Full Pour Review: The Brilliant Life of Eudora Honeysett

What a BEAUTIFUL story! 🥰 I can easily say that The Brilliant Life of Eudora Honeysett by Annie Lyons is one of my favorite books from 2020 and one that will stick with me for a long time. With an emotional and heartwarming story line, and charming characters whose personalities and growth will leave you smiling, I found this story to be thought provoking and hard to put down.

BOOK DESCRIPTION: “It’s never too late to start living.

Eudora Honeysett is done with this noisy, moronic world—all of it. She has witnessed the indignities and suffering of old age and has lived a full life. At eighty-five, she isn’t going to leave things to chance. Her end will be on her terms. With one call to a clinic in Switzerland, a plan is set in motion.

Then she meets ten-year-old Rose Trewidney, a whirling, pint-sized rainbow of sparkling cheer. All Eudora wants is to be left alone to set her affairs in order. Instead, she finds herself embarking on a series of adventures with the irrepressible Rose and their affable neighbor, the recently widowed Stanley—afternoon tea, shopping sprees, trips to the beach, birthday celebrations, pizza parties. 

While the trio of unlikely BFFs grow closer and anxiously await the arrival of Rose’s new baby sister, Eudora is reminded of her own childhood—of losing her father during World War II and the devastating impact it had on her entire family. In reflecting on her past, Eudora realizes she must come to terms with what lies ahead. 

But now that her joy for life has been rekindled, how can she possibly say goodbye?”

Annie Lyon’s is a wonderful author and storyteller. For this story, I loved that it was told solely from the perspective of Eudora and that it flipped back and forth between her past and present so that you could really gain an understanding of the difficult life that Eudora has lived and why she was ready to take control of her death. Eudora experienced a very difficult life full of heartache, loss, guilt and regret and at 85 years old, she is incredibly aware of her mortality and is simply tired and ready to end her life. Being able to see Eudora change over the course of the book and watch her slowly let go of the past that weighed her down so much over the years was liberating.

The intergenerational friendship that Eudora develops with Rose and Stanley is incredibly tender, pure and healing, showing Eudora that life is worth living when you have wonderful people in your life. I couldn’t get enough of Rose’s eccentric, witty, loving personality and infectious energy. Stanley is a very funny, loving and loyal gentleman who is recently widowed, and through their shared heartbreaks, Eudora and Stanley were able to help heal one another and find the strength to continue living their lives to their fullest while they still have time.

I honestly can’t praise this book enough. If you’re looking for a story that will make you laugh, cry, and smile all at once, I highly recommend you check out this book. This is the first book that I’ve read by Annie Lyons and I can’t wait to check out more by her. Thank you so much WilliamMorrow for gifting me this incredible story in exchange for my honest review 💛


BEER RECOMMENDATION: The Brilliant Life of Eudora Honeysett by Annie Lyons is best paired with Baby Shark by Aslin Beer Company, a delicious citra dry-hopped IPA 🍻

Full Pour Review: Ten Rules For Faking It

OMG MY HEART. I can’t express enough how much I loved Ten Rules For Faking It by Sophie Sullivan. I fell in love with this story instantly and adored every single character. This one was tough to put down and left me feeling so many emotions because it is so relatable and came at a perfect time to help me address/sort through some of my own personal struggles with anxiety at this moment.

BOOK DESCRIPTION: “What happens when your love life becomes the talk of the town?

As birthdays go, this year’s for radio producer Everly Dean hit rock-bottom.

Worse than the “tonsillectomy birthday.” Worse than the birthday her parents decided to split (the first time). But catching your boyfriend cheating on you with his assistant?

Even clichés sting.

But this is Everly’s year! She won’t let her anxiety hold her back. She’ll pitch her podcast idea to her boss.

There’s just one problem.

Her boss, Chris, is very cute. (Of course). Also, he’s extremely distant (which means he hates her, right? Or is that the anxiety talking)?

And, Stacey the DJ didn’t mute the mic during Everly’s rant about Simon the Snake (syn: Cheating Ex).

That’s three problems.

Suddenly, people are lining up to date her, Bachelorette-style, fans are voting (Reminder: never leave house again), and her interest in Chris might be a two-way street. It’s a lot for a woman who could gold medal in people-avoidance. She’s going to have to fake it ‘till she makes it to get through all of this.

Perhaps she’ll make a list: The Ten Rules for Faking It.

Because sometimes making the rules can find you happiness when you least expect it.”

First, these characters are magical. Let’s start with Everly, who suffers from severe social anxiety. I can personally relate to Everly’s character so much and the positive and delicate way that her social anxiety was addressed in this book made me tear up a few times because I felt like Sullivan was also indirectly helping me to understand the need to be more gentle and positive with myself. Everly’s character was raw, real and wonderful and I loved how much of her growth we got to experience throughout this book as she bravely overcame a lot of difficult things. Chris’s and Stacey’s character were truly incredible as well and I was in awe of their sensitivity and care toward Everly’s anxiety. They were both so encouraging, consistently reminded her of how brave and strong she truly was, and not once did they ever make her feel like her and her anxiety were too much. That finally leads me to the emotional connection that Everly and Chris shared- it truly was a breath of fresh air. Sullivan couldn’t have done a more perfect job with creating such a beautiful, more relatable relationship that didn’t focus heavily on the steam or physical connections found in most rom-com’s.

Once I was done reading this book, I immediately went online and preordered myself a physical copy. I wasn’t expecting this one to leave such an impact on me, but it did and I’m very grateful for that 💛 I was really impressed with the way that Everly’s social anxiety was handled in this book and I truly can’t recommend this book enough if you’re looking for a sweet, light hearted, not-your-typical rom-com that will not only leave you thinking about the story long after you finished it, but leave you feeling a little stronger if you suffer from general/social anxiety like I do. Ten Rules For Faking It hits shelves on 12/29 and really is a terrific palette cleanser for ending at 2020. Thank you so much NetGalley and Griffin for gifting me this incredible eARC in exchange for my honest review 💛


BEER RECOMMENDATION: Ten Rules For Faking It by Sophie Sullivan is best paired with Out of Shape Superhero by Black Flag Brewing Company and Fourscore Beer Co. This boozy, delicious hazy TIPA is brewed with Citra, Strata and Mosaic hops 🍻

Full Pour Review: Wicked

RATING: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️/5

WOW. I can’t believe I waited so long to read this one!! Wicked by Gregory Maguire blew me away with his incredible storytelling and magical worlds. I went into this book having never seen the Broadway show and not really knowing what to expect, other then the fact that this book told the story of Elphaba, the Wicked Witch of the West. This book wasn’t at all what I was anticipating and it was darker than I imagined it to be, but it was pleasantly surprising overall!

DESCRIPTION: Gregory Maguire’s groundbreaking New York Times bestseller redefines the land of Oz, its inhabitants, its Wizard, and the Emerald City, viewing the world created by L. Frank Baum through a darker and greener lens. Brilliantly inventive, Wicked offers a radical new portrait of one of the most feared and despised villains in all of literature: the universally maligned Wicked Witch of the West who, in Maguire’s imaginative retelling, isn’t nearly as black-hearted as we imagined…

First, the characters in this book are all truly remarkable and complex. I loved learning about Elphaba’s story and following her along her journey. I viewed Elphaba as being incredibly misunderstood and not the evil witch she is portrayed as in The Wizard of Oz. She was very compassionate and heavily involved in advocating for Animal rights and committed to her “cause,” which was incredibly brave and noble of her in a place like Oz, which was full of crooked politics and an evil dictator (the Wizard).

Gregory Maguire is an incredibly talented writer who painted a beautifully complex world that allowed the reader to truly escape from the real world into something magical. The amount of detail that went in to describing these characters and these worlds were truly remarkable. At times, I was almost overwhelmed with how much detail was written in this book and found myself having to re-read some sections to make sure I wasn’t missing anything.

If you are looking for a dark, racy and complex fantasy book that will serve as true escapism while reading, I highly recommend checking out Wicked. After the ending of this book, I’m really curious to read the others in this series and see where Gregory Maguire takes this story. Thank you so much to WilliamMorrow books for gifting me this fascinating (and BEAUTIFUL 25th anniversary edition!) book in exchange for my honest review 💛


BEER RECOMMENDATION: Wicked: The Life and Times of the Wicked Witch of the West by Gregory Maguire is best paired with Wizards and Gargoyles, a delicious hazy coffee IPA brewed in collaboration with Stone Brewing and Modern Times Brewing 🍻

Full Pour Review: Jackie and Maria

RATING: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️/5

Historical fiction is a genre that I have not explored much of, but am working on changing that! Jackie and Maria by Gill Paul is a wonderful historical fiction novel that focuses on Jackie Kennedy and Maria Callas and their connection with one another through their involvement with shipping magnate Aristotle Onassis, one of the world’s most richest and captivating men. I was so intrigued by these women and their experiences that I binged this book pretty quickly, struggling to put it down.

BOOK DESCRIPTION: The President’s Wife; a Glamorous Superstar; the rivalry that shook the world…

Jackie Kennedy was beautiful, sophisticated, and contemplating leaving her ambitious young senator husband. Life in the public eye with an overly ambitious–and unfaithful―man who could hardly be coaxed to return from a vacation after the birth of a stillborn child was breaking her spirit. So when she’s offered a holiday on the luxurious yacht owned by billionaire Ari Onassis, she says yes…to a meeting that will ultimately change her life.

Maria Callas is at the height of her operatic career and widely considered to be the finest soprano in the world. And then she’s introduced to Aristotle Onassis, the world’s richest man and her fellow Greek. Stuck in a childless, sexless marriage, and with pressures on all sides from opera house managers and a hostile press, she finds her life being turned upside down by this hyper-intelligent and impeccably charming man…

Little by little, Maria’s and Jackie’s lives begin to overlap, and they come closer and closer until everything they know about the world changes on a dime.

Gill Paul is an incredible writer and storyteller and I found myself in awe of her skills. She will take you on a mesmerizing emotional rollercoaster with this one as you navigate through the years preceding JFK’s presidency and after his assassination. Alternating between both Jackie’s and Maria’s perspectives, this book was full of glitz and glamour that featured a lot of beautiful Mediterranean background. I was INVESTED in these characters- I absolutely adored learning so much fascinating info about these two beautiful, complicated women and my heart ached for them throughout the book as I learned about the infidelity and fertility issues that both women faced and how these experiences shaped their lives. The small glimpse of the PTSD experienced by Jackie Kennedy after JFK’s assassination was truly heartbreaking to read about as well.

I enjoyed this book so much and if you haven’t already read this book, I highly recommend checking it out. Not only is it a wonderfully written and captivating story in general, it’s a wonderful read for those interested in Jackie Kennedy and Maria Callas, as well as anyone (like me!) who doesn’t read much historical fiction or know much about these women at all! Thank you so much WilliamMorrow for gifting me this wonderful story in exchange for my honest review! I will be thinking about this one for a while 💛


BEER RECOMMENDATION: Jackie and Maria by Gill Paul is best paired with Native Peach by Downeast Cider House. This deliciously refreshing peach cider is both sweet and tart with subtle flavoring in the beginning that grows with every sip 🍻

Full Pour Review: My Dark Vanessa

RATING: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️/5

“My Dark Vanessa” is the incredibly dark and emotional story of 15-year old high school sophomore Vanessa Wye and the love affair that begins with her 42-year old English teacher, Jacob Strane, during the fall of 2000. In 2017, a former Browick student accuses Strane of sexual abuse and urges Vanessa to come forward about her relationship with him. Now 32, Vanessa becomes faced with an impossible decision: to betray her first love who has remained a constant presence in her life, or completely redefine who she is by reconsidering her long held beliefs of what exactly happened between them. The story alternates between past and present, going in to great depth about Vanessa’s past and how it has continued to impact her over time.

Kate Elizabeth Russell’s character development throughout this book is phenomenal. I loved how complex, strong and relatable Vanessa’s character was. I felt like I was planted inside her mind, easily seeing things through her eyes in an alarming, yet fascinating way. I found myself truly amazed by her and the inner battle she constantly fought with herself when it came to deciphering her thoughts and feelings about her relationship with Strane; was what she experienced with him abuse or a tragic love story? If this was abuse, why did she remain complicit for so many years afterward? was Strane a pedophile or just unlucky to fall in love with a teenager, forever being branded as a deviant? How different could her life have been had this relationship not occurred? The exploration of these questions throughout the book was both intriguing and heart-wrenching to read because Vanessa is so firm in her belief that she is not a victim of abuse and was willing to engage in the sexual relationship with Strane; that he worshipped her, genuinely loved her, and was nothing but careful and kind with her.

“I see him so clearly now, understand how lonely it must be for him, wanting the wrong thing, the bad thing, while living in a world that would surely villainize him if it knew.”

Vanessa Wye, My Dark Vanessa

• • •

“I just feel…” I press the heals of my hands into my thighs. “I can’t lose the thing I’ve held on to for so long. You know?” My face twists up from the pain of pushing it out. “I just really need it to be a love story. You know? I really, really need it to be that.”

“I know,” she says.

“Because if it isn’t a love story, then what is it?” I look to her glassy eyes, her face of wide-open empathy.

“It’s my life,” I say. “This has been my whole life.”

Vanessa Wye to Ruby, My Dark Vanessa

With Strane, I was constantly infuriated by his character and despised his behavior throughout the book. I could not stand how manipulative he was with Vanessa, the Browick staff, and his other victims. However, I found it fascinating to get glimpses of his mind and see how he would justify certain behaviors; the lies he would say in order to assure himself, or be assured of by Vanessa, that he was not a monster and prevent himself from feeling guilty for his actions. Strane was really good at giving Vanessa a false sense of control in their relationship, claiming that she held all the power between them when that definitely was not the case.

“It’s important that you never feel coerced. That’s the only way I’ll be able to live with myself…you’re in charge here, Vanessa. You decide what we do.”

Jacob Strane, My Dark Vanessa

Watching him groom Vanessa and displace his weaknesses and fears on to her was really uncomfortable to experience because she was so young and naive, an “easy target” for someone like Strane to take advantage of due to her strong desire for love and attention. The deep hold on her that he managed to maintain was truly frightening, and the negative affect it had on her ability to have both romantic and friendly relationships with others was deeply upsetting.

“It wasn’t about how young I was, not for him. Above everything else, he loved my mind. He said I had genius-level emotional intelligence and that I wrote like a prodigy, that he could talk to me, confide in me. Lurking deep within me, he said, was a dark romanticism, the same kind he saw within himself. No one had ever understood that dark part of him until I came along. “It’s just my luck,” he said, “that when I finally find my soulmate, she’s fifteen years old.”

Vanessa Wye, My Dark Vanessa

Despite the story’s unsettling subject matter and being difficult to read at times, I was blown away by this powerful, thought-provoking and incredibly well written debut novel. It serves as an accurate portrayal of how the system has failed women when it comes to sexual assault, bringing to light examples of mistakes we can learn from and how we can improve. With the continued rise of the #MeToo and #TimesUp movements, this book could not have arrived at a more perfect time; opening up an uncomfortable but necessary dialogue about consent, abuse, grooming, manipulation, and the horrifying psychological consequences it can produce. “My Dark Vanessa” is a compelling read that will be tough to put down and leave the reader with so much to reflect on long after they’ve finished reading it.


BEER RECOMMENDATION: “My Dark Vanessa” is best paired with Triple Barrel GBS by Hardywood Brewing. Triple Barrel GBS is an imperial/double milk stout that was created by aging their traditional gingerbread stout in brandy barrels for 11 months, then aging again for 4 more months- half in Caribbean rum barrels and the other half in A. Smith Bowman bourbon barrels. Nearly black in color, this highly enjoyable, boozy beer has notes of white ginger, honey, maple, cinnamon, vanilla, bourbon, brandy and rum.