Pack the Memoir “Hot Chocolate in June” to Read on Your Next Trip: A Book Review and Author Interview
Hot Chocolate in June is a true story about loss, love, and grief. I loved reading this book! I read it in two days (you will need some tissues!) and what resonates with me is how authentically the author shared about her emotions and grief. She was really raw and real.
As I read some of what she went through, I felt like I was standing right there with her. This is as much a book about loss and grief as it is about love and the author also shares about her journey to faith and healing. She talks about how Jesus became real to her and I know some of you reading this may have different beliefs, but for me, this got me curious about digging deeper into the relationship I have with God in my life.
This book reminds me of the saying, “There is light at the end of the tunnel.” Depending on which continent you are on (because while it’s either summer or winter in June depending on where you live), the title might mean something different to you. To me, Hot Chocolate in June reminds me of that warm and cozy feeling you get after you sip a cup of hot chocolate on a cold day. This book is like that. It’s a warm embrace on the coldest of days. And right about now—in the midst of COVID-19 and all that’s happening in the world—we could all use a little more warmth.
Her character in this book is exactly who the author, Holly, is in real life. She is that person who is so encouraging and will always be right there with you throughout life’s battles.
If you are looking for a feel-good book—a bit of a tear-jerker and a really sweet read that will make you pause, reflect, and readdress your perspective on your life, then grab some tissues and get Hot Chocolate in June.
I had the privilege of asking the author Holly some questions about her book… Enjoy!!
1. What led you to write Hot Chocolate in June?
I had always dreamed of writing a book, but actually doing it felt so farfetched, so impossible. Plus, I didn’t think I had a story or something to write about. I actually had the title of the book long before I had the story for the book. “Other people are authors, other people write books…surely it’s a task too big for me,” I thought. Then, I listened to a message where a man asked the question, “How do you eat an elephant?” and his response was, “one bite at a time.” To me, writing a book was that elephant, that big impossible task, but the thought crossed my mind that if you can eat an entire elephant one bite at a time, surely you can write a book one page at a time. So, I began writing a page at a time and here we are.
2. How did writing this book change you?
Firstly, I think writing this book was very healing. There’s always something cathartic about writing down your own feelings and recounting the events that have taken place. Secondly, it’s helped me not be afraid of taking bold steps and reaching for big dreams. I’m much more fearless than I once was to dare to dream big and go for it!
3. What message do you want readers to walk away with?
I’ve always said that if, through my story, I can make the reader laugh or resonate with another’s sorrow in a way that helps them understand or feel less alone, than that’s enough. I’d love for people to walk away with a deeper awareness of God’s love and understanding that our past experiences or religious teachings aren’t always accurate to His character and truth. Regardless of faith, however, my heart’s desire is that anyone can pick up this book and find healing and hope while having a lot of fun reading about some of the adventures.
4. What was your favorite chapter to write?
Chapter four was one of my favorite chapters to write. In chapter four, I describe and recount my mission trip to India. I got so immersed in reminiscing about India that it was as if I could smell the curries as I pounded away on the keys.
5. Which chapter was the most difficult to write?
Chapter two details my dad’s sickness and eventually his death. I think I wrote the entire chapter through tear-filled eyes. There were moments when I’d have to pause and wipe my eyes because I could no longer see my computer screen, but I wanted to keep typing in those moments. I felt that in order for the reader to get a sense of my pain and understand, I needed to let the words continue to flow from that place.
6. Do you have a favorite writing place, playlist, or spot? If so, tell us about them…
I’m a bit of a traveling writer. I love to write outdoors but—ya know—my computer’s battery doesn’t always last long enough (especially because I never seem to remember to put it on the charger). I also love to write in coffee shops with my earphones on.
I select my playlist depending on my mood and what I’m writing. Sometimes it’s straight piano from artists such as Yani or David Nevue; Christian bands or musicians such as Bethel Worship or Steffany Gretzinger; or a little Hootie and the Blowfish or Tom Petty.
If something in a song hits me just right, I’ve been known to play it on repeat for HOURS too just to keep that feeling or inspiration alive.
7. My readers love to travel, tell me are you a travel lover? What’s your favorite place you’ve been to?
I LOVE to travel! Although I’ve traveled a lot less in recent years, I’m looking forward to adventuring the world again soon with my husband and kiddos. I am biased toward South Africa. Not just because my husband is from there ( which you’ll read about in the book!) but because Johannesburg is one of those places that etched itself on my soul. I love the people, culture, and the feel of the city. I loved that we could soak up all that Joburg has to offer and also easily hop on a plane and see the wonder of Cape Town or roadtrip to the Drakensberg mountains in nearby Kwazulu Natal.
You can grab Holly’s book on Amazon here.
And follow her on Instagram at @hollymthethwa
Watch for more must-pack books and reviews soon.