fantastic job exploring multiple whodunnit theories in a brilliantly comical way without leaving behind any loose ends. I was very satisfied with how the story ended and did not find myself wishing for anything different or wanting anything more. I also thoroughly enjoyed the focus on the triumphs and tribulations of motherhood while navigating a messy divorce, discovering oneself, and acknowledging the beauty in starting over. As mentioned above, I absolutely loved all the characters, especially Finlay and Vero and the relationship that they shared. Both of these ladies are unique, strong, brave, hilarious, and loving, and they make a wonderful team. Another thing I loved about the characters in this story was that not a single one felt out of place or unfinished, in my opinion.

If you’re looking for a quick, exciting and entertaining read, or something that will help get you out of a reading rut, this one is for you! I am so excited that this is the first book in a new series currently in the works by Cosimano, and I can’t wait to find out what happens next with Finlay 😍

BEER RECOMMENDATION: Finlay Donovan is Killing It by Elle Cosimano is best paired with Raspberry Smash by Westbrook Brewing Co. This delicious fruited sour is brewed with raspberry purée and is a perfect balance of tart and sweet 🍻