“America Through a Glass”: And a Bottle of Rum Review (Audiobook)

“America Through a Glass”: And a Bottle of Rum Review (Audiobook)

Audiobook Info

Author: Wayne Curtis

Narrator: Mike Chamberlain

Length: 10 hrs, 7 minutes

“A rum bottle serves better as a prism through which to see how America changed and developed from the arrival of the first European settlers to the present day.”

As a 21-year-old who’s worked at restaurants, learned cocktail ingredients, and scarcely actually experienced artistic alcoholic creations, the premise of And a Bottle of Rum enticed me. Wayne Curtis presents a history of America in 10 cocktails, in 10 chapters, in 10 hours. Each chapter has a cocktail recipe, followed by the historical framework that brought that drink into being, and explains how rum, in each drink, morphed along with the nation.

Narrator Mike Chamberlain does an excellent job, bringing the tone and humorous anecdotes of the author to life. Curtis’ voice is engaging, conversational. He admits that many answers to origin questions are unknown, and recounts enchanting personal journeys to find authentic pieces of history. He includes an abundance of background facts on pirate crews, colonial tavern atmospheres, and individual key figures who shaped the history of rum. Curtis candidly presents the dark side, and the positive effects, of rum trade throughout the centuries. His depth of research and knowledge is impressive.

A comment on the density of the text: I received the most enjoyment and knowledge out of this book when I coupled it with other activities. For instance, in the car on the way to school, or coloring, I set it playing in the background. There are a dizzying amount of facts, which is wonderful; only, don’t expect to retain everything. Enjoy the storytelling and development of rum and America. Don’t be afraid to tune out every so often if you get overwhelmed. Enjoy the descriptions, the background, and the stories of individual bars and drinks and people.

The element that excited me most, personally, was Curtis’ description of El Floridita in Havana, Cuba, where Hemingway used to sit frequently and order Daiquiris—now I really want to try one! That to say, keep your eyes and ears open for details you can file away for personal experience. If you’re young, or simply desire to expand your horizons in the drink sphere, give And a Bottle of Rum a listen. It covers other liquors as well, such as whiskey, bourbon, and tequila, as they interacted with rum. Overall, it’s a handy reference and colorful narrative on the development of an important facet of American culture and autonomy.

That’s about it for this review: Let me know in the comments what your favorite drink, alcoholic or not, is at the moment! And have a positive, light-filled day. 🙂 

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Crafting a Story Playlist

Crafting a Story Playlist

Firstly, I’d like to acknowledge the reality that there is no “correct” method to crafting a collection of music for your WIP. Some people may prefer a set of songs they can write to, while others may pick titles that closely represent characters and plots. However you want to make yours, enjoy yourself! Music is beautiful and inspiring—cultivate a playlist based on your unique methods and imagination, because you are valuable.

Here are a few helpful tips from my experience to help:

  1. Listen for Lyric Lines:

Attributing an entire song to your story isn’t always easy. If you’re stuck, tune in to individual lines that apply to one character or a beloved setting. Then, ponder whether this song has any themes that line up with your own. Of course, you can add songs for a single line’s sake. I’ve found that I sometimes create new attributes to my story, such as a small personality trait for a character, based on a music line that sparks an idea.

  1. Capture the Mood:

Conversely, big scenes in your story can benefit from the inspiration in “big” songs. Have you ever listened to a power ballad or solo that made your spirits soar? See if there are musical numbers that encapsulate the feeling of certain plot points or confrontations. These songs can remind you of the wonder of your story down the road, when you may feel less passionate about it.

  1. Check the “Indie”/ “New Artist” Pockets of iTunes:

Popular lyrics tend to have already nested in our brains and become familiar; but indie music offers eclectic little gems you can add to make your own special playlist. For instance, I recently discovered the cool track “Human” by Aquilo this way. Here’s a screenshot of the cover:

fullsizerender-3

If you’d like to see an example playlist, check out the ones currently uploaded for my Portal 2 Fanfiction, Birthday Candles, here:

BC: The Playlist: Chapter 1

BC: The Playlist: Chapter 2

BC: The Playlist: Chapter 3

BC: The Playlist: Chapter 4

Do you guys have any other tips about playlists? I hope these encouraged you! Thanks for tuning in! ❤

“Tonight’s Gonna be a Good, Good Night”: Gaudy Night Review

“Tonight’s Gonna be a Good, Good Night”: Gaudy Night Review

Hello, book fans—hope y’all are doing well. This review is on Dorothy Sayers’s novel, Gaudy Night, which is part of her Peter Wimsey mystery series. This installment, set in 1935, centers not on detective Wimsey, but his love interest, Harriet Vane.

Harriet is a former student at Shrewsbury women’s college at Oxford. She returns to help solve a campus mystery that involves events from petty crimes up to personal assault. To catch the perp, Harriet not only has to grapple with an army of administrators (themselves also under suspicion), but also with her own feelings and thoughts on Oxford. The novel presents a classic psychological battle, personified uniquely, between head and heart. Sayers interweaves this dichotomy into 20th century debates about women’s proper roles to create compelling arguments on either side of the coin. Ultimately, Harriet makes a decision that involves emotion and intellect, though it’s not until the literal end of the book, which makes the suspense hold until the last page.

Sayers’ description of university campuses is beautiful. The one shortcoming I noticed is her lack of physical description of the characters. Numerous faculty because indistinguishable in my mind from one another. The story is dramatic and fun—not just intellectual; and there is also a love narrative, as well. Gaudy Night runs a little long, at 528 pages; still, it’s a relaxing read to take in several sessions. I give it 4.5/5 stars.

And now, for the favorite quotes section. Tell me in the comments what your favorite aspect of reading, or education in general, is!

(xii): “For, however realistic the background, the novelist’s only native country is Cloud-Cuckooland, where they do but jest, poison in jest: no offence in the world.”

(16): “‘It would have been such a bore to be the mother of morons, and it’s an absolute toss-up, isn’t it? If only one could invent them, like characters in books, it would be much more satisfactory to a well-regulated mind.’”

(38): “The moon was up, painting the buildings with cold washes of black and silver whose austerity rebuked the yellow gleam of lighted windows behind which old friends reunited still made merry with talk and laughter.”

(201): “I suppose one oughtn’t to marry anybody, unless one’s prepared to make him a full-time job.”

(255): “In the meanwhile she had got her mood onto paper—and this is the release that all writers, even the feeblest, seek for as men seek for love; and, having found it, they doze off happily into dreams and trouble their hearts no further.”

(340): “How fleeting are all human passions compared with the massive continuity of ducks.”

(389): “Into the horrified silence that followed, Peter dropped three words like lumps of ice.”  

Thanks for reading, guys! Have a good day. 🙂

Top 5 Authors I’d Like to Meet

Top 5 Authors I’d Like to Meet

Hello, fellow writers and readers,

This time as a thought post, I’m going to be sharing with you the top 5 authors I’d love to meet. If given the opportunity to summon anybody, living or dead, with whom to have coffee and exchange thoughts, it would be these people. In the comments, tell me who your top author pick would be, and why!

  1. Charles Dickens

I’m a huge fan of Dickens. The elements I enjoy most about his writing are his settings, loveable characters, and almost “golden” endings. Everything wraps up so nicely at the end of novels like Our Mutual Friend. If Dickens and I could talk at a pub somewhere, I’d love to get his tips on planning and structuring plots. He’s mastered weaving together story threads. Given that many of his works were published serially, this is remarkable. I’d ask him how he goes about sketching and fleshing out stories, and what his favorite part of writing is.

  1. Suzanne Collins

Collins’ Gregor the Overlander series fanned my passion for reading in middle school, long before The Hunger Games hit bookstore shelves. She’s skilled at capturing readers’ imaginations, and immersing them into her world. I’d like to pick Collins’s brain about how she creates vivid universes, as well as injects symbols into them. I’d ask her if there are any intended symbolisms or significant aspects to The Hunger Games trilogy that fans haven’t picked up on yet.

  1. Mary Wollstonecraft

Mary pushed the boundaries of women’s writing in her era. She campaigned through the written word for an equal standing between husbands and wives, for the benefit of both, and of society. Wollstonecraft struggled with mental health, and the account of her life feels human and relatable. If I could talk to her, I’d ask her how she decided to organize her treatise on women’s rights, Vindication of the Rights of Woman, and how she dealt with reader criticism.

  1. Dietrich Bonhoeffer

Bonhoeffer isn’t just a literary example; he’s a major role model in Christianity. Fighting against the doctrine of the Reich Church in WWII Germany, Bonhoeffer devoted his life to advocating God’s Word and believers’ actuated faith. What things did he take into immediate consideration while he penned theses? What was his favorite part of publication, research, or delivering sermons? How does he personally view the connection between knowledge of God’s Word and using one’s God-given words to bring glory to Him?

  1. Veronica Roth

Divergent’s world captured my imagination, as well. Roth has a good amount of experience with the publishing and movie industries, having put out one full trilogy, a movie franchise, a spinoff book or two, and a brand new series (this year). I would love to ask her about her world-building elements, writing dystopia stories, and the process of compromising with movie producers. Is it worth it to adapt a story to the screen, from a creative standpoint? Does she have any tips about cultivating a widespread readership?

All right, there you have my top 5 authors to meet! Only two of them are alive at this point; if I do ever cross paths with them, it’ll be a thrill. Along with the previous question, what are your favorite elements of story creating, or your favorite elements to read in a book?

Talk to you guys again soon: next time, on another Twitter-poll-winning subject!