- Hope Gibbs
Can you believe it’s March already? I’m so excited! Everywhere I look, I’m reminded that spring is just around the corner. Or is it? Here in Tennessee, we know not to put the horse before the cart, so to speak. Mother Nature likes to give us one last blast of winter before she finally calls it a day. She loves her little meteorological twists. One day it’s eighty, not a cloud in the sky and the next the temperature is plummeting into the low twenties with a chance of snow. Occasionally she throws in a tornado watch just to keep us on our toes.
February flew by in the blink of an eye. It was quite the month. First, I had the pleasure of interviewing the amazing Paper Lantern Writers for Bookish Road Trip’s Author Take the Wheel. We discussed their fascinating anthology, UNLOCKED. If you haven’t had the chance, go to BRT’s Facebook page and become a member today. It’s easy and FREE. Join our community of over 5,000 bibliophiles who love to read and travel. On March 9, at 1:00 EST, I will interview Kerry Anne King. I’m really excited for this one.
When I wasn’t busy with Bookish Road Trip, I focused on creating author pages on Goodreads, BookBub, and Amazon. One of the best ways to help out writers, other than reading books, is to leave reviews and follow them. It means the world. Click on these links so we can connect.
I also snuck away for a mini-vacation with my husband to one of my favorite places on earth—Sea Island, Georgia. Nothing inspires me to write more than the sounds of waves crashing against the shoreline. Each day, I had the most beautiful "office" to work in. Of course, my little writing partner, Harley, was right by my side. Well, more like laying on top of me.
But that wasn’t my only trip of the month. I was lucky to return to my old Kentucky home to watch my Wildcats play in Rupp Arena. That was certainly a highlight of February. Though the outcome wasn’t what I’d hoped for, it was a magical night. No matter what, my blood runs blue.
In between it all, I found time to read four marvelous books. Below, you will find links to my reviews. I also had the honor of reading an ARC (advanced reader copy) of a debut book, ALL THAT IS SACRED, that’s coming out in June 2023 by the remarkable Donna N. Carbone. In a few weeks, I will post my review. Watch out for this novel! I can tell you that it will be one of my favorite reads of 2023.
Enough about February, let’s move forward and talk about spring. As I’ve mentioned in my previous blogs, this is my favorite time of the year. I love everything about this season. The trees, the NCAA Basketball Tournament (go Cats!), St. Patrick’s Day, Easter, and of course the flowers. My darling buttercups—yes, I know they're technically daffodils—have begun to bloom everywhere! I adore them so much that it’s mentioned several times in my debut women’s fiction novel, WHERE THE GRASS GROWS BLUE.
"There’s nothing more determined in the world than a buttercup," Penny’s beloved late grandmother used to tell her. "They bloom in spite of their circumstances. Rain or shine, snow or heat, they refuse to wilt before their time. In a world full of impatiens, be a buttercup instead."
WHERE THE GRASS GROWS BLUE will be released on May 16, 2023. It will be available in paperback, e-book, and audio. But I’ll let you in on a little secret. You can pre-order it today! Click here and it will direct you to Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Apple Books, Google Play, and Rakuten Kobo. WHERE THE GRASS GROWS BLUE is one woman’s journey to either accept her turbulent past by embracing the power of forgiveness or risk losing a second chance at love in a small Kentucky town. It’s a quintessential southern experience full of complex family dynamics, lifelong friendships, and a complicated love affair that spans twenty years. And did I mention food? It’s full of savory cuisine, playing a huge role in Penny Crenshaw’s experience in Kentucky.
One of her favorite treats from her time in the Bluegrass State, and the one thing she cannot resist, is from her second cousin by marriage, Gracie Belle. Her FAMOUS Lemon Blueberry Pound Cake.
"Usually, Penny possesses the fortitude to be able to resist unnecessary calories when tempted, but this time, she cannot stop herself. Digging into the buttery concoction, she’s met with juicy, fresh blueberries bursting with tartness in her mouth. The hint of lemon is a nice twist and the perfect complement to the mounds of sugar her cousin by marriage has put into it. Closing her eyes, she savors every last morsel, even licking her fingers so as to not leave a speck of it behind."
On Saturday, March 4th, it’s National Pound Cake Day! Did you know there was such a thing? To celebrate, I thought I would share Gracie Belle’s recipe with you. I think you’ll find it as irresistible as Penny does. Enjoy!
GRACIE BELLE’S FAMOUS BLUEBERRY LEMON POUND CAKE
3 cups of all-purpose flour
½ tsp. baking soda
¾ tsp. salt
2 Tbsp. lemon zest
2 ½ cups granulated sugar
1 cup sour cream
2 Tbsp. lemon juice
1 ½ tsp. lemon extract
2 cups fresh blueberries
1 Tbsp. flour
1 ½ cup of confectioner’s sugar
¼ cup of lemon juice
2 Tbsp. milk
½ lemon, zested
Cake: Preheat oven to 325 degrees. In a bowl, mix together flour, salt, baking soda, and lemon zest. Set aside. Mix sour cream, butter, and sugar. Add eggs one at a time. Add half of the flour mixture to the sugar & butter. Mix until combined, then add half of the sour cream mixture. Repeat. Add lemon juice and extract. Add blueberries into a bowl with 1 Tbsp of flour, then fold into the cake batter. Pour into a greased pound cake pan. Bake for one hour and fifteen minutes. Remove from oven and let cool for 10 minutes.
Glaze: Mix sugar, milk and lemon juice together, then drizzle over cake.
Finally, three things I was obsessed with in the month of February:
1). The Menu. This movie is twisted, original, and "delicious." It’s a must-see for 2023! I’ve watched it twice already. Ralph Fiennes, Anya Taylor-Joy, and Judith Light—this cast is so talented. The writing left me in awe. WOW!
2). Georgia peel-and-eat shrimp at Fiddler’s in St. Simons Island, Georgia. I could eat my weight in them. Cocktail sauce, melted butter, and a side of hush puppies. I can think of nothing better. I’m dreaming of my next meal there.
3). "Flowers" by Miley Cyrus. I dare you to listen to it and not sing along. It’s been stuck in my head for weeks!
March Book Recommendations: (click the tabs!)
IMPROBABLY YOURS by Kerry Anne King
Blythe Harmon is turning thirty, and appears to have it all. She’s just been offered an incredible job, and has a perfect boyfriend at home. But deep down, something’s missing. At her surprise birthday party, a mysterious package and letter arrive. It’s from her late grandmother, Nomi. Not only has she left Blythe her ashes—the ones the family thought they’d scattered long ago—but there’s a treasure map included too, the one Blythe drew decades ago as a six-year-old.
Now, Blythe has a choice. Does she continue living a life that leaves her unfulfilled, or does she take a leap of faith and go on the improbable treasure hunt her grandmother has set before her, one that leads to an enchanted island full of secrets?
IMPROBABLY YOURS is a delightful book. I am absolutely in love with these characters and their complicated stories. Kerry Anne King weaves together a charming, complex tale full of adventure, second chances, sprinkled with a little magical realism.
NOW IS NOT THE TIME TO PANIC by Kevin Wilson
When sixteen-year-old aspiring writer Frankie meets newcomer Zeke, an artist, in the summer of 1996, there’s an instant connection and attraction between the two. Not just a romantic one, but creative as well. They decide to collaborate on a poster. Her words, his artwork. “The edge is a shantytown filled with gold seekers. We are fugitives, and the law is skinny with hunger for us.”Believing in their creative endeavor, they cover the town with dozens of these posters. At first, it seems harmless, until it becomes more sinister—causing the great Coalfield Panic of 96. Now, the grown-up Frankie is living a quiet life as a wife and mother, far from her teenage self. But her world is about to be turned upside down when an investigative reporter begins digging into the mayhem that Frankie and Zeke accidentally caused decades ago. Will the poster and those words will come back to haunt her? NOW IS NOT THE TIME TO PANIC is an absolute must-read. I couldn’t put this one down! Great characters, a relatable setting, a scene taking place in a Krystal's—what more could you ask for?
WHEN IN ROME by Sarah Adams
Amelia Rose, Nashville‘s "princess of pop," needs a break from her chaotic schedule. A rocky relationship with her mother, a demanding career, and a bossy assistant have taken their toll. Noah Walker runs a pie shop in a small Kentucky town. He prefers the quiet life and doesn’t care for attention. Or love. Inspired by Audrey Hepburn, Amelia decides it’s time to embark on a "Roman Holiday" to escape. But unlike her idol, she can’t travel to Italy without being recognized, so she jumps in her car and settles on the town of Rome—Kentucky. Of course, Amelia and Noah cross paths when her car breaks down in front of his "old" Kentucky home. The pop star and a guy who hates love—what could possibly go wrong? Or right?
UNLOCKED by Paper Lantern Writers
Eight unique short stories written by eight talented writers. UNLOCKED spans centuries, from 1225 to the 1970s. It takes you on a journey through time with unforgettable characters and settings, all with a common link—a mysterious wooden chest. Each chapter revolves around it and the people who cross paths with this special item. UNLOCKED is a delightful read that truly transports the reader. I enjoyed it so much, I went back and re-read several stories, looking for more clues and details.
Until next time…