How To Survive a Summer by Nick White w/ a Chilean Sauvignon Blanc

33257569I really enjoyed this book, it had a bit of a meta feel to it, which really worked to its benefit, and made it a more compelling read for me. It was hard and sad, but it felt so genuine and raw that I could not help but feel for Will Dillard the narrator of the story. We meet Will right when he finds out that very dark part of his adolescence has been made into a horror movie. Literally, one of the worst times of his life was now a slasher flick, and it sends him into a tailspin. That secret and pain he has been pushing down and ignoring for ten years has finally come for him. And it will change everything.

Before I get into more of the book though, let’s talk wine! This book does involve a few pretty intense moments (read very well rendered slasher flick scenes) so a refreshing glass of vino will do you good. When browsing my local wine store with this novel in mind, I spotted this bottle of Sauvignon Blanc by Chilean winemaker Root 1 Wines the label I felt connected well to the mystical women who were Will’s ancestors, and their tag line “Character Comes for Your Roots” was just too good to pass up. Happily is a very nice bottle of wine, not too sharp as some Sav Blancs can be, but with sufficient bite, it also goes for under $10 bucks a bottle, so a total win.

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Back to the story…Will has been barely living for the last decade, he was in doctoral program he had no desire to see through, he barely had any friends, he was like a ghost. Living life in a fog of apathy and disdain. He was careless with the few people in his life that cared for him, and the rest he had pushed away.

His father, that was a no-go. Being the gay son of a Baptist preacher was going to have its complications, and the wound that had opened when the camp his dad sent him to “rehabilitate” him of his unnatural desires had ended in tragedy never healed. Amends where never made, he just shut his dad out, had not time to look back, until the movie. He can’t escape it though, no matter what he does he is drawn to watch it, to relive memories he has worked so hard to bury.

On a whim he gets on the road back to Mississippi to visit the old ghosts of his past, and there are many them. He has to make peace with the memory of this mother, the love he had for her and the pain of her loss.  He wanted to see the other boys who had endured those horrible four weeks in the Delta with him. He wanted to go back to the place it happened and finally put it all to rest. What ensues is a strange and painful journey that allows Will to finally be free.

I found the story not only compelling,  but incredibly thoughtful and deep. The inner struggle in Will, of needing to be the son his father wanted, even when he knew it was impossible. The pain and guilt he carried for the things he did to try and be that boy he just could never be, were heartbreaking.

Also I think the author does a really amazing job of portraying the effects of trauma. The fog that Will existed in, how every ounce of his energy was spent in keeping all the monsters of his past at bay. How forcing himself not to remember the powerlessness of the camp experience robbed him of the ability to feel anything at all.

To reclaim his life he had to finally face what was taken from him, and he had to try and see the people who had lived through that summer with him for what they were, fellow survivors. I liked that the author was not trying to create heroes or villains in this story, he was just trying to save Will from himself and give him a shot at a fuller life. The messed up things and the bad choices would always be there, but the ability to live a life with meaning was all there for him too.

The storytelling is also dynamic and blends in lots of elements I really loved, a strong sense of place, an almost fairy tale feeling for the parts when Will talked about the stories his mom told him as child, and even the horror scenes were rendered with a lot of skill.

I look forward to more from Nick White.

You can buy How To Survive a Summer HERE.

You can learn more about the author Nick White, HERE.

Hope you give this novel and wine a try. You won’t be disappointed.

Cheers and Happy Reading,

Lauraa

 

Parting Shot by Mary Calmes with New Zealand Sav Blanc and Easy and Amazing Tuna Tartare.

PartingShotLGMary Calmes’ books are a hell of a drug…Seriously, who can resist them? I mean they’re like a delicious helping of lovely  mac and cheese with a huge slice of slutty apple pie!  She’s very much one of my for sure authors.  This is the seventh book in the Matter of Time . I must admit I lost some steam with the 5th and 6th installments in the series. For me with Mary’s books it’s ALL ABOUT the powerful almost nuclear chemistry that happens with her couples. Her stories place her two men at the center of a tornado of circumstances and characters, and how they gravitate to each other is primary to pretty much anything else. Where they go, and how they get there is not as important as how they CAN’T STOP the avalanche of what they are feeling for each other. So for me her stand alone books always work better,  the momentum is intense, but contained and structured and even if the stuff that happens gets a bit crazy at times, when the ride ends I am satisfied because I get the big happy ending.  The end.

That being said I could NOT wait for this one.  I really wanted a story for Duncan (who we met in Acrobat). The love interest she came up with for my guy was a combo I could not resist! Aaron Sutter the arrogant, sort of stalker hote mogul ex of Jory’s in MoT and my Duncan the closeted cop and ex of our beloved Nathan from Acrobat…WINNER COMBO on aisle AWESOME!… Acrobat was one of my favorite books from last year and I’ve gone back to it many times. Every single time I’ve read it I have wanted to see where Duncan ended up. I have a soft spot for the characters whose hang ups and fears  make them a little self-destructive, Duncan seemed so lonely and so full of yearning to find love. I wanted him to get his man and his happily ever after badly.  Let’s shift gears and get us some booze and food before I go into the story…

For this post I had to come up with something delicious and awesome because Aaron Sutter is not a guy that would just eat anything. No sir, only the best for the billionaire, you gotta come at him with the fancy…SO! I went with one of my favorite starters and one that like Mary’s stories I just cannot stop gorging myself on once I start, the ever delicious Tuna Tartare. The recipe I came up with is light, spicy and fresh and will  WOW your dinner guests. For the wine there is nothing other than Sauvignon Blanc as an option for tartare, so I went with a New Zealand Sav Blanc that has been on my radar for the past few months. The 90+ Cellars Sauvignon Blanc  is frigging DELICIOUS, it’s $12 bucks a bottle and worth every penny. I love this brand because they have literally gone out and scouted amazing wines from top producers all over the world and put their label on them and sell them at a more affordable price (my kind of people!). The 90+ Cellars  Sav Blanc is a clean, delicious white wine, every sip is just bursting with fresh flavors. It’s the perfect combination for the spicy freshness of the tuna tartare and a fab way to cool yourself off while reading the hotness that is Duncan + Aaron.

Yummy Book, Yummy Food, Yummy Wine

Yummy Book, Yummy Food, Yummy Wine

Now the story…Mary Calmes likes to use the first person POV in her stories, and what we get is the ability to be up close and personal with her characters, what they feel, their reactions to the person they love and the world around them…One of the things I love love love is just how much I get out of the intimate scenes, they are not just carnal and hot, but they are so vivid and in your face, the possesive, rabid “I want to crawl inside of your skin and burn” kind of passion, Mary writes that like no other author in this genre. She has a pattern no doubt about it, she is an author that definitely subscribes to the idea of “if it’s working, JUST KEEP DOING IT” and that my friends is a damn good thing. With her stories I ALWAYS know what to expect. There is something to be said  for being able to sit down with a book an knowing what you’ll get. Parting Shot like many of her stories had two men who are INTENSE about each other in every way, it’s always a frenzied thing what happens between the men she writes, and I kind of love the complete irrationality that her characters have. This book was chuck full of the alpha (borderline cray cray) crack Mary delivers.  Two things surprised me though. I didn’t expect Duncan’s voice to be so naked and vulnerable ,and I certainly did not expect this book to be so much FUN!

So we meet up with Duncan Stiehl in New York City he is on an undercover assignment, it has not been long since his night with Aaron Sutter and he’s feeling like finally he might have just found the guy that will make the dreaded “coming out of the closet worth doing”. From the moment that they met it was like everything fell into place for Duncan, and finally he felt like the found someone to belong to.  Duncan has always had a lot of walls around him, and a lot of that had to do with his painful childhood. He had to be hard and closed off to survive and keep his sanity. Once he was out in the world and in police force his career just became the most important thing, but lately he was feeling like he was cheating himself of something,  happiness seemed like something that was not as improbable as he thought it had been, when he met Aaron everything just started making sense.

Things get off to a great start with them and then after a bit of a dicey situation while Duncan is undercover some external factors keep Duncan and Aaron apart for a time. They both have situations in their lives that are getting in the way of being together, but Aaron wanted Duncan in his life, in his bed, in his heart NOW NOW NOW and he ‘s not a guy to just take no for an answer. So all kinds of growly “I need you now or I’ll die” sex ensues and in the process we go on a few adventures with these guys until they arrive at their happy ending. I completely enjoyed the way things happened for them, it was just on the edge of total FUBARness but Mary kept things in check and the ride was pretty damn smooth!

What more can I say? If you are a Mary Calmes fan you know what to expect, you know what you’ll get, and I promise you won’t be disappointed. Another crackified delicious shot of goodness from Ms. Calmes. I hope she keeps them coming because they are always good to the last drop!

Parting Shot is available at Dreamspinner Press

Now that you got the skinny on the reading here is the recipe for the food. I assure you that if you try this one you will not be able to stop eating, and you will blow your dinner guests away! Never has very little work paid off so much in the “making people thing you’re a gourmet chef” like with this little dish! Here it is…

Easy Spicy Tuna Tartare (Serves 4 as a starter)

Lovely Sav Blanc.

Lovely Sav Blanc.

Ingredients

  • 12  ounces of sashimi grade tuna or very fresh tuna steak
  • 1/4  cup olive oil
  • 1  teaspoon of sesame seed oil
  • 1   teaspoon grated ginger
  • zest of 1 lime
  • juice of two limes
  • 1/2   teaspoons wasabi powder
  • 1   tablespoon tamari sauce
  • 1  tablespoon Siracha
  • ½  teaspoon kosher salt
  • ½  teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • ¼  cup minced scallions, white and green parts (4 scallions)
  • 1  teaspoon minced fresh jalapeno pepper, seeds removed
  • 1   ripe Hass avocado
  • ¼   cup of pickled ginger
  • 1  bag of plantain chips

Directions

Cut the tuna into 1/4-inch dice and place it in a very large bowl. In a separate bowl, combine the olive oil, lime zest, lime juice, wasabi, Tamari, Siracha, grated ginger, sesame seed oil, salt, and pepper. Pour over the tuna, add the scallions and jalapeno, and mix well. Cut the avocados in half, remove the seed, and peel. Cut the avocados into 1/4-inch dice. Carefully mix the avocado into the tuna mixture. Allow the mixture to sit in the refrigerator for at least 1 hour for the flavors to blend. Top with the pickled ginger and some scallions. Serve on plantain chips.

Enjoy this beautiful dish with a glass of chilled wine and sit down to enjoy some melt your face off hotness like only Mary Calmes can deliver.

Cheers and Happy Reading!

Laura