Thursday, October 22, 2015

Eight Hundred Grapes by Laura Dave

My husband and I have been talking about going out to Napa Valley for a *long* time, it is definitely on the bucket list, but I am now adding Sonoma County to that list, I blame this book.  And while the setting was a favorite part of this book, I loved the characters just as much.  They were flawed and complex and wonderful. 

I listened to the audiobook, which was narrated to perfection, and I got to the last disk and had to drive around my neighborhood at 9:30 at night because I just couldn't stop is that good.  Also, fair warning, you can't read this book without wanting a lovely, full bodied glass of red.

Book Description via Amazon

Named “Best Book of the Summer” by Glamour * Marie Claire * US Weekly * Good Housekeeping * Cosmopolitan * Elle Magazine * Wine Enthusiast * Health Magazine * Metro New York * InStyle* Pop Sugar * CBS Local * BookTrib * AV Club * and as the #1 Library Reads Pick *

There are secrets you share, and secrets you hide….

Growing up on her family’s Sonoma vineyard, Georgia Ford learned some important secrets. The secret number of grapes it takes to make a bottle of wine: eight hundred. The secret ingredient in her mother’s lasagna: chocolate. The secret behind ending a fight: hold hands.

But just a week before her wedding, thirty-year-old Georgia discovers her beloved fiancé has been keeping a secret so explosive, it will change their lives forever.

Georgia does what she’s always done: she returns to the family vineyard, expecting the comfort of her long-married parents, and her brothers, and everything familiar. But it turns out her fiancé is not the only one who’s been keeping secrets….

Bestselling author Laura Dave has been dubbed “a wry observer of modern love” (USA TODAY), a “decadent storyteller” (Marie Claire), and “compulsively readable” (Woman’s Day). Set in the lush backdrop of Sonoma’s wine country, Eight Hundred Grapes is a heartbreaking, funny, and deeply evocative novel about love, marriage, family, wine, and the treacherous terrain in which they all intersect.

In this breakout novel from an author who “positively shines with wisdom and intelligence” (Jonathan Tropper, This Is Where I leave You), Laura Dave “writes with humor and insight about relationships in all their complexity, whether she's describing siblings or fiancés or a couple long-married. Eight Hundred Grapes is a captivating story about the power of family, the limitations of love, and what becomes of a life’s work” (J. Courtney Sullivan, Maine).

Saturday, October 17, 2015

Crenshaw by Katherine Applegate

Another home run for Katherine Appelgate...if you haven't read The One and Only Ivan, do it now, just wonderful. 

This takes a really tough subject and makes it accessible for middle grade readers - homelessness; although I think this is a great reader for all ages.  As a parent, I ached for all the characters, the kids who didn't understand what was happening and for the parents who are doing everything they can to keep their kids warm and fed.  Almost everyone I know, worries about money, I don't hang with the millionaire set, but I am hoping that none of us have to worry about their kids being hungry, just heartbreaking.  This is a great book to discuss as a family, the idea of things being just that things.  That there are larger problems than not getting the latest iPhone.  A perfect book to read as we approach the holiday season of excess, a gentle reminder of what is really important, family.

From School Library Journal

Gr 4–6—In her first novel since the Newbery-winning The One and Only Ivan (HarperCollins, 2012), Applegate tells the story of a 10-year-old boy whose imaginary friend helps him cope with a family crisis. Jackson, his parents, and his five-year-old sister once again are staring down the barrel of an impending eviction notice. What frustrates Jackson isn't just the lack of money: it's his artistically minded parents' tendency to gloss over their woes with humor and cheer rather than acknowledging the reality of their situation. It's understandably a shock to Jackson when an old friend reappears: Crenshaw, a seven-foot-tall talking cat, who first came into his life several years ago when the boy and his family were living out of their car shortly after his father was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis. Skeptical Jackson tries to dismiss Crenshaw as a figment of his imagination, but the cat's words of wisdom start to resonate with him. Employing sparse but elegant prose, Applegate has crafted an authentic protagonist whose self-possession and maturity conceal
relatable vulnerability and fears. While sardonic Crenshaw may not be the warm and cuddly imaginary friend readers are expecting, he's the companion that Jackson truly needs as he begins to realize that he doesn't need to carry the weight of the world upon his shoulders. Though the ending wraps up a shade too neatly, overall, children will appreciate this heartbreaking novel. VERDICT A compelling and unflinchingly honest treatment of a difficult topic.—Mahnaz Dar, School Library Journal

Wednesday, October 14, 2015

Everything I Never Told You by Celeste Ng

I am not going to lie, this is a hard book to read; it makes you examine everything you know as a parent, or think you know.  It makes you look at yourself and your dreams and how that influences the person you become, the parent you become.  This would make such a great book club book, there is so much to discuss and think about and absorb, I loved it! Review

Selected by the Amazon Editors as the #1 Book of the Year: Lydia is dead. From the first sentence of Celeste Ng’s stunning debut, we know that the oldest daughter of the Chinese-American Lee family has died. What follows is a novel that explores alienation, achievement, race, gender, family, and identity--as the police must unravel what has happened to Lydia, the Lee family must uncover the sister and daughter that they hardly knew. There isn’t a false note in this book, and my only concern in describing my profound admiration for Everything I Never Told You is that it might raise unachievable expectations in the reader. But it’s that good. Achingly, precisely, and sensitively written. --Chris Schluep

Friday, October 2, 2015

The Hired Girl by Laura Amy Schlitz

This is being touted as the next Newbery winner, eh, I am not convinced.  I loved the premise, I loved the writing, I loved the beginning and the's that all important middle that lost me.  I felt it got to be very tedious and I found myself speed reading through many parts.  I will be curious to see who actually takes home the Newbery come November, I am holding out for stronger contenders.

Book Description via Amazon

Newbery Medalist Laura Amy Schlitz brings her delicious wit and keen eye to early twentieth-century America in a moving yet comedic tour de force.

Fourteen-year-old Joan Skraggs, just like the heroines in her beloved novels, yearns for real life and true love. But what hope is there for adventure, beauty, or art on a hardscrabble farm in Pennsylvania where the work never ends? Over the summer of 1911, Joan pours her heart out into her diary as she seeks a new, better life for herself—because maybe, just maybe, a hired girl cleaning and cooking for six dollars a week can become what a farm girl could only dream of—a woman with a future. Newbery Medalist Laura Amy Schlitz relates Joan’s journey from the muck of the chicken coop to the comforts of a society household in Baltimore (Electricity! Carpet sweepers! Sending out the laundry!), taking readers on an exploration of feminism and housework; religion and literature; love and loyalty; cats, hats, and bunions.