Thursday, July 21, 2016

Review: The Winemakers

The Winemakers
By Jan Moran
Published: April 5, 2016


A young woman
A family secret
A devastating truth that could destroy the man she loves

Many years ago, the Rosetta family’s hard-won dreams of staking their claim in the vineyards of California came to fruition. Now high-spirited, passionate Caterina Rosetta, who has inherited both her mother’s talent for crafting the finest wines and also her indomitable will, wants nothing more than to win her mother’s approval and work at her side. But that can never happen, because Caterina is keeping a secret that could ruin her: a daughter of her own, fathered by the love of her life, who left her without explanation. Just as she feels she has nowhere to turn, Caterina discovers that she has inherited a vineyard in the Tuscan countryside in Italy, from a grandmother she’s never heard of, and she seizes the chance to start a new life for herself and her child.

But the past is not so easily outrun. In the country of her ancestors, Caterina meets the family of the father she never knew, and discovers that her mother is also hiding her own secret—a secret so devastating it threatens the future of everything her family has worked for. As an old murder comes to light, and Caterina uncovers a tragedy that may destroy the man she loves, she realizes her happiness will depend on revealing the truth of her mother’s buried past—if she has the strength to face it.

From author Jan Moran comes The Winemakers, a sweeping, romantic novel that will hold you in its grasp until the last delicious sip.

My review:

Caterina has been keeping a secret from her strict mother. She has a little girl out of wedlock and while she was urged by the kind people at the maternity home to give her up for adoption, Marisa is too precious to her and she couldn't go through with it. Now she has to go home to the family winery and face the music. 

Ava Rosetti has also been keeping big secrets from her daughter, secrets involving her Caterina's father and his family but when a lawyer visits about Caterina's inheritance she knows that at least some of her secrets are about to be exposed.

Caterina and Ava are both strong willed women who love deeply. At first Ava appears to be cold and heartless but as her past comes to light, it becomes apparent that her actions are motivated by a desire to protect those she loves and her coldness is a byproduct of the pain and sorrow she has suffered. 

The Winemakers is the story of two women who on the surface seem to be very different but at heart are much the same. If they hope to save their home and livelihood and all they have built together they will have to learn to trust each other and share their hearts before it is too late.

I initially found it hard to like Ava. She comes across as unloving and strict and I could see why Caterina was worried about revealing her secret. It wasn't until I found out about Ava's own difficult life that I started to feel sympathy for her. It is much easier to like Caterina though I didn't think she should keep her daughter a secret from the baby's father.  Caterina had some growing up to do but it is obvious from the beginning how much she loves her daughter and is willing to fight for her.

There is an element of suspense involving a threat to the safety of Caterina, her family and the winery. Towards the end of the novel, this became melodramatic and the villain was rather one dimensional. Overall however I liked the book because of the relationships between the characters, the setting and description and the unveiling of long buried secrets. 

I think The Winemakers would be a good beach read, the kind of book you enjoy on a lazy sunny day with a glass of wine. If you like historical fiction with romance and suspense, consider giving The Winemakers a try this summer.



Note: I received an ARC for review purposes courtesy of the publisher and Edelweiss

Wednesday, July 20, 2016

Waiting on Wednesday (190)

"Waiting on" Wednesday is a weekly meme to discuss upcoming books we can't wait to get our hands on. Waiting on Wednesday is hosted by Jill at Breaking the Spine

This week, I'm waiting on:

Interference by Kay Honeyman
Release date: September 27, 2016

Friday Night Lights meets Jane Austen's Emma in this wonderful novel about a big election, big games, the big state of Texas, and a little romance. 

As a Congressman's daughter in Washington, D.C., Kate Hamilton is good at getting what she wants -- what some people might call "interfering." But when her family moves to West Texas so her dad can run in a special election, Kate encounters some difficulties that test all her political skills. None of her matchmaking efforts go according to plan. Her father's campaign gets off to a rough start. A pro tip for moving to Texas: Don't slam the star quarterback's hand in a door. And whenever Kate messes up, the irritatingly right (and handsome) Hunter Price is there to witness it. But Kate has determination and a good heart, and with all her political savvy -- and a little clever interference -- she'll figure out what it takes to make Red Dirt home.

Terrifically funny and sweetly romantic, with whip-crack dialogue and a wise perspective on growing up, INTERFERENCE is the perfect next read for fans of Jenny Han, Huntley Fitzpatrick, Elizabeth Eulberg, or Sarah Dessen.

The last book I read that was compared to both Friday Night Lights and Jane Austen was First & Then by Emma Mills which I really liked even though I'm not a football fan. Hopefully Interference will be just as good. It certainly sounds like a fun story!



Tuesday, July 19, 2016

Top Ten Books Set Outside the United States


Top Ten Tuesday is an original feature/weekly meme created at The Broke and the Bookish. There is a new subject each week and this week's theme is "Top Ten Books Set Outside the United States"


Afghanistan


A Thousand Splendid Suns by Khaled Hosseini 
The Pearl That Broke Its Shell by Nadia Hashimi 

Sri Lanka and India



On Sal Mal Lane by Ru Freeman 
Island of a Thousand Mirrors by Nayomi Munaweera
Secret Daughter by Shilpi Somaya Gowda 

Ethiopia, Sierra Leone, and Rwanda



Cutting for Stone by Abraham Verghese 
Someone Knows My Name by Lawrence Hill 
Running the Rift by Naomi Benaron 


Italy and France



The Shoemaker's Wife by Adriana Trigiani
The Nightingale by Kristin Hannah

England


The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society by Mary Ann Shaffer and Annie Barrows
Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone by J.K. Rowling
Her Royal Spyness by Rhys Bowen
Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen
Major Pettigrew's Last Stand by Helen Simonson
The Summer Before the War by Helen Simonson

Scotland


Outlander by Diana Gabaldon
The Winter Sea by Susanna Kearsley
At the Water's Edge by Sara Gruen
Lady of the Glen by Jennifer Roberson

Sweden


A Man Called Ove by Fredrik Backman
My Grandmother Asked Me to Tell You She's Sorry by Fredrik Backman
The 100 Year Old Man Who Climbed Out the Window and Disappeared by Jonas Jonasson





Monday, July 18, 2016

Sunday Post (58) / It's Monday, What Are You Reading



The Sunday Post is a weekly meme hosted by Kimberly @ Caffeinated Book Reviewer. It’s a post to recap the past week, showcase books and things we have received and share news about what is coming up on our blog for the week ahead. It's Monday, What Are You Reading is a fun weekly meme now hosted by Kathryn at Book Date, where we share what we've read and reviewed over the past week and what we plan to read next.

I am posting late this week because I've had problems with my laptop and connecting to the Internet. I'm not sure what the issue is but I suspect it is the laptop and not my Internet connection because I am able to use WiFi on my phone, Kindle and Roku. This morning after two days of not using it, I decided to try my laptop again. I had some issues with Yahoo Mail not loading but so far I am able to visit other websites again and work on this post so that is something. Hopefully whatever the issue was, it is resolved now. 

It has been a crazy week. My parents have sold their house. They don't have a closing date yet and they have to find a new house in Fort Wayne in the meantime. Houses there are being sold the same day they go on the market so it could be a bit of a challenge. My sister lives there and has been out scouting houses. I am happy for them but also sad as I will miss my childhood home and likely never return to that area once my parents move away. 

At the library, we had our second Comic Con in the 'Burg. While we didn't have as many people as last year (possibly because we didn't advertise enough) it was still a successful event. We had a Manga artist from the area teach a class on drawing Manga faces and the comic book and collectibles vendors were a big hit too. We borrowed a 3-D printer from Kent State when our plans for a presenter fell through. My job was to demonstrate the 3-D printer and print some Comic Con related stuff but while I was able to use it earlier in the week it decided to quit working on Friday so it just sat there like a display. It was cool while it worked though and surprisingly easy to use. My favorite thing I printed was a BB-8 cookie cutter.

The cosplay contest went well (I was a judge and it was hard to choose from all the great costumes--Best in Show went to a teen dressed as the Eleventh Doctor). I ended up dressing up as Supergirl. I just found a cheap Superman t-shirt for boys and then glued rhinestones on the Superman symbol and added some sequin trim to the sleeves. The final touch was a red cape I found at Party City. I chose to wear jeans and my Sketchers instead of a short red skirt and boots so my outfit wasn't totally authentic but it was comfortable and appropriate for work :)





#FitReaders is hosted by Felicia at The Geeky Blogger and Jen at That's What I'm Talking About 

Sunday--2,240 steps
Monday--10,753 steps
Tuesday--3,877 steps
Wednesday--5,369 steps
Thursday--13,025 steps
Friday--12,414 steps
Saturday--15,457 steps



Last week on my blog:


The Geek's Guide to Unrequited Love by Sarvenaz Tash (review)



Books read:



Monsoon Summer by Julia Gregson

I'm still not quite sure how I feel about this book. My review is due really soon so I need to figure it out. 



Margherita's Notebook by Elisabetta Flumeri and Gabriella Giacometti

I thought this was a fun book and I loved the setting and description of food. The writing style was a little different.



A Murder in Time by Julie McElwain

I really enjoyed this historical/contemporary thriller The cover is not accurate (the historical part is set in the Regency) and there were definitely some other inaccuracies/historical license but it was still fun to read and try to figure out who the killer was. I think readers who like historical fiction and suspense would enjoy this if they can suspend their disbelief.



Currently reading:



If I Was Your Girl by Meredith Russo



Currently listening to:


Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince by J.K. Rowling (reread)



On my TBR pile:



The Art of Crash Landing by Melissa DeCarlo

We are reading this for July in my evening book group. Our meeting is next Tuesday so I want to move this up my TBR pile.



Smash & Grab by Amy Christine Parker

This sounds like it has a similar vibe to Ally Carter's Heist Society books. Hopefully it will be just as fun to read.



P.S. I Like You by Kasie West

This looks like a cute contemporary romance and might be just what I need for light summer reading.



Flying by Carrie Jones

I'm kind of hoping this will be like Buffy the Vampire Slayer but with aliens. :)



The Perfect Neighbors by Sarah Pekkanen


Britt-Marie Was Here by Fredrik Backman



New Arrivals:


Paper and Fire by Rachel Caine (library book)

The Darkest Hour by Caroline Tung Richmond (for review)

Flying by Carrie Jones (for review)

Belgravia by Julian Fellowes (won from Confessions of a Book Addict)





Thursday, July 14, 2016

Review: The Geek's Guide to Unrequited Love

The Geek's Guide to Unrequited Love
By Sarvenaz Tash
Published: June 14, 2016

Peter Parker and Gwen Stacy...

Archie and Veronica...

Althena and Noth...

...Graham and Roxy?

Graham met his best friend, Roxana, when he moved into her neighborhood eight years ago, and she asked him which Hogwarts house he'd be sorted into. Graham has been in love with her ever since.

But now they're sixteen, still neighbors, still best friends. And Graham and Roxy share more than ever--moving on from their Harry Potter obsession to a serious love of comic books.

When Graham learns that the creator of their favorite comic, The Chronicles of Althena, is making a rare appearance at this year's New York Comic Con, he knows he must score tickets. And the event inspires Graham to come up with the perfect plan to tell Roxy how he really feels about her. He's got three days to woo his best friend at the coolest, kookiest con full of superheroes and supervillains. But no one at a comic book convention is who they appear to be...even Roxy. And Graham is starting to realize fictional love stories are way less complicated than real-life ones.
 

My review:

Graham has decided that he will tell his best friend Roxy that he loves her at New York Comic Con. What better place to declare his feelings since they both have a shared love of comics? They even created their own comic together. When Roxy finds out that the reclusive Robert Zinc, creater of The Chronicles of Althena, is going to speak at a panel, Graham knows he has to get Roxy tickets somehow. It is going to be a Comic Con to remember. Unfortunately things don't go quite according to plan but Graham doesn't give up hope that he will win Roxy's heart.

Graham reminded me of Ducky from Pretty in Pink (the movie is referenced in the book) if Ducky was an artistic nerd. Actually I liked Graham more than Ducky who came across as whiny in comparison. Graham is a total sweetheart. He reminded me of Barry Allen from The Flash (CW TV show version) who is also in love with his best friend, Iris. I really felt for Graham. I think it would be very awkward and nerve wracking to develop feelings for your best friend and be unsure if your best friend felt the same way.  I didn't like Roxy as much as Graham though I did like her and their friendship. I thought the flashback memories between them were sweet. I think the author did a great job of exploring the changing nature of friendships. 

I thought the secondary characters were fun, especially Amelia and Felicia. I really liked how all the characters were true to themselves and awesome in their own nerdy way. Something else I liked was that Graham's dad was a big Star Wars geek and I loved the scene where they talked about going to Comic Con together sometime. So nice to see parents and families portrayed in a positive way in teen fiction!

The Geek's Guide to Unrequited Love was a joy to read. It is a sweet and funny story about friendship, love and fandom. There are plenty of references to comics and pop culture from Doctor Who to Star Wars, the Harry Potter series and The Princess BrideI loved the setting and getting to experience New York Comic Con vicariously. I appreciated the little details that made the experience feel authentic, even the use of the fictional comic The Chronicles of Althena. That part reminded me of reading Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell. Other similar books include The Only Thing Worse Than Me is You by Lily Anderson and Into the Wild Nerd Yonder by Julie Halpern. 

If you've dreamed of going to a Comic Con someday or if you are a fan of  Pretty in Pink or any of the books mentioned, you should consider adding The Geek's Guide to Unrequited Love to your summer reading list. It is one of my favorite teen contemporary novels of the year so far.


Note: I received an ARC for review purposes courtesy of the publisher and Edelweiss





Sunday, July 10, 2016

Sunday Post (57) / It's Monday, What Are You Reading



The Sunday Post is a weekly meme hosted by Kimberly @ Caffeinated Book Reviewer. It’s a post to recap the past week, showcase books and things we have received and share news about what is coming up on our blog for the week ahead. It's Monday, What Are You Reading is a fun weekly meme now hosted by Kathryn at Book Date, where we share what we've read and reviewed over the past week and what we plan to read next.

I worked yesterday and it was not that busy for a Saturday. I also enjoyed the slightly cooler (but still warm) sunny weather we had.

Not much happened this past week and I didn't read as much as I'd hoped. I need to finish my current book soon so I can write the review before the deadline. I hate deadlines :) Today I hope to finish reading Monsoon Summer and finish a review for another book. I also have this recipe for gluten free zucchini bread that I've been wanting to try. Supposedly you can mix it in a blender but I'm not sure my cheapo blender is strong enough for the challenge. We shall see! 

My trip to Williamsburg, Virginia is two months away. I've decided that I want to buy a crossbody purse as well as a new pair of walking shoes so I will probably spend part of the day online shopping. I am planning to buy my purse from Amazon if I can and use my Apple credit towards it. I haven't had any luck with buying shoes online so I may have to visit a bigger mall sometime soon to find my size. My feet were so sore at work yesterday and it has been years since I bought a new pair of walking shoes. It will not be easy to find a pair with my small wide feet and fallen arches. Wish me luck!


Last week on my blog:



Mystic Summer by Hannah McKinnon (review)


Books read:



Exile for Dreamers by Kathleen Baldwin

I liked this sequel to A School for Unusual Girls. It was great seeing the characters develop more and the story progress. Tess is probably my favorite of the students at Stranje House and I enjoyed her romance with Lord Ravencross. This series reminds me so much of  the Maids of Honor series by Jennifer McGowan only set during the Regency instead of Elizabethan England.


The One That Got Away by Bethany Chase

I'd forgotten I had an ARC of this book until I saw that she had a new book releasing this August. Oops. I liked this contemporary romance and I feel bad that I waited so long to read it. 


Currently reading:



Monsoon Summer by Julia Gregson

I think this is pretty good so far. The first part of the book felt a little slow but once they arrived in India it became so much more interesting, especially learning about what life was like for midwives, nurses and female doctors during that time.


Currently listening to:



Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince by J.K. Rowling (reread)


On my TBR pile:



A Murder in Time by Julie McElwain

I moved this book up on my TBR pile because it is due back next week and there are holds on it. I want to read it now while I have the e-book instead of reading the huge hardcover version. One of my coworkers said it was fantastic and it's received starred reviews so hopefully I will like it. Time travel plus murder mystery makes this sound like a winner.


Margherita's Notebook by Elisabetta Flumeri and Gabriella Giacometti

I read an excerpt of this on the publisher's website and I liked what I read. I love books with lots of food descriptions and the setting also appeals to me.


The Perfect Neighbors by Sarah Pekkanen

This book kind of reminds me of Desperate Housewives, a show I loved once upon a time. I've also read some positive reviews of it so I'm looking forward to digging in and uncovering all the secrets.


If I Was Your Girl by Meredith Russo


Britt-Marie Was Here by Fredrik Backman


Vinegar Girl by Anne Tyler


New books received:



Smash & Grab by Amy Christine Parker (for review)

The Wedding Shop by Rachel Hauck (for review)

P.S. I Like You by Kasie West (for review)

The Matchmakers of Minnow Bay by Kelly Harms (for review)

Margherita's Notebook by Elisabetta Flumeri and Gabriella Giacometti (for review)





Thursday, July 7, 2016

Review: Mystic Summer

By Hannah McKinnon
Published: June 7, 2016

A chance run-in with a college boyfriend puts a young woman’s picture-perfect life in perspective in this warm-hearted and lyrical novel—from the author of The Lake Season.

Since finishing graduate school, Maggie Griffin has worked hard to build an enviable life in Boston. She’s an elementary school teacher in a tony Boston suburb, a devoted sister, and a loving aunt. With her childhood best friend’s wedding quickly approaching and her own relationship blossoming, this is the summer she has been waiting for.

But when Maggie’s career is suddenly in jeopardy, her life begins to unravel. Stricken, Maggie returns home to seaside Mystic, Connecticut, where she expects to find comfort in family and familiarity. Instead, she runs into Cameron Wilder, a young man from her past who has also returned home, and whose life has taken a turn that puts Maggie’s city struggles in harsh perspective. When tragedy strikes for Cameron, Maggie is faced with big decisions as she weighs what matters most and strives to stay true to the person she’s become.

Set against the gorgeous backdrop of a New England summer when past and present collide, Mystic Summer is a gorgeous novel about looking back, moving forward, and the beauty that blooms when fate intervenes.

My review:

Maggie is a teacher at a private school in Boston and as summer vacation starts, she has to deal with the upheaval of finding a new place as her best friend and roommate is getting married. She also finds out that she may not have a job next year due to funding issues at her school. Maggie's boyfriend Evan isn't as supportive as she'd hoped. When circumstances lead to Maggie going back to her hometown of Mystic, Connecticut she is surprised to run into Cameron Wilder, her onetime boyfriend who is now a single father. Cameron has had a difficult life in the years since they split but he is doing his best to be there for his daughter. Maggie and Cameron become fast friends again but even though she is starting to feel some stirring of her former attraction to him and she is drawn to his infant daughter, she has her own issues to deal with and she is  still committed to Evan. On top of that her best friend Erika's wedding has been moved from Boston to Mystic and Maggie's sister Jane calls on her to help take care of her children while she goes on a much needed break with her husband so Maggie has her hands full.

I think I was expecting this to be a contemporary romance but it ended up being something a little more. Maggie is facing some difficult decisions about her future and what she wants from life. I liked Cameron from the start and I enjoyed the rekindling of their friendship. He is a good fit for her but neither of them are in a place to start a relationship just yet. The novel also looked at Maggie's relationship with her family, particularly her mom and her sister Jane, as well as Maggie's friendship with Erika.  I wasn't a big fan of Erika to be honest. She wasn't that great of a friend and if this were real life, that friendship would fade into mere casual acquaintance status after Erika's wedding.

I loved the setting of Mystic and it made me want to visit the town for myself although I don't think I'd like the crowded tourist season. I think it was the setting and the character of Cameron that really stood out for me in this book. He is a fantastic dad and I loved his interactions with his daughter Emory. I think he's a little too perfect :)

Mystic Summer would make a good beach read. It is the kind of book you could finish in an afternoon. There is a little bit of romance and a great setting so even if it's easy to guess what will happen, it is a fun journey to get there.


Note: I received an ARC for review purposes courtesy of the publisher and Edelweiss