Pub Date: Fall Fest (Brews + a Book)

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Our apartment windows are open; there’s pumpkin spice everywhere. Did you ever notice how people don’t know how to dress when seasons change? Some in shorts, others in boots while all the beer taps have had Oktoberfest and pumpkin-whatever for the last four weeks. (Sigh. The damn holiday creep.) Anyway, I’m glad the cooler weather cooperated with my round of Pub Date. Last week, Brittany kicked us off with a fall brew and I’m up to bat next with one of the books I treasure the most.

Here we go…

Narraganset Fest Lager and Openly Straight by Bill Konisberg

Narragansett Fest Lager = yum. I have never had a fall beer in a can (this is a new development) and I liked that even though this beer was heavier than I’ve been used to all summer, it was still on the light side. This beer is New England’s oldest beer and the official beer of the Red Sox  (I know this makes Andi happy) which segues perfectly into my book pick: Openly Straight (my review from last summer).

Bill Konisberg has created one of my favorite books in the world about a character named Rafe who escapes his open town in Colorado where he is a celebrated gay teenager to a boarding school in New England where he doesn’t want to be defined by his sexuality at all. It works for a time, until it just can’t anymore. New friends, new feelings, and dealing with all he has left behind = a book full of such heart and honesty. Everyone needs to red this, and then pop open a Narragansett. (Lots of baseball jokes in the book too.)

For me more than any other season, fall feels like a new beginning. After sweating through the summer, it’s nice to snuggle into the comfort of your warmer clothes, seeking out the drinks and snacks you forgot about in the summer, and breathing in that fresh air. People go back to school, leaves start to fall from the trees and nothing beats an autumn in the Northeast. (I’m biased, probably.) Rafe’s time at boarding school, and his extreme efforts to keep who he really is a secret because he’s not sure that’s who he should have to be pair so perfectly with a less intense first brew for your fall.

As a bonus recommendation, try out Peak Organic Hop Harvest Oktoberfest.

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As always, cheers and happy reading! 🙂

Psst. Don’t forget to leave any of your own fall beer recommendations below!

Befriended: Pip Harry on Rowing, Friendships, and Passion

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(Woo! We have an actual feature icon thanks to our buddy, Alex, who also is responsible for our site design.)

We’re back with another BEFRIENDED chit-chat with one of my favorite Australian authors, Pip Harry. She’s responsible for writing two books I’ve loved/devoured/wanted to kiss and hug, Head of the River and I’ll Tell You Mine.

When I finished HotR this summer, I couldn’t stop thinking about it. The scenes were so incredibly vivid and it was so apparent that Pip was writing from first-hand rowing experience. (Note: I think Pip is pretty bad ass for having gone through such rigorous training and lived to talk about it!) One thing I also loved seeing was Leni, a very introverted, focused girl, open up to new friendships and realizing the competition was about more than winning. I really wanted to talk to Pip about her experiences and how those transformed Head of the River.

Thank you so much to Pip for being so candid and open, and for writing such an impeccable story I can’t wait to share with my friends.

♥

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Head of the River by Pip Harry
Add to Goodreads | Book Depository | Amazon

Summary (from Goodreads): It’s the most elite school sporting event in the country. Nine rowers, 2000 gruelling metres and one chance for glory in the ultimate team sport. Sit forward … ROW. 

Tall, gifted and the offspring of Olympians, superstar siblings Leni and Cristian Popescu are set to row Harley Grammar to victory in the Head of the River. 
With six months until the big race, the twins can’t lose. Or can they? 

When Cristian is seduced by the easy route of performance-enhancing drugs, and Leni is suffocated with self-doubt, their bright futures start to fade. Juggling family, high expectations, study, break-ups, new relationships and wild parties, the pressure starts to build. 

As the final moments tick down to the big race, who’ll make it to the start line? And who’ll plummet from grace?

Before you began training for the Head of the River competition, how would you describe your personality?

Before I started rowing and training for the Head of the River I was a heavily chlorinated swimmer. My attitude to training and competing was entirely selfish – how fast could I go? How much could I take off my time? I had friends in my squads, but nothing like the buddies I would make in the boat.

Pip-Harry-as-a-Teenage-RowerHow were you changed by the women you rowed with and what Big Life Lessons did you take away from your experience?

The girls and women I rowed with and coached were all so different (shapes, sizes, personalities!) but we all had to learn how to blend those differences into one cohesive, powerful machine. I learnt that a bad day on the water for them was a bad day for me. It sounds corny as hell, but rowing made me appreciate working as a team and the true bonding nature of team sports. I was inspired by the coaches who believed in me and led by example and were so wise and generous with their time. I was changed by my crewmates who showed strength, desire and determination. I was changed by the competition, which was cruel and unforgiving, but also joyous and exhilarating.

I learnt so many life lessons in the boat – how to work as a smaller cog in a bigger wheel, which has helped me enormously in life and work. I learnt to quietly endure pain and suffering in the boat (think rain, cold, blister, endless drills) which has given me more grit and determination (particularly in my writing career) I learnt that even the best team can lose on the day. You need good preparation but also a sprinkle of luck and fair winds. If you want to be a contender, you’ve got to roll with the losses, get up and have another crack.

Were you more like Leni, who had a lot to learn relationally, or were you more like Cris, who lacked passion for the sport and did it to please his parents?

As a rower I was equal parts Leni and Cris. Which is why the book was so fun to write! Like Leni I was a high achiever. I rowed in a state crew at nationals, getting there on hard work, obsession and all the A type personality traits that Leni has. At times this made me incredible hard to be around. I used to get frustrated at anyone who couldn’t keep up, I preferred to row like a bull at a gate all the time (no easy strokes) and I was very strict and tough on myself. I struggled to hold down romantic relationships in my late teens and early 20s because I put myself and my training first and I was completely inflexible. On the other hand, I also had a Cris streak (who doesn’t right?) I struggled to keep my weight down because I love, love sweets and junk foods. I’m also sometimes very seduced by sleep ins and can easily be talked into skipping training. I’m quite lazy at times and at high school, my teachers despaired at the lack of effort I made with subjects that didn’t interest me or I found difficult.

Pip-Harry-Teenage-RowerHow long has it been since you were a Head of the River competitor, and what are your relationships like today with the women you rowed with?

The last crew I coached through to the Head of the River was in 1998. They were a quad scull of funny and talented 14-15 year old schoolgirls who rowed the A final and came second by a fingernail. Heartbreaking! They dissolved after that race, and I did too. We had to pick ourselves up and realise we were 2nd fasted in the entire state, and that was pretty bloody fantastic! Also, who really cared in the end? We had just had four months of laughs, fun and learning. And they had gone from virtual strangers to close friends. That’s what it’s all about. The last time I was in the boat myself was around 2005 in a veteran’s crew (aged over 27 years) I had my biggest success and won five gold medals at the Australian Masters Games. I loved rowing with those older women, because they were more settled in themselves, understood it wasn’t life or death (it was just a race) and they had better wine, food and accommodation during away regattas!

I’m still in contact with some of the women I rowed with when I was a teenager and they are in the acknowledgments page of the book. Yesterday I got an email from Lucy, who I rowed with when I was 16-18 years old. She invited me to her 40th birthday celebrations and said her husband would pay for my interstate flight as part of his present to her – that might tell you how much we value each other’s friendship all these years later! Another rowing friend, Ingrid, sat with me in a café here in Sydney and gave me ideas for certain racing scenes in Head of the River. Another friend, Kate, was my running and training buddy and even though we are now busy mums, we still meet up every few years to talk about those crazy days on the river. Others I’ve lost touch with, but they hold a marker in my heart. I will never forget anyone I rowed with.

♥

Thank you so very much to Pip for sharing her experiences with us and the awesome teenage photographs of herself!
Friends, please, please pick up a copy of Head of the River.

Need more convincing? Read my review of Head of the River!

Pub Date: Fruit Beer 101

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Welcome to another spirited spin of Pub Date here at Rather Be Reading Blog!

So “back to school” might not mean what it used to back in the day, but I still have a soft spot for the season of new clothes, new pencils, and, hooray, the return of a crisp fall. Thanks to an idea from Maggie I originally wanted to pay homage to my first college in Long Island with some lovely local Southampton brews. But, go figure. I could not find any in the three stores near my apartment. So before I launch into my pick for today, let me recommend The Publick House in Southampton as an excellent place to stop by if you find yourself out east.

Instead, join me on a trip to the West Coast. Today’s beer comes from a 3-year old brewery in Southern California called Brouwerij West. What’s the brew? Dog Ate My Homework: a saison brewed with blackberries. (Isn’t that the best name? I couldn’t pass it up when I was looking for a Plan B.) The alcohol content is a little high at 7% so it is sold in a 1 pint/9.4 ounce bottle. I had enough for two glasses basically.

Let’s talk about fruity beers for a quick second.

A few weeks ago, Alexa and Elena came over for a craft night. It’s hard to pick a beer that delights all tastes, especially when not everyone is a seasoned beer drinker. In these situations, I tend to go for the fruit beers. The flavors taste more like juice or a cocktail, and I think the possibility of people liking it is that much higher. Before I started drinking beer, I didn’t know there were such familiar flavors available. It was a similar beer that made me braver to try more way back when.

Dog Ate My Homework was like a stronger juice, almost wine-like. Purple in color, a little foamy — it went down smoothly and I really enjoyed it. You could clearly taste the blackberries while the aroma was very grape juice-like. I liked that it was bubbly, felt all kinds of fancy.

And now a book…  The Queen of Kentucky by Alecia Whitaker!

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I wanted a read that I loved (this one is underrated, IMO) and also:

  • spent a lot of time in high school (a.k.a. no summer stories)
  • had a very important dog character (the beer name!)

The Queen of Kentucky is the story of Ricki Jo, a 14-year old living in the south who is dedicated to breaking away from her old self and transforming into the new, improved, and popular Erika. If you ever struggled with insecurity and fitting in (that’s a joke; I have to believe all of us did), Alecia Whitaker hits all the excruciating, embarrassing circumstances you never wanted to relive. Ricki Jo learns a lot about loyalty, friendship, parents, and family in this book and I found it completely charming.

Those of you returning to school this year, good luck! Most importantly, don’t forget to take the time to destress! It’s imperative to your success. Really!

So until next time… cheers and happy reading!

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Pub Date Lineup: The Book Addict’s Guide | Andi ABCs | Just A Couple More Pages

The Prince of Venice Beach Themed Gift-Pack (for Boys!)

Howdy, friends! Last week I reviewed The Prince of Venice Beach by Blake Nelson. While I read it, I couldn’t help but jot down a list of things Cali did or items that seemed significant. I was so inspired to turn all of these into a themed-gift-pack because a) we haven’t done one for guys before and b) it’s been a while since we did a gift-pack. Two birds, one stone, my friends! If you have a special male someone you are in need of gift ideas for, I hope this book inspired gift-pack will get your wheels turning!

Enjoy!

gift ideas based on a book for boys

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  1. Tree House — Cali lives in a tree house, and maybe it’s a little pricey to build a tree house, but how about a nice stroll through a park? That would be woods-y.
  2. Picnic Basket — Imagine the date nights in the tree house. 😉 Or, ahem, the park.
  3. Mossimo Red and Navy Striped Swimsuit — A necessity when you live around Venice Beach.
  4. Mötley Crüe Tickets — Cali listens to these guys throughout the book. I think he would have appreciated being gifted tickets.
  5. Diamond Ixtapa Skateboard — The skateboard provides transportation for Cali as he’s on one of his secret people-finding missions.
  6. The Big Sleep Book by Raymond Chandler — Cali’s a reader. Gotta love guys who are into books, too!
  7. Movie Tickets — He takes his friend Ailis out to the movies for a non-date date.
  8. Red Air Jordans — I’m not giving away any details here about how these are incorporated into The Prince of Venice Beach, but I really liked the little scene they played a part in.
  9. Library Pass — Remember how I mentioned Cali loves books? I know you can’t really “gift” a library card, but maybe you could take a picnic basket and have library dates with your main squeeze!

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The Prince of Venice Beach Review | Not That Kind of Girl Gift-Pack | Unbreak My Heart Gift-Pack

Big Kids’ Table: Cassie Takes Charge

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It’s beyond a treat to welcome my favorite book blogger/cheerleader, Cassie, from Books with Cass to the Big Kids’ Table. Last year, she provided a Blogger Rec (if you remember) and today I gave her full reign of July’s feature. Hope you enjoy! xoxo

Oh well hello there lovelies!  I’m taking over the table today and talking about some of my favorite big kids’ books!  We have quite an array of genres that we are showcasing today but let’s start with a contemporary to kick things off shall we?

→ One Plus One by JoJo Moyes is an absolute delight. Jojo once again captures the heart and spirit of love in all its forms. She takes you on a journey of one group of people and shows you how they really all become a unit.

One Plus One by Jojo Moyes

→ Next, we have a “new to me” author Sarah Addison Allen. Allen write southern fiction with a dash of magical realism. In her latest novel, Lost Lake, she takes you through two women’s lives and shows you what a single place can mean to a person. It was truly fantastic.

Lost Lake by Sarah Allen

→ For those suspense fans out there we have Tana French. Everything she touches is gold and so therefore I recommend EVERYTHING.  Start with In the Woods and continue from there. She weaves an intricate plot line through all her novels and continues to shock and amaze me in the best of ways.

In the Woods by Tanya French

→ You didn’t think I would leave out historical fiction did you?  No way!  I’ve got two here as well. One is I Shall Be Near to You by Erin Lindsay McCabe and the other is Madam by Cari Lynn. Madam is basically the story of a prostitute trying to come up the ranks in old school New Orleans. It’s a pretty awesome story that didn’t get enough buzz and it’s also pretty light on the historical side so I think it could appeal to those testing out the genre.

Madam By Cari Lynn

→ On the other hand, I Shall Be Near to You is a Civil War novel about a woman determined to stay with her husband who has gone off to war. This story is GORGEOUS. AND FLAWLESS. SIMPLY wonderful from start to finish. I would suggest you read it ASAP.

I Shall Be Near You by Erin McCabe

 

Alright guys. Thanks for sticking with me through all my recommendations!  I hope you try some out and sip on a nice cold beverage while you do so!

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Massive thanks to Cassie for the variety of titles she shared with us today!

Don’t forget to stop by her blog or Twitter to leave her some love! ♥

Shelve It: New Books / New Friends / Giveaway

weekly feature to share the books magan and estelle are adding to their bookshelves each week

I wonder if I’ll ever NOT be amazed by how fast time is flying. It’s practically been a month since I’ve done one of these, and when I was getting my books together — I was pleasantly surprised how few i’ve bought in the last few weeks. Go me? Don’t get me wrong; so many great books are coming out but i’m so behind on reading what I own i’ve been making a conscious effort to do that. So this is what’s been happening…

What I bought:

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Like No Other by Una LaMarche
Breathe, Annie, Breathe by Miranda Kenneally
One Plus One by Jojo Moyes
Landline by Rainbow Rowell

Fun goodies in the mail:

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From Harlequin: The Oleander Sisters by Elaine Hussey
From Quinn @ Quinn’s Book Nook: Grasshopper Jungle by Andrew Smith
From Melissa @ Rolling with the Magic: Beer and Food by Mark Dredge

THANK YOU ALL!

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Speaking of BEER, this week debuted my contribution to PUB DATE — a new feature I’ll be working on with a few fantastic bloggers and beer lovers. My sister made the banner and i am feeling way proud of her! So if you are curious about beer or just want another way to find a book recommendation, be sure to stop in!

In other blog news, Magan and I are so excited to share in the launch of THE PAGE GIRLS — a new online magazine dedicated to books, friendship, and cocktails. Seriously, could this new venture be any more perfect for us? I think not. So to spread the love, the gals of The Page Girls have donated some lovely blog-themed coasters and an eBook of a winner’s choice. If you’re a fan of finding super fun mail in your box, I recommend you enter this giveaway!

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Here’s a little bit more info:

About The Page Girls | The Page Girls (www.thepagegirls.com) is a new online mag with an emphasis on books, cocktails, and female friendships. Each week, they publish a themed issue containing short stories, book reviews, personal and funny essays, videos, cocktail recipes, and more. Some sample issues include The Craziest Thing I Did For Love and LYLAS (Love You Like a Sister).

Sign up for The Page Girls’ weekly newsletter to get notified about new issues, and be sure to follow them on Twitter and Facebook.

Ebook giveaway (Winner chooses 1 title):

An Imaginary House by the Sea by Cecily Gates (Contemporary Romance)
HDU by India Lee (New Adult)
Normal is the Watchword by Jasmine Tru (YA Thriller)
Here for the Cake by Emily Poule (Rom-Com)
a Rafflecopter giveaway

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In case you missed it:

  • I want you to consider buying AFTER I DO (contemporary fiction) + BLAZED (dark contemporary YA).
  • Magan wants you to borrow EXILE (a YA book for music fans).

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How’s your summer been? Let us know + don’t forget to enter The Page Girls giveaway!

We hope you have a great week full of sunshine, books, and maybe a donut? Yum!