Demon Copperhead Five Star Cocktail

Where do I even start? I’m not even sure…I guess I’ll start with my deep love for Barbara Kingsolver’s writing. She wrote one of my all-time favorite books, The Poisonwood Bible. I’ve read it multiple times and if you’ve been around for a while, you’ve probably seen it pop up in recommendation stacks!

When I found out about Demon Copperhead, I could hardly contain my excitement. If you’ve never read Barbara’s writing (Barbara, because obviously I’m deeply and personally connected to her and we’re on a first name basis), it’s work that will swoop you up and place you within the mindset of the characters, as if you’re one in the same. She has such a unique ability to write with such a balance of raw clarity and beauty.

Demon Copperhead was the deep dive read I needed this year. I equate it with “the greats” of my reading history: 11/22/63, Betty, Pachinko, Shadows of Pecan Hollow, and, of course, The Poisonwood Bible. It’s a heavy-hitter and one you’ll sink down into.

The style of writing slowed me down more than I was expecting, as most of the dialogue between characters is being recalled to you by Demon. Most of the conversations are within the paragraphs, so there’s no skimming this one. All the better, honestly, it forced me to slow down and soak it all in.

It was perfect and painful and tender and honest. I just loved it all.

To celebrate my admiration of this book, I’ve paired it with one of my most-loved cold weather drinks, Austin’s Old Fashioned.

A few years ago, we discovered a speakeasy bar in downtown Fort Worth and started frequenting the establishment because of its calm atmosphere and absolutely phenomenal drinks. Our favorite was The Old Fashioned. The perfect balance between whiskey, bitters, and syrup. An Old Fashioned that’s too heavy on the bitters is… garbage.

Austin set on a mission to replicate this drink at home! After many attempts, he finally found the ratios he was looking for. It’s my favorite choice to cozy up with on a cold night!

Other Five Star Cocktail Recipes can be found here:

The Strawberry Basil Margarita

The Slow Burn

Other Five Star Recommendations can be found here:

Five Books To Read This Fall

Five Summer Romance Reads

Austin’s Old Fashioned

You’ll need:

  • 2 oz  Kentucky Straight Bourbon (we often use Buffalo Trace or Old Forester)
  • ½ oz simple syrup
  • 3 drops of Angostura bitters
  • Orange peel
  • Luxardo cherry + 1/2 tsp syrup

Directions:

  1. Pour the bourbon, simple syrup, and three drops of bitters into a glass and stir for at least 30 seconds. You want it to be smooooooooth.
  2. Rim the inside of the glass with the inside of the orange peel.
  3. Squeeze the orange peel inside of the glass, releasing the oils into the drink. 
  4. Twist the orange peel and drop it in!
  5. Garnish with a Luxardo cherry + 1 tsp cherry syrup

The Old Fashioned is traditionally served at room temperature, which is why you want to use a quality bourbon. If you prefer yours chilled, add 1-2 ice cubes after preparing the drink.

I hope you love Demon Copperhead as much as I did! It was also Oprah’s Book Club pick for November!

Read it, make a drink, and send me a cheers! I’d love to hear your thoughts on all of the above!

This post contains affiliate links at no additional cost to you. Thank you for supporting my work!

Atomic Habits Five Star Review and Cocktail

Atomic Habits by James Clear is the first book I’ve ever read twice in the same year! 

I first read this book in February and it was like fireworks going off in my brain. There were logical pieces of advice and applicable examples on every page. I was just in awe of the breakdown of thinking about your goals and working to accomplish them. 

You can follow along with all the books I read on my Instagram, Facebook, and Goodreads pages!

The idea is to become 1% better at something each day. 1% doesn’t sound particularly noteworthy, but this small, incremental progress is compounding. It will continue to build until you have no choice but to acknowledge that you have, in fact, grown at a skill or habit.

You don’t have to go for the all or nothing approach! This was an instrumental read for me, as I charted out goals for this year.

I read it again in September *WITH MY HUSBAND* – big deal! He’s not a reader. Podcasts? Loves them. Online articles? All about it.

Until this moment he had absolutely no interest in books – physical or audio. 

Well…

I had wanted to listen to the book again, just to refresh my mind on these ideas and keep a clear process. I couldn’t help but notice the audiobook length was about the same time it takes to drive to Abilene, TX (his hometown) and back. We took a weekend trip and *gasp* he was open to the idea of listening to the book together in the car.

He was enthralled! I could tell because, while he usually has a heavy foot, he slowed down the drive. 

The conversations that followed were great! We set some goals to work on together and some personal goals we’re taking on.

All of that to say, if you haven’t read this book yet, buy it now! I’m typically not a big fan of self-help books, but I highly recommend this one.

It would be the perfect book to read around the time you’re setting goals for the new year. I like to start brainstorming goals in November and December, so I can hit the ground running in January!

This celebratory book deserves a celebratory moment, so I chose to pair it with the classic French 75!

It’s sparkly and strong and clean and fresh – just like Atomic Habits!

Other Five Star Cocktail Recipes can be found here:

The Strawberry Basil Margarita

The Slow Burn

Other Five Star Recommendations can be found here:

Five Books To Read This Fall

Five Summer Romance Reads

The Classic French 75

You’re going to need a cocktail shaker and champagne flutes for this recipe. You can check out bar tools and other party essentials at my Amazon Storefront!

Ingredients:

  • 1.5 oz gin
  • ½ oz simple syrup
  • 1 oz freshly-squeezed lemon juice
  • 2 oz chilled dry champagne
  • Lemon twist for garnish

Directions:

  1. Fill a cocktail shaker with ice and add gin, simple syrup, and lemon juice
  2. Shake vigorously for at least 20 seconds. You want these ingredients evenly blended!
  3. Strain into a champagne flute
  4. Top with prosecco
  5. Garnish with a lemon twist and enjoy!

This boozy take on the traditional champagne toast is the perfect pairing for celebrating the new year and setting new goals. 

Read it, make a drink, and send me a cheers! I’d love to hear your thoughts on all of the above!

This post contains affiliate links at no additional cost to you. Thank you for supporting my work!

Take My Hand by Dolen Perkins-Valdez Five Star Review

I recently read Take My Hand by Dolen Perkins-Valdez and it was a total five star read! It will be one that’s added to the stack of Five Star Reads of 2022! This historical fiction based on true events will completely captivate you.

I selected this as one of my Book of the Month picks a few months ago. If you’re not familiar with Book of the Month, it’s a fantastic subscription service. I’ve been a member for five years with no plans to stop. Some of my all-time favorites like Pachinko, The Poisonwood Bible, and The People We Keep have been discovered through this service. You can click here and get your first box for only $5!

Take My Hand

Take My Hand is one that will sit with you for a long time. Based on real events, this story takes place in Montgomery, Alabama. Civil Townsend is a young nurse who is determined to help her patients at the family planning clinic.

Two of her first patients are 11- and 13-year-old sisters that are being administered monthly birth control shots, despite not being sexually active. They are poor and Black, and for those in control of the family’s welfare benefits, that’s all that’s needed to justify mandatory shots.

One day, Civil discovers something horrific and irreparable has happened to the girls. She vows then and there to advocate for these girls and their family. They take their case all the way to the Supreme Court.

I was in the trenches for this one. Civil internally debates many of the issues that are still debated today, in respect to birth control and abortion. It broke me to keep remembering that this was based on real events.

It’s moving and emotional. It was absolutely an “I’m not stopping until it’s done” book. A one-day read. The narration is incredible. If you haven’t read this book, I highly recommend the audio file.

Check out my review on Instagram for more on this beautiful book!

You can purchase Take My Hand here.

You can also browse all of my favorite books in my Amazon Storefront.

Have you read Take My Hand? Leave me a comment below and let me know your thoughts!

The Bodyguard by Katherine Center Five Star Review

“Perfect. Perfect. Perfect.” That viral sound clip was the first thing that came to mind when I closed this precious gem of a book.

I read The Bodyguard on a plane ride back to Texas after spending a week in Colorado. Set on a Texas ranch, it was the perfect coming home novel.

Hannah is an Executive Protection Agent (a bodyguard) and she’s been hired to protect the household-name celebrity Jack Stapleton. Oh yeah, and he’s also the sexiest man alive. Literally.

The best way to protect “the principle” in this scenario? To act as his girlfriend. The more time they spend together, the harder it is to keep professional boundaries…

…and the harder it was for me to pace my reading because I couldn’t put this story down! It was a full sprint! I was sad when it ended because that meant I couldn’t keep living in this world with Hannah and Jack.

Center’s books are auto-reads for me and this one is no exception. I absolutely loved it!

I loved it so much that I decided to create an embroidery of the cover art. It was extremely fun crossing my two passions of reading and embroidery.

My fangirl level hit record highs when Center invited me to attend her Fort Worth tour stop at Monkey and Dog Books and I gifted her the embroidery. It was a bookworm’s absolute dream of a day!

The Bodyguard is Center’s latest novel and it’s out now. This is a must-read and also one of my Five Romance Recommendations of 2022. Grab your copy here and thank me later!

Other favorite books by Katherine Center: How to Walk Away and What You Wish For

Have you read The Bodyguard? I’d love to hear from you! 

Leave me a comment below and let me know what you thought!

This post contains affiliate links.

The Hotel Nantucket – Five Star Review and Cocktail Recipe

If you’re looking for the buzziest read of the summer, you’ve found it!

It’s no secret how much I love Elin Hilderbrand novels. Take a look at my Instagram page and you’ll quickly realize how much I love her work.

I once met her while on a beach in St. John, USVI! I felt like I was living in an Elin Hilderbrand novel at that moment!

I recently read her latest novel, The Hotel Nantucket, and it was a slam dunk! If this post doesn’t convince you to pick up your copy, know that it’s been at the top of the New York Times Best-Sellers list for hardcover fiction for weeks! If you need a sweet escape read, already know and love Hilderbrand’s work, or are actually packing your bags to head to the beach, this title needs to be on your list!

Here’s the synopsis:

Fresh off a bad breakup with a longtime boyfriend, Nantucket sweetheart Lizbet Keaton is desperately seeking a second act. When she’s named the new general manager of the Hotel Nantucket, a once Gilded Age gem turned abandoned eyesore, she hopes that her local expertise and charismatic staff can win the favor of their new London billionaire owner, Xavier Darling, as well as that of Shelly Carpenter, the wildly popular Instagram tastemaker who can help put them back on the map. 

And while the Hotel Nantucket appears to be a blissful paradise, complete with a celebrity chef-run restaurant and an idyllic wellness center, there’s a lot of drama behind closed doors. The staff (and guests) have complicated pasts, and the hotel can’t seem to overcome the bad reputation it earned in 1922 when a tragic fire killed nineteen-year-old chambermaid Grace Hadley. With Grace gleefully haunting the halls, a staff harboring all kinds of secrets, and Lizbet’s own romantic uncertainty, is the Hotel Nantucket destined for success or doom?

FIVE STAR REVIEW

I’m sure glad Elin wrote a guide to Nantucket at the back of this book because after reading The Hotel Nantucket, I just want to experience it all!

This book is filled with comfort, escape, and entertainment. I loved the passion and personalities of each character, but especially fell in love with Grace, the resident ghost.

There’s so much to love about Lizbet, Edie, Chad, Mario, Mrs. English, and Xavier. Hilderbrand crafted such a developed melody of characters. They worked together so well, not only to establish and run an immaculate hotel, but to bring the reader along for the ride. They’re an entertaining staff that I could have read so much more about!

I had several theories throughout the book and enjoyed being both right and wrong!

If you’re a Hilderbrand fan, there’s no doubt that you’re going to love every second of this novel.

You can purchase The Hotel Nantucket at the links here:

Bookshop.org: https://bookshop.org/a/55315/9780316258678

Amazon: https://amzn.to/3aB0Otz

FIVE STAR COCKTAIL

This was a Five Star read, which means that I’m pairing it with a Five Star cocktail!

Below are the steps to make the drink that has taken over my summer: The Strawberry Basil Margarita

A little sweet with the perfect grounding of basil, this drink is perfect for these long hot days! You can make it by the glass or scale it and make it by the pitcher. This is one that would be so easy to serve at a summer gathering like a book club!

Ingredients:

3 oz. tequila

½. oz. agave

5-6 strawberries

2-3 sprigs of basil

Juice from half a lime

Sparkling or mineral water

Steps:

  1. Pour tequila, agave, and lime juice into a blender
  2. Add strawberries and the basil sprigs
  3. Blend until you have a juice consistency
  4. Pour over ice
  5. Top with sparkling or mineral water
  6. Garnish with basil sprig

This drink is TASTY! Plan ahead if you’re hosting, because your guests will be asking for more! 


Need to boost your cocktail game? Click here to check out my party and hosting essentials.

Interested in other Five Star Reads and Cocktails? Check them out HERE.

Please leave a comment and tell me what you thought of The Hotel Nantucket and The Strawberry Basil Margarita!

This post contains affiliate links.
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