Cafe Review: A&E Coffee Roastery, Amherst NH

2016 has been a game of catch up (it’s only March!!), and, as an introvert, it’s become a little exhausting. I enjoy space and time with my loved ones and friends, but this past weekend I found myself sitting in my living room after a particularly hard gym session (working up to running 5 miles is proving itself incredibly challenging), planning out my day, when I spontaneously put everything I needed to do to the side, left the house, and drove away from the loud masses of society… and my own churning head.

Instead of driving toward the city where my auto repair shop, grocery store, and bank lay, I went out toward the edge of town where a fantastic little café and roaster resides: A&E Roastery. It was like a dose of medicine as I walked in: it’s a haven for writers, adventurers, and artists alike. I’ve been a frequent haunt of theirs, always getting that same cup of brew to go and never really taking the time to enjoy their store and atmosphere… but that day, I decided to stop and take a breath and enjoy my coffee.

Their menu is vast and exploratory. Next to their normal choices (cappuccinos, lattes, Americanos) are specialty drinks like breves, nitrogen-infused cold brew, and pour overs. I ordered the latter, which is essentially a more involved version of drip coffee in which the barista pours hot water into a filter full of grounds and allows the water to drip through slowly and patiently. I absolutely loved this version of a cup of coffee; they gave me the Rwanda blend, and I discovered it was more open and flavorful and, surprisingly, a lot less acidic than the normal brew version. They offer gluten-free snacks, sandwiches, soups, and there are always vegetarian options available as well. The store is adorably setup with cozy reading nooks complete with cushiony chairs and intimate seating. I ended up choosing a nice bar seat in front of a well-lit window to sip my hot drink and settle my thoughts into contentedness.

Besides the fantastic coffee and food, A&E Roasters is also incredibly involved with their community and have the friendliest staff. They feature their roasted coffee beans at local joints like Jajabelles in downtown Nashua and sell their own beans in-house. They are featured in The Hippo, a local newspaper out of Manchester, NH, and were nominated in The Hippo’s Best Of awards, which just goes to show how much of a local favorite they are.

It’s been a while since I had written a quality café review, and I felt this was a necessary revival. Cafés are a writer’s safe haven away from home and if I can find quality shops in my travels, I want to share them with you all 🙂

Do any of you have a favorite drink or order of choice at a nearby café? I’d love to hear new suggestions; I’m always looking for a good drink to try!

Until next time.

Live,

Morgan Paige

Bookfangirling Blog Award!


Hey lovely readers! I was nominated by Tina at Alloftheseprompts  for the Bookfangirling Blog Award! Thanks so much! 😊

This is such a fantastic award, I hadn’t heard of it until Tina made me aware of the awesome fangirling blog. Essentially, it’s an award that allows us to show other blogs that we appreciate the work that they do and the content they produce. It’s another way of showing others how much we like their blog on top of the like button 🙂 Sometimes, comments can only express so much!

Rules:

1) Create a post to accept your award.

2) Add the blog award button into your post and put it on the side of your blog as a widget. Visit Fangirling for the award button.

3) Answer the questions I have below.

4) Nominate between 5-10 book bloggers who you think also deserve this award.

5) Come up with your own 5 questions for your nominees.

 

My Answers:

  1. Which languages do you read in? I only read in English, but in the past I have read books in French. I took about… 7 years of French growing up, so I probably could still do so, but it’s hard to find untranslated books where I live! If anyone has any good resources, please let me know!
  2. Name the very first book you remember reading on your own (as opposed to your parents reading to you). Oh my goodness, what a great question! I think I first read Beatrix Potter to myself. We had this great boxed edition that my mom got for me (and I promptly destroyed all the bindings on all the books from reading them so often). They were such a poignant series, I loved them almost as much as I loved my Corduroy book! However, my first real book was a series about King Arthur and the round table. I’ve asked my family if they remembered the series at all, but no one seems to know the author or anything since it was so long ago. I think I loved the King Arthur books because of my namesake to Morgan Le Fae J
  3. How do you choose which book to read next? I usually haunt Barnes and Noble and the library for a few days, to be honest! It sort of takes me a while to choose a book. I always have a list of recommendations going and then search to see what’s available and then narrow it down from there. A lot depends on my mood, also. If I have the option between a sci-fi book and a horror novel, I’ll consider my current temperament and frame of mind. I get really involved and committed to the books I read so I want to make sure it has the right feel and message I’m looking for.
  4. How do you feel about ebooks and audiobooks? I must be very old school, because it’s taken me a while to get into both of these mediums. It took me a while to warm up to audiobooks (mostly because my stepdad would listen to them in the car and I’d either be uninterested in the novel he was currently listening to or he would just listen to it at a random point in the story so I wouldn’t know what was going on). However, I always have an audiobook in my car, now. I love them and I love the variety. I think part of their appeal is that there are actual books in the genres I like to choose from. And as for ebooks, I only just signed up and I can’t wait to get started! I feel like there are so many ebooks out there and just as many avenues in which to get them. Overdrive and Kindle are the two apps I just started using.
  5. Name one book that disappointed you and one that was a pleasant surprise. One book that disappointed me is The Magicians by Lev Grossman. There are books that I don’t like and books that I am not interested in, but this must have been the most disappointing because I had such high expectations. You can’t label something “the grown-up Harry Potter” and instead write a pity-party celebrating a dull main character. I wish Grossman had done more with the magic, too… but, I ramble. A book that was a pleasant surprise was Flowers for Algernon by Daniel Keyes. I wasn’t sure what to expect from it, as it was a little outside my comfort zone and I ended up falling in love. The story is a beautiful one and it’s so hauntingly written, I think about that story a lot and it always makes me feel grateful for what I have.

 

My Questions:

  1. What character from which book have you related to the most? Why?
  2. Which genre do you typically read? Have you found a book outside of this genre that you liked?
  3. Is there an author’s work who you have read completely or nearly in completion?
  4. Which book do you recommend to people the most?
  5. What do you feel about book-to-film adaptations? If applicable, name a book you like more than its movie and vice versa.

 

My Nominees:

1. Abooknation

2. Sarah from sarahinzombieland

3.  Lizzie from Writerscompanion

4. N.E. White from his N. E. White wordpress blog

 

No pressure to participate, but I thought you would all have some interesting posts/responses 🙂 And if anyone else feels like completing these questions, please do so and link to me! I’d love to read them!

Until next time,

Live,

Morgan Paige

Monthly Challenge: Popular Paranormal Completed!

image

Monthly Challenge: Popular Paranormal Completed!

Dang, Dean Koontz… I think that was the sound of my heart breaking…

Odd Thomas is not for the petty or unromantic. I think the main character, Odd, was one of the most endearing characters I have ever read and his narration was beatific. Written in first POV, Koontz gives so much heart and soul to this character that I don’t think it really fit in the “horror” genre. In a bleak world, Odd was such a lively and hopeful soul… his story wasn’t fast-paced, but it was full to brimming with emotion.

For the January Reading Challenge, I am pleasantly surprised at this book. I chose it because its series member, Saint Thomas, was number one in Goodreads’ best horror books of 2015. In all honesty, I wouldn’t peg Odd Thomas as a horror series at all. If anything, it’s somewhat thrill-ery with a touch of fantasy. There are ghosts and demons and special powers and even a hint of theology (which I personally love!). Odd is a young man who specializes in being a fry cook… and also a paranormal beacon. He values his friends and his girlfriend more than his own parents (who are despicable!), and he lives a simple life outside of the fantastical abilities that had been bestowed upon him since birth. These powers allow him to forecast a terrible attack on the people of his small town of Pico Mundo, and it is up to him to stop it.

I did like this book, and I’m glad I picked it up. I think the pacing was slow, but that may just be something that has been ingrained in me based on the kind of books I usually read. This book was more literary than I had expected, actually. What makes a book more literary than genre, you ask? Well, in a very simplified version, it means you can actually discuss a book without saying what it’s about. You can talk about the themes and the metaphors and what you think about the characters without actually discussing what the characters are going through. In this regard, Koontz wrote a fairly literary novel in a “horror” genre. Pretty astounding, if you ask me.

All-in-all, it was a very enjoyable book. It was entertaining and engrossing (and goddamn some of the lines in this are so poetic… they’ve stayed with me for days). But, if you’re looking for an actual horror book, I would stay away. Sure, there is an air of despair about it, but you kind of get that with any book about ghosts. It’s more of a romantic piece than anything. So, if you need a break from typical scary stories and want a lighter version with love and friendship, I would say go for it!

Now, have any of you seen the movie? I may have to watch it just to see if it can capture the emotions of the book. I feel like first POV books are harder to make into movies because the narrative is so internal.

Until next time! And if you’re interested in following my reading throughout the month, follow me here on Goodreads!

Live,

Morgan Paige

Reading Challenge 2016

Year-Long Reading Challenge

Hey all! This is a short post, but I just wanted to make sure to begin the month with a Year Long Reading Challenge to go along with our monthly challenges!

It may seem daunting, but I actually managed to reach my goal this year- so, naturally, I want to challenge us further! I aimed for 25 new books last year and made it in JUST the nick of time (12/30 I finished The Well of Ascension by Brandon Sanderson and capped off the sweet, sweet challenge). It’s not about pages read or following trends, in my opinion (“Read just Young Adult novels! Whee!”… no thank you). To me, setting a reading challenge is supposed to keep your brain active and open-minded. When I am constantly filling my time with books, I find myself happier, more productive, and more creative.

So, why don’t we give this a shot!

I figured I would raise my number to 30 books this year. I’m not going to set any limits on how big a book should be or if audiobooks count or not (they totally do, by the way). As long as I get through a story by a published author, I will count it. You can all participate with me, too!

I’ll be posting my progress and to-be-read books on Goodreads. I’ll write posts once I’ve reached the completion of a novel, give honest reviews, and chat up whoever feels like joining/ whoever has read what’s on my shelf. Goodreads is such a convenient website/app, you can go ahead and download it for your phone/tablet/whatever and send me a friend request.

Click the link below if you want to join me, and let me know how many books you plan on reading this year! It’ll be easier with a good support system, especially when you’re reading a book you particularly don’t like or need help finding something to start next. And don’t limit yourself! Choose different genres you never would’ve chosen, authors you’ve never heard of, and mediums you’ve never tried. Audiobooks, graphic novels, anthologies, all of them are your friend in any reading challenge.

My Goodreads Profile

Until next time, friends!

Live,

Morgan Paige

Book Review: Cormac McCarthy,another Challenge Completed!

Monthly Challenge: November

November is over and so is another Monthly Challenge!

About three weeks ago, I posted a challenge for myself and all of you readers to pick up a new book that included twisted versions/themes of this month’s most popular holiday: Thanksgiving! I decided to focus on the “food” aspect of Thanksgiving, and read two out of the three stories I had listed in the post.

I focused on books on cannibalism: The Road by Cormac McCarthy and Lamb to the Slaughter by Roald Dahl.

I wasn’t sure what I was really getting into with either of these books, I just knew that McCarthy was famous for his writing and Dahl was famous for his children’s books. After jumping into them, I think I finished these stories faster than anything else I had read in the past six months. I devoured The Road in two days… I seriously couldn’t put it down, and it stunted my200px-The-road NaNoWriMo goal during those days. I absolutely love McCarthy’s style of writing. The book is about a dystopian world in which the audience is left to speculate how the world and society was destroyed, while they watch a young boy and his father travel across a desolated, empty United States. The sheer descriptions of the environments weren’t too heavy-handed and the strange punctuation (no quotation marks… would be off-putting if there weren’t literally five speaking characters in the whole book) really lent substance to the story. It gave a juicy, real feel to the story that otherwise could have come off as boring or contrived. I was so happy to come across this book- McCarthy quickly became a favorite author of mine, and I’m lucky to have Blood Meridian sitting on my bookshelf to pick up next. And just as a side note, there wasn’t really cannibalism in this story. It was mentioned, I think cannibalism and dystopias go hand-in-hand, but there wasn’t anything gruesome.

Lamb to the Slaughter was also a delight to read, because Dahl turned such a short, simple story into something tense and suspenseful. He wrote 44513from a first person POV of a pregnant woman who receives life-changing news from her husband. She beats the man in the head with a frozen piece of lamb, and her cunning, psychopathic mind holds the audience from the first sentence to the chilling last. It really was an incredible read- I had rented this book from my library as it was included in an anthology, and this short story led me to read more of Dahl’s more adult stories. I would absolutely recommend this anthology to any other adult readers out there who enjoy chilling fiction.

I hope you all enjoyed this month’s challenge- did any of you read something similar or anything special this past month? I am really happy to have stumbled upon an author that I absolutely adored. When was the last time something like that happened to you?

Until next time!

Live,

Morgan Paige

NaNoWriMo Winner!

NaNo-2015-Winner-Banner

OH MY GOD

I committed… and somehow, someway, managed to actually knock out 50,000 words of a book last month.

It’s November 30th and, as you can see, I had a fairly consistent approach to the challenge, but the last two weeks were hard for me to get ahead of the curve. Life got in the way, I had a lot more projects to do at work, and I ran into a lot more writer’s block than I had anticipated.

 

winning nanowrimo snapshot

I didn’t start NaNoWriMo with a complete outline. I just had a basic story plot and a couple of subplots, so there are two major points in my story that I just kind of… winged it. For example, where I ended today I had written myself essentially out of a paper bag. I just kinda guessed and plodded my way through following my characters the whole time. I don’t like the chapter and know that I’m going to have to go through and rewrite it, but I at least have an idea of what needs to be accomplished.

I think this whole challenge has been eye opening and life changing. I am making this a life style change- writing daily really has been the best thing I’ve done for myself in a very long time. It’s creative, therapeutic, and personal. I can do it for me and, though I might not always be happy with the results, I’m happy I’ve taken the time to do something for myself. I don’t know about the rest of you, but being able to put time into a passion or hobby is kind of hard to find. NaNo-2015-Winner-Badge-Large-Square

If anyone is interested, I can run through and edit the first chapter/opening scene that I wrote and throw in a kind of synopsis for my NaNoWriMo story called The Lost Sailor.

It is certainly choppy and rough, but we’ve all put so much effort into writing this month that we deserve to share it 🙂 I can’t wait to see what you’ve all written and surf through the posts of excerpts and chapters.

 

Until next time!

Live,

Morgan Paige

Dare to Pair: Vegan Thanksgiving

Dare to Pair: Vegan Thanksgiving

Hey, everyone!

It’s been quite some time since I had such an amazing food and wine pairing that just had to be shared, but this one I have for you today is truly inspirational.

image1
Vegan-Friendly Thanksgiving!

I am not a picky eater, not in the least, but for a very long time I’ve had trouble with my diet (I am lactose intolerant and, while I struggled for a decade with it, I wasn’t able to pinpoint the problem until about four years ago). My stomach problems aren’t cured at all, but I’ve been gently climbing the rungs to an all-vegan diet. Besides my own health, I have chosen to do this for moral reasons as well, and though I don’t tout this to my peers, I’m quite proud of the decisions I’ve made.

 
That being said, choosing to persue a vegan life style has made it VERY interesting cooking for my boyfriend and celebrating special occasions with my loved ones. It seems like most people and most events revolve around meat-based and dairy-based dishes. Thanksgiving is absoLUTEly one of these holidays, and I decided to go all out and challenge myself with a meal that was vegan friendly.

 
image2Part of what appealed to me about this challenge is that food and wine pairings so often revolve around the meat in a dish. This is because they usually have such complimentary acids and flavors; ever have a nice spicy syrah with a steak au poivre? It’s like they were made for each other.

 
To prove to the world and all those who turn down their noses at meatless wine pairings wrong, I dug around and found what turned out to be one of the most delicious meals I (and my boyfriend) have ever had.

 
I found this recipe for a vegan “chicken” pot pie along with a rosemary and olive oil sweet potato recipe. I paired it with Charles Smith’s Eve Chardonnay, and I don’t think I’ve ever been so floored by my own… guesswork? Research?

 
I tweaked the recipe a bit, I used more of all the insides (carrots, “chicken” strips, peas, onions, garlic), and used whole wheat flour in the roux instead of chickpea flour. I’m sure the chickpea flour would still be good for those who want something gluten free, though. I also used a veggie bouillon cube in a half a cup of water instead of the not-chicken base.

 
I was surprised at how beautiful it looked when it came out of the oven, but I was even more astounded when we sat down to eat. I got multiple “this is amazing!”s and “I can’t believe this isn’t real chicken” (for real, I’m not lying!) from Jay, and he even asked me to cook it again for Thanksgiving this Thursday! When we tried it with the wine, we were just shocked. Eve is a MOSTLY stainless steel aged Chardonnay, so it didn’timage4 have any oakey overpowering flavor to it (it was fermented in stainless steel and then aged for 10 months in French oak, but it’s still really mellow… look at that color!). It is delicious on its own, it’s a bit florally with apple notes and creamy lemon flavors. It’s pairing with the food did not bring out it’s acidity, so it was perfectly mellow and flavorful as we ate. The only thing that I was a little disappointed about was that Charles Smith couldn’t guarantee that the wine wasn’t made with animal products (I guess it depends on the vintage), so next time I’ll look further into a wine before I pair it.

 
Overall, great recipe and pairing though. If you’re looking to start with pleasing pairings like this, something sort of easy but still difficult to find the perfect match, I would start here. And this is the perfect topper to a Thanksgiving meal- it seriously is mindblowingly good!

 
Have a very Happy and safe Thanksgiving, until next time!

 

 

image5
Bonus kitty and boyfriend food coma pic

Live,
Morgan Paige

NaNoWriMo: Halfway to… the End?

Hello, everyone!

 
On Friday, I desperately wanted to write a blog detailing my experience with NaNoWriMo and to tell you all how happy I am to have hit the halfway mark! WOOT 25,000 word mark here we are!

 
I actually did write the blog post, but between the time it took me to write it and the time it took to find an appropriate graphic, I hit the brick wall that we have all come to know and hate: writer’s block. I have been doing so well up until last Friday, and this weekend I managed to undo all of the extra writing I’ve been putting in every day. My estimated finish date changed from early next week to December 1st, according to the lovely NaNoWriMo website, and I just felt so embarrassed that I let my work get away from me so quickly.
 

I was feeling under the weather (stomach issues rock…), which is entirely the reason why I didn’t write. And it made me think about just how fragile motivation can be when it comes to creative outlets. It’s like a faucet that can only run when the conditions are just right (or just wrong, in some people’s cases), and it absolute steamrolled me this past weekend.

 

However, I’m not going to let this huge setback affect my ultimate goal, because I know that this is not just a monthly challenge for me, but a life style change. I’ve felt so creatively fulfilled being able to get this story and these characters out of my head, I just need to balance the other aspects of my life that may come back and bite me in the butt if I’m not careful (I’ve also found it a bit hard to socialize this month… any of you feel this way, too?).
 

I see so many bloggers doing daily update posts and I commend you all! At the end of the month, I’ll give you all a real snapshot of the story and my expectations, and maybe we can all see what sort of magic we’ve  managed to come up with. I think I might even share some of the character sheets and outlines I’ve done if people are interested! My outlines are laughable right now, but sometimes it’s nice to see how other people prepare their stories 🙂

 

Until next time!

Live,
Morgan Paige

Classics for a Green Reader

Classics for a Green Reader

I’m pretty sure most of you know this feeling; you’re a reader, a minority in a television-watching, video-game playing world. Most of the adults in your life have found you sitting in the same place for hours on end and tell you to “make sure you do something productive today.” You’ve been looked at strangely for your peculiar vocabulary, have lost track of time and missed meals because of gripping cliffhangers, and been one of the first in line at a book store on a premier day instead of at a social gathering.

tumblr_m5iqvyRwSd1qm6oc3o1_250

You see, this feeling is balanced (in my opinion) by the few times your reading actually catches someone’s attention for the right reasons. They ask you why you like that author, that book, that genre, because they happen to catch you reading in passing. You can share your knowledge and your passion with someone who understands, and in turn maybe learn something about a book you’d never think to pick up.

I actually had been given this exact opportunity just recently, which is the reason why I thought I’d reach out to you all. I was asked by my out-doorsy, music-loving, anti-reader of a brother to suggest some American Classics for his trip abroad. How fantastic, I thought, he wants to bring with him a literary piece of our country while he’s away from home.

Following that gleam of insight, however, came a well of thoughts and emotions that was hard to grasp in a single moment. Firstly, I was filled with bubbly excitement (he’s been making fun of me for YEARS for choosing to spend my free time with my nose in a book. FINALLY he understands!) mixed with unsurmountable terror (American Classics… for someone who hates reading…).

I’ve honestly put this project off for about a week, because the sheer scope of literature that spans American history is enormous, but the amount that my little brother would actually enjoy? Gulp.

So he gave me some parameters: it had to be a classic, and it couldn’t be someone who wrote like Henry David Thoreau (my brother equated Walden to one giant run-on sentence, and I don’t really blame him). At least he told me which genre he wanted and he sort of trusted me with my selections… but it didn’t stop me from spending the better part of a day at Barnes and Noble. Personally, I haven’t spent too much time reading American Classics. I did read a few in high school and I got a good crash course in my post-graduate classes, but that doesn’t make me an expert in the LEAST.

For those of you who have read a few classics, which authors do you think would be the most fitting in this sort of situation? Some of the most popular authors are:

  1. Mark Twain
  2. Scott Fitzgerald
  3. Harper Lee
  4. D. Salinger
  5. John Steinbeck
  6. Ernest Hemingway
  7. Edgar Allen Poe
  8. Margaret Mitchell
  9. Walt Whitman
  10. Robert Frost

classics

To be honest, I knew I wanted to get him something gritty and edgy. I thought about some of his favorite TV shows (Band of Brothers, Trailer Park Boys), movies (Into the Wild, Pulp Fiction, Grandma’s Boy), and music (he loves The Band more than anything), and knew that if anything was going to catch his attention, it would be something just as humorous, natural, and intelligent as his own interests.

images 41YdviAtVFL._AC_UL320_SR214,320_ 7187YBRN5nL._SL1500_ slaughterhouse5

I decided on a bunch of books, and still can’t decide if I want to lend him more or not. He’s getting one of my favorite Kurt Vonnegut books, Slaughter-House Five, and Daniel Keyes’ Flowers for Algernon. I also ended up picking up a Charles Bukowski anthology and Jack Kerouac’s On the Road. Such a STRANGE mix I’m sure you’re thinking, but I think there’s a good mixture of entertainment and education, sensitivity and humor in these books. Each author is so different from the other, and so is each book. I’m hoping to send him off with a good mixture of styles and stories.

What do you think? Do these authors fail to live up to other classic novelists/poets or maybe do you think there’s one that would appeal to a newbie more? I’d love to hear any suggestions!

Until next time, wish me luck 🙂

Live,

Morgan Paige